Sunday, August 24, 2008

Oddly, the Left is ticked at the Media

Well the Right has long bemoaned the media as liberally slanted. Study after study showed this. One recent example was the reporting on the Iraq war. When things were bad, the evening news was soaked in it – but when things in Iraq went well the media decided to focus on a hard-hit economy. In other words, do whatever you can do to get Republicans out of office. Surveys show that roughly 65-75% of media people are Democrats

But in a new story, the Democrats are ticked at the media.

“Gone are the days when only the right howled about bias and malice from network anchors and star political reporters. What began roughly a decade ago as frustration from Democrats over coverage of President Bill Clinton’s impeachment and adulterous escapades has morphed into an informally organized rapid response network, ready to pounce on any and all perceived media slights against Barack Obama.”

The issue: reporters have to choose between their generally left-leaning political views and advancing their careers as “moderate and trustworthy” reporters.

Saturday Night Live really hit it on the head last winter when it highlighted how slanted the media was towards Obama during the Democratic primary. Another factor was the Rev. Wright scandal which should have destroyed Obama’s campaign against Clinton – but the media waited to really cover this until there was no way for Clinton to win. Over the summer the media continued to flock to Obama and at one point hundreds of reporters surrounded Obama while only a small handful reported on McCain.

So now the media is trying to play fair – and hardcore liberals hate it.

And it’s really coming back to hurt Obama. Why? Well McCain has always been considered a moderate and Republicans knew it. After months of McCain, Republicans are finally getting used to “Moderate McCain” and are started to unite around him. Obama, who won the Democratic primary by being more liberal than Clinton, is running a more moderate general campaign in order to win over the votes of political independents.

Can you see why liberals lefter than Left are ticked?

Of course, there are some ultra right-wing Republicans, I just don’t seem them as radical as the Radical Left. While Obama is the most liberal politician in the Senate, he is doing the right thing by moving to the political center. Neither side can win by gearing up the base; they have to win the independent vote as well. The media knows this and is emphasizing his move to the center.

One thing stands in the media’s way: new Left-wing blogs that grew up after the failed presidential bid of John Kerry in 2004 are slamming the media for any attempt at fairness in the election season. Let’s face it, an honest reporter should be critical of both McCain and Obama, but any criticism of Obama in the Left-leaning media is attacked en masse by liberal bloggers.

Richard Cohen, a Left-leaning columnist who broke ranks with Democrats over the Iraq war, said that “If you’re a little bit critical of Barack Obama, you get really a pie of vilification right in the face,” Cohen said, adding that his liberal critics “were born too late, because they would have been great communists.” One liberal columnist, known as the “blogfather”, said he’s been treated as a traitor to the Democratic Party for supporting Clinton over Obama. Why? Because Obama is more Left than Clinton. And while that’s hard to imagine, it’s why the majority of Leftist bloggers loved Obama and hated Clinton.

A friend of mine told me when comparing McCain, Clinton, and Obama, our choice to make is between a Democrat, a Socialist, and a Communist (respectively speaking).

And that’s one reason why McCain needs to pick a conservative running mate.

Who knew The Pill could do this?

Okay well I already knew this.. in fact, many people did. It’s just that something like this is definitely not talked about in our sex-crazed culture. The first sentence of the story says it all:

“Birth-control pills could screw up a woman's ability to sniff out a compatible mate, a new study finds.”

It comes down to BO. The body gives off an odor of possible compatibility. “Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes are involved in immune response and other functions, and the best mates are those that have different MHC smells than you. The new study reveals, however, that when women are on the pill they prefer guys with matching MHC odors.”

The pill aside, I think that MHC would naturally affect more women than men. I don’t know many men who date women in large part based on MHC – but women seem to me to be a bit more complicated than men on this issue. And that’s no slam on women. If you remember back to when God created the universe, each thing he made was more complicated then the last. His last creation was surely the most complicated: woman. And this is not simply psychology but also physiology. Women are physiologically more complicated than men.

Which is one reason why the pill is so bad for women.

So what does the pill do that is so bad? “Based on the work by Claus Wedekind, a University of Lausanne researcher who preformed similar studies in the 1990s, Roberts suggests a likely reason for the pill's effect on a woman's odor preferences. The pill puts a woman's body into a hormonally pregnant state (the reason she doesn't ovulate), and during that time there would be no reason to seek out a mate.”

In other words, when women are pregnant their body tells them not to look for mate. So when a woman on the pill (and thus in a hormonally pregnant state) is looking for a man, her body is directing her to find an incompatible man. And people wonder why so many marriages end in divorce – but I think selfishness can have sometimes impact this, too.

And I’m sure contracepting for the sake of enjoying sexual pleasure has nothing to do with selfishness.

It’s time to go back to church.. er.. school

A new story hit the net last week regarding the relationship between church attendance and the grade point average of religious students.

The results didn’t surprise me.

“Researchers found that church attendance has as much effect on a teen's GPA as whether the parents earned a college degree. Students in grades 7 to 12 who went to church weekly also had lower dropout rates and felt more a part of their schools.” In fact, going to church weekly will have a greater impact on the GPA then if both parents had college degrees!

“Other studies have shown that regular church-goers breathe easier and live longer. And kids whose parents go to church are better behaved and more well-adjusted.”

Researchers, however, seem to think that religion itself isn’t what’s do it but rather the “social networks” associated with religion. Now I’m no researcher, but I can tell you from the countless numbers of youth I’ve worked with, that youth who take their faith seriously tend to be adjusted and best-equipped for the world around them.

So parents out there, take Faith seriously and watch your children grow in more ways than just education!

Could Russia’s war in Georgia help NASA?

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has had a rough few years. In 2003 the Columbia space shuttle broke up in re-entry. It was the first space shuttle to go into orbit back around the early eighties and had just gotten a multi-million dollar cockpit upgrade (like touch-panel screens and such) only months prior to its destruction. About a year before the accident I met one of the two pilots from the very first shuttle mission and he couldn’t have been prouder of the Columbia and her 20-some years of service to NASA.

Of course, the fateful end of the Columbia brought about a halt of shuttle missions for months – putting the already behind schedule construction of the International Space Station even further behind. Considering the ISS was supposed to have been finished around 2001, the fact that 2008 is drawing close to an end and the station is still not finished only makes NASA look even more ridiculous. To make matters worse, NASA announced they were going backwards to the old Saturn V-style rocket design as was used to go to the moon in the sixties – and the Ares I and Ares V rockets won’t even be ready until the late teens.

Then two important events happened in the past couple months: NASA declared a 2010 retirement date for the shuttle fleet and Russia invaded Georgia.

The first event meant that the U.S. would be dependent on Russian rockets to take astronauts and supplies into space from 2010 through 2015. But now with U.S.-Russian diplomatic ties being stretched over the Georgia war all bets are off.

One story being run online points out just how fragile the situation is. It even quotes the director of NASA saying that: "If anything at all in that five years period goes wrong with the [U.S. access to the] Russian Soyuz, then we have no system to access the space station."

I like to hope things could go better than worse. If tensions between the U.S. and Russia increase and NASA loses its use of the Soyuz rocket, then it may force our government to finally give NASA the funding it needs to crank out the Ares V by 2012.

We’ll just have to wait and see.

Meet the twenty-first century C.S. Lewis

Okay maybe he’s that in part because he’s a C.S. Lewis scholar. But his ideas are fresh and original. He is able to toss around ideas like a juggler tosses juggling-balls. His arguments are not only convincing, they lead the heart in the right direction as much as they lead the head.

His name is Peter Kreeft.

Not only does Dr. Kreeft teach philosophy as Boston College, he travels the world giving talks on a wide variety of topics – but many of them are on C.S. Lewis. I have to say, I’ve learned more about Lewis from Kreeft than any other writer I can think of (besides Lewis of course!). And Kreeft is an avid writer. His books literally changed the way I look at the world.

Moreover, Kreeft got me interested in philosophy by introducing it to me from a Christian worldview.

After reading and listening to Peter Kreeft (by the way, you can get dozens of his free lectures from, I now have a better appreciation for Christianity and a newfound love of philosophy.

So stop what you’re doing, check him out, and be mindblown!

I thought Obama was doing something different…

I’ve never been a fan of Obama. In fact, I’ve personally disliked him since he beat Alan Keyes in Illinois for Senate a few years back. And I still think Clinton would have been a stronger choice for a presidential nominee than Barack Obama. But I will say that his talk of “hope” and “change” were somehow fresh enough to give Republicans a run for their money.

Then he had to get all status quo on us.

At the beginning of summer he said he would debate McCain anytime anywhere. Then when he led in the polls he stayed safely away from a challenge. Now when it comes to a place where he could pick some “audaciously hopeful” VP nominee, he chooses the status quo Joe Biden – who only months ago basically made a racist remark about African Americans running for president.

And where’s Hilary? If Obama really wanted to win, he’d go with her.

Alas Obama, who said he was going to run an entirely new form of Democratic campaign, is just doing the same old, same old. I don’t know if McCain has a chance of winning this election, but as of right now he’s certainly doing a better job of it.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Goodbye Yahweh, Hello Lord!

Newly updated liturgical norms will effectively give the songs “You Are Near,” “I Will Bless Yahweh,” and “Rise, O Yahweh” the boot! Well at any rate they have to at least omit the use of the word “Yahweh” from the songs… You see, the use of the word “Yahweh” is not allowed in the Mass. It’s all part of a new directive from the Vatican.

Bishop Serratelli, the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship just announced the change saying the new directive would have "some impact on the use of particular pieces of liturgical music in our country as well as in the composition of variable texts such as the general intercessions for the celebration of the Mass and the other sacraments." So basically, “Yahweh” better not be used in songs or in the intercessions.

But what’s the big deal with “Yahweh” anyway?

The technical name for this word is the sacred Tetragrammaton. It’s the four consonants of the Hebrew name for God, the name which God himself gave to Moses at the burning bush. Jews, when reading it aloud from scripture, would instead say the word “Adonai” – meaning Lord – out of respect for God’s name. Christians, until recently, and Jews take the second commandment (Thou shall not take the Lord’s name in vain) quite seriously. How many Christians do you know who take God’s name in vain?

What’s more, in the Church’s 2,000-year history, “Yahweh” has never been used in a liturgical sense. From the first century, the Church has used “Kyrios” and “Dominus” in replace of “Yahweh” – and you guessed it, both of those words are either Greek or Latin equivalents of Lord.

Cardinal Arinze, the Prefect for the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship, said “Apart from a motive of a purely philological order, there is also that of remaining faithful to the church's tradition, from the beginning, that the sacred Tetragrammaton was never pronounced in the Christian context nor translated into any of the languages into which the Bible was translated.”

Okay so it took some help from the Vatican, but American Catholics are finally starting to get in touch with their 2,000-year old roots.

And I’m sure Jews will appreciate it, too!

Read the whole story here.

A Father in Heaven

Some people have had a difficult time believing in God as a Father. Some churches, in order to be PC, have even changed the prayer to Our Mother or Our Father/Mother. In reality, having a relationship with God as our Father in heaven isn’t a slam on women or an elevation of men – it just makes theological sense.

Let me begin by saying that God, in his divine nature, is neither male nor female. In his relationship with Creation (including the human race), however, God is masculine. Masculine by the way does not mean male but is rather a cosmic archetype. The male gender is simply a physical manifestation of the masculine archetype. This is clearly evident in language – in many languages there are masculine and feminine words. Do you ever remember your Spanish teacher saying these words had sexual organs?! Language and biological gender are two good example of how these cosmic archetypes manifest themselves in different ways.

Here’s another example of the archetypes at work in two words: transcendent and imminent. The former is an example of the masculine while the latter is an example of the feminine. The Lord’s Prayer applies this to God’s relationship with Creation. God is “in heaven” not in Creation – God transcends his Creation. For us, the universe is very imminent, very feminine; we exist in the universe. It’s one reason why we refer to the world around us as Mother Earth. Mothers tend to be very present (imminent) to their children. It is the mother who births children, the mother who breastfeeds, the mother who always says “I’m here” when their children need them.

God by nature, however, is very masculine. By existing outside the universe God is “out there somewhere”. This may seem cold to some, but it must be so. If it weren’t, there would be no need for any divine revelation. If we could simply understand God without him revealing himself, the Bible would be meaningless. Some people say that they find God in nature and conscience. True enough. But these things are not God but rather point toward God. The Zen masters teach that: “The finger is fine for pointing at the moon, but woe to him who mistakes the finger for the moon.” St. Paul taught this much in Romans 1-2.

I think that God’s transcendence makes his relationship with us that much more beautiful.

God, you might say, courts humanity over the centuries. His self-revelation comes in three steps, each ever more intimate. In the Old Testament he reveals his transcendent nature, the “I am” (Genesis 3:14). In the Gospels, God the Son takes on human flesh to walk with us and save us from sin. From Pentecost on, God’s love and the Holy Spirit have been “poured into our hearts” (Romans 5:5). Thus we see the three steps of intimacy: first, God the Father outside us, then God the Son beside us, and finally God the Holy Spirit inside us.

Do you see how masculine it all is?

Like a bridegroom, God must eventually enter into us from without to impregnate us with divine life, that is, love. We become united to Christ, and thus to each other. God pours out his Holy Spirit into our souls and we become the bride of Christ, the Church (see Ephesians 5:21-33, and Revelation 19:7, 21:2).

God is not our Mother, he is the transcendent Father who brings us to himself through his Son and giving us his very life by the power of his Spirit.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

C.S. Lewis Answers a Common Question

Well I’ve had a very, very long day today so I didn’t have time to do full justice to the post I was planning on doing… Instead I hope to wet your taste buds with C.S. Lewis’ answer to a question I’ve been asked a thousand times: “Can’t I be a good person without being a Christian?”

The answer comes from his God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics. In this essay, Lewis wants to reject the question altogether for the one who asks it does so not because he wants to know about ethics but because of his attitude about religion. Someone who asks this seems to think that being good or being ethical is the end or meaning of life. Lewis, however, points out that 1) being good 24/7 is impossible and 2) even if it were, morality is not the purpose of life.

Here’s a quote:

All right, Christianity will do you good—a great deal more good than you ever wanted or expected. And the first bit of good it will do you is to hammer into your head (you won’t enjoy that!) the fact that what you have hitherto called “good”—all that about “leading a decent life” and “being kind”—isn’t quite the magnificent and all-important affair you supposed. It will teach you that in fact you can’t be “good” (not for twenty-four hours) on your own moral efforts. And then it will teach you that even if you were, you still wouldn’t have achieved the purpose for which you were created. Mere morality is not the end of life. You were made for something quite different from that. J. S. Mill and Confucius (Socrates was much nearer the reality) simply didn’t know what life is about. The people who keep on asking if they can’t lead a decent life without Christ, don’t know what life is about; if they did they would know that “a decent life” is mere machinery compared with the thing we men are really made for. Morality is indispensable: but the Divine Life, which gives itself to us and which calls us to be gods, intends for us something in which morality will be swallowed up. We are to be re-made. All the rabbit in us is to disappear—the worried, conscientious, ethical rabbit as well as the cowardly and sensual rabbit. We shall bleed and squeal as the handfuls of fur come out; and then, surprisingly, we shall find underneath it all a thing we have never yet imagined: a real Man, an ageless god, a son of God, strong, radiant, wise, beautiful, and drenched in joy.

“When that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away” (1 Corinthians 8:10). The idea of reaching “a good life” without Christ is based on a double error. Firstly, we cannot do it; and secondly, in setting up “a good life” as our final goal, we have missed the very point of our existence. Morality is a mountain which we cannot climb by our own efforts; and if we could we should only perish in the ice and unbreathable air of the summit, lacking those wings with which the rest of the journey has to be accomplished. For it is from there that the real ascent begins. The ropes and axes are “done away” and the rest is a matter of flying.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

A New Series of Posts on the Lord's Prayer!

Well here’s the first post of several pertaining to the Lord’s Prayer! Take some time to read, reflect, but most of all, get ready to pray! These are really only a few musings I’ve had about the Lord’s Prayer over the past couple weeks so by no means is it all encompassing. In fact, I wanted to write more but I’m trying to keep these posts somewhat short. Enjoy!

"Our Father, Who art in heaven..."

The first article of the Lord’s Prayer says an awful lot about the God we believe in and our relationship with him. Right away Jesus connects his prayer with an ecclesiology of sorts. God is not simply his Father, or your Father, or my Father. He is our Father. Ecclesiology by the way means the theological study of the Church – which in this case means not a building but a body, the Body of Christ. The word “church” comes from the Greek word “ecclesia” which means: called out. In other words, those belonging to the Church are those who are called out of this world, which can only give despair and death, and have entered into something (rather, Someone) which will bring them hope and life.

The Church is a mystery, not a social club or a gathering of like minded believers. Both the Apostle’s Creed (written 150 AD) and the Nicene Creed (written 325 AD) affirm this understanding. Moreover, the Church is supernatural – it’s the only way God can truly be “Our Father”. This is not because the Church is great in itself but rather because it is Christ, or rather, Christ’s very body. St. Paul speaks of this in Romans 12:4-5 when he wrote: “For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another.” And in Ephesians: “[God the Father] put all things beneath [Jesus’] feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body…” (Ephesians 1:22-23).

So what does all this Jesus-Church stuff have to do with God as Our Father? Everything.

God can only be our Father because we become members of Christ in the Church. Elsewhere in Romans, St. Paul gives us some words which I quoted in my last post: “The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him” (Romans 8:16-17). Here St. Paul connects our being in Christ to being “heirs” – a term used to describe a familial inheritance. So by being in Christ, we share in all he has. Heaven is our home and thus God is our Father. It would also logically follow that Mary is our mother – which is attested to by John in Revelation 12:17: “Then the dragon [the Devil] became angry with the woman [Mary] and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring, those who keep God's commandments and bear witness to Jesus [Christians].”

Let’s take one more step. It’s obviously only through a supernatural act that we can somehow become members of another person. Some may say, however, that the very idea of becoming members of another person is total lunacy! The only two Christian doctrines which can make sense of the Church as the Body of Christ are the dogmas of the Trinity and the Incarnation. In other words, if Jesus were only a mere human being there’s no way we could enter into him as members of his body, drawing from him supernatural life. Jesus must be God. This raises two questions: Are there two gods? And what about the Holy Spirit – are there three gods? Since the idea of many gods is repugnant to monotheistic theology, we now understand the teachings of Christ to be a revelation of the Trinity – that three divine Persons totally possess one divine nature. Three Persons, one God. This would also mean that to enter into Christ means we would share also in his life-giving Spirit.

In Review: Jesus Christ is God incarnate – and by being one of us he can bring us to his Father. What’s more, Jesus does not want to simply bring us to the Father but to bring us to the Father through Himself. As Jesus said: “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Lastly, going through Jesus to the Father does not only mean believing in Jesus (though that’s the first step!), it means entering into Jesus and sharing in Jesus’ life. It means entering into the Church. Most importantly, if we don’t enter into Jesus through the Church, God really isn’t our Father, he’d just be our ruler. Only by entering into the Son can we become true sons.

So we’ve seen how God can be our Father. Tomorrow we’ll look at what divine Fatherhood has to do with God reigning in heaven.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Are we making some assumptions about the Assumption?

Catholics tend to make a pretty big deal out of Mary. In fact, she’s the most revered non-divine human person in the Church. One particular belief Catholics hold about Mary (which is celebrated tomorrow) is the Assumption of Mary body and soul into heaven. Some people seem to think that Mary is thus being elevated into some goddess who takes herself into heaven. Actually, that’s one reason the Church uses the term “assumption” and not “ascension” in referring to Mary’s earthly departure. Only God can ascend into heaven. Mary, on the other hand, is assumed by God into heaven – it’s God’s power that brings her there, not hers.

Mary does share something in common with Jesus’ Ascension: she was taken into heaven with both her body and her soul. So far as we know definitively (we’re still not quite sure on Elijah), every other person ends their lives on earth through death and bodily corruption. Catholics believe that Mary and Jesus are the only two people in heaven with both their bodies and the souls. In other words, Mary and Jesus represent our future – even the saints in heaven long for the resurrection, the fruits of which have only been applied to one man and one woman: Jesus and Mary.

This is because Catholic believe that Jesus and Mary are the New Adam and the New Eve.

Catholics hold dear a prophesy called the protoevangelium, or “first Gospel” which is found in Genesis 3:15. In this prophesy, God tells the Devil: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your offspring and hers. He will crush your head while you bruise his heal.” Christians from the first centuries on have seen this as a prophesy about Jesus, Mary, the Devil, and the Cross. Jesus, the offspring of “the woman” (Mary), will defeat the Devil – though his heel will be bruised. This bruising is of course a reference to the Cross.

St. Paul understood Jesus to be the fulfillment of Adam (see 1 Corinthians 15:45 and Romans 5:14). The Gospel writers did the same when referring to Jesus’ agony in Gethsemane the night before he died. Just as Adam brought all to death in the Garden of Eden, Jesus’ final victory over death begins in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Mary, however, was also seen as a fulfillment of Eve. In the second century, St. Irenaeus of Lyon wrote: “…the knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. What the virgin Eve had bound in unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosed through faith” (circa 180 AD).

Moreover, the prophesy of Genesis 3:15 gives us a better understanding of why Jesus called Mary “woman” all the time. Mary is “the woman” of Genesis 3:15. She is also the “woman” of Revelation 12, who is “clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Revelation 12:1).

What’s most important is that Mary and Jesus, as the New Adam and New Eve, are the perfections of both. While Mary is in no way a goddess (she’s just as human as you and me) she, like Jesus, would not share in original sin – just as Adam and Eve were not created in a state of sin. This is also a part of the prophesy, for when God said there would be “enmity” between the Devil and Mary, the word used means a total separation of Mary from the Devil.

In other words, for Mary to have been created in a state of sin, she would not have been in a state of total enmity with the Devil as God prophesied. Speaking of sin and its relationship to the Devil, Jesus told some of his followers: “If you were Abraham's children, you would be doing the works of Abraham… You belong to your father the devil and you willingly carry out your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks in character, because he is a liar and the father of lies’” (John 8:41, 44).

Sin allies us with the Devil, making us his instruments of evil. Only Christ can free us of our sins – and only Christ ultimately, if mysteriously, could protect His mother from sin. St. Paul teaches us that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), but according to God’s prophesy, Mary would be free from sin. Thus at the end of Mary’s life, she would not have experienced a kind of death similar to us but would rather share in her Son’s glory in an intimate way.

According to St. Paul we, too, will share in the glory of Christ: “The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him” (Romans 8:16-17). St. Paul here connects glory with suffering in Christ. Now if any human suffered, Mary suffered. From the Annunciation when she was made to appear as an unwed mother, to the Presentation when she was told that in the process of Jesus’ victory a sword would pierce her heart as well as his (Luke 2:35). Ultimately she would find herself witnessing the murder of not only her Son, but her God as well.

If we share in Jesus’ glory for the little suffering that befalls us, how much more so does Mary share in His glory? On the feast of the Assumption, we celebrate the glory bestowed upon Mary through the mighty promise of God and look forward with eager anticipation to the glory we shall receive at the resurrection of the dead and the everlasting life given by standing in the presence of God, forever and ever. Amen.

For more info on Mary, see an older post I wrote called: Why God HAD to protect Mary from sin.