Monday, March 31, 2008
A Modern Seminarian’s Dictionary
Published in "Fidelity", September 1987, pp. 23-25.
Brother seminarians! Are you troubled by the nonjudgmental expectations of the seminary? Are you confused by their concerns? Fear not. Before your eyes you have the key to ordination in this person’s seminary. Add these terms to your theological lexicon and believe me, you could well be ordained one or two years early!
AUTHORITY: Cannot exist or be invoked unless vested in a sensitive, flexible, nonjudgmental and compassionate person.
CATHOLIC FUNDAMENTALIST: A simplistic person who tries to live the Faith in a docile and pious way; also a Catholic who frequently prays the Rosary.
CELIBACY: Refraining from heterosexual genital activity.
CHALLENGE: To recognize that my views are better than your views.
CLOWN MASS: Liturgical innovation comparable to the innovation of Gregorian chant.
COLLEGIALITY: The doctrine defined by the Spirit of Vatican II stating that bishops have exactly the same authority as the Bishop of Rome.
COMPLEX TECHNOLOGICAL WORLD: The reason for resisting one’s conscience when opposing the teaching of the Catholic Church; also, the standard response a flexible person uses when a rigid person seems to be winning an argument.
CONCERN: The response that sensitive, flexible, non-judgmental and compassionate people in authority have when someone doesn't agree with them.
CONSCIENCE: The final arbiter of the correctness of one’s action always tobe guided by the latest in Church dissent.
CONSCIOUSNESS RAISING: The method of argumentation used by radical feminists moving adult males to action: "Better to live in a corner of the housetop than have a nagging wife and a brawling household" (Prov.21:9).
ECUMENISM: The process of transforming the liturgical rites of the mainline Christian denominations into a single rite of coffee, donuts and dialogue.
EXPECTATIONS: Flexible guidelines which change as frequently as the feelings of the Rector; not to be confused with RULES or LEGALISM.
FEELING: The highest faculty of the human person left fully untouched by original sin.
FEMININITY: A word created by a sexist, maledominated society to subjugate women in the maternal role; the presence of femininity in women religious is a cause to recommend psychological counseling.
FLEXIBLE: You agree with me; a flexible person is open and dialogues on any issue, smiles knowingly and does precisely what he started out to do.
GETTING IN TOUCH WITH ONE’S FEMININE SIDE: An essential requirement for ordination to the priesthood.
GROWTH: For you to assimilate my way of thinking into your life.
HOMOPHOBIC: The psychological condition of those who witness and report acts of homosexuality to seminary authorities.
HUMANAE VITAE: The biggest mistake the Church has made since the Council of Trent.
IN TOUCH WITH FEELINGS: Using the intellect to explicitly identify what one is feeling so that speech patterns can be altered to communicate one’s sensitivity and compassion; not to be confused with "intellectualizing your feelings".
LAITY: The future of the Church; cannot be ignored unless associated with ultra-conservative groups.
LEGALISM: Accepting at face value and obediently implementing what a document, law, or guideline mandates.
LIBERATION: The replacement of existing structures of constraint with new and improved structures of constraint.
LITURGICAL DANCE: Liturgical innovation comparable to the innovation of Gregorian
LITURGISTS: “A society of men among us, bred from their youth in the art of proving by words multiplied for the purpose, that white is black, and black is white, according as they are paid” (Swift, Gulliver's Travels).
MACROCHURCH: The male-dominated, sexist, oppressive, authoritarian hierarchical Church.
MALE DOMINATION: The irritating interest men have in sports, cigars, and male- bonding, especially in the hierarchy of the Church; the only mortal personal sin.
MICROCHURCH: The pastoral, flexible, open and honest, compassionate, open-to-change, local Christian community (Columbian Father Camilo Torres Restrepo was a member of the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla group and a fine example of the microchurch).
MISSION STATEMENT: A written objective or goal of a pastoral program upon which the success of the Gospel of Jesus Christ depends.
OBEDIENCE: No longer in usage. Obsolete.
OFFICIAL CHURCH TEACHING: “I don't expect it to change anybody's mind one way or another. Catholics today have learned what it means to be selectively obedient to the Church’s teaching” (Father Richard McBrien, Washington Post, December16,1981).
OPEN AND HONEST: Telling religious superiors what they want to hear.
ORIGINAL SIN: See SEXISM.
PASTORAL: Effeminate; an attribute lacking in a man who demonstrates overt masculine
attributes of clarity, decisiveness, and orthodoxy: G.K. Chesterton was not pastoral.
PLURALISM: The acceptance of all points of view except those with a point of view which doesn't accept all points of view.
PREFERENTIAL OPTION FOR THE POOR: Socialism.
PRE-VATICAN II: A person who accepts at face value the teaching of the Church and who reads the documents of the Second Vatican Council without reference to a commentary.
PROCESS: The spontaneous movement in the dialogue of group therapy sessions never to be disrupted by thinking.
PROGRESSIVE: Pouring the wine of old heresies into new wineskins.
PSYCHOLOGIST: Infallible teaching authority in the Church.
RELEVANT: Anything to do with dissent from Church teaching.
RIGID: a simplistic view of Catholic doctrine
SAFE SEX: Taking appropriate precautions during high risk sexual activity
SENSITIVITY: The ability to identify and agree with the conventional wisdom of left-wing political issues such as feminism, gay rights, dissent, etc.
SEXISM: The sin associated with being male.
SEXUAL PREFERENCE: Feeling good about some or all objects of desire whether animal, vegetable or mineral.
SHARE: The practice of discussing the deepest intimacies of one’s life in front of complete strangers.
SPEAK OUT: The activity springing from the virtue of Social Justice whereby sensitive and compassionate persons, with great emotion, promote the platform of the Democratic
SPIRIT OF VATICAN II: Church activities and programs which have absolutely no relationship to the letter of the documents of Vatican II.
THINKING: The most dangerous activity in a seminary; cause for psychological counseling; those who think “disrupt the process”; see PROCESS.
TOTAL COMMITMENT: The intensity of involvement in charitable works until one finds that one “doesn’t feel good” about oneself; total commitments usually last six months to a year.
VALUING YOUR SEXUALITY: Obsession with the usual adolescent preoccupations.
VOCATIONS CRISIS: Refers to the Church’s failure to relax the rules on celibacy and failure to ordain women.
WORKSHOP: A church-sponsored meeting to ensure that the issues of optional celibacy, women's ordination, the Sandinistas and leisure suits are still being addressed.
YOU’RE NOT LISTENING: The way a flexible, non-judgmental person expresses disappointment that a rigid, dogmatic person doesn’t agree with him; example: the Pope is “not listening” to the American Church.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Are there contradictions in the Gospel accounts? Let's look at each of the Resurrection stories, summarized below:
What about the angels? Matthew has one, Mark one, Luke two, and John none. In Matthew, the angel sits upon the rolled back stone. In Mark, the angel is sitting in the tomb. In Luke, there are two angels, both of them simply "appearing" before the women and standing there. Well, if Luke mentions two, then there must have been two. The fact that Matthew or Mark mention one angel does not exclude the possibility of a second one not mentioned by them, as John's exclusion of any angel's does not not mean they were not there, only that he chose not to include them.
Friday, March 21, 2008
See you all after Easter!
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Friday, March 14, 2008
Ireland had been subjugated by her stronger neighbor many times. Henry II had invaded, as had Edward I. It was conquered by the Norman warlord Strongbow took it in the 1170's and set up his government at the Rock of Cashel, but it was not until the time of Cromwell that the whole of the island fell irretreivably into the hands of the English. Irish lords were driven out and replaced by English (a process called "the Ascendancy") and for two centuries the British practiced the barbaric policy of planned starvation of the Irish yeomanry to get the off of their land, making Ireland a depopulated and economically depressed place. This is in part what caused the mass Irish migrations to the new world in the late 18th and middle 19th centuries. In fact, until the 1990's, Ireland averaged about 20,000 emigrations a year, quite a large amount considering the small populace of the island. As the native Irish fled, emigrated or were starved, Protestant Scots and English were brought in to settle and cultivate the land, especially in the north, which had a closer geographic and cultural tie to Scotland and England. Ireland was formally, legally incorporated into the United Kingdom in 1801.
Following the ascendancy of political liberalism in Britain from the 1880's on, many in England favored Home Rule for the Irish (this was actually the third such bill that had come to Parliament). Parliament considered a Home Rule bill in 1914, but put it off when World War I broke out. Not content to wait, the Irish revolted in the 1916 Easter Rising. Militant Irish Republicans seized a few key areas of Dublin and other strategic points and proclaimed an Irish Republic independent of Britain. The British troops moved in and put the revolt down in six days, but Republicanism became a major force in Ireland. Pro-independence Republicans won 73 seats to the British Parliament. The Home Rule act was in fact adopted, but it excluded certain unnamed portions of Ulster (now Northern Ireland). The Ulster Protestants (Unionists) violently opposed Home Rule, as it meant they would be minorities in a nation of Catholics.
Meanwhile, Sinn Fein (meaning "We alone"), established in 1905, convened the first Irish parliament (Dail Eireann) and proclaimed an Irish Republic in 1919. The British government, of course, did not accept the legitimacy of the new government and from 1919 to 1921, brigades of Irish volunteers were constituted the army of the Republic by Sinn Fein and waged a guerilla war against the British Army; this group went on to become the IRA. Both sides resorted to terror, the British (called Black and Tans) burning villages and torturing those suspected of sympathizing with the IRA, while the IRA torched homes of those connected with Unionism. During these years, 34% or Ireland's Protestant population fled Eire.
As a temporary solution, the British Government established the state of North Ireland in 1920. This was to be part of a "two-state solution." Both North and South would remain part of the UK, but the North would take in all the Protestants while the South would be for the Catholics and have some degree of Home Rule. However, the institutions of "Southern Ireland" were boycotted by the nationalists and the south became a de facto independent nation. In 1921, the two sides agreed to the Anglo-Irish treaty, which contained the following provisions:
1) All of Ireland would be given a semi-free status called "Dominion Status," comparable to that enjoyed by Canada. The island would be called the "Irish Free State."
2) North Ireland could opt out of the Free State if it so chose and remain united to the UK.
Given the Unionist hatred for the Catholic Irish, they chose to retain their allegiance to the UK. The Irish Dail approved the treaty in 1922 and went about creating the Free State, but some dissented. A vocal minority led by Eamon de Valera asserted that the treay was unacceptable for several reasons. First, it partitioned the island. Second, the state was still not fully independent, and third, the government was still to be required to swear allegiance to the British monarch.
De Valera and his supporters (including most of the IRA) left the Dail and a bloody civil war ensued until 1923, in which more Irish were killed than had been in the Anglo-Irish conflict.
Eventually, the supporters of the Free State won out, and Ireland existed as a semi-autonomous constitutional monarchy, ruled titularly by the British Monarch, who was referred to as the "King of Ireland." A commission was set up to formalize the borders between the Free State and the North and was supposed to allow for Nationalists to remain in the Free State while Unionists and Protestants wound up in Ulster. However, the borders were drawn up according to economic factors instead, with the end result being that much land of the Catholic south was ceded to the North, creating a Catholic minority within Ulster.
Eamon de Valera, the former anti-treatyite, campaigned against this and won Ireland's 1932 election to become president. He gradually altered the composition of the Free State and in 1937 gave Ireland a new constitution, renaming the nation simply "Ireland" and abolishing much of the political machinery set up by the British to keep the island's ties with the homeland. The British monarch was still titular head of Ireland, however.
During World War II, to Irish maintained a cool neutrality, not wanting to expend their blood to aid the English, whom they feared would come out too powerful after the war and use their force to resubjugate Ireland. Though the island was officially neutral, it provided tacit support to the Allies. But just so the British did not get too comfortable, it also gave subtle support to the Axis (following the suicide of Adolf Hitler, de Valera, following diplomatic protocol, controversially offered condolences to the German ambassador).
Finally, On 1 April 1949, the Republic of Ireland Act was enacted. The new state was unambiguously described as a republic, with the international and diplomatic functions previously vested in or exercised by the King now vested in the President of Ireland who finally became unambiguously the Irish head of state. Though the official name of the state remained Ireland, the term Republic of Ireland though officially just the 'description' of the new state, came to be commonly used as its name. Under the Commonwealth rules then in force, the declaration of a republic automatically terminated the state's membership of the British Commonwealth. Unlike India, which became a republic at the same time, the Republic of Ireland chose not to reapply for admittance to the Commonwealth. This came about not so much from the UK's desire to free Ireland as much as from succumbing to the anti-colonial atmosphere that was leading nations all over the world to grant independence to their colonies. Ireland was free at last.
But not so in the North. The North, six counties representing over a million people and almost a third of the nation's populace, remained under Great Britain and subject to pre-1920 laws and institutions. The same 1949 Ireland Act that freed the South also stated that the North would remain united to England. De Valera, always opposed to a divided nation, wanted to reunite with the North, as did many in the South. In 1973, a plebscite was held in which the populace of the North (mainly Unionists, but with a substantial Catholic minority) voted whether or not to join the Irish Republic and 98% voted in favor of the status quo (though it should be noted that many Catholic Nationalists boycotted the election).
Meanwhile, trouble had been brewing in the North, beginning around 1968 when the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association began marching and protesting for more civil rights for Catholics and Nationalists. Hitherto, Catholics had been gerrymandered into a few electoral wards to curb their voting power, and Nationalists as well as Catholics were subject to the "Special Powers Act," by which martial law could be enacted if the peace was threatened. Though the North was plagued by both Unionist and Nationalist agitators, the law was almost uniformally invoked against the Catholics.
O'Neill, Prime Minister of the North, promised reform, but a hardline of Catholic-hating Unionists led by Ian Paisley formed up behind O'Niell and accused him of selling out to the papists. Paisley was supported by thousands of Unionists who resented the idea of Catholic equality in a Protestant state. The first violence erupted in 1969 when a Unionist group staged a bombing an unsuccessfully attempted to frame the IRA for it. Vicious sectarian riots broke out all over the North, and in Belfast, over 1500 Catholic families were turned out of their homes and seven were killed by Protestant mobs. The IRA was criticized for failing to protect the persecuted Catholics during these assaults.
Northern Ireland petitioned the UK to send in troops to restore order in the North, and Britain complied with this request. The Army restored order, but used such heavy-handed tactics that they quickly made more enemies and created more tension, especially since they were widely known to be in sympathy with the Unionists. In response, the IRA reformed itself in 1969 and began a counter-offensive in the North against the British Army and the Northern Police. Violence was at its peak from 1970-1972, and in 1972 alone 500 people were killed. In 1971, internment without trial was instituted, and of 350 people arrested under the new code, not a single one was Protestant. Between 1971 and 1975, 1,981 people were detained; 1,874 were Catholic/republican, while 107 were Protestant/loyalist. There were widespread allegations from the nationalist community of abuse and even torture of detainees. In 1972, the British Army in Derry shot and killed 14 unarmed demonstrators in an incident that became known as Bloody Sunday. Many of those killed were found to be shot in the back while running away.
The IRA retailiated with a series of bombings in Belfast, which provoked the creation of the Ulster Defense Association, a newly formed group which went around assasinating Catholics, all of whom were lumped together as Nationalists. These murders produced much outrage, especially those of the Shankhill Bucthers, who tortured their victims before killing them. Neighborhoods became segregated, with Protestants fleeing Catholic areas and vice versa. The Catholics who could not felle from Protestant areas were penned up in ghettos surrounded by walls and fences. To control the violence, London suspended the Ulster government and instituted Direct Rule from London in 1972.
After this, a coalition based on a conciliatory treaty called the Sunningdale Treaty emerged promoting cooperation between Unionists and Nationalists, but it quickly collapsed in 1974 following massive protests from radical Unionists who were against any collaboration with the Catholics. In 1976, the IRA resumed violence and prepared for what it called the "Long War," a sustained programm of guerilla war against the British that could be carried on indefinitely. Britain attempted to end the crisis in North Ireland, but upon being unable to restore order, it simply attempted to "normalize" the bizarre situation there with a series of reforms.
For example, internment without trial was abolished in 1976, but paramilitary Nationalists were still being tried without juries, ostensibly to protect juries from intimidation. In 1980 and 1981, the IRA prisoners went on a series of hunger strikes that won wide support for the Catholic cause, especially after ten strikers starved themselves to death in 1981.
The violence dragged on intermittently, leaving North Ireland desolate and depressed, until a 1994 cease fire was called. Part of the problem in the North was that members of local police and governmental agencies by day were members of paramilitary organizations by night, who continued to assasinate Catholic civilians. By this time, both the Protestant and Catholic civilian populations were weary of the violence and a peace was brokered in 1994, but in the year leading up to the agreement there were many more atrocities, including an increase in the number of Catholic civilians murdered. The IRA responded with more bombings, and then this was in turn followed by more random shootings of Catholic civilians. But finally, the IRA declared a cease-fire in August 1994, reciprocated by the radical Unionists a few weeks later.
However, the UK continued to drag its feet in the peace process, and the IRA started another bombing campaign in 1996, destroying the large downtown of Manchester in the largest bombing in Britain since World War II. The last soldier of the British killed by the IRA was killed in 1997, shortly before the IRA called their next cease-fire. As Sinn Fein was invited to talks (the so-called Mitchell Principles), many groups on both sides split as it became evident that an agreement was within reach.
The IRA began bombing again, this time discrediting themselves because of 29 civilians killed in their 1998 bombing in Omagh. In 1998, self-government was restored to the north on a coalition basis between four organizations, Sinn Fein being one of them. The Republican elements of the struggle have become much less violent, except for occasional internecine warfare against their own members and traitors. The Ulster organizations, like the UDA, have turned to organized crime as a way to maintain power and influence in their cities.
Violence almost broke out in 2002 over the exposure of an IRA spy ring in the government, but the agent in questions (Denis Donaldson) was the only casualty, murdered by the IRA. Though actual violence has ceased, animosity is still high, and the Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods remain extremely segregated. Violence occaisonally breaks out when the group known as the Orange Order makes its annual march throughout North Ireland. The Order is a group dedicated to celebrating the victory of William of Orange in 1690 at the Battle of Boyne that caused Ireland to pass into the hands of the Protestant English (William also ousted the Catholic James II in the so-called "Glorious Revolution" of 1688).
Since 1969, 3,523 people have been killed in Northern Ireland, most in Belfast. Occasionally, violence still flares up; 3 people were killed in 2006. North Ireland remains subject to Protestant Great Britain with its Catholic population segregated and subject to much social persecution from the dominant Unionist majority.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
They travelled on foot. Unlike any other men in the religious life - who favored the small tonsure on the crown of the head - the Irish monks wore their hair in a fashion that was peculiar to the Druidic Celts. Continentals were astonished by, and in awe of, these men with their heads shaven right across from ear to ear, leaving unshorn, however, half the crown towards the front of the head. They wore their hair long at the back of the neck, their locks hanging down to their shoulders. Each wore simple, hand-made sandals and carried a crude, wooden staff, a leather gourd for water and a small wallet for food and writing materials. They spoke with passion and eloquence, at first through interpreters until they had mastered the language of the country in which they were preaching and teaching.
The 'counter-invasion' of Irish monks was to lead to the gradual cultivation of the intellectual wasteland that was Europe after the invasions of the Dark Ages. Universities and other centers of learning in Europe established by these men were based on the monasteries at Armagh, Bangor, Clonamacnoise and Durrow from which they came. The 'wanderers' swept through Wales, Scotland and England and on to France, Belgium, Switzerland and Italy, reaching as far as the Danube and even the Volga. Their was no stopping their progress - they travelled as far as Greenland and Iceland in the north and as far to the east as Jerusalem and even Kiev.
In France their main base was established at Luxeuil. Charlemagne, who had witnessed them setting up their stalls in the markets and shouting 'No visible goods, knowledge for sale!', invited them to reform religion and education throughout his empire. Irish monasteries sprang from the famous monastery of Saint Gall in Switzerland. St. Kilian evangelized France and Thuringia. Irish monks founded monasteries at Strasbourg and Friesing, Virgil became the Bishop of Slazburg, St. Colman became the martyr-apostle of southern Austria [martyred and buried at Melk Abbey, where I have personally visited, though at the time I had no idea who the heck St. Colman was] and St. Frindolin became the very first apostle of Alsace. Marianus Scotus founded the monastery at Ratisbon, from which twelve other monasteries were born . All were Irishmen.
The Irish tide soon swept over the Alps. In the middle of the sixth century, St. Ursus was at work in Val d'Aosta and St. Freidan was Bishop of Lucca. In the seventh century, mighty St. Columbanus founded the famous monastery at Bobbio. St. Cataladus of Lismore, County Waterford, was cast up by the sea on the coast of Taranto in a violent storm, ultimately to become the Bishop of Taranto. In the ninth century, St. Donatus was made Bishop of Fiesole.
The great monasteries brought about a cultural revolution in Europe, and the Continent was once again drawn into the production of classical and liturgical manuscripts and studies of all kinds in the spiritual life. During the Irish Golden Age, students at monastic universities sometimes numbered up to three thousand. From these misson stations they carried Christianity to every corner of pagan Europe, being in the full flower of missionary activity until the year 1000 or so. To them is owed the rebirth of Christianity in Western Europe. It is held by some that one of the secretaries of the great St. Thomas Aquinas was an Irish monk from Cork. It is certain that a man known as Peter the Irishman was an early professor of St. Thomas at Naples. He taught the 'Dumb Ox of Sicily, whose lowing would soon be heard all over the world', to read Aristotle in the original Greek, setting the Angelic Doctor on his special path to becoming one of the greatest doctors in the history of the Church, renowned for his Summa Theologica.
The wandering monks were a disturbing lot sometimes. Many were abbots or bishops and local episcopal authority did not always welcome their using their episcopal powers in the course of their wanderings. Then also, the Irish monks celebrated Easter at a different time from everyone else. They followed the old Paschal cycle, the same one St. Patrick followed when he lit the first Pachal fire in Ireland on the Hill of Slane in County Meath, causing the High King of Tara to send for him for breaking the sacred annual black-out of the pagan Druids. And the strange tonsure of the Irish monks was ever a problem. For sure, the world did not always always appreciate the work of these men at the time, but with hindsight, European civilization has learned to understand their major contribution to restoring Christianity to the Continent of the Dark Ages.
The Irish monks turned the spiritual world upside down for, unlike the monks of other nations who lived and died in their monasteries, Irish monks figuratively took their monasteries with them on their spiritual wanderings. The record of the Celts in receiving the message of Christ from St. Patrick was also unique, inasmuch as the pagan Irish never martyred a missionary sent among them. As natural orators who loved truth, Irish missionaries were unusually good preachers and teachers, fortunate too in preaching the Gospel from th soundly united Christian base. Unlike their kind today, they were not obliged to suffer either a divided Christendom in Europe, or the horror of a native land where men and women destroy each other in the name of religious bigotry based on hate.
The last sentence, of course, is a reference to the tragic state of North Ireland today, where for decades Catholics have been savagely repressed by the Protestant English people of Ulster. I will have something in a few days about the modern crisis in Ireland between the Unionists, IRA, Sinn Fein, the Republicans, Orange Order, the Ascendancy and all of these other bizarre groups who are fighting in Ulster, perhaps the only place on earth where the passions and violence of the Reformation area are still a reality for thousands.
Monday, March 10, 2008
I propose that the conversion of Ireland (and the closely linked conversion of Scotland by the Irish) are textbook exemplars of how evangelism ought to be carried out. If we take the example of Patrick lighting the Paschal fire on the Hill of Tara, we see that Christianity was introduced as something over and against the prevailing religious systems. On one hill, the light of the druidic priests was lit, but the Paschal fire on another, to symbolize the light of Christ coming into the land darkened by druidic error. They were not the same light, but two opposing lights on two opposing hills. Whether or not the stories of Patrick's often miraculous conflicts with the druids are historical, in them we see a man who viewed his God as being against the gods of the heathen, who were evil spirits. Patrick would never have confused people by trying to show how Lugh and Jesus were actually the same god; he confronted paganism when he saw it.
The confrontations were always in the spirit of charity; Patrick won over every king and ruler he met by his gentle demeanor and honest character. But he harbored no doubt that the gods he contended with were false, and his contests with the druids demonstrate this. For example, when the druids caused it to snow, and then Patrick, in the name of God, made the snow go away, we see the understanding that the gods of the heathen were either (a) nonexistent, or (b) malevolent spirits hostile to the true God. Like St. Benedict with the famous altar of Apollo, Patrick once destroyed a large boulder that was being worshipped. His God was the Lord of Hosts, Who loved the Irish people but detested the abominations into which they had plunged themselves. However much Patrick loved the Irish, he never thought twice about destroying their idols.
Furthermore, Patrick understood the best means to win over people. As he went about baptizing and ordaining bishops, he did not leave behind ecclesiastical institutions but founded monasteries. Patrick and the Irish conversion demonstrates the long held conventional wisdom of the Church that those committed to the religious life are the best persons fit to bring the Gospel to the new lands. By their vows, their simplicity of life and their humble servitude, they bear witness to the truth of Christ's Gospel and lead others to follow Him. All of the early Irish saints are monks, all of them famous for setting up monasteries (like St. Columba on Iona) and all of them viewed monasticism as the best way to Christian perfection.
Sunday, March 09, 2008
Thursday, March 06, 2008
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
Evangelical Protestants outnumber Catholics by 26.3 percent (59 million) to 24 percent (54 million) of the population, according to the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, a massive 45-question poll conducted last summer of more than 35,000 American adults.
"There is no question that the demographic balance has shifted in past few decades toward evangelical churches," said Greg Smith, a research fellow at the Pew Forum. "They are now the mainline of American Protestantism."
The traditional mainline Protestant churches, which in 1957 constituted about 66 percent of the populace, now count just 18 percent as adherents [by traditional mainline, I think she means the denominational Protestant Churches like Presbyterian, Congregational, etc. Those that are "Reformation era." These are losing adherents even quicker than the Catholic Church because of their compromise with modernism and biblical criticism which goes back to the German theological school of Protestantism that flourished from around 1880-1930 adn changed the shape of Protestantism].
Although one in three Americans are raised Roman Catholic, only one in four adults describe themselves as such, despite the huge numbers of immigrants swelling American churches [this is because religious immigrants, who are often devout but ignorant, quickly lose their piety once they get accustomed to our secular consumerist culture] researchers said.
"Immigration is what is keeping them afloat," said John Green, a Pew senior fellow. "If everyone who was raised Catholic stayed Catholic, it'd be a third of the country" [What a sad statement! We could run this country if we (a) were faithful to our Tradition and (b) actively tried to evangelize others. I'd also point out that the immigrants who are "keeping us afloat" are hardly the caliber of Catholics we need. I'm planning a future article on the state of Catholicism in Latin America when I get more time, but the point is that oftentimes Catholicism in South America and Mexico is little more than paganism with a veneer of Catholicism, as we shall soon see. Of course, there are faithful and educated Catholics among them as well, but as is the case with America, I think they are the exception, not the norm].
Those who leave Catholicism mostly either drop out of church entirely or join Pentecostal or evangelical Protestant churches, Pew Forum director Luis Lugo said. One out of every 10 evangelicals is a former Catholic, he said, with Hispanic Catholics leaving at higher rates; 20 percent of them end up in evangelical or Pentecostal churches.
"It's a desire for a closer experience of God," he said. "It's not so much disenchantment with the teachings of the Catholic Church but the pull of what they see in Pentecostalism" [It is not disenchantment with the teachings of Catholicism because most of them have no idea what the teaching of Catholicism is, otherwise they wouldn't have left. It is not that Pentecostalism has somethign we do not, but that we are not giving them what we do have. Unfortunately, many who see this trend this errantly that the solution is therefore to adopt more "Pentecostal" practices into Catholicsm].
Switching denominations is not unique to Catholics. More than one-quarter of American adults have left their childhood faith for another religion or none [I would like to see if these statistics were the same for pre-Vatican II Catholics. I somehow doubt it]. Factor in changes of affiliation from one form of Protestantism to another, and the number of switchers rises to 44 percent.
The survey, which reveals the rapidly shifting religious leanings of some 225 million American adults, has a margin of error of less than one percentage point. It also revealed there are twice as many Jewish adults (3.8 million) as there are Muslim adults (1.3 million).
Black and Hispanic Americans were the two most religious ethnic groups, although not all of the historically black churches are monochromatic. More than 10 percent of the Church of God in Christ are white and 13 percent are Hispanic.
And the group with the highest losses? [Here's some good news, at least] Jehovah's Witnesses: Two-thirds of those raised in the faith depart it as an adult. At the other end, three out of every four U.S. Buddhists is a convert [Mostly yuppies I'm guessing].
The survey, the first of several parts to be released this year, comes with an array of graphs and maps posted on http://www.pewforums.org/ by which one can determine America's "religious geography": what percentage of each state's population is affiliated with various religious groups.
The country's religious mix changes so quickly that "if you rest on your laurels, you'll soon be out of business," Mr. Lugo said.
One of the fastest-growing groups is Americans unaffiliated with any religion, now at 16 percent, although just 4 percent of the population identified itself as agnostic or atheist. The West Coast shows the highest percentage of nonchurched people [Did we need a survey to tell us this?]. Even this group experiences huge shifts; more than half of those polled who were raised outside a religion ended up affiliating with one as an adult, and the unaffiliated also showing the highest rates of marriage to someone outside their group.
Hindus and Mormons showed the lowest rates of intermarriage. Hindus stood out for their unusually high education levels, with 48 percent having post-graduate degrees, the survey said.
The Episcopal Church may have the most gray hairs: more than six in 10 are older than age 50 compared to a national average of four in 10 Americans that age [This is because the Episcopal Church has absolutely nothing to offer people. It most clearly exemplifies a Church shorn of all its substance, conformed to the changing winds of the politically correct landscape and populated by devotees who are there because it is a half-way house between various other religious groups].
Well, we ought not to get too upset by surveys like this, despite the bleak news. Surveys only give us brief glimpses into cross-sections of society and are fond of using language like "If current trends continue," which really don't mean anything because nobody can predict if current trends continue. If Pew Research was around in the old days, they might have reported these statistics:
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
So wait a second, Oprah gets turned away for trying to get into a store that is closed, and the CEO of the company ends up apologizing to her? She is certainly tyrannical in the prerogatives she assumes for herself and in her quick resort to her program to speak about her personal, petty grievances.
Another incident: when Martin Luther King's widow Coretta Scott King passed away a year ago, thousands of people waited all day in the rain to pay their last respects. But when Oprah Winfrey showed up, they shooed all the people away and closed the memorial so Oprah could go in alone.
She also fits the biblical image of the Antichrist in another way. Look at this verse from the Book of Revelation 13:14,15: It [the Beast] deceives those who dwell on earth, bidding them make an image for the beast...and to cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. Now, Oprah does in fact have an "image" made of her, in two ways. First, in the most literal sense, is the golden "Oprah Sarcophagus" seen at left, by American sculptor Daniel Edwards, who commented on the piece that it "pays homage to the closest thing America has to a living deity." The sarcophagus is modeled after royal Egyptian sarcophogi, which were meant to confer eternal life on the god-kings of ancient Egypt. So, in the truest sense of the word "image," Oprah fits this description of the Antichrist (although Revelation 13:15 also says that the False Prophet causes the image to come to life, which so far we have not seen with this particular statue yet).
But consider, more symbolically, Oprah's relentless self-aggrandizement through the medium of her magazine, "O," which besides being named after her features portraits of herself on every single cover. Just look at the covers of the past several issues of her magazine "O":
And it goes on an on like that, right back to to her first issue in May, 2000. Dozens of magazine covers all featuring Oprah. Who can deny that through this medium she is attempting to get people to "worship" her "image?"
And what about the Bible's warning that the Antichrist causes any who will not worship its image to be slain? Well, consider this: in 2007, a former employee of Oprah's corporation broke away from the Oprah Empire and sought to publish a book which purported to expose the cruelty and greed of the media mogul. Winfrey heard about the intended book and made a few calls to the publishing houses in New York and after that no company would touch the book. So, I guess at least as far as books are concerned, Oprah has the power to "slay" those which criticize her. Even large publishing firms like Random House were so afraid of Oprah's power that they refused to go near the book.
Another case: in 1996, Oprah made a remark about the quality of Texas beef which led viewers to believe that the beef was less than good. So powerful was her word that beef sales plummeted and stocks in Texas Beef became worthless over night, all at Oprah's fiat. Well, it turns out that the accusations Oprah made were incorrect, prompting the Texas Beef Council to sue her for slander. Oprah acted as if her show and info and words were nothing - that her show just put out info and she had no influence on how that info or her remarks were taken by the public. The judge sided with Oprah, but the question remains: does Oprah have a huge influence on what people think and do in America? The obvious answer is yes, she has a huge following and yes, she tries to influence people, which is why she is so dangerous when she tries to influence them into adopting New Ages teachings, like those in the Course in Miracles.
In case you doubt the influence of Oprah, or the devotion people have to her (many want her to run for president), consider these following real quotes from Oprah fans (from Gifts from the Heart, an Oprah tribute site):
"Dear Oprah, I believe in your spirit. You are truly a wonderful woman who has made me laugh, made me cry, made me open my eyes to many things...You have saved my life without ever knowing it. ... You are my hero, to be sure!" - Lisa Pittock
"She was a mother, a teacher and a friend," writes one fan, Sean. "Oprah not only educated me for that hour I shared with her through a glass window, but her warmth made me care for her. It made me want to make her proud."
Can you deny that Oprah's followers are almost religious in their zeal? But perhaps most sinister is this: the Antichrist is a character who mixes false religion with politics. Is Oprah involved in politics at all? I'll leave you with the following images to ponder.
Let's keep an eye on this woman, and on her accomplice here.