Religion Archives

Better You Than Me

So. In the next few essay’s I’m going to begin a small series commenting on my reading the book (of essays coincidentally enough) by Christos Yannaras titled “The Meaning of Reality: Essays on Existence and Communion, Eros and History”. My plan is to go through this book essay by essay. Some essay’s I’ll separate a precis post (summary) and follow that with one or more posts with remarks refering back to that post. What follows (below the fold) is the remarks on the first essay titled, “A Reference to Alyosha Karamazov”. This is short (3 1/2 pages) and I’ll perhaps to combine summary and remarks in one post. This opens with a quote from the Brothers’ Karamazov (from which, obviously, the character Alyosha is drawn).

  • I understand it only too well: it’s the innards and the belly that long to love. You put it wonderfully, and I am terribly glad you have such an appetite for life,” Alyosha cried. “I have always thought that, before anything else, people should learn to love life in this world”
  • “To love life more than the meaning of life?”
  • “Yes that’s right. That’s the way it should be; love should come before logic, just as you said. Only then will man be able to understand the meaning of life.”

And so we begin (below the fold) Read the rest of this entry

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    So you want to see some sermons?

    This coming Sunday, every Bible believing pastor, priest, and rabbi in the U.S. should preach on what the Bible has to say about homosexuality, and then send a copy of their sermon (anonymously) to the city of Houston.  #AnniseParker #Houston #PastorsSermons #BathroomBill

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      The "Tolerance Police" Claim Their Next Victim

      I mentioned the case of Brendan Eich a little while ago. He’s the genius that basically invented JavaScript, which web programmers are very familiar with and have been using since 1995. He co-founded Mozilla, the company that produces, among other things, the Firefox web browser. He was going to be the company’s CEO recently, until someone noticed he gave $1,000 to the Proposition 8 effort in California to keep marriage to mean one-man-one-woman. He was run out of the company for what I called a Thought Crime. He was eminently qualified to be the CEO of the company, but because he had the politically incorrect idea that marriage should mean what it’s meant for millennia, he was pressured to resign. There were no allegations that he had ever treated someone badly because of their sexual orientation, but he had, according to some, the wrong idea about marriage, and therefore he was unfit to be CEO of the technology company he helped create.

      That’s what I want to stress here. In every other way, he was qualified for the job, but he had opinions that some disagreed with, and they created an atmosphere where Eich could not function in that job. That, ladies and gentlemen, is precisely what the word “intolerance” means. The irony is that those who created that atmosphere would very likely consider themselves the tolerant ones. The sad part is, they are unable to see intolerance in themselves because of the way they have redefined the word “intolerance” to mean “disagreeing with me”.

      That was exhibit A. Exhibit B showed up a couple weeks ago when twin brothers Jason and David Benham were green-lit to host a new show on Home and Garden TV – HGTV – about fixing up dilapidated houses for families in need. Who in the world could be against that?

      Well, in a radio interview, David Benham said this, and made some people mad.

      Read the rest of this entry

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        Thought Crimes

        Charles C. W. Cooke calls it fascism. I think that may be a little overwrought, but there’s no escaping the reality that, if you think something politically incorrect these days, your job is in peril.

        Another day, another witch hunt — this time in duplicate. “Twin brothers David and Jason Benham,” CNN reports, “have lost their opportunity to host their own HGTV show.” On Tuesday, the pair was gearing up for their new role; by sundown the next day, the network had announced tersely that it had “decided not to move forward with the Benham Brothers’ series.” And that, as they say, was that.

        HGTV’s mind was allegedly changed by a post on the blog Right Wing Watch, where the duo was described as being “anti-gay” and “anti-choice.” That post, David Benham told Erin Burnett yesterday, “was too much for them to bear — they had to make a business decision.” How sad. Certainly, the Benhams hold some heterodox views. They are not merely opposed to abortion and gay marriage, but critical of divorce, adultery, Islam, pornography, “perversion,” the “demonic ideologies” that have crept into the nation’s “universities and . . . public school systems,” and the general culture of “activist” homosexuality, which, David contends, is inextricably tied up with a wider “agenda that is attacking the nation.” But so bloody what? They were tapped to host a home-improvement show, not rewrite the Constitution.

        It matters not, however, to the "tolerant" Left, for whom that word now means "agrees with me". Redefining long-understood definitions seems to be their stock in trade, along with the word "marriage".

        Future students of language will wonder at the period in our history in which it was said with a straight face that diversity required uniformity, tolerance necessitated intolerance, and liberalism called for dogma. Of late, we have been told that Brandeis University is simply too open-minded to hear from a critic of Islam, that Mozilla believes too vehemently in “freedom of speech” to refrain from punishing a man for his private views, and that a respect for the audience of a show about duck hunting demands that we suspend a man for expressing his religious views in an unrelated interview. “Never,” David Benham confirmed in an interview with CNN, “have I spoken against homosexuals, as individuals, and gone against them. I speak about an agenda.” Later, he added that “that’s really what the point of this is — that there is an agenda that is seeking to silence the voices of men and women of faith.” Say, now where might he have got hold of that idea?

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          Does the Pope Shop at Hobby Lobby

          No, but he does seem to be watching their Supreme Court case.

          Pope Francis and Vatican officials on Thursday told U.S. President Barack Obama they were concerned about "religious freedom" in the United States, an apparent reference to the contraception mandate in Obama’s health care plan.

          The talks included "discussion on questions of particular relevance for the Church" in the United States, including "the exercise of the rights to religious freedom, life and conscientious objection," a Vatican statement said.

          Obama’s 2010 healthcare law, widely opposed by Republicans, includes a provision that requires employers to cover the cost of contraception in their health insurance plans.

          Catholic and other religious groups say the mandate forces them to support contraception and sterilization in violation of their religious beliefs or face steep fines.

          Just wondering if all those Democrats who have been falling all over themselves over the Pope when he seems to be saying something they like (whether or not he’s actually saying what they think he’s saying) will take note of this rather obvious political stance.

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            I don’t know how much the Vatican’s Chief Justice holds sway in terms of official church policy, or how much his opinion reflects the position of the Catholic church, but I thought I’d pass this along.

            In an interview with Polonia Christiana magazine –and transcribed by Life Site News — Cardinal Raymond Burke said that Obama “promotes anti-life and anti-family policies.”

            “It is true that the policies of the president of the United States have become progressively more hostile toward Christian civilization. He appears to be a totally secularized man who aggressively promotes anti-life and anti-family policies,” Burke told the magazine.

            The former archbishop of St. Louis stated that Obama is trying to “restrict” religion.

            “Now he wants to restrict the exercise of the freedom of religion to freedom of worship, that is, he holds that one is free to act according to his conscience within the confines of his place of worship but that, once the person leaves the place of worship, the government can constrain him to act against his rightly-formed conscience, even in the most serious of moral questions,” Burke said.

            Burke took a swipe against Obama’s Affordable Care Act over the law’s birth control mandate, saying “such policies would have been unimaginable in the United States even 40 years ago.”

            “In a democracy, such a lack of awareness is deadly,” Burke told the magazine. “It leads to the loss of the freedom which a democratic government exists to protect. It is my hope that more and more of my fellow citizens, as they realize what is happening, will insist on electing leaders who respect the truth of the moral law as it is respected in the founding principles of our nation.”

            Since this was transcribed by Life Site News, you know there’s an abortion angle, and there’s just a bit more at the link.

            The freedom of religion vs. freedom of worship is a distinction that I’ve heard elsewhere, and it’s good to hear it given voice by someone at the Vatican. These days, it’s almost like you lose that First Amendment right upon leaving the church building. You don’t, even if you own a business (i.e. Hobby Lobby). This is a serious concern.

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              Vocabulary Bleg

              So, in Sunday’s service (St. Basil Liturgy now that we are in Lent) the phrase “God is [..] adorable” appeared. The word “adorable” in its original meaning actually came from Christian contexts meaning “worthy of adoration” but now mostly is applied to small mammals meaning “very cute”. “Oh, he’s so adorable” is not usually applied to God but to kittens, small seals, and babies.

              Which brings to mind the question, is there a word in English that means “worthy of adoration”? If so what is that word?

              I think “venerable” has gone through a similar degradation, and similarly I don’t know a word meaning “worthy of veneration” in the English language.

              Do you?

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                Wedding Cakes and Conscience

                Is it un-Christian-like to refuse to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding? If so, isn’t it then hypocritical if the baker doesn’t look into every other wedding ceremony to see if any sin is being committed?

                No, says Russel D. Moore. The two questions are completely different issues. The former defies the Biblical definition of marriage. He discusses the difference, complete with citations from the apostle Paul, in "On Weddings and Conscience: Are Christians Hypocrites?"

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                  This issue has been in the news before, but I don’t think we’ve ever seen an opinion from this high up in the Catholic church.

                  To deny Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians who are Catholic, such as Secretary of State John Kerry, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, “makes perfect sense” because it is a discipline that goes back to St. Paul, “the very first years of the Church,” said Cardinal Raymond Burke, the former archbishop of St. Louis and now the chief justice at the Vatican’s highest court.

                  In an interview with EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo on Dec. 13, Cardinal Burke explained that it is necessary to protect the Sacrament, the Communion wafer offered at Masses, from “being profaned, being violated by someone receiving unworthily,” someone “who knows that he or she is unworthy and yet presumes to come forward and to take the Holy Eucharist.”

                  For our Catholic readers, what’s your take on this?

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                    Good news on the religious liberty front. Gabriel Malor writing at Ace of Spades give a great rundown of the main points of the district court judge’s ruling with regards to forcing the Catholic Archdiocese of New York to cover, or exempt themselves, from the ObamaCare™ requirement that they cover contraception or abortion. In a snark-less post, it’s just a matter-of-fact examination of the ruling, and why this may have a very tough road to the Supreme Court, assuming it’s appealed that far.

                    Some highlights (but, as they say, read the whole thing):

                    This is the first litigation to result in a final injunction against the contraception mandate for religious non-profit organizations that come within the Obama Administration’s purported exemption to the mandate.The 7th, 10th, and D.C. Circuit Courts of Appeals have all found the mandate to be an unacceptable burden on the free exercise of religion for for-profit businesses that don’t come under the exemption. This case is important, though, because it recognizes that even the act of having to claim the exemption is an unacceptable burden on religion.

                    Very late in this case, the government realized that, although the Archdiocese and its constituent organizations are covered by the mandate, the regulations might not actually force a third party they designate to provide the objectionable contraception coverage. The judge was not amused:

                    The Obama administration has handed out so many exceptions to the law, it can no longer claim the law serves a compelling purpose.

                    The administration, as it has frequently done with respect to disobeying laws it does not like, argued that it had to enforce the contraception mandate in such an infringing manner because it could not do it any other way. The district court pointed out the obvious flaw in this line of thinking:

                    A very interesting and damaging ruling.

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                      Does Religion Cause the Most Wars?

                      Sam Harris, says in his book The End of Faith that faith and religion are “the most prolific source of violence in our history.” The three-volume Encyclopedia of Wars, which chronicles some 1,763 wars that have been waged over the course of human history, begs to differ.

                      For those wars, the authors note the causes of each. Consider this; they categorize 123 as being religious in nature, which is an astonishingly low 6.98% of all wars. However, more than half of them, 66, were fought in the name of Islam. Take those out, and the percentage of non-Islamic religious wars is a mere 3.23%.

                      So the next time someone tries to use the Crusades as a way to paint religion as the primary source of all war, just ask them, “Is that the best you can do?” Takes quite a bit faith to believe that.

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                        Street Preaching = "Homophobic" Speech

                        At least in London it apparently is.

                        An American evangelist was arrested and jailed this week in London during the Wimbledon Championships while preaching about sexual immorality on the streets.

                        Sports Fan Outreach International, led by Bill Adams, has been hosting an evangelistic effort in England over the past week to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with attendees of the annual Wimbledon tennis tournament. Approximately a dozen or more men and women are on the streets preaching, distributing tracts and engaging in one-on-one conversation with spectators.

                        Tony Miano, a retired police officer who traveled to the UK with the team, states that he was preaching about sexual immorality from 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12 on Monday when a woman became agitated by his message and began to curse.

                        “[I preached about] the fact that people are in sin and are violating God’s word and His law by engaging in immorality — both heterosexual immorality and homosexual immorality,” he explained.

                        Since he had included homosexuality in his sermon, the woman, who had gone into a nearby store and came out to find Miano still speaking, called the police to complain.

                        Moments later, officers arrived and notified Miano that he had allegedly violated Section 5 of the Public Order Act, which prohibits public language that is threatening or insulting.

                        They’ve also redefined "homophobic" as "what Christianity has believed about homosexuality for millennia." Speech code are coming to a church near you.

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                          Live and Let Live?

                          (This is one of the segments of the most recent episode of my podcast, "Consider This!")

                          From the state of Colorado comes this news story, showing just how intolerant this country has become.

                          A neo-Nazi couple is pursuing a discrimination complaint against a Colorado bakery, saying the business refused them a Swastika wedding cake to honor their ceremony, and alleging that the owners have a history of turning away white-supremacist couples.

                          Would you support the bakery in their refusal? Certainly, neo-Nazis don’t agree with our civil rights laws, so based on a civil rights objection, should a bakery be allowed to refuse to make a cake glorifying the Third Reich?

                          As you may have guessed, I’ve modified this news story slightly to make a point. This is really a story about a same sex couple, from Massachusetts, suing a baker in Colorado. Religious freedom is the first of the freedoms guaranteed in the first amendment, even before speech. And yet folks exercising that freedom are not given the same deference as someone who might discriminate based on something that the Constitution doesn’t specifically protect.

                          Could a baker refuse to decorate a cake with text featuring the N-word, or any other word that we usually identify by its first letter? If they could, what about the customer’s freedom of speech? Does it override the baker’s freedom? I don’t believe this would even be an issue, or if it was, the ACLU might even be on the side of a baker not wanting to display a Swastika or an obscene word on their product. As it is, the ACLU is supporting the out-of-state same-sex couple, because a religious objection doesn’t make the cut.

                          Nor does it for a florist from Washington, nor a photographer from New Mexico. Same-sex marriage is not a case of “live and let live”. It requires others to validate it, regardless of any objection buttressed by the Constitution.

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                            That’s right, the guy whom the Left said hated black people. The evangelical community, along with Bono, lobbied for it, and Dubya did it. It’s not something that’s mentioned often, but…

                            "This should be shouted from the rooftops. This is a heroic American story," Bono said in a remarkable radio interview with Jim Daly, the president of Focus on the Family, to be broadcast by the group Tuesday.

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                              Sermon Notes: Forgiveness

                              From this week’s sermon.

                              Forgiveness is not:

                              • Minimizing or excusing an offense.
                              • Subjecting yourself to continued abuse.
                              • Only an emotional response.
                              • Assigning blame.
                              • An act of weakness.

                              Forgiveness is:

                              • Giving up rights to retaliate.
                              • Healing internal abuse.
                              • A choice involving thoughts, emotions and actions.
                              • Taking responsibility to remove sin, regardless of who did it.
                              • An act of inner health.
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