Unlikely Apostles

Sunday, June 29, AD 2014

 

To: Jesus, Son of Joseph
Woodcrafter’s Carpenter Shop
Nazareth 25922

From: Jordan Management Consultants

Dear Sir:

Thank you for submitting the resumes of the twelve men you have picked for managerial positions in your new organization. All of them have now taken our battery of tests; and we have not only run the results through our computer, but also arranged personal interviews for each of them with our psychologist and vocational aptitude consultant.

The profiles of all tests are included, and you will want to study each of them carefully.

As part of our service, we make some general comments for your guidance, much as an auditor will include some general statements. This is given as a result of staff consultation, and comes without any additional fee.

It is the staff opinion that most of your nominees are lacking in background, education and vocational aptitude for the type of enterprise you are undertaking. They do not have the team concept. We would recommend that you continue your search for persons of experience in managerial ability and proven capability.

Simon Peter is emotionally unstable and given to fits of temper. Andrew has absolutely no qualities of leadership. The two brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, place personal interest above company loyalty. Thomas demonstrates a questioning attitude that would tend to undermine morale. We feel that it is our duty to tell you that Matthew had been blacklisted by the Greater Jerusalem Better Business Bureau; James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus definitely have radical leanings, and they both registered a high score on the manic-depressive scale.

One of the candidates, however, shows great potential. He is a man of ability and resourcefulness, meets people well, has a keen business mind, and has contacts in high places. He is highly motivated, ambitious, and responsible. We recommend Judas Iscariot as your controller and right-hand man. All of the other profiles are self-explanatory.

We wish you every success in your new venture.

Sincerely,

Jordan Management Consultants

I have long thought that God has a very well developed sense of humor, and nowhere is that attribute of God more in evidence than in His selection of the human instruments He chooses to work His Will.  Saint Peter was a fisherman and God chose him to be the first Pope.  I assume that almost everyone, including Peter, thought that Christ had made a great mistake in doing this, since other than having a big heart, Peter had no other qualities to the casual observer that would explain why Christ chose him.  Such doubts were underlined when Peter, as predicted by Christ, denied Him three times after the arrest of Christ.  Yet Peter, after the Resurrection, would be transformed into a heroic leader, fearlessly preaching the message of Christ, leading the Church from a small band in Judea into a religion spanning the Mediterranean and beyond.  The big fisherman had been a good choice after all.

No such initial doubts would have concerned the worthiness of Saul of Tarsus for some important office.  He was a keen scholar of the Scriptures, a riveting speaker and utterly fearless.  He was also on the other side, a persecutor of Christianity as a hideous blasphemy against I AM.  In less than the twinkling of an eye God seizes upon His enemy and transforms him into a zealous champion of the New Way, a man who from being afraid of the transformation of Judaism by the teachings of Christ, into the Apostle of Christ to the Gentiles.

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8 Responses to Unlikely Apostles

At His Execution

Wednesday, August 22, AD 2012

 

 

The twelfth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling.   The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , herehere , here, here, here, here , here and here.  Kipling was not conventionally religious.  He once described himself jokingly as a pious Christian atheist.  However, many of his poems dealt with religious themes.  One of his most moving religious poems he wrote in 1932, four years before his death.

At His Execution

 

I am made all things to all men–

 Hebrew, Roman, and Greek–

 In each one’s tongue I speak,

Suiting to each my word,

That some may be drawn to the Lord!

I am made all things to all men–

 In City or Wilderness

 Praising the crafts they profess

That some may be drawn to the Lord–

By any means to my Lord!

Since I was overcome

 By that great Light and Word,

 I have forgot or forgone

The self men call their own

(Being made all things to all men)

 So that I might save some

 At such small price to the Lord,

As being all things to all men.

I was made all things to all men,

But now my course is done–

And now is my reward…

Ah, Christ, when I stand at Thy Throne

With those I have drawn to the Lord,

 Restore me my self again!

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6 Responses to At His Execution

  • “Judge of the Nations, spare us yet.
    Lest we forget—lest we forget!”

    “If” for his son lost in battle on being a man.

    So much wisdom, humor and sense in words that could be about today for all of us.

    Young people would benefit for life, individually and as a people, if they could use some time with him all laid out in your posts mentioned above. The three R’s plus Rudyard for four R’s.

    Those beyond young can see life unfolding in his work.

    In 2012, he’d have some ‘tweaking’ maybe – but his words ring true.

  • I hate to be a downer, but isn’t there a certain sense of fatigue or non-Christian selfishness expressed in that last line?

    A Christian would say he gave up himself to find his true self. Or he abandoned his old self to be made into a new self. Or he loses himself completely in God. Kipling’s Paul seems to be saying that he’s done his job – forgetting himself to be all things to all people – and now he just wants to go back to being his old self. “Restore”.

    I could be wrong on this. But I think that some of the other Kipling poems you’ve presented had a theme of the weary soldier just wanting to go back home, trudging through the impossible. That sounds Kipling-y to me. Kipling’s Paul sounds more like that than someone like the historical Paul who became a new creature through Jesus. There’s also the fact that by your reading the tone of the poem is unvarying, and usually that doesn’t happen. Most poems have a mood change in them or a twist in the final verse.

  • Perhaps Pinky, or perhaps it is Kipling’s way of underlining the sense of “mission accomplished” that Saint Paul had when he wrote about completing the race and a merited crown. What Christ had made Saint Paul on Earth through divine intervention, the missionary to the Gentiles, all things to all men, would no longer be necessary in Heaven. Note how Kipling uses the term reward. One of the joys of Heaven is the banishment of the strife and constant battle we find ourselves engaged in for Christ here on Earth. The distinction between the Church Militant and the Church Triumphant.

  • 2 Timothy 4:7 “I have fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith;”

    Acts 20:24 “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.” St. Paul’s Farewell to the Elders of Ephesus.

  • Kipling on point:

    “So we loosed a bloomin’ volley,
    An’ we made the beggars cut,
    An’ when our pouch was emptied out.
    We used the bloomin’ butt,
    Ho! My!
    Don’t yer come anigh,
    When Tommy is a playin’ with the baynit an’ the butt.”
    “The Taking of Lungtingpen” –Barrack Room Ballads.

The Welfare State, Saint Paul and Pope Leo XIII

Wednesday, March 28, AD 2012

Charles Sykes, of the Wisconsin Policy Institute, has a superb article on the Entitlement Mentality which is sinking the country:

The cultural shift has become so pronounced today that even some progressives are showing signs of unease. Were it not for her impeccable ideological pedigree, Alexandra Pelosi, daughter of Nancy Pelosi, former Speaker of the House, might have irreparably damaged her standing with her mother’s friends when she produced a brief video for HBO about her recent encounters outside a New York welfare office. In the Pelosi video, a man waiting in line is drinking beer and smoking cigarettes as he admits that he’s fathered five children by four different mothers. “I’m here to get a check … whatever they’ve got to offer,” he explains. “It’s not like they’ve got a checklist … I’m just here to get what I can get.”

Of course he was. 

In the video, Alexandra Pelosi quizzes one man: “Why should I help you? Why should my tax dollars be going to you?” He replies, “Because my ancestors came here to help build this place – my ancestors, the slaves.” The last time the man worked, he says, was “half a decade” ago.

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52 Responses to The Welfare State, Saint Paul and Pope Leo XIII

  • How dare you! Next you’ll want to take away their birth control.

  • a man waiting in line is drinking beer and smoking cigarettes as he admits that he’s fathered five children by four different mothers. “I’m here to get a check …

    And I will wager you he did not get squat.

    1. Even twenty years ago, general relief had been eliminated in all but nine states.

    2. “Temporary Aid to Needy Families”, the successor to the old “Aid to Families with Dependent Children” (colloquially ‘welfare’) is a mother-and-child program for which this man does not qualify, can be drawn on (with some qualifications) for no more than five years of a mother’s lifetime, and supports a beneficiary population one-third the size of its predecessor program.

    3. Unemployment compensation requires minimum antecedent contributions, has circumstantial eligibility requirements, and is term-limited.

    4. Supplemental Security Income is limited to the old, the disabled, and the addled.

    5. Social Security disability has stiff circumstantial eligibility requirements, requires a minimum of antecedent contributions, is earnings related, and incorporates periodic eligibility reviews.

    6. Social Security old age and retirement requires a minimum of antecedent contributions, is earnings related, and is limited to…the old.

    The programs for which this man might qualify would be in-kind: medical insurance, food stamps, housing vouchers or berths, public defenders’ services. The children he has sired indubitably attended the public schools (like those of more than 90% of the population).

    However, we now have produced huge numbers of drones in our society who simply feed off the work of others, with no thought of ever earning their own bread by the sweat of their brow.

    I do not wish to offer a defense of the panoply of subventions to mundane expenditure that welfare departments and housing authorities offer at all levels, nor for long-term doles, but it is quite atypical in our society to be comprehensively dependent (rather than depending on supplemental subsidies) for any length of time if one is not old or disabled or a ward of the courts. TANF clientele currently number about 4 million, or about 1.3% of the population.

  • This article by Theodore Dalrymple about Scotland sheds more light on what happens when countries foster a culture of dependence.

  • Ok these are some of the dregs of society. I have been unemployed for a while and would LOVE LOVE LOVE to work. Please don’t lump me in with these people. Also there are plenty of white people that are like this too. I do not take or look for handouts even in my present situation, if I can avoid it. We do have to remember that this economic situation is pretty bad and there should be more concern for those that DO want to work like training, etc…

  • Michael, read the article. It is not talking about legitimate assistance. It’s talking about the burgeoning entitlement mentality.

    As the article states…
    The process can be illustrated this way: “I want you to buy me lunch. Therefore, I need lunch. And if I need something, I have a right to it – and you, therefore, have an obligation to pay for it.”

    The equation looks like this: Wants = needs = rights = obligations.

    And is illustrated by this…
    While GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney was campaigning last week in Peoria, Illinois, a young woman was caught on camera declaring: “So you’re all for like, ‘yay, freedom,’ and all this stuff. And ‘yay, like pursuit of happiness.’ You know what would make me happy? Free birth control.”

  • This article by Theodore Dalrymple about Scotland sheds more light on what happens when countries foster a culture of dependence.

    I respect his writings generally, but it is poor judgment of him to cite the econometricians at The Spectator (a breezy opinion magazine). In a population of nearly 8 million, it is not credible that there are only 15,000 net taxpayers.

  • It’s talking about the burgeoning entitlement mentality.

    There are disagreeable aspects of culture and society in the slums, but these began to appear (per Daniel Patrick Moynihan) around about 1958 and had reached full flower by 1972 or thereabouts. Given that the TANF rolls are 1/3 as long as the AFDC rolls, why would we say this mentality is burgeoning?

  • The entitlement mentality is not a “in the slums” problem. It is spreading to the middle class and in some cases, beyond. It infects all classes and races.

    The FT article gives concrete examples…
    The laundry list goes far beyond free lunch to include free health care, free cell phones, free birth control, free mortgage bailouts – and on and on.

    There are more avenues to government money than just TANF. No one is against legitimate assistance. Exploitation or a sense entitlement to assistance programs is a problem.

  • “Ok these are some of the dregs of society. I have been unemployed for a while and would LOVE LOVE LOVE to work. Please don’t lump me in with these people.”

    I certainly never would Michael and I hope you are able to find work soon.

  • The entitlement mentality is not a “in the slums” problem. It is spreading to the middle class and in some cases, beyond. It infects all classes and races.

    Beyond? You mean there are patricians who are asserting their right to grocery subsidies? Between the slums and the bourgeoisie there is the wage-earning element. To what do you fancy they feel entitled?

    —-

    There are more avenues to government money than just TANF. No one is against legitimate assistance. Exploitation or a sense entitlement to assistance programs is a problem.

    Have you in your own mind a set of understandings as to what constitutes ‘legitimate assistance’ and what is the nasty ‘welfare state’? Can you let us in on it?

  • Art, Between the FT article and Don’s article, you have all the information you need. The answers you seek are in both if you read them carefully.

  • Art, Between the FT article and Don’s article, you have all the information you need. The answers you seek are in both if you read them carefully.

    They are not.

  • How about the following:
    One (net) taxpayer, one vote?

  • Michael Medved makes a compelling point on this, with school lunch programs (which sometimes include breakfast, dinner, summer meals, etc.). These are justified as necessary because parents may not have the time or money to make sure their children have proper meals.
    Medved’s concern is : If parents are no longer responsible for feeding their own children, what responsibilities remain?

  • You mean there are patricians who are asserting their right to grocery subsidies?

    You didn’t hear about the lottery winner that’s on food stamps, or the woman up here in the Seattle area that was getting food stamps at her beach-side big bucks home?

    Incidentally, food stamps (or rather the SNAP cards, these days) are as good as cash; you just sell them for a portion of the face value. If you’ve got an “in” with a store that can take them, you can probably get better than the going rate. (I think the crag’s list average was about 1/4 of the value in cash?)

  • Also, on the rich-people-getting-entitlements, talk to the spoiled brats I went to school with who got new cars at 16 but are still horrified the state ALMOST took their free birth control away while they were at college.

  • If the black market requires a 75% discount, the SNAP cards are not as good as cash.

    The woman in Michigan was cut off by the Food and Nutrition Service because she had failed, per their rules, to notify them of any income or asset changes. Lottery winners do not qualify as patricians.

    There are several problems here:

    1. You are all speaking of an extant problem that was manifest 40 years ago as if it were novel or spreading like kudzu, even as public policy is less accommodating than it was a generation ago. (For example, general relief still exists in New York, so the man just might get his check, but there is a life time limit of two years’ worth of benefits).

    2. While there is much here that I would not wish to defend and small programs can sustain some quite disagreeable tendencies in the culture, the sort of programs under review are just a few tiles in the mosaic of our political and economic problems manifest in public sector borrowing. The big ticket federal programs are as follows:

    a. Social Security (>$800 bn)
    b. Medicare (>$500 bn)
    c. Food Stamps ($89 bn)
    d. Higher education subsidies ($46 bn)
    e. Housing vouchers ($27 bn)

    The state and local programs (partially financed by the central government) which are most salient are as follows:

    a. Public schools (~$650 bn)
    b. Medicaid (~$470 bn)
    c. Unemployment compensation (> $90 bn)

    I think the TANF program clocks in there at about $30 bn.

    If I am not mistaken about 90% of all Social Security benefits go to the old or disabled (with the remainder to widows &c.). About a third of Medicaid expenditure is for the care of nursing home residents. Therefore, about 60% of the expenditure noted above is on geezers and cripples. Shy of 30% is allocated to the public schools, a purely universalistic program. About 4% is allocated to unemployment compensation, which is short term. The remaining 6% may be socially unsalutary, but it is a small part of why we are careering into bankruptcy.

  • Ach. I cannot do arithmetic anymore.

    Crippled and elderly: 51%
    Public schools: 24%
    s/t 3%
    miscellaneous 22%

  • He is still getting the stamps. Turns out he did follow the law, technically. They’re trying to fix that.

    About the disabled you mention that are on SS….

    In the fiscal year that ended in September, the administrative law judge, who sits in the impoverished intersection of West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio, decided 1,284 cases and awarded benefits in all but four. For the first six months of fiscal 2011, Mr. Daugherty approved payments in every one of his 729 decisions, according to the Social Security Administration.

  • Disability programs are difficult to administer precisely and consistently and some of the hearing examiners are doing a poor job of it (which you can surmise by comparing their decisions to those of other hearing examiners). Ergo, you trash the whole program. Do I have your viewpoint correctly stated?

  • 13.6 million receiving disability benefits and rising rapidly Art:

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/aug/21/disability-claims-rise-threatens-solvency/

    From my expience as a bankruptcy attorney, quite a few people receiving disability benefits are not disabled in that they have no physical or mental impairments that really prevent them from working.

  • Of course you don’t, and you didn’t even try. Sort of like your notion that because they don’t sell for the price on the card, a guaranteed income is somehow not as good as cash.

    From those two points, it’s pretty clear you’re not willing to actually discuss the issue without making silly assumptions and taking a running jump to insulting conclusions. I don’t have the time for that.

  • Foxfier, I cannot figure what the referent to your response is.

    13.6 million receiving disability benefits and rising rapidly Art:

    That is 60% higher than the last figure I saw in print. I do not have time to research matters right at this moment, but I am at this moment skeptical.

    By the way, if I understand correctly, most who receive Social Security Disability are recipients for a discrete run of years (5 or 6) because they age out of the program or return to work.

    From my expience as a bankruptcy attorney, quite a few people receiving disability benefits are not disabled in that they have no physical or mental impairments that really prevent them from working.

    I have known only a small corps of people who receive benefits. One was a 44 year old woman with Crohn’s disease who had been collecting for four years. She was looking forward to returning to work after her next evaluation. One was a 59 year old woman with lupus who worked without interruption from 1958 to 1998. She aged out of the program. Another was a 49 year old pharmacist with a ghastly injury to his leg which made it impossible for him to stand for long periods of time. I think he could have retooled. I lost track of him.

    I do not doubt you can find people who would not meet the criteria legislators had in mind and a few out-and-out chiselers. Again, what would be your solution?

  • http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/STATS/OASDIbenies.html

    This would indicate that the Social Security Disability program supports 10.6 million people. That would be the sum of beneficiaries and their dependents. They receive a mean of $13,000 per capita.

  • A report from the CBO on social security disability in 2010:

    “Between 1970 and 2009, the number of people receiving DI benefits more than tripled, from 2.7 million to 9.7 million (unless otherwise specified, all years are calendar years). That jump, which significantly outpaced the increase in the working-age population during that period, is attributable to several changesin characteristics of that population, in federal policy, and in opportunities for employment. In addition, during those years, the average inflation-adjusted cost per person receiving DI benefits rose from about $6,900 to about $12,800 (in 2010 dollars). As a result, inflation-adjusted expenditures for the DI program, including administrative costs, increased nearly sevenfold between 1970 and 2009, climbing from $18 billion to $124 billion (in 2010 dollars). Most DI beneficiaries, after a two-year waiting period, are also eligible for Medicare; the cost of those benefits in fiscal year 2009 totaled about $70 billion.

    Under current law, the DI program is not financially sustainable. Its expenditures are drawn from the Disability Insurance Trust Fund, which is financed primarily through a payroll tax of 1.8 percent; the fund had a balance of $204 billion at the end of 2009. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that by 2015, the number of people receiving DI benefits will increase to 11.4 million and total expenditures will climb to $147 billion (in 2010 dollars; see Figure 1). However, tax receipts credited to the DI trust fund will be about 20 percent less than those expenditures, and three years later, in 2018, the trust fund will be exhausted, according to CBOs estimates. Without legislative action to reduce the DI programs outlays, increase its dedicated federal revenues, or transfer other federal funds to it, the Social Security Administration will not have the legal authority to pay full DI benefits beyond that point.

    A number of changes could be implemented to address the trust funds projected exhaustion. Some would increase revenues dedicated to the program; others would reduce outlays. One approach to reducing expenditures on DI benefits would be to establish policies that would make work a more viable option for people with disabilities. However, little evidence is available on the effectiveness of such policies, and their costs might more than offset any savings from reductions in DI benefits.”

    http://www.cbo.gov/publication/21638

  • “One (net) taxpayer, one vote?”

    I kinda see your point, but before you go that route, consider the full implications. If you are implying that people who receive more in money or other benefits from the government than they pay in taxes are all mere freeloaders who should not be allowed to vote, then very few people (perhaps not even including yourself) will be allowed to vote.

    For one thing, the 53% (or whatever the current figure is) of Americans who end each year with a federal tax liability of less than zero (often due to refundable child, education, and home ownership tax credits that target the middle class) would be disenfranchised, as would anyone employed by any branch of federal, state or local government. Not to mention business owners who receive government subsidies, credits or tax breaks for various reasons.

    My point is NOT to defend the kind of welfare or entitlement mentality on display in the video, but to point out that they are not the only people getting more in benefits than they are paying in. They are simply the most obvious ones; there are other forms of “entitlement mentality” among the middle class and wealthy that are less obvious.

    It should also be noted that just because someone does not have a federal tax liability for a given year does NOT mean they pay no taxes at all. They may still owe state or local income taxes, or property taxes; and they probably pay sales or use taxes on most of what they purchase.

  • For one thing, the 53% (or whatever the current figure is) of Americans who end each year with a federal tax liability of less than zero (often due to refundable child, education, and home ownership tax credits that target the middle class) would be disenfranchised, as would anyone employed by any branch of federal, state or local government.

    Now, hold on, that second one doesn’t follow– for that matter, the first isn’t needfully so, either.

    Last things first, those who are employed by the government at any level do still pay taxes, and there is no need to lump them in just to inflate the number. They do a job, they are paid for it. If there is a lot of quality control that needs to be done, that’s a separate issue, but they are NOT equivalent to someone that is dependent on public charity. That sort of reasoning is part of why we’re in this mess. Likewise, businesses and families that are “allowed” to keep more of their money, so long as they don’t end up “keeping” more than they had in the first place, are net tax payers as well. (It seems you slipped between being a net tax payer and being paid from taxed funds at all.) That would knock out any tax breaks from consideration.

    There is NOTHING WRONG with the government taxing the population and using that money to hire people and buy stuff– there’s not a lot of other reason for the government to tax at all.

    There is NOTHING WRONG (inherently) with keeping more of the money that YOU earned. It is yours, not the government’s. The problem comes in the matter of fairness, which is sorely lacking. (17% of the income pays 35% of the taxes? Not fair at all.)

    I hate to beat this to death, but it really has to be pointed out: tax breaks are NOT the government giving you anything, it’s just not taking things, and WORKING for the government is not the same as HANDOUTS.

    Jumping back to the first claim, it makes the classic assumption that people won’t change their actions. (It’s even built into our gov’t budgeting estimates. Fails constantly, too.) Sadly, a large part of the country that’s currently not paying net federal taxes wouldn’t give a crud about losing their vote if it meant that they got free stuff. Other folks would not claim things like the child credit to make sure that they could still vote.

    A much better route of objection to the “one net taxpayer, one vote” idea is that it would disenfranchise those who are not paid for their work, especially retired folks who had money taken from them for their entire lives, shoved in the leaky box that is social security, and are now dependent on getting some fraction of that money back. It would disenfranchise stay-at-home parents, business folks who ran a loss year, adults still in school if they manage it without a job, those on unemployment (which is supposed to be money they would have been paid which was taken by the gov’t to hold in reserve in case they couldn’t get a new job.) and those who in other manners didn’t have an income.

  • I have to say, anecdotally, I grew up in – and live – in a county, where the people who are in line in this video make up a large part of my friends and neighbors, and they do get a lot of free stuff from the government. People who say that entitlement abuse is improving or is no longer a very great concern probably know very few people who abuse entitlement programs.

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  • Good point, Ike– I think there’s a big social level thing here, too. The ranch was one of the go-to places for people who wanted to work just long enough to get unemployment insurance; one couple would gladly teach you exactly what you had to do to do the absolute minimum while maximizing your income and comfort. Step one, don’t marry, just live together….
    (Folks talked the owner out of hiring such when one tried to file a worker’s comp for a problem she’d had before she drove truck for us.)

  • People who say that entitlement abuse is improving or is no longer a very great concern probably know very few people who abuse entitlement programs.

    No matter whom I know or do not know, the quantum of goods, services, and funds distributed is a matter of public record, as are the eligibility requirements of various programs.

  • Art-
    that says nothing about abuse of the programs, and you did bring up people you know who use the programs.

    As Donald showed when you didn’t have time to research, the payouts from social security for disability have gone through the roof. Medicaid is well known as a target for fraud. Medicare, likewise. Food stamps are a big target.

    A search for entitlement abuse brings up a lot of articles like this– by the way, the “adult baby” wood worker was found to be totally fine and cleared of fraud.

  • As Donald showed when you didn’t have time to research,

    He cited the executive summary of a report by the Congressional Budget Office. I cited the case statistics published by the Social Security Administration.

    and you did bring up people you know who use the programs.

    Parenthetically, in response to his claims about his clients.

    There is a problem with the disability program, as can be seen in the evolution of the beneficiary population. I would be very skeptical that malingering is an important part of the problem; musculoskelital problems are at the root of 36% of awarded claims, not more. Policy is a problem (for 11% of those who receive awards, the primary diagnosis is a psychiatric mood disorder). The evolution of how people respond to a given set of conditions is a problem. The expectations set by authority are a problem. Consistency in administration over space and time is a problem.

    Given the change in the population (between 1966 and 2007) of workers in the salient cohorts, you might have expected a 2.25-fold increase in the population of primary beneficiaries. You actually saw a 6-fold increase. Was the program underutilized before or overutilized now? Interestingly, the number of juvenile dependents of said beneficiaries increased just in step with the change in the whole population and the number of spousal dependents declined. What hypotheses would you tease-out of that?

    I am fairly sure that eliminating the program is a cure worse than the disease. I might also suggest that a dependent population which consists largely of adults in the latter part of middle age, more-often-than-not having a work history of twenty-five years or more, and living alone in spite of documented medical problems, suggests a particular nexus of social problems. One which consists of young and able-bodied women (with little or no work history) and their bastard children suggests a different set of problems.

  • He cited the executive summary of a report by the Congressional Budget Office. I cited the case statistics published by the Social Security Administration.

    Your point being? Do you think they are wrong, as you implied before he did so?

    I am fairly sure that eliminating the program is a cure worse than the disease.

    Why do you keep acting like this is being discussed? You jump from fraud not being a big problem to a large glob of digression to no specific point and then go back to acting like people are saying “screw it, nuke the whole thing!”– this, in spite if the original post SPECIFICALLY SAYING: “Any decent society able to will want to lend a hand to help those who cannot help themselves: those who through physical and mental disability simply cannot work to support themselves.

    Will you stop charging at strawmen and try to actually engage on the topic?

  • There are no strawmen here. You keep offering anecdotes of the system functioning poorly and he cited a summary document indicating the program was actuarially unsound. That would indicate that the program required restructuring. Neither of you offer anything but non-specific complaints that the gubmint is being incompetent. That kind of talk gets old. If you have an idea of how to improve the program, let’s hear it.

    All of that is rather at a remove from his initial complaint, which was that our world is awash in a burgeoning population of free-loaders. The opportunities for that sort of thing among the able-bodied are not what they were 40 years ago and the sort of welfare rights discourse you used to hear even 25 years ago has largely disappeared. As for the statutorily disabled, many of them ought to be doing something else, but a 54 year old divorcee with a heart condition who had twenty-five years on construction sites is not quite what you have in mind when you hear phrases like, “However, we now have produced huge numbers of able bodied drones in our society who simply feed off the work of others”.

    And any solution you all offer needs to be scalable.

  • There are no strawmen here.

    Show where I, or Donald, said a single thing about ENDING welfare. That is the strawman you have been fighting– not fixing the problem, not trying to cut down on fraud, but ENDING THE PROGRAMS.

    I’ll waste the time correcting your other unsupported claims when you bother to support that one.

  • “All of that is rather at a remove from his initial complaint, which was that our world is awash in a burgeoning population of free-loaders.”

    As is demonstrated Art by the explosion of people getting on disability, which is why I cited the CBO report. This was over a time period, 1970-2009, when fewer and fewer of the work force are engaging in the hard type of physical labor and resulting injuries that the disability program was originally set up to alleviate.

    We also see this in the explosion in the food stamp program which, as Foxfier noted earlier in the thread, are frequently used as a substitute currency.

    http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2011/11/food-stamp-nation.php

  • “As Maine goes so goes the nation.”

    December 2011: Maine Republican (!) Governor LePage stated in a radio address that his state has more residents receiving “welfare” than paying state income taxes.

    Nationally, 53% of households pay Federal income taxes.

    The laws of arithmetic will resolve the imbalance. The restoration of equilibrium will not be pretty. See Greece.

    PS: As of tomorrow, the US has the highest corporate tax rate on the planet.

  • As is demonstrated Art by the explosion of people getting on disability, which is why I cited the CBO report. This was over a time period, 1970-2009, when fewer and fewer of the work force are engaging in the hard type of physical labor and resulting injuries that the disability program was originally set up to alleviate.

    You need to do better than a cursory inspection of descriptive statistics in order to ascertain what is going on there. (And no, I do not think you are going to discover in the legislative history that work-related injuries were the sole or even primary consideration in enacting the program). The descriptive statistics are hypothesis formers. Your conclusion about this particular beneficiary population was antecedent to adducing any real evidence. If you want to restructure the program, you have to ascertain what the drivers are of changes in observable behavior. Some things to consider:

    1. The contemporary beneficiary is not any older than their counterparts forty years ago, nor much younger. Why do they have so few dependents? The ratio of dependents to primary beneficiaries has fallen by 75%.

    2. Is it possible that changes in public health have augmented a ‘gray zone’ population that was proportionately much smaller in 1970? Are there people drawing benefits who would have been in institutional care in 1970 or would have been deceased?

    3. How much of the inclination to apply for benefits and to grant them (and, keep in mind, 61% of those who apply are turned down) is motivated not by the cash pension but by the medical insurance appended to it?

    Foxfier, you and Donald have not offered the slightest suggestion about how one might restructure the disability program. All you’ve done is bitch about the hearing examiners and the clientele. What’s wrong with this population and what alternatives might there be for them? It just does not do to say they are free-loaders awarded benefits by incompetents, no further investigation needed.

    T. Shaw:

    A possibility to investigate: are state income taxes in Maine a levy not meant for anyone but a fairly affluent population? That was initially the case with the federal income tax.

  • PS: As of tomorrow, the US has the highest corporate tax rate on the planet.

    Doubt it. The last time I checked, about 9% of corporate profits were collected in federal tax levies. We have payroll taxes (amounting all told to 10% of labor income). What we do not have is a national value added tax, which casts a much wider net. Rates in the EU range from 15% to 27%.

  • “You need to do better than a cursory inspection of descriptive statistics in order to ascertain what is going on there.”

    Considering that disability awards are now based on mental problems, including depression, and alleged back problems, both of which are difficult to disprove, I think it is clear what is going on here.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/13/AR2010091306493.html?sid=ST2010091401818

    Getting government handouts has almost no stigma, and more people are holding their hands out for freebies from Uncle Sucker. I see this all the time in my practice Art; this is no deep, dark secret.

    “(And no, I do not think you are going to discover in the legislative history that work-related injuries were the sole or even primary consideration in enacting the program).”

    You would be wrong about that Art. What the program was initially was supposed to be for was clear from the fact that permanent disability benefits were normally contingent on the loss of a limb.

  • “Foxfier, you and Donald have not offered the slightest suggestion about how one might restructure the disability program.”

    Make all benefit awards reviewable each year and actually conduct the reviews. Replace the current hearing officers and administrative law judges hearing disability cases. Narrow eligibility to those who are truly unable to work. (Depression would not be on the list, along with a host of other dodges currently used to scam benefits.) Give bonuses to government investigators who ferret out people who are receiving benefits and also working. It would be difficult to come up with a worse system than what we currently have.

    http://www.oregonlive.com/news/index.ssf/2008/12/disability_fraud_saps_social_s.html

  • “I doubt it”

    “WASHINGTON, March 30, 2012 (Reuters) – The United States’ (39.2%) will hold the dubious distinction starting on Sunday of having the developed world’s highest corporate tax rate after Japan’s drops to 38.01 percent.”

    Art, I was prepared to provide facts and figures to defend my Maine comment.

    No matter how much liberals use them, the truth isn’t the result of a three card monty game flip or how well a demagogue can gull envious classes that believe it’s the government’s duty to provide for them.

    Soon enough, like Greece, Maine and Washington politicians will run out of other people’s money and then the “jig is up” – the laws of arithmetic are not subject to weeping, gnashing of teeth, or lying.

  • Art,

    Of course people with no income pay no income taxes: some receive tax credit payments.

    In Maine, Medicaid, welfare, food stamps and subsidies for education have a combined enrollment of 660,000. Adjusting the 660,000 for overlaps reduces the number to 453,194 – or 8,120 more people on state assistance than the 445,074 state income taxpayers in Maine.

    We shall see if Maine can be more suave at bankruptcy than Greece or Harrisburg, PA.

  • Foxfier, you and Donald have not offered the slightest suggestion about how one might restructure the disability program.

    Which does not justify your false accusation that we’re suggesting dumping the whole thing.

    The obvious conclusion to take from our “bitching” is to apply some common sense to the awarding of these benefits, as foreign a concept as that is in bureaucracies.

  • Considering that disability awards are now based on mental problems, including depression, and alleged back problems, both of which are difficult to disprove, I think it is clear what is going on here.

    About 23% are based on psychological problems, of which half are for ‘mood disorders’, as pointed out above. (The remainder are for schizophrenia, mental retardation, &c.)

    No, nothing is very clear.

  • The obvious conclusion to take from our “bitching” is to apply some common sense to the awarding of these benefits, as foreign a concept as that is in bureaucracies.

    The obvious conclusion is that getting this right and getting it consistently right is easier said than done.

  • You would be wrong about that Art. What the program was initially was supposed to be for was clear from the fact that permanent disability benefits were normally contingent on the loss of a limb.

    Where did you read that?

  • The obvious conclusion is that getting this right and getting it consistently right is easier said than done.

    And that justifies accusing those who dare point out there’s a problem of wanting to shut the whole thing down…how?

  • And that justifies accusing those who dare point out there’s a problem of wanting to shut the whole thing down…how?

    If you recall, I asked you if I had understood your position correctly, and your response was indignation. (And arguing about the argument we are having is not terribly productive).

    (And, by the way, such an interpretation would be a reasonable inference to be drawn of the moderator’s remarks).

    Since I have pointed out some of the discrete problems with the program, your complaint does not make much sense. What I have done is reject the frame you all have put around the problem.

  • If you recall, I asked you if I had understood your position correctly, and your response was indignation.

    Yes, I responded indignantly to you projecting a viewpoint that is ludicrous as a reasonable interpretation of pointing out valid problems.

    “Ugh. My car keeps pulling to the right, it’s clearly screwy.”
    “So, you want to blow it up, is that right?”
    “What the heck is wrong with you? How on earth is that a reasonable jump?”
    “Well, you didn’t say you wanted to mechanic on it.”

    And arguing about the argument we are having is not terribly productive

    It’s more productive than trying to have a conversation with someone who rejects offered data and mischaracterizes those he disagrees with into foolish strawmen.

  • To solve a problem, you have to decide that there is a problem, identify the problem, figure out possible causes, and then you start on solutions.

    *Video shows that there is some sort of problem.

    *Problem is initially identified as “Good people want to help those who can’t help themselves, but now we have a bunch of people helping themselves to the aid they don’t need.”
    **Problem is secondarily identified as the programs allowing obvious abuses–getting services while technically qualified (say, those in jail who get food stamps) or flat-out fraud, plus the stuff that’s murky. (“Emotional issues” disability.)

    There are some possible causes– the qualifications are off, the judge mentioned earlier that approves almost all the cases isn’t a good gatekeeper, etc.– but it’s not clear you agree there is a problem to solve.

Council of Jerusalem

Thursday, September 1, AD 2011

A question arose yesterday in a thread, posed by Michael:

I have a real question. Homosexuality, as a sin an abomination, is mentioned in Leviticus. That book, however, also says:
 – disrespect of parents should be punishable by death
 – sleeping with a woman during her period should make both parties outcasts
 – don’t eat pork
 – shellfish are an abomination

So my question is, why are some of the verses ignored and others so important?

It is a good question and sometimes confuses Catholics and non-Catholics.  The answer to the question is in the very earliest history of the Church.  After the ascension of Jesus, the apostles went about the great task of making “disciples of all the nations”, and Christianity began to spread among Jew and Gentile alike.  The question quickly arose as to whether Gentile converts would have to be circumcised (the males only of course!) and follow all of the Jewish laws regarding ritual purity.  If they were asked to do this, it would mean a complete revolution in their life.  They would no longer be able to even eat a meal with their Gentile relatives and friends.  Like the Jews, the Christians would be a people set apart, cut off from interacting in the simplest ways with non-Jews for fear of violating the hundreds of laws of the Old Testament regarding ritual purity.

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47 Responses to Council of Jerusalem

  • EXCELLENT post, Don! I don’t believe I have ever seen this issue explained more clearly and concisely. This should be a “must read” and a “must link” throughout St. Blog’s.

  • Thank you Jay. The Old Testament laws and their applicability to Christians is an issue that keeps coming up in current debates and Catholics need to know that the answer is a pretty simple one.

  • Jesus and then Paul were asking the Jews to chuck 4,000 years of following the Law and sacred traditions as they understood them. It’s easy to grasp the reluctance of many to adopt the “new covenant” on the mere say-so of a dozen followers of a man claiming to be God. Jesus claimed to fulfill the law, of which the curse was sickness, poverty and death.

    As these things continued after Christ’s death, many understandably could not embrace the new religion. This is the “stumbling block” that remains for Jews to this today and many others including atheists and agnostics.

    Don, your explanation as to why some portions of the OT apply and others do not rests on Paul and the other apostles’ interpretations solely. As Saul he was the chief persecutor of the followers of Jesus, then claimed to be his chief supporter. A 180, which we are to believe was the result of his “vision” on the trip to Damascus. Likewise we are to take at face value Peter’s “vision” about which animals are OK to eat.

    Down through the centuries, men and women have claimed to have “visions,” which they subsequently offer as “proof” of divine instruction to pass along as the “truth.” These would include Joe Smith as well, who launched Mormonism as well as Mohammed and countless other major and minor prophets. Which of these “visions” are valid and which are bogus? It boils down to who one choose to believe and nothing more.

  • If you believe in Christ Joe, you believe in what Saint Peter and Saint Paul taught, and the authority of the magisterium of the Church, since Christ granted to the Church through Saint Peter the power to bind and to loose. Saint Peter and Saint Paul believed in what Christ had taught and the evidence of this is the martyrdoms they embraced.

    I answered the question posed by Michael as to how Catholics determine what Old Testament laws are binding and what are not. The doubt that has eaten away at you for so long is something that only you, with the grace of God, can address for yourself. For all of us the essential question always remains the one posed by Christ to Saint Peter: “Who do you say that I am?”

  • Joe, I don’t think that Donald was offering a proof. He lays out a consistent rule and explains its origins. Nothing wrong with that.

  • For all of us the essential question always remains the one posed by Christ to Saint Peter: “Who do you say that I am?”

    I ask myself that same question every day and every day I come up with the same answer: “I don’t know.”

  • While everything you say about the Council is true, it doesn’t apply to some of the Levitical Laws such as disrespect of parents should be punishable by death or having “Cafeteria Jews” put to death, otherwise most Jews would have been dead by the time of Jesus and the prophets would have no-one to rail against.

    As with Catholicism, Judaism is not a religion of the book. The laws were understood in community and they had a purpose. For instance, the law for parents to kill disrespectful children was not so much a commandment for parents as protection for children since in order to carry out this commandment you needed to go to priestly council to pass judgment. Most parents would not go that far since they love their children, and those who would have, would likely have killed their children anyway. Once at the council, there priests can talk to both parties and achieve reconciliation or use other means such as disowning the child to protect the child. If you look at Jewish historical records you will see that such disrespectful child executions rarely happened, so that pastoral counseling must have worked.

    Protestants have a much harder time with the Council of Jerusalem since they can’t make an Ecumenical Council “God Breathed” since that would mean Catholic doctrine was true, but if they don’t, they can’t abandon Jewish Law since neither Paul nor Peter nor an Ecumenical Council that took the words of Paul or Peter has the authority to repudiate Jewish Law. And even if they could, “since it is in the Bible”, the council merely stated gentiles should follow the Seven Laws of Noah which are binding on gentiles and Jews alike and nothing in the Bible says that we have the freedom to eating of flesh cut from a living animal (more than a few food Christians commonly eat qualify, especially some ham and sea food) or be blissfully unaware of how the food was processed.

  • I’m not sure the following is 100% correct.

    I’ve read that Leviticus distinguishes between two types of laws:
    (1) Laws for the Jewish people
    (2) Laws that prevent “defile the land”

    The first type of laws (like not wearing polyester) apply only to those initiated into the Mosaic covenant.

    The second type of laws, laws prevent the defilement of the land, apply to all peoples, regardless of whether or not they are initiated into the covenant. Lev. 18:26: “The native-born and the aliens living among you must not do any of these detestable things” lest “the land become defiled.”

    Here is a list of all the “sins which defile the land,” all the Old Testament laws which non-Jews had to obey, or be “cut off from the community.”
    1. Exod 12.19: Do not eat leaven at Passover
    2. Lev 17.8-9: Only offer sacrifice at the Tabernacle door
    3. Lev 17.10-12, 14: Do not eat blood
    4. Lev 18.26: Do not commit sins listed in 18.6-26 (including homosexuality)
    5. Lev 20.2-3: Do not give children for Molech

    Do these laws which Judaism extended to all people also extend to Christians?

    The Council of Jerusalem, which decided to admit Gentiles to the Church, admitted them to the Church on four conditions (Acts 15:29):
    • Do not eat things polluted by idols (#2 & 5 above)
    • Do not commit porneia (sexual immorality) (#4 above)
    • Do not eat whatever has been strangled (#3 above)
    • Do not eat blood (#3 above)*

    In other words, the only condition which the Apostles laid down for Gentiles to enter the Church was that they keep all the laws which the Jewish Law commanded non-Jews to keep.

  • Jesus and then Paul were asking the Jews to chuck 4,000 years of following the Law

    1,000 years.

  • Art, give or take a millennia or two. Supposedly, Adam and Eve were created around 4,006 B.C., according to Bishop Usher (Oct. 15 if memory serves at around 9 a.m. eastern standard time), and since the Hebrews soon followed, 3,000 years would seem to be in the ballpark. But whatever the number, the original point holds: that for a long time the ancient Jews subscribed to rigid ritual.

  • “They were required to fellow the ten commandments” If that is so, then we should be going to church on Saturday, nor could we have statues or pictures of Jesus. The ten commandments were a part of the Old Covenant, as much as the law of kosher was. The laws of God existed before the Old Covenant (see Genesis 26:5), so this isn’t an arguement for antinomism. We do use a form of the ten in cathesis, but it isn’t the ten commandments of the Old Covenant. Jesus in the Sermon On The Mount, went beyond the mere letter of the law, and taught us the intent or the spirit of the law. we are no longer under the letter of the law, which kills, but the spirit of the law which gives life. (IICor 3:6-18)

  • No Stephen, the Ten Commandments, as interpreted by the Church, are still in full force and effect, as the Catechism amply demonstrates:

    “2068 The Council of Trent teaches that the Ten Commandments are obligatory for Christians and that the
    justified man is still bound to keep them;28 The Second Vatican Council confirms: “The bishops, successors
    of the apostles, receive from the Lord . . . the mission of teaching all peoples, and of preaching the Gospel to
    every creature, so that all men may attain salvation through faith, Baptism and the observance of the
    Commandments.”29”

    Just one of many gifts that the Church has received from God through transmission by our beloved Jewish brethren.

  • Joe, if you don’t mind me saying, you describe your agnosticism like you’re in a dead-end relationship with it. Usually people stay in a dead-end relationship for a reason. So what are you getting out of it?

  • Just a lot of agonizing frustration, Pinky. Not much else. The search goes on.

  • Stephen, I believe your assessment is correct. The council dealt specifically with Jewish identity markers that were being forced upon Gentile converts. It did not deal with ‘the law.’ The coucil had to meet becasue there was a definite transition by the time that’s narrated in the Acts. It was peculiar to that time; this sort of thing could never again arise. Councils can and have been called ever since in various forms for different reasons. But who can say that the Spirit decided the results in each instance? I would never assume that.

  • The Sabbath Day of the Hebrews was Saturday because that is the day God rested. Christians came to have Sunday as Sabbath because that is the day of Christ’s Resurrection. The religious art was/is not worshipped as were idols.

    I look at the history as relayed, Stephen. Jesus, Divine and human, came to live among us and renew our spirits. We were, at the end of the Old Testament, fully involved with legislating the letter of the law with inhumane actions basing these on the Ten Commandments of old. As God saw the need for his people to have guidelines for worthy lives then, He also saw how we lost its meaning through lack of love of Him and one another. We made the laws to be ones that kill. He made them to give life to His people. So, the New Testament.

    In the New Testament, Jesus was born a man to clarify and help us get away from being bogged down with the letters, the way we do. He taught the spirit of the law, loving God and neighbor, which necessarily entails lovingly obeying the Ten Commandments. I think He came as a reminder that that God loves His people beyond our capability of understanding the depth. I don’t agree that He meant that we forget any of His guidance throughout the ages. Jesus also added the neighbor consciousness to determine that we understand Gentiles are also God’s children, who had customs different from those of Hebrews which were not going to make a difference in spiritual salvation.

    Thank you for this post on the Council of Jerusalem. It’s such a clear approach. I was thinking of how to reply to Michael’s question. All I could come up with was unclean: shellfish being bottom feeders (no plumbing then), pork somewhat the same reason (garbage for a diet), the woman unable to conceive at this time would entail pure lust, and the parents being an example of how unlovingly man tweeked God’s law – all evidence of no chastity or raising mind and spirit above the organs below the waist.

  • I suspect that the command against eating meat from strangled animals and consuming blood refers more to some kind of (for lack of a better term) “active participation” in pagan sacrifices or rituals, than it does to simply eating meat or meat products that have not been processed in accordance with specified dietary laws. Otherwise eating blood sausage would still be a mortal sin, I’d think. I believe this is also one of the biblical passages that the Jehovah’s Witnesses interpret as forbidding blood transfusions.

    In any event I have always understood that the command against “porneia” or “immorality” meant that all Old Testament laws defining certain sexual RELATIONSHIPS as immoral carry over into New Testament law and are also binding on Christians — including laws against homosexuality and incest.

    Furthermore, the Greek word “porneia” used here also occurs in the Gospel of Matthew when Christ states that anyone who divorces his wife “except for immorality (porneia)” and marries another commits adultery. Now many Protestants interpret this to mean that Christ allowed divorce if either spouse commits adultery, but the most common and orthodox Catholic reading of this passage that I have heard, is that it probably refers to already married converts from paganism who would never have been allowed to marry under Jewish law because their relationships were considered incestuous or immoral. Those couples were free to dissolve their unions and marry again, but not anyone else.

    However, other sexual purity laws such as the rule against intercourse during menstruation and the accompanying necessity for women to ritually purify themselves every month (google “Laws of Niddah” or “mikvah” if you care to know more about it), do not carry over into Christianity.

  • While everything you say about the Council is true, it doesn’t apply to some of the Levitical Laws such as disrespect of parents should be punishable by death…

    Anil Wang

    That law was the reason why the request of the Prodigal Son was so scandalous to Jesus’ hearers when He spoke the parable of that name.

    By the way, do you have any historical evidence to demonstrate that Judeans normally carried out executions in the name of this law?

  • Don

    you knocked it on the head. keep up the good work.

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  • Really ,this is a lot of stuff. Love and Honor God .Love and Honor your neighbor and the rest of the words are meant to make some people think they know more than they really know.
    Listen to the reports of some of our dedicated priests about the actions in Philadelphia and Kansas City.These dedicated men have to deal with the shame brought on by the pedophile priets and that heirarchy who covered up for them.

    A lot of prayer and love is needed.

  • @ Joe

    You are right, the million dollar question is, who was Jesus? Was he just a crazy man or was he really God made flesh? It is obviously an all or nothing question, but how do we know?

    The way to know can actually be answered by your reference to Joseph Smith. You asked what is the difference between trusting Peter or trusting Joseph Smith?

    Well first we know that Peter was taught by Jesus directly, while Joseph Smith claims to have had a vision from an Angel.

    Second, Peter’s words can be checked against the other 10 Apostles whom were taught directly by Jesus, while we are left to just take Joseph Smith at his word, that he really did see an angle, that the gold tablets really did exist, that he was actually able to translate them, etc.

    The list could actually go on, but you can read if you are interested in seeing the differences.

    So, it seems that if you are going to trust someone, it should be Peter, but that begs the questions, can Peter (or any of the Apostles) be trusted?

    I believe Peter can be trusted exactly because he has 10 other Apostles who say the same thing he did. But was it a conspiracy then, did all the Apostles create a big lie? Well if they did lie, they are both incredibly smart and incredibly stupid. I mean think about it. They were able to convince other people to follow them, even to the point of death, so they must have been really good “liars”. But they also must have been idiots because they didn’t gain anything from their “lies”. Not money, or fame, or women, or anything, except certain death.

    So to me, it seems that they were not lying, and that all of them must have been convinced that Jesus was in fact God. But what do you think?

  • Oops, I tried to put an HTML tag in my message but it didn’t work exactly right. Sorry about that, but you can still click on it and get the article I was trying to reference.

  • Paul also deals with the Jew/Gentile transition in a bit of a different way, I think. Rather than a council, he recommends private conviction. The ‘strong’ are not to pick on the ‘weak’, and neither is to judge or try to change the other in such matters of food, drink, and ceremonial days, etc.

  • Joel, I think Peter has much more cred than Joe Smith given he was a contemporary of Jesus and the apostles, according to the New Testament. Whether Peter or anyone “lied,” I cannot say, but just because many followed him and died as martyrs is not persuasive in and of itself. More than 900 people followed Peoples Temper leader Jim Jones to the grave in Jonestown in 1978.

    What is more convincing, however, is the undeniable magnetism of Christ. i would be willing to admit that Jesus of Nazareth is the most compelling person in all of history and his mark on humanity supersedes all others. I think about him every day. He has said, “come to me all ye who are weary and I will give you rest.” Although I do not pray much any more, that is the one hope I cling to: that I may have rest either in this life or the next.

    Thanks for your kind words.

  • I think what is convincing is that Christianity has lasted as a very significant world religion, and has since grown too. Also, it’s profoundly impacted and shaped cultures right up till the present. I don’t see those kinds of results happen so dynamically in the case of other religions. A few come close, perhaps, but don’t reach the extent Christianity does.

  • Am I right to believe, then, that the prohibitions in Leviticus concerning homosexual practices carry forward to the New Testament?
    That seems to be the case as from what I read and what one priest told me homosexuals found guilty of abominations were being executed right up into the 18th century.
    Please understand that I’m not advocating here for queers to be put to death but rather to genuinely understand what’s going on.
    Patrick Madrid says that Jesus Himself did away with the laws of Leviticus, at least concerning homosexuals, when He said “let him without sin cast the first stone” but how does Jesus’ retort reconcile with my second paragraph if in fact it’s true?

  • If you don’t remove me from moderation I will no longer offer my comments here.

  • Yes they do Michael, especially since Saint Paul repeats the condemnation of homosexual conduct. The Church has always condemned it, as did virtually all Christian churches until the day before yesterday in historical terms.

    Romans of course legislated against sex between free born men as early as the Lex Scantinia, in 225 BC so the Christian attitude against homosexual sex was not sui generis in the ancient world.

    Jesus extended mercy to the woman caught in adultery and saved her from the equivalent of a lynch mob. The act of Jesus in giving mercy to the woman caught in adultery has never been considered as voiding the laws of Leviticus regarding homosexual conduct. Judging from the article linked below by Patrick Madrid I’d say that you have misinterpreted what he wrote. If you would care to link to the article where he made the statement you refer to, I would be happy to look at it.

    http://www.thebostonpilot.com/articleprint.asp?id=7081

  • Pat,

    It was needed in a prior posting.

    You’re back off moderation.

  • Donald, I still have Madrid’s email where he told me exactly what I said he said, so I’m not misrepresenting anything.
    He might’ve changed his tune since he said that to me, but what he said is what he said (I have it in writing) and I find it unfortunate that you would jump to the conclusion that he didn’t say what he said and then ever so subtly put my integrity on the line by saying I misrepresented him.
    That said your reply leaves me even more in the dark as to why the punishment of death for homosexual abominations no longer applies and when it was lifted and by whom.
    I’d be so grateful to get answers to those queries.

  • No Michael what I said was that what you said Madrid wrote appears to contradict what he wrote in the article I linked to and therefore I assumed that you must have misinterpreted what he wrote. Post what he said to you in the e-mail and I will look at it. I will go farther than that. If there is a contradiction I will send off an e-mail to Mr. Madrid asking him to comment. I do not know how I can be fairer than that.

    In regard to homosexual conduct the penalties were always in the hands of the state and not the Church. The death penalty for all sorts of offenses was much more common in the Eighteenth Century than in either the Nineteenth or the Twentieth centuries.

  • Looking at that article I linked to by Madrid, I see this paragraph:

    “In the Old Covenant, homosexual activity was punishable by death: “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them” (Leviticus 20:13). Thankfully, in the New Covenant, that punishment no longer applies, but the Church reminds us of the much worse eternal punishment that awaits those (whether homosexual or heterosexual) who refuse to repent and turn from their sins.”

    If he is saying that Christians did not use the punishment of stoning, he is correct. I think there is nothing in that stating that the condemnation of Leviticus as to the conduct was not still in full force and effect, but that death by stoning was no longer required as a penalty. If your point Michael was Madrid stating that the penalty was no longer as set forth in Leviticus then what you are stating is correct. Of course the secular authorities were free to assess any penalty they wished to under the criminal law.

  • Donald moving on from Madrid what I am getting at is this.
    If Iran or any Muslim country for that matter were to put a queer to death for an abomination, in your opinion would Catholics and Christians, generally, be justified, perhaps even compelled to support what Iran did using Leviticus as their grounds since, as you confirm, Leviticus carries forward into the New Testament?

  • In thinking about the original post more, it dawned on me that Jesus himself laid the ground work for the Apostles to teach what they taught at the council of Jerusalem.

    Matthew 15:11 “Not what goes into the mouth defile a man, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.” See verses 10-20 also.

    So this is good reason to reconsider the defilement laws of the Old Testament. But does that mean that the New Covenant was entirely replaced by the Old? Did Jesus ever say that homosexuality is not wrong? Not in so many words, but he did say this:

    Matthew 19:4-6 “Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one’? So they are no longer two but one. What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder.”

    This clearly reaffirms that God created male and female, who are intended to be together. Also, if anyone is interested in what it means for the “two to become one” I would recommend the book “The Good News About Sex & Marriage” by Christopher West.

    @ Michael: Your questions regarding when crimes punishable by death were lifted, was clearly in John 8:7, “”Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” So if there were people still stoning homosexuals, they were wrong to do it. But can you be specific? Was there ever a Church document put out that said to stone homosexuals? When and where are you talking about when you say “right up until the 18th century”? The more information you can give, the better the answer you will get 🙂

  • “perhaps even compelled to support what Iran did using Leviticus as their grounds since, as you confirm, Leviticus carries forward into the New Testament?”

    No. Christians agreeing that particular conduct is sinful does not require support for a secular punishment of that sin. That has never been taught by the Church.

  • Plato: “Opinion is not truth.”

    T. Shaw: “Opinion is not reality; but you have a right to stick your fingers in your ears and feverishly stamp your feet.”

    Here is a list of the “sins which defile the land,” the Old Testament laws and were enforced for non-Jews, or they were “cut off from the community.”
    1. Exod 12.19: Do not eat leaven at Passover
    2. Lev 17.8-9: Only offer sacrifice at the Tabernacle door
    3. Lev 17.10-12, 14: Do not eat blood
    4. Lev 18.26: Do not commit sins listed in 18.6-26 (including homosexuality)
    5. Lev 20.2-3: Do not sacrifice children for Molech

    The Council of Jerusalem decided to admit Gentiles to the Church on condition (Acts 15:29):
    • Do not eat things polluted by idols (#2 & 5 above)
    • Do not commit porneia (sexual immorality) (#4 above)
    • Do not eat whatever has been strangled (#3 above)
    • Do not eat blood (#3 above)

  • Wonderful commentary. I always look at the Council of Jerusalem as a fulfillment of Matthew 16 and 18 and John 20. Peter and the Apostles where given the authority to bind and loose. In the Counsel of Jerusalem two fishermen and ex Pharisee overturned Law given to us by God through Abraham and Moses. The only way they could do that was if they were given authority by God. What ever they bind is bound, what ever they loose is loosed. The Church is the hand of God in the Church Militant, if they say do it you better do it, if they say you don’t have to do it then you shouldn’t do it. It seams pretty simple to me. It all comes down to authority, those that follow this teaching are Catholic those that go against this teaching are Protestant no matter how they actually refer to themselves.

  • Thank you, Tito. I’m aware that there are a variety of ways to view the council, what its import is for the church down through the ages. I don’t think it’s correct to view all councils as binding, since the test for me is whether it squares with scripture. If it squares with Scripture, then I consider it Spirit-inspired. It’s an application of the Bible within a particular context in that case.

  • I was not going to reply back to this, because I know it does not relate to the original post, but it is all I have been thinking about.

    Joe said: Joel, I think Peter has much more cred than Joe Smith given he was a contemporary of Jesus and the apostles, according to the New Testament. Whether Peter or anyone “lied,” I cannot say, but just because many followed him and died as martyrs is not persuasive in and of itself. More than 900 people followed Peoples Temper leader Jim Jones to the grave in Jonestown in 1978.

    I agree that Peter has more credibility than Joe Smith. I think we can know whether Peter or the Apostles were lying (at least with as much certainty as anything else we can know). But your comparing the followers of Jim Jones to the followers of the Apostles is not exactly the same. Those people apparently committed suicide (although who knows how many really knew what they were drinking?) while the Apostles and their followers were killed by other people. This is significant because all the Apostles or their followers had to do was recant their beliefs and they would have been spared. This is a crucial difference when we take into consideration what I was saying before, about did the Apostles lie about Jesus’ resurrection or did they tell the truth. Why would all 12 Apostles and Paul lie about Jesus being resurrected? What did they have to gain? I can see why someone like Joe Smith would lie, he had lots to gain (money, power, polygamy). Or Jim Jones can be explained with a simple: he was crazy and found other crazy (or easily convinced) people to follow him.

    But then could Jesus have been crazy and have found 12 crazy people to follow him? Well we have to ask ourselves, did Jesus rise from the dead? Either yes, which means he is God, or no. If no, then those 12 crazy Apostles decided to lie about the resurrection. Then we are to believe that all 12 crazy Apostles (and Paul came along a bit later) all worked together and were able to create what has to be the greatest conspiracy of all time. I mean think about it. All it would have taken to destroy the “lie”, would have been for just 1 of the Apostles to spill the beans. Yet we have no record of this happening. Why would Paul have done his ‘180’ and converted to Christianity? He had a great life and yet we are to believe that he “threw” it all away for a lie, but to gain what?

    So for me (I was once agnostic when it came to God, but it was thinking about this stuff that got me started down the proverbial rabbit hole) it is exactly because the Apostles had nothing to gain and they all remained united in their beliefs even to the point of death, that I can be sure that Jesus rose from the dead. (There are other things to further support the belief that the Apostles were not all lying: Peter having the title of First Apostle and the special place he has [why did no one else fight him for this], the unity of all the early church’s [they were all considered One Church, but how easy it would have been for say Thomas to go out and create his own church] etc.).

    What is more convincing, however, is the undeniable magnetism of Christ. i would be willing to admit that Jesus of Nazareth is the most compelling person in all of history and his mark on humanity supersedes all others.

    I am not sure exactly how “magnetic” Christ was? Obviously people sought him out, but it seems to me that it was more because of the miracles that he was performing. Obviously we view him as a great teacher, but many viewed his teachings as heretical and blasphemous. Read John Chapter 6, first he feeds the five thousand, but the next day he taught them about the Eucharist and said that to be saved they had to eat his flesh. John 6:66 says, “After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer walked with him.”

    But what really sets Jesus apart from all other “prophets” or “great teachers” is the claim that he rose from the dead which would mean that he is God made flesh. Once I had accepted that, then I could move forward with understanding the Scripture. Otherwise, a person just thinks Jesus was a great teacher, then the Bible is really confusing and actually doesn’t make sense. The Early Church fathers used to say, “Either Jesus was God or he was a crazy man.”

  • Joel, I’ve heard the “either crazy or God” argument before, used I think by CS Lewis. But there’s a lot of in-between. Maybe Jesus truly believed he was the Son of God, a self-delusion alluded to in “The Passover Plot.” Perhaps, egged on by his followers, he reluctantly assumed the role. There are some ambiguous passages in the NT: “Why do you call me good? Only God is good.” “The father is greater than I.”, etc.

    If the Apostles stuck with him to the end, willing to be martyred, they would hardly be the first to follow their leader to the grave, as I mentioned before. The Japanese samurai did it routinely, as did countless soldiers in battle. What did the apostles have to “gain”? Who knows? Maybe the assurance of an after-life from their master was enough, maybe they were just resigned to their fate. Renouncing Jesus likely would not have gotten them off the hook. Peter was going to be crucified one way or another for defying Roman authorities.

    I don’t rule out returning to the fold some day; but at this juncture I have too many burning questions, too many problems and issues with God to submit. Not the least of which is the age-old “problem of evil,” which has always been a huge hurdle for many wanting to believe. The failure of prayer is another. I have seen the righteous pray constantly for others, only to see their prayers unanswered. Innocents die, the wicked live on. Life is not fair. God is the author of life. God is not fair. That is my thinking. I can’t change it until I understand.

  • Joe, numerous theodicies have of course been written and nothing new can be said on the matter. Here’s my take based on my reading of the Bible: God created a perfect world. We became wayward. He calls us back to Himself but we continue to have a certain amount of free-will. As it’s exercised, this free-will is often used sinfully, which affects ourselves and others. The Lord deals with that on a higher level. But he doesn’t intervene so far as to eliminate that free-will with the entirety of results which follow. If He did, there would be grave problems for us philosophically. For example, are we not creatures endowed wtih choice-making ability? Does not God love us and wish us to respond in kind? If the answer to either or both those questions is negative, we are then faced with an even more difficult quandary.

  • Joe, please forgive this following. I’m just getting concerned about you.

    “What did the apostles have to “gain”? Who knows? Maybe the assurance of an after-life from their master was enough, maybe they were just resigned to their fate. Renouncing Jesus likely would not have gotten them off the hook.”

    The Holy Spirit on Pentecost visited them in the Upper Room, a visit that became the Catholic Church’s birthday. I wish for you such a visit – being sort of worried about your spiritual state of affairs.
    That old problem, Satan, is part of this vale of tears until the last day when Jesus comes back as promised. Our part is to strive to reach the fairness of God in eternity through virtues taught by Jesus, in the Gospels. Life isn’t fair, prayer lets God know us, we can’t tell Him what to do; but, I have to think that nothing we do without trying know Him is a waste of the time we have here. Please just don’t judge God as not fair, and shoot for understanding. You can get past your judgment.

  • Joe, I can see you have thought about this and are continuing to struggle, which is good.

    I would say though that the main point to consider is: did Jesus rise from the dead? If that question can be answered, then so many more will follow like domino’s.

    If he did, then obviously he is God. Which then answers the question as to why the Apostles would stay true to their beliefs.

    If he didn’t, then the Apostles lied about it. These 12 men must have had some reason for lying. What that reason would be, completely escapes me. The Apostles would have realized that their leader was dead. Their two options would have been to go home or pretend Jesus came back to life. Amazingly then, all 12 decided to take option number 2 and lie. Then even more amazingly they all continued to lie right up until their deaths. Who would do that? What are the chances that even one of them would not have said the heck with this, I am going home? And then their was Paul, who joins their ranks, but not like we would expect. He was doing quite well for himself, but he apparently threw it all away and joined the Christians. Why? I could understand if Paul had been given something (money, power, etc) but he had nothing. He was put in jail numerous times and was obviously going to be killed eventually. Are we to believe that he lied about Jesus blinding him on the road to Damascus?

    I know I can’t prove any of this to be 100% true, but when I consider the most likely scenario, 12 crazy apostles that lied just doesn’t seem plausible. So this leaves me with the first choice, that Jesus did rise from the dead.

    I am glad that you have engaged with me in this conversation because it helps me to grow in my faith when I have to explain what I believe and why. A lot of the atheists and agnostics I try to talk to just brush religion off as fairy tales that shouldn’t even be discussed because they feel as though nothing can really be proven. I obviously feel the opposite. I think that Christ and his Apostles can be proven in as much as we can weigh the different scenarios and believe the most likely one from the evidence. The final step is having faith, but it really becomes the same faith we have that the sun will rise tomorrow or faith in “what goes up, must come down”.

  • Joe Green,

    The apostles were not soldiers looking to take other lives with them like Muslim “martyrs” do.

    The apostles willingly went to their death peacefully and forgiving their persecutors.

    THAT is huge.

    Using your line of logic, can you convince 12 of your closest friends to die for a lie?

  • Pingback: Datechguy's Blog » Blog Archive » The best answer to a question I’ve often heard from Athiests concerning homosexuality…

Someone Give This Man a Job Immediately!

Friday, March 25, AD 2011

Hattip to Creative Minority Report.

If Tim Roach questioned his own manhood after six months of unemployment, consider the question asked and answered. Tim Roach is a man, a good man.

In mid February, Tim, got a call from his local union with the news every laid off worker longs to hear — a job offer.

It couldn’t have come at a better time. Tim’s unemployment benefits were about to run out. He could hardly believe what the voice on the other end was presenting to him — an offer to be a job foreman for at least 11 months, with a salary of $65,000 to $70,000 a year.

Perfect, Tim thought. Then came the bad news — he would be working on construction of a new Planned Parent­hood Clinic in St. Paul on University Avenue. The highest of highs became the lowest of lows as he quickly turned down the offer.

Tim’s Union rep tried to get him to reconsider saying he wasn’t sure if abortions would be performed there but he simply responded, “It’s a Planned Parenthood. No.”

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The Jesus The Professional Left Chose To Ignore

Monday, September 13, AD 2010

Jesus Christ has always been an enigma to those on the left. Some liberal idealists embraced Him; many others on the radical left did not. Some on the radical left actually attacked Jesus by either saying He didn’t exist (a rather strange way of dealing with someone) or claiming he was demented. However, after World War II a rather cunning adaptation of Jesus was embraced by the Professional Left.  The solution thought up by the Professional Left was as simple as it was devious; simply say Jesus was one of them.

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MUNIFICENTISSIMUS DEUS

Sunday, August 15, AD 2010

1. The most bountiful God, who is almighty, the plan of whose providence rests upon wisdom and love, tempers, in the secret purpose of his own mind, the sorrows of peoples and of individual men by means of joys that he interposes in their lives from time to time, in such a way that, under different conditions and in different ways, all things may work together unto good for those who love him.[1]

2. Now, just like the present age, our pontificate is weighed down by ever so many cares, anxieties, and troubles, by reason of very severe calamities that have taken place and by reason of the fact that many have strayed away from truth and virtue. Nevertheless, we are greatly consoled to see that, while the Catholic faith is being professed publicly and vigorously, piety toward the Virgin Mother of God is flourishing and daily growing more fervent, and that almost everywhere on earth it is showing indications of a better and holier life. Thus, while the Blessed Virgin is fulfilling in the most affectionate manner her maternal duties on behalf of those redeemed by the blood of Christ, the minds and the hearts of her children are being vigorously aroused to a more assiduous consideration of her prerogatives.

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Inequality: Can't Live With It, Can't Live Without It

Tuesday, July 13, AD 2010

In my last post I looked at the question of how to calculate the just or living wage, using figures from Father Ryan’s classic text A Living Wage brought up to date by adjusting for inflation. Commenter Restrained Radical, however, thinks that in merely adjusting for inflation I was being too stingy:

Adjusting for inflation isn’t necessary the best way to adjust Fr. Ryan’s figures. Real GDP per capita grew faster than inflation. In other words, Americans got wealthier. Using Fr. Ryan’s figures today adjusted for inflation would be appropriate if real GDP per capita was stagnate for 89 years. In 1919, GDP per capita was $805. If you only adjust for inflation, that would be $9,897 today. That’s somewhere between Cuba and South Africa. So $6.15/hour would be an appropriate living wage for a family of 5, in Cuba.

If instead we adjust for unskilled labor wage increase (4.24% annualized since 1919), $1,400 to $1,500 then would be $56,388 to $60,416. That’s probably closer to what Fr. Ryan had in mind.

In 2008, median household income in the United States was $52,029. If Restrained Radical’s interpretation is correct, then it would seem Father Ryan was advocating a kind of Lake Wobegon society, where everyone has the right to an above average income.

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0 Responses to Inequality: Can't Live With It, Can't Live Without It

  • Many countries use some percentage of median household income as a measure of poverty. That’s workable but arriving at an appropriate percentage is difficult. Ideally, we’d ask everyone, “Assuming you have no assets and receive no government assistance, at what income level would you consider yourself poor?” Then adjust for geography, household size, assets, and maybe age to determine who to help.

  • LOL. I’ve known people who had next to nothing and would never consider themselves poor, and I’ve known people who consider themselves in horrible financial distress because they cannot pay private college tuition. I really doubt that there is any practical room for subjectivity in the analysis.

    I think the real point of Blackadder’s cogent essay is that there is a difference between attacking income inequality as such versus attacking poverty. There is a far greater political consensus in favor of the latter than former, and it is exceedingly difficult to attack the former without making making the latter problem worse.

    I have often proposed this simple thought experiment. Posit a world with three families, the Kings, the Queens, and the Princes: This world can organize itself into two different societies with two different outcomes. Assume the rules of neither society involve slavery, coersion, dishonesty or other intrinsic evil. In the first society the standard of living outcome is Kings 100, the Queens 15, and the Princes 10. In the second society the standard of living outcome is 5 for each family. Which society is preferable? In my experience the responses are revealing.

  • I’ve known people who had next to nothing and would never consider themselves poor, and I’ve known people who consider themselves in horrible financial distress because they cannot pay private college tuition. I really doubt that there is any practical room for subjectivity in the analysis.

    So very true Mike. It was a heartening thing to hear my kids talk about helping the poor, especially when we would drop off bags of clothes and toys at St Vincent de Paul. However, they never made any connection to our shopping there.

    Really, our nation is probably too wealthy for its own good. As Catholics we customarily say grace before meals. It’s a good and an ancient practice. Gratitude for life and every little blessing *should* permeate our souls. I fail at it and I’m confident others do too, though how wrong headed is it of us as a society to not only be ungrateful for things like food, clothing and shelter – presuming their existence and availability – and then debating whether a cell phone is a real necessity. We can’t even be grateful for little technological gadgets in their own context. We assume they are core to our existence. We are so friggin’ spoiled…

  • One small additional note.

    Please keep in mind that income and wealth are not the same thing; and that income and productivity aren’t quite the same thing although they’re more closely related than income and wealth.

    At one point Restrained Radical said, “Real GDP per capita grew faster than inflation. In other words, Americans got wealthier.” This is not quite right; Americans started producing more, and presumably their income increased by some amount also although it needn’t be exactly proportional. And if their cost of living didn’t increase at the same rate as their income, then their wealth increased, in proportion to the degree that their disposable income was disposed in liquid or illiquid forms.

    Anyhow, a failure to appreciate these distinctions can lead to distortions in the conversation about “living wage.” A person with zero income can live quite nicely — ask Teresa Heinz Kerry, for example; at the time of the 2004 elections she’d been able to report tiny income and no “wages” for several years running — if they have sufficient liquid wealth to live off of.

    Indeed, the term “living wage” itself contains the distortion to some degree by focusing on “wage” rather than something like “wage plus net wealth divided by remaining life expectancy.” (Not exactly a phrase which rolls trippingly off the tongue!)

    Of course, the difference between one region’s cost of living, and another’s, comes into play. And there is the problem of determining what, exactly, constitutes the “living” of which one is measuring the cost, and how accurately one can gather information about wealth and income.

    In the end, the topic is sufficiently complex that subsidiarity comes into play: It is better that people closer to the problem (and, especially, people not insulated from the consequences of the policy decisions they make) be the ones who make policy on such issues. And it is preferable that their policy affect only a small group of persons on the same “level” of organization as they, but that they be free to observe the consequences of alternative policies on other peer groups implementing those policies, allowing all groups on a given level to make informed decisions about which policy is best. This, of course, was the fundamental truth (and thus, the Catholic truth) behind American Federalism…back when it still existed in a robust way.

    It is because of this subsidiarist logic that I am nearly libertarian about federal policy, a mainline conservative about state policy, a moderate or centrist about county-level or metropolitan-area-level policy, a mild authoritarian about township- or neighborhood-level policy, and a benign but occasionally totalitarian divine-right monarch within the bounds of my household.

    But I am digressing. My main point is: The topic is complicated enough as it is. Subsidiarity helps with that at a systemic level; but in the meantime, watch out you don’t make it more complicated by conflating productivity with income or income with wealth.

  • “You will always have the poor among you.”

    – God

    Smart post, BA.

  • RC, you’re right which is why consumption may be a better measure of poverty than income. Though, with the poor, the two are usually fairly closely correlated.

    Re subsidiarity: I’d agree to the extent that local government can and does fulfill its obligations. Many towns cannot or will not either because they don’t have the finances or they don’t have the political will. That doesn’t automatically mean that welfare should be a federal program but it does mean that the federal government needs to play a role.

  • I know people who have excess wealth, and it can almost be a curse at times. Their lives become so occupied with money.

    There should reasonable help from the state/federal governments for people who need assitance, like housing, food, etc. But, charaties for instance, do a lot of good, our parish is always helping the poor. Helping poor people should not be solely a government issue…if you want a healthy society.

  • In any event, government at whatever level should supplement, not displace, private charity.

    Otherwise it is another instance of “bad money crowds out good money”; with the problem of neediness in no way helped, but with good and morality-reinforcing means replaced by questionable and corruptive means.

    Sadly, I believe that government assistance to the needy does, in fact, crowd out private assistance, at very nearly a one-to-one proportion when exercised at the federal level. I suspect that proportion improves at the lowest levels, when the folk being helped can personally meet on the streets the persons who are helping them.

    If I am right about that, then having the federal government get involved when there is a failure of local government provision (which failure itself should only occur when there is a failure of local private provision) is counterproductive: It crowds out not only the remaining good local private money and any possibility of private money from adjacent communities, but also crowding out local government money, which is the least-corruptive type. As with nearly every other occasion when government acts outside its core mission, it fails to solve the problem while creating new ones.

    That, of course, is a generalization. But it’s the kind of generalization which makes the safest starting-point for the consideration of policy.

  • Jasper:

    You state: “Helping poor people should not be solely a government issue…if you want a healthy society.”

    Exactly.

    Or, well, no, I take that back. What you said is a very good start, but it could be amplified, and the principle clarified, as follows:

    If you want a healthy society, helping needy people is not primarily or even secondarily a government issue.

    It is primarily an issue to be addressed by those who know the needy person in question, including their church.

    It is secondly an issue to be addressed by their local community government, as a source of assistance to their family, friends, and church.

    It is thirdly an issue to be addressed by the government of the county or metropolitan area in which they reside (providing backup assistance to family, friends, church, and community)…in the minority of cases that the problem wasn’t adequately handled at the community level or lower.

    It is fourthly an issue to be addressed by the state in which they reside (providing a tiny additional layer of backup to the family, friends, church, community, and county/metro area)…in the rare cases it couldn’t be handled at the county/metro-area level or lower.

    It is, fifth and least importantly, and with the least burden and the least control, a responsibility of the federal government to provide some additional assistance, should all the other levels of assistance somehow, in very rare cases, fail to get the job done.

    Over the course of fifty years, if one were to keep track of all charitable handouts given in a particular neighborhood, one ought to find that fully half of the assistance was provided by friends and family and church; another 25% by the community, another 10% from the county or metro-area, another 6% from the state, and the last 4% from the federal government. Or some such numbers, anyway: Those precise numbers would vary, but I offer them in order to exhibit the general principle.

  • Sadly, I believe that government assistance to the needy does, in fact, crowd out private assistance, at very nearly a one-to-one proportion when exercised at the federal level. I suspect that proportion improves at the lowest levels, when the folk being helped can personally meet on the streets the persons who are helping them.

    If government ceased all assistance, private assistance isn’t going to pick up anywhere near 100% of the tab. You may get a better ratio at the community level, but I don’t think there will be much difference between higher levels of government. Given the same rights and obligations, a state as large and diverse as California won’t act very differently from the federal government.

    Is it more in keeping with subsidiarity for private institutions to ration goods and services or to provide cash and leave the allocation decisions to the individuals and families? Is it better to give someone a can of corn or to give him a food stamp to buy whatever food he needs? I think it’s clearly the latter. Private institutions are well suited to offer goods that people want to get rid of (second-hand goods and surplus goods). They’re also good at providing services run by volunteers. But cash assistance is preferable to the provisioning of marketable goods and services.

    If we’re giving the poor cash, the cheapest cost avoider when determining who needs cash and how much is the entity that has access to income, asset, and consumption records which is always the government (usually the state is the lowest capable level in this regard though even the state would probably need higher level cooperation to keep track of interstate commerce). That still doesn’t necessarily mean the government needs to be the distributor. I suppose private institutions can hand out checks if the governments makes its records available to private institutions but then there’s the privacy concern. On the one hand, we may not want to disclose such information. On the other hand, the shame may incentivize the poor to work their way out of poverty. If privacy, is a concern, the government should also be the distributor of financial assistance.

  • RR:

    Oh, I don’t doubt that there are obvious advantages to using government; e.g., that they know about people’s incomes.

    And, in fact, if one is using government to centralize the collection on voluntary donations, which are then turned over to the poor under the banner of “the generosity of your fellow citizens,” then some of my concerns go away.

    But government usually does not collect voluntary donations; it levies taxes. It does not grant unexpected gifts identified as the extraordinary kindness of other persons; it allows persons to claim their “entitlements” from a government controlled by the politicians for whom they may later vote.

    This has an altogether different “vibe” from the anonymous contribution slipped under the door by a neighbor.

    A person who gives voluntarily increases in charity and grace and magnanimity in the process; he learns to love. A person from whom his daughter’s potential college savings are taken by a guy for whom he didn’t vote learns no love in the process.

    The charity worker who collects voluntary donations sees the goodness of human beings reflected in every dollar. The taxman sees that human beings will do pretty much what you tell them to do, when you point a gun at them.

    The charity organization is founded by people on a mission to love others, whose message to potential donors awakens the donors’ consciences. The government is filled with politicians who see political advantage whenever they can wring money from people who won’t vote for them anyway, and send it to their home constituents in order to purchase their immediate gratitude and their eventual re-election vote.

    The recipients of voluntary charity learn humility and gratitude and the fact that their fellow men aren’t all bad…and if that charity comes through a church ministry, they learn on a visceral level to associate provision with the body of Christ. The recipients of “entitlements” learn that if you vote for the right guy, that guy will take a nightstick to some people you don’t know, and you can get those people’s money. They also often learn that it’s other people’s responsibility to subsidize their bad decisions, and that when they’re in need, it’s because the world owes them and isn’t paying up like it ought. And they often lose self-respect while not learning humility, because leeching off others is very different from benefiting from the generosity of others.

    In countries where the Church is the primary or only source of assistance, the Church is therefore central in the life of the community, and everyone can think of a time when they, or a relative, owed much to Christians. In countries where the state is presumed responsible for most or all assistance to the poor, the Church is an inexplicable and irrelevant sidecar to society with no obvious purpose or role.

    So I think that one of the problems when government gets too involved in this stuff is that it’s bad for the soul of the taxpayer, bad for the soul of the taxman, bad for the soul of the politician who organizes all of it, bad for the soul of the guy who voted him in, bad for the soul of the recipient, and tends to undermine the Church’s rightful position in society, which is bad for society in the long term.

    Whatever the advantages of government knowing people’s incomes, then, I think these disadvantages probably outweigh them.

    And, really, if I had a choice between a private firm (required by law to respect my privacy) knowing my income, and the government (required by law to respect my privacy) knowing my income, I might be happier with the private firm. After all, if they decide to violate my privacy, I can sue the pants off them. Their deep pockets might make it difficult, but those same deep pockets might bring me a lot of relief, if I win.

    But suing the government can be trickier, if they decide to change the law in a way that violates my privacy: Sovereign immunity may apply. Bringing a lawsuit over the content of the laws against the guys who make the laws is rather like assaulting a mental hospital with some bananas and a package of mixed nuts.

Catholic Manga, Saint Paul: From Tarsus To Redemption

Monday, July 12, AD 2010

Rome Reports has a spiffy video report on a Japanese form of comic book entertainment called manga that is utilized to teach the story of Saint Paul:

The manga comic book, a Japanese style, illustrates the story of Saint Paul’s conversion to Christianity.

The book is full of vivid images of Paul’s journey from his violence towards Christians to ultimately his with them.

It is recommended for ages 12 and up.  With Japanese-influenced art and simple, descriptive quotes, readers can learn about Paul in this easy to read comic book.  The creators are releasing a second volume on Saint Paul this summer.

For a prior posting on this comic book genre by Rome Reports click here.

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The First Icons of Saints Peter and Paul

Wednesday, June 23, AD 2010

Nicole Winfield of the Associated Press wrote this neat article on these rediscovered icons inside Rome’s catacombs:

Twenty-first century laser technology has opened a window into the early days of the Catholic Church, guiding researchers through the dank, musty catacombs beneath Rome to a startling find: the first known icons of the apostles Peter and Paul.

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One Response to The First Icons of Saints Peter and Paul

Under the Roman Sky

Monday, June 21, AD 2010

A new film, Under the Roman Sky, starring James Cromwell as Pius XII, details the heroic efforts of Pius XII to save the Jews of Rome from the Nazis, after Rome came under Nazi occupation subsequent to the fall of Mussolini following the Allied invasion of southern Italy in 1943.

Rabbi David G. Dalin, in his review of a Moral Reckoning, a tome by Daniel Goldhagen which sought to blame Catholicism for the Holocaust, details the efforts of the Pope to save the Jews of Rome:

Goldhagen’s centerpiece is the outrageous allegation that Pius XII “did not lift a finger to forfend the deportations of the Jews of Rome” or of other parts of Italy “by instructing his priests and nuns to give the hunted Jewish men, women and children sanctuary.”  Much of this is lifted straight from anti-Pius books like Susan Zuccotti’s Under His Very Windows–and thus Goldhagen repeats the errors of those books and adds extras, all his own, in his determined attempt to extend their thesis into over-the-top railings against the sheer existence of Catholicism.

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4 Responses to Under the Roman Sky

  • I may be wrong. I think Goldhagen’s and Zuccotti’s fictionalizations would be classified “calumny” and “detraction.”

  • I believe too much attention is paid to the books attacking Pius XII. Goldhagen has lied; Cornwall has lied. They are like weeds in the garden, impossible to eradicate completely. One can but let them be treated as Our Lord recommends we treat chaff. We have better things to do.

  • “We have better things to do.”

    Whatever the situation there are usually better things to do. However, responding to calumnies of this degree against Pius XII is an important thing to do. People will believe this rot unless Catholics respond with the truth, loudly, clearly and frequently.

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Inventing Jesus

Thursday, June 3, AD 2010

Ross Douthat has a good post on his NY Times blog responding to Adam Gopnik’s New Yorker piece on the search for “the historical Jesus”.

James Tabor, a professor of religious studies, in his 2006 book “The Jesus Dynasty,” takes surprisingly seriously the old Jewish idea that Jesus was known as the illegitimate son of a Roman soldier named Pantera—as well attested a tradition as any [emphasis mine — RD], occurring in Jewish texts of the second century, in which a Jesus ben Pantera makes several appearances, and the name is merely descriptive, not derogatory.

The whole problem with two centuries worth of historical Jesus scholarship is summed up in those seven words: “As well attested a tradition as any.” Because obviously if you don’t mind a little supernaturalism with your history, a story about Jesus being a Roman soldier’s bastard that dates from the second century — and late in the second century, at that — is dramatically less “well attested” than the well-known tradition (perhaps you’ve heard of it) that Jesus was born of a virgin married to Joseph the carpenter, which dates from the 70s or 80s A.D. at the latest, when the Gospels of Luke and Matthew were composed. Bracket the question of miracles, and there’s really no comparison: Giving the Roman soldier story equal weight with the accounts in Matthew and Luke is like saying that a tale about Abraham Lincoln that first surfaced in the 1970s has just as much credibility as a story that dates to the 1890s (and is associated with eyewitnesses to Lincoln’s life).

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5 Responses to Inventing Jesus

  • I’m not holding my breath for the “New Yorker” hit piece on the historical Muhammed.

  • Good quote and good subject — it’s easily one of my favorites (which I think might be obvious).

  • People invent their own gods, so why not invent some history while they’re at it? 🙂

  • This of course all comes from the anti-Christian writer Celsus. Go to the link below to read all about it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiberius_Iulius_Abdes_Pantera

    This recycling of a hostile Jewish slur against Jesus, was of course something unknown at the time of Jesus because it was invented after the fact as Christianity converted many Jewish congregations, and ill-will became the norm between the two faiths.

    The Gospels relate many slurs against Jesus, including the charge that he was possessed by demons, so our earliest source materials do mention what adversaries were saying, without a hint of this being mentioned. Tacitus, a pagan Roman senator who mentions Jesus in his writings circa 118 AD, says nothing of this.

  • Here is another “as well attested a tradition as any” (related by Cassius Dion through Edward Gibbon) that academics ought to take seriously: Simon Bar Kokba.

    “During Roman times the Jews were exceptionally intractable. They were unable to endure contact with others not of their race. They reacted with extreme vigor and obsession with ‘purity.’ They feared death less than the profanity of idolatry. They violently revolted when forced to pay taxes to idolaters.

    “The possibly mythic Zionist arch-hero Barchachebas –’Simon Bar Kokba’ – led an infamous messianic revolt against Rome during Emperor Hadrian’s reign – circa 135 AD. Humanity was shocked at the recital of the horrid cruelties they committed in Egypt, Cyrene, and Cyprus where they dwelt in treacherous “friendship” with the unsuspecting natives. They committed furious massacres: Cyrene – 220,000 dead; Cyprus – 240,000 dead, Egypt – uncounted dead. Mutilations and atrocities were recorded.” See Dion Cassius and Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

Cardinal Newman on Fasting

Wednesday, February 17, AD 2010

“And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He was afterward an hungered.” Matt. iv. 2.

{1} THE season of humiliation, which precedes Easter, lasts for forty days, in memory of our Lord’s long fast in the wilderness. Accordingly on this day, the first Sunday in Lent, we read the Gospel which gives an account of it; and in the Collect we pray Him, who for our sakes fasted forty days and forty nights, to bless our abstinence to the good of our souls and bodies.

We fast by way of penitence, and in order to subdue the flesh. Our Saviour had no need of fasting for either purpose. His fasting was unlike ours, as in its intensity, so in its object. And yet when we begin to fast, His pattern is set before us; and we continue the time of fasting till, in number of days, we have equalled His.

There is a reason for this;—in truth, we must do nothing except with Him in our eye. As He it is, through whom alone we have the power to do any good {2} thing, so unless we do it for Him it is not good. From Him our obedience comes, towards Him it must look. He says, “Without Me ye can do nothing.” [John xv. 5.] No work is good without grace and without love.

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Pope Benedict XVI Wishes Us All a Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 25, AD 2009

Here is the text of Pope Benedict’s Christmas Eve Homily:

Dear Brothers and Sisters! “A child is born for us, a son is given to us” (Is 9:5). What Isaiah prophesied as he gazed into the future from afar, consoling Israel amid its trials and its darkness, is now proclaimed to the shepherds as a present reality by the Angel, from whom a cloud of light streams forth: “To you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk 2:11). The Lord is here. From this moment, God is truly “God with us”. No longer is he the distant God who can in some way be perceived from afar, in creation and in our own consciousness. He has entered the world. He is close to us. The words of the risen Christ to his followers are addressed also to us: “Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28:20). For you the Saviour is born: through the Gospel and those who proclaim it, God now reminds us of the message that the Angel announced to the shepherds. It is a message that cannot leave us indifferent. If it is true, it changes everything. If it is true, it also affects me. Like the shepherds, then, I too must say: Come on, I want to go to Bethlehem to see the Word that has occurred there. The story of the shepherds is included in the Gospel for a reason. They show us the right way to respond to the message that we too have received. What is it that these first witnesses of God’s incarnation have to tell us?

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Pope Benedict Warns Against Marxist Liberation Theology

Monday, December 7, AD 2009

17 Responses to Pope Benedict Warns Against Marxist Liberation Theology

  • Leftist Catholics rightly identify Christ as the savior of human beings, body and soul alike. What they fail to understand is the consequences of Original Sin for the body, and the limitations on human life imposed by sin and finitude. They wrongly think that if everyone on Earth was a Saint, there would be no more suffering. Leftist Catholics think that there are no limits to human progress, which is to say they are very modern.

  • Some Leftist Catholics remind me of the Zealots who thought to bring about the Kingdom of God through the sword. A communist dictatorship though is a funny sort of Kingdom of God.

  • Such words for the “Catholic Left.” Then what is wrong with the “Catholic Right,” I wonder? Or does the “Right” comprise of the Catholics who “get it?”

  • Selective interpretation of the social teaching of the Church… which ultimately stems from liberalism as Leo XIII and Pius XI understood it.

  • In regard to the Catholic Right Eric, I can’t think of a comparable attempt by Catholic conservatives to trojan horse a body of doctrine completely inimical to Catholicism into the Church as has been the ongoing effort of some Catholics on the Left to baptize Marx. The nearest parallel I can think of predates the French Revolution with the unfortunate throne and altar doctrine of many clerics, although at least they could make the argument that the states they sought to wed the Church with were not anti-Catholic. In the case of Marxism, its overwhelming anti-Christian praxis should have innoculated Catholics from it without the necessity of papal intervention, but such was not the case.

  • Tito,

    No. 🙂

  • I think there’s a pretty strong throne and altar doctrine on the Catholic Right today, at least in the U.S., where the throne takes the form of military power.

    A case could also be made for a “‘Shut up, your Excellencies,’ he explained” doctrine, which denigrates the role of the bishops, individually and especially collectively, in developing social policies.

  • I read the Pope’s document carefully.

    Now I’m perplexed:

    1. Exactly what is objectionable in what he said?

    2. Has the Pope not condemned, in this very document, the arms buildup and the disgrace of military solutions? He only appears as a right winger if you’re looking from the vantage point of an extreme left wing ideologue.

    Maybe a few here ought to put down their Che Guevara coffee mugs read it again. The Holy Father is spot on.

    It is simply a fact of history that collectivist movements have enslaved the very people they promised to liberate.

    I am frankly a little more than concerned at the prideful inability of many leftists to acknowledge this fact of history, nay, the desire to whitewash this disgrace from history.

  • Who here is attacking the Pope?

  • MI,

    They participated and got deeply involved with Marxist governments. Dissidents such as Jesuit “Father” Ernesto Cardenal of Nicaragua who was involved with the Communist government then.

  • I’m always amused when people, especially conservatives who decry the tactic in others, appoint themselves the experts of All Things Liberal.

    I don’t think that Acts 4:32 is a bad things for which to strive. Certainly better than cuddling up to Pinochet or Cheney.

  • I’d rather cuddle up to Cheney than Karl Marx or Joseph Stalin any day of the week.

  • The early Christians quickly abandoned common ownership as completely unworkable Todd. Outside of monasteries and convents it has only been revived by Christians for short periods, usually with dire results. The Pilgrims tried it, and almost starved to death. William Bradford, the governor of the colony relates what happened next:

    “All this while no supply was heard of, neither knew they when they might expect any. So they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advice of the chiefest amongst them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves; in all other things to go on in the general way as before. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number, for that end, only for present use (but made no division for inheritance) and ranged all boys and youth under some family. This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression.

    The experience that was had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanity of that conceit of Plato’s and other ancients applauded by some of later times; that the taking away of property and bringing in community into a commonwealth would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God. For this community (so far as it was) was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For the young men, that were most able and fit for labour and service, did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense. The strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes than he that was weak and not able to do a quarter the other could; this was thought injustice. The aged and graver men to be ranked and equalized in labours and victuals, clothes, etc., with the meaner and younger sort, thought it some indignity and disrespect unto them. And for men’s wives to be commanded to do service for other men, as dressing their meat, washing their clothes, etc., they deemed it a kind of slavery, neither could many husbands well brook it. Upon the point all being to have alike, and all to do alike, they thought themselves in the like condition, and one as good as another; and so, if it did not cut off those relations that God hath set amongst men, yet it did at least much diminish and take off the mutual respects that should be preserved amongst them. And would have been worse if they had been men of another condition. Let none object this is men’s corruption, and nothing to the course itself. I answer, seeing all men have this corruption in them, God in His wisdom saw another course fitter for them.”

  • Michael I.,

    Donald will delete it at his leisure.

    For the time being I’m just amusing myself by reading your comments, thanks!

Advent and Anti-Christ, Part II

Sunday, December 6, AD 2009

 

 

Part II of my presentation of the four sermons on the Anti-Christ given by John Henry Cardinal Newman during Advent in 1835 before his conversion.  Part I is here.

In this second sermon Newman concentrates on what we can glean of  the Anti-Christ  from Scripture and from the writings of the Fathers of the Church.  One thing stands out in this sermon for me.  The idea that the reign of the Anti-Christ may involve both ferocious atheism and a return to paganism.  This seems like a contradiction, but Newman points to the French Revolution:

In that great and famous nation which is near us, once great for its love of CHRIST’S Church, since memorable for deeds of blasphemy, which lead me here to mention it, and now, when it should be pitied and prayed for, made unhappily our own model in too many respects,-followed when it should be condemned, and admired when it should be excused,-in the capital of that powerful and celebrated nation, there took place, as we all well know, within the last fifty years, an open apostasy from Christianity; not from Christianity only, but from every kind of worship which might retain any semblance or pretence of the great truths of religion. Atheism was absolutely professed; -yet in spite of this, it seems a contradiction in terms to say it, a certain sort of worship, and that, as the prophet expresses it, “a strange worship,” was introduced. Observe what this was.

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5 Responses to Advent and Anti-Christ, Part II

Advent and Anti-Christ, Part I

Sunday, November 29, AD 2009

Prior to his conversion to Catholicism, John Henry Cardinal Newman, soon to be Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman,  preached in 1835 a series of Advent Sermons on the Anti-Christ.  I have always found them extremely intriguing, and I am going to present them on each of the Sundays in Advent this year.

In this first sermon Newman gives us an overview of the Anti-Christ and the time of his appearance.  We see in this sermon Newman’s total command of history and how he uses this knowledge to draw out the implications of the few mentions of the Anti-Christ in Scripture.  Newman intellectually was always first and foremost a historian of the highest order and he puts this talent to good and instructive use in this sermon.  When Newman converted the Church gained one of the finest intellects of the Nineteenth Century or any century for that matter.  Much of Newman’s work concerned the working out of God’s plan for salvation through human history, and his examination of the Anti-Christ places that mysterious part of revelation into that plan.

“Let no man deceive you by any means:
for that Day shall not come,
except there come a falling away first,
and that man of sin be revealed,
the son of perdition.”

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21 Responses to Advent and Anti-Christ, Part I

  • How prescient Cardinal Newman was.

    Including Mohammad as a proto-Anti-Christ. Many have backed up Newmans assertion that heretical forms of Christianity such as Nestorianism contributed to the rise of Islam.

    Hilaire Belloc I believe (I don’t recall who exactly) called Islam another Christian heresy.

    How right he was!

  • You are right, Tito. Belloc said it in “The Great Heresies.”

  • Evil begets evil. But thanfully, God begets God, and what greater good is there than God?

  • I know we can’t know the timing of these things. I also know they will happen again and again with increasing frequency and severity until the final one; however, it sounds like the good cardical is talking of a conspiracy. Are we listening? Becuase it seems most people freak out and dismiss any time I hint of a conspiracy. Makes you think hmm.

    Could it be a liberal conspiracy? I am not referring to Demomcrat liberals or even Republican liberals, just liberal thought in general. Liberalism has some great aspects. I happen to like much of libertarian (the classical liberal) thought; however, liberal is also plagued with utility, permissiveness, license and radical individualism. Could this be the Devil taking us by the hand and making us his friends in our own undoing?

    Karl Marx certaintly thought so. He developed ideas, ideologies and an ‘economic’ theory that seek to do nothing other than totally destroy Western Civ. aka Rome aka Christendom. The tool he used to present his destructive agenda is Marxism/Communism and it’s newer forms of Critical Theory hidden away in liberalism, both the neo-con and the lefty-loony viriety.

  • Vince C.,

    I like the link in your name!

    I added it to our Catholic resources list.

    Keep up the great witness to our beautiful faith!

  • One point of clarification – John Henry Cardinal Newman is not yet identified as “Blessed” that is supposed to happen next year when the Holy Father visits England. Hopefully his canonization will follow sooner rather than later.

  • Let us pray for the conversion of the Antichrist, so that he, too, might enjoy the Beatific Vision and be an endless hymn of praise of God’s Mercy.

  • Thank you Dontex! I was gettting ahead of myself. It has been a long wait for we Newman devotees! I have amended the post.

  • The antichrist has always been at work ever since he decided to be greater than God. And his work is visible. Look at those that want anything that has to do with Christianity taken out, look at all the sexuality on TV, internet and so on. Look at sexual liberation men giving themselves to men, women to women “Because they gave up the natural order “ now where have I heard those words before; check out the driving force behind religions. Islam says that if one is not converted to Islam they need to be killed. Today the war is over oil, but after the crises is over, what reason will there be to go to war. I remember reading the story of the Jewish holocaust, and in a meeting of high ranking Nazi officials the final resolution was being discussed, and one general asked “ and after we do away with the Jewish people , who will be next “. After the oil war is over whom they will persecute.
    Read the story of Sodomma and Camorra why did God destroy them and see if those same reasons are not prevailing in our society today. Oh yes my dear brothers and sisters the anti-Christ is lose, angry and wild. He knows the day of the Lord is at hand. He also knows what awaits him.
    But fear you not because as the apostle said “IF I AM WIH THE LORD, WHAT EVIL CAN BEGET ME”
    Christ be with you all.

  • No Nick I’m afraid not! To pray for the conversion of the Antichrist would be in vain. He is confirmed in evil! It would be like trying to pray for the conversion of Satan and that you must know is impossible. The prince of Darkness is confirmed in Evil for all eternity.

  • I agree with Gabriel about Satan being confirmed evil for all eternity, though I am not sure if it is applicable to the anti-Christ.

    Satan, being created an angel by God has perfect knowledge. Angels are not human but are something akin to spiritual beings that had perfect intelligence. So when he consciously chose to oppose God it was final since in his own mind he thought better of himself instead of God.

    The anti-Christ will be a man, not an angle, so he (or she) will be imperfect, hence then he may still be able to repent.

    As Saint Theresa of Avila said, she still prays for Judas because we truly don’t know if he asked for forgiveness at the moment of his death.

  • Which antichrist? Nero, Mohammad, Marx, Hitler, or The Anti-Christ?

    I think many antichrists can repent but the final Anti-Christ, I am not so sure. He may be so closely tied to Satan that there is no hope for him. Isn’t he supposed to be slain and then rise again in mockery of Christ? If so, how is that possible unless Satan is completely animating and possesing him? If he is that given over to Satan I don’t think he can return to God, not that God wouldn’t have Mercy, but rather becuase the evil is so consuming that he wouldn’t consider surrender to God anything desireable.

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  • The Anti-Christ is Satan only in the form of a human being, just as Christ is God in a human form.
    Satan nor any of the fallen angels will be pardoned or can be pardoned for their sins and crimes, this is way they hate us humans so much cause we have the opportunity to repent they can’t and do not have the opportunity to repent. They knew and saw God as He is in all his glory.
    They literally saw and understood God but decided to go against him, freely and willingly.

  • Excellent point Rafael.

    Because they are angels they have perfect knowledge, hence they would choose not to repent if they were allowed to repent.

    I am not sure on this point, but the angels that followed Lucifer hated humans because God placed them above angels I believe.

  • I suppose it is possible that Anti-Christ is Satan but it is also possible that he is just another poor power-hungry, disobendient human given over to Satan through sin. Either way he is a problem and he loses.

    Tito, we are not above the angels. To my knowledge only one creature is above the angels and she is perfectly human, the Queen of men and angels, our Blessed Virgin Mary. The rest of us are lower than the angels and we are integrated with our bodies and struggle against our flesh. You are correct about the perfect knowledge of angels and their perfect and fixed free wills. Once an angel makes a choice it is eternally fixed. St. Michael will always serve God fully and Satan aka Lucifer will always be disobedient and he knows his time is short.

    I think Satan and the fallen angels (demons) rebelled against God not because He made us higher than angels but precisely becuase He made us lower than angels. I think when God showed them that He was taking human form, a lower form than an angel, their pride was bruised. The virtue opposite the vice of pride is humility. God humbled Himself to become a small, vulnerable, cold, poor, homeless baby. Satan went nuts and a third of heaven was cast out with him.

    Come Lord Jesus!

  • I see no evidence in Scripture that the anti-Christ will be an avatar of Satan.

  • No! I don’t believe the Antichrist is Satan himself. Satan also known as the dragon, the ancient serpent of old! Who gave his power, worldly glory, status to the beast, the Antichrist to make war with the saints and to conquer them and there was given to it (by Satan) power over every tribe and people and tonque and nation.
    And later, the beast or Antichrist was captured along with the false prophet who worked wonders to lead many astray and both were cast alive into the fiery lake of burning brimstone and also those that worshipped the image of the beast.
    Shortly after that St. Michael the archangel seized the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan and cast him into the bottomless pit.
    Since Satan is the prince of this world he can give his power and earthly glory to whom he likes!!!!

  • To read what the church teaches on the Antichrist go to NewAdvent.com click on encyclopedia click A find and click Antichrist.

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