Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Pope Francis is Time's Person of the Year



Not bad for a "dying", "irrelevant" institution stuck in the 10th century.
Mm-hmm.




Heck, when Time Magazine itself is lost in the dustbin of history, the papacy will still be going strong.


+++++++


Update: To find out what the Time article got all wrong, read Fr. Robert Barron's excellent piece, HERE.



83 comments:

  1. Did they name him this because they see him as liberal? If so, joke's on them. He's merely Catholic, fully in line with the Church's social and moral teachings.

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  2. Nubby, yep, you are right. I saw that they do state correctly that the Pope says "no" to priestesses, abortion and gay marriage, so we can be grateful for that. As far as their motives, I say let 'em keep talking. Draw everyone in, keep the focus on our Church and the Vicar of Christ. The Holy Spirit is doing a work here, and I am fascinated to watch where this goes….

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  3. Just skimmed the article. At least there was no clever swipes at Church doctrine (as happens when a worldly magazine publishes on any given papacy). Good press is good press. The world is noticing his great acts of loving kindness, praise God for all that will inspire in us and in others.

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  4. I love Pope Francis and all that he is doing. God is far beyond any of us. We must trust Him fully and and look for the twists and reversals. No matter who you talk to, and there are many who are mad at Pope Francis and believe he is making many mistakes, I know I must trust in God's plan. God knows exactly what He is doing, by having called this man as Pope. In the end, the reversal method which Our Lord has always used, will triumph, and the media will not know what hit them. In the meantime, let us pray that the secular world's love for Pope Francis will open their hearts, for God desires for everyone of us to be with Him in heaven. And so should we long for this, too. Here's hoping and praying to chat with Obama and even Michelle Obama and dare I say Nancy Pelosi? (the people God actually created them to be) someday at the coffee house in heaven. :)

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  5. During this past Sunday's homily our priest began by stating he had 2 announcements from the Vatican to give to us. The first announcement was that from now on, Catholics will only be allowed to receive the Sacrament of Confession twice during their lifetime. If any Catholic attempts to receive Confession more than twice from this date forward, they will be excommunicated latae sententiae. At that moment during Mass my husband's and my eyes met with confusion and then he smiled and mouthed, "it's not true." I was not so sure as our priest was very sober in his delivery and I started to think, "maybe Pope Francis IS the anti-pope!"

    Haha! But sure enough, the second announcement was that the first was made up. Alas, Church Doctrine doesn't change. What a relief.

    Congratulations to our wonderful Papa, Pope Francis! May we all strive to serve and love as he does, as our Lord shows him!

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  6. I love your commentary on this Leila - it's perfect ;)

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  7. Oh, Manda, ha ha! That is funny!! I like your priest!!

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  8. I think may secularists are becoming fans of the pope.

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  9. Oh, this is a great quote from Fr. Barron, about what the article got SO wrong:

    "But isolate care for the poor from the other two and equally problematic distortions ensue. Without the worship of God and evangelization, the Church deteriorates in short order into one more social service institution among many, a mere "NGO" in Francis's own language. Now listen to the authors of the Time article: "In a matter of months, Francis has elevated the healing mission of the church -- the church as servant and comforter of hurting people in an often harsh world -- above the doctrinal police work so important to his recent predecessors." And "his vision is of a pastoral -- and not doctrinaire -- church." This is so much nonsense.

    The source of a good deal of this mischief is the 18th century philosopher Immanuel Kant, whose influence on the modern sensibility can scarcely be overstated. Kant famously held that religion is reducible to ethics. By the Enlightenment period, the doctrinal claims of the great religions had come to seem incredible to many, and worship a pathetic holdover from a more primitive time. For Kant, therefore, authentic, grown-up, enlightened religious people would see that morality is the heart of the matter, both doctrine and worship serving, at best, to bolster ethics. It is always a source of amazement to me how thoroughly modern people have gone down the Kantian autobahn in regard to this issue. How we take the following for granted: it doesn't really matter what you believe, as long as you are a good person.

    But the Kantian construal is simply repugnant to classical Christianity. In point of fact, Christians have been, from the beginning, massively interested in both worship and doctrine. How could you read any of the Gospels or any of the letters of Paul and think otherwise? Moreover, the great figures of the Church -- Irenaeus, Chrysostom, Jerome, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Newman, etc. -- have taken doctrine with utmost seriousness. No one doubts that Francis of Assisi himself loved the poor and marginalized, but how many realize that one of his principal concerns was for liturgical propriety?"


    Read the rest here:

    http://www.realclearreligion.org/articles/2013/12/12/times_kantian_wedge.html

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  10. I'm torn between wanting to be happy that Pope Francis was chosen, and wanting to ignore TIME magazine completely. They only like him because they are misinterpreting the things he says and because they are wanting to encourage what they see as the Catholic church progressing on social issues.

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  11. The Catholic church IS progressing on social issues as long as it is guided by the teachings of Pope Francis. If that puts you as an honest Catholic in a difficult position, politically, I can fully understand your feelings of uncertainty and discomfort.

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  12. Slight clarification citizensunited:

    Pope Francis carries out and shares the teachings of the Catholic Church. The teachings do not belong to any individual pope; the teachings belong to Christ.

    Totally agree with you MarianneF! I'm so so tired of the media's distortion and refusal to report the truth!

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  13. citizensunited, an honest question: What part of my conservative beliefs do I have to abandon? If a welfare system, for example, is full of waste, fraud, abuse, and if it tends to get less effective the larger and more centralized it is, I am free to call for more subsidiarity (as Francis does), correct? I have always held to the idea that caring for the poor should be done mostly in the communities in which the poor reside, so that our responsibilities are not farmed out to the federal government where we can wash our hands of "those poor people". And of course, there should be a safety net at the federal level for the truly needy (I've never met anyone who argues otherwise).

    Also, those big corporations that do operate on the level of greed (and use workers as cogs in the profit machine) are not "conservative" or "liberal" -- they line the pockets of whomever is in power at the moment. Most of the big corporations and even Wall Street finance firms, etc., are happily aligned with the Obama administration. They are amoral, not fitting into any political party.

    In my experience, the working, middle class of America (generally small business owners) are conservatives and vote Republican. They are not the uber-rich.

    Just some thoughts this morning, as I don't fully understand when folks say that Francis' words mean that I have to change my conservative views. Not being snarky, I am truly confused by that.

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  14. I think that is from where you live. In my area, the working, middle class are liberal and vote democratic. The ones who vote republican tend to be the wealthier ones.

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  15. Chelsea, you are right that the coasts are more liberal in general (and more secular) and Middle America is more conservative (and religious).

    The American economy's heart is small businesses, however, and I don't think the left (esp. Obama and all the policies, taxes, regulations on the federal level that come from his agencies) is any friend to small business. Unfortunately, that affects the economy and does not help the poor. Meanwhile, the fat corporations that everyone decries are always fed by the government, no matter how much protesting goes on, or "concern for the poor". There are a lot of VERY sick alliances going on, and that is why subsidiarity is so key. And liberals are not fond of subsidiarity.

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  16. I think part of the problem is the (in my opinion) false dichotomy between liberal and conservative or Republican and Democrat. Being Catholic is just that, doing as Christ would have wanted to us to do. Pope Francis has been great in promulgating that message (not to take away from Benedict or JPII). I hope this changes the dynamic a bit. Of course, because of his style, the media is selectively reporting things and giving the impression that he is "changing things" (which he is, but not in the way the media thinks).

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  17. What part of my conservative beliefs do I have to abandon?

    The Pope wants Catholics to not focus so much attention on issues like abortion and gay marriage. He wants less being judgmental and more being compassionate.

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  18. The teachings do not belong to any individual pope; the teachings belong to Christ.

    So when a pope writes an encyclical like Humanae Vitae, which basically prohibits just about every method of birth control but NFP, those teachings belong to Jesus? Hmm. I doubt it.

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  19. Bill, trying so hard to be patient with you and this sort of comment. Your comment displays your incredible ignorance about Catholicism (which many of us have pointed out and asked you to remedy by reading a little bit). The Church has always taught the immorality of contraception. As in… always. The moral law does not change.

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  20. The Pope wants Catholics to not focus so much attention on issues like abortion and gay marriage. He wants less being judgmental and more being compassionate.

    How does this touch the question? I didn't know that "be judgmental" and "be not compassionate" were tenets of being conservative? I've never seen it nor believed it. And I know a heck of a lot of conservatives.

    What actual tenet of conservatism would I have to give up?

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  21. What actual tenet of conservatism would I have to give up?

    I'm not familiar with the "tenets" of conservativism. Conservatives just seem to be more judgmental and less compassionate than liberals. In that sense, I see Francis as somewhat of a liberal. A conservative pope like Benedict would never say "who am I to judge?" or tell people not to focus so much on issues like abortion and gay marriage. These are the qualities that led Time to make him its Man of the Year.

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  22. Your comment displays your incredible ignorance about Catholicism

    Don't confuse disdain with ignorance. I know the Church's position on contraception. I just find it inappropriate to imply that Jesus would agree with everything that has been said in papal encyclicals, including the ban on contraception in Humanae Vitae. I read it again recently and I think that reasonable people would beg to differ with the logic of it.

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  23. So Jesus would be fine with people rejecting the procreative part of sex? He'd be fine with reducing the sexual act to just being about pleasure? Hmm...doesn't seem quite like Jesus to me. He is all about LIFE :)

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  24. "Conservatives just seem to be more judgmental and less compassionate than liberals."

    This sound just like if I said to a liberal: "Liberals just seem to be more stupid and less reasonable than conservatives." (In other words, it's a meaningless, unhelpful statement.)

    Um, you might want to check: Pope Benedict and Francis have the same beliefs about gay "marriage", contraception, abortion, et. al. Again, what part of conservatism (what tenets) do I have to give up, and be a Catholic?

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  25. "I just find it inappropriate to imply that Jesus would agree with everything that has been said in papal encyclicals, including the ban on contraception in Humanae Vitae."

    Wait, who speaks for Jesus? You, or the Church he founded to speak for him?

    Also, it's so weird that you keep talking about a "ban" on contraception brought about by HV. It's never been morally permissible, so ?? What ban came with HV?

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  26. what part of conservatism (what tenets) do I have to give up, and be a Catholic?

    None. You are as perfectly Catholic as a human can be.

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  27. "You are as perfectly Catholic as a human can be."

    Oh, gosh, if only that were true.

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  28. What ban came with HV?

    "We are obliged once more to declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun and, above all, all direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children."

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  29. "Similarly excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means."

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  30. Bill, again you are missing the point. There was no "ban" imposed by HV that was not already there.The Church has "banned" (if you like that word) contraception since day one. 2,000+ years. In other words, HV reiterated unbroken Christian teaching. So, there was no "ban" put in place. The immorality of contraception was restated in the light of the sexual revolution, so that everyone was clear that the Church was not changing the moral law with the times (as if she could).

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  31. The world became aware of the Church's continued ban when HV came out. The fact that it was not a new ban is irrelevant to me. My point is that papal encyclicals do not necessarily represent what Jesus would have said if he were alive today.

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  32. Well, Church teaching and the consistency thereof is actually quite relevant to me, and to any reasonable discussion. I get that your every comment is about what you "feel" and what you "think" about Catholicism and what you "want" and what you "perceive", but still.

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  33. Margo,

    There is nothing wrong with making love that does not lead to procreation. If there were, the Church would not condone natural family planning. The fact that it condones that but condemns any and all artificial methods that accomplish the same thing just shows how capricious the Church is. My wife took the pill and raised two sons and went back to work. I can say with all certainty that we did not do anything wrong in planning the size of our family while enjoying making love spontaneously and not by a schedule based on natural bodily rhythms.

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  34. Right Leila. It's ok to feel, think, want, perceive, etc. But I respect the way you have structured your life in accordance with what the Church teaches. I can't do that. I'm not as disciplined as you. More power to you.

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  35. Bill, you can think and feel all you want, but don't ascribe things to the Church that are simply based on your feelings, thanks.

    And the Church, capricious? Uh, no entity is more consistent than the Church and her teachings. They stand the test of time and of the spirit of the age. They do not bend to either.

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  36. If you don't get the difference between NFP and contraception, you may not get the difference between means and ends, and between bulimia and fasting.

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2011/03/important-follow-up-to-natural-family.html

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  37. @ Marianne: "because they are wanting to encourage what they see as the Catholic church progressing on social issues."

    I think that's true. I think it's a misperception on the part of the media.

    @ Leila
    "I have always held to the idea that caring for the poor should be done mostly in the communities in which the poor reside,"

    The problem with that is there are large communities with only poor people and communities with only rich people. The model you mention only works if communities with poor people include better-off individuals who are willing to help.

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  38. Johanne, agreed, but that is when the state governments should step in. Subsidiarity is about the most local help being tried first. So, city, state, then federal as a last resort for the truly helpless cases. Massive federal programs should not be ubiquitous, as they are too, too far removed to be effective, or for people to care about the ones in need. And of course, I believe private entities such as churches and charities should be a huge part of the local help, not just the local and state governments.

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  39. They (Church teachings) stand the test of time and of the spirit of the age. They do not bend to either.

    Well. They seem to work for you. I will give you that.

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  40. Remember, choosing to abstain from sex is not a sin. However, choosing to take the pleasure of sex while willfully disconnecting it from its full meaning is a sin.

    That's what I mean when I say "capricious". And who's to say what its full meaning is? What about sex between men or women?

    You don't have to answer that. I get your point. I just don't agree with it.

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  41. "What about sex between men or women?"

    Two men cannot have sex. They can only have mutual masturbation and acts of sodomy, etc. They cannot have sexual union, nor can women (obviously).

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  42. You should read God vs. Gay by Jay Michaelson. I think it would raise your consciousness and foster some empathy for LGBTQs. I admire your good qualities but that one bad one is a deal breaker. I would never adopt your worldview for that one reason.

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  43. Wait, who said I don't have empathy for gay and lesbian people? Where are you getting that?

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  44. My guess is that since we do not approve of homosexuals acting on their attractions/urges, that must mean that we do not have empathy for them.

    Bill, I do have empathy for them. I myself know what it's like to struggle with a sinful desire. Granted, my struggle is not of a sexual nature, but I still feel their pain, and so does Jesus. God is not against those with same sex attraction, it's not about God vs. them. God is FOR them, just not quite in the way they prefer. He wants them to overcome their desires, which only He can completely satisfy. Sure, sex might bring a temporary pleasure, but God brings ETERNAL pleasure, eternal joy. Why settle for temporary love or temporary pleasure?

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  45. Leila and Margo,

    To oppose gay marriage is to fail to have empathy for gays and lesbians. If the world were ever to be twisted enough that Catholics were prohibited from marrying, your situation would not be any worse than that of gays and lesbians who are not allowed to marry in most states. The more I become aware of this injustice, the more wrong those opposed to same sex marriage appear to be.

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  46. Bill,

    Who are you to decide what empathy is? Why would a Catholic man and woman ever be denied marriage? Two men or two women cannot consummate the marriage act. As Leila said, the most they can do is masturbate, which is neither unitive nor procreative.

    I just want more for men and women. I refuse to settle for anything less than holiness, not just for myself, but for all people.

    Are you even reading what I'm saying, Bill? Please answer my question: why settle for a temporary pleasure?

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  47. "To oppose gay marriage is to fail to have empathy for gays and lesbians."

    Sounds like:

    "To oppose adultery is to fail to have empathy for those who are in loveless marriages."

    Does.not.compute.

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  48. "To oppose adultery is to fail to have empathy for those who are in loveless marriages."

    Yes. This is also true if you would oppose people in loveless marriages divorcing and remarrying, which being the model Catholic that you are, I'm sure you do.

    It would be better if you would refrain from stating your opinions on these things.

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  49. It would be better if you would refrain from stating your opinions on these things.

    This highlights a real faultline between secular folks and Christians. I guess we Christians feel strongly the right and even the obligation to speak about the truth as we know it, and secular folk feel equally strongly about the opposite, and wishing to silence us.

    Just the other day my sister in law and my brother (both non-believers or at best selective believers) were outraged that my daughter had told her cousin (their son) that if someone lies, Christ has been disinvited from their heart and they have been led astray by the devil. They were literally horrified. Now, my daughter loves Christ dearly, and while she hates the devil, she is not specially afraid of him. She knows Christ loves her and will protect her whenever she invokes him. I want her to learn about the realities of life, in a way that will not traumatize her, but strengthen her faith in Christ. She seems to be doing just fine. But I can also understand that for someone who does not accept the existence of the devil (like most folks in Western culture) this is just silly scary superstition. My brother reacted absolutely violently, and denounced my daughter and me in front of his son, saying that this was utter nonsense. It's really dividing families. I do remember what Christ said about bringing the sword, not peace, and also about families breaking apart over the faith, but it is so sad we cannot even talk about this with each other anymore. I can't even explain my point of view to them. It just devolves immediately into nastiness (yes, perhaps a sign of the devil at work). My point though is that most of the people around us, secular that they are, have become completely intolerant of anything they perceive to be hateful, superstitious and intolerant. Communication breaks down completely. It reminds of me of a video Fr. Barron made not long ago about the breakdown of communication over gay marriage. What can we Catholics do about it other than throw our hands up and pray? I'm sure you guys have good advice what we can do to get each other listening again?? The Holy Father wants us to reach out, get our hands dirty, evangelize, but I for one am failing and at a loss how to deal with a situation like that.

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  50. Sebastian,

    My comment to Leila was more "tongue in cheek" than real. Can you imagine Leila refraining from stating her opinion?

    I don't like parents brainwashing their kids. I would have to side with your brother and his wife. I wouldn't want my child exposed to the nonsense that was coming from your daughter. That's just my opinion as is everything I say. No one made me an expert on religion or raising kids.

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  51. Bill, what you call brainwashing the kids I call raising the kids in the faith. What I believe and teach my kids has been believed and taught for 2000 years by people of all walks of life, up to the present day. It is truth. One can discuss about age appropriateness of teaching certain elements of the faith, but the content of the faith has been settled since a very long time, and stood the test of time. Truth doesn't change because we have not been taught it, or because we are made to believe otherwise. My daughter will have plenty of opportunity to examine for herself what she has been taught when she reaches the age of reason, and she may well have doubts then. With God's grace she will overcome her doubts with good apologetics and insights of her own.

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  52. "Yes. This is also true if you would oppose people in loveless marriages divorcing and remarrying, which being the model Catholic that you are, I'm sure you do."

    Oh, good, then we now know that not only is opposition to the Christian teaching on homosexuality something that you consider an "injustice" that cannot be tolerated, but adultery as well (which was my example). That is one of the Ten Commandments, of course (and Jesus himself said that divorce and remarriage is adultery, by the way). Your list of unacceptable Christian teachings gets bigger and bigger. And strangely, it all is connected to sex.

    "It would be better if you would refrain from stating your opinions on these things."

    It would be better if you stay off my blog, which is a forum for my opinions. You are obnoxious and rude. This may be the third chance I have given you. This time you have overstayed your welcome. Do not comment on my blog again, Bill.

    God be with you.

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  53. Sebastian, excellent comment, and I am so sorry for the scene your brother made. So sad.

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  54. Leila,

    I was only joking about not stating your opinion on your own blog. But that's ok. I'll stop.

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  55. @Sebastian

    "we Christians feel strongly the right and even the obligation to speak about the truth as we know it, and secular folk feel equally strongly about the opposite, and wishing to silence us."

    I think it goes both ways, Sebastian. If you had a niece or nephew who told your daughter there was no such thing as God you would want to silence that, no?

    Christians and everyone else--secular or not (there are many non-secular folks who are not Christians, by the way)--feel strongly about speaking their truths--and I know you see your truth as the truth, but a lot of people don't.

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  56. and I know you see your truth as the truth, but a lot of people don't.

    So, what's the solution? Why not accept the truth as absolute truth? What's stopping you? Wouldn't absolute truth make life simpler; if we could all agree on absolute truth?

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  57. "Wouldn't absolute truth make life simpler; if we could all agree on absolute truth?"

    Yes, I think it would make life a lot simpler, but I can't imagine it will ever happen.

    "Why not accept the truth as absolute truth? "
    I don't believe your truth (Catholicism) is the absolute truth. I know you do, as do most of the people on this blog. But I don't, and most people don't. I think very few people ever will, though I can't know that for certain.

    I don't know if there is a "solution." I think the best case scenario would be for people to respect each other.

    Buddhism teaches that karma is based on intention. I try to focus on people's intentions (such as your intention, which seems to be that you want to share what you see as wonderful and true and will help people have eternal life?) and that helps me appreciate people even if I don't agree with them.

    I think it would be very frustrating to believe you know what is absolutely true and for others to disagree with you. I think it's less frustrating to be in dialog with the mindset that you might learn something new. It's actually an exciting experience to realize you weren't right about something--that the world contains mysteries, and what you believe now might not be what you believe in the future. I'm still open to the (very very faint) possibility that I might be a Christian some day, (though I will never not be a Buddhist. They are not mutually exclusive. I know someone who is a Catholic priest and a Zen priest)

    Sorry, I'm rambling. Sleep well.

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  58. Wow, Johanne,

    That was an awesome response. I hadn't unsubscribed to this thread (so as remove the temptation to comment) and I, for one see the need for Margo to broaden her horizons. You should go on her blog if she wants you to. I'm out of here. Ciao!

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  59. @ Johanne

    I think it goes both ways, Sebastian. If you had a niece or nephew who told your daughter there was no such thing as God you would want to silence that, no?

    Funny you should mention that. I have told my daughter before that my brother does not believe in God (without judging or condemning him in the slightest). We even pray for him at night (though not specifically that he may rediscover God). I was reprimanded for that too by by mother, who heard from my daughter that he did not believe in God - which he doesn't. That was also determined to be too harsh for his boys - who are supposed to somehow believe in God (though their father doesn't), but apparently not in the devil, which is superstitious crap. See my confusion? I respect anyone's prerogative not to believe. But that goes both ways, including whether I teach my daughter the truth about the devil (as best I can). I cannot then entirely control what she does with that information, though I have now told her not to talk about it. This too would probably have been unthinkable not so long ago - telling kids to hush up about speaking to truth as revealed by our faith.

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  60. "Buddhism teaches that karma is based on intention. I try to focus on people's intentions (such as your intention, which seems to be that you want to share what you see as wonderful and true and will help people have eternal life?) and that helps me appreciate people even if I don't agree with them."

    Can we explore Buddhism for a minute? This is just for discussion, not an affront.
    Can we intellectually challenge this teaching you mention above?
    To speak to the comparison of Buddhism to Christianity:
    Buddhism's pinnacle is "nothingness", to attain nothing, apart from any god, this is the ultimate goal.
    Per Buddhism, we are to extinguish ourselves through the 8fold path.

    Conversely, the Christian teaching is that a holy soul attains the fullness of one God. When you couple that with, for example, Aristotle, you have the complete picture that we humans are thinking, willful creatures pointed toward communion, community, togetherness, unity, does that intellectually tip the scales a bit in favor of certain relational (ie., personal relationships, unitive, etc.) truths found in Christianity? Does it make more sense, logically or philosophically?

    "I think it would be very frustrating to believe you know what is absolutely true and for others to disagree with you. "

    It may be frustrating to some, it may be frustrating during various periods throughout a person's life or within certain relationships, but frustrations aren't a stopping point for discussion unless the people involved are being overly emotional or uninterested.

    Its the most important thing, in dialogue, to understand the differences so that clear judgment toward truth can be made. You wouldn't wrestle an equation without first understanding the variables, at least the known ones, right?

    And to begin problem solving, though frustrations may arise, is only part of the process.

    You (we, as thinking, willful humans) want the truest form, the truest answer, the answer with the most intelligibility.

    "I think it's less frustrating to be in dialog with the mindset that you might learn something new. It's actually an exciting experience to realize you weren't right about something--that the world contains mysteries, and what you believe now might not be what you believe in the future. "

    This goes across the board from religion to medicine to mathematics. The aim isn't to become "less frustrated", the aim is to hurdle the frustration while pursuing the true(r) answer(s). If frustration were the main dictating variable, I'd have never entered a college classroom or embraced the challenges of Catholicism, just to name a couple.

    "I'm still open to the (very very faint) possibility that I might be a Christian some day, "

    Curious, as you seek to understand Christianity, are the pieces lining up in terms of a broad view of the puzzle (historically accurate, reliable, enduring, intelligent)? When you hold up Buddhism next to Catholicism under the light, which aspects or attributes are most prominent at this point?

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  61. And I would add a stronger point:
    Christianity is a revealed religion. The real question is, can we trust that revelation?

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  62. Nubby…. wow! Thank you, those are excellent points. I am enjoying this dialogue and looking forward to Johanne's responses.

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  63. Yeah, Johanne, feel free to explore my blog, examiningcatholicism.blogspot.com :)

    I try to focus on people's intentions (such as your intention, which seems to be that you want to share what you see as wonderful and true and will help people have eternal life?) and that helps me appreciate people even if I don't agree with them.

    Yup, that is my intention. And thank you, Nubby for your intriguing points about the contradictions between Catholicism and Buddhism. I too look forward to Johanne's responses.

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  64. @ Bill "for one see the need for Margo to broaden her horizons." I would not get anywhere on this blog or in life if I approached people because I was trying to change them (assuming, of course they don't have a gun to my head or something like that). I gain a lot more from trying understand Margo and appreciate her, which is not hard to do. She obviously has a wonderful spirit.

    @ Sebastian. I know a lot of Christians who don't believe in the devil. I am sympathetic to someone who would think you were feeding your child superstition (that is my view) but I sympathize with your right to teach your daughter what is true to you.

    @Nubby

    "Buddhism's pinnacle is "nothingness", to attain nothing, apart from any god, this is the ultimate goal.
    Per Buddhism, we are to extinguish ourselves through the 8fold path. "

    As a 30-year Buddhist and an trained Buddhist chaplain I can tell you that characterization does not capture Buddhism in the least. Trust me on this one. You may be taking certain words or phrases from actual sources but no, that is not the point of Buddhism.

    Something to understand is that Buddhism is a varied as Christianty, Think of differences between Roman Catholics, meeting house Quakers, the polygomous sects of Mormonism, Pentacostals, Shakers, Episcopals, Jehovah's Witnesses---that is how it is with Buddhism. I practice Theravadan Western Buddhism so I can only speak for that. The Buddhism I practice is all about relational truths.

    "If frustration were the main dictating variable.." I understand. If I believed I had the absolute truth I wouldn't give it up for anything. I feel that way somewhat about Buddhism but it's a very different thing from Christianity.

    "Curious, as you seek to understand Christianity, are the pieces lining up in terms of a broad view of the puzzle"
    That's a hard question to answer. I grew up in a Christian church and am still involved with that church to a degree, so I think I understand Protestantism very well. It's Catholicism that I haven't understood. But I understand it quite a bit better now.

    Holding up Catholicism to Buddhism is like comparing an an aardvark to a mailbox. They are completely different things. if I did become a Christian I would never stop being a Buddhist. The tenets of Buddhism are constantly, consistently, concretely observable. It is a "revealed" religion in the sense that one can observe it for oneself. Which is totally different than Catholicism. I'm not sure all Protestants would say their religion is "revealed." I'm not sure about that.



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    1. "It is a "revealed" religion in the sense that one can observe it for oneself. Which is totally different than Catholicism."

      In the sense that one cannot witness the resurrection of Christ first hand. One can observe the unfolding of karma constantly.

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  65. "I know a lot of Christians who don't believe in the devil."

    This sort of thing always stymies me. Christ speaks often of the devil. The devil has been a belief in Christianity from the get-go. There really is no leeway in any kind of orthodox Christian thought for denial of the devil, unless folks are making up their own Christianity that does not include certain Christian tenets. But then, how are they professing the Christian faith? This stuff leaves me shaking my head. It's like Christians who don't believe in Christ in any recognizable way…

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  66. Johanne, Buddhism is not about finding God or union with God, correct? That is not the point of meditation, nor the object of prayer, correct?

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  67. @Johanne

    A Christian not believing the devil exists is an oddity. The bible reports several occasions where Jesus encounters the devil. The existence of Satan has been a core belief of the Catholic Church from its inception. Pope Francis refers to him, quoting Church teaching, as the father of lies. I assure you he doesn't mean that in a metaphorical way.

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  68. Theravada Buddhism strives for nirvana. Correct? Ultimately detachment, right?
    There is another goal besides nirvana? There is an act of relating to a personal God?

    When you say your practice is all about relational truths, to whom are you relating?

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  69. In the sense that one cannot witness the resurrection of Christ first hand. One can observe the unfolding of karma constantly.

    Is the criteria more than mental?

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  70. Leila, our responses to Johanne crossed! We said the same thing.

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  71. Sebastian
    I'm not an expert on Christian theology in regards to the devil (obviously); but I grew up in a large, mostly conservative Methodist church-went to church every Sunday, attended Sunday school, choir, youth group, bible study--and I don't remember hearing the devil mentioned. Not ever. Perhaps our church was an aberration but that was my experience.

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  72. Johanne, I am guessing that the confession of faith (or whatever they called it) in Methodism when you were growing up does contain a reference to belief in the devil. If it was never mentioned, that is because the pastors were either dissenters on that tenet of the faith they were claiming to speak for, or they didn't feel comfortable (?) mentioning something difficult. That's the only thing I can think of. And if the congregation didn't believe in the devil, that's because their pastors never taught them (so, ignorance of Christian belief).

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  73. In regards to Buddhism and Catholicism--Nirvana, God, ultimate detachment...those phrases refer to things which are very complicated and it's not possible to have a meaningful discussion without defining the terms, which would be arduous at best. I say this because we don't share a common language to even discuss these things. The word "nothingness" means something very different to an experienced Buddhist practitioner than to someone who looks up the word in the dictionary. so I will leave the discussion here.

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  74. Johanne,

    I still don't see how Buddhism is relational. It's mainly mental, correct?

    What do you make of this article? It's a comparison of Catholicism to Buddhism written by an Asst Prof of East Asian History at Whitworth University.
    If you'd like to skip to that very last part, you can scroll down to it.

    http://www.ignatiusinsight.com/features2005/clarkolson_cathbuddh_feb05.asp

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  75. HI Nubby. I read almost the entire article. It says some valid things, like "Buddhism appears less concerned with dogma or doctrine than right living". This is what makes Buddhism less mental than Christianity, in a way.

    This is true: "Buddhism "works" whether or not there is a God."

    Toward the end it sounded like Catholics making the point that their religion is better:

    There are many over-simplifications:

    "Therefore, despite similar aspects, there is a fundamental difference" between Christian and Buddhist mysticism, wrote John Paul II. The Holy Father continued: "Christian mysticism . . . is not born of a purely negative 'enlightenment.' It is not born of an awareness of the evil which exists in man's attachment to the world through the senses, the intellect, and the spirit. Instead, Christian mysticism is born of the Revelation of the living God." "

    and this:

    "Christ, the "true light," did not teach His followers to extinguish their fires, such as is meaning of nirvana, but to illuminate the world with His love, and to reflect the light of His truth."

    This is also misleading:

    "Buddhism teaches that suffering must be escaped from; indeed, this is a central concern of Buddhism."

    And this is not true:

    "Buddha is sometimes elevated to a state of divinity."
    Buddha was just a person--no comparison between him and Jesus.

    And this phrase: "the extinction of self." It's hard to explain from "outside" Buddhism what that means.

    Regarding relational--I think I misunderstood you originally. I was saying that Buddhism was very concerned with how people relate to each other---not to God. But for Buddhists who believe in God (such as myself) practice is about that relationship as well.

    And for some reason, Catholics who are Buddhist seem to be drawn to Zen. Zen is the most mental, in my opinion, of all streams of Buddhism. I am not drawn to Zen at all.

    I have no idea if I"m answering your questions.

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  76. Thanks for your input.

    "those phrases refer to things which are very complicated and it's not possible to have a meaningful discussion without defining the terms, which would be arduous at best.."

    Can you dumb it down for me? I'm not trying to get into definitions beyond who or what Buddhists are:
    1) ultimately trying to relate to and
    2) ultimately trying to attain using all the human faculties we have

    This is true: "Buddhism "works" whether or not there is a God."

    That's what I understood: God can be a vehicle for the Buddhist, but relationship to a God is not what the Buddhist is trying to ultimately attain, right?

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  77. "Toward the end it sounded like Catholics making the point that their religion is better"
    I wouldn't say that. I would say there are glaring differences that stand out because the author is contrasting a Person and personal God who relates on a love level, a mental level, a will level, a memory level and even a physical level (tangible sacraments) to human beings vs. a mental discipline or mental attainment that sounds like it leaves out 2/3 of the whole person.

    There are many over-simplifications:"

    Over-simplifications are okay for the purposes of an article, due to word count constraints, etc., but they aren't incorrect over simplifications, except for the statement regarding divinity of Buddha, right?

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  78. "And this phrase: "the extinction of self." It's hard to explain from "outside" Buddhism what that means."

    No disrespect, but it sounds like the art of confusion - much like Protestantism. How do you know if you're accurately practicing without a unifying authority?

    And to the point of my questioning, whether extinction is the ultimate goal. Is the ultimate goal a detachment from all desire? Extinction is the end desire, right? Even in just basic terms to this western mind, I can grasp what extinction means on a spiritual level, if it means detachment or escape or nothingness.

    A contrast from a Catholic perspective is that, again, coupled with philosophy, the Catholic practices her spirituality with her whole person, in order to bring a wholeness, not an extinction.

    It's like two numbers on a number line. Buddhists sound as if they're running into the negative (subtracting by mental discipline) in order to attain their end, whether God is a vehicle toward that or not (which doesn't line up logically). and Catholics are striving toward the positive (wholeness, greater sum).

    What I mean by relational:
    Whether or not you attain nirvana doesn't depend on your relationships of love, right? It's mostly detachment?
    Whether or not I attain heaven relies a lot on how well I've loved. Making a deposit of love while I'm here is greater than my faith and hope ("of faith, hope, and love, the greatest of these is love" per St Paul); not trying to escape mentally toward extinction.

    If that's incorrect, please correct me. How does Buddhism include the intangibles of the whole person (coupling it next to ancient philosophy of the thinking, willful person)?

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  79. Thanks for the email note, Johanne! No rush. I appreciate your class, truly.

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