Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The YouTube Heresies Pt 1.

Spring boarding off of Fr.Roberts Barons work of Evanga-blogging with Word On Fire, and his contribution to The Church and New Media, I blog today about the first “chapter” of this series; Dialogue with the unchurched.

I can see where Fr.Baron is coming from. Social media is today a place where even though one of the faithful may find many handfuls of the faithful, still more massive bodies of the un-churched, are in lying. Now I don’t want to burn bridges, and so on my side of commentary I know a good amount of people who aren’t religious, i.e. go to Church regularly but who are really good moral people, of high caliber and who know the contribution that religion make son society. But I also know the opposite, people who are “rationalist”, that agree with the Richard Dawkins of the world, and who are waiting for a hair trigger to do explosive battles of the brain with those who defend the Faith.  The former can be seen in their  natural habitat of YouTube.

Heresy 1: The Meaning of the word “God”-

In his Seven Storey mountain Thomas Merton recalled after reading a book about Medieval Philosophy, encountering the meaning of God as Ipsum esse or the sheer act of being itself. He was taken aback because he thought that God was a “noisy and dramatic” mythological being.
Again and again the characterization of God on YouTube is said to be things like the” fairy in the sky”, “invisible friend”. Or “the flying spaghetti monster”, which comes from the militant Atheist Richard Dawkins.

Almost no one with whom you would dialogue with would consider the possibility that God is one being among many and the biggest thing around, not something that can be categorized with relation to other things.

We can learn from Thomas Aquinas that God cannot be placed in any genus for he is ipsum esse the subsistent act of being itself, this distinction which lies at the very core of Christianity and Christian theology is lost on almost everyone on YouTube.  Fr.Baron staes one of the best indicator of this confusion is the repetitive demand for “evidence” of God’s existence.  Or scientifically viable evidence.

When said that the creator of the entire universe cannot be by definition an object within the universe is  met with incomprehension.

The best methodical argument Fr.Baron says is the argument of Contingency. It runs something like this; We humans are contingent beings, by measure we had parents, we eat we drink we breathe, but those elements are themselves conditioned, caused. We cannot go on endlessly appealing to similarly conditioned thing without inevitably, coming to a reality that exist not dependently but unconditionally, through the power of its own existence.

This demonstration although clear and a pithy proof that God is ipsum esse, but is identified with matter or energy here the big bang theory comes in handy, since it indicates how time and matter themselves are radically contingent and therefore further in need of causal explanation.  

Heresy 2: Biblical Interpretation-

This heresy has to do with reading the bible. Most people you are lily to have a conversation with in regards to the bible think Catholics approach it the same way Muslims approach the Koran. Namely as a text directly dictated by God, and should be interpreted in a literal manner. However this is not restricted to the fundamentalist camp.
An example is Bill Mayer film Religulous, is a good example. He spends much of the movie interrogating pretty simple people about the Genesis account of Adam ad Eve, and the story of Jonah and the whale wondering why anyone in the 21st century could possibly believe such nonsense.
To put it the way I usually put it. We have more than one way to read the bible as Catholics, we don’t just look at it and say oh he did this so do this. We do a lot of deeper things, Fr.Baron explains that the bible is not so much a book  as a library, a collection of text from a wide variety of literary genres. Genesis is a religious saga, Song of Songs a  love poem (the greatest ever written I might add). So if God is constitutes as one being out of many then his causality competes with ours, so the bible is His book and not ours. But the Catholic sense is Dei Verbum “The words of God expressed in human form”.

To counter we can point out that the Aneid, the Divine Comedy by Dante, Gulliver’s Travels, and Moby Dick, are bearers of profound truth indeed, though they convey it in a distinctively nonscientific or non-historical way.
We should also note that those who have seized the mass media most effectively are evangelical protestants not that I’m trying to decry them for doing so they did get on the band wagon of media sooner than Catholics did. Thus their version of Christianity is best known.

For the benefit of my readers I am going to split this topic into two parts. One reason being so I have something extra to blog about on this series, and among other reasons because I do not like a lot of words and mind numbing concepts in my blogs. I do this so you readers will not be turned off by my writing. I hope this enough to whet your truth pallet, and keep you tuned into my blog.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The New Mission Fields

In the beginning, there was no internet. I know it’s hard to believe isn’t it. Now days to some that’s all there is, the work wide web. This blog and the blogs that follow are all about the rise of New Media. We have reached new age, and a new landscape for evangelization. For young adults, teens, and pre-teens, and now increasingly young adolescence, the internet is how we are plugged in. From the comfort of our home we bring the world to our computer screens.A New Mission Field looms.

Consider this the average American spends 66 hours per month on a computer outside of work . YouTube visitors watch over two billion videos every day. Seventy-two percent of Americans- including 87 percent of teens communicate through text messaging.

We live in a world that has dramatically embraced new media. It’s the new home for the majority of Christians. There is a new space where if we hit the ground running we have a new and better way to reach people than ever before. But more over we also have a way we can reach young people.
I know it may seem like a daunting task. Especially with the speed that life travels today. But the way to get people in the pews now a days in more and more often to reach them at their computer seats.
I would like to start with starting a dialogue with the un-churched. If we look we can see that Religion in the U.S at least is rather falling down the not so wonderful rabbit hole. Especially with people my age. Of college age. The God-Man that was sent to save us is now just a cool guy. It’s funny I thought people followed “cool guys”. With the help of Father Robert Baron from Word on Fire; I hope I can get this blog series a good start. To read more on the subject of the church and Media, I’ll point you to Brandon Vogt’s book The Church and New Media.

The Church in the U.S is in a bad state of affairs. A pew forum study showed that in 2008 the fastest growing religious group in America is the “nones”. Or people with no religious affiliation. Another Pew Statistic is that 27% of Americans don’t expect to have a religious funeral, and numbers in regard to attendance is not very pretty, somewhere between 20 -30% of Catholics attend the liturgy on a regular basis, and if you want to remove immigrants, like Hispanics and Vietnamese, the numbers would sink to European lows.

In the words of Fr.Baron. “ We have become largely inept at telling our distinctive story, and so the world found it exceptionally easy either to co-opt our story or simply dismiss it out of hand”.
We can become toothless in the face of attacks, of hostile questions, especially with the rise of “New Atheism”. There have been a slew of new attacks on anything religious but mostly when it comes to Christians. But with this universe that is the internet we can now have a pretty fair shot at refuting, (in a hospitable way) the claims. Fr.Baron has noticed four trends being on you-tube and face book and through his Word on Fire Ministries. These he calls the “ YouTube Heresies”. These are basically confusion about interpreting the bible, the relationship between science and religion, the meaning of the word “God”, and finally the confusion about the rapport between religion and violence.
In my future blogs I will go into more detail about these. 

I just wanted to give a proper introduction to this blog series. But most importantly is the why I’m doing this. It isn’t just because we need to fill the pews with kids from 18-25, it’s not about feeling “beat” by Atheist, or especially now with the holidays feeling the urge to speak up about keeping Christ in Christmas. It is really about love. I can’t tell you how much sadness I am filled with when I see what is going on with my generation. The sex, the disappointment, the hate, the drugs, it makes me wince at all the utter fallacies I hear said online about the dangers of religion, how bigotry is in the Church, the list goes on and on. We have a generation that is so disconnected from each other, any relationship that isn’t short and fast is an inconvenience. Not to mention our complete disregard for the dignity for human life.

I don’t know if I should be asking for a miracle. But I’m trying to take a stab at it. If I stand alone that’s ok for I stand with God. I know I’m not perfect; I am outrageously far from it. But if it’s a crime to care, to love than I’m a criminal. But this road we are on leads to ruin, so I’m using this great resource to try and stand on the digital soap-box. I want to cry at what is happening to my Country. We as Catholics know the greatest love there is. That love that is Jesus, for there has never been a greater death. Please take up the cup, don’t be afraid, I am tired of being afraid, and as much as it may hurt, the sting doesn’t last, but now is our time to act. With love. After 2000 years… well I’ll let Morpheus finish this. After 2000 years…

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Those to Follow

Picture courtesy of http://www.morguefile.com/archive/display/115012
Now that the fall is coming, and school is in session, I like to take some time to talk about educators. It is not that teachers are the only educators. All through are lives there are people that mold us, that pass on experiences, rules, practices, ways, traditions, etc. In the hopes that we have what we need to better our lives and the lives of others.

As Catholics, we have a great teacher. The greatest teacher in history. I believe I am right in saying that teaching itself is a calling. The best teachers, or the best arbiters of knowledge are always the ones who's main interest is to better the brains at the desk's, and not how much their tenure will be worth. I feel we are truly blessed to have so many great teachers in the Church. The early fathers, and men such as Augustine, and Aquinas. When we learn, we are taking part in the love that God has for us. It is up to us to not waste it on petty things.

I know for some classes may be hard. Maybe you are in a big class at a major university. Maybe on a regular basis you get busy work as it is called. Work that really you do the same thing over and over that really doesn't accomplish any lasting thing. Even as we go on to become upper class men and women. We always end up being able to think of things that are much better to do than listen to a person up at a board talk for a couple of hours. Or when out professor goes off on a tangent we feel he has nothing meaningful to say.

As Christians, we have the knowledge placed before us that we are part of something great. Something cosmic, something Eternal. Every day we wake up on this earth there is one more thing in infinity that we could learn. Our ceiling does not end at the scientific method. Our intellect does not end at the closest star or farthest away galaxy. We are able to learn because we are loved.

Now let me move away from the classroom sage. Let me move into more out of class room mentors. I type this because I want you all to know that there are many people in our paths, that help us become more fully us. As students, but even more so as young Catholics we have a duty to seek them out, and to mode not only our behavior out in the world but also take it to the classroom to where can plant seeds.

TV has had a rough patch as far as hero's go. This isn't the days of McGiver anymore. Plus most of our lives are spent well "plugged in", a great article about this about E-Slavery can be read at Catholic Answers. Any way I know of a T.V character that can really show us what a good man, as well as what a good teacher can give us. This man is none other than Leroy Jethro Gibbs. The boss of the NCIS team, a Marine Sniper, and a craftsman in his spare albeit sparse spare time.

I think the biggest reason I want to point him out is because of his Conviction. His foundational person is rooted in conviction, a value too few of us have or understand. He is like Peter, the rock. Gibbs is set in his ways, but weather some may meet him and think other wise he is selfless and strong. He shows what it means to stand up for what is in your heart. or in Gibbs' case, your gut. Wherever he is, he always takes himself with him, and he always brings him back.

He also in his way mentors, and raises his team up to be the best they can be, he brings out in them all the qualities that make them great agents, and he always reminds them about the path they walk on this road of life. he also passes down to them the way that Mosses gave us the 10 commandments, well of course God gave them to us but you know Mosses still brought them down from the mountain; the "rules" we heard about these on many occasions, we know how they were in homage to his late wife, and he has kept them close to his heart. They are the well Rules. In this way he reflects Christ ministry although in a more blunt and less depthful way, in the parables Jesus told.

We should go through this time between two eternities look for people like him. Even though we have Christ, God has brought people into our lives to better us, and try to bring out the person we are able to be. Have open ears to hear the wise words spoken by teachers. A little bit may go a longer way than you think, and little more time can open up vast new avenues of information.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Tears of Joy

Have you ever expirienced a time where you are crying because you are happy. A time that something marvelous has happened to you. Maybe you have graduated college. Maybe you heard a song on your radio that brings back a wonderful memory, a special reminder. Or it may be that you are getting married.

What ever the case, we can always recall what it feels like. A joy so intense, with waves of many emotions rolling over us. Culminating in a moment, a brief moment in time. It was St.Therese of Lisieux who said "Life is a moment between two eternities." Even after that moment has past. Even after the tears of joy are gone and we return from the cloud that we have been put on, we can still remember. For even those tears help slate that moment in infamy.

I write this because I believe that there are many things we can have those tears of joy for, that get over looked. In this fast world we live in, we zoom by things at blazing speeds. In moments of joy and celebration, they past by like a passing fancy. Is it because we don't want the bad memories, that the smallest of good ones get over looked?

A mother seeing her child take the first steps, a dad taking his son or daughter fishing. watching as they try to cast the line into the water, doing so much more than just fishing. Watching a child grow up, from tumbling over their feet, to tumbling over to high school, to college. What do we feel when say a young woman grows up and looks at all she has accomplished while keeping herself a temple of the Lord? That after everything she can stand on those shifting sands a triumph of life. Is it to out of reach? I say no. Because I have seen those tears of joy.

I often wonder what I would do if I was at the place where Jesus died. I would certainly not deserve to be there for sure. But when I see the sky darken, when I see him take his last breath, the last breath for our salvation, you I cry sad tears? I would cry those most wonderful tears of joy, for I have been ransomed. I am not my own.  1 Corinthians 6:20 "For you are brought with a great price. Glorify and bear God in your body."

Each day there is potential for us to be filled with joy. Each day when we rise we have another chance for a ever lasting memory. When you come home from school. When you are around with friends, catching up smiling, trading stories, it is those times that are joyful, that we should take an even greater breath in. When a couple is with friends, talking about life the universe and everything around a camp fire, let each take it in extra for those memories allows us to be closer, to love one another more like Christ. We each have our own battles, and when we get a victory it is cause for marvelous joy. Know that in Christ we have won our biggest battle.

When we take those extra seconds out of our day, amongst the toil amongst the daily dirt. We can look and see what we have that make those joyful tears possible. what would make us look forward  to shedding tears that cause no frowns.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Always Remember

For this day we remember. A day that is in infamy. Where in a moment millions of lives were changed forever. As I write this memorial blog, I would like to take some passages from a blog written by Jennifer Hartline. She talks about losing innocence in 9/11 and I would like to add my own expiriencesd while highlighting her thoughts.

She Writes "There are many days when I’d give anything to trade in some life experience and get my innocence back.  That loss is the worst part about growing up.  The gradual, almost unnoticed fading away of our ideals, our hopes, our belief in goodness and even the possibility of things we can’t imagine.  Cynicism replaces optimism; guardedness shuts out generosity and faith; fear replaces trust.

Then there are the moments like September 11, 2001, when innocence is shattered forever in an instant by a horror we still can’t comprehend and never saw coming."

When I look back on that day. I remember how I was starting my last year in elementary. A fresh little guy, who couldn't wait to graduate and leave the school of nuns and move on to the next phase of growing up. I remember stomping in puddles, making snow angels, and overall trying to make the life of the nuns less than smooth. I took in the dew drops of summer mornings, an inhaled the salty smell of the sea. But then it all changed, in an instant something was off, a tilted wobbly scale turned over. At that age it didn't hit me right away, I just knew something wasn't write, that the country I was brought up to know was altered.

I couldn't get it back, we couldn't get it back. Jennifer writes, "One minute I was sleeping cuddled up with my firstborn baby, holding her tiny fingers, breathing in her intoxicating new-baby scent, surrounded by bunnies and pink blankets, and everything was perfect and pure.  The next minute the explosions in New York blew everything apart. She Continues, "And just like that, I realized that my daughter and I were no longer from the same country.

The country I grew up in was
gone.  I could never pass it on to her.  She’ll know it only through stories and history books.  I don’t claim to be the first parent to ever feel this way, and there’ve surely been other page-turning events in our history that left two different Americas on either side.  But there’s no denying that 9/11 changed everything in a radical way."

The days are shifted, our lives altered. But in the wake of it all we still found hope. the only Hope; wile we may never look at an airplane the same way again, when we would pause for a split second on a trip, to scan the area, when we may hold a slight breath when sirens come down the street near a big building, know that the hardened of hearts need not be hardened. As she continues "We cannot go back to unsullied ignorance; we’ll never be naïve again.  But we really can be restored to purity again; our innocence can be renewed.  At the Cross we trade in our dirt and rubble and the Spotless Lamb washes us clean again.  Innocence Himself takes away our stain and gives us His own pure life.  “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  2 Cor 5:21"  

We have seen that even in the devastating attack that happened, a light that we could be drawn to was shown to us. That God is always with us. Whatever harm may befall us. Let us remain steady, and we can be made anew over an over again in Him

 So let us pray for those dearly departed. May God bless us all on this day of remembrance. Never Forget


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Back 2 School

It's that time again. last minute shopping for books, going to staples to pick up back packs, pens, pencils, and making sure you are going to go to the right class tomorrow morning. It's the school year once again. Amongst seeing old friends, or maybe meeting new ones for the first time we are going back to a part or life that is shaping us better or worse for the future. Who we are now, and who we will be once we get out of school are never really the same.

Since this time is so crucial, I think it is something for us to not only remember the home work due tomorrow, or the test coming up next week, but I also think we should take time to see ourselves. I think today for a person who is just starting out in college, who has stuck to the faculties of the Christian life, college is an exotic land. One that may or may not have seen missionaries come by. This is where we should stop and think about how we are when we step in to that land, and how we might be when we step out.

I have been fortunate enough to have grown up in the Catholic school system. From grade school, high school, and now I'm back again after taking a four year hiatus I am back in the system of my youth. But I know many fellow Catholics who didn't or specifically the audience of this blog are the ones who are not.

College puts you on the cusp of something bigger. In universities, and colleges across the country, young adults are going to take a part o something that may very well be there future. But in doing this they enter into well the exotic land mentioned above, and in this land has a different way. Today colleges are a place where the values of the building blocks of society are tossed aside, replaced with a "modern" blue print. For a young Catholic who is going to navigate this labyrinth this can seem a pretty daunting task.

But I in no way want you to feel discouraged, for what you are doing is taking part in something that leads you to God. Learning is a transcending experience, and it gives you identity, a piece of yourself that you will always have with you. For whatever the shifting sand of society are going, you can always remain in something greater. That knowledge, you develop more and more everyday by attending lectures, and practicing problems, it is a very real sign of the love that God has for you, to lead you towards the mysteries of the cosmos, even the law class you are taking in your Criminal Justice Major.

In college, so many can be a witness to the hope that is in you. Never be ashamed of that. The Christian tenet of Charity comes in. To help those in need. This can be done by helping your fellow student out. To be there, to lend a hand. For it is in giving that we receive.

Let it be that you can take heart in Peter, the rock. That wherever the passing fancies of contemporaneity life go you can allays be firm . Today school is filled with the ism's that only tear away at the fabric of ourselves and reduce us to cattle off to the slaughter. So stand and always be a light for those tossed on that stormy sea.

I guess it is safe to say that you will do a lot of reading right.?...

Well one could dream can't they. But in the mix of "hitting the books", and carousing with friends let your hope shine for all to see. Also I have a little reading list. It's little I promise, no really I mean it's like two books. I mean come on giving me some credit two books, the first is called Disorientation: How to go to College Without Losing Your Mind written in part by Catholic Professors, Journalist, Theologians, Priest, Philosophers to help guide you through the popular errors of Modernism, Progressivism, Scientism, Fundamentalism, and others. The other book is the recently published, youcat or the Youth Catechism as it is known. Also as a tip I have learned throughout my years in college, is to study before you go to bed, but do not cram that is acually harmful to the majority of kids, and when you wake up have a banana, especially when there is an exam that day.

So may God bless you and keep you, and grant you his precious gift of peace.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

An Ox and his Grain

WORK! Yes the old J.O.B. I feel that in this day what has been forgotten is the innateness of our drive to work. I have titled this blog post the way I did because I would like to point out the biblical source for our labor, and our misused mentality of a Man's wage.

I believe that America has always been a place for the working man. But I think we should know that the idea, the feeling of work goes way beyond that. Since the earliest days of man we have done work. It is in a person an innate urge for work. God has written that on our hearts. However I will concede we have come a long way since the days of farmers and plows.

But I think when we put that in the past we forget to look on the inside. We are made to work. When God made Adam he gave him dominion over the plants and animals of the earth. We have always worked to benefit ourselves and our families. With the advent of the industrial revolution , there came bad working  conditions, and unfair wages. Thus was the rise of Labor Unions. In the generation they were established things changed in the shop to be frank. But now a days I think and believe that the old Unions have come and gone and have been replaced with something that misses the principles of Natural Law.

Jesus did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. In Deuteronomy 25:4, we can read " Do not muzzle and Ox while it is treading out the grain". This means that a man is entitled to his wage. Why is this even though it's about an ox. Well surely we have more inherent rights than the ox, and if an ox should get his grain then we should get our wage. It is inherent in all of us that we want to work to improve our condition,  to make our little place on Earth. Back with the ancient Israelite s, they worked for land, for the soil. I mean it's not like there were Benz's and Cadillac's around.  We harvested, we toiled over the land that we bought for ourselves, to make fruitful our natural gift that God has given us.

With the battle in Wisconsin with the teachers, it was a stand by the unions. Which I would as a Catholic, would like to address. I'm not against the idea of Unions. I think they were a big help and made good progress when the era they started was happening. But with the advancement of American society the things that the Unions represented to begin with are not here any more. The Unions turned into something different, a shadow of their former selves.

In the Encyclical letter by Pope Leo XIII Revrum Novarum, the pope wrote about the working person. you can read the whole letter here, http://bit.ly/CUzob.

In the letter the Pope wrote "Thus, if he lives sparingly, saves money, and, for greater security, invests his savings in land, the land, in such case, is only his wages under another form; and, consequently, a working man's little estate thus purchased should be as completely at his full disposal as are the wages he receives for his labor. But it is precisely in such power of disposal that ownership obtains, whether the property consist of land or chattels. Socialists, therefore, by endeavoring to transfer the possessions of individuals to the community at large, strike at the interests of every wage-earner, since they would deprive him of the liberty of disposing of his wages, and thereby of all hope and possibility of increasing his resources and of bettering his condition in life. " 

By reading this we can see a wonderful and beautiful take for the Working person. I have always believed a man is entitled to his wage. With however wage that is he should be able to give more to the TRULY Needy, such for Mass residents the homeless at the Boston Common. However this wage should not be taken away from him, referring back to the Pope's letter, " it must be within his right to possess things not merely for temporary and momentary use, as other living things do, but to have and to hold them in stable and permanent possession; he must have not only things that perish in the use, but those also which, though they have been reduced into use, continue for further use in after time". 

Taking form Peter to give to Paul is not just , and not right. I know people who say the Church is for the Unions, and for the most part I agree, but the Unions written about then are not the same now. The working class is not just Unions and we all know this. But I think it's good to go beyond the Labor Unions to the heart of earning a wage. I think that this letter should be read because it still applies, especially after the protest in Wisconsin, also in response to the article on American Catholic here, http://bit.ly/qnmamJ

I still believe that Unions can be a good force. But the focus and the objectives have to be rewritten, one that still respects the workers right to his fair wage, but one that is routed in the moral high ground and balance of the Church. The Union leaders should examine themselves as well as politicians, who look to capture a vote. What one says they will do and what they do end up doing are two different things.  This goes the same for the people that represent the respective unions. the corruption that is infiltrated is a detriment to society, and the Workers may be getting the wool pulled over their eyes.  So please read Revrun Novarum to see how it should work.