Friday, July 27, 2012

Why does God seem so needy?



Dear Rev. Know it all,

I went to religion class and all, but I don’t get it. If there really is a god and he’s all-powerful and all-knowing and all-loving and all that other stuff, how come I never get what I want when I pray? And another thing, if there is a god and you Christians are right about him, he seems to really have issues. What’s with the worship stuff? If he’s so great and big and perfect, why would it even matter that we worship him.  Your god seems like a colossal narcissist.

Yours,
Matt Erialist

Dear Matt,

I don’t know who taught you about Christianity, but they really got God wrong. In fact that is the amazing thing about God. He’s absolutely humble.  Let me start by talking about worship.  One July 4th long ago when I was much, much younger, I was sitting on the church steps with a couple volunteers from a local university. The kids from the youth group were in front of the church blowing off firecrackers because of their great devotion to our nations freedom from the English crown. I, of course would never participate in such youthful hooliganism and I and the volunteers were sitting there shaking our heads in devout disapproval.  All of a sudden, a young  old girl offered a lit firecracker to one of the volunteers on whom she had a nearly terminal crush. She handed it to him as if it were a precious rose. He and I ran as fast we could, barely escaping the explosion. My ears still ring these forty years later. She was crazy about him and it never occurred that her devotion and un-self-centered generosity might have blown her hand off.  That’s worship.

To worship is to fall hopelessly, vulnerably in love with someone. When a young girl comes home and says “Oh, Daddy, he’s perfect and he doesn’t have that many body piercings or tattoos...” Daddy is thinking about an insanity defense because his little princess has fallen in love with a jerk who is not worthy of her total devotion. He’s not even worth the price of well-placed shoe leather. We fall completely in love with people who promise us the world and give us nothing. 

There is however one who is worthy of our love. To worship is to fall in love with God, who has fallen madly, unreasonably in love with us. He has fallen in love with us and He has given us His own heart, just as surely as if He had ripped it still beating from His open side. What is your heart if not your children? How often have you heard, “I don’t care what you do to me, but touch my kid and I’ll kill you!”  Haven’t you read, John 3:16 “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son,” or don’t you watch football?  

I used to wonder why God sent His son. Was He afraid? Did He have an appointment that day? No, it was His way of saying that He loves us more than He loves Himself. He gave His son, His heart, His logos. Usually the Greek word “logos” is translated “word”.  That’s not quite the exact meaning. “Hrema” in Greek means what we usually mean by “word”.  Logos is more than a thing said. It really means the heart of the matter, the core of the argument, the reason for something’s existence. When the Bible says in the first chapter of St. John’s Gospel that “In the beginning was the word,” it’s saying that God sent His very reason for being, His absolute, perfect, self-sacrificial love, into the world and that this logos took on flesh in a dusty little town, worked as a day-laborer in the construction industry and was called Jesus. A little implausible, no?  It get’s worse.

He was arrested for sedition and publicly executed. St. Paul writes in his letter to the Colossians (1:15) “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.” What Christianity is saying is that if you want to get to know the creator of the universe, get to know a Jewish day-laborer/carpenter who was born in a barn and died under arrest. There is no doubt that God exists. The greatest reality that exists we call God. If the universe is somehow self-creating, than the universe is God. The question isn’t “Does God exist?” He/she/it  most certainly does. Allow me to refer you to the web site “If you can read this, I can prove that god exists.”  The question isn’t about God’s existence, it’s about God’s nature.  

We Christians insist that we know what He’s like because He once visited His creation, and we treated Him very badly.  Still He didn’t give up. He remained in the world and is here still. This is where it gets really ridiculous. He is spiritually present, most Christians agree, but Catholics think He is physically present and is disguised as piece of bread. You must be thinking that Catholics should be sedated. That is the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever heard: The universe? Created by a piece of bread? Why not? Is it any stranger than thinking that all of reality was a little black dot 15 million years ago until it exploded in a big bang and here we are along with cockatoos and maraschino cherries?  (Personally I think the big bang fits in quite nicely with what Christians believe about God. In fact it was a Catholic priest,  Monsignor Georges Lema├«tre, who came up with the idea.) 

Where was I ? Oh yes...  This whole implausible idea of a tri-personal God is believed by 2 billion plus people. It is the largest religion in the world, despite being persecuted in  countries like China, Saudi Arabia and the United States.  The bread thing is believed by about 1 billion plus people,  Catholics and Eastern Orthodox who comprise the majority of Christians. Among them are scientists and philosophers and other types of people who hang around laboratories and libraries. I’m sure you’ve seen them there. Don’t you wonder just a little why people, some of whom are smart, would believe this? And more of them are believing it every day?  Perhaps they are easily deluded. Or perhaps it is all true. (Let me here recommend two really good books by C.S.Lewis “Surprised by Joy” and “Mere Christianity”.  C.S.Lewis was an English atheist who finally couldn’t fight the truth any longer, so he became a Christian.

I think your difficulty with God is that you think Christianity preaches a big God like most religions. We don’t. We believe that God is neither big nor small. He is both and neither. To the God of Christians the universe is very tiny and atoms and molecules are very large. He is not the universe but, His presence is woven through the every grain of sand, every sunrise and every birdsong, but He is none of these things. They are just pictures of Him, particularly of His beloved Son, and of the Love between them.  He made the universe for a very special reason. It is a kind of greeting card, an invitation. The laws of physics, the spinning of galaxies, the dying and the rising, one thing dying that another might live, it is all an invitation to adoption by the one who made it all, an invitation to become part of that relationship which is God. That’s what Jesus taught. God is not a solitude, but a solidarity, not an individual but a relationship, God is a family to which we are welcome. God is, in short, Love.

That’s why the very heart of God came from the heavenly throne and became one like us. That’s why He learned our languages and let us abuse Him, all to say that we needn’t be afraid. Read Saint Paul’s letter to the Philippians, the 2nd chapter. In it he says that though Jesus was in the form of God, He left the power and privilege of divinity in heaven and though never ceasing to be who He was, He humbled Himself. He limited Himself and allowed Himself to be crucified.  Crucifixion was a symbolic death. A person was nailed to an upright pole usually transversed by a another pole to form a cross. He was hung there until dead, signifying that He was rejected by both heaven and earth. It was not only painful, it was the most shameful death possible because of its symbolism. 

I’ve already told you that I believe that Jesus disguised himself after His resurrection in the form of bread and wine. That’s right, after all this He came back to life and was seen by hundreds and hundreds of people. Everyone in Jerusalem knew about it at the time. Well, one day I was saying Mass and fruit flies were dive bombing the chalice.  Quietly, in my mind, I said to the Lord “I really believe that this is no longer bread and wine, but has become Your flesh and blood. Couldn’t you convince the fruit flies of this great miracle for a few minutes?“ 

A little voice in my mind responded and said, “With MY hands nailed to wood of the Cross, I couldn’t even swipe the flies from my face!” I could almost not go on with the Mass. To think that, if we Christians are right, the hand that made the universe, the hand that set the stars to spinning and that placed each atom in each molecule, couldn’t even lift itself to swipe away the flies. The All-powerful became powerless, and why? For love. For love of me and love of you.

I knew a Jewish woman who was in a Jewish school at a very young age because she was remarkably bright. Her teacher asked her a classic question “Can God make a stone so big that He Himself can’t move it. (Catholics and Jews say “no” because the creation is a reflection of the very nature of God. God, they insist is bounded by nothing except His own nature. Protestants and Muslims say “yes” because God can do whatever He pleases. He is bound by nothing, even His own nature. The little Jewish girl said “Yes! He can and He did! He made the human heart!” She was saying exactly what St. Paul said in his letter to the Philippians. God made something and gave it complete freedom and you and I are that something. 

As C.S. Lewis says in his Screwtape Letters, God does not overpower, He is like a lover courting. He must wait for us to respond. I don’t think you want God to be your lover. You don’t want a lover. You want a sugar daddy (momma) who will give what you want when you want and, in order to get what you want, you put up with His unwanted attentions. It is not God who is the narcissist it is you.  God is only God if He gives you what you want.  He however wants to give you Himself which is more wonderful than the things on which you have set your shallow, stony heart, a rock so big that God cannot move it even with the lever of the Cross.   

Perhaps you went to a religion class in your youth that taught you about Him, but they never helped you meet Him. You knew all about someone of whose existence you weren’t convinced. Perhaps you need to go back to the beginning. You are looking at the great mountains, but much lower down there is a hill called Calvary that you are overlooking. Some Christians can be very proud, but their God is very humble. If you stop to pray, He bends down to listen. If you want to know if He is God as He claims to be, don’t ask me. Ask Him.

Yours,
the  Rev. Know it all

Friday, July 20, 2012

Starting Over... A reaction and response


Dear Readers,

I never know why I let that loose cannon, Fr. Simon, fill in for me when I am away. He is definitely over the top. I cringed when I read that “Catholic schools are over.” If he had said that Catholic schools as we remember them are over,” or “a certain type of Catholic school is over” that wouldn’t have been so bad. There are some fine religious schools and programs out there that are enjoying great success. Still things aren’t what they used to be. Religious education programs and Catholic schools once came from an intense sense of vocation. The schools were populated with zealous nuns who were not to be toyed with. Those nuns with their dreaded yardsticks and voluminous habits started out as 19 and 20 year old girls who had to stare down a room full of disease bearing, incontinent 6 year olds who had the attention span of fruit flies. The task was to teach them literacy, mathematics and the mysteries of the Catholic Faith, and darned if those young ladies didn’t succeed in large measure, and most of them grew old doing it. The school was their life and their calling. They were the mothers of the faith. The crisis in women’s religious life has changed all that.

Back then, we believed that if at all possible, American Catholics had a moral obligation to send their children to a Catholic school. There the little germ clouds were shuttled back and forth between church and school for this devotion, that practice, Stations of the Cross, Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, Rosary, litanies and on and on. I can still hear “Children get you coats in an orderly fashion. We are going over to church now...” Heaven help you if you giggled, talked, chewed gum or even breathed loudly. Sister was not to be crossed. The nun would genuflect and the 40 or so little charges following her would do the same and file into the pew and kneel down, hands folded. I can still remember practicing genuflection when I was six, trying to get down on one knee and back up again without falling over, and being left handed and only vaguely understanding the concept of right and left, it took a lot of concentration to remember “right knee down, left knee up, right knee down, left knee up.....” All this because as the nuns constantly reminded us, “Jesus is truly present in the tabernacle on the altar and the church is full of angels worshiping Him, so be quiet and close your eyes and pray.” Some of those nuns were angels themselves. I can still remember seeing them after school quietly kneeling in prayer before the tabernacle before going home to eat a silent meal, correct smudged and incoherent children’s homework and, I imagine, to fall into bed exhausted, only to get up at maybe 4 or 5 AM to start the day in prayer and do it all over again.

I remember being an altar boy at Mass in the convent. It really was like being at the heavenly court. They gave us a way of life, not a school. In our times it is replaced for most with Religious education for an hour on Sunday, Mass optional. If when I was a boy and you did not attend Mass, there would be an investigation, and you had darn better have had a fever. How did the nuns know whether or not you were at Mass? They were there with you at the children’s mass quietly taking roll. In my parish, they had already been to Sunday Mass at the convent and they were with us as part of their work as teachers. On Saturdays, they taught Religion classes to those unfortunate children who couldn’t go to a Catholic school and had to go to the public school. (We called them “Publicans.”) Now, if our folks can afford the tuition, they send their kids to a Catholic school where the same routine and the same texts are followed, the same academic system maintained as in the government schools, with perhaps a religion class and a service project thrown in to make it Catholic. The intensity of a life focused on Christ and the liturgy and calendar of the faith is now often replaced by the casual American attitude that all is optional, Faith is just part of life. Where Parents are involved, teachers have a sense of their own vocation to impart the faith, and the Catholic life is real, there I suspect religious education and Catholic schools are a raging success.  Fr. Simon should tread more carefully!

Yours,
the Rev. Know it all

A REBUTTAL FROM FR. SIMON

Dear Rev. Know It All,

Once again you are living in the past. I get so tired of hearing your reminiscences about the good old days. The days of habited nuns controlling armies of children and their parents with a well placed icy stare from beneath a dark and mysterious wimple are long gone. That canoe is definitely over the waterfall, you old curmudgeon!

I don’t want to impugn anyone’s valiant efforts nor deny anyone access to the faith and to the Sacraments, but we have to face the truth. I want to develop a religious education program that leads children and their parents into the Catholic way of life, and above all into a relationship to Christ who meets us in the Sacraments.

   I hope to develop a program that 1) is more engaging for participants 2) separates the religious education program from a classroom model 3) disassociates the reception of sacrament from a sense of graduation from church and 4) treats religious education as a preparation for Mass rather than an adjunct to it and 5) offers catechesis for parents who want it.

Here is a  basic  practical outline of the program as I envision it:
9 :45 a simple breakfast ( juice rolls etc.)
10:15 an activity ( bible drill, name that saint, tag etc. here I hope to involve our excellent youth group)
10:45 break into "teams," younger  kids still in classrooms, older kids at round tables in the parish Hall for an informational session. 

The introductory “round table” groups will learn Biblical literacy, emphasizing the great heroes of the Bible and their stories. Church history will be taught, similarly,  through lives of the saints, there will be a brief look at the Sunday readings and liturgical year and how they fit into the Bible time line. The “round table” time will end with prayer and simple examination of conscience. The goal is not simply to share information, but to share faith. The goal of the team leaders (not teachers mind you) is to apply these things to our life with Christ.                           

 At 11:55 the participants will go up together to the noon Mass. (The noon Mass is sung by the contemporary choir and seems to be more available to young people.) If a family finds that arrangement running too late for them they are free to go to the 5PM Saturday or the 8 am Sunday Masses, but the noon would be encouraged.  On 3rd Sundays there will be an afternoon event (movie, skits, presentations talent shows etc.) ending with the 5 pm youth Mass.

   The big question: When will my child get First Communion? (or Confirmation) the answer: When they are ready. Will there be a class for first communion and confirmation?  Yes! And you will teach it Mom and Dad. When Parents and children feel they are ready for the sacrament of Communion or Confirmation, they will receive the material for study and, along with that child's "team coach" they will prepare for the sacrament in a more specific way.  Children will receive Communion at the Sunday Mass as they are ready for it, but at the end of the year there will be a shared Mass and celebration for those who have received 1st Communion during the year. Confirmation would follow the same system using the texts we currently use. The difference would be that if we have enough people asking for Confirmation we will invite the bishop to St. Lambert's. If there aren't enough,  those to be confirmed will go to the vicariate confirmation. Especially for Confirmation, there will be a “Confirmation group” that will meet together for retreats and prayers.

   Our goal is to give the participant a sense of the history salvation from Adam to Mother Theresa, a sense of the relation between the scriptures  and the liturgy, a sense of entering into rather than graduating from the life of prayer, study and service, and above all, a relationship to Christ and His bride the Church.  It will be expected that when young people ask for Confirmation they will have a sense of what service they want to offer in the church (reader? Mass server? Greeter? Choir member?) and how they want to serve in the world ( hospital visitor? Visitor to shut ins? Worker at pantry, soup kitchen?)

   By departing from the classroom model I think we will be able to accommodate many more children in the long run than we do now.  NO CHILD WILL BE TURNED AWAY, even if their parents don't participate in the liturgy and no child will be denied a sacrament if they are prepared and seriously want to receive the sacrament.  In addition, we will charge no tuition for the program and those who can't afford the texts will be subsidized.  My purpose is not to exclude those who don't meet my expectations. It is to separate the sacraments from the concept of graduation, to make them what they are supposed to be, initiations into the life of Grace.

Yours,
Fr. Simon

PS. Thanks to the incomparable Fr. Z for the coffee mug. “Do what’s in the red, Say what’s in the black!”

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A look at same-sex unions -- part 4

“For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the barren,  the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.’”
(Luke 23:29)
 
The devil has always hated women. By means of sterile marriage he has succeeded in turning women into men. The consequence of same-sex attraction unlimited by moral sense is same-sex and that sex is male. It does not celebrate women, it does not acknowledge the sacredness of women. Same-sex marriage among men excludes women and, in my limited experience, same-sex marriage among women masculinizes, at least, some women. One sees the glowing pictures of same-sex couples happily leaving some city hall or some marriage chapel. The newly-wed men are both dressed in suits, and the women usually are too. In the same-sex marriage of two women whom I know well one wore the tux and one wore the bridal gown and veil. One was the groom and one the bride in a parody of “normal marriage.” You may howl that I would say such things, but stop howling and ask yourself if there is any truth to my crackpot remarks? Could it be that same-sex relationships exalt men, diminish women and their unique humanizing role? 
 
I am not saying that same-sex attraction and marriage are unnatural. They are quite natural. So are death, the common cold and the crutch. It is not that they are unnatural as most people understand nature. Catholics believe that since the fall of Adam and Eve, nature as we experience it is a wounded approximation of nature as it was meant to be. It is Christ’s purpose not simply to help humanity, but to bring humanity back to the garden for which she was made. His goal is to restore paradise.

When asked about the legitimacy of divorce Jesus answered, “It was not this way in the beginning.” (Matthew 19:8) Christians do not marry because it is natural. They marry because it is supernatural. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This mystery is great, but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.” (Eph 5:31-32) 

A mystery is a secret by which the invisible realities of the kingdom of God are made visible.  In other words, a man and woman don’t marry in the Christian sense, in order to satisfy desire, or to avoid loneliness or even to have a family, though we believe that the possibility of family is integral to marriage. They marry to incarnate, to make visible the love that Jesus has for His bride the Church. People should look at a man and woman and be able to say, “Now that’s how people should treat one another! That must be how Christ loves the Church!” Our purpose for marriage is supernatural so when you say “same-sex marriage” to believing Christians, they just scratch their heads. 
 
Marriage is the indissoluble coming together of that which is not the same, that which is different. Men and women are not the same no matter how much twaddle the current age rams down our throats.  Same-sex attraction is a fact, but not the defining fact that our culture wants to believe it is. Human attractions are very malleable and may even be learned behavior. Our culture’s tendency to define a person by things peripheral provides an argument against the movement for same-sex relationships.

We have been a puritan culture ever since Barak Obama’s ancestors sailed from England for the Plymouth colony aboard the good ship Arabella. We like to believe that there are the elect and the damned, the good and the bad, the right and the wrong. We don’t like areas of grey. People are gay or straight. This is nonsense. To define a person by his or her sexual preference implying that change is both impossible and unnecessary is de-humanizing.

A human being cannot be reduced to his preferences, ordered or disordered. I am a human being made in the image of God. The same-sex movement falls into the puritan trap of you are or you aren’t. Sexual attraction is a real but quite variable part of the human condition. Same-sex marriage, however is an oxymoron, like jumbo shrimp, or military intelligence or, dare I say, organized religion. The opposite sexes are actually opposite, which is the great requirement for marriage.

Let us remember what G.K. Chesterton said “Marriage is a duel to the death that no man of honor should decline.”  Marriage is the coming together of people who are different and even contrary for one another’s good. “Same” and “Marriage” really don’t work together grammatically. For instance we speak of a “marriage of flavors, in which the delicate aromatics of tarragon and sage blend subtlety with the hearty, fruity boldness of an old Beaujolais or perhaps a Cotes-du-Rhone. (When I read this in a menu I begin to think that I should be in a restaurant where  “...the subtle aroma of chili blends in a perfect marriage with onion and hot sauce to bring out the delicate nuances of the foot-long hot dog....)
 
For a Catholic marriage is not a preference. It is a vocation. The purpose of marriage is the sanctification of the spouses, not simply their gratification or worse, their recreation. We believe that even their intimate coming together is a source of grace. It’s a sacrament, a covenant sacrifice, not a diversion. What we mean by marriage is not what the state means by marriage. Our definition of marriage is at odds with the state’s definition. 

For the state marriage is a contract. For us, though marriage includes a contract, it is a covenant.  A contract says “you give to me, so that I give to you.”  A covenant says, “I give you myself so that you may give me your self.”  It is not an exchange of goods and services. It is an exchange of selves. Having given one’s self, there is nothing more to give. The covenant is ended only by the death of one of the contracting parties. Prostitution is a contractual arrangement. Marriage is a covenant.  Thus it is, that divorce lawyers have made wh..., um....  contractors of us all.

I think the legal case can be made that the state has no business involving itself in marriage. It is a violation of the establishment clause of the constitution. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution, states that, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  That means that the US government may not establish a state religion. Though the congress of the US is mentioned, the rights of the citizen of the US cannot be abrogated by the several states. The states as well as the Federal Government may not legally establish a religion. One would also imagine that they may not establish a sacrament or religious ritual and what is a marriage ceremony if not a ritual? In addition, In my ministerial capacity, I am prohibited from my religious duty of marrying people if they cannot or may not obtain a state license. For me to witness a marriage without a state’s permission is a felony for which I may be fined or jailed or both. My ministry is restricted by the state and now the state is establishing a sacrament of the New National Religion.
 
That New Religion is Secular Humanism with a dash of Christian Sentiment. As I write, Madam First Lady is urging African American congregations to form committees to get out the vote for the First African American president in history. The state religion rolls on apace with separate rules for its favored congregations, penalties for the unfavored who will not pay for abortion and sterilization medicine, and finally, a new definition of the sacrament of Unholy Matrimony.

I believe in the Establishment Clause. It is a matter of disagreement whether or not the Catholic position is exactly the separation of Church and State, but personally I believe in the separation of Church and State, especially the State that these United States have become. “Wherefore, Go out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing.” (2Cor 6:17)

This formerly great nation has become the unclean thing with its unending wars, its avarice, its political correctness and strange marriage of puritanism and atheism whose high priests and priestesses  are pseudo-intellectuals of politics and entertainment. And yes it has become unclean because of its “erotomania.”
 
This government, if it is true to its own constitution has no right to marry same-sex couples, nor anyone else for that matter. Marriage was a religious institution at all times and in all places protected by the gods of field and farm, by the furies and the household deities. Christ more than protected it. He elevated it to a symbolic description of His relationship to humanity.

Marriage was a holy thing until the Franco/American revolution threw off its Christian yoke and invented new gods to seat on Christ’s throne.  The altar of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was torn down and an altar to Liberty was installed, the words “To Philosophy”  were carved over the doors, and there they worshiped the Goddess of Reason. The one great god thence forth would be “the people.” The American half of the Revolution did not go quite that far, but the seeds of a state religion that was mildly Protestant, strongly anti-Catholic and very democratic were planted in American soil too. 

Now that state religion and the exaltation of “the people” is blossoming and the freedom of Christians is endangered. If the state and the media say something is good and moral, then the Church dare not say otherwise, or like in Canada she is accused of hate-speech. The statue of Lady  Liberty perched atop the Capitol Dome is once again the enlightenment goddess called freedom by which is meant lack of restraint.

So I protest! The government shall make NO rule establishing a state religion nor limiting religion’s free exercise! The government may oversee legal contracts If two or more people want to make a contractual agreement regarding their sexual behavior, it is a free country. Go see a lawyer.  However, to call it marriage is simply a joke.
 
I have appealed to natural law, the idea that things have a nature, a purpose for which they must be used if life is to survive. Man can defy nature. It seems to be part his nature to do so, but he does so at his own peril. The problem is not that modern erotomania is unnatural, with its same-sex marriage, its eunuchs pretending that nature intended them to be women, its sterility calling itself a reproductive right. The modern erotomania that seeks to dress itself in sacraments is not unnatural. A crutch is unnatural. A piece of wood meant to bear fruit may become an instrument that allows a weak man to walk. Crutches are unnatural just as the malady to whose relief they come. Erotomania is not unnatural. It is far more than that. It is against nature.

I imagine that my arguments secular and religious will convince no one who is not already convinced, so let me return to the original concern. In the Catholic understanding, will homosexuals go to hell. Yes. And some will go to heaven. And many remarkably heterosexual persons will go to hell just as some of them will go to heaven. All of us no matter our preferences will go to one or the other.

The question then is how can a good and loving God ever damn any one just for loving someone else? Well it depends much on what you mean by love. Jesus whom I believe to be God, defined it very clearly “Greater love hath no man but to lay down his life.” and “he who hates his world in this life will gain it for life everlasting.”  Contrast that with the half-hour quest for happiness on which the sitcom culture of modern America is based.

The purpose of life for the modern American and all his imitators in the world is to be happy. For the follower of Christ the purpose of life is to know, love and serve God. Happiness is not guaranteed in this world, only in heaven, somehow the culture has convinced people that temporary happiness is preferable to eternal happiness. The ability to postpone or deny rewards for the sake of the greater and common good is maturity. We are a nation of children who wear our baseball caps backwards and dye our hair thinking that somehow we are still young. We are not young, we are childish.
 
We don’t want to have children because we are children. So if you define love as Christ defines it, you will not go to hell for loving. If you define love as the world, the flesh and the devil define it you will still not go to hell; you are already there. In 1778 as he lay dying, Voltaire, who provided the match for the bonfire of the Franco/American revolution, joked when flames flared up from a nearby oil lamp. “What? The flames already?” The flames lick at our feet unfelt and unseen if we live for ourselves alone, all the more when we convince ourselves that our narcissism is noble, that my will is God’s will.

In C.S.Lewis' masterpiece, The Great Divorce, someone asks a spirit, “How is it that a loving and merciful God can damn a person eternally?” The spirit explains that God damns no one. They damn themselves. And more amazingly, he claims that they can leave hell the moment they choose to, but they never do. It is as Milton said in Paradise Lost, “Better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven.”  In the end there will only be two groups. Those to who say to God “Thy will be done.” and those to whom God will say, “Thy will be done.”

Ask yourself no matter what your preferences, are you doing what God wants? or should God just mind His own business and let you do what you please? If you want Him to leave you alone, believe me, He will.
 
Yours,
the Rev. Know-it-all.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A look at same-sex unions -- part 3


Allow me to explain the woolly mammoth theory of the differentiation of the sexes.  Mind you, I am a bit of a creationist and certainly not a Darwinist, though I suspect that Heaven may have used a sort of natural selection in His design for humanity.  Having said that, let me suggest that there are times when it is very difficult for a woman to chase the woolly mammoth. 

A woman who is great with child would probably rather not join the hunt. I suspect that over the eons it became her job to keep the cave in order, fighting off the saber-tooth tiger and looking for roots, berries, seeds and other useful things at the mouth of the cave.  No stereotype is fully accurate, but some generalizations can be inferred though I am sure that some female cave persons were great hunters of the woolly mammoth, but in general, it would seem that women and men ended up in differentiated roles because of physical capacity. 

Perhaps this is why some women seem to have a greater sense of detail than men (in general, though certainly not universally).  This would explain the phrase “Honey, have you seen.... my briefcase...my socks....my brains.....”  Most men would leave the cave bewildered and semi-clad were there not a tolerant woman to point him in the right direction and make sure he had his arrows, his bow and his pointy sticks for poking the woolly mammoth. Men on the other hand have the big picture. “That’s an elephant on the horizon! I’d know it anywhere!”   

This is why men and women watch television differently. Women actually watch television. Men, with channel changer in hand, keep looking for something better on the tube. We are not watching television (unless it’s a game). We are watching to see what’s ON television. We are actually looking for woolly mammoths.  Women are always trying to get us to help clean the cave and re-arrange the boulders. We are very busy sitting on the couch staring into space. Don’t be fooled. We are actually hard at work. Once again, we are keeping vigil in case a woolly mammoth goes by, and if you keep pestering us, one might just get past and we wouldn’t even know about it! I know about these things, because having participated in the National Geographic Genome Project, it seems that I am descended from a very long line of Cro-Magnon Cave Persons, so just trust me on this woolly mammoth business.

Where was I? Oh, yes. After eons of hunting and gathering and natural selection, men and women, it turns out, are actually DIFFERENT!!!!!  The great difference I suspect, has to do with attitudes towards the begetting of children and their birth. If the natural goal is to get one’s DNA out there, women and men certainly have different strategies. A woman needs a cave person who is a fairly good hunter who is willing to stand guard with a pointy stick at the mouth of the cave. Before her offspring are viable life forms she is going to need a safe dry cave until the kids are at least 13 or 14. Men on the other hand go for quantity over quality. Once it is clear that the reproductive job is over, he is happy to move on and do the same favor for some other lucky cave woman. Great system, no? Men and women, at least in my experience, often have different agendas in mind. Or am I mistaken? If a man is not constrained by religious taboo, or convention or a father-in-law wielding a big club, is prone to go off with the fellows hunting the woolly mammoth or hunting something else.

Malcolm Muggeridge, an English agnostic who ultimately became a Catholic, and who wrote the biography of Mother Theresa “Something Beautiful for God” maintained  something very unusual for a twentieth century thinker. He held that the decision in the twentieth century of which the Catholic Church would be proudest would be its decision to maintain the prohibition of artificial birth control. He believed that artificial birth control was a disaster because it divorced erotic love from family life.

This ran counter to all the other great pundits of the age, but Mr. Muggeridge was exactly right. Malcolm Muggeridge wrote that, “...it has become abundantly clear in the second half of the twentieth century that Western Man has decided to abolish himself. Having wearied of the struggle to be himself, he has created his own boredom out of his own affluence, his own impotence out of his own erotomania...”

Erotomania. Great word.  Means sex-crazed. Sex-that-demands-no-commitment-or- sacrifice-crazed. He is right. Western Man is committing suicide. He is killing himself by doing away with Western Woman and the complex, impossible, unwieldy, often frustrating duel to the death that is erotic love between men and women. 

I think what Mr. Muggeridge was driving at is that the invention of  recreational sex for women is a disaster.  Have you ever wondered why the Serpent tempted Eve before he took a crack at Adam? Simple. Woman is the creator of life, the creator of civilization. Left to their own devices some men would not even bathe, much less bathe their offspring.  Humanity is woman. Let me be blunt. For men, from Adam on down, sex has always been recreational. For women, at least historically, sex is a bit more complex. When a woman gave herself to a man, it was not recreation. It was a great risk. Until very recent times, there was very good chance that a woman would die in child birth. To engage in intimate contact was a true sacrifice that involved giving of life and the risk of death on the part of women. Men didn’t make sacrifices for life until the child was born. For men, however responsible parenthood was and is, unfortunately, optional.   

The devil is only secondarily interested in men. Getting us to volunteer for damnation is like shooting fish in a barrel. It is women that the devil hates. He hates women because he hates children, and that is because, unless you are like a little child, you cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven. It is the Ancient Serpent’s goal to abolish Woman. In our era, he has accomplished this by means of the  “the little golden pill.” In the charming phrase of the singing nun, (“La pilule d'or - Soeur Sourire” You can actually here her singing this classic about the glories of artificial birth control on You tube.) The pill allows women to be as shallow and self-absorbed as men have always been, or least to pretend that they are as shallow and self-absorbed. No commitments, no babies to worry about or ruin one’s figure. I suspect that as the divorce rates skyrocket and as the nests lie empty, women are left with unspoken aching in their souls. 

Can you believe it? More to come next week!