Sunday, April 20, 2008

How the World Really Works

Good article from David Bueche in the American Thinker. Read it HERE. My personal favorites:

"Any extended discussion with a pacifist almost always reaches the point where they sigh and say, "But I want to live in a world without violence." To which I respond, "I want to live in a world where I can breathe under water." What we want generally does not change things."


To all those out there with the "Free Tibet!" stickers, here are a few facts that will help the world make sense:

  1. There will always be bad people.
  2. Bad people don't care about hurting good people. Appeals to shame, empathy and guilt don't work on them. That's why they're bad people.
  3. Bad people respond to force. They don't like it and will change their behavior to avoid it.
  4. Good people need to use force to stop the bad people from hurting other good people.
  5. It's not the same when a good person uses force to stop a bad person as when the bad person uses it to harm a good person.
  6. Not letting good people use force against bad people encourages more bad behavior.
  7. Good people using force against bad people should be encouraged. This will make the world a better place."

"Guns liberated Auschwitz and violence ended slavery. The world you "imagine" is not here on Earth but in the next life, and you're really gumming things up for the rest of us by confusing the two."

Monday, February 11, 2008

Monday, January 21, 2008

After the Dialogue

Yesterday, I had the privilege of sitting on a panel to represent Christianity for the Interfaith Dialogue Club at the local high school in town.I went with the understanding that I'd be representing the Catholic Church, only to find when I arrived I was the only Christian on the panel. The other panelists were Baha'i, Hindu, Jewish, Unitarian, Buddhist and Islamic.

We were asked to give a general introduction to our respective 5 minutes or less. Not to make it any easier I was stuck between a Jewish panelist who described her faith as "a moral code for social justice" and the Unitarian minister who brought his hymnal which had traditional Christian hymns (protestant we were very explicitly told), Hindu holy songs, Islamic hymns and the words of Buddha set to music.

Where do you begin to explain Christianity in 5 minutes? I couldn't very well begin with "We also believe the Jewish faith tradition but diverge 2000 years ago with Jesus of Nazareth whom we believe fulfilled the messianic prophecies..." It wouldn't make any sense in light of the Jewish introduction we got.

Interestingly enough, the panelist I felt closest to was the Islamic panelist. After the discussions were over and we were headed to our cars he and I talked about it. Neither of us felt like we could appropriately explain our faiths in the five minutes we had to answer each question while the others felt content. In fact many of our answers on questions, like prayer, came out remarkably similar. Our answers to questions about morality, and surprisingly, Heaven and Hell were also very similar. We both came to the conclusion we had to, at times, be so general that many of the distinctions of our faiths were hard to catch.

That's not to say however that Christ couldn't be found in my answers. I'd like to think every answer I gave was very Christ centered. For example, when asked about Christianity's motivations for behaving morally I answered like this:

"As I said earlier, our faith holds that mankind was not created in our present state. We were once in a perfect relationship with God as father, and with ourselves as perfect children. However, a decision was made to love ourselves more than our God. The consequences of this choice have been devastating. The good news of the Christian faith though, is that the choice is reversible. Jesus of Nazareth, we believe, came to us to give us a way to cross over the infinite chasm we created in loving ourselves rather than the One whom we should love with all our hearts. We believe that our belief in Jesus and His way, coupled with freely choosing to live our lives in the way I described earlier is how that choice is remade. Our motivation then, is simply living for the next life, when things are made perfect again. Our motivation is... Heaven. Word" (Yes I actually said "word" at the end. I was looking at the teens from our church and wanted to make sure the were listening. They were.)

All in all, it was a good experience. I learned some things about the other faiths I didn't know (did you know Hindu's consider themselves monotheistic?). I was also able to, in a short period of time, explain Christianity to over a hundred people, many of whom weren't Christians. Most of all, I think the best experiences were two-fold:
  • 1) Some of our teens from St. Thomas Aquinas were there and got to hear their faith proclaimed publicly. Let me tell you, they were quite proud to be there as Christians.
  • 2) I figured out I should be able to explain the faith in under five minutes. Its possible. Just from that one night, I somehow better understand some of the most important tenants of what we believe. There are some other folks who do too- they say the creed every Sunday.

In his closing remarks, the Buddhist panelist summed it up I think with what I believe the other faiths offer and where they fall gravely short: "I had a lot of questions about life. Buddhism didn't answer those questions but it gave me a direction." If he wants the answer I think I know it- Jesus.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Survivor Guy- Frisbee Golf

Here's the second episode. I filmed it and put it together today. Move over Bear Grylls.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

I'll be trying to podcast some

I just wanted to try it out. I'll have some good bells and whistles next time. Here's my first try:
Aggie Catholic Podcast

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Does Santa make the baby Jesus cry? (and other Christmas questions)

After a nice dinner with two other couples last week, the Anti-Claus conversation began.

"Why won't we do the Santa thing?" our host asked, "because we don't lie to our kids. Also, I've read an account of a guy who said it was after his parents told him Santa wasn't real that he lost his belief in God. He sees you all the time, he knows if you're good, and lets you know to be good 'for goodness sake.' Freaky"

Heavy stuff. If the man doesn't want to lie to his kids, I can't argue with that. Does losing the Santa magic cause most kids to doubt God? Its possible I suppose, but I doubt that its common. They say they celebrate the feast of St. Nicholas, and leave it at that. They put up only some decorations at a time, so that their advent is a continual build up to Christmas, not all at once a few days after Thanksgiving. Of course, they also celebrate Christmas for all eight nights like the liturgical calendar calls for too. Not a bad plan really.

I loved Santa Claus while it lasted. Let me put it in perspective for you: Not only were the milk and cookies out, but as bedtime approached and the precious few minutes of Christmas Eve were quickly passing by, I was busy consulting my parents as to the final touches of that years full-proof alarm system that would help me wake up and see Santa doing his thing. Even if that plan didn't work, nothing compared to seeing the "evidence" that Santa had indeed come to your house and not only dropped off presents, but had also eaten the cookies specially selected and laid out for him. When the year came that Santa didn't make his visit, there was no love lost. I was old enough to know by then.

Why the big difference of opinion between the Pro and Anti-Clausers? Obviously, focus is the foremost issue. If Jesus is the reason for the season, why the need for a fat man who breaks into your house to give you stuff? If you know the story of St. Nick (linked earlier in the post) you understand his association with Christmas and giving. Its also easy to see the transformation from Saint of Myrna to the Patron of Retailers (He's not, its actually Lucy of Syracuse. Go figure). Butshould Santa Claus be usable for Catholics in our day and age? Doesn't it lead to a loss of focus on Jesus?

I think it worth mentioning that there is no inherent evil in the use of Santa. Its said that the Santa as we know him came from St. Nicholas. Some folks like to claim he also comes from the German pagan god of war Odin as well, but I haven't found any good evidence for that myself. You know those silly gods of war, leaving kids presents in their stocking and eating cookies by the fire. However, like I said, the Santa myth is not inherently evil nor does it tend to evil or away from goodness ("be good for goodness sake"). Its all in the use of the thing. You can use him as an example of Christian giving, or an example of worldly materialism. To finish up, here's one guy's account of how his parents handled it:

"On the "Santa controversy," my own parents struck what has always seemed to me an ideal stance: Every year we read "The Night Before Christmas" and watched "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "Babes in Toyland," so Santa was definitely a part of our domestic culture, but we never did the milk and cookies routine, and on Christmas morning the presents were always accurately labeled "From Mom & Dad" or "From Grandma & Grandpa," etc.

In short, my parents never made a big deal one way or the other about Santa's reality: They never went out of their way to tell us "Santa isn't real," any more than they went out of their way to tell us that Felix the Cat or Spider-Man weren't real. Santa was just one more character in our imaginative landscape. But they also never told us that Santa was real, and never acted like he was.

That's more or less what I've done with my own kids, except that Sarah, our oldest, has always insisted on absolute clarity about what is and isn't real, and explicitly wanted to know right away if Santa was real, so we had to tell her -- and then we also had to tell her that SOME parents DO tell their kids about Santa Claus WITHOUT telling them that he isn't real, and whatever we may think of that, it's not our place to tell those children otherwise. (As a very young child Sarah was always offended and upset when adults would ask her what Santa was bringing her. And she did NOT like the mall Santas AT ALL.)

But we still read "Twas the Night Before Christmas" with our kids, and this year we're watching Babes in Toyland from Netflix."

Next time:
Is giving gifts immoral?

Marriage Survivor Man

We talked about marriage this past weekend for our teen program. Here's part of my contribution:

Friday, September 07, 2007

Star Wars Kid

This has been out forever, but I still want to fall out of my chair every time. First the original, and then the new and improved:

The "Bottom Billion"

Good review by First Things on a book I need to read called the Bottom Billion.

"One billion of the world’s population are rich; four billion are, albeit at varying pace, on the way to becoming rich; the real challenge is the “bottom billion.” They are caught in a number of “traps” that keep them poor and almost guarantee that they will be poorer in the years ahead, a ghetto of misery, disease, and discontent on an otherwise flourishing planet. The bottom billion are the radically marginalized. Seventy percent of them are in Africa. Although Collier does not discuss Catholic social doctrine, his analysis is remarkably similar to that of John Paul II’s 1991 encyclical Centesimus Annus: The really poor are poor because they are excluded, or exclude themselves, from the global circle of productivity and exchange."

Check it out.