Archive for August, 2012

Dear Republican Catholics | National Catholic Reporter

August 31, 2012

Michael Sean Winters wrote this excellent analysis of the GOP convention. He has a similar one planned for the Democrats. Frankly, I can’t wait.

…the foundational doctrine of our faith, the Trinity, tells us something about the nature of the God in whose image we humans are made. And what it tells us is that our God, and therefore ourselves, are not atomistic, autonomous individuals in the libertarian mold, but embedded in relationships. For God, we call that relationship love, absolute, unconditional, self-surrendering love. For us humans, stained by sin, we say that we are called to love, called to communion with the Trinitarian God of love, but because of sin, we are often selfish and turn our backs on God. It is good to remember that Ms. Ayn Rand, who inspired young Mr. Ryan to get into politics, believed that selfishness alone was noble and warned her readers that altruism was evil. And, so, when I hear some Republicans invoke words like “freedom,” words that can contain many meanings, I worry that they mean something different by freedom from what Christians mean. Christ came to set us free from sin, not from our social obligations one to another.

Read this fine article at the link below.

Dear Republican Catholics | National Catholic Reporter.


A conversation starter on Christian triumphalism: The Problem with Mount Carmel Moments

August 31, 2012

Here is an item I scanned from a blog devoted to “modern pagans.” Since I have had so much luck getting readers to patiently think things through, I figured, why not take one more shot at it.

I absolutely disagree with the blogger’s religion but I think makes a few points about Evangelical triumphalism. Put plainly, American Evangelicals think that they are the majority religion (a premise that doesn’t hold up, of course) so they can impose Christianity on everybody else, and and the defeated classes will either come to like it, or leave. That’s really making short-order of a complex mindset, but you get the picture.

Where I live, in Mike Huckabee’s home state of Arkansas, people who are religiously conservative run the show. Heck, by all appearances, I am one of those conservative Christians. As an orthodox Christian with a high view of scripture I agree with much of the religions right’s religion. But that ends with their pig-headed determination to use government to enforce a theistic state.

Religiously conservative Christians tend to be shockingly naive when it comes to politics. It is as if once they win the culture war, all those Jews, atheists, Mormons, Buddhists, Roman Catholics, agnostics, social liberals, and other “soft” Christians will just close up shop and go away. This is full of irony because the instrument of reform is the same dreaded federal government they typically love to hate. The other irony is that they explicitly forget that they might someday face a Pharoah such as the genocidal tyrant in Exodus 1, a ruler who did not know Joseph.

Many Evangelicals refuse to accept the tension of living in the “already but not yet.” Readers of the New Testament know that the Kingdom is already here, but not in full. Jesus reigns, but not in the earthly national realm. Not yet. Instead of living out the virtues that would make Christianity so attractive that pagans would have to give it a look, lots of us do everything we can to make us look like a bunch of ignorant knuckle-heads.

So, disagreeing with the pagan worldview, I do think there is some merit in this post. Perhaps you might use it as a conversation starter.

The Problem with Mount Carmel Moments.

A Defense of Father Benedict Groeschel’s Comments on Sexual Abuse by Priests

August 30, 2012

A SMALL UPDATE:the headline has been altered. I used the one that came up automatically with the linked story even though I knew it used prejudicial “loaded” language. Mea culpa. (Latin for “my bad”) This item demands step-by-step thinking and reasoning skills and may not be suitable for heavy consumers of cable television news.

A SECOND UPDATE: Crunchy-con Rod Dreher (blogger on American Conservative) has a viewpoint very much different from my own. You may read it here. Groeschel would have probably been assisted by some sharper questions. I do not think he fully considered the legal aspect of his remarks, nor do I believe he actually intends one “get out of jail free card” for every priest. I take his comment in a pastoral context, as a professional man who had witnessed a lot of personal shipwrecks. Nonetheless “some” is a mighty big word and anything the Legion of Christ might have done has no bearing on Groeschel.

I am not a Roman Catholic. If you want my opinion of RC doctrine, please check the 39 Articles of Religion. I grew up in the Catholic church and it is my opinion that Evangelicals would be well served with a better understanding of the debt owed the Church of Rome for its many substantial contributions to our understanding of God, the moral teachings of Jesus, and the spiritual development of Christian people.

I am a regular watcher of EWTN, although its shameful subservience to the Republican Party is often so shocking I have to look away. Armed with the Gospel of Christ, a vibrant church should not get cozy with any human institution, especially a political party. Fr Groschel seems to be a kind and patient Christian with a firm set of beliefs and I gladly watch whenever can.

He is the subject of a critical news report on Huffington Post. Groschel is a public person and he speaks on a topic of public concern, so the coverage is warranted.

Father Benedict Groeschel Sex Abuse

In a recent interview with the National Catholic Register, Father Benedict Groeschel, of the conservative Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, said that teens act as seducers in some sexual abuse cases involving priests.

It’s been close to decade since an investigation into clergy sex abuse cases by The Boston Globe unearthed a shocking scandal and cover-up that rocked the foundations of the Catholic Church in the U.S. and around the world.

Ten years may have passed, but the wounds have yet to fully heal in America, especially in light of the recent Penn State allegations, as well as the trial of Monsignor William Lynn, former secretary for the clergy in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

In light of this, the recent comments by Groeschel seem both puzzling and jarringly out of step with current sentiments.

Read it all here:

Father Benedict Groeschel, American Friar, Claims Teens Seduce Priests In Some Sex Abuse Cases.

All of this brings us to the latest outburst of Anti-Catholic clamor from the journalistic establishment. The author of this report on Fr. Groeschel correctly reports that he has an earned doctorate in psychology from Columbia University. It is reported that he runs a retreat center that provides services to priests who have been accused of sexual offenses. One would think that, if any class of men ever needed professional help and spiritual counsel, this would be them.
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Collect for the Twelth Sunday After Trinity

August 29, 2012

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who art always more ready to hear than we to pray, and art wont to give more than either we de sire or deserve; Pour down upon us the abundance of thy mercy; forgiving us those things whereof our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask, but through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer Digs In

August 29, 2012

While I wrap up my duties as a student for the fading summer term and prepare to teach a “continuing ed” class on theology this fall, here is an excellent item from Scot McKnight’s blog that pretty much says what I would have said.

The Book of Common Prayer Digs In.

Why Mormonism is not Christianity– the Issue of Christology

August 27, 2012

A very important blog post from Ben  Witherington. Let me add that, in light of Gov. Romney’s candidacy, it is impossible to separate him from the topic at hand. It is my view that one should not be judged as a presidential candidate on the basis of one’s professed religion. Mitt Romney is a presidential candidate and deserves to be considered on his public record and party platform. Mormonism needs to be judged on its’ stated beliefs and history. Read on.

Why Mormonism is not Christianity– the Issue of Christology.

An Academic Ghostwriter Comes Clean – Faculty – The Chronicle of Higher Education

August 26, 2012

Good news. I have nearly completed my exegetical paper on Eph 1:1-14. Academic papers have become an interest of mine since entering the somewhat smallish but quality oriented Anglican School of Ministry in Little Rock. My course work has included theology, biblical studies, a variety of Anglican related courses, and several elements devoted to Christian Education. Each has involved the writing of papers at the graduate level.

Some have suggested (maybe jokingly) that I should put my 30 or so papers up for sale. No way. The act of plagiarism is primarily a crime against one’s self. The lonely pursuit of information to be used in the construction of an argument is the way we teach ourselves both how to learn in the most general sense, and the specific course objective, No, I will not sell my papers. Besides, they are all shot full of errors anyway. I know that because I keep writing papers and learning things that I wish had been included when I started on this academic safari.

This seems like a good time to insert a shameless plug. My mini-class on academic writing begins sometime next month. It meets four times and prepared the student for research writing in Chicago and MLA styles. The syllabus is here. Scroll down to the link for MIN 102.
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The Child Isn’t The One That Needs Killing

August 23, 2012

While I continue to wrestle with the term paper from Hades, here are a few thoughts from Rebecca Hamilton on abortion, rape, and stupid politicians.

The Child Isn’t The One That Needs Killing.

Collect for the Eleventh Sunday After Trinity

August 19, 2012

O GOD, who declarest thy almighty power chiefly* in showing mercy and pity; Mercifully grant unto us such a measure of thy grace, that we, running the way of thy commandments, may obtain thy gracious promises, and be made partakers of thy heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Ayn Rand vs. Jesus « Mercy not Sacrifice

August 14, 2012

From Morgan Goyton’s blog.

Ayn Rand Institute senior fellow Onkar Ghate did something very bold last summer. He wrote an op-ed on the Fox News website contrasting the political philosophy of Ayn Rand and the teachings of Jesus Christ, saying that what America needs is Ayn Rand, not Jesus. You would think that such a statement would have caused a scandal among Christians in America like when John Lennon said the Beatles are “bigger than Jesus” in 1966. Yet I haven’t heard of any church youth groups making Atlas Shrugged bonfires as they did with their Beatles records back in the day.

Now it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone reading this that a Christian pastor would have a problem with Ghate’s statement. But I’m glad that Ghate came out and said it because the teachings of Christ and Ayn Rand are utterly incompatible, even though many politicians today need for their voting base to remain confused about this fact. I’ve been trying so hard to hold my tongue about politics, but I’m tired of Jesus getting pimped by people who don’t have any intention of following His teachings. Seriously, I don’t have any stake in the red side or the blue side. But I am going to go after any ideology that sullies Jesus’ name by throwing it around in support of ideas which contradict His teachings.

Ayn Rand vs. Jesus « Mercy not Sacrifice.