Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Vandalizing Atheist Billboard is Wrong

A group of atheists recently put up a billboard in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA that says "One Nation. Indivisible." It omits "Under God" which typically goes in between those two lines. It's a subtle campaign to remove God from the pledge of allegiance. I'm not American, so when I first saw the sign it didn't strike me that Under God was removed. Someone vandalized the sign by spray-painting "Under God" beneath the two lines with an arrow showing where it should go. I disagree with this act of vandalism. Atheists have a right to put up these billboards if they want. I may disagree with atheists, but I believe they have the right to hold their beliefs.

If a Christian put a billboard up that said "Jesus is the answer", I would find it unacceptable for an atheist to spraypaint "not" after is.

Those are arguments from a philosophical point of view regarding freedom of speech. However, I also disagree on a practical level. Spray-painting this sign will only make it more newsworthy and therefore expose the sign to a much greater audience than previously possible. By doing this act of vandalism, the perpetrator is bringing more attention to the ad. Obviously this is not what they intended.

I heard some people bring up the possibility that this was actually done by an atheist to garner more attention. Obviously this would be a dishonest tactic, but we have no evidence of this, so until evidence is revealed, I think we can assume this is not the case.

In some countries, Christians are harshly punished for their beliefs. I believe I heard there are more martyrs now than ever before. Much of the persecution comes from atheist states, such as North Korea. If we believe that Christians should have the right to freedom of speech in these atheist countries, then we must extend freedom of speech to atheists in mostly Christian countries.

Mass Times in St. John's, Newfoundland

I called all the churches around my area to get the updated Mass times. Sometimes the archdiocesan website is not fully up to date. If anyone would like a copy, please let me know via email or a comment on this blog. Also includes confession times.

Canadian Bishop selected for a top Vatican position

Cardinal Marc Ouellet has been selected to be the prefect for the Congregation for Bishops, which is the section of the Curia which helps select new bishops and deal with other related issues. Ouellet is 66 years old and will therefore be able to serve for up to 9 years in that role.

I heard Cardinal Ouellet speak while I was in Quebec City for the Eucharistic Congress in 2008. He is the primate of Canada, and speaks many languages.

With this appointment, Cardinal Ouellet will have to help select the best bishops in light of the tragic abuse scandal in the Church. He will inform them that the protection of children comes first and foremost, and he will have to deal with anyone who is disobedient.

The Canadian Church has been doing quite well. Just a few months ago, Fr. Mike Brehl who was a priest at my local church was selected to be the head of the Redemptorists, a worldwide order of priests founded by Alphonsus Liguori. Read more about that here.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Why Can't Modern Atheists be This Thankful to the Church?

I was just going through some very old archived newspaper articles (from the 1800s), and found this one from New Zealand. The article reports a tribute by an atheist to the Catholic Church. I think he sets a good example for modern-day atheists.

New Zealand Tablet, Volume XII, Issue 36, 26 December 1884, Page 13

An Atheist's Tribute to the Church
After the dedication of a Catholic hospital in Dayton, Ohio, on the 15th inst., a Dr. Reeve, an infidel and an atheist, delivered an address, in which he said:-

I congratulate the Church, under whose auspices, and by whose efforts, this institution has been founded. It is the Church which claims our attention and consideration in the highest degree in several important respects. In age it surpasses all other human institutions. Beginning back at the time when history and fable mingle together its existence has continued unbroken while change and decay have touched and swept away everything else. Cities have grown up from hamlets, enjoyed long periods of properity, and have dwindled to insignificance during her life-time; the boundaries of kingdoms and empires have swept backward and forward over wide areas, dynasties have arisen and fallen, while throughout the territory in which these changes have taken place, the worship of the altar has been for the same ritual, and by the priests of the same Church. Her domain spreads from Greenland and Labrador to Patagonia, and from east to west around the world. But wide-spread as she is, her efforts do not cease; old as she is, no symptoms of decrepitude have manifested themselves. She is sending out her missionaries, active, devoted, self-sacrificing as ever, in all directions. She is building churches, schools, and hospitals on all sides of us, and it is safe to say that to-day her numbers exceeds those of all other Christian Churches together.

But it is not these greater characteristics of the Catholic Church that concern us here. It is her activity, her untiring energy in regard to institutions for the amelioration of human misery. Wherever the crosses of her churches are seen there are to be found hospitals for the sick and asylums for the orphan. Under her fostering care are found such institutions in every city of our land and wherever civilization extends. This, too, is matter of public note, open to the observation of all. I would rather speak of that less obtrusive, but never-wearying attention to the sick, which does not attract so much the public eye, but whcih every physician observes in the practice of his calling. Wherever there is is disease and suffering in the household, there comes the Sister with good counsel and efficient aid; wherever there is a dying man a priest is at his bedside; when a woman is in peril he comes, whatever the hour of the night, not only to administer the rights of his religion, but to cheer and reanimate the pain-racked patient, to strengthen teh hand of the doctor as he performs some critical operation. It is the unobtrusive, silent, constant, never-tiring, universal service of the Catholic Church that extorts the praise of men of no religion and challenges the admiration of the world.

---END---

Wow, that is quite a work of praise, especially coming from an atheist. I doubt the pope could do a better job. Although this man had no religion, he could still objectively see the good work that the Catholic Church does in the world, and continues to do to this day. He praises it above all other institutions. I think he is a good model for modern-day atheists.

The religious shall inherit the Earth

Population decline is a major problem facing many Western countries. Without enough children being born, the economy slows down, quality of life declines, and there are not enough workers to support the older populations. What is to blame for this situation? Largely, secularization is to blame. People are also becoming more self-centered and do not want to spend any time or effort raising a family. They would rather just have fun without responsibility.

One type of people that is having a large number of children are religious people. And the more religious they are, the more children they have. God said "Go forth and be fruitful." The most religious people are adhering to this. According to a German publication from 2008, those who never attend a church service have an average of 1.67 children. However, those who attend more than once per week have an average of 2.5 children.*

Many countries are panicked that their populations are not growing fast enough. A population decline has many negative effects. In fact, many countries offer incentives to people to have children. No country that I am aware of has officially stated that overpopulation is a major problem.

One of the reasons why the populations are becoming dangerously low is that people are using a lot of contraception. Contraception is the only medical device that prevents the normal function of the body. In other words, it twarts the natural design of the human person. It's astonishing that it's the only thing that does this. It takes something that is completely healthy and renders it nonfunctional.

Many people talk about all the sacrifices they must make for children. What people often don't hear is the joy children bring to a family. Many childless families are rather sad. I'm sure there are many exceptions, but it is often the case.

* Michael Blume (2008) "Homo religiosus", Gehirn und Geist 04/2009. pp. 32 - 41.

Is faithfulness harder for celebrities and politicians?

Nowadays, it seems we cannot turn the TV on without hearing about an affair involving a celebrity or politician. Conservative (and liberal) politicians cheating on their wives, movie stars doing the same thing. But is being faithful harder for these individuals than those not in the spotlight?

I believe the answer is yes. I'm not giving a pass to anyone who cheats, including famous people, but I do think there are many more occassions of sin for these individuals than the average joe. We've all heard countless stories of rock stars going to their hotel room and waiting for them is a naked call girl. Famous people are often accosted by good-looking individuals who are more than willing to perform sexual favours. In this onslaught of temptation, many give in.

I believe the more we expose ourselves to the perils of sin, the more we will fall. That's why Catholic teaching warns against exposing ourselves to the "near occassion of sin". This would include entering a strip club, entering an adult video store, etc. It also depends on the individual. If someone has tried unsuccessfully to kick his porn habit, the only solution may be to remove the internet from his home. However, if a man has no temptation to watch internet smut, such a drastic step may not be necessary.

As I've mentioned before, it is easier to avoid sin at the very earliest stages. Approaching sin as a hero is normally a bad idea. Most of us are not exposed on a daily basis to occassions of sin, unless we choose to be. Many celebrities, however, are.

But being exposed to more sinful scenarios does not remove the guilt of committing a sin. Those in these situations must be ever more vigilant. I remember a story about Billy Graham, the famous pastor. He would clear the entire floor of women in his hotel to avoid temptation. Some people thought this was extreme, but Billy knew how valuable his reputation is. Our society always seeks out lurid details of misbehavior, and Billy Graham knew about this.

Let's pray for our politicians and celebrities that they may set a good example for everyone.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Top 9 Atheist Sayings that Suck

There are many tried and true sayings out there, but for atheists, they turn into terrible expressions. Here are the worst ones:

9. When shocked by something:
Oh my Science!

8. When determined to do something:
Come imaginary territory of suffering or high water!

7. When feeling patriotic:
Nothing bless America!

6. When in a very unpleasant area:
Get me out of this Evolution-forsaken place!

5. When exasperated:
For outer-space beyond our atmosphere's sake!

4. When enjoying chocolate cake:
This cake is simply "imaginary place where an imaginary being lives"-ly

3. At a wedding:
What an imaginary being has joined, let no man put asunder!

2. In court:
Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you Science?

1. When you sneeze:
Evolution bless you!

Hilarious new blog about BAD vestments

I found a really funny blog about bad vestments. It's worth checking out for a good laugh.

http://badvestments.blogspot.com

I noticed that most of the bad vestments come from the Episcopal Church. Did they abandon all rules concerning appropriate vestments? Perhaps it is the fact that the Episcopal Church does not have a strong hierarchial structure, and therefore these vestments come around.

Death from unsafe abortions. Solution: Don't have one.

Many people are critical of the Canadian government because it has pledged billions of dollars in funding for maternal care, along with other G8 nations, but it has not included funding for abortion in third world countries. Many are outraged that the government has not done this. But I would like to present another possible point of view.

There are many scientific reasons to believe an embryo is a real live human being. Science is constantly showing more reasons that this preborn child is indeed a child. Therefore, abortion is killing a child. Once we realize what is actually happening, we can intelligently discuss the issue.

One good way to discuss this issue is to substitute any theoretical scenario involving an embryo with one involving a 3 year old child. For example, in Africa, a woman may have two children and one on the way, and wants to have an abortion because she is concerned she cannot afford an education for this third child. Well, if this child was a three-year-old, would it be alright for her to kill that child because he may not have access to a good education? No.

Let's take an even more extreme situation. A mother has 2 children and is afraid she does not have enough to feed a third child. This is a very tragic situation. Imagine that third child is 3 years old. Would it be alright for her to kill that third child so that the others may have enough food? No.

Of course, these are the most extreme circumstances. Most abortions do not occur for this reason. Abortion is always optional, in that it is the direct killing of an unborn child. If people realize that the unborn child is indeed a child, then funding the killing of these children does not seem like such a great idea, much less something that's a human right.

Some may ask about a situation where the life of a mother is at risk. Even if abortion is legal, the mother in this situation would not have to die. For example, if the mother developed a cancer on her fallopian tube, which necessitated its removal. This would cause the death of the child, however it would be permissible even in countries where abortion is illegal because the death of the child is an unintended consequence of the treatment of the mother. In most cases, if a continued pregnancy is putting the mother's life at risk, the unborn baby would end up dying before birth anyway. I remember hearing an experienced doctor say that in all his decades of medical practice in obstetrics, he has never come across a real case of choosing between the life of the mother or the life of the baby. It simply doesn't happen that way in real life.

Many of the situations that poor women face can be truly heartbreaking, and we ought to support them as much as possible. It is a very difficult situation, and even for women who choose abortion, they must be loved because they are children of God. But I do not believe that killing children is the solution. It is only a terrible tragedy.

Can Catholics support a Monarchy?

The Queen of England, Elizabeth II, is in Canada, specifically Halifax for a little while. Many people do not support the monarchy because they say it is outdated and they have no power because we now have a democracy. Also, some object because commonwealth countries pay to maintain a monarchy. The estimate for Canada is about $1 per person, so around $30 million per year.

But beside these legitimate complaints, should Catholics be morally opposed to monarchies? According to the Church, not necessarily. In fact, according to Thomas Aquinas, since unity in rule is preferable to disunity, monarchy is preferable to oligarchy or democracy. He believes that unity creates strength and better decision making. This concept is easy to understand especially if we look at our own society. Government often takes weeks, months, or years to reach a decision. Sometimes elections are called which requires endless campaigning and money. Democracy can slow things down and create less efficiency.

But of course monarchy has its issues too. The type of monarchy invisioned by Aquinas is a moral one. If a monarch made laws which were morally good, then it would create a good society. This is the view of the Catholic Church as well. The Church does not summarily dismiss monarchy as a viable type of government. It would, however, reject tyrrany or any type of government which had immoral laws. Indeed, the government of the Vatican is a monarchy, albeit an elected one. The Pope is the sovereign of the Vatican. Cardinals do not vote on issues, although they can be used as consultants. Therefore, the Vatican would not condemn its own type of government.

Also, the Catholic Church is not opposed to democracy either, however the Church can be critical of a democracy which violates human rights, even if supported by the majority.

In conclusion, the Catholic Church is theoretically not opposed to any particular type of government as long as it adheres to good moral principles.

Fireproof movie has good message, but poor delivery

Fireproof is a movie starring Kirk Cameron (who plays Caleb) and Erin Bathea (who plays his wife Catherine) about a couple who encounter discord in their marriage relatively early on and are headed for divorce. Caleb visits his dad to tell him the situation. The father then gives Kirk a book with 40 days worth of activities in it which will save his marriage.


Although this is a Christian film, religious overtones do not come into play until well past the first half of the film. Caleb starts out as a non-religious person who is sceptical about religion. His father though has become quite devout.


The movie offers a great message and practical advice to improve any marriage, even those which seem destined to end. I believe if these techniques were employed, marriages would be saved. This movie is somewhat more realistic than a lot of what Hollywood has to offer. It showcases real people with real problems and good advice.


My main issue with the movie is how deliberate it seems. There is no guesswork or subtlety. If the producer wants you to know something, the character will come out and explicitly say it. Therefore, it's a little too straightforward. Also, some of the scenes could be much tighter. For example, Caleb might receive some bad news, and we will watch him react for several minutes. This could have been cut and his state of mind could be implied.


On top of that, many of the characters seem a little too perfect. Caleb's dad, for example, always knows exactly the right words to say. It's as though he has had time to prepare an answer. When Caleb calls him, his dad always seems to be waiting right next to the phone with no distractions, as if psychic. These "perfect" characters take away some of the realism.


This movie was a runaway success at the box office. Produced with only $500,000, the movie made over $33 million in theatres. This is quite a return on investment.


If you're looking for a movie that has a good message but is not infiltrated by Hollywood cynicism, this is a great one. Some of the themes would probably seem foreign to younger children, but by late teens, this movie would be valuable to watch.


I give this movie 3.9 stars out of 5.

Happy Birthday to Me!

Hey everyone,

Today is my 28th birthday. And today my first niece was born, and I will be her Godfather. I will be a first time uncle and Godfather. How did I do it? I made her an offer she couldn't refuse!

Phil

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Top 8 Reasons Atheists are No Fun

1. They are very demeaning to Christians
One thing you'll quickly notice about adament atheists is how demeaning they are to Christians. They will call them idiots, morons, and mock their beliefs with vitriol. You simply don't see this type of thing from the other way around though. Christians feel compelled to offer reasons for their beliefs and defend against atheism. They may say atheism is misguided, or even wrong, but they will not stoop to the level of calling them morons, dults, idiots, etc. for no reason. You may disagree, but I suggest you do a search. I'm sure in the whole world, there are Christians who are belittling and demeaning to atheists, but it's not the norm. Go to Youtube. Check out how many videos basically say that Christians are idiots. Then compare that to the rational response videos made by Christians. Even Richard Dawkins, sort of the global figurehead for atheism, calls his group the "brights", a clear antithesis to the "dulls" which he is implying Christians are.

2. They always seem angry
Atheists always seem kind of pissed off. They have loads of hatred and scorn. Check out for example Penn Jillette. He is part of the comedy routine Penn and Teller. He spews hatred, completely unbridled. Atheists always seem to have a chip on their shoulder.

3. Their "raison d'etre" seems to be to prove they are just as good as Christians morally
I've seen some pretty weak attempts by atheists to show they are just as morally good as Christians. They constantly have a need to prove themselves. But this attempt at overcompensation derives from their feelings of inferiority. Any atheist can stroll through any major city and notice that the vast majority of hospitals, schools, and other institutions of societal good come from people who believe in God. Faced with this stark realization, atheists go out of their way to prove they are "just as good".

4. They seem selfish
Because atheists see themselves as the greatest thing in the universe, they become rather selfish. Morals are self-derived. If something feels good to them or benefits them, then it's good, otherwise it's bad. If there is no God, humans are the highest form of existence, and atheists would place their own personal existence above others. Atheists do not want to sacrifice for the greater good, but rather want to revel in sensual pleasures.


5. They try to remove faith but it seems like a pointless activity
Why would atheists spend so much time and energy trying to eradicate faith. Mao, Stalin, and others did the same when they suppressed religion in the name of atheism, and we can see the terrible results there. If they believe people are following a "fairy tale" like the toothfairy or Santa Claus, then what harm is that? If these fairy tales makes the person more generous, kind, loving, and selfless, why bother removing this faith? Why don't atheists spend as much time promoting lack of belief in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny to children as they do to eradicating faith?


6. Atheism makes the world a cold, heartless place
Atheism presents a very darwinian view of the world. Survival of the fittest. Atheists tend to attribute all their good fortunes to their own effort and see those they deem inferior to them as not as valuable. It becomes everyone for himself, and all this makes the world a cold and heartless place.


7. When everything is about science, people are reduced in value
Without our belief in a creator, atheists tend to view everything from the point of view of chemistry, biology, evolution, etc. People are no more special than a trout. They are just two different species. God didn't create us in a special way. We are all just accidents in a cold universe. Therefore those who are deemed "unsuitable" are no longer owed any special treat. The elderly, handicapped, and otherwise challenged individuals are easily seen as cosmic mistakes. This reduces the value of all humanity.

8. They lack in charity and use profanity
Atheists have no aversion to using profanity and vulgarity to make their point. Holding nothing sacred, they see blasphemy as a joke. Lacking charity, they feel they can express their opinion in any way they see fit, no matter how offensive. They see their behavior as "tough love" and denounce those who raise issues with their behavior as "softies".

Those are just some of the reasons atheists are no fun.

Why am I getting news from Kenya?

I went to Google News today and typed in "catholic". In the top 10 results was an article about a Catholic priest who raped a girl. I'm in Canada, but this article is from Kenya! What's shocking about this is that there are thousands of rapes all over the world, but you don't hear about them. In fact, unless you live in a very tiny community, you probably wouldn't even hear about a rape in your own city. How often do you think the Toronto Star would publish an article that says "16 year old girl raped."? Not very likely. But if a priest is the perpetrator, geography doesn't seem to matter. It could be in Timbuktu, and newspapers all over the world would publish it. How did this article appear in the top 10 results for Catholic on Google News? We're usually lucky if we hear about a murder, since news has become so sensationalized, yet they publish a story from Africa about one rape case.

Of course, this cannot be a case of media bias, right?

Mother of Perpetual Help, pray for us

Today is the feast day of the Mother of Perpetual, which is a title for Mary. She is always helping us with her intercession to Jesus, her son. In the painting, you can see Jesus ran so fast to be in the arms of his mother, that his sandal fell off. The angels Gabriel and Michael are on each side of Mary. It's a very beautiful painting.

Belgian police getting rather desperate

In a desperate attempt by Belgian police to destroy the reputation of the Catholic Church even further, they have performed unbelievable raids of Catholic property. Police raided a commission set up by the Church to investigate abuse allegations and seized 500 files. But even more shocking, the police drilled holes in 2 TOMBS of former archbishops. Some priests were held for 9 hours without food or drink on mere suspicion or hunches. I guess come hell or high water, Europe will take a good bite out of the Church, especially in their reputation, or so they hope.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Germany starts killing its elderly

Germany has become the latest country to legalize the killing of older people. The court, as usual, is the one who initiated this. It happened because an elderly woman apparently said she would not want to be kept alive if she slipped into a coma, which she did. The justice who proclaimed the ruling said it was an advancement for human rights.

Well, if human rights involve killing people then sure. But I don't think that's a human right. If someone is suffering, we have an obligation to reduce the suffering, not to kill them. Often people seek suicide due to mental disturbances. Whatever happened to helping people rather than killing them?

We have suicide hotlines. Why? If taking one's life is a right, why stop anyone? The reasons is we recognize the value of their life despite their circumstances. Therefore we have a duty to protect their life, even from their own actions. Countries are just burning the candle at both ends, before birth and in old age. They just want to kill people off who are not producing economically. Shame on Germany.

Gary and Tony Have a Baby represents heart ache and tragedy

Last night I watched Gary and Tony Have a Baby. It was produced by Soledad O'Brien, in a very biased light to make it look all positive. Despite this effort, some real tragedies emerged.

Gary and Tony are gay men who decide they have a right to have a baby. They go to great lengths to accomplish this and do it in a rather roundabout way. They didn't want to just impregnate a woman, so they took the ovum from one woman, fertilized it with the sperm of one of the men, then implanted it in a separate woman.

One of the saddest parts was the surrogate mother. Of course, they paid her thousands of dollars to use her body in that way. They said they didn't want to just impregnate a woman because they thought she would develop a stronger attachment to the child. That's why they got a separate woman to donate an ovum. Anyway, of course, the surrogate did in fact develop a strong attachment to the child she carried for 8 or 9 months. She said she has little contact with him now, and she thinks about him every day. She said if she doesn't keep herself busy, she could easily become depressed.

She also worried that these two men do not have the maternal instinct. For example, they paraded their baby at a gay rights rally to say they want this kind of thing to be acceptable. The mother (or surrogate) felt they were putting that poor baby at risk because those things can become hostile. And she's right. Men simply do not possess the maternal instinct. they are not mothers and never can be. It's a terrible tragedy when a baby is taken from his mother who he will never know.

I could count about 8-9 immoral acts which occurred for all of this to happen. Every child has a right to know his mother and father. Sometimes that doesn't happen due to tragic circumstances, but we shouldn't normalize a tragedy and pretend it's just as acceptable. This child will never know his mother's love, he will never experience it. Of course, he'll never breastfeed, etc. An entire aspect of his development is missing.

Of course, there are many other moral issues involved. To me, it seemed this baby just represented these two guys' sense of entitlement. "We are gay. We have rights. We can do anything anyone else can and no one can stop us." They want a baby as an accessory or to prove gay people can be parents. This is not a political statement, this is a child.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

7 Apostles who were crucified

Jesus was crucified on the cross, as everyone knows. Many also know that Peter was to be crucified like Jesus but felt unworthy, so was crucified upside down. But what many do not know is that many of the other apostles were also crucified.

1) Peter, crucified upside-down
2) Andrew, crucified on an X-shaped cross
3) Philip, crucified upside-down
4) Jude
5) Simon the Zealot

The following Apostles were crucified but survived and were killed another way:

6) James the Less, was later clubbed to death
7) Bartholomew, was released from crucifixion while Philip was also being crucified. Philip refused to be released. Bartholomew was later flayed.

The other apostles died in other ways:

8) Matthew, unknown
9) Judas, hanged himself
10) Thomas, killed by a spear
11) James the Great, beheaded
12) John was the only one to die naturally

13) Matthias (who replaced Judas), stoned and beheaded

Today is St. John the Baptist Day

Today's the birthday of my hometown of St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. It was discovered on June 24th, St. John the Baptist Day, back in 1497. It's the oldest city in North America. The date is John's date of birth. As we know, he foretold the coming of Jesus and when he saw Jesus, he said "behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the World." John the Baptist was beheaded because of his protest against the marriage of Herod. St. John, pray for us.

CNN pushes gay agenda once again

A new show called Gary + Tony Have a Baby will air tonight on CNN. It was produced by Soledad O'Brien. I saw a brief interview with her and these two guys yesterday on Larry King. I doubt you could find someone who sounds more fabricated than Soledad. You know how sometimes you hear a news person speaking and it sounds artificial, well Soledad has brought it to a whole new level. Everything she says sounds like a Hallmark card. Sounds very disingenuous.

Anyway, CNN will be celebrating gay adoption with this program which took over a year to fully produce. First of all, the name of the program is pretty misleading. Gary and Tony Have a Baby. They didn't have a baby, some random woman did. And they really pushed the envelope to make this one of the most twisted birth stories ever.

One of the men, I forget which, gave some of his sperm to a clinic. Then some random woman donated an ovum. Then they took these two cells, combined them in a petri dish in a scientist's lab using all sorts of medical equipment, microscopes, etc. Just thinking of the loving way this baby came into the world makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Anyway, after they had combined these cells, outside the body, the implanted them in ANOTHER woman's body who acted as the surrogate. Hopefully this child has a high IQ, he'll need it to understand how he was born.

Imagine the confusion for this child. First of all, who is his mother? It could either be the woman who gave the ovum. Or maybe it's more proper to say it was the surrogate. Or maybe he has two mothers. But it doesn't really matter because whichever one of these women is his mother, neither will be raising him. He's been denied that opportunity by these two men. Maybe if the child is lamenting his lack of a mother, he can find solace in the fact that he has 2 fathers. Of course, he really only has one father, but I'm sure the other will demand to be known as such also.

I believe a child has a right to live with his mother and father. I believe he has a right to be born through an act of love and self-giving in the marital embrace, not at the cold hands of a scientist in a white lab in a petri dish. A child has a right to know who his mother and father is, it's so vital to his understanding of himself. I think it's a tragedy that a child has to be raised in an environment of confusion, where even simple questions are difficult to answer.

Children are not rights that everyone has. They are gifts. People are using biomedical engineering to produce children because they "want them", not because they are seeking the welfare of the child. They're not pets that you get for personal fulfillment or something.

This child will never know his mother, or will only know her at an arms length and very impersonal way. The loving embrace of a mother cannot be replicated by two men. This child will be stripped away from his mother right after birth to fulfill the wishes of these two gay men. This is so sad. Sometimes a child's mother will die during childbirth, and this represents a real tragedy. This situation is not much different.

Obviously this baby will not breastfeed, but also will never share his mother's loving embrace. Mothers share a particular bond with a child, much different than a father's bond. This baby will experience only a bond with his father and with another man unrelated to him.

I'm not saying homosexual people are evil or bad. They are creations of God just like everyone else. But children deserve to be born into the loving embrace of a mother and to hopefully have the love of a father as well. Children are not the latest accessory or the last step in normalization of homosexual behavior. People should stop trying to fit the square piece into the round hole where it doesn't belong.

Also, regardless of how this baby was conceived, developed, and was born, he is a loved child of God who is owed as much respect as any other child, no different than a child born from rape.

Let's pray for everyone involved.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hyundai creates Ad which is HIGHLY offensive to Catholics

For the World Cup this year, Hyundai has created a very disturbing and offensive advertisement. It basically mocks the Holy Mass which the most sacred event in the Catholic faith. They are offending over a billion Catholics by doing this. A similar attack on any other faith would be met with worldwide outrage, but not for Christians or specifically Catholics.

The ad mocks the Holy Mass, the Eucharist (which Catholics believe is the body and blood of Christ), the monstrance, and other holy items. They incense the monstrance which contains a soccer ball type object. The people are singing the Agnus Dei, or Lamb of God, a traditional Catholic hymn. Instead of the Eucharist, people are given pizza.

This ad is full of blasphemy. Hyundai has fortunately pulled the ad, but I can't believe it was ever made in the first place. I doubt I will be recommending anyone buy a Hyundai, and I will probably not shop there. There must be repurcussions for this type of terrible ad.

Here's a good video concerning this advertisement:


9 Things That DO NOT Make a Man Gay

Over the past several years, the media and many people in society have attempted to normalize homosexual behavior by trying to show that it's really common and if you look hard enough, you'll find evidence of homosexuality all over the place. Whether it be through media or legal action, the gay community wants people to not only tolerate their behavior, but also to accept them into every facet of life and to ostracize anyone or group which believes sex is meant for a man and a woman.

I've compiled a list to combat society's oversensitized "gaydar". The following are things which does not make a man gay:

1) Men who enjoy playing musical instruments such as flute, harp, piano, etc.
When our classical instruments were first pioneered, the only players were men. This included flute, harp, piano, clarinet, triangle, or anything else you can think of or may consider a woman's instrument. Nowadays, school bands are increasingly composed of women. Men who join are accused of being gay. This is very recent. If you look back on the pioneers for these instruments, they were men. The world's best composers are men. That's not to say women aren't good musicians too, I'm just saying men have every right to play any instrument.

2) Men who love to cook
Men are generally regarded as cavemen who only eat meat and potatoes and are lucky if they can cook Kraft Dinner. But this is absurd. Many straight men enjoy cooking, and many are chefs. A delicate palate certainly does not indicate gayness. Again, historically this association has never been made.

3) Men who are fashionable
When a man dresses himself properly, people's gaydars go into overdrive. Obviously, the story goes, a man who knows he shouldn't wear jogging pants with a shirt and tie is either gay or has a significant other who helps him dress. Needless to say, a man's ability to coordinate his clothing does not reflect his sexual nature.

4) Men who cross their legs
By today's standards, men are required to slouch over when they sit and spread their legs open as wide as possible. A man who sits up straight, especially if he crosses his legs, is automatically assumed to be gay. But take a look at any photo from 50 or 100 years ago. If there is a large gathering of men, they all have their legs crossed. It would seem unsophisticated to not do this.

5) Men with a higher-pitched voice than normal
Many people believe that if a man doesn't have the movie preview voice, then he must be gay. But I've heard many men whose voice would be considered high, but are by no means gay. Many are married and have a perfectly normal relationship. This is just a false stereotype.

6) Sensitive men
A man accidentally smashes into an innocent passer-by. Onlookers wait for his reaction. If he keeps going (perhaps even hits someone else), he gets the pass for being straight. But if he stops to check if that person is alright or offers his condolances for his mistake, he's considered far too sensitive to be a manly man. Real men, the story goes, have no emotions except anger and lust.

7) Men who are well spoken
In today's society, if a man does not have a vocabulary of 100 words or less and most of his language consists of grunts, then people assume he's attracted to men. Of course this is crazy. Well spoken men tend to do better in life than those who have difficulty conveying ideas.

8) Men who don't watch or play sports
Men who are not into sports are looked upon with suspicion. The stereotype is that all men love sports and also play whenever they can. But some men just are not that into it, and if they are not, that doesn't make them gay.

9) Men who share a bed with another man
This one might sound a little odd, so let me explain. There may be some issue if a man always shares a bed with another man. You may start to wonder. But the mere idea of two men sharing a bed out of necessity must not automatically invoke ideas of homosexuality. I read before that several decades ago it was not uncommon for up to three men to share a bed in Europe on places like trains or rooms where there was no other place to stay. People didn't think they were gay, since they were just sleeping. It is also present in the Bible where two men share a bed, yet it is not a case of condemning homosexual activity or something. Sleeping next to a man does not make another man gay, no more than sitting next to one on a bus does.



Society has become obsessed with the idea of finding "closet homosexuals" Even though only about 2-3% of people have same sex attraction, it seems people believe about a third of the population is gay. This is having a devastating effect on men. Men who may be creative in various ways are ridiculed to the point where many avoid these creative endeavours in the first place. Everything from music to art to cooking are all seen as "feminine" activities. Men try to be acceptable by acting like ogres, demeaning women, showing little interest in creative activities, not speaking, etc. Men must stand up and be real men, not play into society's caricature of one.

Janeane Garofalo and Joy Behar wrong about prayer

On Joy Behar's show (probably one of the worst shows on TV), Janeane Garofalo said that praying for an end to the oil disaster was a waste of time and anti-intellectual. Joy Behar didn't disagree with her and later on the View, Behar repeated the same sentiments about prayer. They are both completely wrong.

Pray is often misunderstood by nonreligious people. They see it a sort of superstition, where when all rational and realistic things fail, we throw a "hail mary" in the air hoping that something will work. It's seen as a last ditch effort after everything has been tried and the old axiom "can't hurt, might help" is employed. But prayer is much more than the last kick at the cat, it's a way of life.

Prayer serves many purposes. It gives praise to God (adoration), it can ask for something (petition), love for God, prayers of thanksgiving, and expiation where we seek forgiveness. It represents a deep, personal connection with God. It's not something we do when all other options have been tried.

Many people believe in God because there is a lot of proof for God, and also because he has been faithful. Faith is not about believing in something that's unproven and invisible. Faith is about recognizing God's promises throughout history and deciding that he is trustworth and worth following.

By praying, we submit ourselves to the will of God. We connect with God. People pray for patience, love, kindness, mercy, self-control, bravery, etc. and more often than not they receive it. We give praise to God for our life, and everything in the world. How can we have so much pride that we give praise to no one or nothing? Do we believe we put ourselves on this Earth and that life is good because we made it so? This is the heights of pride.

Another misconception is that people who pray will do nothing else. Many miracles have happened throughout the centuries, but most of the time, even after praying, we must use what God has given us to make the world a better place.

I find it shocking that some people would oppose prayer for a great disaster. Even if you believe that prayer is just people talking to themselves, what harm could it possibly do? People do not pray and then sit around and do nothing. In fact, prayer often spurs them on to do even more. They are then motivated to act not just for selfish reasons, but for humanitarian reasons as well.

Some people seem very threatened by God or people believing in God. They should keep in mind that God is love and that he loves them also.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Top 7 things you need to know about confession

1. Everyone is scared of confession
Nobody is so confident of the insignificance of their sins that they breeze into and out of the confession box without a single worry. Most people fret so much about entering into a one-on-one with a priest that they literally shake and sweat. They believe their sins are so abominable that the priest will be shocked. Realizing that most people are scared of confession is a good first step to getting there.

2. Priests cannot tell anyone else your sins
No matter what happens, a priest is never permitted to tell someone else your sins or even imply them. Even if he faces death, he cannot reveal something you confessed under the seal of confession.

3. You needn't be embarrased
No matter what you've done that needs to be confessed, you don't need to worry about it. The priest has most likely already heard the same sins before, and even if he hasn't, he won't be shocked because he understands human weakness. Many priests say they actually forget what they hear in the confessional.

4. If you're not 100% ready, don't worry
You don't need to have an act of contrition memorized in order to go to confession. Simple recount the sins you remember and show some repentence. The priest will give absolution.

5. Penance ain't what it used to be
In the olden days, it seems penance could quite harsh. Often, people would have to confess publically, and then a very public display of penance would be given, such as wearing something indicating guilt for a year. Nowadays, penance is usually very minimal, such as saying one or two Our Father prayers. The usual complaint I receive is that the penance is too lenient.

6. You don't have to make yourself known
If you are feeling shy or simply prefer a more private confession, you can always stay behind the separator where the priest cannot see you. Many confessionals either have this as the only possibility or they will make either a private or face to face confession possible. Be careful though, try to understand the layout of the confessional before entering or enter slowly. One time I wanted to go privately, but ended up face to face with the priest. It's kind of hard at that point to just go to the private area and pretend that didn't happen!

7. Everyone, including the pope, goes to confession
The Church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints. Priests, bishops, and even the pope regularly go to confession. Don't feel like you are the lowest of the low for going to confession. We're all human and confession strengthens us against the evils of the world. Fear not confession!

You cannot avoid temptation by giving into it!

Many people have the false notion about sinful activity that a desire to commit sin starts small and eventually builds and builds until it is no longer possible to control it. They believe the only way to reduce temptation is to give into it. Oscar Wilde said "The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it..." But this is false. In fact, the opposite is true.

Giving into temptation in fact makes us more vulnerable to it. Perhaps for a very short period of time afterwards, we do not have the desire to sin. But our desire to sin will come back sooner and stronger than before. This will continue until the sin rules our lives. We know this from experience.

Look at porn for example. Usually people will start off small, perhaps looking at Sports Illustrated Swim Suit Edition. Then they go to lingerie magazines, and eventually to softcore porn like Playboy. This eventually no longer satisfies their appetite, so they start watching videos, which eventually get more and more extreme. This is the finding of psychologists who have studied the issue. Those who do this begin with milder material very infrequently and eventually end up abusing very explicit content several times a day. Eventually it takes over their lives.

The desire to be involved with this vice does not diminish through exposure but rather increases. Psychologists who work with sex addicts advise them to abstain completely from sex for several months and then to introduce normal, regular sexual activity. People with strong temptations are not advised to seek fulfillment to their temptation as they would normally do.

The same can be said for things like alcohol abuse, drug abuse, etc. There is no way to "reduce" these addictions. They must be simply ended.

But this not only applies to addictions, but to any sinful activity or behavior. Look at laziness for example. I've had my own struggles with laziness. If I don't have a job, sometimes I will stay up really late, and the next morning crawl out of bed around 11am. Even though I had plenty of sleep, I may go and watch TV while I eat. After watching TV for some time, I do not feel motivated to do anything else, so I continue to watch. I might go outside for a little while, but later I am not motivated to cook supper. It seems laziness simply leads to more laziness. On the other hand, if I get up on time, get a shower, get ready, do the dishes, etc. then I am generally motivated to keep going and accomplishing more.

I also think sins interact with each other. The more we give into laziness, the more prone to lust we are. The more we give into lust and laziness, the more likely we are to be irritable and angry at people around us.

It is important therefore to avoid giving into temptation and to avoid near occassions of sin. In other words, don't put yourself in danger of committing a sin. For example, if you are prone to laziness, don't get out of bed and go directly to the television and sit there. This will only make it more difficult to avoid laziness. The best time to avoid sinning is at the beginning. Sometimes we feel strong and try to come as close to sinning as we can without actually doing it. But rarely does this end well. Usually we end up committing the sin anyway.

I remember a saint one time said that the best time to avoid sin is at its earliest stages. We are not meant to be heroes when it comes to avoiding sin, we are meant to be cowards. In other words, at the first sight of sin, turn around and run in the other direction. We are not supposed to be brave and pull out a big sword and fight this evil mono e mono. Run away from sin. By running away, you are not a coward, because you are bravely going on the path of righteousness. The coward is the one who pretends he is avoiding evil, while knowing full well that his actions are leading him there. He is a coward because he is not brave enough to denounce sin, rather he justifies it.

Trust in God, and sin no more.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Catholic Answers Forums: A lot of jugmentalism

I enjoy visiting Catholic Answers Forums (CAF), at forums.catholic.com. There's a lot of good information. But beware, there's also plenty of judgment. Here's some of the stuff I've noticed:

1) The blame usually gets put on the original poster
A lot of people will go on CAF to recount a troubling incident or occurrence in their life. They may be having trouble with a spouse, a sibling, or with a co-worker. They may be suffering from some issue and may be seeking some guidance or reassurance. Many times though, the responders will seek fault with the poster. If the poster says his brother is very mean to him, the responders may say something like "you don't sound very nice to your brother yourself!" or somehow shift the blame to the original poster (OP). In fact, sometimes it's downright ridiculous. Someone is clearly suffering at the hands of someone else, and the others then nitpick at something the OP might have done.

2) Any deviance from Catholic dogma is honed in on and amplified
Another example is someone will bring up an issue and somewhere along their way to explaining it, they will mention a small point that is irrelevant to the topic at hand but which represents some small deviancy from Catholic teaching. Many posters will pick up on this small thing and only talk about that, ignoring the actual issue. For example, someone may say they are having an argument with their mother and she is being quite rude and basically shunning her. Along the way of telling this story, the OP will note that one week they didn't attend Mass. The responders will zero in on this transgression and ignore the issues with the mother. In fact, they may even say the reason the mother is mad is because the OP didn't attend Mass, even if that clearly isn't the reason.

3) Lots of rudeness and meanness
Most of the responses people receive seem to lack a considerable amount of charity. The responses are mean, abrupt, blunt, and tactless. If the person feels bad about somethign they did, the posters will try to make them feel even worse. Someone who is clearly struggling is only made to feel worse. The explanation for the lack of kind words is that they are giving "tough love", and that they need to let the person realize how they're doing something wrong. I totally think this is the wrong approach. Obviously if someone is posting their struggles in a public forum, they already feel bad, and they don't need major emphasis on this point. Just because you're right doesn't mean you can voice the "truth" in any way you see fit. To be a good Christian, you must show empathy, understanding, love, and compassion. Many people seeing this will probably accuse me of caring too much about "feelings" and being soft on truth. But that is not true at all. If the OP is not shown compassion and understanding, there's a good chance he will leave with a worse feeling or impression than he started with.

4) Ego-centrism
A lot of the advice seems to focus more on the advice giver than the receiver. Many responders will basically say what they did in a given circumstance and condemn every other course of action as wrong. They will even go farther than the Church does. For example, someone might talk about a TV show they watch, and others will then respond by saying they only watch EWTN. They will imply that anyone who watches anything other than EWTN is doing something wrong or bad. But it comes down to the advice giver simply telling what he does and making that the standard. There is little effort made to understand the OP's position. Rather they are immediately held to an impossibly high standard and any less is considered unacceptable.

5) One poster builds off another
Another phenomenon I notice on the Catholic Answers Forums is that one poster will often build on another. This continues into a snowball effect and generally everyone ends up against the OP. One might start off by saying something relatively mild like "Maybe you should speak with a trusted priest about this". This escalates to "How could you do something like that? I have never done something like that" to "No wonder your mother won't speak to you. You seem very rude and unrepentent. I'm surprised things aren't even worse!" Sometimes a poster will stand up for the OP, but this is not the norm. Again, a small fault is usually picked out and continuously added to.

I still visit Catholic Answers Forums and much of the time the information is really great. This is especially true of factual information, rather than subjective information. If you are looking for reference material, they usually do a great job. I just find the forum often lacks compassion and charity when dealing with various issues.

Atheistic and humanist worldviews cannot deal with guilt

Our society has become terrible at handling guilt. That's because without God, how can we feel forgiven? I believe guilt is one of the main reasons for the high rates of depression and anxiety in our society. Here's the situation. Someone does something terrible. They start to feel really bad about it and feel they are a terrible person, a subhuman who is unlovable. They go deeper and deeper into this feeling. TV and media only reinforce that everyone is always happy and that no one makes mistakes. How can this person feel they are still loved despite all this? There are ways of coping, but these only lead to greater problems.

One way of coping is to try to find fault with everyone else. Look at the news. It's full of stories of celebrities "gone wrong", people involved with illicit activities like drugs, sex, alcohol, etc. We watch hours of this and eventually feel better because at least we're not that bad! Or we might look at crime shows, which have become very popular. They show people doing things which are beyond our comprehension: sexual abuse, murder, etc. This takes us into another world. Suddenly, in contrast to what we see, we're not so bad.

People will even get very upset and angry over things they see. This is a show of righteous anger. Those acting this way feel, well, if this outrages me, I can't be that bad. They take on this cause, perhaps in a bid to redeem themselves. It's kind of like the old native american technique of masking one pain by creating an even greater one. But the problem is, the small pain still exists. No matter how passionate people become about other issues in the world, in the deep recesses of their soul, they still feel the guilt.

After being unable to cope with their transgressions, they finally go to a psychologist or psychiastrist. Of course, these professionals can maybe help, but they cannot eliminate guilt. Instead, they may appeal to several different psychological models. They may tell the person that what they are experiencing is normal, or that they were temporarily insane, or that due to the stress they were experiencing, they could not be accountable for their actions. People go into denial. They start to dissociate and believe it was someone else who made the decision and not them.

Our society as a whole has found another way of dealing with guilt as well. They proactively change something which was previously a sin into a non-sin. Abortion, euthanasia, pornography, masturbation, contraception, many sex partners, divorce, drug use, etc. have all had a status changed in society at large and have gone from grievious sins to "stuff everyone does". By changing the status, the hope is that these most common vices will lose their power to make people feel guilty. Unfortunately, the guilt remains, but it just presents itself in a different light.

Now that these former sins are no longer sins, some transgressions have become unforgivable. This assuages the populace's need for justice. No people can survive thinking that everything is permissible. Anarchy is not in our DNA. But the crimes which are considered heinous are all things 99% of people would never do. Things like child sexual assault, murder, rape. People can get all up in arms by these things and that helps them continue to believe they are moral people.

Only the Church has a solution, a real solution to guilt, and that is God's forgiveness. We cannot attain salvation through our actions, by doing certain activities. We achieve salvation because God wills it and gives us His Grace. Just as we do not merit salvation and closeness to God, we also are not responsible to forgive our own sins. God forgives them because for him all things are possible. We just need to seek forgiveness. We must also ask forgiveness from those we've wronged, but often no one is wronged, but we still feel bad. Jesus died on the cross for our sins. He took all our misdoings and brought them to his crucifixion. It's through this action that we are saved.

Modern society can only downplay sin or mask it, only God can truly forgive. Many are skeptical. But I will tell you from experience. After much time of not going, I went into a confession at my church. At first I was nervous and wondered how the priest would perceive me or what he would think about my sins. I went in anyway and felt nothing but God's love and forgiveness. I am not exaggerating. Afterward, I felt free, clean, pure. I truly felt like a new creation. You could ask anybody who has gone to confession and they would recount a similar story. It truly is a feeling no psychologist could ever give.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Ulterior motive for media attention on Catholic Church: Please stop talking

The Catholic Church has come under tremendous fire by the media in recent years concerning the sexual abuse scandal. Obviously it's good to look at mistakes and grave sins that happened in the Church and it is important to remove the "filth" as Pope Benedict calls it. But many have noticed the Church is being unfairly treated when it comes to these allegations.

Many groups have been implicated in child sexual abuse beside the Catholic Church including many other Christian denominations, the boy scouts, swimming instructors, and teachers. Some believe teachers have abused students at a rate 4 times higher than priests, and that they too were shifted around to different schools, etc. Most of the Church abuse happened decades ago.

But it took a comedy program to show me an ulterior motive for this disproportionate coverage. On Jon Stewart's Daily Show, one of his comedy reporters interviewed a group of nuns and priests who are critical of financial malpractice by some large organizations. The point of the Daily Show segment was how ironic it was that the Church would be against this, given the crimes the church has committed.

The reported kept mockingly referring to the sex abuse scandal and saying things like "So, you think people should listen to.... you?" Whenever the priest or nun brought up a valid point about one of the wrongdoings of a financial institution, the interviewer would make a strange face and say something like "riiight, so the financial institutions do that! ohh".

It struck me that what the media wants is for the Church to feel so ashamed of its activities that it will not speak up against any evil or injustice. It doesn't matter if any of the accusations against the church are true. All that matters is that the Church is silenced. I've actually seen this strategy many times before. When the Church speaks out on any issue whatsoever, someone is bound to bring up sex abuse allegations as some sort of proof that the Church should just but out.

I am starting to realize one of the main goals of the media coverage of the Church - to remove in people's minds its moral authority. Obviously this is totally absurd. There has been abuse in the church, but the vast majority of people in the Church, such as priests and nuns, are innocent. They have valid points to make and deserve to be heard.

The media and many individuals do not like hearing what the Church has to say. They only want approval for their actions. The Church speaks the Truth, and people are trying hard to silence the Truth.

Imagine a school where there are 50 teachers. One teacher is accused of sexual abuse. Now, imagine someone saying that no one should listen to any of the teachers in the school because of this. The school has no authority to teach anything because of what this teacher did. That would be absurd.

But there is also a logical fallacy being committed here. Even if the Church committed a crime, that does not render what it says about other areas false. If the Church criticizes a crime committed by financial institutions, it is a logical fallacy to say that because the Church did something else, they must be wrong on everything. I do not agree with what Hitler did, but if Hitler said 2+2 = 4, I would say he is correct. But this example of the Church assumes that the entire Church did something wrong. Even then, it would be a logical fallacy. But what about the real situation, where only 1-2% of priests ever abused anyone and almost all of it happened decades ago? In that case, it's even more illogical.

As Catholics, we must stand up against those who want to silence the Church. The Church has a God-given duty to defend the Truth, whether or not anyone wants to hear it.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Why the high divorce rate.

The divorce rate in Canada is around 38%, according to Stats Canada. I'm proud to report that in Newfoundland, it's the lowest, just 22% (maybe just is the wrong word here). My question is, why isn't it lower, maybe 1%? In India, where arranged marriages are often performed, this is indeed the divorce rate.

I believe there are many reasons for the high divorce rate in Canada and other Western nations. One of the reasons I believe boils down to expectations and mind-set. People marry often because of a feeling called "love". Their definition of love includes feeling happy with the person they marry, enjoying doing things together, and feeling fulfilled. It also involves a notion of sexual fulfillment and other criteria. Everything is just perfect. They base their marriage on this feeling. If the feeling changes, the marriage is on the rocks. This is a very precarious situation.

My point is that expectations are too high. I was reading an article which suggested that in the past marriages were a much different issue. They were based on practical considerations for both parties, not on transitive feelings. It sounds outdated now, but a woman would be expected to be good at household chores, while the man was able to provide for his family. The decision was not based on feeling of affection. Obviously, I'm not saying marriage is all about practicality even if you hate the person. I'm also saying that a marriage based on feelings is a very shaky one.

Divorce rate is also known to be lower among Catholics than other groups. But I've noticed a disturbing trend, and that is a divorce-mentality. It is very common, even among Catholics. The Catholic Church does not allow divorce. Not so much "not allow", as it does not even think divorce is possible in the eyes of God. The expression "till death do us part" is taken for what it is. But some have started to see annulment as the Catholic divorce. I participate in a Catholic forum. Often, a troubled individual will go there telling how they are having some problem in their marriage. Very often, people will suggest that perhaps this represents something which rendered the marriage invalid to begin with and they should seek an annulment to see what happens. But marriage is always presumed valid unless there is very strong evidence to the contrary. God did not make the sacraments easy to break.

But that's only the tip of the iceberg. That's what they say to people who are married. To those who are not married, it's even worse. Almost every time I've seen someone post a message on these forums who is concerned about some aspect of their relationship, the advice given is to just abandon it. The theory goes that no matter what this issue is, it will only get much much worse once they're married. Some even say they are only seeking help for an issue and never mention breaking up, but it is soon suggested by nearly everyone on the boards.

The underlying implication is that at the first sign of a stormy sea, to jump ship. So why is the divorce rate in India so low? I believe it is because the feeling of love is like a cherry on top, not the whole dessert. They go into a marriage expecting problems. When they arise, no one is surprised, and they work through it. Divorce is not an option so their brains expand beyond this limited idea and work for other solutions. This mentality is not present in many Western marriages. Divorce may be regarded with contempt, but it is nonetheless an option if things are "bad enough". I believe sometimes there is little desire for the couple to make things better, but rather they make things worse precisely to justify the divorce. They make mountains out of molehills and then proclaim, as if they just lost a battle which they tried so hard to win, that it was just a hopeless situation. It's almost a self-fulfilled prophecy.

Jesus said divorce is never permitted. Many people who get a divorce are surprised to find they must wait a significant amount of time before it is finalized. That's because it causes such havoc on society. Family is the building block of society and divorce is like a small war. If enough of these building blocks are damaged, the society is damaged.

Let's take a new look and approach to marriage. Let's work on helping the other, and not constantly asking ourselves if we are completely fulfilled and happy. Let's aim for a 0% divorce rate.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Disappointed in Bill Nye

Bill Nye the Science Guy, as he's known, gave a speech to the American Humanist Association. He's a smart guy and had a really good show back in the day. Unfortunately though, he has bought into the false dichotomy between science and religion.

In his speech, he basically says that the humanists have an obligation to teach religious people who do not know about science about it. He wants to spread humanism which is a philosophy that says that the buck stops at humanity, that there is no afterlife, and that ultimately the meaning of life is fulfilling our own desires.

But to propose that science and religion are opposed is complete absurdity, but a good fairy tale to tell people. It's very convenient for groups like this to pit science and religion against each other. But it's really just setting up a straw man, in order to make a point. In other words, they attribute false things to religious people and then argue against these false assumptions.

Religious people do believe in science. Many of the world's greatest scientists believe in God, and I wrote a blog posting about many of these individuals. Bill Nye attacks the book of Genesis, basically asserting that it is not a scientific book. Then he goes on to show how some of the things mentioned in the first book of the Bible do not fit with scientific data. Well, this is a very easy target which he has set up. But Christians do not believe the Bible is a scientific manual. They believe it contains truths which are much deeper than this.

Scientists, including Bill Nye must stop being so childish. It is childish to misrepresent a religion and then offer proofs against this false presentation. Not only that, but to then encourage everyone to fight against these belief systems.

He also mentions evolution. Scientists love the word "evolution", but they push it much farther than the theory allows. It does not explain the origin of life, or the universe. It simply gives a possible system for how certain species evolved the way they have. The Catholic Church at least has made statements that say a person can be Catholic and believe in evolution. Much of the reason is that the Church speaks on faith and morals, not on biology or any science.

I know many very religious people, but none of them are against science. They see the value of science. But they also recognize that science without morality can be very evil. I know many people with advanced degrees, doctors, and other professionals who believe in God. And they see no contradiction in their beliefs.

Another issue that Bill brought up was overpopulation. Of course, he decried it as a major problem in our world. This is the party line for atheism. But overpopulation is not the problem many people think it is. There are dozens of countries which have officially stated that their population growth is far too small and that they want people to have more children. I know of no country which says they have too many people. There is enough food on Earth to feed 14 billion people, currently, yet our population has not reached 7. In fact, many believe we will peak in population around 8 or 9 billion. Something that his not often mentioned is that there are not necessarily being more babies born, just more people are surviving due to good medicine and health. People are living longer with higher qualities of life than before. People generally group together in dense populations. Obviously this whole thing is a canard.

Bill ends his speech by saying that in the entire universe we are rather insignificant, that we amount to nothing. He turns this around at the end by saying we ARE something because of our brains and our ability to reason and so on. While this may sound affirming, I believe it is a very dangerous philosophy. Using this philosophy, we accept people with strong intellects as being valuable, but people with mental disabilities would be less highly regarded. They would simply be weighing down the system. They would then become insignificant like Bill Nye originally said because they would not have the redeeming quality of a good brain. People are then judged and valued based on their utility and not their inherent worth.

Many religions believe people are valuable because of their inherent value given to them by God, not because they are able to think at a certain level or are of value to the world. Using Bill's philosophy, unborn and young children are worthless, as are elderly people with mental issues or mentally disabled individuals at any age. It is a very dangerous philosophy.

I just want to end by saying the Humanist vision of the world offers nothing. It does not seek to give anything, but rather to remove something. It wants to remove God, hope, love, mercy, etc. and replace it with science. Science has its place, but it must be guided.

I believe the following quote sums it up perfectly:

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.
- Albert Einstein

Retreat weekend brought joy

This past Saturday, I attended a retreat from 1-9pm at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Outer Cove, Newfoundland. The day featured a variety of spiritual reflections and activities. The 25 or so attendees first gathered in the church for an opening prayer. We then proceeded to the lecture room to hear the conversion story of a very interesting Franciscan Friar who returned to his childhood home of Newfoundland to help out with the spiritual needs of the community. He talks about how he went from a lucrative career traveling the globe to giving it all up to gain something even greater - spiritual closeness to God.

After his testimony, we heard 3 heart-felt stories from young Catholics. They spoke of their return to the faith after years of mediocre participation. Conversion, they reminded us, is not an event, but a process. One particularly touching moment is when one of the young people was speaking about living faith in our every day lives, and during one story, he had to pause several times to fight back tears. He was speaking of a touching encounter he had with a man who was down on his luck. The speaker's simple act of almsgiving was such a special moment for this man of little means. I doubt there were many dry eyes as he recounted this moment.

Later, we heard the story of Fr. John Corapi, a dynamic speaker, who went from being a Ferrari-driving millionaire and friend of movie stars to someone who lost everything because of his drug addictions, and finally was touched by the grace of God through the intercession of his mother and became a priest, being ordained by Pope John Paul II himself. He is now one of the most sought after speakers in North American Christendom, and indeed the world.

Later, we shared a meal together, which was lovingly prepared by several of the guests. During the meal, I spoke to a young lady who was becoming more involved with her faith, however, she had not attended confession in her entire life except the first time when she was a child. She spoke of her fear of telling the priest her sins. She was quite nervous, but her heart pulled her in the right direction. She was very brave.

After confession and Mass, a priest came by to answer questions. People asked a few questions, and the priest gave some very good answers. For the closing, everyone gathered in the church once again for the Rosary. I lead the 4th decade, which is what I used to do when we said it as a family, because I was the fourth born.

The entire day was a phenomenal success, and many people expressed their desire to have another such event in the future. I can't wait!