Tuesday, October 26, 2010

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Friday, October 22, 2010

Barriers to Debate

I've made an observation lately concerning debates and people's positions on issues. People often get caught up in a particular position, usually liberal or conservative. They become so entrenched in defending their broader agenda that they miss the nuance, the grey areas.

People sometimes fail to see relevant details when they make absolute pronouncements. This often comes in the form of liberal vs. conservative.

I just read an article on the proposed sex education program being introduced in Ontario. Some parents found it offensive because it taught very young children about anal and oral sex, sexual identity, gay marriage, etc. However, the debate deteriorated into one about whether people were for or against sex education.

The liberal side claimed the conservatives were afraid of sex and that they wanted to keep kids in the dark, but that they wanted children to receive proper sex education.

The conservatives on the other hand said it was absurd to teach children these immoral things in schools, especially at such young ages.

What ended up happening was that neither side listened to the other. A simplistic charicature was developed. The conservatives were afraid of sex education, while the liberals wanted to teach kids every immoral act under the Sun.

And that's how so many debates happen. I should say arguments.

But it goes further. A person who considers him or herself liberal will feel the need to defend liberal values no matter how absurd or immoral they may be. The liberal would never dare speak AGAINST the proposed sex education curriculum in Ontario because that would be against the liberal value of no sexual morals. They then turn to mocking conservatives who hold sexual values.

Another example is conservatives who feel they must support the death penalty. Within the community of conservatives, this is sort of a litmus test. In order to be conservative, you must support the death penalty. But it becomes absurd when someone is ALWAYS in favour of the death penalty. They may be shown evidence of innocence, or shown the inmate was too young or not mentally competant. However, because the conservative is "for the death penalty", he must support it in all cases.

We live in a society that loves "sound bites". Nobody wants to sit and think logically about a situation. They'd rather know if a situation is black or white, good or evil, for or against. Liberals simply ask themselves if something is a conservative value, and if so they are against it. Conservatives may do the opposite.

Going back to the above issue concerning sex education in Ontario schools. Instead of saying you're either for unlimited sex education or for no sex education, it is better to sit down and carefully review what is to be taught. Conservatives are certainly not against sex education. But they may not want everything being taught. If liberals stopped for a second trying to advocate a point of view, they may realize they also don't want their kids learning all that stuff.

If you read an encyclical by Pope Benedict, there is not simplistic language. He doesn't just label something as "evil" and then never talk about it or react with anger. He breaks an issue down, analyzes it, etc.

I guess the reason I am writing this is because I am disappointed by the low standards of debate in the media or in person. It is just so predictable. Either someone is for no taxes and no government or they are for communism. Either someone is for any and all forms of sexuality, no matter how perverse, or someone never wants anyone to learn anything about it at all. Either someone believes practically everyone deserves the death penalty or there should be no prisons. Either a person eats red meat at every meal or they believe meat is murder.

In order to find the truth, we must break down barriers and stop polarizing issues to such an extent. We must read the fine print so to speak. This doesn't mean we cannot take a strong point of view. It simply means we try to discuss issues with intelligence and rationality.

Catholic News October 22, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Response to Comments on Obedience

I received the following comment on my last blog post called "Obedience". I will post the comments and my responses to them below:

Question from J. Merrick:

Hello,Perhaps we are in disagreement, perhaps not. In reading this article I found no real reason answering the question of "why?" why we shouldn't question so many things.I offer Romans 13:1 paraphrased and the following as a possible addition."Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God."

Given that the papal system claims the title of the church established by christ - they would therefor be God's earthly authority figures.

I don't think that excludes questioning, just submission to God as we also see in scripture that God wants us to seek him and know him. Like children we can question why we do things or what certain things are of our parents, thus as children of God we can also inquire to the reasons and deeper reason why we practice exactly as we do.

Even the most persistent questioning is not dissent and there is absolutely nothing problematic about desiring to learn God's truth.

We've all heard the quote by Dr. Timothy Leary "question authority", but many others have said likewise such as Buddha, Dalai Lama, Thomas Jefferson, Gandhi, Galileo, Confusious, Socrates, Plato, etc.

In studying each you'll find some are encouraging questioning of tradition, but not advocating abandonment of it, while others are more anarchistic in their statements.We can also spin the phrase "question authority" differently too and make it rather "ask authority questions".Either way we, our questioning should be about seeking truth, and as you said not simply about condemning or judging authorities such as priests and bishops in order to discredit their authoritative position.

With all that said, we can also validate through questioning as well. For example the Roman Catholic church and papal system claims authority as the Christ's church (see below for references opposing). We can also question and validate or discredit claims of authority as well. Ultimately we seek God and must discern false prophets or error in claims. The sun revolves around the earth - Galileo and others were condemned by the church and thankfully the church has progressed beyond condemnation of scientific questioning of matters not directly related to its core beliefs. The vatican is alongside the scientific community at the forefront of science and questions about God's creation. In that respect so can we can pose questions to and about leaders on all matters concerning doctrine, dogma, practices and claims of authority.

There are historical references and evidence that may or may not someday prove the authoritative position the Roman Catholic Church claims thru the papal system. That the Roman Catholic church is not the first church set in place by christ but rather a schism of predating catholicism. The difference between the 2 being the term "Roman". Many questions remain on the factual historical establishment of the Roman Catholic Church as presented in articles pertaining to the history of catholic schisms, nestorian christians and the dead sea scrolls. If in my lifetime the Roman Catholic Church is proven to have been NOT the original but a schism, surely there will be an uproar and even many in denial. This should not however be feared. Doctrine is not infalliable - original dogma is not directly affected.

My Response:
Thank you for your long and well thought-out questions and comments. I will attempt to respond to some of your queries.

In terms of questioning things, I think that's a good thing. In fact, this blog is designed to answer many questions that people have concerning the Catholic faith. In Peter 3:15, he says always be prepared to give an answer for the hope that is in you. So it advocates apologetics.

Also, the Church is interested in giving people answers, and thus provides resources such as the Catechism of the Catholic Church to provide answers with evidence to questions people pose.
I was not really referring to questioning beliefs or practices, but rather people who spent inordinate amounts of time focusing on the priest or bishop and his proper use of rubrics throughout Mass. For example, whether he said all the prayers correctly, or if his homily was strongly worded enough, etc.

But I also wanted to address the issue of authority. In the Catholic Church there is an authority, which I believe was given to the first apostles by Jesus Christ. He gave them the power to bind and loose. He gave Peter the keys to the kingdom of Heaven, which in ancient times meant to give someone authority while the king was gone. These are found in the Bible. There is mention by Paul of the priests and bishops and he refers to the ones he is teaching as his children in the faith. So we can see a hierarchical system here. However, we must not confuse this with "power" so to speak. One of the titles of the pope is "the servant of the servants of God". He is the greatest servant, not the most powerful master. He serves the people.

We believe that the bishop has real authority in spiritual matters. In fact, generally speaking, each bishop is the highest authority. The buck generally stops there. The pope of course does have an ultimate authority over the entire church, but each bishop retains a level of authority.

Your quote from Romans 13:1 was quite appropriate for this situation. And you're absolutely right when you say we can and should question things about our faith. Look at the Church Fathers. They were the original followers of Christ who left many texts. In them, they explain and defend the faith. Thomas Aquinas, one of my favorite saints, spent his lifetime compiling answers to every conceivable question people have concerning the faith. His most famous work, the Summa Theologica, is about three times bigger than the Bible.

So questioning is certainly an integral part of the Christian faith. In fact, that's why the Church is such a strong advocate of religious freedom throughout the world. The bishop of New York was in favour of the mosque and community centre being built near ground zero because it represents freedom of religion. The Vatican has decried moves like the minaret ban in Switzerland because it reduces religious freedom. The Church believes we must see the Truth and everyone must have the option to do so.

You mention also Galileo. The Church is our guidance on faith and morals only, and does not deal with science. That's why for example, the Church does not definitively declare the age of the Earth, because it is a scientific issue. You can believe whatever you want about it. Same goes for evolution. Only when it touches matters of faith and morals does the Church move in to say something about it. So with evolution for example, the Church says we must believe that there were two original parents. Now, if we did evolve from a lower life form, we can believe that, but there were two of these lifeforms that were infused with a human soul and thus our first parents. But anyway, I digress, back to Galileo.

In order to respond to what you said about Galileo, I will quote myself from a previous blog post:
Galileo was a strong Catholic who happened to be an astronomer. He was very popular in his day. He made friends with many top Vatican officials, even the future pope. He was well respected. His theory of heliocentrism was nothing new. Copernicus, a loyal Catholic cleric, had pioneered the theory several decades prior. Galileo attempted to further his research in this field.

At the time when Galileo was proposing his theory, another theory, proposed by Ptolemy many centuries prior, was very widely accept by scientists. The theory was that of geocentrism (the Sun revolving around the Earth). This was the dominant view in the scientific community, not just the religious community.

Galileo made several wrong moves when it came to his presentation of his theory. He demanded that church officials accept it as true, even though it was far from proven. Galileo even wrote a book in which he put the popes words and theories into the mouth of a character named Simplicio (similar to Simpleton). Obviously this was very insulting.

The Church said that until a theory can be proven, it should not be presented as fact. This was very wise, especially considering that several aspects of Galileo's theory proved wrong. For example, he believed the Sun was the centre of the universe, whereas we now know that the Sun also moves around an orbit at an even faster rate than the Earth.

The Church was not against science, and certainly not against astronomy. In fact, many churches used their tall towers as planetary observatories. Many of the first astronomers were Catholic and even religious (clergy). The first person to propose the big bang theory was Fr. Lemaitre, a Catholic monseigneur (high ranking priest).

Many want to say the Church has always been against science, but this is simply untrue. Monks were responsible for transmitting practically everything we know of ancient Greek and Roman science and culture. Gregor Mendel, a priest, discovered the field of genetics. The first European universities were founded by popes.

The Church did apologize for how Galileo was treated many years later. He was arrested, but he was put under house arrest in his large home. I think it's important to have the full story on this issue.

You're also right in saying the Church is at the forefront of science. For example the Pontifical Academy of Sciences is a well respected scientific community, which includes Stephen Hawking.
Now I will address your last point about Catholic vs. Roman Catholic. The Church is official called the Catholic Church and always has been. During the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, the term "Roman Catholic" does not appear in the literature. The pope is the head of the Catholic Church. In fact, there are 22 other Catholic Churches beside the Roman one. Those are all called Eastern Catholics, but have specific names like Maronite Catholic Church, Chaldean Catholic Church, etc. They are all in communion with the pope. The term Roman Catholic is used to denote the Chair of Peter which is is in Rome. But terms are terms. We must look at the evidence for what is the real Church. You mention a schism, however there is no historical evidence for such a thing happening. The Catholic Church can trace its history all the way back to Jesus through apostolic succession. No one can simply come from the outside and become a leader in the Church. They must be ordained by an existing bishop. This way, there is a preservation of lineage.

This is actually the first time I've even heard that the Roman Catholic Church is a schism of the original Catholic Church. When did this happen? In any event, why did it happen? We can see the practices of the early Christians, all the way back to the first century, and their beliefs and practices correspond to those of the Catholic Church today. You can look to non-biblical sources such as the Didache for examples. Even the Protestant reformers acknowledged that without the Catholic Church there would be no Christianity. All other Churches, including Protestant and Orthodox, are offshoots of the Catholic Church. In order to claim there was a kind of schism, some evidence must be shown. Which pope went from being "Catholic" to "Roman Catholic"? I ask because there is an unbroken line of succession so one of them must have "switched". Where is the record of one church splitting from another? Of course, there are countless heretical churches, but they are all well documented. Until recently, until people started using revisionist history, it has been acknowledged that the Catholic Church has been here from the start when Jesus founded it upon Peter, the Rock.

I hope I was able to answer some of your questions. Thanks for your comments.



I find a growing discussion among serious Catholics on the orthodoxy of their spiritual leaders and of fellow Catholics. While I think this discussion is good and necessary, I believe for some it has taken a place of predominance. A certain scrupulosity has developed beyond correct belief and action into a sort of obsession which threatens to overshadow the true purpose of our spritual lives.

One concrete way in which this happens is by the constant questioning of our religious authorities (namely the priests and bishops) and their motives. I think sometimes we must place obedience above our own display of piety.

It's difficult to draw a line to say people can question this, but not that. However, I would like to offer some of my personal guidelines, while keeping in mind I claim no authority on this matter.

I think if it gets to the point where the main discussion after Mass are the possible violations of the rubrics, there may be an issue. I know some strict Catholics whose ONLY topic of discussion are lay and religious who have violated some rule or regulation.

Obviously, it is important to notice these things and to take steps to avoid them, but when our entire religious discussion is on that topic, it's problematic.

Also, there is a tendency to question the teachings of priests and bishops. While this is good in moderation, it can easily turn into a full time career. It gets to the point where not only do people look for mistakes, they look for "sins of omission". e.g. the priest's homily was morally sound, but he did not have strong enough language about this or that.

Often, bishops are criticized because they do not eliminate every bad apple from the entire faith community of that area. Anything short of 100% orthodoxy from every person is considered a failure of the bishop.

My basic point is that while noticing abuses is a good thing, we cannot place ourselves above the priests and bishops. They do have spiritual authority over us and we must sometimes put our own concerns and opinions second. We cannot make ourselves the lawmaker of the Church. We must humbly submit ourselves to authority, just as priests do for the bishop.

Having said that, we are members of the Church and have the duty to notice grave abuses in order that God is not sacrileged.

So let's practice caution. We are not teachers entering into a Church to evaluate everyone's performance. We are penitents who are striving to do our best to obey God's will, and we must do this with humility and respect.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

"The state has no place in the bedroom of the Nation"

"It's certainly the most extensive revision of the Criminal Code since the 1950s and, in terms of the subject matter it deals with, I feel that it has knocked down a lot of totems and over-ridden a lot of taboos and I feel that in that sense it is new. It's bringing the laws of the land up to contemporary society I think. Take this thing on homosexuality. I think the view we take here is that there's no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation. I think that what's done in private between adults doesn't concern the Criminal Code. When it becomes public this is a different matter, or when it relates to minors this is a different matter."

These words were famously uttered by Pierre Trudeau as Justice Minister (later Prime Minister), in 1967. That would be the 100th anniversary year of Canada's confederation.

These words make absolutely no sense whatsoever. They have a sort of mass appeal that makes them popular with the general populace, but when analyzed, they fall flat and make no sense.

Most people believe the state does have a place in the bedrooms of the nation.

What if a child is being sexually assaulted? Would the state turn a blind eye to that?

What if a woman was being raped in a bedroom?

For that matter, what if a person is being abused or even killed in a bedroom?

Obviously the state does have a say in what happens in the bedrooms of people.

To be fair, what Pierre Trudeau was actually trying to say was the state has no place in dictating what homosexual acts are legal and which are illegal.

So, people should be clear about what that saying means.

The problem is making the leap from homosexual acts being legal to gay "marriage" being legal also. It's difficult to legislate on a non-violent act between two consenting adults that will not directly harm others. I mean if two people wanted to dress up as chickens and dance around the house, they could do that as well, despite the fact that it has no benefit.

So what about gay "marriage". Well, this is another matter. It's no longer a private thing. Once gay "marriage" is legal, schools must encourage children to "decide" their sexuality, to offer classes on homosexual lifestyles, etc. Adoption agencies are forced to adopt children to two men or two women despite that organization's moral belief that such unions are not best for children. Religious institutions must rent their properties for homosexual celebrations which violate their moral code. A child's welfare is trumped by gay rights. It enters into a completely new category. Society suffers when such a ruling is made.

Marriage is, by definition, the union of a man and a woman. If we redefine marriage to include same-sex couples, there is no logical reason to exclude any other grouping, such as a father and daughter "marriage", one man and 5 women, a sort of "daycare" arrangement where a group of say 20 men and women decide to form a fluent group of people who raise any children in that arrangement. Who is to say that these groupings cannot be included in the defintion of "marriage", since we are completely throwing out what marriage actually is.

We must love and respect all people, whether gay or straight, but this does not mean that each person must be treated exactly the same. Just because a father cannot legally marry his daughter does not mean he has fewer rights than everyone else. Any man has the right to take advantage of the laws concerning marriage, or any woman for that matter. But we do not all get the right to change the law based on our whims.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Are you ready for your death?

How many people think of death every now and then or ever? Should you?

Well, I think you should. Last night I was awaken by what sounded like someone in my apartment around 5:30am. It was really scary. I got up and carefully checked the whole house, but there was nothing there. My conclusion is that someone was upstairs and the sound traveled below. It was really quite creepy because it sounded like someone was right outside my door. I even thought I heard it again after I went to bed again.

I said a prayer to ward off any evil spirits. Then I went back to sleep. Around 8:30 I woke up again, and noticed Manasi just called, so I called her back. We chatted for a bit, then I went back to sleep.

When I went back to sleep this time, I had a very vivid and scary dream. Someone had entered my apartment. I got up to check who it was. Some large man wearing probably a leather jacket came in and went into the living room. I repeated hello hello over and over but he did not respond. I began to wonder if he was deaf.

But then he came into my room. Eventually he was joined by another man of similar description. The first man told me he was there to kill me. I was terrified. I realized he was a hitman. I had no idea this was a dream and thought for sure it was real. I had even asked myself if it was and came to the certain conclusion that this was indeed happening.

I couldn't make a cell phone call. I tried to divert his attention to something else while I secretly dialed 911. Eventually I had my phone in my hand and could possibly dial 911. However, I think I woke up before anything could happen. However, I do remember diverting his attention somewhat successfully.

I remember asking the other man if I could see a priest. Convinced they would kill me, I wanted to make a confession before death. To me that is the most terrifying possibility. It's not so much death itself but the afterlife.

That dream ended, and not too long after I was awaken around 9:30 by Tom upstairs who was knocking on the door and ringing the doorbell. That was also rather alarming. I assumed it was Manasi, but it wasn't. I came out in my housecoat to see what was going on. He told me I had to drive my car out because the excavating equipment would make it impossible to leave for the rest of the day till the night. So I quickly got dressed and went outside. He said they were starting in 5 minutes.

Anyway, after this traumatizing night, I realize people must consider their eternal fates. Are you prepared? Specifically are you ready for heaven?

I believe in these matters we must follow our consciences and be as careful as possible. For me, that means confessing any mortal sins to a priest, because that's how I believe Jesus instituted the act of forgiveness. I also believe forgiveness is possible through a perfectly contrite confession to God. What is perfectly contrite? It means you are sorry for your sins because you love God so much and are so sorry for having offended him.

I think a lot of people are way too casual on this topic. They believe one of the following:

1) The afterlife doesn't exist. We just turn to dust.

2) The afterlife exists but surely they are going to Heaven because God will forgive them anyway.

3) They were saved, and therefore no further action is required. All past, present, and future sins are blotted out and heaven is guaranteed.

4) We must be in a state of grace with God, and therefore we must strive to avoid sin as much as possible and if we do sin to confess them to another.

5) The afterlife exists but they are going to Hell

Here are my responses to those propositions:

1) The afterlife doesn't exist. We just turn to dust.
Are you willing to risk everything to believe this proposition? Are you 100% certain that the afterlife doesn't exist? Are you sure there isn't even a 0.1% chance that it does? Even if you believe there is but a 0.1% chance that Hell exists, you should take actions which will get you to Heaven. Why? Because the consequences are eternal. If the afterlife is eternal, as is usually the portrayal, then this life is a mere flash, much less than 0.1% of our entire existence. So mathematically it makes sense to live a good life in a way which would prepare us for Heaven even with just 0.1% belief in it.

2) The afterlife exists but surely they are going to Heaven because God will forgive them anyway.
This is called presumption, and it's considered a sin. It's the opposite of the moral value of despair, which is an abandonment of all hope that one will enter into Heaven. I will cover this in section 5. Presumption is an inordinate level of hope. It forsakes "fear of the Lord" in favor of seeing God as a servant to our desires.

St. Gregory from whom we get the term "Gregorian Chant", believed presumption to be a "daughter" of pride (or vainglory as he put it). I agree that presumption contains a strong element of pride, like a spoiled child who assumes his parent will not punish him no matter his misdeed.

This belief may have come from a commonly held opinion today that because God is Love (Deus Caritas Est), he could not allow anyone to go to Hell. However, this belief is not supported by evidence. Jesus speaks more about Hell than he does about Heaven. God is not only Love but also Justice. He gives each person free will and therefore the ability to either follow God and worship him, or to reject God and separate himself from him. A person is free to choose Hell and God will not overpower his free will decision.

3) They were "saved", and therefore no further action is required. All past, present, and future sins are blotted out and heaven is guaranteed.

This is a commonly held belief, which is similar to #2, however with some key differences. A strong literal reading of this belief has both reassurance and horror attached to it. It is reassuring to be 100% certain of one's salvation. But it is equally terrifying to believe that those incapable of hearing God's word should perish in eternal damnation. It would be as if God created them with no chance of redemption.

How does the horrific conclusion follow from the first? Well, it doesn't from necessity, but in practice, it usually does. Those who believe in once saved always saved, typically believe in a strict sense of salvation requiring an individual to be "saved".

However, I believe both of these extremes are false. The Gospels indicates that one must strive for salvation. However, salvation is something to be attained in the future, not something that we do and finish on Earth.

In Philippians 2:12, St. Paul says: "work out your salvation with fear and trembling." In other places, salvation is shown as being a process. Indeed, why would Jesus command people to tell their sins to "one another" and to let a "mere man" hear confessions if after being saved, salvation was guaranteed? It would make no sense.

As far as those invincibly ignorant, meaning they had no way to ever hear the Gospel, I believe they too can be saved. However, it goes beyond simply not hearing the Gospel. Even those intimately familiar with the Bible and the Church could potentially be saved without baptism, confession, or any assent of belief, if they are invicibly ignorant. The Catholic Church teaches that there are two types of people who may not be saved: 1) Those who know that Jesus and his Church are necessary for salvation yet never enter into the Church 2) Those who are among the faithful, who although knowing the truth of the Church, abandon it.

4) We must be in a state of grace with God, and therefore we must strive to avoid sin as much as possible and if we do sin to confess them to another.
I believe this is the most accurate representation of the afterlife. This represents humble submission to the will of God and contrition for our sins. It rejects pride and undue certainty which causes hubris. We acknowledge that we are pitiful sinners in need of God's redemption. It involves listening to God's voice and following his commands.

5) The afterlife exists but they are going to Hell
This is perhaps the saddest view of the afterlife. I met a man one time who clearly said he understood the Gospels but he is rejecting them and by doing so he knows the the consequences, including Hell, and he accepts that.

To me, his position is virtually oxymoronic. How can one understand Hell and all it entails then willfully choose it? I believe in our society there's been a sort of revision of what Hell is. Classically Hell is a complete separation from God. What it is actually like can only be expressed with symbolism, because it is not like Earth. The Christian tradition maintains that Heaven and Hell are outside of time and space. Therefore, the type of suffering experienced in Hell is uncertain.

The Catholic Catechism says the following about hell:

1035 The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity.
Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, "eternal fire."617
The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.

In terms of what hell is like, I point out where it says: "The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God."

I will be writing another blog post soon on whether hell must be the worst imaginable place. If you would like more information on what the Catholic Church has to say about hell, visit the catechism, and read starting at section 1033.

6) Only Heaven exists
Once again, this is a notion which has gained particular popularity in our culture. It varies slightly from a previous belief in which the person believes they will definitely go to Heaven and not possibly to hell. In this belief, it is posited that everyone goes to Heaven regardless because there is only a Heaven and hell doesn't exist. A nun once told me that hell doesn't exist. I met this nun this past weekend at the Basilica.

To believe only Heaven exists would mean Jesus was making up hell to scare people, and that hell had been revealed to the Jews in the Old Testament for the same reason. But we have no other accounts of God lying and never clarifying his position. How can we summarily dismiss hell, simply because it is unpleasant? We must provide evidence.

7) Notes:

7.1 Theologians

Some theologians have proposed the idea that although hell exists, it is possible that everyone has and will go to Heaven. They may not even teach that this is the case, but rather that it is theoretically possible. I agree with this assessment. The Church has never proclaimed someone to be in hell.

7.2 Belief becomes reality

A popular idea held by many, which is not enunciated, is that their beliefs will determine reality. So if the topic of hell is brought up, they will say "I don't believe in hell", as if their lack or belief in it, will cause it to not exist. We were raised in schools where teachers threw out a question and everyone's opinion was written on a white board and everyone was congratulated for being correct. From this, we have many people who think because they believe something, it becomes reality.

If they believe hell doesn't exist, then it doesn't. If they don't believe in an afterlife, then it doesn't exist.

The only being who can "think" something out of existence is God. Not surprisingly, many have placed themselves on this level, by acting as final arbiter of moral choices.

7.3 Afterlife is man-made

Many think hell was just "invented" by religious leaders in order to control the actions of people. Threatening someone with hell will make them operate the way you see fit, if they trust you as a moral authority.

However, this theory falls flat on many levels:
- Those pronouncing hell must also follow the moral code they prescribe. The past two popes, for instance, have gone to confession regularly, perhaps once a week or more. Pope John Paul II practiced self-mortification, and was not concerned about the food he ate or other material things. These would not be the actions of people who were creating ideas to scare people to do their will. These men lived (and live) very strict, moral lives, as do most of the Church law-givers. When was the last time you heard someone say "I want a wealthy, luxurious life. I think I will become a priest." I don't think so.

- Jesus spoke of hell (or Gehenna) often. He had no intention of gaining any kind of temporal power or matieral wealth. Jesus only spoke the truth and Christians and Muslims believe he was free from sin completely. A sinless man does not promote a lie.

- Our gift of free will radically allows us to decide the course of our lives. If we choose to disobey God and to seek separation from Him rather than closeness, God, in his eternal justice, cannot force us to love him. He will honor our free will decisions.

I suppose I could continue talking on this subject for quite some time. The basic point is that people must be ready. Live the life you believe God wants you to live.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Monday, October 04, 2010

Next Radio Show: Today at 8:00 EST (7:00pm Central)

Listen to my show tonight at 8pm Eastern Time, 7:00 Central

Please post any questions or comments you have as a comment to this post, and I will read them on the air.

Or you can call into the live show at (818) 394-8550. Or email philinaberdeen@gmail.com

Tonight's topics will include:
- Nobel prize for in-vitro fertilization
- Druidism being acknowledged as an official religion in the UK
- Protest over company that refused to make "gay" cupcakes
- Michael Crichton on environmentalism as a religion
- Reaction to relatively young people at Mass
- Sex abuse in schools