Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Confederate Honor

This letter crossed my screen recently. It was written by Sherwin W. Dillard, Jr. (As far as I know). I have been silent on these Confederate monument desecration s because I felt someone more intelligent than I would get it said. Well, here he is. Mr. Sherwin W. Dillard, Jr...

I was born in Los Angeles, California and raised in Ohio. I have taught Political Science at the collegiate level in Cincinnati, been published in The Wall Street Journal and am in my 12th year of research for a forthcoming book on Columbine.
For the past seven years I have made Rockbridge County, Virginia my home. That was a dream planted in my heart as a 14-year-old boy decades ago on my first visit to the Commonwealth. I have loved this commonwealth since then and when offered a change of life, there was never a moment’s indecision where to move. Virginia first, Virginia only, Virginia last and Virginia always.
I chose Lexington for just one reason. I had no family in Virginia. I had no prospects for employment lined up in Virginia. I owned no property here. None of the factors that ordinarily move men to uproot after a lifetime in one state and move to a place where he has no ties motivated me. The one and only reason I live in Lexington, Virginia is because it is the final resting place of Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. Jackson. 
Their lives, character, faith, integrity, honor and testimony shone so brightly a century and a half after their decease that there is no other place on the Earth I want to be but where they lived and served. 
There is something deeply and morally wrong with anyone who objects to these two great Virginians – great Americans being honored by the native State for which they gave their lives, limbs and blood in selfless patriotic service. President Dwight D. Eisenhower kept Lee’s portrait in his executive office while president. Churchill extolled him as the greatest American. Ulysses S. Grant threatened to resign from the U.S. Army if Lee were tried for treason. International ships at sea flew their national colors at half-staff when Lee left this world from Lexington.
The statue that marks the grave of “Stonewall” Jackson was paid for not only by the veterans who served under him, but by financial contributions from former slaves whom he had taught to read in violation of Virginia law. In Roanoke today, Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church features a stained glass window consecrated to the honor and memory of Jackson by descendants of the slaves he taught the Bible, for the chances he took on their behalf. When a Lexington local assailed Jackson for breaking the law to “teach those people”, Jackson uncharacteristically lost his temper and shouted, “If you were a Christian you would not say so!”
After the war, it was Lee who broke social convention at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church by kneeling beside a former slave who had mortified the White congregation by kneeling at the altar. Asked afterward by a bigot why a man like himself would kneel beside a former slave, Lee simply chastised him, “The ground is always level at the foot of the cross.”
And these are the men so repugnant to your modern sensibilities? This is the course so objectionable to you? This character is what is unacceptable in your enlightened times? If so, then it is you, Sir, who is the racist bigot. If their charity and kindness, their bravery in defense of the then-defenseless offends you, it only means your own character is so depraved and your own heart so darkened as to be unworthy the mention of their names.
The anniversary of the deaths of Lee and of Jackson were long commemorated in this Commonwealth by veterans of the North who were often the honored keynote speakers invited to praise the virtues of their once-foes. You were not at Manassas. You were not at Antietam. You were not at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg. But the Union soldiers who were had more wisdom, more character­, were simply better men than you, because they practiced forgiveness over hatred, compassion over contempt, fraternity over fractious division. They shook the physical hands that had sighted them down hot barrels and pulled triggers to kill them­. They put the war behind them in their own generation and embraced their former enemies as their brother and countrymen. You, on the other hand, lack any redeeming moral character whatsoever, obsessing over political winds, polls and a personal agenda of race-baiting anarchy. More than merely unqualified for the high office you hold, you exhibit no evidence of redemptive humanity.
Every monument to a Confederate Virginian is a war memorial to an American veteran. It has been the mark of manhood and civility and longstanding American tradition to leave politics out of the way we honor our veterans. They fought the battles; we did not. They shed the blood; we did not. They reconciled with their enemies; we did not. They were tried on the battlefield and tried by a jury of their peers in the only court of public opinion that mattered: their own generation­, the generation that knew the issues, heard the speeches, read the papers, pulled the triggers and took the trenches. The battlefield determined the issues and the veterans pardoned their enemies. End of subject. 
It is not for children born a hundred and fifty years later to readjudicate the past and expose to double jeopardy men their own contemporaries exonerated.
It is the height of arrogance to suppose that you know more about these men and their times than their even contemporaries. The command of God remains, “Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.” That divine command is unambiguous and apolitical. It is to God you will assuredly answer for its violation. Make no mistake, as Claudius realized in Hamlet, “In the corrupted currents of this world, offense’s gilded hand may shove by justice, and oft ’tis seen the wicked prize itself buys out the law. But ’tis not so above. There is no shuffling. There the action lies in his true nature, and we ourselves compelled, even to the teeth and forehead of our faults”.
There will be no alibis before the judgment bar of God. You will pull no song-and-dance, no shady backroom deals, no political payola. Almighty God will not be fooled nor bought nor charmed. Naked in the full bloom of your monstrous sin, you will stand exposed, every fault, before His avenging eye. No excuses. No patter and spiel. No schmoozing this time. To God you will answer for the slander and libel of His servants.
Meanwhile, in the unlikely event that your parents were not the abject failures your embarrassing course of conduct appears to suggest, I ask you to reconsider the wrong-headed evil you have proposed. If you find it impossible to respect your elders, attempt at least to revere your betters. The destruction of Virginia’s monuments to her war dead is sacrilege and those who urge and execute it are nothing more than cemetery vandals. There is no honor in this course of wanton destruction and, morally, you equate yourself with ISIS which shares your contempt for actual culture, something you both so manifestly lack. It is more than history, more than art. When you pursue this thing, you diminish the honor of these heroes not one bit. You only emphasize … how puny and insignificant by contrast you are. You reveal how painfully short of their measure you fall.
And it is that that galls you, isn’t it? You despise good men because their virtue condemns your depravity. You know you lack their character, their courage, their integrity, their stature. You know that if you served 50 terms, you will never amount to 1/100th of the men they were. You have wasted your entire life in selfish ambition and here, at your age, you haven’t amounted to anything but a common street hooligan, the shame of your family name. Those proud of you love evil itself.
No matter. No one will remember you in any 150 years. Nothing you do can make anything like the mark these great Virginians made on history’s ledger. You are doomed to the political graveyard of insignificant bureaucrats who lined their pockets, sold out daily and slaved away in tireless service to pointless mediocrity. Just being you another day is your own punishment and yet you still face God for what you propose to do as well. Something is deeply, horribly wrong with your soul, Sir. And you know it. So does all Virginia.
If you suppose brass and marble are the only media in which their immortal valor is inscribed, you are as limited in intellect and character as I suspect. Men like Lee and Jackson, for just two, reach good men at the heart; something you won’t even comprehend, much less ever do. No one, of course, respects you and who, pray tell, could love you? Just asking is to snicker. There is nothing important about you, “Man, proud man, dress’d in a little brief authority, most ignorant of what he’s most assur’d­, his glassy essence­, like an angry ape”. Still, you might prolong your useless career by imitating conscience, but you have hitherto, year after year, crime after crime, failed to generate the least flicker of that vain hope.
Still, your lascivious ambition, that crying ache for power and meaning that keeps you awake on your bed at night, might reckon (for all the wrong reasons, as usual) that just perhaps doing the right thing – doing, for once, the hard thing – just might work as policy. Relax, you wouldn’t have to actually care or be right; nothing so unthinkable as all that. You would only have to play the empty part of doing the right thing as if you did have any sense. No inner reform or spiritual growth necessary, just the usual outward show you’ve performed your whole life long. Going through external motions, as ever. You know: SHOWTIME…again!
You could still wring your hands and knit your brow and pretend to care and squeak through the polls but yet accidentally do the actually moral thing for a change. Just to see how it feels. Leave the monuments alone. Muster the courage to…to…do nothing – something you’re usually proficient at. You can prate about how awful those good men were and how terrible their splendid monuments are­ – no one pays any attention to what you say anyway – and then resume your strong point: noisy inaction. You’ve done nothing so long this one should be easy for a pro like you. Just leave the status quo in place. Don’t worry, no one will accuse you of virtue. Have they ever?
If there were any glimmer of character down in that empty suit anywhere you might even work up the decency to strengthen the existing laws protecting Virginia’s veterans’ memorials. I no more expect it than I expect the shore to drown the sea, but miracles have happened. And God has often worked His wonders with clay as useless as yourself. Perhaps you had a loving grandmother who instilled in you something worthwhile after all a very long time ago. Evidently not. But maybe. Maybe somewhere down deep inside in a secret spot you can yet prove useful in this world by surprising everyone with an honorable act. Just one.
I have strived to be civil, but you do not make it easy. Smearing reputations, slandering saints and tearing down what better men raised has zero to do with love, unity, tolerance, acceptance, diversity and coexistence. It’s just the usual political spoils game, playing one race/class/group against another to score a win at any cost. The mean, petty loathing of Virginia’s first string heroes outs you as a raging hypocrite just as you were trying to pass for intelligent. What a piece of work.
I can’t pretend anything could ever make me vote for you. Nothing can. So there’s no political leverage I can exert here, to be frank. You could do the right thing here and I would still know it was the exception, done for some underhanded criminal motive as always. Let’s not pretend. But I would thank you for it. Because, in the end, it’s actions that count. Whether you do the right thing for the right motive is between you and God. (No, not “your God”; THE God. Get off that lame routine) Whether you do it at all is where my interest ends. Just leave the statues, graves, monuments and memorials right where the grown-ups put them, Terry. Just fool around doing nothing, you know, like back at Georgetown. Easy. That’s all I ask. And about the most anybody expects of you. Aren’t you tired yet of just being the same old failure and lurching from bungled debacle to bungled debacle? Why not shock the world: open a book, educate yourself and do something less horrible than usual. Resign, even, and leave Virginians to govern Virginia. What a concept. Shouldn’t you be ruining Syracuse instead of Richmond?
With all due respect,
Sherwin W. Dillard, Jr.
The above was posted on Facebook by the author on August 28, 2017
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Saturday, April 8, 2017

Debts...Debts and More Debts

I got into a lively social media discussion with a man who supports the idea of a single payer healthcare system.  My objection centered around the fact that universal healthcare can only drive a country deeper into debt and we are already in over our heads in every major economy in the world.

"I don't think you really understand how debt works for country's (sic), it's not the same as for individuals." 

He is right on three counts.

It isn't the same, as for individuals, because the federal government made themselves the sole source of money (Legal Tinder Act) and they created the Central Bank (The Fed), which can backstop their borrowing.

Congress is perpetually running for office and they invariably write laws which cater to our citizen's selfish side, which always results in promises of money or services.  It matters not that there is no money set aside for these ever increasing expenditures. The government has no real credit limit, that is, a limit set by an indifferent party which is binding.  When congress runs into the "debt ceiling", as they will later this month, they simply raise it and issue more treasury bills (bonds).  At this point two things might happen - First: those bonds sell out to all the countries, individuals and 401k's and the government has outside cash which they have no serious intention of ever really paying back; secondly: those investors may be reluctant to buy, in which case the Central Bank simply "buys" the bonds with brand new, made up money. This is why our admitted debt (bond obligations) just reached $20 trillion (that's a little over $165,000 per taxpayer).

In addition to no credit limit and the ability to print money, the third major difference is: the spender (gov) isn't on the hook to pay back the loan, they signed our collective names to the debt, it's ours!  Our tax payers really do owe the $165,000, individually.

Here is where the public debt is exactly like an individual's debt: It must be paid back, otherwise it isn't a debt, but simply printed money.  Remember those investors? They want their money back, with interest. Are we ready to invest more into the will-o-wisp called "healthcare" when we are already so deeply in the red?  It gets worse. With a fiat currency (paper dollars) even the money is an I.O.U., because it has no inherent value. So added to the $20 trillion is every dollar which the Fed has issued and is held anywhere as savings and nobody knows how much that is.

This will play out badly whether we get healthcare or not. Soon, the rest of the world is going to tire of this scam in our favor and will demand much more actual stuff for our dollars and they will find other mediums with which to trade with each other. In other words, they will hold us to account and our standard of living will plummet, all because of an insupportable debt we ran up in a period of peace, for our own selfish interests.

Finally, it is rank immorality to borrow without intention to pay back.  It is a crime against our children to sign their names to a debt, for which we benefited.

We must stop the borrowing now and as a nation who respects all people, resolve ourselves to paying it back. Let us dissolve Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare and all the rest, keep the payroll deductions and use that to honor our debts and to show the world that the honor of the United States is as good as gold.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Constant Catholic Church

"It seems to me that the manifestation of Today's church is much closer to upholding those ideals than at any other time in history. After all they are teaching inclusion, love, understanding, compassion, you see where this is going.

Besides, is not the Pope gods chosen spokesperson on Earth? Who are you to question gods will, he works in mysterious ways after all."

That is part of a social media debate I had with a self declared atheist (Previous post: A Passionate Discussion).  Though he doesn't recognize the authority of the Catholic Church, he does perceive the liberalizing attitude of Cardinal Bergoglio (aka: Pope Francis).  What he doesn't understand is the mission of the Church and the legitimate duties of the pope and all churchmen.

The Church has a two part mission with one purpose.  The two parts are: to teach the entire world of Christ, about Christ and the commandments of Christ, and secondly, to administer the sacraments ordained by Christ, which repair our souls, absolve our souls of sins and open the door of heaven.  Those two parts are the foundation of Church's singular purpose, which is to orient us towards God and shepherd us through the glorious portal.

The teachings and commandments of Christ are rock solid constant and will never change.  The way to heaven is narrow, and few find it because it requires the surrender of the self for Christ; a putting away of pride and self-love, a most difficult thing without a coach.  Due to this constancy, the Church cannot be "moved" to the left or right; teachings cannot be amended or changed to fit the times.  Changing social norms do not broaden the pathway to heaven.  What was a sin 2000 years ago is a sin today and will always be and the consequences remain exactly the same.

Cardinal Bergoglio, with his liberalizing attitude, in "teaching inclusion, love, understanding, compassion", which are euphemisms for ratifying the sins of the flesh, is simply leading souls astray, away from the rock solid Church and away from eternal life.  My atheist friend got one thing right, "God works in mysterious ways."

Do not fall for this trap.  Remain constant in your love of Christ and keep the old and still valid moral standards.  If the world persecutes you for standing with Christ, be glad, for you will be blessed and will have a valid hope of hearing the greatest words one can hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Friday, March 10, 2017

A Passionate Discussion

The Catholic Church is now more progressive on both Science and Social Issues than the Republican Party.

That was the statement of a meme posted on Facebook by a group called the Freethinkers United For Change's (sic).

"As an atheist I find this particularly funny!" was the comment of a man with whom I am linked on Facebook.

Besides my linked antagonist there were three other commentators.  I'll list them in order as:
1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th.  I am Billy

My reply begins the following epic exchange:

Billy:  I find it tragic. It's a human disaster when the teaching Church goes off the rails and the blind stumble into the ditch.

1st:  Just to clarify, are you saying the Church is wrong or the GOP is wrong?

Billy:  The Church, which I love with my whole heart, is being raped by evil, faithless, homosexual men pretending to be shepherds.   

...and the GOP is always wrong...

1st:  I have no words...  

(and then he had plenty)

I'm struggling with an appropriate response here that will not totally end our association.

I could point out the church's history of pedophilia among the so called shepherds, or it's history of rampant sexism and abuse of women.

I could mention how literally every scientific stance the church fought so hard against they were eventually proven wrong, even though they had people tortured and killed for daring to disagree.

I could give statistics showing that the massive spread of AIDS in Africa and the resultant epidemic of infant rape is a direct result of the church's stance on condom usage.

Or I could point out that the book of the Bible that says homosexuality is wrong also instructs you to burn a bull on sunday, never wear fabrics of different material together, and sell your raped daughter to her rapist, among other ridiculous things, and that no one takes those parts seriously.

I could tell you that while I don't personally believe in a god I do believe that any truly loving god, as the Christians portray their god to be, would love all people and want us to do the same.

But I think I'm just going to inform you that I have family and friends that are LGBTQ, and I love them very much. If you truly believe that they don't deserve the same rights and privileges that the rest of us do, as much as I have enjoyed some of our conversations I'm afraid our association is at an end.

Billy:  Don't worry about losing my friendship. Just remember the sole goal of every person, ever born, is to be with the One, True God, and He does love each and every person with a love we can never understand. 
You made several charges against the Catholic Church and I have a few replies which I hope would be clarifying. Where should we start?

1st:  Start by understanding that I don't believe in your god so any explanation that contains the idea "we can't know what god wants" or any variant of that means absolutely nothing for me. I hold people accountable for their actions, so if you can refute my charges with evidence that they are wrong, please do so I always want to learn. But if your reply is based on "the Bible..." then don't waste either your time or mine because the Bible is just a book of stories as far as I'm concerned, no more important than The Brothers Grim.

Billy:  The Bible is just a book of stories. It didn't fall from the sky. Somebody, people, wrote it. The key is who and why. God is real. He manifested Himself in various ways to certain lucky (unlucky?) people. Some of those people, who could write, wrote.
od, as Jesus, commanded the Church to teach, which they did. In an effort to discern true scripture from false, that Church codified the Bible in the 300s and preserved it intact for 1100 years, through a time when one man in a thousand could read and parchment cost $100 a sheet.
The Bible isn't a magical book. It is a manual for the teaching Church to use in her mission to make God known.
You correctly sense that a inanimate book cannot hold authority without a person to back it up, just as the FARs are just a bunch of rules without the FAA. The one True Church is that authority.

If you would like to get a fast feel of my Catholic viewpoints, you may like to look through my blog posts. The address is in my profile. Also here on FB I've a few earnest discussions.

1st:  I'm not really concerned with your viewpoints, I'm of the opinion that people should be allowed to believe anything they want. It's when they try and force their beliefs on others that I start taking issue. You choose to believe that the Catholic version of the god of Abraham is the true and correct version, that's fine, I don't share that viewpoint. My issue is when you try (and I'm still not clear on weather this is your stance or not) to deny other people their fundamental human rights based on your personal religious beliefs.

In my experience living abroad and traveling extensively I have come to the conclusion that a persons religious beliefs has nothing to do with Truth and everything to do with geography. You were born here, probably to Catholic parents, and so you are Catholic. Were you born in Riyadh to Muslim parents you would almost certainly be Muslim, or in Kolkata to Hindu parents, well you get the idea.

This was not intended to be a religious discussion, although I do find those enjoyable, but rather I was trying to ascertain weather or not you thought that LGBTQ people should not have the same rights as everyone else, because that is not a viewpoint I can tolerate.

I'll leave you with this. You are almost as much an atheist as I am. You have looked at the plethora of possible gods, both current and former, and dismissed all but one, and not just that but all other versions of that one. Do you believe in Vishnu? How about Brahman? Do you believe in the divinity of The Buddha? How about Ra? Zeus? Odin? Do you believe that Mohammad (peace be upon him) is The Prophet? Or that we are still waiting for The Prophet? No, you have dismissed every
other possible god, and every other version of the god of Abraham. I have only dismissed one more.

Billy:  LGBTQ people are children of God. They have the right to all the world has to offer and I will give my life defending those rights. However neither they or any of us will ever see the inside of Heaven without contrition for our sins, a sincere effort of amendment and a burning desire to please the God you do not believe in.

1st: I can live with that. As I do not believe in heaven, or hell for that matter, I'm not concerned with what you, or anyone else, thinks will happen once we do or do not get there. I'm only concerned with how we treat each other in this, the only life we have. If you treat others well because you believe your god wants you to, I'm good with that, I treat others well because I feel a sense of community with my fellow humans and have a sincere desire to make life as good as I can for everyone. I do enjoy the fact that even though we seem to disagree on almost everything our discussions are always civil, thank you for your part in that.

Billy:  Have a good one.

Allow me a final edit to the Bible statement. (I added the part about FARs)

1st:  Sure.

 The authority of the FAA is tangible, if I violate a FAR I experience real, physical consequences (if I get caught). If I violate a command in the Bible (and we all do all the time) absolutely nothing happens. I'm currently wearing cotton pants with a polyester shirt, bad fashion choice for sure, against the Bible as well, but there are no consequences at all. The Christian god is supposed to be all knowing, unlike the FAA even though they want you to think they are, so either god sees my violation and doesn't care in which case the Bible is wrong about what god wants, or he doesn't see it, in which case he is not all knowing, or, my opinion, he doesn't exist.

Billy:  He does care, very much. That is why one of His most loving attributes is patience, for up to the moment of our death He waits for our voluntary love.

1st:  Then after our death he loves us so much he condemns us to burn for all eternity? That doesn't sound loving to me at all.

Billy:  No, that was our choice to separate from Him. He always opens the way for those who seek him.

1st:  So he just doesn't forgive you if you were wrong then? He holds a grudge?

Billy:  Forgiveness requires contrition. If a felon tells the judge "I did nothing wrong!" he won't receive leniency. If he confesses his error and shows sincere remorse, he receives absolution. That is a key function of the Holy Church, to teach the errors and to provide a way of repair.

1st:  Judges are human, the church claims their god is all knowing. An all knowing, all loving god could easily tell who was good and who was not, regardless of weather they believed in him/her in life. Any god that would look at someone like Gandhi and deny him heaven because he didn't pray correctly is certainly not a god I think is worth worshiping.

(At this point the second antagonist entered the fray.)

2nd:  So, what happens to Pope Benedict? Is he going to hell for helping facilitate child rape? Or can he apologize?

Billy:  (To 2nd)  If Pope Benedict facilitated such evil, you will have your justice; but you should thank God for His love and His ever available forgiveness for Benedict, for that same grace is available to us all.

2nd:  There's no if. God's previous spokesman on earth has an international warrant for his arrest, but was chosen by God to lead his church after the fact. Good to know we can all rise from such humble origins.

Billy:  As for Gandhi and all who do not know the one Faith, their culpability is muted and they receive graces from the universal sacrifice of Christ.

(To 2nd)  I repeat, you will have your justice, but pray for him.

1st:  Ok, so what about me then. I know of your god, I reject him based on my experiences and education. However I live a good life, better than many that call themselves Christian and who go to church every Sunday. I will never ask your god for forgiveness as I don't believe he exists, so am I doomed to burn if I happen to be wrong? And if so where is the forgiveness?

2nd:  William, I don't need justice. If there's an omniscient and omnipotent God who must have known this was going to happen, that means he condoned child rape as well. Unless he's not really omniscient or omnipotent, in which case he's not God.

Or was it a learning experience? He wanted thousands of kids to be raped so that they and we could become closer to his message.

Billy:  You know of Him and reject His authority over you and demand His forgiveness...
If a man lives a 95% good life and never acknowledges that one time he raped a girl in high school, is he immune from punishment?

(To 2nd)  He condones no evil. He allows us to commit evil, which is rejecting His commandments, out of respect for the one thing He freely gave us and will never take back, free will. That free will allows us to choose Him without coercion.

1st:  You are conflating not believing in a god with Rape? That's a bit of a straw man. How about this. Hitler repents just before he dies. Does he get into heaven while I don't?

Billy:  If Hitler truly repented, which considering his hardness of heart, is doubtful, he would enjoy a place in Heaven, after paying back every ounce of pain he inflicted.

All evil, rape, God rejection, etc. carries the same penalty, loss of Heaven.

2nd:  Damn. I'll remember to pack extra sunscreen then.

Billy:  ...not a joking matter...

2nd:  I'm being very serious. I have no intention of accepting your god just like you have no intention of accepting Zeus. If you're right and I'm going to hell I'm bringing sunscreen. Otherwise I'm looking at eternity in hell with skin cancer. Got to minimize my losses after all.
By the way, since you don't accept all the other gods who will curse you to eternal damnation for remedying them, you might want to plan ahead as well. And since there exists just as much evidence for them, you may wish to consider which one you place your faith in.

Welcome to Pascals wager.

1st:  You mentioned free will. I've always found that mental gymnastic particularly interesting. If god is all knowing and all powerful than there is no free will and everything I do is pre-ordained by god, so any evil I commit is his fault for not stopping it. If he does not know I'm going to commit evil he is not all knowing, if he cannot stop me he is not all powerful. If he does know and chooses to allow me to inflict harm on an innocent person he is not a loving god. I suppose if the only evil god allowed was self inflicted and did not affect anyone else you could make the argument that he wants to see what you will do, but it's not so you can't.

Billy:  Suffering is not of itself an evil. Jesus used it to effect our potential redemption. If a man commits an evil on me and I receive it with joy, as it atones for my evil, then a good results. This is why we pray for our enemies.

1st:  I guess that's the difference between believers and non-believers. Everything you said relies on believing in the god of Abraham as interpreted by the Roman Catholic Church over the years. I simply don't so everything you said sounds absurd to me, but if it makes you happy, and doesn't cause harm to anyone else, go for it.

Billy: (To 2nd)  You need justice or you would't have brought up the scandal of Benedict, twice.

There is much more evidence of the One Christian God than all the others combined.

(To 1st)  All Loving God: He created us for one sole reason, to freely love Him. Love begets love. This is why our free will is so essential to the equation, for love must be freely given or it is not love.
All Knowing God: He does know every decision, action
, and event that has or will affect our lives and yes, He knows whether we will be with Him or not. Do not mistake that for pre-destination or a settled fate. We truly do have the choice to be His, or not and He will respect that freedom of will right up to the moment of death. Thus it is that we settle our own fates.
All Powerful God: Yes, He could control us like barn animals and prevent us from ever doing anything evil, but that corrupts our free will. Imagine the reaction of a man, who upon resolving on an evil action, is zapped by God with a bolt from Heaven. Would his feelings for such a God be love or a deep, burning resentment?

1st:  Billy, there is no more evidence for the Christian god than for any others, as the amount of actual evidence for any of them is Zero. If you have any real proof please provide it and settle the 2000 year old argument once and for all. You FEEL there is proof because this is what you BELIEVE to be true. I can promise you there are Jews who are just as sure about their version, Muslims just as sure about their version, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, again you get the idea.

So if he already knows everything why the farce? Why do I have to live my life if he already knows what I am going to "Freely" choose? Wouldn't it be much more expeditious to just judge us all based on that he already knows the outcome and be done with it? You can't claim Free Will and All Knowing at the same time, that's disingenuous.

Something else has been bothering me here

The post that started this whole thing was you saying: "I find it tragic. It's a human disaster when the teaching Church goes off the rails and the blind stumble into the ditch." 

Followed by: "The Church, which I love with my whole heart, is being raped by evil, faithless, homosexual men pretending to be shepherds."

You also said: "God, as Jesus, commanded the Church to teach, which they did."

So the Church is supposed to teach, based on Jesus's ideas, if I'm interpreting your statements correctly. Jesus preached love, compassion, understanding, non-violence, and a host of other worthy ideals, I could cite bible versus but I have a feeling I don't need to.

It seems to me that the manifestation of Today's church is much closer to upholding those ideals than at any other time in history. After all they are teaching inclusion, love, understanding, compassion, you see where this is going.

Besides, is not the Pope gods chosen spokesperson on Earth? Who are you to question gods will, he works in mysterious ways after all.

Anyway, I'll be flying the next 20 hours so be patient if you want a response from me to anything.

Billy:  Proof: There is God or there isn’t, a binary question. That there are thousands of religions does not prove the “isn’t”, but demonstrates the effect of man grappling with His hidden nature. If anything, that so many religions have sprung up, proves that we sense Him and have tried to reach out to see Him.
God reached out to us and even came to us as one of us, Jesus. Mankind was living in the pagan age 2000 years ago and it was in the West, where the Church roamed and taught His commandments, that social order was lifted up and human progress began. The framework of progress was the ordering of the family unit and building upon that to communities, cities and countries where there was the rule of law and not rule of might (sword). All of this from one Jewish carpenter in Palestine.

Farce: This life and this world are not the end game and “We all live happily ever after in Heaven”…end of movie. This life is solely to prepare us for the next and greatest life, like college prepares us for the time after graduation. That free will is our motivation to prepare ourselves to be in the company of God and this life is our time to do it. If we succeed, at death, we graduate and go to much greater things; if we flunk out…well you know the rest.

 Bothering: The Catholic Church was and is the first, longest lasting and ultimate inclusive, loving, understanding, compassionate human organization on this planet and will always be such. It was Her who taught the pagans that a man must love and support his wife for his entire life and not put her away when he tired of her. She taught (taught also means teaches – for She is constant) that babies and children held the same dignity as adults and were to be nurtured and cared for; that it was a grave evil to kill them. She taught the same dignity for the poor. She taught that every man was to love his neighbor (strangers) more than himself (This is the second greatest commandment - second only to the first: to love God). That we are never to cheat in money, or to call another an evil name, that we must never even bear a grudge against another. We must even govern our speech, that to tell a single lie was damning. We are to love our enemies, to do them a good every time they did us a wrong. We are to do whatever we can to help each other to grow in peace and love. That remains as true today as ever.

Today, all of the interest in the teachings of the Church are boiled down to sex. Her timeless teachings hold that a husband may love his wife (One marriage, for life) and must never use contraception. Any sexual pleasure beyond that is sinful and Heaven is lost. Here is where the pitchforks and torches come out and the riot starts. The Pope cannot change this teaching, nor should he. It was taught by God (Jesus) for our good and we never realize a good from committing a bad. This is why the Church cannot endorse scattering condoms around the world. The end purpose of our existence would be frustrated.

Pope: The Pope is the Vicar of Christ and the head of the visible Catholic Church. The Catholic Church has three cells: The Church Triumphant – those people who are in Heaven, The Church Suffering – those people who have given their love to God and are destined for Heaven, but suffer greatly so to pay off their debts (something they do with joy), The Church Militant – the earthly cell which you and I discuss now. The Pope has exactly two jobs: to teach the constant teachings of the Church to the world and to administer the healing sacraments (confession, Communion, etc.). He cannot change anything and if he tried he would be leading souls into grave error and the blind “stumble into the ditch’. We know when the Pope teaches correctly or in error because of the constant 2000 year tradition of the Church, of the teachings of Popes well before this Pope, when those teachings harmonize with the teachings of Christ.

Today the word “inclusive” has been redefined to “ratification of sin”. That is our fault line. If we had a brother, who was slowly killing himself with drugs, it would not be charitable to sit back and let him kill himself. If I ratified the sins of the LGBTQ by failing to warn them of the abyss to which they march, I would be the rankest of hypocrites because, while you may not believe, I do! My most charitable, and the Church’s, action would be to warn them and pray for their conversion, not to go all mushy and tell them the “You’re OK, I’m OK”. That is why these leaders of our beloved Holy Roman Apostolic Catholic Church are faithless evil cowards. Their own sins have blinded them to their duty and the “Church is off the rails” and there is no voice crying out a warning…which brings us back to where we started.

1st:   I am not going to try and refute each of your points as they all relate to your interpretation of your mythology.
I will say that you provided no proof of your gods existence and your knowledge of history is a bit off. Just to name a couple of mistakes, the Jewish tradition has lasted longer than the Catholic, as have a few East Asian mythologies. Both the Egyptians and Chinese had thriving, advanced societies well before the time of Christ.

It seems you have a very narrow definition of how to live, based entirely on on one book, written thousands of years ago, translated thousands of times. I don't agree with your chosen way of life, but again, as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else, knock yourself out.

I think we have reached the point of diminishing return with this conversation. You will never convince me that your beliefs are the truth and I don't think I will ever open your mind to the possibility that you may be wrong. I suggest we leave it at that.

Billy:  Good luck.

Proof: I cannot convince God to hold a press conference and say “Here I am.” I explained why and you deflected it away. I could ask you to look up Our Lady of Guadalupe and read of the Tilma, a physical artifact from the 1500s that baffles scientists to this day, I could ask you to look up Our Lady of Fatima, who worked a miracle of the sun witnessed by thousands in 1917, or I could reference Our Lady of Lourdes (1858), but these are proofs of witness and evidence and you want only firsthand testimony from God Himself – I pray that you get it.
Bible: The Bible was assembled by the Church in the 300s and was the ONLY version (Latin Vulgate) for 1100 years. Yes, since the invention of the printing press it has been translated, rewritten, mutated, tweaked thousands of times by people who were not of the Catholic Church and with no authority to do so. Again, this shows the unique and authoritative position of the One Holy and Apostolic Church. You said that there is no consequence when we ignore the Bible because the Church isn’t like the FAA, able to discipline, but that is not true; the Church holds the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven and no one enters without Her approval, but you have no concern there and have tossed that away without the slightest concern. I’ll pray for you.
Narrow: Yes, my definition of how to live is very narrow, for God said the way to Heaven is narrow and few are they who find it. Few find it because the tension is between the self and simply believing. Jesus taught all of the nice things you cited, but He also taught the counter-intuitive things (love enemies, forgive offences, take the lower station in life, tolerate no glory for ourselves, etc.). Our self-love blinds us to the obvious, God. In faithful surrender of our self, through heroic humility our eyes open and our hearts grow and we are able to love the invisible and love the visible (our unruly neighbor).
Hitler: You cited the injustice of Hitler repenting and going to Heaven, while a person rejecting God, but being otherwise “good”, falls into hell. I explained that the consequences of Hitler’s evil were severe to him whether he made Heaven or not (justice), but you have no concern that a man like Hitler could start a war which destroys the lives and peace of hundreds of millions of people and when the arm of justice is banging down his door, he escapes into oblivion through suicide, and you are happy with that? That is the thinking that leads to mass murder.
Only through the surrender of self can wisdom come to our poor intellects. What appalls me is the Progressive – Freethinking – Socialistic philosophy. It is the deification of the human-self, which is the return to paganism. While the battle cry is “Tolerance! and Inclusivity!, it only leads to lust and murder. Example: To solve the poverty crisis in Africa we need to get rid of the people (abortion, contraception).
Your worldview is wide but very short. Those fifty years with which you will enjoy your intellectual freedom through physical actions will be pass very quickly. In your arrogance, you suppose that you will set up great and noble systems and social edifices which will lift the human condition for centuries to come. Do you think of the congressmen and senators from say….1955? They had ideas and philosophies with which they formed our laws and government. Do you respect them enough to leave well enough alone? So, why would you expect the freethinkers of 2100 to give a whit about your labors? It is pure vanity.
I’ll pray for you. May God bless you and your family and may His graces enlighten us all.

(3rd commentator enters)

3rd:  How would you feel if my religion it was a sin for you to own a gun and I felt because of my beliefs I need to tell your that it was a sin and you where going to go to hell and you where a sick individual that was the down fall of our country because of your gun. t(not that I have see you say this like this to about the LGBTQ community)

Billy: (To 3rd)  Your question illustrates the confusion created when the unity of One God and One Church are confused with multiple religions. It requires one to search for the Truth, for they cannot both be true, though they both claim to be. This is the real tragedy of the Protestant revolt.
Religion A: Is the only truth
Religion B: Is the only truth
Religion C: Is the only truth
Religions A, B & C: Are equally true.
None of them are true.
The fourth posit cannot be true since they are mutually exclusive.
That brings us to Patrick’s position, which the above arguments, of mine, refute, and which would nullify the gun ban as well.
So we are back to searching through A, B or C and only one is the Truth. Here is the rub that bothers (Him), with the reality of multiple religions, we must pick. I have picked. I pray that my response to anyone of the LGBTQ community would always be charitable and I truly do fear for them in the long run.

3rd:  I think that this illustrates what is good about America is that we can all live together and get along mostly and have mostly civilized conversations like this. You can have Religion A Patrick can have B and I can have C we tell one another about our Religion or non Religion but no one is forced to believe something.

Billy:  I agree there. Christianity is never about force, but surrender.

1st:  you didn't refute anything, and to claim so is very insulting. In point of fact this conversation began with me pointing out the disgusting history of the church, you asking to refute my claims and then instead of doing so launching into the same tired old arguments that have been put forth and refuted a thousand times. I was trying to end this discussion without having to go down this path because it never ends well but you refused so here we go. Remember, you wanted this:

Our Lady of Guadalupe. It's a painting. Some people claim they can see reflections of the past in here eyes. Others don't. Not very amazing "proof" of an all powerful god who can supposedly do anything. I've seen it, it's a very pretty painting.

The Tilma is literally the fiber mat on which the painting is painted. I'm assuming you are referring to the fact it hasn't decayed as proof of god? Again, pretty week "proof" if true, but here's the thing. It was tested and found to be made from hemp, not cactus as the church claims, and hemp is one of the most robust natural materials out there, again, hardly miraculous. Oh, and it doesn't baffle anyone that researches it, only those that blindly follow.

Our lady of Fatima. Three children see a vision of what they think is the Virgin Mary telling them she will perform a miracle at a certain time and place. The time arrives, thousands gather, and witness....clouds, then the sun. Some claim the sun was blurry and spinning, others don't. This is your proof? There is more intrigue in one of the statues that supposedly can drink milk in India, although those can be explained as well.

Our lady of Lourdes. Again, a child, I'm seeing a pattern here, claims to see the Virgin Mary in a spring. Supposedly if you drink from the spring you get cured of what ails you. Millions over the years drink and millions are cured, oh my god it's a miracle. Well, not really, millions did drink and there were a few (.000035%) that showed possible improvement in their conditions. Again, not much of a miracle for an all powerful god .

The Bible. The Bible includes both the old and new testaments. You claim it was assembled in Latin in the 300s and was the only version for 1100 years. Well, not quite. The Old Testament was fist written down around 400 BCE and "finished" around 116 BCE, in Hebrew. I put "finished" in quotes because people change it to fit their own needs regularly even back then, more on that later.
The New Testament was originally written in Greek, not Latin as you claim, was hardly the only version, and was changed many many times over the years. Remember when Constantine, that emperor of the eastern Roman Empire changed the capital to Constantinople, he had his own version written, that was in circa 330 CE. That's only one example.

So there you go, I have addressed all your claims, I'm sure you have more, they can be debunked too, but as a true believer that won't matter to you at all. You, on the other hand, never addressed any of mine, I wonder what that means?

Now, my turn.
You called me arrogant, not very Christian of you, but what is more arrogant, to claim to know exactly, and fully, the only way to eternal life or to say that I will live my life the best I can and hope others do the same?

"To solve the poverty crisis in Africa we need to get rid of the people." I never said that, you are trying to put words into my mouth, in effect lying, again not very Christian. What I did say was that the church has made the AIDS crises exponentially worse by preventing condom usage, and they have, you never addressed that point, probably because you know you can't.

You think my worldview is short? Yours is based entirely on your particular interpretation of a book that you don't even know the history of, as I demonstrated above by correcting your easily disprovable statements about the Bible.

You think that because multiple religions exist that one must be true, ergo it's yours. You claim this bothers me. Nothing could be further from the truth. I use the existence of multiple religions as evidence that NONE are true, among mounds of other evidence. Your conclusions require mental gymnastics of the sort only those trying to cram an absurd belief into the world are capable of.

I feel sorry for you, I truly do. You were brainwashed as a child into believing you had to behave a certain way, believe a certain thing, give money to a certain person, in order to avoid eternal torment. It should be criminally punishable child abuse.
You probably believed in Santa Clause at one point too, most of us did. A magical man who knows everything you do and loves you no matter what but will bring you coal if you misbehave and toys if you don't. Sound familiar? Santa is a gateway drug. I wish you could throw off the shackles of mythology that have so clouded your mind so you could see the beauty and wonder that is all around us, and has nothing to do with any gods. I fear it is too late for you but I won't give up hope, you have wasted enough of your life on fairy tales constructed to control you.

If you want to pray for me, go ahead if it makes you happy, you a literally saying that you will do nothing as that's what prayer is, nothing, just thoughts. I on the other hand will continue to work and try and make the world better for all of us, you and me.

And remember, I never called you any names, never attacked your faith, and even gave you an out for this whole conversation. You didn't want it, so this is the result.

Take care

Billy: Take care.

...just to clear the air some from a subject of which we are both very passionate, my feelings are not hurt and I too am impressed with our ability to go to the mat on a subject which has caused wars, without too much rancor. If I crossed the line with name calling, I do apologize. You were right, this conversation has run it's course and I sign out by wishing you and your family peace and prosperity in the future.

(4th commentator)

4th:  Dude.....I think I understand why you took the time you did on this thread, but the reality is such, you cannot convince a drug addict to stop abusing drugs, they have to choose to themselves. This guy is seriously a waste of your time. Think of all the better, positive and productive things you could have spent YOUR valuable time on. Save these conversations for the people listening, not the people who are shouting.

Billy: I have learned my lesson. Thanks.

1st:  that was actually pretty clever, you made me chuckle. Thanks for that.

I now feel like a rodeo cowboy who rode the bull; my butt hurts, I have mud in my face and the bull is still an atheist.

"To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary.  To one without faith, no explanation is possible."  St Thomas Aquinas

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Protestant "Dogma"

I know a young man who truly loves Jesus and His gospels and seeks His truth.  His knowledge of scripture is near total.  He has posted a long and exacting analysis of the Protestant premise of Once Saved - Always Saved. (link)

I have read this piece several times and am impressed by this man's integrity.  His objective attitude as he researched this question lead to his correct conclusion, that a man of sincere faith can indeed grievously sin and lose heaven.

The two main pillars of Protestantism are Faith Alone and Scripture Alone.  Scripture Alone is the sound bite for, "The Church Has No Authority To Teach".  Faith Alone is the sound bite for, "The Church Has No Authority To Forgive Sins".

St. Matthew 28: 18-20
And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth.  Going therefore, teach ye all nations: baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.  And behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.

St. Mark 16: 15
And He said to them: Go ye into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature.  He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned.

With all due respect, most any well formed Catholic third grader would have answered this question correctly, for it is taught by the Church, as it has been for centuries.  The above scripture citations commands the Church to go and teach Christ's commandments and moral code to the entire world and that is exactly what she did and continues to do.  Along the way there were many serious questions that arose and the Church through councils and discernment settled them and authoritatively declared what was worthy of belief.  This brought the Faith intact into the sixteenth century.  The Protestant method of trusting only scripture forces a man to bushwhack his way through centuries of questions and confusion as he searches for Truth.  I picture such a man whacking his way through a jungle of the world's lies while not fifty feet away from a well marked pathway, a pathway laid out by scriptural giants such as St. Augustine, Justin Martyr, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Benedict, St. Jerome and so many others, who all loved Christ and His Church and defended the Faith from error.

In the sixteenth century several men, Martin Luther being one, promoted the Scripture Alone (the Church has no authority) heresy.  This forces mankind back to square one in his search for Truth.  Thus a man of integrity must study the scripture like a scholar and find his own answers, which means that he must be able to read, a skill which wasn't widely possessed in those first fifteen hundred years and we must pray that his discernment of these many pressing questions is always correct.  Another problem with Scripture Alone lies in moving forward, once a man has settled a question for himself, could we believe him if he told us his conclusion?  Who is he?  We may know someone else, whom we respect, who says the opposite.  Opinions may be seriously divergent and another sect is born, as has happened thousands of times since men like Martin Luther, King Henry VIII, John Calvin, etal.  Who has the final say?  The citations above clear up those confusions, for it is the Catholic Church who holds the teaching authority and any simple person of faith can take it to the bank (Heaven).

Almost the instant men wrested the teaching authority from the Church the question arose of, "What about sins?"  This necessitated Faith Alone, so to soothe the guilty conscience and prevent people from seeking the Church's forgiveness.  This leads to Once Saved Always Saved to render peace to that same guilty conscience who has seriously sinned following his acceptance of Faith Alone.  What does happen to the sincere believer who has grievously sinned?  The author of the linked article has reasoned that there is a juncture here.  If the sinner feels remorse and contrition, Christ forgives and his salvation was never lost.  However if he hardens his heart and remains obstinate in sin, salvation is lost.  Neat, but incomplete.

 St. Matthew 16: 18-19
And I say to thee: That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church.  And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven.  And whatsoever thou shall bind upon earth, it is bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shall loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.

St. John 20: 21-23
He said therefore to them again: Peace be to you.  As the Father hath sent me, I also send you.  When he had said this, he breathed on them: and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost.  Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them: and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.

By Christ's own words, another primary function of the Church is to administer His forgiveness through the Sacrament of Penance - Confession.  Peter and by extension, the Church holds the keys to heaven.  Her mission is to teach the Faith and to help sinners to return to good graces when they fail.  Compare the difference: One man labors over scripture trying to justify his state of salvation, trying to decide if Faith Alone is sufficient or should he accept Once Saved - Always Saved, just to be sure; and a Catholic, who confesses his sins to the living, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church, whom scripture states has that authority, and hears the words, from the steward of Christ, "Your sins have been forgiven. Go in peace."

Finally, it must be noted that each of these Protestant statements (you cannot call them dogma since there is no person of authority to proclaim them as true, by their own meaning), were never heard of in those first fifteen centuries.  They only got traction as the men who were in rebellion leveraged their messages with the newly invented printing press.  Scripture doesn't even say or hint at those statements, however there are citations abound which show the authority of the Church.

Look for the line of authority; God - Jesus - Catholic Church - Priest - penitent.  If you can connect those tiers with objective scriptural text, then you have found home.

One final question:  The Catholic Church has the mission to teach the commandments of Christ Jesus to the entire world. (Scriptural citation above).  She has clearly and consistently taught that any and all use of contraception is a grave evil.  Are you listening?