Friday, September 13, 2013

Yawn. The press gets it wrong again.

Catholics can always count on the press to get it wrong.

The next time the press says that some !!New Teaching!! is bursting forth from Pope Francis that will change the Church and bring her into the modern day (man, they do get giddy when they report such things), just remember that it's a bunch of bunk.

If a family member, friend, or co-worker asks you about the headlines, you are on safe ground by responding, reflexively, that none of those teachings are new. And then yawn just a little yawn for emphasis. Because this is boring, honestly.

For example when the 4,623rd headline screams, "OMYWORD THE POPE SAID THAT ATHEISTS HAVE A SHOT AT HEAVEN AHHHHHHHHH!!!!" …that is boring. That is old news. About 2,000 years old to be precise.

I summarized the teaching way back in 2011, before there was a Pope Francis:


Am I a fortune teller? A soothsayer? Or, is this perhaps the same-ole, same-ole teaching of the Church throughout the ages? Yawn. You see what I mean? Boring.

When the press screams a headline like "HOLY CANNOLI POPE FRANCIS MIGHT CHANGE CHURCH TEACHING ABOUT PRIESTLY CELIBACY (EVEN THOUGH IT WASN'T HE WHO MENTIONED IT, WHOOPS) AHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! …that is also boring. The discipline (not doctrine) of priestly celibacy has always been changeable and debatable. And there have always been married Catholic priests (I know two personally). That is old news.

I summarized the difference between discipline and doctrine way back in 2010, long before there was a Pope Francis:


Am I special? Do I have super-secret decoder-ring information that no one in the press has the ability to access? Or, could this always have been understood and accessed with minimal effort? Yawn. Again, boring.

And yet it's not only boring, it's inexcusable. How on earth does the world media get away with reporting on a subject without any knowledge of the subject? And since the teachings of the Church are so readily available, why aren't these reporters and pundits profoundly embarrassed and ashamed of themselves for their shoddy work?

As others have noted, the one good thing about all this journalistic malpractice is that Catholics have an opportunity to learn more about their Faith when this nonsense about our Church comes to the fore. I'm hoping that Catholics who wonder about these headlines and are faced with questions from others will being a study of Catholicism in earnest.

And maybe if they are corrected enough, some of the reporters will start to study the basic truths of Catholicism, too? That may be too much to ask, but hope springs eternal!



"I've often said that if a sports reporter was as clueless about his subject as the typical religion reporter is about his, he couldn't keep his job for a week."  -- Paul Thigpen







*Go here for a translation of the Pope's letter that has resulted in such a media frenzy.





227 comments:

  1. I worked (not in the news department) at a local television station in a medium-sized market. The glaring mistakes in coverage of the Catholic Church were just as rampant as they are on the networks. I did my best to offer some kindly corrections, and the responses which I received varied between, "Well, that's what the network said," to "Yeah, whatever."

    Given those attitudes, I have very little confidence in the secular news media's coverage of ANYTHING.

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  2. Paul, that is so sad!! It reflects my experience with local news, too. I told of a couple of my experiences, here:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2011/01/how-does-media-know-so-little-about.html

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  3. I read that headline from PF and though of Leila gonna have fun with that! Lol

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  4. It was in either the late 1990's or the early 2000's, when the Church issued a document which clarified and reinforced the Vatican II Decree on Ecumenism. This really worked both ways...

    I read the entire document, and it stated very clearly that non-Catholics could be saved. On the noon news that very day, my employer's news department reported that the Vatican now says that "only Catholics can be saved."

    There was nothing new in the document, including the teaching that Christian communities which have not maintained apostolic succession are not "churches" in the Catholic understanding of the term; but Protestant pastor friends online were OUTRAGED at this "new" teaching that they did not belong to a "church."

    Too many people no longer READ such documents. They "skim."

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  5. Paul, I remember reading a similar story in my college newspaper, around the year 2000. The gist of it was that JPII had declared that non-Catholics were no longer Christians. At the time I was Lutheran, and I was outraged. Of course, several years later I learned that the article had gotten it completely wrong and that's not what JPII had said at all.

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  6. It's so frustrating when people who aren't Catholic try to tell me that Pope Francis 'changed' some teaching of the Catholic Church. It's like, no. That teaching has always been there. It's just that people rely on the media too much to interpret the Church for them, instead of doing the research themselves.

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  7. Too many people no longer READ such documents. They "skim."

    Paul, that's true. However, as far as these so-called news reporters/contrivers go, the opposite is true. They don't just skim. Rather, they study these documents quite minutely, looking for the one or two selective lines that can be quoted out of context to formulate a mischievous, sensational story/theory, which is at once attention grabbing and detrimental to the credibility and stability of the Church, and her consistent propagation of Truth. These agents of untruth employ this subterfuge with passages from with sacred Scripture, transcripts of Papal interviews, records of Church history, and the like. They know only too well the old axiom: "If a man (slack Catholic no exception) doesn't really believe in anything, he'll fall for everything." Including mischievous disinformation. An old and effective tactic of war, that.

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  8. Hopefully through this Catholics and non-Catholics alike will become curious enough to read and learn more...time will tell.

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  9. Popular Catholicism, by which I mean Catholicism as practiced by Catholics, and the tone and emphases set by the hierarchy, often are at odds with "official" teachings and doctrine. For example, it may be true that non-Catholics can go to heaven, but a lot of Popes certainly haven't ACTED like that was true.

    Certainly Francis has changed the tone. He's said things that Benedict would never have said, and done things Benedict would never do. A lot of clergy welcome him as (as one old nun told me yesterday) "a badly-needed breath of fresh air".

    He's also apparently getting a big kick out of being Pope, which is good to see. Has he phoned you yet?

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  10. What Pope Francis does not understand about atheists is that they already know that their consciousness resides in their properly functioning brain. If the brain stops functioning they lose consciousness. If the brain doesn't start to function again, they never regain consciousness. Atheists know that at that point they cease to exist.

    Christians go to an afterlife and eventually get a resurrected body. Atheists see this idea as foolishness.

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  11. @Bill S

    I think you've laid out the situation pretty well.

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  12. Captcrisis, ha, nope I haven't gotten my phone call yet!

    Yes, every pope in history has a different "tone". That is the beauty of being individuals. No two of us do anything alike. I am reading the most amazing book again (Fire Within, by Thomas Dubay) which every person on the planet (and certainly every Catholic) should read. He explains beautifully how the saints are all as different as you and me, personality, gifts, talents, and temperament-wise, but how they all, throughout 2,000 years, held the same Faith. Utterly. So beautiful. There is no separation for those who are in union with God (as the saints were, even on this earth as they progressed to the third stage of holiness), even as they retain their personalities.

    Now, for popes, there is no guarantee that they are all saints (many were evil!), but many are/were quite holy and yes, were saints. The particular charism for popes is not that they are all saints, but that they all teach the very same truths, "tone" nonwithstanding. So, the hope is that those who dissent from Church teaching and yet who really "like" the "breath of fresh air" that they experience with Pope Francis will come around and embrace the whole Deposit of Faith. If they become totally faithful, perhaps it will have been Pope Francis who drew them in. That's my prayer!!

    (But if they think that the pope is teaching new doctrine, they are sadly mistaken.)

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    1. I'm late to this discussion and breaking the rules, but I just wanted to add my "Amen" about "Fire Within." You won't find a better explanation of Carmelite spirituality for the average person.

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  13. What Pope Francis does not understand about atheists is that they already know that their consciousness resides in their properly functioning brain.

    Sorry, I've never understood why an atheist would trust his brain to give him any kind of truth, since it's just a big slab of meat that is based in nothing but original randomness and chemicals? On what basis would an atheist trust his own brain?

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  14. And really, captcrisis and Bill, shouldn't the press be embarrassed by its own incompetence in reporting on the Church? Or, do you think they do this deliberately (this misrepresentation)? And wouldn't that be a breach of journalistic integrity?

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  15. If you can't trust your own mind, you can't trust anything. Most people know that the brain can screw up, but we still trust it because we have no alternative. It's not like there's anything else we could perceive the world through.


    Also, some atheists think there's more to the brain than just chemicals (the guy who wrote Mind and Cosmos, for example.

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  16. ...we still trust it because we have no alternative.

    Still makes no sense, unless there is a God, or objective Truth, or a Designer, etc. Trusting "because we have no alternative" does not make a thing trustworthy, does it?

    For example, let's say I was alone on an island with a man who came from nowhere discernible, was just randomly there, and who was grounded in nothing at all. I would not trust him "because I had no alternative"; in fact, I would distrust him, heavily! :)

    Not a perfect analogy, of course.

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  17. Okay, suppose you decided that your brain was giving you a highly warped, incorrect, or flat-out deceptive view of the world. How would you modify your behavior?

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  18. If I couldn't trust my thoughts because of my brain based in.. nothing, then I wouldn't know I was getting deceptive messages. So, how would I or why would I modify?

    Remember, I was also talking about atheists with "normal" brains, not those who feel something is wrong. How would they really know they are getting the truth?

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  19. Most atheists aren't really denying God. They are denying the God as described by theists.

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  20. Exactly, that was my point. You wouldn't know. You wouldn't be able to modify your behavior.

    Thus, it's pointless to debate about. It is our nature to assume that our brains work, and we literally couldn't do otherwise.

    Even though I believe in God and non-physical consciousness, I can't prove that my mind works any better than an atheist can prove his works.

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  21. captcrisis, I agree that most professed atheists are not.

    Chris, but yes, see, that's the thing. It's pointless. It's absurd. A "smart" atheist has to ultimately agree that we can't really know anything, because even our brains can't be trusted. Even with that thought I just gave, ha ha. It's why I admire the existentialists so much more than the New Atheists. The existentialists "got" the absurdity of it all. The New Atheist try to imbue "meaning" in things that are ultimately absurd and meaningless, I guess for their own sanity? But to me, the existentialists are more rooted in reality, in that if there is no God, this is all just a big meaningless mess -- a cosmic joke.

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  22. P.S. I read your link to what Francis actually said, and it is a bad mistranslation. A lot of the word choices seemed to be odd, but then I got to:

    "Because of this you are right, egregious Doctor Scalfari, when you see in the Incarnation of the Son of God the foundation of the Christian faith."

    "Egregious"?

    I stopped reading after that.

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  23. captcrisis, indeed, it is a bad translation. Clearly, it was rushed, days ago. I noticed that immediately. But why do you insist the letter is a "MIStranslation"? Do you speak Italian?

    Egregious. Well, I'm certain there is more nuance to whatever word he actually used. From the Latin, the ancient usage of the word means "remarkably good", apparently.

    The point is (which I think you missed?) is that the press didn't accurately portray the spirit or content of the letter. That's the point.

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  24. "Egregious" is so clearly a mistranslation of whatever word Francis used, that it puts into question the translation of all the other words. You can't say that the "spirit or content of the letter" was inaccurately portrayed until you actually know what the spirit and content *was*.

    Neither you nor I know what Francis said. There's *got* to be a better translation somewhere.

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  25. Captcrisis, to my knowledge there is no official translation available from the Vatican yet. However, quoth Fr. Zuhlsdorf:

    "While I echo the letter of the sentiment, I also know that “egregio Signore” in Italian is a commonplace in correspondence and that it means “Dear Sir”. This is the trap of “false friends” when translating. Italian “egregio” and English “egregious” are both from Latin egregius, “outstanding”, “not mediocre”, “distinguished”, “uncommon”. The idea is that you stand away from (ex) the herd (grex). In Italian, the character of outstanding is positive. In English the character of outstanding is negative, and strongly so: extraordinary in some bad way as in “an egregious mistake of translation”. Yes, you can find examples in English which are positive, but they will be archaic."

    http://wdtprs.com/blog/2013/09/newspapers-are-not-where-the-church-deepens-doctrine-or-changes-disciplines/

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    1. Thanks! I suspected "false friends" were involved. It's a lazy way of translating. Learning Spanish and speaking with hispanic friends, I fell into several such traps. Fortunately they were friends, so all they did was laugh.

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  26. By the way, NCR has made the same point you have. See http://ncronline.org/blogs/francis-chronicles/pope-francis-outreach-atheists-not-controversial-it-seems

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  27. http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2013/09/full-text-of-popes-letter-to-atheist.html

    That may be a better translation.

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  28. Leila,

    Thanks.

    One way to foster dialog is to note as many areas of disagreement as possible. Francis does this. There is a lot in his letter that atheists would have no problem with.

    He does not squarely answer the question of whether atheists go to heaven, but perhaps within his mindset it's not a question that can be squarely answered. I like how he says that truth is not absolute, existing apart from everything but everyone, but is rather a relationship. It is a good way to further the dialog.

    It's also ironic, given my comments to your post, that he points out how hard Mark's Greek can be to translate, word-for-word, into Italian (and I suppose English).

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  29. Captcrisis, I think you meant to type "agreement" there.

    Yes, there is much that we can agree on, but we must make sure that there is no misunderstanding. He is not saying there is not absolute truth, but only that the truth is connected to a Person and our relationship to Him. All Truth comes from Christ. To the extent that we know Him, we are connected to His Truth. Many distance themselves from Him.

    One thing that is not debatable for Francis or the Church: Salvation comes only through Jesus Christ. My first link above speaks to that.

    And also, that Reality (capital R) does in fact exist. No relativism, no "your Truth, my Truth".

    But what Francis does well is enter into dialogue, as if he were someone sitting around a kitchen table. That can cause it's own problems (we are not as likely to be precise), but it draws people in to listen. Unfortunately, the press is spectacularly good at flubbing it or at spinning things, rather than really listening.

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    1. Yes, I meant to say "agreement"! Thanks.
      Also it should be "everything *and* everybody".

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  30. Bri, great question.

    Also, one more thought on Pope Francis and "absolutes". It's very true that we do not make "absolute" statements and conclusions like "atheists go to hell". And the reason we don't is for the very reason the Pope gave: It depends on the relationship between God and the person who is claiming atheism. It depends on the disposition of every heart. So, is the man seeking? Is he trying to find God? That is why we can never speak with "absolutes" in this matter. The Truth is always connected to relationship. The soul to God. But as for Reality: There is definitely only one Reality. It's how we approach it and accept or reject it that determines our eternity (and it's totally up to us).

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  31. It's very true that we do not make "absolute" statements and conclusions like "atheists go to hell". And the reason we don't is for the very reason the Pope gave: It depends on the relationship between God and the person who is claiming atheism.

    No it doesn't. Atheists cease to exist when they die. Just like everyone else. You misunderstood what I was trying to say about the brain.

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  32. Bill S, my son is an atheist and I know that if he gave it much thought he would agree with your statement on death. He is only 22 though, so death usually seems like something that will never happen to him - still at that invincible age.

    I did point out to him once, though, that whatever happens to me at death will also happen to him. If there is no God, we will both cease to exist. If there is a God, we will both meet him. It is not as if he will cease to exist while I at death will meet God. Of course, you know this. But can I ask, do you ever take a moment to say, "I believe that I will cease to exist at death, but I could be wrong"?

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  33. But can I ask, do you ever take a moment to say, "I believe that I will cease to exist at death, but I could be wrong"?

    Yes. But what I don't believe is that I would ever be punished for not believing in God. That is obviously a scare tactic to make people believe and grow the Church.

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  34. But what I don't believe is that I would ever be punished for not believing in God. That is obviously a scare tactic to make people believe and grow the Church.

    Wait. I thought that, according to the left, the way to "grow the Church" would be to adopt more secular values and stop talking about sin?

    Bottom line, the Church says what she's said for 2,000 years, and she'll keep saying it till the end of time, because that's her mission. Don't build your house on shifting sand, Bill. Truth does not change, even if the zeitgeist wish it would. The Church has stood the test of time. You can trust her, unlike the spirit of the age.

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  35. Our (solid) pastor mentions things like this often enough to remind the parish. He has often said he expects to see Ghandi in heaven.
    Just today he reminded us that the gospel tells us we must pray for reconciliation of those that hate us and can't talk of "all those arabs" or "all those muslims" because it's inaccurate and even if it were true, we're called to prayer, not singling out groups. He is the pastor where I finally went, "ah ha, that's how you be CATHOLIC, not republican or democrat, left or right. That's CATHOLIC thought." It's a blessing to actually learn that example from a priest.

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  36. Bill, have you heard the expression, "God is love"? We do not say, "God is punishment." When we think of God in terms of a being who wants to punish us because he made the rules and we broke them, we have completely the wrong idea about God. I think that sin carries its own punishment. Sin is harmful to us, which is exactly why the God who loves us says, "When you choose sin, you are hurting yourself, and it hurts me to see you suffer. I want your happiness, and you are not going to get it by sinning. Don't do it." And then, even when we do sin, he is like the father in today's Gospel, watching and watching for our return to him, and running out to meet us. I'm not a Christian because someone scared me into being one. If I were, I would have a very twisted sense of Christianity.

    I saw a book at Barnes and Noble this weekend. I loved the title: "God Is Not Mad at You" Such a simple truth! I even need to hear that - no matter what is going wrong in my life, the problem is not that God is mad at me. As Christians we do not believe that we go to hell because God is mad at us. We believe the people who go to hell choose to go there. If you think about it, if there is in fact a God, and if an atheist meets him and rejects him, the atheist could hardly expect that the next step would be for the atheist to spend an eternity with the God he rejects. So if one rejects heaven, where would one expect to go? What we believe is that it is not possible to reject the very love for which we were made, and still be happy, so that a person who rejects God will be forever unhappy. The question in my mind is, how could someone reject happiness? I don't know how, but I think that some people decide that if happiness requires them to admit that God exists, they would rather not be happy. Do atheists go to heaven? Well, I suppose that they don't, because if you accept God's existence and his offer of love for you, then you are no longer an atheist. I don't even think that there are atheists in hell. I think that every being in hell knows without a doubt that God exists. They just want nothing to do with him.

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  37. Bottom line, the Church says what she's said for 2,000 years, and she'll keep saying it till the end of time, because that's her mission.

    If the Church has been enticing people with the promise of heaven and scaring them with the threat of hell for 2,000 years, what makes that true? The fact that people have believed these teaching all that time adds nothing to their credibility.

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  38. The fact that people have believed these teaching all that time adds nothing to their credibility.

    What would make them credible, if not their seemingly supernatural ability to stay the same in season and out, no matter the culture, no matter the threats, no matter the foibles or sins of any pope?

    What merely human institution run by men for two-freaking-thousand years would not have declared the legitimacy of masturbation by now? Can you even imagine that not one pope (with all his "power"!!) would not declare it moral? No one? How can this be, humanly speaking? If men had the power to determine and shape the moral law, that would be the first thing approved, no?

    Sounds funny, but think about it, Bill.

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  39. If you think about it, if there is in fact a God, and if an atheist meets him and rejects him, the atheist could hardly expect that the next step would be for the atheist to spend an eternity with the God he rejects.

    I would not reject God if I met him. I just see God as a fictional character described in the Bible. I reject the notion that there is a God that has given this great authority to tell me how I must live my life.

    "When I fight authority, authority always wins". - John Melancamp.

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  40. "When I fight authority, authority always wins". - John Melancamp.

    It's so interesting that you bring this up. I was just watching Fr. Barron's new series tonight, and that was a big part of it, this idea that secularists have that God is some sort of opponent to them, that He is at odds with them and at odds with humanity and freedom, etc.

    So wrongheaded. Not the Christian understanding of God at all.

    It must be hard to live that false battle. Very tiring.

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  41. What would make them credible, if not their seemingly supernatural ability to stay the same in season and out, no matter the culture, no matter the threats, no matter the foibles or sins of any pope?

    I don't think the Church's inability to change its teachings (because it would have to admit it was wrong before) is necessarily a good thing. There is an indestructiblity to an institution that claims to hold the keys to the kingdom of heaven. People buy that and have for 2,000 years.

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  42. Bill, I think it is unfortunate that you have an image of God that is such a caricature, and that you see believers as easily manipulated people who are solely motivated by a carrot and stick "faith". Would you consider that there are very intelligent people who have a deep faith in Christ because they have studied the teachings of the Church and found them to be credible? Also, there is such a thing as not wanting to offend God because you love him, not because you are afraid of punishment.

    The sermon given by the priest whose Mass was broadcast by EWTN yesterday was beautiful. It was about the Prodigal Son. Maybe you could take a minute to listen it to it for a different perspective on how to see God. They archive all of the homilies. I have only been able to find the archives through 9/13 but if anyone else finds the 9/15 homily maybe they can post the link.

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  43. Would you consider that there are very intelligent people who have a deep faith in Christ because they have studied the teachings of the Church and found them to be credible?

    Yes. I do consider that, but I don't have the same opinion as them. All I know is that God started out as a fictional character in the Torah and somehow turned into a real being. I do believe that the world would be a better place if more people believed but that is not enough to make me rebelieve.

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  44. Bill, you don't KNOW that "God started out as a fictional character in the Torah and somehow turned into a real being". You BELIEVE that.

    In all my studies of ancient Judaism I have never heard the theory that God was intended as a fictional character in the Torah. (I have a BA in Religious Studies from a state university and have continued studies on my own, reading respected scholars and archaeologists of multiple faith backgrounds.) You may have read one article or book that theorized that, but I have never come across that theory in mainstream academic circles.

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  45. In all my studies of ancient Judaism I have never heard the theory that God was intended as a fictional character in the Torah.

    Maybe "fictional" is the wrong word since it implies that the writer intended that the reader would know that it is not a true story. The only other options are that the writer intended that the reader believe that it is a true story or that it is some sort of myth that is true in an other than historical way.

    All I am saying is that God starts out in Genesis as a fictional character, walking in the Garden of Eden, closing the door on the Ark, etc. At some point, maybe when he appears to Moses in the burning bush, there must be a shift from mythological to real. Otherwise, he is a fictional character.

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  46. "God starts out in Genesis as a fictional character"

    Fictional according to *your own little opinion*. Let's clarify terms here eh?

    Reading your posts, you seem determined to believe that God is an opponent, watching you and waiting for you to trip up, and you reject any authority greater than yourself, because you don't seem to like the idea of it. It's a bizarre caricature of religion in general, especially Catholicism.

    Replace 'the Catholic Church' in this sentence with 'God', and it kind of describes your situation:

    “There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.” Fulton Sheen.

    Also, your whole thing about brains and consciousness etc is a bit shaky, considering that science can't even tell us where our consciousness actually resides, and has never ever 'seen' a thought, nor can it (yet) explain how we even conceptualise things. We know that something happens, we can see synapses and physical activity, but we can't actually *see* someone's consciousness. So it's quite the assumption to say it 'resides' in the brain.

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  47. Leila, you've often used the Church's two thousand year endurance as an argument. That always reminds me of how Muslims talk about how well they've preserved the Qu'ran. Do you think they have a point there?

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  48. My EXACT reaction to the article/s. I didn't even bother entering into the debate.

    Seriously. BORING!

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  49. Chris, Islamic teaching is all over the place. There is no "pope", nothing to tell us what exactly the teachings are. So, no, I would not in any way say it's the same. Where is the institution of "Islam" -- the seat of the teaching? The interpretive office? They don't have one. The Faith did not bubble up out of the words of the New Testament --if it had, the Church would not have been in existence for the first decade (or more) after Christ, when not one word of the New Testament was written, nor for the first 300+ years, when the New Testament was not yet even compiled and canonized. And yet, the Church thrived during that first decade, during those first centuries. Why? Because the Apostles and their successors taught the Truth, with Peter and his successor at the helm.

    The institution of the Papacy has no parallel, in Islam or elsewhere.

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  50. For clarity, I should have said: The Catholic Faith did not bubble up out of the words of the New Testament… (I was no longer speaking of Islam.)

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  51. We could argue that Beowulf or the works of Homer are "well-preserved", but no one imagines supernatural origins or protections there.

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  52. I guess I drew the comparison because I come from a Protestant background, and we generally agree that a book is enough to have all the vital teachings of your faith.

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  53. Bill, I think your comments on God being fictional are interesting. I think I might know what you mean, especially when you say mythological rather than fictional. You are saying that the story is myth rather than God being myth (at least in the mind of the author), am I right? I have to admit that the myth versus "fiction" versus history discussion goes over my head. I figure the myths are going to turn out to be pretty accurate after all, but that might be because my mind runs in a certain fashion that just prefers the facts. The myths, if that is what they are, are probably a more beautiful way to present then truth than any dry factual account I might come up with, but I would be more than satisfied with the dry factual account.

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  54. I guess I drew the comparison because I come from a Protestant background, and we generally agree that a book is enough to have all the vital teachings of your faith.

    Yes, totally understood. It's a big paradigm difference, as Catholics are not sola scriptura and never have been. Lots of Catholics in America have adopted that Protestant paradigm, but it's not Catholic. As I have heard it said, The Church is not Bible-based, the Bible is Church-based.

    Sacred Scripture is that part of Sacred Tradition (which comes from the Apostles) that was written down. So, the New Testament is a sub-set, if you will, of Sacred Tradition. And the Magisterium is the third leg of that stool which keeps the whole thing solid and sure.

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  55. Leila,

    Good point.

    Digging into the bowels of Christian history, one finds that the expression "New Testament" was actually in use by the first Christians long before the Bible was compiled. It was used in connection with the celebration of the Eucharist, which, during the Last Supper, Jesus gave to mankind as THE saving instrument of the New Covenant (i.e., the New "Testament") between God and man, replacing the Old Covenant (the Old Testament) which He had made with His People through Moses. Thus it is that the Church was never, and can never be, merely Bible based. The Church is far, far greater than a mere producer and custodian of Truth contained in a Good Book. The Source, Center and Summit of our faith, our life in the Church, our relationship with the Divine, is no less - not one iota less - than the very Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our gracious God, seeking with prodigal love His dwelling in the living temple of man. Sometimes, it causes me to tremble. That's right. Tremble. Tremble. Tremble.

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  56. You are saying that the story is myth rather than God being myth (at least in the mind of the author), am I right?

    Sharon,

    If I weren't an atheist, that might be what I meant and it is certainly a possibility. But in my mind, all religion is based on myth. I don't have a problem with that except when people then try to impose morality that they derive from their religion onto those who know it is based on a myth and therefore the morals may or may not be applicable to them.

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  57. Reading your posts, you seem determined to believe that God is an opponent, watching you and waiting for you to trip up, and you reject any authority greater than yourself, because you don't seem to like the idea of it. It's a bizarre caricature of religion in general, especially Catholicism.

    Excellent observation. But I don't reject all authority. I respect human authority such as that of my town, county, state, country and the international community. I don't believe in God or anything supernatural (with the possible exception of the intelligence of Nature which could be considered to be transcendent and therefore "super" natural). So, I reject the authority given to the Catholic Church by a being that doesn't exist (unless the intelligence behind Nature gave it that authority, which I sincerely doubt). Thus my rebellious attitude.

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  58. I don't believe in God or anything supernatural (with the possible exception of the intelligence of Nature which could be considered to be transcendent and therefore "super" natural).

    First we had Atheist #1 telling us that nothing is actually something.

    Now we have Atheist #2 telling us that nature is actually "super"natural.

    Sheesh! Sounds like we mere mortals really know nuthin' about nuthin'!

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  59. Now we have Atheist #2 telling us that nature is actually "super"natural.

    As a theist, you should already believe that the intelligence of Nature is transcendent and supernatural. To you, the intelligence should be either the Creator or the Word.

    I'm simply allowing for that possibility, though I don't necessarily know it to be the case.

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  60. As a theist, you should already believe that the intelligence of Nature is transcendent and supernatural. To you, the intelligence should be either the Creator or the Word.

    No, to a theist, the intelligence evident in the natural world is neither its Creator nor the Word that created it. Subscribing to that sort of notion leads at best to delirious tree hugging. Things don't create themselves - unless you naively believe that rabbits do indeed pop out of empty hats when the man in the black cape says abracadabra. You can "allow for that possibility" all you like - until the cows come home in fact - but too many things (such as sanity and science) tell us it ain't never gonna happen.

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  61. No, to a theist, the intelligence evident in the natural world is neither its Creator nor the Word that created it.

    Well, that seals it. So, the intelligence evident is the natural world is not an attribute of God. Interesting. I was sure that you had that part as part of your worldview.

    That intelligence is the only thing that could possibly be given the name "God".

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  62. Bill, it'd be in your own interest to slow down and read with a bit of care what people say, instead of rushing to add yet another of your ill-supported claims to this conversation.

    I said that the intelligence in nature is not God. Here, I'll quote again what I wrote, this time in bold letters:

    "the intelligence evident in the natural world is neither its Creator nor the Word that created it

    Within a second of my commenting, you've leapt up to claim that I suggested that intelligence is not an attribute of God. That couldn't be further removed from what I actually said. An apology from you for this false charge might be in order, don't you think?

    And...

    Intelligence is far from "the only thing that could possibly be given the name "God"". God's essence is "being" and "love" - not simply rational thought. You're creating a straw god, attributing him to Christianity, and then bizarrely busying yourself knocking him down!

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  63. Bill,

    1) Can something create itself? Can something spring from nothing?
    2) What is Catholicism trying to "impose" on the culture? Remind me. (And, are you sure you are using the word "impose" correctly?)
    3) What do you long for?

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  64. I said that the intelligence in nature is not God. Here, I'll quote again what I wrote, this time in bold letters:

    "the intelligence evident in the natural world is neither its Creator nor the Word that created it"


    I can accept that although I don't understand how you can. We're good.

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  65. Bill, because natural intelligence can't be God. That would be the created being the Creator.

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  66. "I can accept that although I don't understand how you can. We're good.

    Thanks, Bill. Even though that was about as clear as mud. :)

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  67. 1) Can something create itself? Can something spring from nothing?

    Saint Thomas Aquinas probably most accurately described the uncaused cause behind creation. Only problem is that he identified it as the Christian "God".

    2) What is Catholicism trying to "impose" on the culture? Remind me. (And, are you sure you are using the word "impose" correctly?)

    A ban on abortion, IVF, embryonic stem cell research, cloning, same sex marriage, etc.

    Catholic employers want to impose prohibition of contraception on their employees by refusing to include it in their health care coverage.


    3) What do you long for?

    Relief from sloth and several obsessive compulsive disorders including compulsive blogging.

    The only salvation I want is to be saved from my OCD so as to live a healthier and happier life.

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  68. A ban on abortion, IVF, embryonic stem cell research, cloning, same sex marriage, etc.

    So, abortion, gay "marriage", etc. are only Catholic issues? Only Catholics (and Christians) are against it? Why then, do we find groups like secularprolife.org and not Secularists for the Trinity? Why do we find no gay "marriage" in atheist regimes? Also, the word impose does not mean what you think it means:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2013/06/is-church-imposing-or-is-it-someone-else.html

    Catholic employers want to impose prohibition of contraception on their employees by refusing to include it in their health care coverage.

    Are people who want toothpaste being "prohibited" from their meds because in their plans it's not covered? Also, was there an "access" problem to contraception? I have a Walgreens on every corner.

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    1. Sorry, that should have read: 'Are people who want toothpaste being "prohibited" from getting toothpaste because in their plans it's not covered?'

      And to fit the scenario better: If the government mandated that I give my employees free toothpaste coverage, and I objected to that and fought it, does that mean I've "imposed a prohibition of toothpaste on my employees"? Is that an oppression that I've imposed?

      Delete
  69. Bill,

    If, as per your last comment, you "can accept" that:

    "the intelligence evident in the natural world is neither its Creator nor the Word that created it"

    (as I had stated),

    then...

    why did you write at #3:21 AM:

    I don't believe in God or anything supernatural (with the possible exception of the intelligence of Nature which could be considered to be transcendent and therefore "super" natural).???

    By this statement you were indeed attributing the supernatural to the natural and the transcendent to the ordinary, were you not?

    So... would you like to clarify what your position actually is? With a meaningful, intelligible and adequately elaborate answer, if you wouldn't mind?

    Take your time. Give us something (anything!) that constitutes a positive proposition that we can talk concretely around.

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  70. Bill, because natural intelligence can't be God. That would be the created being the Creator.

    We're getting hung up on semantics.

    Who, or better still, what is the intelligence behind Nature. Wouldn't you say that, among other things that God may be, He is the intelligence behind the entire material universe?

    If He isn't, that's fine with me. There is something where nothing of a material nature exists. That something is mysterious.

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  71. Bill, we're not getting hung up on semantics. It's you who's constantly hiding behind them. You've been asked so many questions by so many people - in straight and simple words. And yet it's hard to spot a single straight and direct answer from you to any of them! Like the latest one from Leila: Can something create itself? What's your answer?

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  72. The only thing I can think of that has ever created itself is the universe. How it did that is a mystery that we may never find the answer to. Some people believe that God created the universe and God is "I am". In other words, God exists. I just say Nature exists. There are no simple answers to what we are discussing. I think we are all doing the best we can with the brains that Nature has given us.

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  73. Without getting hung up on semantics again, it is no secret that Catholics are constantly trying to impose their own brand of morality on the rest of the world and that is why so many of the rest of the world dislike them.

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  74. "The only thing I can think of that has ever created itself is the universe. [...] I think we are all doing the best we can with the brains that Nature has given us."

    Bill, do you not see the contradiction in these two statements of yours? If we're all doing the best we can with the brains that "nature" has given us (which, indeed, we are, extensively, and rightly so), we see no evidence whatsoever - not even a remote suggestion - of anything ever creating (or having created) itself from absolutely nothing. Yet you choose to posit that (it's feasible that) the universe created itself? How does that work - whether scientifically, or by circumstantial evidence, or by logical deductive reasoning of our human brains? Is there even a shred of evidence in any sphere of human research that such a proposition might have any merit?

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  75. Francis,

    God created everything, visible and invisible. Some people believe that he did this through his son, Jesus Christ, the second person of the Holy Trinity. God has been mischaracterized by the religions of the world including Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

    That's the best I can do.

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  76. "Catholics are constantly trying to impose their own brand of morality on the rest of the world.

    That's just false propaganda, Bill.

    Catholics don't rule the world, Bill. (Quite literally, by their own philosophy, their kingdom is not of this world.) Therefore they're quite unable (indeed, unwilling) to "impose" anything on anyone. In case you've failed to notice, even their God doesn't "impose" Himself on anyone! He allows the operation of free will in all of His children - whatever the outcome.

    What Catholics do is "propose" in the public square codes of conduct which they see as conducive to the common good and instrumental in human flourishing. That's all Catholics do. And, if you read enough of history, you'll discover that in every age that Catholic/Christian proposals and principles have been ignored or opposed in sufficient numbers, misery, tyranny and injustice have been the lot of the common man.

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  77. "God has been mischaracterized by the religions of the world including Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

    You've made a very definitive statement there, Bill.

    I challenge it.

    I'm not interested in Islam (for the purposes of this discussion), but could you enumerate how Judaism and Christianity have mischaracterized God? I don't know how many "mischaracterizations" of God you've discovered in these two religions, but perhaps you could start with, say, three that are most serious to your mind?

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  78. Francis,

    We can call the creative intelligence behind all that is "God".

    Or we can call the main character of the Bible "God".

    Nothing about the first one is in the Bible.

    Or, to put it another way, nothing in the Bible accurately describes the first one.

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  79. "We can call the creative intelligence behind all that is "God".

    Or we can call the main character of the Bible "God".

    Nothing about the first one is in the Bible.


    What? WHAT? ARE YOU SERIOUS, BILL?

    Heavens, there is so much in the Bible which describes God as the creative intelligence behind all there is!!! (Whether you choose to believe it or not is another matter, but how can you make a statement like the one you just made???!!!)

    Here, read Job 38

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  80. Without getting hung up on semantics again, it is no secret that Catholics are constantly trying to impose their own brand of morality on the rest of the world and that is why so many of the rest of the world dislike them.

    What are the tools of this imposition? Fines, taxes, ruination, loss of livelihood, jail, imprisonment, military intervention, execution? Oh, wait, that's the government. So, for the Church it's persuasion, discussion, voting, prayer…

    Unless there are other tools I'm forgetting?

    Also, remind me again, what is particularly Catholic about the moral law (you know, the same one that is held by the orthodox of every world religion)? Are we forcing folks to receive the sacraments, or profess belief in the Trinity? Thanks for any info….

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  81. So, for the Church it's persuasion, discussion, voting, prayer…Unless there are other tools I'm forgetting?

    The people out there with their kids and baby carriages and signs singing songs and praying the rosary, etc. And the USCCB trying to influence regulations.

    Also, remind me again, what is particularly Catholic about the moral law (you know, the same one that is held by the orthodox of every world religion)?

    First. If there is going to be such a thing as a "moral law", it can't be based on a religion such as Christianity. It has to represent the standards of society in general. For example, homosexuality does not violate any moral law of 21st century society in this country nor any other laws except maybe some obsolete anti-sodomy laws in some backward states and localities. There are huge differences between Catholic moral law and society's moral law. We are all part of society. We are not all Catholics.

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  82. The people out there with their kids and baby carriages and signs singing songs and praying the rosary, etc. And the USCCB trying to influence regulations.

    So your belief is that freedom of speech = imposition?

    Does that mean that atheists are also trying to impose their morality on others when they stage similar demonstrations and/or try to influence regulations?

    Why is it acceptable, in your view, for atheists to impose their morality on Christians, but not vice versa?

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  83. So Bill, was slavery morally right when it represented the standards of society in general, back in 1835? What about the Nuremberg laws in 1935 - were they fair and just since they represented the standards of that society?

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  84. Sorry but I had to comment on this.

    First. If there is going to be such a thing as a "moral law", it can't be based on a religion such as Christianity. It has to represent the standards of society in general.

    No, there IS in fact a moral law, and it isn't based upon "a religion such as Christianity." Rather, religion's such as Christianity, belong to the already existing (and unchanging) moral law, and preach the Truth as such. Moral law cannot, by definition, be representative of standards of a society because those standards are ever changing. Moral law is constant and unchanging; it exists outside of ourselves and our constructs including both religion and society.

    In other words the Moral Law (i.e. objective morality) does not exist within a religion, but religion exists within the Moral Law. Religion's purpose is to preach and teach the Truth about the Moral Law.

    Hope that helps.

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  85. No, there IS in fact a moral law, and it isn't based upon "a religion such as Christianity." Rather, religion's such as Christianity, belong to the already existing (and unchanging) moral law, and preach the Truth as such.

    Notions such as this are causing a lot of problems for people who are trying to live by their own morals. We might all have an innate sense of right and wrong and it will not be exactly the same for each person but similar enough so that we can all get along. But that's as close as there is to any so called "Moral Law".

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  86. but similar enough so that we can all get along

    Really? Where do you see that in history?

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  87. We might all have an innate sense of right and wrong...

    This is called the Natural Law (or the universal moral law) that is written on everyone's heart. So, I guess you do believe in the moral law!

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  88. JoAnna,

    In response to your two posts:

    If we live in a sick society, then its morality might be deficient. True.

    Atheists who are trying to do away with oppressive laws against them are different than religious trying to pass or preserve laws based on their religion that oppress others.

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  89. Soooo, if I'm an person (atheist or otherwise) who wants to steal and cheat (because that's my moral code) then laws agains that are "oppressive" by default, correct?

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  90. This is called the Natural Law (or the universal moral law) that is written on everyone's heart.

    They are instinctive feelings that have been developed in us through experience and perhaps heredity. Its not a law written on our hearts by a deity.

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  91. Soooo, if I'm an person (atheist or otherwise) who wants to steal and cheat (because that's my moral code) then laws agains that are "oppressive" by default, correct?

    There are people who think some of our laws are oppressive. Unless they can get them changed, it's just tough luck for them.

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  92. If we live in a sick society, then its morality might be deficient. True.

    But how do you know the society is "sick" if the laws represent the opinions of the majority? By your definition, truth is determined by majority vote. If the majority of citizens supported slavery and the Nuremburg laws, how could they be wrong using your definition?

    Atheists who are trying to do away with oppressive laws against them are different than religious trying to pass or preserve laws based on their religion that oppress others.

    How so? Catholics (and other Christians) are trying to do away with oppressive laws that restrict the free exercise of religion (e.g., the HHS mandate) as well as laws that violate the human rights of children (e.g., laws allowing abortion).

    What about Michael Potter, president of Eden Foods?

    He says, "Eden employee benefits include health, dental, vision, life, and a fifty percent 401k match. The benefits have not funded "lifestyle drugs," an insurance industry drug classification that includes contraceptives, Viagra, smoking cessation, weight-loss, infertility, impotency, etc. This entire plan is managed with a goal of long-term sustainability.

    We believe in a woman's right to decide, and have access to, all aspects of their health care and reproductive management. This lawsuit does not block, or intend to block, anyone's access to health care or reproductive management. This lawsuit is about protecting religious freedom and stopping the government from forcing citizens to violate their conscience. We object to the HHS mandate and its government overreach.

    This is an important matter that deserves attention from us all.

    Our actions have been, and will remain, principled and transparent. Eden's focus is pure food, ethical business practice, and the nurturing of all people and the planet."

    Does that sound like someone who is trying to "enact oppressive laws," or someone who is trying to oppose oppression?

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  93. Heavens, there is so much in the Bible which describes God as the creative intelligence behind all there is!!!

    The Bible doesn't talk about how all life descended from a single living cell and evolved into all the species of plants and animals including us. The first God made that all happen. The Bible God makes everything in its final form, which is not how everything came about at all.

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  94. Bill- jumping in for a sec. And people believed that women determined gender of babies. You're looking at an acient document through the lense of the 21 st c. The book of Genesis is not scientific text book. Its a description of a creator Gid among other things.

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  95. You're looking at an acient document through the lense of the 21 st c.

    If the Bible truly is the word of God, why is it so primitive?

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  96. The Bible was not written by God word for word. It was written by men.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblical_inspiration

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  97. I find it ironic that you hold so much to the constitution and its centuries old.

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  98. There are people who think some of our laws are oppressive. Unless they can get them changed, it's just tough luck for them.

    Right. This is the philosophy of "he with the biggest guns, wins". The ones "in charge" get to be the ones to set the morality in society, correct? So, might makes right. Correct? That is human morality as you see it?

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  99. If the Bible truly is the word of God, why is it so primitive?

    The Bible is the story of salvation history. As it's been famously said, "It tells us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go."

    Nothing primitive about how to get to Heaven. That never changes.

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  100. The ones "in charge" get to be the ones to set the morality in society, correct?

    They set the rules in society. Morality is not always the impetus for a rule. The government doesn't usually make rules requiring people to be moral or prohibiting something because it is immoral. There are usually more pragmatic reasons.

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  101. Bill, where does morality come from, if not from society or the individual?

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    1. For the record, of course, I don't believe that morality comes from either society or the individual. But you don't have a third option, do you?

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  102. Nothing primitive about how to get to Heaven. That never changes.

    There is nothing in the Old Testament about "how to get to Heaven". This is all the doing of one person who managed to get himself killed.

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  103. "Morality is not always the impetus for a rule."

    We set the rules in society based on what we think is good, and what we think is bad. Determining what is good, and what is bad is ... morality.

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  104. We set the rules in society based on what we think is good, and what we think is bad. Determining what is good, and what is bad is ... morality.

    What we think is good for society or bad for society is not the same as what is moral or immoral. The latter have more to do with whether God will let you into heaven or send you to hell.

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  105. Bill, where does morality come from, if not from society or the individual?

    To me, morality is something that religious people spend more time thinking about than non-religious people. Public morality usually involves efforts to keep children from being exposed to sexually explicit entertainment. People are more concerned with legality than morality. People who always think about what is moral and what is immoral usually worry about their relationship with an all-knowing, omnipresent God who cares about who is moral and who is immoral.

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  106. The government doesn't usually make rules requiring people to be moral or prohibiting something because it is immoral. There are usually more pragmatic reasons.

    What's curious as you seem to think that these are two distinct things... Pragmatic Reason is oft an indicator of Objective Morality.

    It is wrong to commit murder. Not because the law says it's wrong to commit murder, but because committing murder is immoral. The law is reinforcing the Moral Law (so that those who would choose to deliberately sin (go against the Moral Law) can be held accountable to those they've wronged). And yet, its reinforcement of the Moral Law, is not simply based upon the fact that "It is the Moral Law." But it's based upon WHY committing murder is immoral.

    It's true that committing murder is immoral because it breaches our relationship with Christ and pushes us away from God (something of which atheists think they have no stake in). But these are the supernatural consequences of sin in general. They are consequences of incurring the natural consequences of the sinful act of murder: harming an innocent human being, breeding suspicion, fear, and hatred within the community, harming the community as a whole by forcibly removing one of it's members without just cause, and those are just the outward consequences, separate from the consequences incurred on one's self when they commit murder (lack of trust, guilt, shame, (felt by one's inner self not simply brought on by others) potentially developing or fueling a psychopathy (leading to more immoral behavior), I could go on, but you get the idea)

    Here's the thing, murder is wrong (immoral) even if there is not a single person on the planet. It might be inconsequential in that instance, but that doesn't make less immoral. It was wrong 2 billion years ago, and it will be still be wrong 2 billion years from now, regardless of what the law or society or any one random being says or does.

    Objective Moral Law.

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  107. People who always think about what is moral and what is immoral usually worry about their relationship with an all-knowing, omnipresent God who cares about who is moral and who is immoral.

    People like MLK, who care about the connection between laws and morality… isn't that a good thing? I never tire of quoting the man:

    [T]here are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all."

    Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law.


    But let me try the question again, substituting "right and wrong" for "morality":

    Bill where do right and wrong come from, if not from society or the individual?


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  108. Gee, Bill, I wish you could stop picturing God with some kind of a whip, waiting to get the chance to send all those who cross him into hell. How about if the moral teachings of the Church (the Church having been instituted by Christ with the promise that the gates of hell would not prevail against it) have to do with justice and goodness and behavior that will ultimately lead to your happiness - not just eternal happiness, but happiness here on Earth? I am grateful for the Church's guidance because I "have seen and have come to believe" that the guidance given is truly best for me and for the people around me. I wish I could come up with the right words to be sure you would understand what I mean. I don't mean that God doesn't care about sin, and that he doesn't care if you ignore what he says. It's that God knows the consequences of sin, of doing right and wrong, of choosing to forever separate yourself from him. He does not want you to suffer those consequences.

    I am sorry that you carry the cross of OCD. It must be very difficult. I have crosses, too, including far too many that are of my own making. I wish you could recognize the "person who got himself killed" - for your sake and mine - as one who wants to walk right with you and help you carry your crosses. You will have crosses in life, no matter what you do or do not believe, so why not consider that he wants to help you out with them?

    Maybe I could put it one other way. This is what our faith teaches: Jesus came not to condemn the world, but to save it. That is what he is all about. Not about looking for a chance to send you to hell.

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  109. If the government mandated that I give my employees free toothpaste coverage, and I objected to that and fought it, does that mean I've "imposed a prohibition of toothpaste on my employees"? Is that an oppression that I've imposed?

    You've imposed a religious prohibition against you using toothpaste on your employees who do not practice your religion.

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  110. "Notions such as this are causing a lot of problems for people who are trying to live by their own morals.

    What you mean, Bill, is that universally common notions of morality (i.e., age old and worldwide notions of right and wrong, of good and evil, of normalcy and perversity) are now suddenly proving to be problematic for some people who want their decadent societies to be redesigned according to their own immorality. We get that. We really do!

    We also get that notions such as "gay marriage" and "gender equality" and "a woman's right to choose" are causing a lot of problems for *some* other (inconsequential) people who are also trying to live by their own morals. Those are increasingly being abused, sued, fined, and deprived of their livelihood and their freedoms. Some of them are being deprived of all knowledge of and connection with their biological parents and families. Would you like to live in their shoes, Bill? And in the case of another group, over a trillion have lost their very lives since 1980 as a consequence of their parents living by their own "morals".

    Be extremely careful what you so blithely subscribe to, Bill, and especially what you propagate to others - including in public forums such as this. Unless you're 100% sure that there will never ever be a day of reckoning for your personal actions as a responsible 61 year old adult. If which case, go ahead and do whatever satiates your passions and titillates your fancies within the already licentious boundaries of the law of the land. Think about it: there's such a creative amount you can already do without constantly carping for more legal permissions! Why, thanks to the generosity of your governments, soon you'll even be able to accompany your wife and her girlfriends into a public toilet! What a thrill! Get on your knees and say a thank you to Caesar, man, instead of cantankerously crying oppression!

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    1. Billion, not trillion! Still, the earth is now soaking in the blood of innocents.

      Delete
  111. You've imposed a religious prohibition against you using toothpaste on your employees who do not practice your religion.

    What have I prohibited? Toothpaste use? Nope. So, what have I prohibited?

    Let's break this down:

    1. Toothpaste is ubiquitous in Society A. It's copious, it's accessible to all, and it's cheap. It's on practically every street corner.

    2. According to my well-established world religion, I am not morally allowed to supply toothpaste to others, nor give them money earmarked for the purchase of toothpaste.

    3. The government forces me, upon pain of ruinous fines, to violate my religious beliefs and pay for other people's toothpaste, even when #1 is true.

    What does religious liberty mean in Society A?




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  112. "You've imposed a religious prohibition against you using toothpaste on your employees who do not practice your religion."

    Nope, you've just said that they can pay for their own toothpaste. Which they already do and have been doing for a real long time. The change is not in the availability of - well, let's get back to birth control - which already is quite available, thank you very much. The change is in forcing a religious institution to violate its own conscience. Bill, why do you think the government would want the Catholic Church to do that? There must be a reason, don't you think?

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  113. The change is not in the availability of - well, let's get back to birth control - which already is quite available, thank you very much.The change is in forcing a religious institution to violate its own conscience. Bill, why do you think the government would want the Catholic Church to do that? There must be a reason, don't you think?

    Well said, Sharon! Thank you for drawing attention the great big elephant in the room which everyone's pretending isn't really there - while crafty Obama and his Planned Barrenhood pals go about trying to misrepresent pregnancy as some kind of illness and contraception/abortion as some kind of "healthcare"! Ha! These charlatans can fool only some of the people some of the time ...

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  114. The change is in forcing a religious institution to violate its own conscience. Bill, why do you think the government would want the Catholic Church to do that? There must be a reason, don't you think?

    I don't think that the HHS mandate was promulgated with the intention of forcing anyone to violate their conscience. I'm not sure they foresaw this minor component of a major effort to provide health care to the American public causing such a backlash.

    But now that it has, the amendments should have satisfied the USCCB. Saying that someone's religion is violated by requiring them to pay for something that is not a sin to the person using it is a stretch. It is an insult to people who truly suffer religious persecution.

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  115. We also get that notions such as "gay marriage" and "gender equality" and "a woman's right to choose" are causing a lot of problems for *some* other (inconsequential) people who are also trying to live by their own morals.

    When your morals include making sure other people don't violate morals that only apply to you, then others have no choice but to ignore your morals.

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  116. Bill, they know exactly what they're doing. The "amendments" amended nothing.

    I am amazed at how easily the average American is willing to give up the rights that so many people have died protecting. Forced to violate your religious convictions? What's the big deal? Government reading everything you send on the internet and being given all of your passwords? Well, if you aren't doing anything wrong, why should you care? By the same token, I suppose if government representatives want to take a stroll through my house for no apparent reason,I should be fine with that since I'm "not doing anything wrong." I have been reading about the American Revolution with my 11 year old son, and it breaks my heart to read of the sacrifices made by so many people, only to have what appears to be a majority of Americans so ready to throw it all away. I'm sorry to know that you are one of those people.

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  117. How about if the moral teachings of the Church (the Church having been instituted by Christ with the promise that the gates of hell would not prevail against it) have to do with justice and goodness and behavior that will ultimately lead to your happiness - not just eternal happiness, but happiness here on Earth?

    Sharon,

    I do my best to abide by those moral teachings. Most of them are covered by the laws of the land.

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  118. Bill where do right and wrong come from, if not from society or the individual?

    Right and wrong mostly come from our knowledge of cause and effect that we gain from experience. I see that when I go to the gym every morning instead of getting a sausage, egg and cheese croissant and a large coffee at Dunkin Donuts (which I just did), I have chosen to do the right thing and avoid the wrong thing because I know from cause and effect that I will never get back in shape if I don't do the right thing. To make matters worse, I let my wife assume that I was going to the gym and she told me to have a good workout when I dropped her off at work. So I feel bad about lying to her. I have lived my whole life making bad decisions, yet I do not think of myself as a bad person or evil or headed to hell. I have a wife who unfailingly makes good or right decisions. Otherwise, my life would be very different. So, I know a little about right and wrong.

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  119. I think somebody said this but it bears repeating....hell isn't something God inflicts on you like a punishment. Hell is the permanent separation from God. If you dont believe in a God then you already have separated yourself from God. You put yourself in that state and upon your death its made permanent. Its not a threat from theists. Its a choice that you make. If you're still alive you can unmake it.

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  120. The thing is cause and effect really have no bearing on right and wrong. One could be a master theif and never get caught. By your logic since he's suffered no consequences than he's not wrong.

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  121. Saying that someone's religion is violated by requiring them to pay for something that is not a sin to the person using it is a stretch.

    So, it's not a sin if I give my son money to buy pornography? Or meth?

    I beg to differ. Facilitating a sin is a sin. And, you (or the government) don't get to determine what are the tenets of a religion.

    You have still skipped a lot of questions. I know it's a lot, but some have been repeated. (JoAnna's question about Germany, etc., my questions at 5:27pm.)

    Is your wife a faithful Catholic, too, or is she okay with the government forcing Catholics to violate their consciences and their Faith?


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  122. What does religious liberty mean in Society A?

    Religious liberty means freedom for people of any religion to gather in a place of worship, to speak freely about and display symbols of their religion, to not be forced to do anything against their religion, etc.

    OK. But I still think it's dumb that limo drivers, caterers, florists, bakers, photographers, etc. must turn down prospective customers because of their religion. I don't think that is what religion is for. I think it is a fanatical view, to say the least.

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  123. Is your wife a faithful Catholic, too, or is she okay with the government forcing Catholics to violate their consciences and their Faith?

    She has no interest in this sort of thing. Of course, she is vehemently against homophobia.

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  124. OK. But I still think it's dumb that limo drivers, caterers, florists, bakers, photographers, etc. must turn down prospective customers because of their religion. I don't think that is what religion is for. I think it is a fanatical view, to say the least.

    That's fine. I don't care if you find my religion dumb. I'm pretty sure they thought the same thing in the First Century, too… And, why is it fanatical to expect people to live their faith heroically, and not be complicit in sin? What is the point of a religion if it has no principles, no truths to live by? Seems like a waste of time. Might as well not have religion or profess a faith at all. But maybe that is what you are proposing. But we who truly believe have an entirely different paradigm of life.

    I am glad your wife is against "homophobia" (if by that, you mean the mistreatment of any human being), because Catholicism stands squarely against that as well.


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  125. That's fine. I don't care if you find my religion dumb. I'm pretty sure they thought the same thing in the First Century, too.

    I have to admit that if someone thought he could save the world by starting a religion that promised an eternal reward for being good and threatened an eternal punishment for being bad, Jesus had it all figured out. He is the Savior of the world for instilling this belief in his followers and for them spreading it as they did.

    So, I don't think the whole religion is dumb. To me, it just isn't based on the truth.

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  126. Actually, God saved the world by dying on the Cross for you and me. That's how He saved the world. The only question for each of us is if we want to accept that sacrificial gift of pure Love and follow Him to Heaven.

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  127. BEST. CONSPIRACY. EVER.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5p9CY976_kw

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  128. Saving the world by engaging in what amounts to a grisly suicide simply does not make sense.

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  129. Saving the world by engaging in what amounts to a grisly suicide simply does not make sense.

    captcrisis, it does if you understand the sacrificial nature of love:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2011/07/what-i-never-learned-part-iv-why-it-had.html

    It's entitled, "Why it had to be Jesus, and why he had to die"

    That link might help explain, as well as the posts in the series that came before and after.



    "No greater love hath man than this -- to lay down one's life for one's friends."

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  130. The only question for each of us is if we want to accept that sacrificial gift of pure Love and follow Him to Heaven.

    Must we really believe to be saved? Why didn't God just save us whether we believe he did or not? Because if we don't believe and witness and keep the faith it will die out? Funny how the one thing that is needed for the faith to spread just happens to be the most important thing for us to do to be saved: Believe!

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  131. Bill, you would prefer that God force Himself on people who want nothing to do with Him? That'd make us no better than puppets. We have free will -- God gives us the choice to reject Him. He could compel us to love Him but He respects us too much to do that to us.

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  132. Bill- again its not a punishment or reward. Like God is someone who inflicts. As if he even needs to. I think we need analogy. Since I'm a parent I tend to use those.

    My three year old likes to go places toy in hand. They are his toys. He's responsible for the. Sometimes he gets excited about something unfamiliar drops his toys and later remembers that he left them. Now they're lost. (Although usually i know him well enough to know his bad habit and he's three).

    I dont inflict punishment on him because he's lost someting i gave him (salvation/toys). He did this all on his own. Its a consequence yes but not punishment. There's also no reward for nit loosing his toy either. I gave him the toy freely. He didn't do anything to earn it but its his to treat as he wishes. (I'm God in this analogy). I'm also Christ in that I give if myself to retrieve his toy and restore it to him (my son in this case is humanity).

    Does this make sense? We are given salvation freely. Its our consequence to loose or keep.

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  133. Hell again is where YOU choose to not be with God. You dont believe hes real so why spend time with something imaginary to you right? Heaven is for those who love God and long to show that love (avoid sin) and to be with. Some saints have referred to this as marriage.

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  134. And because i feel compelled....All are saved. Its a choice again. If you dont know about Christ yet still have a natural inclination toward God and his laws than you can be savex too. That's because you dont have the same choice to know the full truth that others do.

    http://www.catholic.com/tracts/salvation-outside-the-church

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  135. Hi all , maybe this is a good spot for this. With the anniversary of Sept 11th and the recent talk about possible Syria action I felt compelled to share a story about an extraordinary young man that had a real impact on my reversion and understanding about our nature and what God has written in our hearts and the meaning of Love.
    Here is the deal, we as nation have unanimously decided that it is necessary to defend ourselves and sometimes go fight to defend our interests. We’ve asked that men/women volunteer and accept the rule that they will perform and follow orders given by elected officials no matter what. Some young men understand the ideal of sacrifice for others and give up much in service of that ideal. Michael was the type of young man who knew what God had written on his heart. He understood instinctively and with a formed conscious what the word “Love” actually means. Please pray for his parents who will always carry their loss with somber pride.
    (please note that a Seal machine-gunners job is to step forward, take a knee, and stare into those muzzle flashes while the team maneuvers. This was his job)

    http://www.navy.mil/moh/monsoor/

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CfK2BQCIIes

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    1. Oh dear, just to be clear, I never served in the military nor did I know Michael personally.
      Conections are friend of friend, church, family and San Diego etc . Someone asked and I'm sorry I didn't make that clear.

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    2. Chris, I remember him. It is astounding and I have no words. May God rest his soul. "No greater love hath a man than this…"

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  136. You dont believe hes real so why spend time with something imaginary to you right?

    Exactly. And if it turns out that God is real, I'll be the first to admit that I was wrong. In the meantime, I am not going to look to something I believe to be imaginary. The story told in the Bible makes more sense as a novel than as a historical account.

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  137. Bill,

    You wrote, of your wife, "Of course, she is vehemently against homophobia."

    That's wonderful to hear! Now will she (or you) be like the rest of us and ask the government and the media and the judiciary to stop being homophobic? You see, homophobia, by definition, is "an unreasoned fear of homosexuals" or homosexuality. This fear results in paralysis in opposing anything they say or do. Christians and other right thinking people aren't homophobic. They've proven this over and over again by regularly and openly opposing every unreasonable homosexual agenda. The government, media and courts on the other hand, are so afraid of homosexuals, they roll over and surrender to every one of their demands, no matter how unreasonable or detrimental those might be to the well being of others, including children.

    The lady who refused to bake a cake for a homosexual "wedding" wasn't being homophobic. She rightly refused the ridiculous order just as readily as she would refuse a farcical order from any other member of the community - including heterosexuals. Ant creative artist, such as a baker is entitled to some integrity in his/her work/product, don't you think? Even MacDonald's wouldn't serve you a burger laced with two teaspoons of salt, even if you demanded it - despite the fact that it'd be easy for them to oblige - would they? Nevertheless, in the case of the victimized baker, a number of homophobes jumped in on the scene and forced her to close her business, terrified as they are of offending homosexuals. Real men and women aren't homophobes - they do not harbor an unwarranted fear of homosexuals. The government, media and courts on the other hand...

    So, yeah. If you and/or your wife are "vehemently against homophobia" we expect you'll join us wholeheartedly in telling the powers that be to stop being homophobic!

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  138. Bill- then you'll know he's real but you'll be permanently separated from Him through your own choice. Are you willing to take that risk? Deal with the consequences that you are wrong? I mean this as something you should consider thinking about. You dont have to answer the questions.

    As you've pointed out that you moral principles are based on consequences you should consider the consequences of unbelief for the hereafter.

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  139. Very moving story about Navy Seal Michael Monsoor, Chris.

    I reckon most people reading it will find it noble, heroic, inspiring and, indeed, life-giving. Except perhaps captcrisis, who, sadly, reacts to such ultimate sacrifice by saying things like "Saving the world by engaging in what amounts to a grisly suicide simply does not make sense."

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  140. That's wonderful to hear! Now will she (or you) be like the rest of us and ask the government and the media and the judiciary to stop being homophobic?

    That's cute. I see what you did there, Francis. No. My wife and I both dislike people who look at homosexuality as some kind of mental disorder the way psychologists once did but now know better. It is unfortunate that the Catholic Church can't consult with the experts and revise its teachings accordingly. But that would mean that they were wrong before and that can't ever happen.

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  141. Bill, this is from the Catechism:

    2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained.

    How is this teaching any different from what the so-called "experts" say? And would these be the same "experts" who are currently attempting to brand pedophilia as just another sexual orientation (meaning that it'd be wrong to discriminate in any way against pedophiles)?

    You know, it's ironic. In the 1970s-80s, secular "experts" assured Church officials that pedophilia could be cured with therapy, and that priests with pedophilic tendencies that had been through this therapy were fully cured and could be trusted to work with children again. Quite obviously, the "experts" were wrong and Church officials were wrong to trust in their opinions.

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  142. I know there's a chance of heaven for atheists because I was one.

    The problem is, is when atheists think they can wait their whole lives looking to anything else until God proves them wrong. If they are not actively seeing truth, but simply smug in their assurance that they already have it, they stand a much greater chance of being so blinded by self-centeredness and self-chosen evil, that they will turn away in horror once the proof is obvious. Much like a coal-miner of 20 years is more likely to die of black lung , than the one who's only breathed in the lethal dust for a year.

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  143. Bill,

    That's cute. I see what you did there, Francis.

    Did you now? I certainly spotted what you did - or rather, were attempting to do - by unnecessarily proclaiming to all and sundry, how "vehemently" your wife opposes "homophobia": take a snide shot at everyone opposed to the homosexual agenda, without even knowing what the word "homophobia" actually means. That's a common outcome of (mis)education by the (homophobic) media. You're far from its only victim.

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  144. I should also mention that I didn't become Catholic after a long time as an atheist because I found the Bible or doctrines 'reasonable'. On my way back to the faith I abandoned, I found much that was reasonable in Hinduism, Buddhism, Sihkism, Sufism, Confucianism, Taoism, Judaism and even Islam.

    What I found (rather, Who found me) was a Person. A remarkable, indelible experience, that skeptical but honest seeking opened me to. God is not a reasonable, rational concept. God is a Person, more real to me than my own husband, or the five children I birthed.

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  145. Bill said:

    "Must we really believe to be saved? Why didn't God just save us whether we believe he did or not? Because if we don't believe and witness and keep the faith it will die out? Funny how the one thing that is needed for the faith to spread just happens to be the most important thing for us to do to be saved: Believe!"

    I really don't know what to say, Bill. I have been taking this conversation seriously but you keep turning it back to what are, quite frankly, silly and cynical statements. After all you've read here, you really think that what I believe is based on the nonsense in this quote from you? You really think that the only reason I believe is because someone scared me into it, someone whose only interest in the matter was in keeping the membership numbers up? Or perhaps that God himself hopes to scare us so that his numbers look good to people who don't even believe he exists? Really, Bill?

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  146. Must we really believe to be saved? Why didn't God just save us whether we believe he did or not? Because if we don't believe and witness and keep the faith it will die out? Funny how the one thing that is needed for the faith to spread just happens to be the most important thing for us to do to be saved: Believe!

    Actually, it's more than just "believing" (even the demons believe). It's loving. You miss that this is about a relationship, Bill. It's about entering into a love relationship with Jesus Christ, who is Love itself. If you don't love someone, how can you be united with that person? If you didn't believe your wife existed, much less fall in love with her, how could you be one with her? How could you have any relationship with her?

    You are missing the point of everything.

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  147. What I found (rather, Who found me) was a Person. A remarkable, indelible experience, that skeptical but honest seeking opened me to. God is not a reasonable, rational concept. God is a Person, more real to me than my own husband, or the five children I birthed.

    Dancingcrane, bingo! Thank you!

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  148. @leila

    I read your linked article and it still doesn't make sense. Offering up "sacrifices" to jealous, petty or capricious gods is a ritual inherited from prehistoric tribes. The Hebrews continued it, even though in parts of the Old Testament you start to see the idea of a God who is interested in justice and rewards good behavior. (In the history of religion, the idea that God is the source of goodness, is a relatively recent idea.) I might note that if you read the last chapter of Leviticus, it spells out, in terms that are hard to explain away, how to offer human sacrifices.

    Jesus offering himself up as a sacrifice to (mollify? satisfy?) God makes no more sense that burnt offerings. At least that's how I see it.

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  149. You really think that the only reason I believe is because someone scared me into it, someone whose only interest in the matter was in keeping the membership numbers up?

    Sharon,

    What I mean is that it is possible that the growth of Christianity was aided by telling people that they will be rewarded for believing and punished for not. I don't mean that is why you believe.

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  150. Bill, how would you define love?

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  151. I might note that if you read the last chapter of Leviticus, it spells out, in terms that are hard to explain away, how to offer human sacrifices.

    No it doesn't. It says that slaves who are "doomed to the Lord" will be put to death. It's in one sentence in a book full of lengthy descriptions about different forms of sacrifice. I don't think it's a "how-to" compared to all the other more lengthy stuff, which contain actual instructions and so forth. I'm not sure why it's in there, but it's not so much a "Do this" as an "If you do this your slave will die." Hardly human sacrifice, although still quite unjust.

    Also, my annotated Bible says that Leviticus originally ended after Chapter 26, anyway. Wikipedia seems to agree.

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  152. @captcrisis read http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p122a4p2.htm

    If you have any specific questions of where you are confused let me know. Jesus' sacrifice is complicated and isnt easily summerized in a com box.

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  153. Offering up "sacrifices" … is a ritual inherited from prehistoric tribes.

    captcrisis, where do you think that this idea came from? There's something you're missing in the primordial conscience. Remember, Adam and Eve came before those prehistoric tribes. What were they getting at? Why were they offering anything to appease anyone, jealous or otherwise?

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  154. Also, Deuteronomy 12:29-31 seems to directly condemn human sacrifice.

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  155. Remember, Adam and Eve came before those prehistoric tribes.

    What? You think that they actually existed in real life?

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  156. Bill, how would you define love?

    Margo,

    I don't have a unique definition of love. I love my wife. I love my two sons. Etc. what are you getting at?

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  157. Did we have first parents, a man and a woman whom we call Adam and Eve? Yes, Bill. Catholicism is based in real life. Now, does that mean we have to take the story in the Garden of Eden literally (eating a piece of fruit from a tree, etc.)? No… but the story tells the Truth. Our first parents committed a great sin, which took them out of friendship with God.

    I have to wonder, did you do any studying of the Faith before you left it? This stuff is well-established.

    You can start here for the basics:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2011/05/what-i-never-learned-part-i.html

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  158. Did we have first parents, a man and a woman whom we call Adam and Eve? Yes, Bill. Catholicism is based in real life.

    No. I don't think that is true but if that is what you believe...

    Our first parents committed a great sin, which took them out of friendship with God.

    That's just a story someone made up in the Bronze Age.

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  159. Were you there, Bill? How can you be so sure?

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  160. @leila

    Catholicism, if it's not in conflict with science, takes into account the many paleological and archeological finds that long ago destroyed the literal historical basis for Genesis. My description of ancient human sacrifices -- to take one of many examples, the Incas -- is well established. It's also not disputed that from the time of the last caveman to the time of the first city (possibly Jericho), tens of thousands of years passed, during which time cultures rose and fell that we still have no idea of. It's a fair bet that a lot of those cultures offered sacrifices to "gods" or "spirits" to get various favorable events: the end of a drought, a happy future marriage for the chieftain's son, victory in an upcoming battle with another tribe, etc.

    Why did "gods" eventually become to be seen as the source of goodness? As someone has pointed out elsewhere, the wiser magicians realized that their spells were not working, and maybe they decided, for the good of their tribes, to concentrate on making sacrifices for ethical behavior rather than favorable outcomes of certain events.

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  161. ON HUMAN SACRIFICE IN JUDEO-CHRISTIANITY
    (Part 1 of 2)

    In Judaism the firstborn of men belonged especially to God, in addition to their earthly parents. In acknowledgement of this overriding right of the Giver of Life to the life of a man’s firstborn son, he had to be given/dedicated (which some people understood to mean "offered up in sacrifice") to God.

    However, God did not desire that the firstborn of any man should actually be killed. The only sacrifices that God ever mandated in the Old Testament were offerings of animals and things, precisely in order for man to ransom (buy back) from God his firstborn.

    God made His sole authority over all life amply clear when He initially commanded Abraham to offer Isaac in sacrifice to Him, but then, when Abraham proceeded to comply with His demand, God immediately provided a substitute sacrifice – a ram/lamb (which was also a prefigurement of the actual future sacrifice of His own firstborn Son to Himself).

    Now it is clear that early in their history, many Jews did not understand God’s abhorrence of human sacrifice and did indeed offer up their children in human sacrifice to Him (as did pagans and idolators to their gods or to Moloch/the devil). King Mesha did so (2 Kings 3:27), as did King Ahaz (2 Kings 16:3) and King Manasseh (2Chronicles 33:16). Ezekiel (20:31) speaks of the frequent occurrence of human sacrifice and Psalm 105 (37-38) refers to the sacrifices of children to devils. Isaiah (57:5) also refers to this abomination. The fate of Jephtha's daughter presents the clearest instance of such immolations (Judges 11:30-40). It’s important, however, to note in that story that God did not command Jephthah to sacrifice his daughter; it was Jephtah who had foolishly made the pledge which he was later obliged, with great regret, to keep. In his case God allowed him to fulfill his pledge of sacrifice, to reinforce the warnings He had issued to all His people not to make vows to Him lightly or rashly (Ecclesiastes 5:2-8).

    Leviticus 27 is mainly concerned with spelling out the amounts required for various votive or ransom offerings. Only in that connection, and only towards the end, does it stipulate that those under the ban (either foolishly pledged to God, such as Jephthah's daughter, or sentenced by God Himself to die) cannot be redeemed, and must be put to death. The people who God condemned to death were thsoe like the Amorites, Medianites and Canaanites, along with other idolators who were leading the people astray (Deuteronomy 13:13-17), bestialists (Exodus 22:19-20), and the like. These people were hardened, sworn enemies of God, hell bent on waging war on His people. So God’s death sentence on them by His own divine authority constituted a just war – no more “jealous, petty, capricious” or cruel on His part than the actions of any protective father who might be forced to kill someone who was out to mortally wound his children.

    To re-iterate, the just firstborn of no man is to be killed/sacrificed, rather they are all to be redeemed, says God: Exodus 13:13; Exodus 34:20; Numbers 18:15.

    continued...

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  162. ON HUMAN SACRIFICE IN JUDEO-CHRISTIANITY
    (Part 2 of 2)

    The reason for the confusion/misunderstanding in many minds about Leviticus 27 are these two verses: "Nevertheless, anything which a man sets apart to the LORD out of all that he has, of man or animal or of the fields of his own property, shall not be sold or redeemed. Anything devoted to destruction is most holy to the LORD. No one who may have been set apart among men shall be ransomed; he shall surely be put to death" (Leviticus 27: 28-29). There are actually two categories of things being discussed in these two sentences. The first one is talking about things a person gives to God. These things cannot be sold or bought back after they have been freely given. The second sentence deals with things God (not man) has slated for destruction. The Hebrew words referring to something under a ban are cherem (noun) and charam (verb). "Its basic meaning involves taking things or people out of ordinary use and devoting them irrevocably to God. ... Whatever was put under the ban was either to be devoted to the Lord's service permanently or destroyed." [The Complete Biblical Library]. Both "devoted to destruction" and "set apart" are described by this same Hebrew word, that is why these two statements belong together. Notwithstanding, the purpose of the first sentence is, again, to warn, that if a firstborn child is “set apart” for God (foolishly by a father) then he must, indeed, be killed in sacrifice – even though God Himself does not desire it. This law actually discourages human sacrifice; it doesn’t approve of it! The second sentence refers to those whom God Himself has “devoted to destruction” – His enemies, to be put to death.

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  163. captcrisis, I think you misunderstood my point/question. I did not dispute human sacrifice in the history of mankind.

    Also, when you said that archaeology "destroyed the literal historical basis for Genesis", it confused me. Catholics are not Fundamentalists re: a literal interpretation of Genesis, and never have been. You might be mistaking us for another group of Christians?

    Readers, as we get close to 200 comments, please remember to click the "load more" once we hit that mark, in order to see all the comments after that. Or, "subscribe by email" just beneath this box. Thanks!

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    1. It seems harder and harder, given the finds of palentology, to imagine a "first couple" such as Adam and Eve. Were they Australopithecus semi-apes?

      The fact that you are getting close to 200 comments, with no flaming, is a very good testimonial to your blog, by the way.

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  164. Why did "gods" eventually become to be seen as the source of goodness?

    Simple answer: because the true God revealed Himself progressively in Judeo-Christianity, culminating in His incarnation as the most loving, prodigally benevolent and self-sacrificing Man that ever lived!

    Other religions still do not possess the knowledge of God as sheer goodness personified (except for Muslims, who do see Him as the Benevolent One). For example, a billion Hindus even today worship one consort of the god Shiva as the sometimes violent and vengeful goddess Kali, a deity of time, change and destruction, with her tongue out and a garland of human heads around her neck!

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    1. I'm sure someone has pointed this out before me, but the God of the Old Testament resembles, at times, an abusive father. He's jealous, violent, cruel, inconsistent, plays favorites, and doesn't follow his own precepts. It's hard to imagine a God who's interested in Justice putting up with and even rewarding the despicable behavior of Jacob, for example. In the progression from an imperious, capricious God to the God who is the fount of goodness and wisdom, the Hebraic version of monotheism seems like a transitional phase.

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  165. Francis, by the way, thank you for this. I could not have said it better:

    You see, homophobia, by definition, is "an unreasoned fear of homosexuals" or homosexuality. This fear results in paralysis in opposing anything they say or do. Christians and other right thinking people aren't homophobic. They've proven this over and over again by regularly and openly opposing every unreasonable homosexual agenda. The government, media and courts on the other hand, are so afraid of homosexuals, they roll over and surrender to every one of their demands, no matter how unreasonable or detrimental those might be to the well being of others, including children.

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  166. Bill, you might enjoy reading this, from former atheist, Jen Fulwiler. She has some good stuff here:

    http://www.conversiondiary.com/2013/09/on-proving-god.html

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  167. Bill,

    Let me put it this way: what does love mean to you? What do you mean when you say you love your wife and two sons?

    What does love entail?

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  168. captcrisis, thanks! I am always pleased that my readers (of all stripes) are respectful for the most part. We are blessed here in the Bubble that way. :)

    Here are some thoughts about the "bad" God of the OT:

    http://catholicexchange.com/wrathful-god/

    Were they Australopithecus semi-apes?

    No, they were the first humans. What or who they came from or evolved from is not the point. There was a point when souls were infused into our first parents, and thus began the race of men, made in the image and likeness of God.

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  169. And I'm sure a hundred Biblical scholars have pointed out the blindingly obvious for those serious about understanding ancient scriptural narratives instead of merely looking for ways to slander God: that God always interacts with man in the most effective ways that the coarse and darkened mind of (seriously fallen) man can understand.

    It is only an unschooled reader of the Bible, naively insisting on looking at the savage and barbaric tribes of 4,000 years ago through rose colored 21st century glasses, who fails to understands God's strict words and tough dealings with people of those times. Even today, one can readily see how it (sadly) takes tyrannical dictators like Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, Hosni Mubarak and Bashar Assad, employing tough and undemocratic methods, to keep violent, bloodthirsty populations in check and prevent them from slaughtering each other at the first opportunity.

    Besides, it also goes without saying that if God, who by definition is all powerful, were indeed anything like "an abusive father" at any time, we'd all be dead by now, instead of sitting like clever pseudo intellectuals around computers breezily slandering His most holy name.

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    1. "Strict words and tough dealings" included, on many occasions, killing babies, or instructing people to do so.

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    2. And your praise of dictators like Gaddafi and Hussein and reference to "bloodthirsty populations" puts you outside my ethical universe and marks you as ignorant as to people who are different from you. I'm not offended easily, but I am offended by that.

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  170. No God, in any conception of God(s) in the mind of man, has ever given all He has, let alone His very life, for His children, except the one true God of Love. Yet, strangely, He's the one accused of being an abusive father! Unbelievable - this "progress" in the mind of modern man!

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  171. Deltaflute wrote:

    As you've pointed out that your moral principles are based on consequences you should consider the consequences of unbelief for the hereafter.

    I have considered that, and my conclusion is that the Church has used that from the beginning to frighten people. I don't believe that Jesus ever said that those who don't believe will be punished.

    For example, Matthew took Mark's Gospel and made additions to it. Contrary to popular belief, the book may have been attributed to the apostle, who would have repeated what he had heard himself, but it was actually written by someone else many years later.

    Mark says that Jesus told the people he sent out to preach the kingdom to shake the dust off their shoes when leaving a town that didn't accept the Good News. But Matthew adds that the fate of the town will be worse than that of Sodom and Gamorah. Now if that were really the apostle, he might know that and add it. But he also added that people came out of their graves and were seen walking around after the crucifixion. So the added information provided in Matthew and what followed in terms of threats to those who don't believe have to be taken with a grain of salt.

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  172. Even today, one can readily see how it (sadly) takes tyrannical dictators like Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, Hosni Mubarak and Bashar Assad, employing tough and undemocratic methods, to keep violent, bloodthirsty populations in check and prevent them from slaughtering each other at the first opportunity.

    So the Arab Spring has not been a good thing. It kills me to say this: Francis, for once I agree with you. (It won't happen again).

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  173. Margo wrote:

    Let me put it this way: what does love mean to you? What do you mean when you say you love your wife and two sons?

    What does love entail?


    I still don't know if I am being set up. I might have my own concept of love that doesn't have to be the same as others.

    The most obvious is that I can't be like people who say they love life, pets, jewelry, baseball, etc. I only love my immediate family, three people. Took some thinking to come to that. So when I said "...sons, etc. I could have left off the etc.

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  174. Bill- *eye roll* this is getting old. I've already explained to you that salvation is a gift from God. Its not an invention to inflict punishment. Its a natural consequence. I mean is loosing your wallet a punishment? Is shrinking your sweater?

    Surely you THINK about what will happen if you put your sweater in the dryer.

    All I am saying is you should THINK about the natural consequences of giving up your salvation. And yes it would be you giving it up.

    And until you can acknowledge that it ISNT a punishment the discussion will go no further. I'm not interested in deflections.

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  175. I'll be curious to see if Leila, as an Arab American, wishes to comment on what Francis and Bill said. I have lived in Egypt and Syria for many years, and I would disagree with the assessment that the people there, in the vast majority, are violent and bloodthirsty. On the contrary. Much of the violence and sheer cruelty has been brought in from outside forces. I wonder what any of us would do if our closest relatives were deliberately raped, tortured and killed right in front of our eyes. This has been done with the express purpose of brutalizing people. I know it would likely turn me into something I abhor if it were to happen to my family.

    The Middle East has many issues, and obviously Islam does too as a religion. But I disagree, from my own experience, that people there are any more violent or bloodthirsty than elsewhere. Assad in particular has tried hard to reform the system from within in the initial years of his presidency. The Arab Spring took everyone by surprise, many miscalculations were made on all sides, and everything got out of hand. But the brutalization to a significant extent came in from battle hardened Islamists from outside Syria. Sure, Syria's secret police were feared, unaccountable, "bad guys" (like in every other Arab country, without exception). But the general population were among the sweetest I had met anywhere in the world. And having met Assad and his wife twice personally, I was at that time also deeply impressed by both. I do not defend the Syrian government's actions since the civil war began, but like I said, many decisions, on both sides, were bad miscalculations.

    My personal view is that evil has been on a rampage there for a very long time, and it can only be countered with goodness. We as Westerners have a right to defend ourselves, but beyond that should do all in our power to bring all sides to the negotiating table.

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  176. Deltaflute wrote:

    All I am saying is you should THINK about the natural consequences of giving up your salvation. And yes it would be you giving it up.

    I was once able to overcome my bad habits by a complete immersion into Catholicism. As far as I am concerned, that "salvation" resulted in my living a healthier and happier life. That's all I want to get back. I have absolutely no interest in an afterlife. I suspect that the promise of heaven is what lifted my spirits and made for a better life here and now, which is what I am after.

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  177. Captcrisis wrote:

    And your praise of dictators like Gaddafi and Hussein and reference to "bloodthirsty populations" puts you outside my ethical universe and marks you as ignorant as to people who are different from you.

    I too have a problem with people who stereotype people different than them and that is not what I agree with Francis about. What I do believe though is that helping predominantly Muslim populations gain control of their government opens the door for extremists like the Muslim Brotherhood to take control and set up a theocracy, which is the worst form of government as has been demonstrated by the Taliban. Do they deserve a secular dictator? Probably not. Is the world safer with them under one? Definitely.

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  178. Bill- do you acknowledge that salvation is not a punishment reward thing?

    It saddens me that you only care about how religion makes you feel. Its as others have said a relationship with Christ. As with any relationship it isnt all warm and fuzzy. To build that inti the relationship is build your house on sand.

    Your relationship with Christ continues into the afterlife. If you dont care about the afterlife than again its building a relationship on sand.

    You would agree that ignoring your wife and bad mouthing her publically is a bad thing? And than expecting her to show love to you without reciprocating isnt good?

    Thats what you're doing with Christ. And naturally Christ is going to acknowledge that you've chosen to do this.

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  179. We are all created to reciprocate love to God. Thats the most fundamental thing. Even those who have not been exposed to the full deposit of faith long for God. And it is that yearning to know and love Christ that we are saved. Salvation to put it simply is the desire to be with Jesus. If you dont desire Christ than the natural consequence is that you arent in hus presence and in the afterlife experience that mystical love.

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  180. It saddens me that you only care about how religion makes you feel. Its as others have said a relationship with Christ.

    I specifically don't want that kind of relationship. I just want to live this life for all it's worth and then cease to exist. I can only control the first part. The second part is going to happen no matter what I do or believe.

    We're at an impasse.

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  181. Bill- so why are you looking at religion? If you dont care about the relationship and more the form moral codes and whatnot why not take up a philosophy like Taoism? What exactly is it about Catholicism that is attracting you?

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  182. Deltaflute,

    If I do not practice Catholicism, I have to get a whole new life. I need a new wife, new relatives and new friends. I have considered every scenario and the one that least disrupts my life is to be Catholic. I vent my frustration with this situation by telling people who I don't need to be part of my life the problems I have with Catholicism. This way I can let it out without burning my bridges.

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  183. Sebastian,

    I agree that there are many fine people in (or from) the Middle East. I myself have had the pleasure to work with or do business with quite a few of them. And without a doubt, they've been some of the politest and most hospitable people I've ever known, especially when I've visited their homes and met their families. I truly mean that. But, sadly, way too many of their youth, especially from places like Lebanon, appear to have a violent/anarchic side to their natures that cannot be ignored, and, indeed, are quite shocking to behold. There are whole suburbs now in Sydney where you wouldn't want to venture out on a Saturday night, with large gangs of marauding, swearing and trouble making Lebanese youths. They’re out in force, looking to pick arguments and fights with one and all - I've experienced it first hand many times! There were serious communal riots here with them a couple of years ago, right across town and on our beaches, and it was something to behold; a rare sight indeed in multicultural and mostly easy-going Australia! The same thing has been occurring in parts of Europe (e.g. in the UK and France). These aren't actions of fundamentalists/terrorists from elsewhere (as is currently the case in Syria and other middle eastern countries).

    My father was a Muslim before he converted to Christianity and married mum. He had to flee from his family home as a result, lose what should've been a substantial inheritance, and rebuild his life, starting as a poor refugee in another country. My old mother, who is one of the most gentle, peaceful and amicable people you'll ever meet, still talks about the time when India and Pakistan (who were one united country until 1944) gained freedom from British rule and separated as nations - and the gruesome Hindu-Muslim rioting that followed. She tells how ordinary Muslims who'd lived as friendly neighbors with Hindus for decades, suddenly, on hearing the cries of Allah-u-Akbar, rushed out on the streets, knives and swords in hand, slaughtering their long time Hindu neighbors indiscriminately, little babies included. Of course the Hindus too responded violently. What mum stresses to me, still perplexed, is that many of these had been the sweetest people, just like you describe (and I too confirm having met), before the call for jihad came from their leaders; then, it seems, they were all instantly transformed! Believe it or not, I'm the one usually defending the goodness of the average Muslim (no, truly!), but mum, after her experiences (both with her husband's family who were quite ready to kill her off if they had a chance simply because she was Christian, and with her Muslim neighbors who'd turned so unexpectedly brutal during the riots) steadfastly refuses to trust any of them ever again. Apparently, my dad (a cultured man, with a Master's degree), when he was alive, would agree.

    Other than perhaps in moderate Indonesia, I see no real freedom (culturally/religiously - not just politically) in Muslim countries today. I know of few Muslim countries where a Muslim can readily, following his own conscience, convert to another religion, or intermarry, without being ostracized or, in fact, being in fear for his very life. The Middle East least of all. You can't even suggest/preach any other way or belief there. To my mind the entire region is like a volcano ever bubbling away just below the surface - hence my earlier remark about strong hands being (unfortunately) required to keep a lid on things.

    Having said all that, I could be biased, or not adequately informed, or speaking too generally, so I'm quite open to being corrected or further educated on the issue.

    I find your comments about President Assad and his wife interesting. I've heard the same sort of things about Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi and Hosni Mubarak from ordinary, everyday people (such as migrant workers who've now fled the Middle East) who say they lived and worked in reasonable peace and security under their rule.

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  184. Bill,,
    "I vent my frustration with this situation by telling people who I don't need to be part of my life the problems I have with Catholicism. This way I can let it out without burning my bridges."

    Strange you should choose a Catholic forum of all places to do that in. Wouldn't an atheist forum, given your (complete lack of) beliefs, be a more fruitful place to gain support and empathy?

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