Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mental fatigue and a change of direction...

So after 300+ comments (who knew that comments went to a second page past a certain point?), I am ready to switch gears for a bit and go into what I think I do best: Teaching the basics of the Catholic Faith with simplicity and clarity.

I certainly plan to write the contraception post I've been promising (and there will likely be more than one, since the topic has so many facets). Also, I will be posting some very basic stuff which begins at the beginning (Adam and Eve) and spells out the Faith from there, in small bursts. That will be a whole series of its own.

Meantime, please let me know if there is any particular topic which you are interested in learning about. I am taking requests!

PS: Congrats to Beth on her beautiful boy, Leo Michael, born on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception!! And thanks to everyone for the interesting information on the last "Just Curious" post! Great to see some new names!


  1. I would love a conversation on exactly what St. Paul meant in 1Corinthians 14:35 when he admonished women not to speak in church. I realize through some excellent Bible studies that not everything has the literal meaning we would give it in English but must be understood in its appropriate historical context. But as a lay minister and lector and CCD Coordinator, this one rubs me wrong and I want to know what Paul meant and if I'm in error by my own actions.

  2. Jennifer, great question, but I am not a Scripture scholar by any stretch, so I took it to Gayle Somers, Scripture expert! She said that she would quote directly from the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, and then: I would highly recommend this version of the entire New Testament to have on hand for just such a time as this--many great clarifications on things that stump people not overly familiar with Scripture):

    "Paul enjoins silence upon Christian women in public worship. This is not an absolute restriction, since women can lawfully pray and prophesy in the liturgical assembly (11:4) and are encouraged to teach in other circumstances (see Titus 2:3-4). Paul is prohibiting women from instructing the congregation in the official capacity of a pastor or homilist. See note on 1 Tim. 2:12."

    I hope that helps!

  3. :) I'm looking forward to reading all of these posts! :) Yay apologetics!

    I was watching a TV show a few weeks ago and one woman in the TV show said that the Bible says homosexuality is wrong, and a man said that the Bible also condones stoning a woman for adultery, burning people, etc. Now I know the Old Testament says that, but I have such a hard time with it. God in the Old Testament and the New Testament seem so different-almost like two different Gods! Obviously, I know that's not true, but I still don't understand it. Why would God have given His people such a harsh Law? I asked my husband and he said, "Well, that's why we really needed Jesus." And I understand that, but why give the people a law so hard to keep in the first place? Could you maybe write a post on that someday? It really confuses me sometimes! lol

    Thank you, Leila!

  4. I am so looking forward to reading your upcoming posts!!!

  5. God Alone Suffices -

    This blog post by Jimmy Akin might be helpful to you.

  6. Ok, I've been wondering about the Catholic church's teaching on our physical bodies and why there is so much emphasis on their importance. Aren't we supposed to be reunited with our body after the Second Coming or Last Judgement? Why? I feel like I've heard a lot of people (maybe Protestants) express the feeling that our bodies are limiting and restrictive until we become truly free from them in Heaven. To an extent I do understand this because it seems that our bodies can betray us in so many ways through diseases. I hope my question makes sense.

    Also another kind of random question- when people who aren't Christian, but are truly sincere in trying to worship God (for example a muslim or jewish person) pray does God hear them? And are they praying to our same God just with a different name or no one at all because an Allah doesn't exist? Does He answer their prayers or not because they do not believe they are praying to Him?

    Sorry for writing an essay but whenever you write it's so clear and much more easy to understand than some of the things that come up when googling these things.

  7. You are a champ for moderating all those comments. wow.

  8. Indulgences maybe. It maybe too broad of a topic.

  9. Can't wait to read what's coming up!

    Btw, I started to read the comments and my head started to spin!

  10. Leila, I'm reading about evolution and all the controversy. The Catholic position is not the fundamentalist or the atheist postion at all. That would be a great topic, relevant to Pope John Paul's encyclical "Faith and Reason."

    I thought of your LONG thread on abortion (you champ!) when I came across this link the other day. I thought you might enjoy it but wasn't sure where to post it.

    I love your blog and your writing. Learning is fun! Thank you. :-)

  11. Hi Leila!

    I would like you to speak about Natural Law.

    That even people that have never heard about God, about Christ, Catholicism, have an inner knowledge about what is good and bad and the ability to choose between both.

    I took a course on it and it answered so many questions that later have been posed to me by non believers. I consider it one of the most useful ways to speak with others that do not share our faith and a way to find common ground.

    The other subject is what are virtues? how they apply to everyday life and that also you do not have to be Catholic to practice them. There is so little spoken about them today and so many confusions. Even among Catholics and specially regarding the cardinal ones

    For example everybody speaks about strentgh, fortitude, but we understand too little about it. That it has 2 sides: going forward and resisting. Etc.

  12. JoAnna, thank you so much for posting the article! I did help a little! I"m still confused about a few things, but I'm going to see what the Catechism has to say, and see if that helps! :)

  13. How about history? Thank God for the Crusades...what really happened with the inquisition...Galileo... Those sort of topics!

    I thought the same thing with comments 200+. Who knew?! ;)

  14. Glad to hear you are doing a post about contraception. How about something tailored specifically to teach non Catholics why even sterilization is wrong?

  15. I can't wait to see Leila's posts on so many of these topics!!

    Kate - regarding the physical body: one thing I learned when I decided to become Catholic is that the Church doesn't just have teachings on an array of different topics but a seamless understanding of what it means to be human in relationship to God from which the teachings spring. The reason the Church focuses (or should we say, values) the physical body so much goes back to Creation, before the Fall. God is the designer of our physical world and bodies, and He clearly tells us in Scripture that His creation was "good." Not only are our bodies good, but they are part of our very beings, our identities, and also in how we relate to God. We were never created as just spiritual beings, like the angels. :)

    When the Fall happened, there were physical and spiritual consequences (spiritual death and physical death/disease - hence our current problems). Through Jesus Christ (who has a physical body :)), God is working on "reversing" the Fall and redeeming us entirely, physically and spiritually.

    This is also why Catholics/Christians believe in *eternal life* not merely afterlife. Our life, our identity *here* matters.

    Okay Leila probably can say it better... but I just love these discussions!

  16. You guys are amazing! I've got lots of ideas now! And Sarah, I love it when you guys jump in with great answers!

    God Alone Suffices: JoAnna gave a great link! Here is something not exactly the same as your question, but my daughter was very sad about David's infant son dying because of David's sin.... I asked Gayle Somers about it and she gave me a great answer that helped my daughter feel better:

    It is difficult to think about God taking a baby in death as punishment for sin. It is actually supposed to make us sad, so Priscilla's reaction is in the right direction. However, we need to keep the baby's death in its proper context. Otherwise, we want to charge God with cruelty, and that is not where we want to be.

    The death of the child is punishment on David, not on the child. That is very clear from the passage. In his murder of Uriah and adultery, David despised God. This is an especially grave sin when we consider all that God had given David--a long catalogue of blessings that cannot be refuted. David actually deserved to die, because the penalty for adultery in the Mosaic law was stoning. David, however, was truly repentant when Nathan, the prophet, confronted him about his sin. (We can read Ps. 51, written by David after this episode, to understand the depth of his conviction and sorrow over his sin.) So, God showed mercy to David by allowing him to remain on his throne. The child born through the adulterous union, however, was not going to live to adulthood and remain in David's court. Had the son lived, his presence in the household would have suggested that somehow the adultery had been papered over, that David's subsequent marriage to Bathsheba, after killing her husband, had made everything OK.

    I know Priscilla is thinking primarily about the little baby boy getting sick and dying. This is, sadly, a reality of life--often our sin causes suffering for the innocent. We see this everywhere! In this case, of course, God Himself is using the suffering and death of an innocent baby as punishment for the king, to preserve his kingdom. The "death of the innocents" has a long biblical association with God's people and kingdom, preparing us for the Death of the Innocent on our behalf. As for the little boy, what do we think his ultimate fate was? Taken by God in replacement for David, just as Jesus was taken by God in replacement for us--do we think this child entered into glory and the presence of God? Most assuredly we do! And his tiny life becomes a foreshadowing of what Jesus, innocent Son that He was, would someday do for us. The little life is not lost or without meaning. And, in our sorrow over his brief suffering and death, perhaps we can find some comfort in that.

  17. Stacy, that link is EXCELLENT!! I posted it at the end of the looooooong thread. I am sure I will use it again! Thanks!

  18. Leila, thank you so much! :) I've always been confused about that story.

    I'm sorry to be commenting so much, but I still have a question. Why would God give the Jews such a harsh Law? The stoning and burning people just disturbs me. I had a history professor tell me that God created the Law and it was impossible to follow, and that's why they needed Jesus. Well, why would God give them a Law that was impossible to follow in the first place? I'm sorry if I'm not making any sense! I've just never really received a satisfying answer to this question, and it keeps bugging me! :)

    Thank you, again! :)

  19. God Alone Suffices... I struggle with this too. I've found studying the Bible in context of history helps so much. For example, remember that horrid story where God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac? From a modern perspective... whoa, what a horrible, mean God! When studying the history though, apparently it was common practice in that day to do a human sacrifices to pagan gods. (That's one reason Abraham doesn't seem to hesitate when God asks for his son... this wasn't "abnormal," religiously speaking, at that time). When God *stops* Abraham at the very last second from killing Isaac, and asks him to replace the sacrifice with a goat, this was a very strong statement to Abraham. It sent the message to Abraham that while God wants our faith, He is not like the pagan gods who "ask" for human sacrifices. The story also prefigures God giving up His son on the Cross for us (as so many OT stories do).

    That said, I certainly don't have the exact answer you are looking for. :)

  20. Everything people have posted above I would love to talk about. I hope you can get some of the more interesting ones in soon, before my baby comes. I'm 34 weeks now, and my first one came at 36 so it's not looking so hot, but maybe I'll have some time on maternity leave.

    Anyway, I'm listing the duplicated ones so they get extra votes

    1. Crusades, and/or inquisition. General discussion on how the Church has changed over the years - how they were justified in mass killing before but not now.
    2. Related - how Catholic Church views other religions. Like, are they valid? Should they be stamped out? is it best to have the whole world be Catholic?
    3. Indulgences! Yes! I'm glad someone said that because I was wondering if you'd talk about it if I suggested it
    4. Role of women in the church (New testament quotes by Paul)
    5. Contraception, of course
    6. Intelligent Design, or, Evolution
    7. Role of catholic church in government. Role of other churches in the government. Role of other religions in the government.
    8. Galileo, that would be a good one too. Science as determined by the bible that is not Evolution-related
    9. Sex abuse scandal - we never really had a post devoted specifically for that. The role of the pope as the head of state, plus the Vatican as the authority over local bishops. The fact that the pope made managerial-like decisions for bishops in the US but when US lawyers are trying to sue the Vatican for making these decisions for US bishops, the Vatican says they're not really their managers. I don't get that, and I would love to explore that.
    10. What makes people bad? Why would God continue to make people bad?
    11. In the UK, there are a number of cases where Christians are being prosecuted for hate crimes, specifically against homosexuals. For example, two B&B owners lately have been charged with discrimination for not allowing gay couples at their B&B. Also, a woman was fired from a foster parenting review board for the state because she wanted to sit out on any decision where a homosexual couple were the potential foster parents. She sued for discrimination based on religion, case is still pending. I'd love to hear your take on this sort of situation. Do you feel you are persecuted because of your religious beliefs?

    That's all I can think of right now. Thanks for providing this space, Leila!

  21. Mai, first, we all rejoice with you on the imminent birth of you new little one!! So exciting! And, if Sew can blog from the labor room, then you can, too... ha ha ha!

    Indulgences will be my next post, God willing!

    And I will attempt to address all you have asked. First, I did have a two-part post about the sex abuse scandal, and if the posts don't address all your questions, there are some good links I put in there:


  22. Mai, #1.... "mass killings" are never justified. That is an easy one. More on the Inquisition/Crusades later.

    #8.... Science is not determined by the Bible. The Bible is not a science book, and Catholics are not fundamentalists.

    #11... oh, yes, I feel we are very near to a real trial. The day is coming (and already has in Canada, England, etc.) when it will be illegal to say that homosexuality is wrong, for example.

    All great questions, and I will try to get to every one!


  23. *trial... I didn't mean a "courtroom trial" but that sure could be part of it! :)

  24. Mai,

    My 3 were born at 39w0d, 36w3d, and 40w3d, respectively, all spontaneous labors... I was 100% I'd go early with my youngest but ended up 3 days past my due date (I nearly went insane!). I'm sending positive thoughts your way as you prepare for the arrival of your new little one!

  25. I don't get why the Catholic Church insists Mary was sinless or that she was perpetually a virgin. If she wasn't sinless and wasn't a virgin, it would still be a miracle, and she would still be a loving obedient vessel. I don't think it detracts from anything to not be these things. Also, I don't see the proof for either of these things. Another thing about Mary, I understand devotion to an extent, and I hear Catholics saying they don't worship her, but their actions indicate otherwise. Why not equal Joseph devotion? He was certainly just as obedient, kind, noble, and full of dignity. I feel drawn more to Joseph, the silent and strong father figure doing the right thing.

    I also don't get the praying to the saints thing. I get asking people for prayers, even dead people. But then I wonder, how do they hear us? Can they hear us thinking or just speaking? They can't be omniscient because only God is omniscient.

    I'm just trying to understand. I keep leaning towards Catholicism, but this Marian stuff and saints stuff is an obstacle.

    Thanks for any thoughts. If you could recommend any good books on Mary and what Catholics believe about her, I would love to hear that. I realize there is only so much that can be said in a comment box :)

  26. Mai

    Let me add my prayers for you and your new arrival. Waiting is never easy but the rewards are great!

    I wanted to respond to #10 because I think it is a question so many people ask. People aren't bad. All people are made by God in His image and likeness of God and are therefore good. There have been heresies through the ages that have taught that people are bad(in fact there is a quote that is often attributed to Luther that says that mankind is a heap of dung simply covered by the snow of Christ") but that is not a teaching of the Catholic Church.

    While people are not inherently bad they do make bad choices and decisions. Why? Because we have free will. Even from our first moments mankind has chosen poorly, starting with Adam and Eve in the garden and going forward to the sins, large and small, of today.

    Why does God allow it? Because to do any less would deny us of our free will. It would deny us our destiny as free creatures who choose to do what is right.

    I know this is a simplistic response - but it speaks to the heart of the matter.

  27. Anonymous, great questions! Marian doctrines and the Communion of Saints are often the biggest hurdle facing those who come into the Church. I will start by leading you to a couple of posts on this blog: (Mary's perpetual virginity) (Mary as Ark of the New Covenant)

    My favorite (short and simple) book on the Communion of Saints is: Any Friend of God's is a Friend of Mine, by Patrick Madrid.

    I also suggest Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic, by David Currie. It has an amazing chapter on Mary (plus more on the saints).

    BTW, The saints are able to hear our thoughts and prayers only because God allows them to.

    Stay tuned, and I'm glad you are here!!

    PS: Elisabeth, thanks! Great explanation!

  28. Sarah-Thank you so much for your response. It really makes a lot of sense-since God designed our bodies they're important.

  29. Mai, Congratulations!!! I'm 32 weeks right now myself and wondering how far we'll make it. The last one was born at 36 while the other kids were strapped in car seats in the parking lot with a security guard.

    Evolution is science, anything quantifiable is science even if the quantifying part is still only a theory without enough data to prove. Anything beyond that is not science. As long as someone understands that they can appreciate science for what it is, and not turn it into something it is not, or feel like thier faith is threatened by it.

    ID is not science and neither is "creation science" science. Also, science will never prove God doesn't exist as that is not quantifiable. The atheist scientists (Dawkins, Hawking, etc.) who try to do that step outside the bounds of their own discipline.

  30. Hi Leila,

    I’ve actually been meaning to drop you a note ever since I read the “About Me” posted on your profile—

    I’m involved in politics here in Utah. I’m the Executive Director of a non-profit that advocates for public schools. ~Utahns for Public Schools~ As such, I’m heavily involved in politics in our state. Your statement caught my interest. Politics is both fascinating and frustrating...and politicians are an interesting demographic.

    I first saw your blog through the listing on St. Blogs Directory, and then again on Stacy’s site - Accepting Abundance . You do a great job, and are inspiration to newbie’s like me!

  31. This anonymous noted, in another thread, surprising rancor and resentment when a reader used the words Roman church to describe Leila's church. His experience showed it to be a common shorthand and he is unaware of any other Roman church with which it could possibly be confused.

    Please forgive the cutandpaste, but anon loves to see the historical record embedded in the meanings of words and how they change over time and assumes that anyone still reading feels the same way. The interested reader is encouraged to explore as many sources for the information as he can stand.

    catholic (adj.)
    mid-14c., "of the doctrines of the ancient Church," literally "universally accepted," from Fr. catholique, from L.L. catholicus "universal, general," from Gk. katholikos, from phrase kath' holou "on the whole, in general," from kata "about" + gen. of holos "whole" (see safe (adj.)). Applied to the Church in Rome c.1554, after the Reformation began. General sense of "of interest to all, universal" is from 1550s. As a noun, attested from 1560s.

    The tl;dr version: catholic means universal.

    Counting adherents to any religion is difficult work, so lists are bound to disagree with one another to some extent, but happily these differences are not germane to the question at hand (I promise it's coming soon). Anon saw some things he had never seen before and encourages anyone to look for himself at lists purporting to break down the population of the world by religious affiliation. To summarize, for the purpose of this post, two billion Christians represent 32% of the world population, and those who self-identify as Roman Catholic about half that, or one billion, or 16% of a world population approaching seven billion.

    (If anyone is absolutely fascinated at this point and can't get enough of this topic, he is encouraged to look up Monsignor Corrado Balducci, who used to work at the Vatican. He made some interesting statements that might be on topic, which were covered in the press and should be easily accessible. Reverend José Gabriel Funes still works there and has expressed similar views. This anon will not post them, because they are easily researchable and he prefers to keep this discussion on firm ground.)

    Anyone interested in the meaning of words and church apologetics is encouraged to account for the disparity, i.e., universal vs. 16%, but since this is after all Leila's blog she's invited to go first, and if past practice is any indication, we can expect four or five posts in as many minutes, even if we set aside, for the moment, any unfavorable interpretations, or speculate why the earlier poster would want to say Roman church, or guess why such language brought forth a such a spirited correction.

  32. Anonymous, a couple of things. First, give yourself a name please. Second, Catholic means universal. And my Church is universal because it is for everyone.

    The first person to apply the word "catholic" to the Church was St. Ignatius of Antioch in approximately 110 AD.

    You need to speak in plain English. I also don't really think it's conducive to conversation when one speaks of himself in the third person and is anonymous to boot.

    You sound like a professional anti-Catholic to me who has a very warped view of the Church with very little actual understanding of it.

    I will give you another chance, but please speak plainly. We are simple folk around these parts. :)

  33. GodAloneSuffices, I have a wonderful answer to your question, and I am going to wait just a day or two and then use it as a post!! Thanks!

  34. Thanks everyone for the encouragement on my pregnancy! I spent all of Sunday digging out all of my son's old clothing and bedding, and washing and organizing it. My husband says I'm nesting, but I don't think it's the official "nesting" spurt yet. I actually am worried about what a few of you said - I'm so prepared for him to come early, then he could come three days late! I'll be waiting for a month! Or, he'll come so fast that my husband will be out in the lobby with our son waiting for a sitter (we have three lined up) while the baby comes out fast. So many different stories, I wonder what mine will be.

    I hadn't really thought that the comments from people needed responses, since I was waiting for posts. Here are a few, though.

    Sex abuse scandal - Leila provided links to April posts about this. There weren't any liberals around then, it seems, and all of the comments were in complete agreement with Leila. Should I comment on the sex abuse scandal on those original posts, then? I do have quite a few comments on what you say.

    Regarding "#8.... Science is not determined by the Bible. The Bible is not a science book, and Catholics are not fundamentalists." How do you explain so many Catholics "believing" in Intelligent Design then? That is not science. I'm looking forward to a post on Intelligent Design - I'll bring up my science questions then. I generally agree with Stacy when she says that evolution is science and is separate from the bible. I do have a concern with her statement, though:

    science will never prove God doesn't exist as that is not quantifiable

    In my opinion, atheists are not trying to prove that God doesn't exist. We are simply not accepting your assertion that he does exist. As Christopher Hitchens says, that which is asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof. I'm not trying to prove that he doesn't exist, I'm simply rejecting all statements that you present that are based on the fact that he does -- an unprovable hypothesis.

    I would add to the no-name anonymous comment about "catholic" that "heresy" actually means choice. Catholics persecuted people for making their own choices. That would be a good point of a post, although we have touched on it a little before.

  35. Mai, here's what I got for the etymology of "heresy":

    "an opinion of private men different from that of the catholick and orthodox church" [Johnson], early 13c., from O.Fr. heresie, from L. hæresis, "school of thought, philosophical sect," used by Christian writers for "unorthodox sect or doctrine," from Gk. hairesis "a taking or choosing," from haireisthai "take, seize," middle voice of hairein "to choose," of unknown origin. The Greek word was used in N.T. in ref. to the Sadducees, Pharisees, and even the Christians, as sects of Judaism, but in English bibles it is usually translated sect. Meaning "religious belief opposed to the orthodox doctrines of the Church" evolved in L.L. in the Dark Ages.
    (The phrase "Dark Ages" is loaded and biased, but I'll take the rest.)

    It seems that "picking and choosing" which doctrine to accept or reject is the spirit of heresy. Which actually makes them "protestant", i.e., protest-ant, or takes them out of Christianity altogether. That would be like heresy, yes.

    Mai, you can definitely comment on the old sex scandal posts. I would ask that you limit it to one question for me at a time, as I don't want to be spread too thin, especially on the older posts. So, if we can go one question or comment at a time, I sure would appreciate it (and so would my family, ha ha!).

    I'll let Stacy take the science stuff.

  36. PS: Mai, just curious what your threshold for "proof" is? For example, how do you know that the Revolutionary War actually happened? Of course we know it did, but why do you trust that it did? I may be very off-base here, but humor me if you don't mind.

  37. Regarding Leila @ December 11, 2010 3:33 PM

    Anonymous already has a perfectly good name that his parents gave him, and sees no need to add another. He prefers to sign this post this way for two reasons, (1) to call attention to the arguments, which should be valid regardless of origin, and (2) as an antidote to the rampant narcissism in todays society which has become so pervasive that no one even notices it enough to complain. The blog administrator can easily prevent anonymous comments from appearing if she objects to these or any of the other good reasons why people might post anonymously.

    Protip: Read the post carefully before firing off a response. Make sure you understand everything. If you don't, ask for clarification. Most people don't post without expecting any response.

    Anon did not expect Leila to parrot "catholic means universal," since he already said that in his post. The question was how the word "universal" applies to the almost six billion people who are not members of Leila's church. Anon gives her another chance to address the question, which is not an unreasonable one, and is on topic for the thread.

    Leila could have pointed to The Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans, and saved a reader the trouble, but thank goodness for the internet which makes short work of such checking. The letter in question has some real zingers in it for the curious. Anon recommends it. More to the point, however, is a comparison between the early use of the word catholic and the pasted etymological history in the previous post, i.e., early use is "on the whole, in general," and it is only during Reformation hysteria that usage gets extended to mean everyone exclusively and applied to the church in Rome.

    Anon was taught to express himself with precision and clarity and to use supporting evidence for his arguments, rather than attacking the style. Anon has seen difficult language, there's plenty of it in a catechism and in a Summa Theologica, for example, and doesn't see himself using it. Implicit in Leila's comment is a virulent and anti-intellectual intolerance for foreign ideas. Anonymous objects to that, wherever it appears.

    As an example of why anon thinks he needs to be careful what he says, please consult the paragraph starting "It seems..." in Leila's post stamped December 13, 2010 9:55 AM. Is that an inclusive or exclusive "or" in the next to the last sentence? Consider the difference implied each way and then ask again if anon's language is needlessly complicated.

    Please give some more information about this professional anti-Catholic work. How much does it pay? Can I work from home? Anon doubts that he is qualified anyway and is only interested out of curiosity. Please quote evidence from the post in question (or this one) of a "warped view with very little actual understanding."

    Anon guesses he is being threatened with the so-called banhammer in the last of Leila's paragraphs at 3:33 PM. (In the unlikely event that a reader hasn't noticed, anon has taken pains to answer every topic in Leila's post in the order in which it appeared.) Anon can't say that he would rejoice in such treatment, but it would confirm the suspicions expressed above concerning foreign ideas.

  38. Anon, you must be a real hit at parties.

    I have no earthy desire to wade through your pomposity and affect to try to understand what the heck you are talking about. Either speak regular English or don't post. We like conversation here, not cryptic lectures and pseudo-intellectual posturing. Talk about narcissism.

    I won't punish all the other anons by banning you (why should they miss out on commenting just because you want to be a jerk?), but if you keep up your third person babbling which takes a code ring to decipher (or much more time than a mother of eight has), you will be ignored.

  39. By the way, Third Person Anon, your affect is repelling. If you have a blog of your own and actually want readers, you might want to learn to speak so as to be easily understood. You have either spent too much time in a university environment (where convoluted speaking and thinking is seen as a sign of intelligence), or you are a frat boy writing your comments as a prank. If the latter, well done!

  40. Just sort of as an FYI, when I read this third-person anonymous posting, I wonder, "Is my husband posting on this blog?" (Hey, husband - is that you?)

    Needless to say, since my husband speaks in such a manner sometimes, I rather enjoy it. I don't think it's pseudo-intellectual posturing - I think of it more as removing the personal-ness from the argument - because we really are just talking about ideas. Probably third-person anon will never be offended by someone saying his ideas are evil. He is removing his ideas from himself and so going along with your idea that "Ideas do not make the person". It really is all about the ideas.

  41. Mai, ideas have to be understandable to be understood. The greatest tool any thinker has in imparting his ideas is clarity. The majority of folks (me included) will glaze right over at anons comment(s). So all his "wisdom" stays unappreciated.

    If it's "about the ideas" then speak them clearly.

    I actually learned much more about "the person" when I read his comments than "the ideas". I got a lot of ideas about what kind of person he is. So assuming he was showcasing the ideas and hiding the person, boy did that backfire. :)

  42. It seems that "picking and choosing" which doctrine to accept or reject is the spirit of heresy. Which actually makes them "protestant", i.e., protest-ant, or takes them out of Christianity altogether. That would be like heresy, yes.

    Protestant takes them out of Christianity -- are you saying Catholics are the only Christians with that statement? I'm a little confused about that one.

    Also, I think you have confirmed that Catholics persecuted people for making their own choices - picking and choosing doctrine, as you say it. However, when I say things like, "You are not thinking for yourselves" - you get very upset! That confuses me - can you elaborate?

  43. Gotta go pick up kids. Only time for a short one:

    Protestants are Christians. The two heresies that separated us at the Reformation were sola fide and sola scriptura.

    I said, "makes them Protestant OR takes them out of Christianity altogether."

    I was making the point that Protestant is about "protest" as in "protesting" the Catholic Church. That is why they called themselves Protestants. Despite Luther's heresies, they retained belief in the Trinity and some other important Christian beliefs. They are Christian.

    When did I get "very upset" when you said we are not thinking for ourselves? Sorry, I must have lost that in a thread.

    We think in order to find the truth. That's what brains are for. So, when the brain finds a chunk of truth to feast on (which I did when I discovered the truth of Christ's resurrection, then the Church He founded), it closes on that truth. I think there is a Chesterton quote about that.... :)

    Anyway, after finding that truth, which was an individual journey for me, I have never been happier, noting that all the Truth I find in the Church only becomes more beautiful, more understandable and more consistent over time. That's the funny thing about finding Truth: It all fits so beautifully, like a seamless garment. If it ever contradicted itself, I'd leave.

  44. "Catholics persecuted people".... are you talking specifically about the Inquisition?

  45. This is quite interesting: "Mai, just curious what your threshold for "proof" is? For example, how do you know that the Revolutionary War actually happened? Of course we know it did, but why do you trust that it did? I may be very off-base here, but humor me if you don't mind. "

    I'm a little concerned that we are going to start asking how we know that Obama's birth certificate says he was born in Hawaii.

    There are original documents about the Revolutionary war throughout this country, many of which are restricted from public viewing for safekeeping. I trust the historians that have seen them.

    I was talking before about science being more democratic than religion -- and this is what I was talking about. If one or two people go around saying, "The revolutionary war did not happen," other historians will challenge them. It could be true that there was no revolutionary war, those one or two people COULD be right - we have to accept that at least. But the other historians will either confirm or deny based on their own access to original documentation and/or research. Everyone is entitled to state their case regarding the truthiness or falsity of such a claim. As for me, I will likely side with those who have seen the documents (or who I trust have seen them, based on their reputation).

    I don't have time to finish this thought, but the next step in this argument is that the above process is not part of church process. Specifically, that we must accept that dissenters may be correct, and we should evaluate it before dismissing it. We should be prepared to accept the dissenters' notions if they do prove to be correct after much analysis.

  46. What about events for which we have no original documents (ancient events). How can we be reasonably sure they occurred?

    Another subject completely:

    "....we must accept that dissenters may be correct...."

    No, I have to categorically reject that statement. Dissenters from doctrine may only be correct if Christ did not rise from the dead and found the Catholic Church, delegating His teaching authority to her. And since I subscribe to the premise that Christ did rise, did found a Church, and did delegate His authority to that Church, I cannot accept your statement.

    This might help you understand:

  47. I hope I didn't misunderstand you, Mai. Are you saying that we need to question like that in order to get to a "proof" of each of the Church's teaching?

    I think we need to have reasonable evidence ("proof") that the Church has God's authority to speak on faith and morals. After establishing that, we obey the Church. However, I also think that the Church's faith and morals more than stand up to the test of any challenge.

    But, we Catholics are not Protestant. We don't start every new Christian life by "reinventing the wheel" doctrinally speaking. Thank goodness.

  48. Where did the second reply from third person anonymous go?

  49. That is weird, I just found it in spam. Wasn't it already on the comments? I am so confused.

  50. Okay, let me waaaaay backtrack, because I forgot why I took you off topic and asked you about "proof." (Nothing to do with Obama's birth certificate. He would be a lousy president no matter where her was born.)

    You said that belief in God is an unprovable hypothesis. I say that it is as reasonable to believe in God as to believe that the Revolutionary War occurred. Meaning, we don't have video tapes, we can't do repeatable experiments, and no one is alive to tell the tale. And yet we can *still* be reasonably sure that those things happened, and that those people existed. Is there a little leap of faith involved? Yes. But it is more reasonable to believe, based on the evidence, than not to believe. That is what I was trying to say. It is more reasonable to believe that God exists than that He does not. The atheist has the greater leap of faith.

    Mind is clouded, sorry, getting kids ready for Christmas show tonight.... Sorry for confusion!

  51. Yes, I was suspecting that was where you were going. We do have original documents. We don't have first-person accounts, but we have documentation. We have documentation from a number of different sources, documentation that corroborates with the others. For example, the Americans will have written some things, and the British will have written some things, and probably the French and Canadians will have written even more. All of those different sources (and more) can be evaluated to see if they were true or not. The documents themselves can be analyzed, the paper and the writing on them.

    If you read "Historical Jesus", Dominic Crossan talks about evidence for Jesus' life. There is much documentation that is based on the primary source of bible, but there isn't very much that corroborates biblical truth.

    To illustrate this point, historians don't rely simply on the American version of the revolutionary war documents, they make sure that secondary documents also support the American version of the documents. The more supporting documentation, the better the likelihood that the revolutionary war happened.

    There are very few such documents that support the bible. And it isn't that there wasn't documentation around then - for example Josephus wrote some nice histories of the Jewish people and mentions Jesus. There are other documents that Crossan references in his quest to find the real Jesus.

    Also, as you say there is no way to verify something that happened in the past without first-person accounts, but let's take something else for example.

    A man comes to a religious gathering and says he is deaf. The religious leader lays his hands on the man, and now the man says he is not deaf. Can we really disprove what he is saying? I mean, it *is* a first-person account, right? He says he can hear now and couldn't before. Well, let's look at it. Is it logical that people miraculously heal because hands are laid on them? Is the ear really so fickle that it could change like that? I'm skeptical. Based on what we know medically and scientifically about the body and hearing, the chance that this is a lie is high.

    Similarly with a person being raised from the dead. Or growing more limbs.

  52. And this: "But it is more reasonable to believe, based on the evidence, than not to believe. That is what I was trying to say. It is more reasonable to believe that God exists than that He does not. The atheist has the greater leap of faith." The only evidence that I am aware of is the new testament.

    There has been plenty of analysis on how the bible (even looking at only the new testament) is so full of contradictions within itself that it cannot be trusted for historical facts. Here's one site:

  53. Mai - for every Bible "contradiction" listed in your site, there's a response. If an alleged contradiction is found in the Bible, it's due to poor exegesis (e.g., someone reading the Bible as a science book or history book, or reading an allegorical story as literal).

    I can also provide links that refute these alleged contradictions; here or here, for example.

    Anonymous in the third person - where did anyone react with "rancor" to your usage of term "Roman church"? I recall you were corrected a few times, but I don't recall any rancor.

  54. Thanks, JoAnna, for providing those links.

    Mai, I have gone far afield from where I started. My fault. As to the historical reliability of the Gospels, I will have to devote a whole post to that, not let it get lost in the comments.

    The Crossan and Jesus Seminar ("search for the historical Jesus") types do not hold credibility with me. Their "scholarship" is pretty easy to understand, as it comes down to this: Anything in the Gospels that is supernatural (i.e., miracles) should be considered historically false. Anything that is not supernatural can be considered historically true. That does not impress me.

    As for faith healing.... I, too, am skeptical when I see people claim such healings. Plenty of charlatans out there. That doesn't mean I discount all miracles. I can only speak for the Catholic Church, but when a miracle is alleged, we don't automatically say "Allelulia!" In fact, there is a great deal of skepticism about such claims. I will (one day) do a post on the canonization process, and how difficult it is so have a miracle declared. It involves a lot of testimony by secular (even atheist) doctors, and a whole lot of "devil's advocacy". I know that ABC and NBC have both done pieces on the process, and all the secular doctors involved (and the reporters) have been quite impressed by the thoroughness of the Church in these investigatory matters. But, that is a post for another time.

    Working on my next post now, on sterilization.

  55. Leila has given the reader a very good demonstration of the logical fallacy called ad hominem, above at 2:00 and 2:04. Although anon disagrees with those who call his language convoluted, he will oblige and restate his claim more plainly. Leila attacks the author of the post, calling him names ("pomposity, cryptic, pseudo-intellectual, narcissism, jerk", etc.) instead of addressing the arguments. It's a classic old fallacy and anyone rusty on logic can easily find illustrative examples. To again repeat in plainer language, name-calling doesn't refute the argument. Anon points out that she will continue to see the same arguments, over and over again, until she addresses them. Attentive lurkers will remember the frequency and vehemence with which Leila invokes logical rigor when attacking her opponents, imaginary or otherwise, and raise an eyebrow. Perhaps she can be excused for not having intimate knowledge of logical fallacies, perhaps she didn't study logic at college. But at least the Jesuits could have taught her how to read.

    At this point anon considers all arguments advanced at 1:36 to still stand, since they got a fallacious rebuttal. The suspicions of anti-intellectualism and intolerance of unfamiliar and/or foreign ideas, however, have received a thunderous confirmation. Please forgive the following pedantic tone, at least one reader has expressed difficulty understanding.

    Charge: Leila is anti-intellectual.
    Evidence: Leila @ 2:04 "...too much time in a university environment (where convoluted speaking and thinking is seen as a sign of intelligence)" Et al.
    Joke: At least she didn't say "jesuitical."
    Rebuttal: Most people go to the university to learn about the world from experts, and usually give good money in exchange.
    Ancillary editorial comment: Compare Leila's stated desire to learn about her opponents (from her "Purpose" essay on the front page) with "no earthly desire" at 2:00 PM to read one post.

    Charge: Leila is intolerant of unfamiliar and/or foreign ideas.
    Evidence: Leila @ 4:04 "I have to categorically reject that statement." (that dissenters may be correct)
    Possibly snide but relevant aside: Hold on there Torquemada.
    Rebuttal: Leila is free to believe whatever gobbledegook she chooses, including that intelligent design nonsense, but she has no right to categorically reject or assert anything at all concerning the almost six billion people who are not members of her church. Particularly when she can't be bothered to take the time to read or understand it.

    Postscript: Notably absent throughout this exchange is plain old fashioned Christian charity. Anon makes no pretense to this admirable virtue, but one may reasonably expect it from someone who calls herself a devout Roman Catholic. Since Leila extends an invitation to her opponents but then insults them, and ignores their arguments, anon humbly adds the charge of hypocrisy to the list.

  56. Anon, glanced at it, ignored it. Happy to engage you when you can speak in plain English.

  57. Third Person Anonymous, what argument did you advance at 1:36 that needs a response? Catholics are fully aware that the word "Catholic" in reference only to churches in communion with the See of Peter began at the Reformation era, because that is when many sects began to split off, and those sects (the early Protestants) were not in communion with Rome. Prior to the Reformation, the word "Catholic" applied to all Christians because all Christians were in full or partial communion with the Catholic Church (the exception being the Orthodox, and they are in partial communion and have valid holy orders, apostolic succession, etc. -- which Protestants do not).

    I'm not sure if you're aware, by the way, but talking in the third person comes across as quite rude (and pompous, as Leila noted).


    Leila is free to believe whatever gobbledegook she chooses, including that intelligent design nonsense,

    Why do you have the right to categorically reject this belief?

    but she has no right to categorically reject or assert anything at all concerning the almost six billion people who are not members of her church.

    What gives you the right to categorically reject Leila's belief?

    Particularly when she can't be bothered to take the time to read or understand it.

    Pot, meet kettle.

  58. My vote is for confessions. The one question I get all of the time (and don't know the perfect way of explaining) is, "Why do you have to confess your sins to a priest?" Can't we just confess our sins straight to God?

  59. As to the historical reliability of the Gospels, I will have to devote a whole post to that, not let it get lost in the comments.

    I'm looking forward to it. I'm wondering what you will have to say about historical reliability, given your other statement:

    "....we must accept that dissenters may be correct...." No, I have to categorically reject that statement.

    Why do you even care about historical reliability of the bible then? Seriously, why try to prove historical reliability if you will simply reject any other opinion?

  60. Mai, I thought you knew that I already have my set beliefs, which I have tested to my satisfaction. Must I say that "your opinion may be correct" in order to debate you? I am confused. Thanks.

    (Oh, and the part I said I categorically rejected is that dissenting Catholics might be right on things that fundamentally negate Church teaching. Of course I reject that notion outright. I'm a Catholic who believes in the authority of the Church. Have I misrepresented myself? Maybe I am not understanding your point....)

  61. My original point, where I said "we must accept that dissenters may be correct" was actually in the context of the revolutionary war.

    Must I say that "your opinion may be correct" in order to debate you?

    Clearly not, since i'm still here. However, I have a counter-question:

    Why do you even bother to debate me, if you know you are correct? Why even listen to what I have to say? You know I'm wrong anyway.

  62. I would love for Joanna (or Leila) to follow up with this:

    Mai - for every Bible "contradiction" listed in your site, there's a response. If an alleged contradiction is found in the Bible, it's due to poor exegesis (e.g., someone reading the Bible as a science book or history book, or reading an allegorical story as literal).

    I can also provide links that refute these alleged contradictions; here or here, for example.

    Here's a nice visual link to the total list of contradictions:, but for a complete list, go to the original page and hover over bible.

    I note that the links that Joanna provided listed 143 contradictions and 119 contradictions respectively. There are a lot more contradictions than that on the site I listed.

    So, for for every Bible "contradiction" listed in your site, there's a response .... please. I'm very interested in this.

  63. Re: Joanna @ December 14, 2010 10:57 AM

    I remember these two in the "Imaginary Dialog" thread

    JoAnna @ December 8, 2010 11:11 AM

    JoAnna @ December 9, 2010 1:05 PM

    If it's by your own admittance a "minor quibble" why bring it up at all? Why bring it up twice? Why refer to it a third time in this thread? Someone might see such persistence as rancor.

    I'm only playing along here because there appears to be a remote possibility of seeing an interesting question addressed.

    Re: JoAnna @ December 14, 2010 1:26 PM

    "Catholics are fully aware..." Leila at December 11, 2010 3:33 PM was apparently unaware, since she appears to be saying that use of the term "catholic" dates from Ignatius in 110 C.E.

    Anonymous @ December 13, 2010 1:36 PM guessed she was referring to The Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans, apparently checked the reference, and submitted that the meaning of the word as Ignatius used it is different from contemporary usage, pointing to the etymological definition in Anonymous @ December 11, 2010 3:16 PM.

    These are not minor quibbles, and if I'm following the argument correctly (this is doubtful) the dropped part concerned the extent of the strictures of the Roman Catholic church on people who are not Roman Catholics.

    It might be prudent to cite the official church position. Sometimes popular understanding is different, as suggested by these people:

  64. Mai, I will try and get to a more comprehensive list, but it may take a while - very busy season of the year for me right now. The links I provided came from a 5-second Google search. Be patient with me. :)

  65. Actually, Mai, upon further investigation, this will be easier than I thought. I did not realize that Project Reason's Scripture project was merely a Web 2.0 edition of the Skeptic's Annotated Bible. The SAB has been rebutted many times. Granted, I'm not aware of a specifically Catholic rebuttal, so I can't vouch for the veracity of any of these sources in a Catholic context (i.e., the Catholic rebuttal to some "contradictions" may be different, but here are some resources):

    The Skeptics Annotated Bible, Corrected and Explained Online (you can buy a CD as well, or get it off Amazon).

    The SAB site itself has a list of Christian responses.

    This appears to be a humor-based response (but still seems to be thorough and well-reasoned, although I only looked at a few entries. (The SAB author snarkily notes that it "mocks" his interpretations, which makes me wonder why it's okay for him to mock Christians but not the other way around...)

    So that should get you started, at least.

  66. The reason I brought it up, Anon (without rancor) is because it's inaccurate. It's an unintentional slight to our Maronite and Byzantine Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ, among others. For example, if I kept calling you Peruvian despite the fact that you'd told me that you were from Brazil, wouldn't you keep correcting me if I kept calling you Peruvian? I would hope so.

    "Catholics are fully aware..." Leila at December 11, 2010 3:33 PM was apparently unaware, since she appears to be saying that use of the term "catholic" dates from Ignatius in 110 C.E.

    That's true. You may find this article about the history of the word "Catholic" helpful. An excerpt:

    Ignatius of Antioch: "Let no one do anything of concern to the Church without the bishop. Let that be considered a valid Eucharist which is celebrated by the bishop or by one whom he ordains [i.e., a presbyter]. Wherever the bishop appears, let the people be there; just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church" (Letter to the Smyrneans 8:2 [A.D. 110]).

  67. For JoAnna @ December 15, 2010 7:55 PM

    I would welcome such a correction from a member of the Maronite or Byzantine church at any time.

    Here and now it is only peripheral to the question advanced, and the JoAnna at December 14, 2010 1:26 PM said she wanted hear what that question was.

    Anonymous @ December 15, 2010 7:29 AM obliged, and restated it.

    Why she then quoted the Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrneans, which has already been pointed to repeatedly in this thread, is a puzzle I neither need nor want an answer for.

    If it's meant to answer the question of how far the strictures of the Roman Catholic church apply to those people who are not Roman Catholics, please clarify. Ignatius to the Smyrneans is historically significant to many different people and is therefore open to multiple interpretations, depending upon the context in which it is discussed. In other words, quoting a church father may advance understanding and illustrate a point with eloquence, but it is not generally admissible as evidence for the truth of any fact or the validity of any argument.

    Anonymous @ December 15, 2010 7:29 AM asked for the official, modern Roman Catholic position and advanced compelling reasons for doing so. I don't think I'm being obtuse in asking again. Have you got something to hide?

  68. Joanna - Thanks for the links.

    I myself am happy to mock christians when necessary, but will argue logically when I actually want to prove a point. My guess is that the point was: mocking does not make you correct.

    Anyway, I had a look a few of the rebuttals.

    Here's a point from the Skeptic: 1:17 - Paul says that God is invisible. But the Bible says that lots of folks have seen him. (Gen.18:1, 32:30; Ex.24:9-11, 33:11; Num.14:14; Dt.4:4, 34:10; 1 Kg.22:19; Job 42:5; Ps.63.2; Is.6:1, 5; Jn.14:9)

    And one of the rebuttals:

    Exodus 33:9 clearly states that God talked to Moses from a cloud. Therefore, the expression "face to face," in Exodus 33:11, doesn't mean he talked to God's literal face.

    My comment: Really? face to face doesn't mean face? Is there a different kind of language that I have to learn in order to read the bible?

    Also, I'm a little confused as to your argument - I would have thought that Catholics would say something along the lines of "The bible isn't *Literal*", which is why catholic clergy had to interpret it for the masses for hundreds of years. You yourself believe in Intelligent design, therefore rejecting many parts of Genesis for their literal truth. So which is it? Is it historically accurate, or a moral guide, or what?

  69. Mai, there are four "senses" in which we read Scripture. Mark Shea has a fantastic book on the subject -- I believe it's called "Making Senses of Scripture" -- but here's a short article by Jimmy Akin that explains the concept.

    An excerpt:

    The "four senses of Scripture" are important enough that they have their own section in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 115–119), which provides a brief overview of them. It begins by noting:

    "According to an ancient tradition, one can distinguish between two senses of Scripture: the literal and the spiritual, the latter being subdivided into the allegorical, moral, and anagogical senses" (CCC 115).

    This is a rather confusing statement. It says that the four senses actually boil down to just two. It uses unfamiliar terms (what is anagogical supposed to mean?). And it uses terms different than other accounts of the four senses use (for example, some treatments refer to the spiritual sense as the "typical" sense).

    The basic distinction, as the Catechism makes clear, is between the literal and spiritual senses of the text. The literal refers to what the human author directly intended the text to mean, while the spiritual refers to what additional meanings God invested in the text that the human author may not have been aware of.

    Your comment above re: "face to face" can be understood in a similar way. For example, if I write in my diary that "It's raining cats and dogs," I don't mean that cats and dogs are actually falling from the sky; I'm using an idiom common to my timeframe and language that means it's raining really hard. But a person in 2210 reading my diary could very well assume that cats and dogs were literally falling from the sky.

    With a "contradiction" as described above, it's important to look at the original text. Perhaps "face to face" is a bad translation of the original Hebrew or Greek text, or is using an idiom common to that timeframe.

    Before I can answer the above more specifically, I need to know what book of the Bible is referenced in "1:17 - Paul says that God is invisible." Can you clarify?

  70. Never mind, I found what I was looking for. From this article dealing with Catholic answers to Mormon beliefs:

    A further indication of God’s physicalness is found, Latter-day Saints think, in Exodus 33:11: "And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend." If Moses saw a face, then God has a real face, on a real body. But "face to face" is simply a Semitic term expressing an open and honest manner, the way one would, indeed, communicate with a trusted friend.

    As I suspected, "face to face" in this context is an idiom and isn't meant to be taken literally.

  71. Oh, by the way... I think it's Colossians 1:15 being referenced ("He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation"), which makes me wonder if the author of the SAB has even bothered to read the Bible for himself.

  72. It was 1 Timothy 1:17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

    The quote from the "Making sense from scripture" is more what I expected. So there is a literal and a spiritual sense. And the author points out that this is confusing.

    So, do the Catholics need a Catholic priest or the pope perhaps to interpret which passages are literal and which are spiritual? How would a layperson reading the bible be able to tell? I'm assuming the answer is that yes, the Catholic church helps make that distinction, for purposes of the next paragraph.

    Also, and this is my big concern, how do we know the Catholic church is correct in their distinctions? People are trying to use the bible to justify teaching creationism in schools, to deny the right of homosexual marriage, etc etc. The bible is used to justify a lot of things.

  73. Also, and this is my big concern, how do we know the Catholic church is correct in their distinctions? People are trying to use the bible to justify teaching creationism in schools, to deny the right of homosexual marriage, etc etc. The bible is used to justify a lot of things.

    Mai, just popping in for a second. Catholics believe in the Church (which gave us the Bible) for exactly one reason: Jesus Christ. If Jesus Christ rose from the dead, then He is God. Jesus Christ founded His Church with the authority (and hierarchy) to teach His truths throughout history. The Bible came from the Church and is properly interpreted by the Church. We live in a Protestant nation, so it's even hard for (badly catechized) Catholics to realize that we don't dive into the Bible trying to find doctrine for ourselves. It doesn't (and has never) work that way.

    That may be a whole post in itself someday. :)

  74. Mai, I encourage you to read Dei Verbum ("Word of God"), which is the Dogmatic Constitution of Divine Revelation issued at Vatican II. I won't put the link in since that seems to send my posts to spam jail, but if you Google "Dei Verbum" the first result takes you to the document at the Vatican website.

    An excerpt (emphasis mine):

    But, since Holy Scripture must be read and interpreted in the sacred spirit in which it was written, (9) no less serious attention must be given to the content and unity of the whole of Scripture if the meaning of the sacred texts is to be correctly worked out. The living tradition of the whole Church must be taken into account along with the harmony which exists between elements of the faith. It is the task of exegetes to work according to these rules toward a better understanding and explanation of the meaning of Sacred Scripture, so that through preparatory study the judgment of the Church may mature. For all of what has been said about the way of interpreting Scripture is subject finally to the judgment of the Church, which carries out the divine commission and ministry of guarding and interpreting the word of God. (10)

  75. Mai, I'll just add this for clarity:

    Protestants live according to sola scriptura (the Bible is the Christian's only authority). Oh, and they also get to interpret it for themselves. So, obviously, you will have a lot of contradictory ideas of what the Bible means.

    Catholics have a different paradigm. The Church is our authority. The Bible is a gift that comes from the Church. We are encouraged to own, read and study our Bible. (And the summit of its use is in the Holy Liturgy.) If lay people (or priests for that matter!) "interpret" the Bible in a way that contradicts the Faith, then we have misinterpreted it.

    Hope that helps, along with JoAnna's comments.

  76. Since I seem to be in a good mood this morning, I'll share a joke from work. I work at a company that is based in Israel, and the primary language of most people over there is not English.

    A few years ago, a woman presented an implementation plan for one of our products, and there were various stages of training - web-based, plus on-site training that she called "Full-frontal" training (I think a direct translation from Hebrew). We politely corrected her and said she should probably call it "face-to-face" training.

  77. Ha, Mai, that's funny! Thanks for the chuckle!

  78. Yeah, I think "full-frontal" training is a whole 'nother industry!!

  79. Leila @ December 16, 2010 1:55 PM says

    "We live in a Protestant nation..."

    Stop, no, wrong.

    Assuming you live in the United States of course. I could be mistaken about that.

    Remind yourself that the freedom of religion is enshrined in the US Constitution and has been repeatedly upheld in its myriad consequences by the courts. Roman Catholics in particular would do well to treat this law with utmost reverence.

    Perhaps this is the admission that Anonymous @ December 11, 2010 3:16 PM was looking for. That is, the official position of the church regarding other religions, most recently described in a document called "Second Vatican Council's Declaration on the relation of the Church to non-Christian religions" and also in "Dominus Iesus" by the then Cardinal Ratzinger (cited only for the brave and exceptionally curious) is incompatible with the constitutionally protected freedom of religion.

    Once more for clarity: Is the official position of the Roman Catholic church regarding other religions (or irreligion) incompatible with the freedom of religion enjoyed by citizens of the United States?

  80. Anonymous, give yourself a name. Is there something about secularists not wanting to be identified? Or perhaps just wanting to cause confusion? Of course, I'm kidding. But, please. Try to follow the requests of the blog owner.

    Yes, I am an American Catholic. Yes, this is a Protestant nation, but not a Protestant government. We have a secular government. The majority of the folks in the nation have been weaned on Protestant values and understandings.

    As for your last question, of course not!

    Is Jesus Christ the only Person by Whom we can be saved? Yes. Can non-Christians be saved by Jesus? Yes.

    That's a post I haven't written yet. Keep reading.

  81. Anonymous, you reference "Dominus Iesus" by the then Cardinal Ratzinger (cited only for the brave and exceptionally curious)

    What do you mean, exactly? Who needs to be brave to read it? Thanks for clarifying...

  82. Mai, you asked if I felt persecuted because of my religious beliefs. Today, Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world:

    The threats and violence are heartbreaking.

  83. Re: Leila @ December 17, 2010 12:50 PM

    Church A believes x.

    Church B believes not-x.

    Practice of not-x is protected by the civil authority.

    Church A is incompatible with freedom of religion.


  84. Q.E.D.,

    Church A believes child sacrifice is a sin.

    Church B believes child sacrifice is not a sin.

    Practice of child sacrifice is protected by the civil authority.

    Church A is incompatible with freedom of religion.


    Obviously, that is an extreme example, but what say ye?

  85. By the way, the Catholic Church is not banning any religion (like Muslim countries do). We believe that everyone has a right to practice one's own religion... We can believe, for example, that Hindu beliefs are false, and yet not prohibit Hindu worship. Everyone has a right to be wrong. It's called free will, and even God doesn't interfere with free will. We are free to act and think, even wrongly.


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