Saturday, February 21, 2015


I never thought that I would be in a position to laugh at a Catholic publishing house.  I guess I had to come to California to have it happen.  I am still wondering how the house got away with this.
"How to defend the faith from the Bible"
It's been over a month now and I am still shaking my head.  I was cleaning the work area where my spouse and I produce most of our presentations and plans.  As I was shuffling around getting things in order in two major categories: Trash and File, I came across this gem.  It is a small 40 page compilations of Bible parries that are meant to counter the thrusts of the attacker, thus the "defender" language.  This is the style of Catholicism that I think is the most insulting to our Catholic life.  
I am totally befuddled by the "defend your faith" concept.  I don't have to defend my faith.  I don't have to defend your faith.  I know that there is nothing that you can do to destroy my faith.  Others (many) have tried and failed.  What makes you so cock sure that you're any better than they?  I know that you can't do it because your first and only approach is to desecrate the Sacred Scriptures in order to do it.  Your whole approach of attack by quoting out-of-context verses is blasphemous in it roots.  I don't need to protect myself from that.  
If you call answering the attack by a counter-attack from the Bible defending the faith, then you're not talking about my faith.  My faith doesn't reside in the ability to thrust and parry from Bible verse to Bible verse in order to win a human debate.  My faith resides in a loving relationship that I have with the Trinitarian God and His Spouse, the Church.
So the first thing that turned me away from this little rag was the whole concept of defending my faith.
The second thing was a language usage "thing."  I was piqued to quasi total disgust by the expression, "How to defend the faith FROM the Bible."  Ohhh, really.  May I ask what it is in faith that has to be defended from the Bible?  Is the Bible attacking faith all of a sudden?  That certainly is a strange turn of thought.  I am under the impression that in the whole thrust and parry pas-a-deux that it is the Bible that is being attacked by the blatant invincible ignorance of well developed hermeneutics and exegesis.  So are we talking about the Bible defending itself from itself?  I think that it is important that the Bible should be able to defend itself, or at least find some strong protectors who can assure its safety.
The danger to the Bible comes from Catholics as they try to engage non-Catholic "Bible Christians"  About six weeks ago a Catholic friend of mine and I engaged in a discussion about prayer and the indwelling of God in His Creatures.  This was all on the Internet.  The discussion dragged on and from the beginning I told my friend that I would not abide by "proof texts" since they are out of context babblings that have no real theological meaning because of the detachment from the body to which they belong.  He persisted in "proof texting" and I resisted at every syllable.  Finally, about two or three weeks ago he quoted a text from the Old Testament.  It was so out of context and so execrably out of logic in its lack of germane context, that I didn't respond for about three days.  
On about the fourth night, we saw one another at the Bible study.  I asked him the name of the person whom he had quoted. He didn't know.  I asked him if he knew where the person might be from.  He didn't know.  I asked him if he had read the entire book.  'No, not yet' was the response.  I asked if he knew the outcome of the person whom he had quoted at the end of the book.  No.  I told him never to proof text me again.  I told him that all the proof texts he has in his head don't amount to a hill of beans detached from the context of the whole book and the whole canon of Scripture.  
His last words to me were, "You're crazy."  I have been comfortably and silently crazy since then.

YEP, I am certifiably crazy when it comes to the FAITH.  Knowing that makes it easy for you not to cry at my funeral.


21 Coptic Orthodox Christian Martyrs
"The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians."  This saying from an old tradition dating back to the extremely early days of Christianity can serve us well these days.  Over the last few years we have seen more Christians put to death for their faith than were killed during the period of the Roman persecutions.  These days we have martyrs in many places all over the globe.   
While most often we think of martyrdom as dying for our faith, and rightly so, there is a part of martyrdom that doesn't always include violet death.  There is a part of martyrdom that kills the spirit. There are many places in the world where life as a Christian is so difficult that death would be a welcome alternative.  But it doesn't always come.  Life continues in an endless stream of threats of death and of constant and cruel marginalization.  Living life under those conditions and not surrendering is a true defense of faith.  Under those conditions being able to recite a list of proof texts is not going to get you anywhere.  The apologetics of real life suffering and perseverance is the modern equivalent of the Maccabees in the Bible and the early Christian converts that we know about in Palestine and Rome.  
We have to ask ourselves the question about how we would behave under such circumstances.  We must ask ourselves just what it is that we understand when we say that we want to defend our faith. The defense of the faith is much more challenging than being able to trade proof texts with someone of a different opinion.  The defense of faith is complete and total dedication to the God in whom we believe.  It is the result of selling all that we have and giving the proceeds to the poor.  When we have defended the faith bravely, we just may not be around to celebrate the victory here on earth.  I suggest that you read the book of Revelation to see the role that martyrs play.
To make a final point, I will dare to say that in this country (USA), and in others around the world, the defense of the faith may come to require us to break away from the attachments that we have to government benefits.  There may come a day when we will have to stop taking government grant money to our schools and hospitals if we are to continue as Christian caregivers of education and health care and other activities.  Are we ready to do that?  Will we ever be ready? What if these institutions will be taken away from us?  Are we ready?  There are countries in the world today,and we know them well, where the Church has lost a lot of privileges and property.  That too is a kind of martyrdom and we have to be ready to confront it.  Are we?  

Finally, I say that the defense of the faith is a spiritual strength that comes from the Holy Spirit.  This strength is promised to us by God through His promise to Isaiah in chapter 41 and by Jesus Himself when He told His apostles "... 10"And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him. 11"When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say; 12for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say." (Luke, chapter 12)  On that day, and it comes to all of us in one way or another, at one time or another, from someone or other, the defense of the faith resides in the strength of the Holy Spirit not in the verses that we have memorized from our apologetics experiences.  
The best way to prepare to defend the faith is to maintain an very, very close relationship with our loving God and His sweet and tough mother.  
True enough, we may not ever have to die for the faith, but that's not a sure thing.  Stay ready.

When you hear that I have died, don't cry, just thank God and add a little prayer that I am indeed with Him.  In any case, I insist on having a dry-eyed funeral.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them. (Ephesians 2;10)
...And don't forget that what they achieve is not to be adscribed by you to your personal glory but to GOD'S.
This morning, Ash Wednesday we heard this from the altar:

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Take care not to perform righteous deeds
in order that people may see them;
otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.
When you give alms,
do not blow a trumpet before you,
as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets
to win the praise of others.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you give alms,
do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,
so that your almsgiving may be secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you pray,
do not be like the hypocrites,
who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners
so that others may see them.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go to your inner room,
close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you fast,
do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.
They neglect their appearance,
so that they may appear to others to be fasting.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you fast,
anoint your head and wash your face,
so that you may not appear to be fasting,
except to your Father who is hidden.
And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”

(Matthew Chapter 6 verses 1 - 6; 16 - 18)

Looks like it's safe for me to continue doing good works so that my Father in Heaven will repay me with a seat at His heavenly table for all eternity.

Finally:  Google Matthew 1 1-6 and pay attention to what you get.
Enjoy yourselves and decide that it will not be worth it to cry at my funeral.