Thursday, April 10, 2014

Moral Relativism and Secularism - Products of Christianity

I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Mahatma Gandhi

Christians believe that Jesus Christ always was and is God the Son, one of the three Persons of the Divine Trinity, and as the Son of God He was born of a virgin, here on earth.  Unlike any religious leader before or after Him, he performed miracles, and passed on His power to do the same to His followers.  He alone suffered and died for our sins to conquer sin and death.  One of the reasons that He came to earth was to show us how we are to act towards others.

As Christians, we have been taught by the Master that all life is sacred, that we all (Christians and non-Christians) have been created in God's image, that the child in the womb from the moment of conception is every bit as important to him as all other human beings, that children are special to Him, and that we are to come to Him as little children.

But, more and more Christians have shown themselves to not be different than others who do not believe in Jesus Christ as their Saviour.

If it is clear teaching of Christianity that all life is sacred, WHY do Christians turn from that and support abortion, particularly some of our leaders, like Nancy Pelosi, and the deceased Senator Ted Kennedy?  Why do self proclaimed Christians like President Obama support a woman's so called right to kill the child in her womb at any time until birth?  Why do political leaders like Prime Minister Harper of Canada, the leader of the one party that claims to support the unborn, not stand up for the unborn?  Why is every Christian not united in supporting life?

Recently, I have defended the Catholic priesthood, saying correctly that the instance of sexual abuse by priests and other religious is no higher, lower in fact, than in other places in our society.  Though that is a true statement, it in fact misses the point.  Should Christians in fact be outraged that secular media and society have come down so hard on the Catholic Church?  All Christians bear the shame of the behaviors of some men and women claiming to be of God, who have sexually, physically, and emotionally abused young people in their care.

So, why would there not be moral relativists, and secularists rising up in our societies?  We should be ashamed that Mahatma Gandhi was spot on when he said what was quoted in the sub heading above.

We Christians have shown ourselves to be no different than the worst of the society that we claim is going to hell in a basket.

C. S. Lewis was quoted as saying: “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.”

How are Christians, not just those special people like Billy Graham, Mother Theresa, Pope John Paul II, but you and me, living our lives differently from the main stream to prove the truth of Christianity. 

We will be held to account for not living the Gospel that Jesus gave us.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Casting Aspersions or NOT

The Dangers of Gossip

I  have just finished rereading an earlier posting from Father Gordon MacRae at These Stone Walls..  Readers of this blog may have read other postings I have made about this fine priest.  Please feel free to wander down the left hand side of this page, and click on the links.  Father Gordon, as you might know, ministers in the Men's State Prison in New Hampshire.  Would that he were going there daily to minister, but no, he does it from the inside because, as those who have researched him or even read his own accounts, Father Gordon has been an inmate of that prison for more than 19 years.  You see, he was convicted on no credible evidence of sexual abuse of a child, who was able to suck a significant amount of money from the Diocese of Manchester New Hampshire.

But, Father Gordon is a fine priest, and in my opinion a holy man, though again by his own accounts a sinner.  In that he is a sinner, he is no different from me, or you for that matter.

The big difference between Father Gordon and me, or you again, is that the main prison that he is in is physical, and can therefor be deemed real for all intents and purposes.  The prison that I inhabit, and you I would hazard a guess, is one of unrepentant sin, and diminution of the many gifts that Our Lord Jesus has given to us for our Daily Bread.  So, though I can get up at any moment from this computer and wander outside in the sunshine, I will carry my prison with me.

Father Gordon knows that he is in prison.  Me, not so much!  There is something to be said for the prison that you inhabit being a physical bricks and mortar prison, even if you cannot leave it, for you can see it, you can touch it, you can even taste it, though I would not really want to do that.  In a prison of the physical dimension, you can at least acknowledge it, and thereby choose to not allow it to take over your life, whereas the prison of my own sinfulness follows me everywhere, and impacts my life silently often, or leads me to sinful actions, words, or thoughts.

But that is not the only prison in each of our lives.  We have the ability to imprison others with our tongues, and also with our thoughts.

Father Gordon, in this latest post, wrote about a priest of his diocese who told a person attending mass, when asked about how to visit Father Gordon in prison, to avoid him saying  “He’s dangerous, and you should stay away from him.”  Though this was a blatant uncharitable act, it is not uncommon, and Lent is a wonderful time for us to examine our own consciences about the words, thoughts and deeds in our lives that imprison others.

The woman in this article by Father Gordon wanted to know how to visit Father Gordon in prison.  Jesus himself urged believers to visit those who were imprisoned as though they were Him, and the penalty for not performing acts of love to those less fortunate than ourselves was the ultimate penalty of eternity in Hell  But, her parish priest did not encourage her to live the Gospel, but instead slandered Father Gordon.

For some time now, My Dear Wife and my prayer partners and I have been praying for all clergy in the world to grow in holiness.  We have also been praying for ourselves to grow in holiness and for all of our family members to convert to faith in Jesus Christ or to revert, for all those baptized who have left the faith.

The priests of the Manchester New Hampshire Diocese have shunned Father Gordon, as have their leaders.  Shame on them for this uncharity and slander against one of their own.

But, lest we "Tut, tut", put our thumbs under our suspenders, and then wag a finger at them in our own self righteousness, let us instead look in the mirror and ponder on who that is in physical, mental, emotional or spiritual prison in our sight needs a shoulder to lean on, or to cry on, needs our financial assistance, and most importantly needs our prayers.

Judging another is such an easy thing to do.  It is far harder to look at ourselves.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Hiding from Our Convictions

I am a Canadian, and I am proud of my Canadian heritage.  However, I have spent much time in my life in America.  My children are American citizens, Canadian as well, and are direct lineal descendants of one of the passengers on the Mayflower.  As a child, I was raised on Canadian and American history, and of course, the American history was more exciting, as was the American fiction, or at least it was presented as being more exciting.

A number of years ago, my wife and I had the opportunity to become snowbirds, northerners who head to the south of the US (or elsewhere warm) for the winter.  Though we have had occasion to travel to Florida, Texas, and California, we have settled in Southern Arizona and have a "candominium" in an over 55 RV resort there.  A candomium is a humorous epithet for a park model trailer, and these abound in most over 55 RV resorts throughout North America.

Living here for a significant part of each year, I have had the chance to study the people, their attitudes and history, as well as their founding documents, and their understanding of them.  Reading the documents upon which this nation (America) was founded is an inspiration, from the Declaration of Independence to the Constitution and its Amendments.

Accordingly, watching how the Executive Branch, the Legislative Branch, and the Judicial Branch of the government have largely destroyed the intent of the founding fathers particularly in the last 50 years though is particularly disturbing.  Needless to say, seeing how our Canadian politicians abuse our rights and freedoms is also extremely tortuous.

In both of our once great nations of North America, we have moved from standing on the bedrock of our faith in Jesus Christ to sliding around on the sands of political correctness, where what we once knew to be sin has been glorified, tolerated and in fact, encouraged.

For fear of offending others, we have put down the biblical principles of our faith in Jesus Christ, and taken up this mantle of tolerance for our own sins and the sins of others.  Where the Bible tells us to lovingly reprove our brothers and sisters in grave sin, not by judging them, but by confronting them for their own salvation, we instead, have stood idly by, while pornography, abortion, contraception, adultery, and homosexuality have run rampant in our society.

I say this not to judge, since I had a lengthy period of grave sexual sin in my life, and am easily tempted by the rampant, and continually growing list of books, television shows, movies, both mainstream and pornographic, web sites, and other media, to sexual sin.  I know that the proliferation of things alluding to or directly supporting sexual sin in our society create for me the "near occasion of sin", and believe that it is not me alone that faces these temptations.

If we tell someone who is living with her boyfriend, or his girlfriend in a sexual relationship, or is living a homosexual lifestyle, that they are in a state of grave sin, then we are considered haters and intolerant.  The same is true if we confront a man or woman, who is having an extramarital affair.

During the period of my life, when I was in grave sexual sin, not one of my Christian friends confronted me.  All were tolerant and "understanding" of my personal sadness at the time over the general situation of my life, and ignored what else was going on, even though it was pretty obvious.  For my part, I was in a period of emotional turmoil, but I was medicating my emotional distress with sexual license.  A couple of people did talk about me behind my back, and as word of what they said about me filtered its way to me, it was so distorted as to qualify as gossip, and not be corrective nor instructive.

In America, people trumpet the First Amendment to the Constitution as a license to say what they want, and by extension, do what they want, except when they hoist up the Second Amendment, so they can carry a gun, in case someone doing what they want appears, or might appear, physically harmful to them.

The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America reads as follows:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
That Amendment has been used by pornographers to justify selling smut everywhere, or displaying it on the internet for all to see.  And we, the people, including those of us who are not citizens, have stood silently by.  By the way, in Canada it is the same.

But, interestingly, and more importantly, religious people, who have strong convictions against funding contraception, which is really a form of abortion in many cases, and directly against funding abortion, are having to fight against the government of the day and the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate, requiring virtually all employers to provide these facilities in their health care plans.

Corporations like Hobby Lobby are in a fight for their lives literally.  The owners, and principals of dissenting and litigating businesses and institutions are fighting to have the right to have conscience objections to providing these things in their health care plans, while wanting to provide real health care to their employees and members.

So, the government that the people of America have selected to govern their affairs is forcing an ideology of sexual freedom (the apparent right of anyone to have sexual relations with anyone they choose at any time, regardless of sex, religion or race) upon the people of America, with nary a whimper from most, and from rampant bloviating by those who claim that Hobby Lobby and their ilk are mere troglodytes from a dark, evil age that has passed out of fashion.

In Canada, the provision of contraception entered into health care plans, including those of private school boards, and religious institutions, also with nary a whimper, and our Catholic bishops stood by, even fanning the flames of this travesty by issuing the Winnipeg Statement in 1968, after Pope Paul VI had released the seminal, and tragically prophetic encyclical letter Humanae Vitae. In the Winnipeg Statement, our Canadian Catholic bishops basically stated that Humanae Vitae was too harsh, but not in so many words, and told Catholic Canadians to follow their consciences, without providing them with the proper guidance to help them do so, in accord with Catholic teaching.

And, in Canada, we have no laws whatsoever governing abortion.  Nothing.  Nada.  Zero.  Not only that, but our national health care system pays for them, as just one more necessary health care procedure.

In Canada, we have the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and like the First Amendment to the US Constitution, section two of that charter grants certain rights as follows:
2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
(d) freedom of association.
What is shocking and most frustrating is how the freedom of religion has been scourged in both countries by courts and pseudo courts such as human rights commissions, who, in the interests of political correctness have eroded these rights and supplanted them with artificial rights of individuals to not feel judged, or hurt, or discriminated against.

So, in both our countries, where certain Christians in keeping to their principles, have either refused to perform a marriage ceremony for a homosexual couple, or to photograph such an event, or  to provide flowers or a cake for such a ceremony, they have been taken to task by the preservers of political correctness.  Apparently, if you have a Bed and Breakfast in your home, you cannot exclude a homosexual couple from renting your room either.

What is also shocking is that there seems to be no practical instances of heterosexual couples who are not married being denied accommodation.  It may be easier to draw the conclusions that two people of the same sex are a couple, and therefor assumed to be homosexual, whether that is in fact true or not.  However, since lots of married couples have different last names, and many marrieds do not wear wedding bands, knowing that a couple entering your hotel or B&B are in fact not married would require asking a question of them to confirm their marriage status, and that seems, well, out of the question.

To use discrimination in its non pejorative meaning as merely to differentiate between two things, why would a resort, hotel or other place of accommodation not refuse a room to all couples that are unmarried, in the biblical sense of that word?

Christians have found it all too easy to not really stand on all the principles of our faith. 

Last evening, I watched a movie where a man was forced to figure out if what he believed in was important enough to take a stand on.  The principle of the movie was based on the loss of Christmas in our society, which is rapidly being replaced with "winter holiday", but the issues he faced, including the difficulties of taking a stand are similar.  What was most clear to me was that the right of Christians to express their faith in public has been being eroded for a long time, and we have generally stood by and watched it happen.

I have linked the video below if you wish to see it.  I believe that it is worth your time.

So, I have a closing question, and my question is this.  Have we lost the courage of our convictions, or have we lost our convictions?