Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Sheen: Meditation on FORTITUDE

I am repeating the Lenten series I ran last year on the Bubble. You won't be sorry if you dive in, either again or for the first time. Gems. Pure spiritual gems.

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Eighteen years ago as I was coming back into the Church, my mother gave me an out-of-print book that my late grandfather had owned, written by Monsignor Fulton J. Sheen, later archbishop.

The book, The Seven Last Words and the Seven Virtues, was transcribed from Sheen's radio talks in 1940 and is a meditation on the seven last statements ("words") that Jesus spoke from the Cross, corresponded with the seven virtues of fortitude, hope, prudence, faith, temperance, justice, and charity. After 27 years of banal homilies and fluffy catechesis, I was blown away by Sheen's simple, profound way of exploring and explaining the Faith.

It made sense when I later learned that Archbishop Sheen had been a household name in America for decades, hosting his own national radio and television shows, and even winning an Emmy. Non-Catholics admired and loved the man as much as Catholics, and my own wonderful aunt (a Protestant) still talks of him so fondly and watches his videos when she comes across them.

Archbishop Sheen died in 1979, and recently his cause for canonization was opened.

Anyway, in cleaning out my dusty bookshelves for Lent, I stumbled again upon the book, and I knew that I had found my Lenten reading. Eighteen years later, the material is as rich and stirring as I remember.

I would like to share the Venerable Fulton J. Sheen with you over the next weeks, by posting brief excerpts from each chapter, for meditation, though the excerpts surely do not do justice to the whole.*

The First Word: 
"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

The Corresponding Virtue: 
Fortitude

Fortitude is that virtue which enables us to face undismayed and fearlessly the difficulties and dangers which stand in the way of duty and goodness. It stands midway between foolhardiness, which rushes into danger heedlessly, and cowardice, which flees from it recreantly. Because Fortitude is related to bravery, it must not be thought that bravery is devoid of fear; rather it is control of fear …. It is in the presence of the fear of death that Fortitude reaches its peak; that is why the highest peak of supernatural Fortitude is martyrdom.


[Jesus'] first word from the Cross is not in self defense, not a protestation of His own innocence, not a fear of death nor a plea for deliverance, nor even a fear of enemies. Fear of death makes most men turn away from doing good. It makes even innocent men thoughtful of themselves as they proclaim their innocence to their executioners. Not so with Him. Fortitude reaches the peak of self-forgetfulness. On the Cross He thinks only of others and their salvation. For his first word is not about death, but about the good it will accomplish; it is directed not to His friends, His Apostles, or His believers who will proclaim His gospel, but to those who hate Him and His Apostles and His Church …. Often during his life He preached: "Love your enemies: do good to them that hate you" (Matt 5:44). Now that He is strong enough to ignore death, He the Conqueror bestows on His momentary conquerors the very thing they had forfeited by their sins -- forgiveness.


Of all the nonsense our modern world has invented nothing surpasses the catch-words or claptrap we give the unfortunate or the sick: "Keep your chin up" or "Forget it." This is not solace, but a drug. Consolation is in explaining suffering, not forgetting it; in relating it to Love, not ignoring it; in making it an expiation for sin, not another sin. But who shall understand this unless he looks at a Cross and loves the Crucified?


There is no challenging the fact that Catholics could get on better with the world if they were less Catholic. Not a single sentence can be found in the words of our Divine Lord promising you the love of the world because of your faith. But you can find a golden string of texts warning you that the world will hate you because you are His….


[I]f Catholics will not be strong in their love of Christ because of Christ, then let them be strong out of fear of the scandal of their weakness. The example of a bad Catholic is most often appealed to as a justification for evil. Why is it that the world is more scandalized at a bad Catholic than a bad anything else, if it be not because his fall is rightfully measured by the heights from which he has fallen? 


[E]ntering into the Church lifts us into another world -- the supernatural world. It gives us a new set of values, a new objective, new ways of thinking, new standards of judgment, all of which are in opposition to the spirit of the world. The world with its hatred of discipline, its courtesy to the flesh, and its indifference to truth, cannot tolerate a life based upon the primacy of Christ and the salvation of souls.


Peace, we are just discovering, is in the identity of our will with God who wills our perfection. When we disobey His will we are not asserting our independence; we are mutilating our personality as we might mutilate a razor by using it to cut a tree. Being made for God, we can be happy only with Him. All our misery is traceable to that rebellion. All our peace is traceable to training the lower part of ourselves in service to Him. Hence the Cross, the symbol of that sacrifice inspired by love.


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*Note: The whole of the chapter discusses three types of souls who need the virtue of fortitude in order to have peace: "Those who suffer and mourn, saying 'What have I done to deserve this?'; those who possess faith, but who through a love of the world deny their faith or hide it; and those who do not possess the faith, but are convince of its truth and yet refuse to pay the price."


139 comments:

  1. Love it! I just got a very similar book from my spiritual director for Lenten reading. It's called "The Cross and the Beatitudes", it goes through the 7 Last Words and corresponds them with the Beatitudes :)

    Hey everyone! Don't forget to continue praying for Venerable Sheen's beatification and canonization, here's the prayer:

    Heavenly Father, source of all holiness, You raise up within the Church in every age men and women who serve with heroic love and dedication. You have blessed Your Church through the life and ministry of Your faithful servant, Archbishop Fulton J Sheen. He has written and spoken well of Your Divine Son, Jesus Christ, and was a true instrument of the Holy Spirit in touching the hearts of countless people.
    If it be according to Your Will, for the honor and glory of the Most Holy Trinity and for the salvation of souls, we ask You to move the Church to proclaim him a saint. We ask this prayer through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

    You can also ask for Sheen's intercession:

    Eternal Father, You alone grant us every blessing in Heaven and on earth, through the redemptive mission of Your Divine Son, Jesus Christ, and by the working of the Holy Spirit.
    If it be according to Your Will, glorify Your servant, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, by granting the favor I now request through his prayerful intercession (mention your request here)
    I make this prayer confidently through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

    Okay I'll stop spazzing about Sheen now! :)

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  2. I'm so thrilled you're doing these again! These were such a consolation and a help last Lent (during which both of my grandmothers passed away, so it was a particularly hard time), and I was just thinking of them again only a few days ago. Thank you so much for re-posting! :)

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  3. Thanks for posting this, Leila! I clicked on the link to the book and got a 404 error, though. :(

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    1. I'll be the book is not even for sale used anymore. Thanks, I will delete the link! :)

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    2. You mean I can't get the book?! Nooooooo!!! :)

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    3. Would this cheer you up, mcbabyadventures?
      Similarly powerful:
      Seven Words of Jesus and Mary - Lessons on Cana and Calvary" by Bishop Sheen for $9.99 on catholiccompany. com

      Our Blessed Mother and Lord together for Lenten inspiration.

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  4. The world with its hatred of discipline, its courtesy to the flesh, and its indifference to truth, cannot tolerate a life based upon the primacy of Christ and the salvation of souls.

    Hatred of discipline - Yes.
    Courtesy to the Flesh - Yes.
    Indifference to truth - No.

    The primacy of Christ and the salvation of souls is not the truth to those who don't believe. I face the accusation almost daily that I choose not to believe so I can do whatever I want and not have to discipline myself. While it is very true that I lack self discipline and strive to be free to do whatever I want to do, I do not choose to not believe in Christianity for those reasons. I choose to not believe because there doesn't appear to be anyway that Christianity is based on the truth of a man being God, giving himself up as a human sacrifice, rising from the dead, ascending to Heaven and returning at the end of the world. I don't accept that and neither does most of the world. Nor should they.

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  5. Bill, I considered deleting this as this post is not the place. But I will tell you that if you cannot see that we live in a relativistic society (indifference to truth), then you are blind. I had one young, bright atheist on this blog tell me she had never even thought of the concept of searching for "truth". She was sweet and honest. Raised in America. Truth-seeking is not a staple of the American public or any of our institutions anymore. You may not be "indifferent to truth", but I assure you, most people here are. Sheen saw it in the early 1940s, and it's exponentially worse today.

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    1. By "here" I don't mean this blog. I mean this culture.

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  6. Unlike the atheist you are referring to and the many others like her, my whole life has become a search for truth. In you I have come to the conclusion that it is true that, if you can do it, there are very few better ways to live than in strict adherence to the Catholic faith. My mother and grandmother watched Fulton Sheen and lived the kind of life that I admire. You also try to live that kind of life and, except for you judging everyone by your standards (excuse me, by the Church's standards), I admire your worldview and I know that it works.

    All I can say is what Pilate said to Jesus: "What is Truth?"

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  7. And you know Jesus' answer to that question elsewhere: I AM the truth (the way and the life). Literally. Think about it.

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  8. Bill, yes, you are a rare bird if you are seeking truth. But if you come up with Pilate's answer (relativism) instead of Jesus', then you share the relativistic worldview.

    I wrote on that, here:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2010/10/pilate-said-to-him-what-is-truth.html

    Off to a field trip! Have a good morning!

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  9. "I choose to not believe because there doesn't appear to be anyway that Christianity is based on the truth "

    Neither does there appear to be any way that imaginary numbers exist or are based on truth. But they do and they are. And they even have fundamental application to solving equations, though there's no value to them at the end of the day.

    Suggestions: Think outside the box. Base thoughts on sturdy foundations. Cancel out emotion. Perhaps switch from an arbitrary frame of reference to a valid argument based on scholarship and logic.

    Your comment above is tantamount to:
    "If I close my eyes really, really tightly and count to 100 maybe, by the time I open them, God will have gone away."

    Leila - I just bought a book based on several recommendations. I will add it to your Sheen list, as I believe it's worthy to be on the same bookshelf.
    A Journey to the Heart of Jesus - Guideposts Along the Way by Bishop J. Peter Sartain. Great bite-sized meditations, though nothing nearly as deep as Bishop Sheen.

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  10. Neither does there appear to be any way that imaginary numbers exist or are based on truth.

    Nubby,

    You can't compare the veracity of the stories in the Bible to that of numbers. Yes. They were both the product of human intellect and they both serve a useful purpose. But mathematical theorems can be proved beyond any shadow of a doubt and Bible stories and religious dogma cannot. I hope that we can at least agree on that.

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  11. Lolz oh, no, bill. That's completely incorrect. Back later to explain.

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  12. But if you come up with Pilate's answer (relativism) instead of Jesus', then you share the relativistic worldview.

    I wish you weren't on a field trip. I read the article you linked from 2010. It seems a little disconcerting that anyone would insist that what they believe by taking a leap of faith is objectively true and those who don't believe what they believe are somehow on the wrong side of history. I know people of different faiths and of no faith and even when I was as religious as I had ever been, before or since, I never presented what I believed as the one and only true faith. I knew Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and Christians of various denominations and I would never have dreamed of telling them that Catholicism is the only true religion. How can anyone say that theirs is the only religion based on the truth and all others are inferior? That's utter madness.

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  13. "You can't compare the veracity of the stories in the Bible to that of numbers. Yes. They were both the product of human intellect and they both serve a useful purpose. But mathematical theorems can be proved beyond any shadow of a doubt and Bible stories and religious dogma cannot. I hope that we can at least agree on that."

    Yes, I can actually equally compare biblical truths to numbers. How?
    Easily, and it has a firmer foundation than the reason you give above - that each is "... the product of human intellect and they both serve a purpose".

    Religion is as objective as numbers, Bill. You want numbers to be this untouchable platform, this ivory tower that is the most objective source of reality.

    Bill, mathematical theorems absolutely 100% cannot be proved beyond the shadow of a doubt, always and everywhere. Where did you get that notion?
    Take the simple axiom of equality, x=x. True. But not provable. Right? Or perhaps this is new to you?

    There are at least 5 theories regarding mathematics, did you know this? Math is a philosophy. It can be understood as either independent of us (eternal) or seen as a tool created by us. And a lot more thrown in there, too.

    Likewise, religion can be (and is) understood and under girded by philosophy, too. Not dreams, not wishes, not feelings. Actual objective "proofs" of all kinds.

    Religion is objective right alongside science (say, just even math), because both include a lack of full knowledge (numbers do not provide the theory of everything about everything, that's a fact), and both use formulas to express their truths. Equations are = to Creeds. Are you still with me?

    Math, itself, fails to bolster your "argument" against religion or God, objectively or otherwise. Have a good afternoon mulling that over.

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  14. Religion is as objective as numbers, Bill. You want numbers to be this untouchable platform, this ivory tower that is the most objective source of reality.

    Why are you doing this?

    Math is as about objective as you can get.

    Religious beliefs may or may not be true. You believe they are true. You're entitled to your opinion, especially on this blog. Sorry, religious beliefs can not be said to be objectively true unless they are proven. If they were proven, they would be scientific facts. People of faith always run the risk of being wrong. That's why it is called "faith" and not "fact". Theologians are aware of this.

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  15. Why am I educating? Why am I shedding light on reason? Good question. I was doing it for your sake, but since you're resisting or just not seeing, perhaps it will benefit someone else reading.

    You utterly miss the comparison of the objectivity of the two.
    You utterly miss the actual objectivity of both.
    You utterly insist on proclaiming that religious beliefs are completely subjective because they are not proven, when I. just. showed. you. exactly how religion is as objectively "provable".
    You utterly insist that math speaks for itself, plainly, and clearly, after I just showed you an axiom that is UNprovable.

    Leila- I bet that migraine has returned ;)

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  16. "Math is as about objective as you can get."

    Why do non-believers claim this?

    "Yep, math seals the deal!"

    lol
    Math doesn't even seal it's own deal.

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  17. You know, Nubby, it is OK to say something like: "I'm Catholic and this is what the Church teaches". Not everything we believe can be proven and that's OK. When you take the leap of faith, it is not like working out a math problem. If it were, they wouldn't call it a "leap". It would be a step by step process and someone like myself could arrive at the same conclusion.

    We are talking past each other because you took the leap toward believing without always having proof and I took the leap toward not believing without having proof that what you believe is not true. In a way, we have both acted on faith without definitive proof. Only problem is that we can't both be right. But we can respect each other's rights to their opinion.

    I hope we can at least agree on that. Throw me a bone. I'm dying here.

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  18. Thanks for posting this again, Leila. Please keep them coming. I am trying hard to stay off of FB for Lent (though I have already been on once or twice since yesterday but still, a small improvement!) and I have been looking for meditations during Lent. I'm sure there are tons out there but don't have the time or energy to look. Nice to know I can count on them being here at the Bubble.

    And I know this is a teaching blog and so you should do whatever feels right accordingly; but if I may add in my 2 cents, (to Bill): Lent is a spiritual time. It would be nice to fast from the heated debates, even if you don't agree with the posts. There are times when debates/teaching are appropriate and necessary, and I'm sure if you posed your questions as "questions" and not arguments, anyone would be more than willing to respond. But anything more than a sincere question of learning more about the Faith feels like an intrusion to what is supposed to be spiritual right now. Lent can be very difficult and even painful for those who are participating in it, as it's often a "spiritual purge"; when I look for these posts I am looking for spiritual enlightenment and inspiration; not anger and debates. Just my own thoughts.

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  19. Bill,

    I'm glad you can see that both you and Catholics cannot both be right! As for How can anyone say that theirs is the only religion based on the truth and all others are inferior? That's utter madness.

    That is exactly what Jesus claimed! That He IS the Truth, all Truth comes from Him and the Father. Ultimately, it comes down to the question that Jesus asked His apostles, "Who do you say that I am?" Is Jesus truly who He claimed to be - the Son of God, the Word made Flesh? Or was Jesus lying or was He a lunatic?

    Islam and Christianity cannot coexist since Islam says that Jesus was a prophet and denies His identity as the Son of God. Same with Judaism and Christianity - Judaism rejects Jesus as the Messiah.

    Does that make sense?

    Becky, I'll let Leila make the call on whether we should pause on the comment discussions during Lent since it's her blog, but my advice to you and anyone else who needs a break would be to ignore the comments section over Lent and just enjoy the reflections.

    Finally, I wanted to share some GREAT news from the Sheen cause for those who might not have seen it yet: Miracle approved by Medical Experts

    Now the alleged miracle goes to a board of theologians who will then pass it on to a group of bishops and cardinals and then finally Pope Francis will make the final call on Sheen's beatification! So, getting closer! Praise God! Please keep praying for the Cause!

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  20. Margo,

    I don't mean to sound like a teenager, at my age. But it is definitely not cool to insist that you hold the truth and everyone who doesn't believe what you believe is living in darkness. It just doesn't work that way. You should just say that you are Catholic and this is what the Catholic Church teaches. That lets others say what they are and what their religion teaches. It is more inclusive and less divisive. It lets you respect other people's religious beliefs or the lack thereof (like me). Out of respect for Becky, I will try to keep my comments to a minimum. But I wanted to respond to you and give you some advice on to interact with non-Catholics.

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  21. "Sorry, religious beliefs can not be said to be objectively true unless they are proven. If they were proven, they would be scientific facts."

    Interesting. So we re-classify everything to "science", even if, and when, it's coherently proved outside of science? Hmmm? Interesting.

    You understand that "proving" doesn't always include math or science, right?
    "Proving" takes place in courtrooms everyday without math.
    It certainly takes place in college courses on logic without math.
    Same with courses in philosophy and metaphysics.
    We can "prove" something, or point to a logical plausibility, by deduction.
    As long as we make coherent logical sense and avoid logical fallacies we are "proving".
    It's done everywhere, in all places everyday; and these "proofs" are completely in the realm of coherent reason.

    How you make this wild jump that if religious beliefs were true, they would need to be suddenly reclassified as scientific fact, is beyond me.
    By your logic, anything that is "proven" falls into the category of "scientific fact". Is everything that is true all "scientific"? Or are there ways to reason that don't even need to use that method, perhaps?

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  22. You should just say that you are Catholic and this is what the Catholic Church teaches. That lets others say what they are and what their religion teaches. It is more inclusive and less divisive.

    Okay, play out this scenario:

    Religion A teaches that Jesus is God.
    Religion B teaches that Jesus is not God.

    How can the two religions possibly coexist if they state contradicting beliefs? You even said that both cannot be right. What is life about if not searching out Truth and then ordering our lives around it?

    Jesus is either God or not God, can't have it both ways. I don't remember Jesus being like "it's cool to choose whatever religion you'd like".

    You know what is truly inclusive? God's love for ALL people and His desire for every individual to come to Him in a loving relationship.

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  23. How can the two religions possibly coexist if they state contradicting beliefs?

    They can and they do. Haven't you ever heard of a multi-faith service like they had after Newtown and the Boston Marathon bombing?

    What are you saying, Margo?
    You can't coexist with those of other faiths and atheists?

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  24. Bill, are you kidding me? Clearly Margo means that two contradictory "truths" cannot both be true. She wasn't talking about being able to coexist with others who are not Catholic.

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  25. Bill, I'm a bit surprised you haven't gone on a monologue about how "fortitude" is not a true thing, and that it can't be proven by science, so why do Catholics talk about it and insist it's a thing? Sigh.

    I have to agree with the folks who would appreciate your debates being reserved for the posts that invite such a thing. I think Nubby is a hero, by the way…

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  26. Yes! Thank you for clarifying that, Leila! Obviously, I coexist with other people who are not Catholic, but the teachings of different faiths cannot coexist since they directly contradict each other.

    While, I do think it's all well and good for people to come together for multi-faith services, I do often wonder if any of them ever stop to think about what makes their faiths different and if they could ever all unite under a single faith?

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  27. Leila,

    I will respect you wishes and stick to the topic and not go off on tangents. There are issues I enjoy discussing with people like Nubby, Margo, Francis, Sebastian, etc. My values have changed as a result of these conversations. Often I am referred to the other's website where I can talk to them without everyone else getting an email from me every time I converse with them. I would much prefer that my emails be deleted without being read than having people offended by what I might say to you or another specific person. I can converse with Margo on her site and I often do. It may not seem it, but I still have an appreciation of Catholicism and I do cherry pick what I find good about it. I have gotten a lot from people like Bishop Sheen and especially Peter Kreeft. I read From Atheism to Catholicism at your suggestion and actually learned more about atheist philosophers as a result of reading it. I am in search of the truth. I'm not just trolling.

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  28. How you make this wild jump that if religious beliefs were true, they would need to be suddenly reclassified as scientific fact, is beyond me.

    Nubby,

    I stand corrected. Every religious belief that is proven does not necessarily have to be labeled as a scientific fact. What I had in mind was if say archeologists found proof that there really was a King David. Then the existence of King David would no longer just be a religious belief. It would be a scientific fact. Evidence of this has been found and it does appear that there really was a King David. If there is some way to confirm it, we will no longer say that Jews believe in King David's existence as a real person. We will say it as a fact that he was indeed a real person. It no longer has to be just a religious belief.

    Hope that explains what I was trying to say. Proof isn't always considered to be scientific. I can prove to my wife that I love her. There is nothing scientific about that. Like taking a lie detector test. That would be cold.

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  29. Bill, I'm a bit surprised you haven't gone on a monologue about how "fortitude" is not a true thing, and that it can't be proven by science, so why do Catholics talk about it and insist it's a thing? Sigh.

    Actually, what still attracts me to Catholicism is its teachings on things like the Deadly Sins, Virtues, Fruits of the Holy Spirit, etc. I think the Church has nailed it on these. I now have no doubt that living in strict compliance with Church teaching is a very good way to live a happy and fulfilling life, which is all anyone can ask for.

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  30. One more and that's it for now.

    Clearly Margo means that two contradictory "truths" cannot both be true.

    I agree and have addressed it on her site. I didn't think Margo was saying that she could not coexist with someone of another faith. I did however advise not to marry outside the faith. That would be too much for her. Especially if he or she is an atheist.

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  31. Oh crap!

    Especially if he is an atheist.

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  32. "What I had in mind was if say archeologists found proof that there really was a King David. Then the existence of King David would no longer just be a religious belief. It would be a scientific fact. "

    It would be, and is a scientific fact, then, Bill, because an archaeology is considered a science. The facts they recover are correctly classified as archaeological facts, by nature of their discipline, and the methods they use can include scientific testing. Facts found on a site exist as evidence of a previous culture, an historical setting, and perhaps even an historical event. What we gain from these archaeological sites and findings is historical and cultural proof of something.

    Science, the way you're intending it, would come into play depending on whether or not a research team runs tests on, or takes physical samples from, certain artifacts.
    Archaeology as a discipline is as much a natural science as it is a humanity.

    Interestingly, there exists not one shred of archaeological proof that refutes the resurrection.
    Don't you find that intriguing when you consider the harsh history of early Christianity?
    Many people wanted to prove Christ a fraud. Many were probably looking for evidence of this so they could be triumphant.

    Maybe consider that as a solid "proof" and let God's power, sovereignty, and majesty be in your mind, this first Friday of Lent.

    You touched on something very important when you mentioned your love for your wife not being scientifically measurable. Lonergan's proof speaks to this. You love your wife knowing that that love is not "perfect" but you have a sense of Perfection beyond that love. You know human love falls short. How do you "know" this? How do you have such an innate understanding of what perfect love is? Where is the coherence between our experience and our "knowing there is something more perfect"?

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  33. Interestingly, there exists not one shred of archaeological proof that refutes the resurrection.

    Other than finding and correctly identifying the body, what would prove that Jesus did not rise and ascend to Heaven?

    It doesn't matter now. If he did, the rest is history and we now have over a billion Catholics. If he didn't and people just thought he did, the rest is history...

    Maybe a Friday in Lent isn't the best time to discuss this.

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  34. Bill, I have yet to find one person who can rise to the logical challenge I put here:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2011/05/did-jesus-really-die-and-rise.html

    To conclude He did not rise is illogical, irrational. No one has even attempted an actual, plausible scenario as I asked for in the post. There is a reason for that.

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  35. PS: Bill I am glad you have gotten a lot out of your discussions on the blog. You have been more respectful of late, and have not thrown out a lot of incendiary, baseless comments ("Catholics are brainwashed"), so I thank you for that and hope you stay in this vein.

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  36. Leila,

    There are natural explanations for the women going to the tomb on Sunday morning and finding it empty. You can't just assume that an empty tomb is proof that the person who was in that tomb rose from the dead. For example, someone could have moved the body for some unknown reason. Maybe the body had been temporarily placed in the tomb pending arrangement of a burial. There other explanations for the tomb being empty.

    If someone assumed that empty tomb = resurrection and spreads the word, it would be hard to unring a bell. The rest would be history no matter what the reason for the empty tomb.

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  37. Bill, excuse my frustration, but that is not the question that was posed in my post. Please re-read and if you'd like to attempt an answer, please give the answer in very specific, logical steps, just as I've asked. Thanks. The "body was moved" theory is very common and used a lot by skeptics, and it still does not address the question I asked.

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  38. Leila,

    The need to coexist with a Catholic has taught me to stop throwing out insults and unsubstantiated opinions. I think I am getting better at it. As far as the resurrection, belief in it might just be the single most productive step toward a peaceful world ever taken. So I am not dismissing its impact on history.

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  39. I don't know exactly what the question is. You are asking for a specific explanation. You say:

    But for this post, let's assume that Jesus did truly die on that cross (a pretty safe assumption). If he truly died on that cross, then there are two possibilities:

    1) He stayed dead, but his disciples pretended he rose.
    2) He rose from the dead.


    Are those my only options? What about the women finding the tomb empty and starting the mistaken assumption that he rose from the dead? It only has to be remotely possible and I think it is remotely possible. No matter how unlikely, it is more likely than a miracle to me.

    I'm not going to get to deeply into this. If you believe in miracles, then that becomes the most plausible explanation and the rest of us are just grasping at straws.

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  40. Bill, okay, go with that. Show me a reasonable scenario where the followers of Jesus would suddenly believe, after seeing dead Jesus, that a man rose from the dead. Just on the hearsay of some women who saw the tomb empty (who also somehow reasonably concluded all of a sudden that he must have come back from death). Lay out the scenario for me, how people would believe that, knowing what we know from human nature.

    Hint: If you saw your best friend tortured and murdered before your eyes, if you helped to bury his dead body, and if a few days later you saw that his grave had been dug up and his casket opened and was empty… you and the person you came to the grave with that day would automatically believe that your best friend (surely!) had resurrected from the grave. You tell everyone the dead man jumped up alive out of the grave (although of course you have not seen him), and of course they believe you by the thousands! (eye roll… in what universe do humans believe this? Ancients were not ignorant about dead bodies and death… people did not just "rise" back then, and folks were not morons).

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    1. And in that "hint", I'm speaking of you, Bill. Pretend it's you or someone you know. Everyone knows that the friend is cold dead. Now, show me the universe in which folks suddenly conclude, because of a grave-robbing type situation, that the answer *must* be that the dead body came to life! (Not plausible… you can't name a single person who would conclude that, much less thousands, much less thousands now willing to be tortured and die for that idea.)

      The only reason people believed in the Resurrection is because they SAW the resurrected Jesus before their eyes, and walked and talked with him for forty days.

      Delete
  41. The only reason people believed in the Resurrection is because they SAW the resurrected Jesus before their eyes, and walked and talked with him for forty days.

    Leila,

    First of all, the only reason you believe what you say above is because it was written in the Acts of the Apostles. But I will grant that it is consistent with some (but not all) of the gospel accounts.

    As for me giving a detailed theory of how it might be possible for word to spread of the resurrection if it didn't happen, my main premise has already been dismissed as not plausible. If you can't buy that the woman saw the empty tomb and spread the news that Jesus had risen from the dead, my whole theory falls apart. Are you sure that these unsophisticated primitive women could not have got the whole hysteria started? I find it entirely possible. So we disagree on this premise. What else is new?

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  42. Sorry, Bill, are you claiming that people in Jesus' day did not understand what death was? They did not understand that people did not rise from the dead, once truly dead? Is this what you are claiming?

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  43. Bill,
    You're being unjust toward the evidence.
    You have reams of eyewitness accounts to the Resurrection event, which support the event as actual. By disregarding this evidence, you're being intellectually dishonest.

    If you have four accounts of a bank robbery at your disposal, why do the very unscientific thing and act as though the event never happened?

    What evidence to the contrary, besides your own thoughts or opinions, are you even referencing that allows flagrant disregard of the event?

    This wave of the hand at actual evidence is astounding
    Why do intellectually dismiss the event itself, despite the detail fluctuations?

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  44. * Why do you intellectually dismiss...

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  45. There are claims of resurrections in primitive places like Africa to this very day. I would bet that there never has been a time in human history where someone somewhere was believed to be resurrected. I doubt that there was complete skepticism in the Bronze Age Middle East.

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  46. Make that wasn't believed to be resurrected.

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  47. There were false prophets and magicians in Christ's day, and long before that, too.
    The event is the Resurrection. The claim (in part) is that He is the Messiah and He defeated sin and death.
    How can we know what's true? What is the frame of reference?

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  48. Nubby,

    I will admit that I live my life in such a way that it is important to assure myself that Catholicism is not true. Don't think that I live a life of utter debauchery. I do not. But I can relate to the seven deadly sins with Pride at the top of the list, followed by Sloth and the rest. The worse thing that could ever happen to me is Catholicism to be true. Since it is obvious that the resurrection never happened, Catholicism is not true.

    That's my logic.

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  49. Bill, the Jewish people were pretty grounded folk. You have to remember that his followers saw him dead. D-E-A-D. They were in mourning. They were fearful for their lives, as their leader was stone, cold dead. You are trying to tell me that seeing an empty tomb made them *leap* instantly to the idea that he had risen back up from the dead? With no evidence? No witnessing the Lord in His flesh? Just the tomb made them lose their fear, declare a resurrection (again, with no evidence), and was enough to convince all the others as well? Who now suddenly were not afraid to be tortured and killed, when immediately before they were shaking in fear? This is what you know of human nature? Bill… it makes no sense at all. And as Nubby said, it's not what the eyewitnesses are claiming.

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  50. "I will admit that I live my life in such a way that it is important to assure myself that Catholicism is not true. Don't think that I live a life of utter debauchery. I do not. But I can relate to the seven deadly sins with Pride at the top of the list, followed by Sloth and the rest. The worse thing that could ever happen to me is Catholicism to be true. Since it is obvious that the resurrection never happened, Catholicism is not true.

    That's my logic.
    "

    I have no idea how this reply has anything to do with logic.
    It's a defense of some sort. I never insinuated anything personal. I asked what is the frame of reference regarding deciphering truth? There's nothing remotely personal in that question.

    Your bold claim that it's so blatantly obvious that the Resurrection never occurred demands an objective frame of reference.

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  51. Don't have much time to respond today, but I am reading all the comments and I just want to say a quick something to Bill. I think I see what's going on, but feel free to correct me if I'm wrong on this. Bill, are you dead set on Catholicism being wrong because you realize that if it is true, it would mean having to make some drastic changes to your life in order to live according to the teachings? If that is the case, let me assure you, that I've been in that position. Although I was raised Catholic, I went through a phase of not practicing the faith for over a year in high school since I never had a clear understanding of the reasonings of the beliefs and teachings until I got to college. Once the teachings and beliefs were explained to me, I realized that Catholicism was the fullness of Truth and that meant having to change my attitudes (I used to be far more liberal and judge right and wrong based on feelings). Even to this day, I'm still struggling with obeying Christ and resisting some sinful habits. God does provide much grace and help though; all you have to do is ask! :)

    I promise that living a Catholic lifestyle is not as terrible as you might think. You yourself have even repeatedly noticed how well it works for Leila; it can definitely work just as well (maybe even better, who knows?) for you!

    Thank you for being more open to discussion these days. I'll reply to your comment on my own blog later today. For now, I'm off to mass and then a job interview!

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  52. You are trying to tell me that seeing an empty tomb made them *leap* instantly to the idea that he had risen back up from the dead?

    Leila,

    On a scale of 0 (impossible) to 10 (absolute), I might give that a score of 2. I would give a miraculous resurrection a 0. That means that what you find to be so unlikely is infinitely more likely than the miracle.

    Granted, this is based on me giving it a 0. If I give it a 1 we are looking at twice as probable.

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  53. But, where have you ever seen this happen in real life? How does this square with anything you know about human nature?

    Bottom line: If you will not leave any room for anything supernatural, then yes, none of anything we say is possible. If you dismiss the idea of a miracle out-of-hand, then you have shut down the discussion before it starts, so your mind is closed. Of course there would be no reason for you to even be here, or even entertain the idea of God at all. Of course, that opens up a whole host of other problems for you, in that you have to believe in things that are totally illogical, totally at odds with all that we know with human nature and behavior, but that's another issue.

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  54. If you dismiss the idea of a miracle out-of-hand, then you have shut down the discussion before it starts, so your mind is closed.

    Therein lies the problem. Miracles can't have a probability of 0. There is too much evidence of them.

    So this is as far as I have gotten in my search for truth. Miracles and the way Catholicism works in people's lives, like yours.

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  55. I asked what is the frame of reference regarding deciphering truth?

    Nubby,

    All I can say is that I have done a lot of reading but I am not good at citing references. It's just a massive data dump. I was just admitting my bias. Just like you feel the need to see all this your way, I have a similar need. That's all I was saying.

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  56. I'm no stranger to the non-belief out there, Bill. Done plenty of reading myself.

    If you assume I have a "bias" to fulfill a "need" to have things seen "my way", then call it a logical bias, because that would be true.

    The challenge is against the logic and facts. Not me vs. you.

    The hope is to discuss things enough so that the logic is plain. Once you get to that point, yes, leap. Leap because it's not a blind leap.

    What is at our disposal, as fact? That's what I mean by objective frame of reference.

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  57. "It's just a massive data dump."

    This is incoherent. Is it actual "data", as in verified fact? Or is it just someone's "theory", and they wrote a book? Big distinction.

    Question: Why the allowance for "theory" and not for recorded fact? I thought you wanted to be as objective as possible, hence the whole math discussion. Undisputed historical record is on equal par with numbers, as far as objective frame of reference goes, Bill. One uses undisputed words as its formula. The other uses equations with variables. Both tell truth.

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  58. "data dump" might be the wrong expression. No. It is not all facts. It is more like philosophies. And when I said bias I wasn't so much referring to yours as to mine. I've concluded that I, like "the world", have a bias against Catholicism for the simple reason that we don't like, nor feel we need the Pope and the Magesterium telling us how to live our lives. The bias causes me to collect data, or opinions, philosophies, etc. that aid in discrediting the Church.

    Believers see this as spiritual warfare. Nonbelievers see it as enlightenment. They are diametrically opposed to one another. I feel caught in the crossfire. OK maybe I seem to be more on the firing line than in the crossfire. There was a trailer for the Noah movie and I remarked that he never existed to my wife and she went on a tirade about the way the world was in the story (she actually admitted that it might be just a story) and it is like that today and a day of reckoning is coming. Geez.

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  59. "I've concluded that I, like "the world", have a bias against Catholicism for the simple reason that we don't like, nor feel we need the Pope and the Magesterium telling us how to live our lives. "

    Uh, that's great, Bill. You're free to reject the evangelization of others. But we are commissioned by Christ to share the gospel with the world. We don't force anyone to accept it. You are free to waste your time and energy gathering this or that nonsense against it.

    You know, a missionary priest just gave his homily at our parish that included this striking moment: He went on mission to China to share the gospel with Chinese children. These children were so amazed at what this priest shared, that, afterwards they approached him in tears, saying, "We've never heard this message of love from anyone. We've never been told about love, that we are loved. Tell us about Jesus." They accepted the gospel of love, because that is what it is.

    All the foot stomping, arguing with the Church, "gathering of opinions that discredit the Church" is ridiculous when that one essential truth is grasped. What you are ultimately wrestling against is Divine Friendship.

    Faith is a gift. Ask for it.

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  60. "We've never heard this message of love from anyone."

    So, when do we tell them that their parents are going to hell for using contraception and abortion to meet the one child policy?

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  61. You can tell them that, in your usual out-of-context, incoherent style. Let's see how much confusion you can sow in 15 minutes.

    Klassy. Have a great night!

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  62. Wow, Bill. Just wow.

    Who do you think risks hell… the ones who brutally force abortions and contraception and sterilization on women, or the victims of that force? This is not rocket science. And you may be back to your trolling ways. Enough, Bill.

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  63. Leila,

    I'm not just saying this to be a troll. Mass conversions of the Chinese to Catholicism could be catastrophic to China's need for population control. They cannot bear the size families that we are able to have here.

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  64. "need" for population control? Bill, do you have the slightest idea of the horrors and brutality of the one-child system there? Any idea at all?

    There is not one tyrant who ever lived who did not claim that his policies of destruction and murder were done out of "need".

    This is classic end-justifies-the-means mentality. And it's how the very gravest evils are perpetuated on mankind.

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  65. Give us an exact # of the perfect amount of people China should have, Bill.

    Any idea of the extreme shifts in demographics of China, due to the aborting/killing of female babies, Bill?

    Any idea what people endure over there at all, Bill? What they endure when they hear the gospel of love?

    Any idea that atheist regimes forced massive amounts of believers together as a crowd to watch while they dynamited churches in order to scare them away from belief?

    Any clue about atheist communist rulers, Bill?

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  66. Bill, I encourage you to read the following: http://www.strangenotions.com/can-an-atheist-scientist-believe-in-miracles/

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  67. Bill, do you have the slightest idea of the horrors and brutality of the one-child system there?

    I assume you have an alternative? What do you suggest? Do you suggest letting everyone have as many children as they want? Do you suggest that they don't need birth control in China? Do you suggest that the Chinese live their lives the way you live yours? What if you lived in China? Would you still go ahead and have 8 kids and counting? Would you expect everything to be just hunky dory if everyone else did the same?

    Please do not try to deny the "need" for population control in China. That kind of denial would have catastrophic consequences. All to maintain your worldview that the Catholic Church knows best in all situations for all people.

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  68. Give us an exact # of the perfect amount of people China should have, Bill.

    I don't have that number but I know it has long since been exceeded. The perfect # of people isn't even an option. Don't deny the problem of overpopulation just to defend your religion. Admit that the problem is real. In this case, it is not right to proselytize in China. I don't agree with using persecution to prevent it. But I do see it as a big problem for the government. If the Chinese people get it in their heads that birth control is intrinsically evil that country is in big trouble.

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  69. What I "suggest" is that you are favoring totalitarianism to solve "problems", Bill. That is evil. Yes, all "problems" can be solved by brutal dictatorship -- except for the effects of brutal dictatorship! Pope Paul prophesied this misuse of authority in Humanae Vitae, #17:

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/paul_vi/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-vi_enc_25071968_humanae-vitae_en.html

    Do you realize what has happened to the family in China? To the male/female ratio? To the care of the elderly since there are no children anymore? No aunts, no cousins, no siblings? What a great society you envision. More like a nightmare, but hey, at least things will be clean and neat on the surface, yes?

    I also hope you will re-read Uju's open letter to Melinda Gates, who wants to impose her contraceptive/abortive 'solutions' on the life-loving people of Africa:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2012/08/an-african-womans-open-letter-to.html

    Perhaps you should also look into Reggie Littlejohn's work:

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Womens-Rights-Without-Frontiers/129533553307

    She works tirelessly at exposing the horrors (I do not use that word lightly) that are the consequences of the policies are you defending as "necessary" for a good society.

    I am off to a long track meet today, so you will not hear from me for a while.

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  70. This is what you support, Bill: http://m.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/11/15/why-chinas-one-child-policy-still-leads-to-forced-abortions-and-always-will/

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  71. Getting pack to the original topic of the post... there is a Fulton Sheen Audio Library app for iPhone, if anyone is interested: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/fulton-sheen-audio-library/id399417665?mt=8

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  72. "I don't have that number but I know it has long since been exceeded. The perfect # of people isn't even an option. Don't deny the problem of overpopulation just to defend your religion. Admit that the problem is real. In this case, it is not right to proselytize in China. I don't agree with using persecution to prevent it. But I do see it as a big problem for the government. If the Chinese people get it in their heads that birth control is intrinsically evil that country is in big trouble."

    Facts, as usual, help.
    Check out the low variant on your favorite governmental organization's analysis on population, Bill. The population will level and never double after that. So, let's put aside these hysterics of "overpopulation". These UN experts even acknowledge the reality that certain countries are in danger because of the lack of children that parents are having!

    And I always get a kick out of people that scream for population control -- demanding "people must go!" but never seeing the danger of that logic. Which people? Who determines which people? What criterion, Bill? What if the government declares you or me a non-person? That's okay by you, because, afterall, it's "population control" (based on non fact) or bust. So delete the defenseless, I suppose. That's usually a-ok with population control advocates, right?

    As for your call to stuff the gospel and be silent - Never. You fail to intellectually tie together the gospel with the teachings of the Church (birth control as an evil, specifically), because you lack the complete context of the message of Life in the gospels. Connect the dots and maybe you'll gain understanding.

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  73. You fail to intellectually tie together the gospel with the teachings of the Church (birth control as an evil, specifically), because you lack the complete context of the message of Life in the gospels.

    Nubby. That is exactly the kind of dangerous thinking that the Chinese government is afraid of. Birth control as an evil, specifically. If the Chinese ever bought that bs there would be a major problem with overpopulation. One that you would continue to acknowledge just to keep your dangerous worldview intact.

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  74. Would continue NOT to acknowledge.

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  75. Leila, Nubby and JoAnna,

    It's easy for you to condemn China's one child policy and to point out all of its negative consequences. I agree with what you are saying, for the most part. Answer two questions:

    1. Does China have a serious problem with overpopulation?

    2. If so, what do YOU suggest they do about it?

    If you say no to 1, then you are in denial for the sake of your religion.

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  76. 1. I would say China has a problem with providing and allocating resources.

    2. Find ways to fairly allocate resources without killing human beings.

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  77. China has lots of problems, all of which could be solved within the context of upholding dignity of all people.

    Also, the instant you start going down the incoherent route of "my dangerous worldview (being Catholic)" my intellect whimpers and begs for mercy. Have a super weekend solving the world's population problems, Bill.

    Let there be peace on earth...and let it begin with me.

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  78. So JoAnna. You can't adequately answer either question.

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  79. "my dangerous worldview (being Catholic)"

    No. That birth control is evil. That is the dangerous part of your worldview.

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  80. Bill, CHINA can't adequately answer either question. Perhaps you should ask them, because the solutions they've attempted so far aren't working.

    We may never do evil so that good may result. It's wrong to kill human beings to solve the alleged problem of overpopulation. Period.

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  81. Birth control isn't evil, Bill. Contraception is evil. The Church does not teach that spacing or avoiding pregnancy is immoral.

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  82. What the Church does teach is that it's immoral to use evil means (contraception) to achieve a morally neutral end (spacing or avoiding pregnancy).

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  83. It's wrong to kill human beings to solve the alleged problem of overpopulation. Period.

    Then at least suggest contraception. Stop calling it evil.

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  84. Contraception is evil, Bill. As is forced abortion, or any abortion. Just because you want to claim it's not doesn't mean it isn't true. Paul VI's predictions about the evils wrought by widespread contraception use should at least give you pause, because they've all come true.

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  85. JoAnna,

    To suggest that there are no proper uses for contraceptives is in itself an evil thing to say. It can do irreparable damage to people and countries and the world. It is an irresponsible thing to say.

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  86. Methinks Bill protests contraceptives too much...

    I have an idea! Why not replace contraceptives with abstinence? Or is abstinence impossible for humans? We absolutely cannot resist having sex, right?

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  87. False, Bill. Woe to those who call evil good and good, evil. It's irresponsible to state that deliberately suppressing and/or destroying a woman's healthy, functioning fertility can ever be a good thing.

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    Replies
    1. Amen! Very well said! I wish everyone would come to see that.

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  88. Margo,

    What is the plan? Tell the Chinese about Jesus, convert them and then teach them abstinence and NFP?

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  89. What I "suggest" is that you are favoring totalitarianism to solve "problems", Bill. That is evil.

    If China were a democracy, they would still have to deal with the problem of overpopulation. The one child policy now allows two children if you are an only child.

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  90. Bill, If China turned to Christ and started valuing every human life as being made in the image of God, would not God bless them abundantly and provide His grace to help them solve any & all issues that they have?

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  91. Mike,

    Is that the way it works in reality?

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  92. That would be my hope. Will it happen? Only God knows. But until they stop their evil one child policy, they will continue to have major problems.

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  93. Bill, I find it interesting that you've asserted/conceded on other threads that if everyone lived according to the Catholic faith the world would be a better place, but here, Nubby alluded to only ONE aspect of living that faith and you called it "dangerous."

    I am not being accusatory, here, but I would very strongly encourage you to consider the possibility of racism here. Is it that "those people" can't "control themselves" so they need someone to do it for them? How do you think a mandatory contraceptive program/birth policy would go over here (and I've heard people suggest it)? I don't want to speak for you, but I remember I was shocked when I realized that double standard in my own thinking about population control (which I advocated, being a big believer in overpopulation.) It was fine for everyone else - usually poorer and darker than me, but I would have been deeply insulted to have to comply with it myself, even though at the time I told myself I didn't want more than two children. It might be an option you consider as well.

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  94. Mcbabyadventures,

    The idealistic side of me thinks that the world could be a better place if everyone followed the teachings of the Catholic Church. But it falls apart unless everyone is on the same page. In practical terms, that's never going to happen because people value their freedom and following Catholicism requires that we all sacrifice certain freedoms for the common good. It is not reasonable to think that people will do that unless they really and truly believe that they will be judged by God. Since less and less people believe this (including myself) it is just too hard to get people to live according to Church teaching just for altruistic reasons. It would be nice if they would but we all know they won't.

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  95. Mike,

    Either way, the Chinese face problems. As Leila has said, the one child policy has been a disaster for the traditional Chinese family. Nubby pointed out the effect on the demographics and the imbalance between males and females. JoAnna provided links to stories of atrocities committed by provincial leaders to meet their goals set by the Communist leadership. Margo suggested abstinence to control the overpopulation problem.

    This conversation started when Nubby pointed out how grateful the Chinese children were to hear about the love of Jesus and I cynically referred to what would come next when they were taught that contraception and abortion were mortal sins. I still think that Catholicism would do more harm than good to the Chinese and that they should not be prostelized.

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  96. So, we're just supposed to exclude the Chinese from God and His burning love for them? What? They're not good enough for God? How rude! No, Bill. Jesus clearly told us to go and proclaim the Good News to ALL NATIONS baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus didn't say only proclaim it to nations who are problem-free (which doesn't work since every nations obviously has problems).

    Also, if God does exist, would He really punish us humans for obeying His commands? If China accepts His way of abstinence and NFP, He's going to punish China by over flooding it with people? Do you really think that God could be that vindictive? Or would He find a way to make it work?

    God loves every single individual on this Earth, LOVES them. He is not out to get us or treat us cruelly. I urge you this Lent to reflect on the deeper meaning of true, selfless love and what the world would look like if such a love were embraced.

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  97. If China accepts His way of abstinence and NFP, He's going to punish China by over flooding it with people? Do you really think that God could be that vindictive? Or would He find a way to make it work?

    Margo,

    What you are talking about is cause and effect and the laws of probability. If I park and don't put money in the meter, there is a probability that I will get a ticket. I will not thank God if I don't or think he has punished me if I do. The actions of a deity will not factor into the outcome. The same applies to the Chinese if they stop using contraceptives. The probability of abstinence and NFP not really being realistic expectations will be high. God will not factor into the outcome.

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  98. The probability of abstinence and NFP not really being realistic expectations will be high.

    Oh, so you don't think the Chinese would be able to practice self control? That if we take away contraceptives, they will just go at it (sex) like wild animals and have millions of babies and the Earth will explode from too many humans? Oh no! Not more humans!

    Seriously though, why do you not give humans more credit when it comes to abstinence? Is self control possible? Are there not other ways of showing love for a spouse during times of abstinence?

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  99. Margo,

    With the Communist government prohibitting a woman from having more then one child and the Catholic Church prohibitting abortion and contraception and the husband insisting on having sex, it would really be a no win situation to be a woman in China. The best a Chinese woman can do is use contraceptives.

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  100. Why not teach/show Chinese men how to authentically love their wives for more than sex?

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  101. Hmm...why should a woman (Chinese or not) be loved for more than sex?? Hmm...gee! That's a toughie! As I have said multiple times, women (and men) should be loved for who they are as a whole.

    I really hope you're not advocating that women should just give into a husband's insistence to have sex.

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  102. Margo,

    I think you better just become a nun.

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  103. Bill,

    Whether I become a religious Sister (serving in the outside world), a nun (nuns are cloistered - not in the outside world at all), a wife, or single is between me, God, and my spiritual director. My vocation discernment has little to do with my desire to see all married couples truly grow in authentic love towards one another.

    Look at Leila and JoAnna, both married, and both in agreement with me about contraception being immoral and desiring women to be loved for who they are as a whole person.

    Do you really think people should not be loved for who they are as a whole??? I'm confused.

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  104. Your views regarding the kind of sex life you would expect for Chinese men is laughable and naive.

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  105. Because they're Chinese, or because they're men, or both??

    I don't think Margo's view is laughable or naive, and I am a married woman.

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    Replies
    1. And just to bolster my point I'll add that we are very happily married in ALL departments. ;)

      Delete
  106. Because they are men who know of no redeeming value in abstinence.

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  107. What if they DID know the redeeming value of abstinence? Of cherishing their wives as lovely individuals? Why is it so laughable that I think women are worth more than sex? That there is far more to all people than sex?

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  108. It is laughable to expect men (and women as well) living in China to give up sex after fathering one child. I have two children but I still managed to have a satisfying sex life thanks to contraception. If you tried to impose abstinence on me, I would have told you where you could go.

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  109. Oh I see now. We've been talking past each other because I'm talking about getting rid of the one-child policy and introducing the Chinese to NFP/abstinence.

    Is marriage about having a good sex life? What happens if the sex life turns bad for one reason or another? And what if contraception (dare I say it) FAILS? That's why it is never a good idea to be closed to life when having sex because there is no way to 100% guarantee that the woman will not get pregnant after having intercourse.

    I also feel the need to say this: marriage is not playtime for mom & dad. It is not for them to just have sex for the pleasure/fun of it and be closed off to a new life. Sex should be enjoyed by the husband and wife, but that should not be the sole purpose of sex. Also, sex should be about the man and woman giving their ENTIRE selves (including fertility) to each other in love. Amen?

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  110. I'm talking about getting rid of the one-child policy and introducing the Chinese to NFP/abstinence.

    You would only exacerbate their overpopulation problem. This is a very serious problem.

    Also, sex should be about the man and woman giving their ENTIRE selves (including fertility) to each other in love.

    So I've been told (as if it has some deep meaningful truth to it).

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  111. How is that supposed to make women feel? That men only love them partially? That a woman's fertility is seen as evil that must be broken??

    Are children and human beings so horrible that we should block their conception?? Oy!

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  112. Margo. You are too asexual for me to continue this conversation. Women can feel just fine about men wanting to have sex with them for reasons other than procreation. It happens all the time. When I met my wife, my first thought wasn't for her to have my baby. And she was not interested in having sex with me so she could get pregnant. When the time was right, we decided to have children. But the lovemaking began long before and has lasted long after.

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  113. Nice, Bill!

    I can promise you that I am not asexual...I do have a strong desire for sex. Similarly, I have a strong desire for those sweets I gave up for Lent this year. But, just because I have a strong desire for something does not mean I am going to act on it. After several years now of discussions that involve sex (abortion, contraception, same sex vs. opposite sex marriage), I have developed a way of thinking about sex on a critical level, making sense and coming to a full understanding of sexuality.

    I just have ZERO interest in being used as an object for another person's pleasure. If God does call me to marriage, I hope and pray that my husband and I will be open to the gift of life while enjoying the fullness of each other :) I'll keep saying it - I want to be loved for who I am as a whole - all my quirks, faults, qualities, talents, and especially my fertility.

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  114. Excellent comments Margo! I agree completely. My wife and I have always been open to life. And God has really blessed us. Children are not to be wanted or not wanted, but to be welcomed.

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  115. I want to be loved for who I am as a whole - all my quirks, faults, qualities, talents, and especially my fertility.

    I guess I never thought of loving my wife for her fertility. It seems like an odd type of romanticism. I didn't mean to imply that you, personally are asexual. I meant that you have an asexual attitude toward what makes life enjoyable for people in China even if they are restricted in the number of children they can have. They can still enjoy sex through the miracle of contraception. And, if that were to fail, they do have safe and legal abortion as an option. Otherwise, sex would become taboo, which is not a healthy way to look at it.

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  116. Because we were talking about the resurrection of Christ, I thought this part of one of Father Barron's Lenten reflections was relevant:

    Anglican bishop and New Testament scholar N.T. Wright has commented incisively that if Jesus had not been raised bodily from the dead, Christianity would never have survived as a messianic movement. Wright says that the clearest indication, to a first-century Jew, that someone was not the Messiah would be his death at the hands of the enemies of Israel. That the church of Christ endured as a messianic religion is possible only on the assumption that the crucified one was, nevertheless, objectively alive. Claims that the disciples were inspired by a dead man would never have stood up against the early critics of Christianity.

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  117. if Jesus had not been raised bodily from the dead, Christianity would never have survived as a messianic movement.

    If Paul didn't have his conversion experience, I doubt that it would have spread the way it did. If he didn't do away with compliance with Jewish law it might have spread as a sect of Judaism. Did Jesus even have to rise from the dead for any of this to happen?

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  118. Christianity was already a force, Bill. That's why Paul and his cohort were persecuting the Christians. Again, you completely skirt the issue, and have not addressed the point at all. Messianic movements ended when the "Messiah" was killed at the hands of Israel's enemies. If Jesus had not risen (and people witnessed him alive after his death), he would have been one more false Messiah.

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  119. ...he would have been one more false Messiah.

    So. You are going with the idea that he was the Messiah but the Jews failed to recognize him as such and, when he returns, the Jews will realize that they were wrong and will accept him as the real Messiah. Really?

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  120. Leila,

    There are billions of people living relatively moral lives. You're just focusing on those who don't.

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  121. Bill, I have a question for you. One thing I don't understand about atheists is how they can live on this earth and have no faith. No faith and no hope of something better than this life. What do you rely on if you lost someone close to you? Do you have no hope that you will one day be reunited with that person? It seems so isolating.

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  122. Bill, your comment at 9:16 should have gone on the other thread. I answered on the other post.

    As for the Messiah…. Many Jews did recognize their Messiah. And for those who did not, yes, the Second Coming will be the coming of the Messiah for them. Since that will be the end of the world, yes, they will know (and so will you, and everyone) that Jesus Christ is Lord of all. You will not be able to miss it, trust me. ;)

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  123. Beth B. There is much pessimism in being an atheist. I did not choose for the truth to be what I believe it is.

    As Bob Seeger sings "..wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then".

    Don't think I am celebrating my change of worldview.

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  124. Since that will be the end of the world, yes, they will know (and so will you, and everyone) that Jesus Christ is Lord of all.

    I find it disturbing that anyone would think like that in this day and age. Is it really necessary? Can't you get enough out of Catholicism without it?

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  125. Bill, what do you think will happen when you die?

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  126. Bill there is no Catholicism without Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, who was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, was crucified died and was buried. Who rose from the dead and will come again in glory, to judge the living and the dead (at the end of time). This is our Faith. We can't get anything out of Catholicism without it, because there would be no Catholicism.

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  127. Bill, what do you think will happen when you die?

    Good question, Beth. If I am to believe the testimonies of some who claim near death experiences (over those who say they did not experience anything), I suppose that my brain will undergo some kind of process that might trigger what one might call a religious experience. Once that experience ends (if it happens at all), I don't see the rest as being that much different than a dreamless sleep. Will my body be "resurrected" at the end of the world? I see no way for that to happen? Once my brain becomes inoperable, will I be conscious of any other experience such as a hypothetical "soul" leaving my body and traveling toward a light? We only know of the experiences of those whose brains did not completely and permanently cease to work. Once the brain disintegrates, I don't have any understanding of just how it would be possible to be conscious again. It would require something unexplainable and supernatural. No natural explanation is known for such a phenomenon. I can only deal with natural explanations.

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  128. Who rose from the dead and will come again in glory, to judge the living and the dead (at the end of time).

    While I think the Catholic Church has done amazing things (as well as many more beneficial, less than amazing things), I can't force myself to believe one of its main tenets. That's why I shouldn't bother you any more. Peace.

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