Reflecting on 21 Centuries of Faith

Tag Archives: Rationalism

Mother’s Day: Let’s Celebrate the Pill

Today we celebrate the gift of mothers and implicitly their cooperation with the Most Blessed Trinity to bring the fruit of living love into the world.  While it is true that every child is not conceived in love and many unfortunately grow up in families that are not the loving environments they were designed to be, “It was not so in the beginning” (Matthew 19:8).

The Washington Post in an extraordinary display of amorality, published an article entitled, The Pill: Making motherhood better for 50 years which has to be one of the greatest abominations against motherhood and the sanctity of life  in years.  Opening paragraph? Check this out:

Forget the single girl and the sexual revolution. The pill was not anti‐mother; it was for mothers. And it changed motherhood more than it changed anything else. Its great accomplishment was not in preventing motherhood, but in making it better by allowing women to have children on their own terms.

The article continues by portraying Margaret Sanger as the champion of humanity and women.  It seemed to forget that Margaret Sanger was a racial bigot and eugenicist.  The author, Elaine Tyler May, failed to mention that all the research demonstrates a direct correlation between the Pill and divorce.  While mentioning Humane Vita she forgets to mention that Pope Paul VI predicted an increase in adultery, divorce, and the exploitation of women.

Having children on their own terms.  Seems to me that our Lord said in best in Romans 14:7-8,

None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself. For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.

Riddle me this?  How is it possible that the pill could be such a liberator and at the same time unleash the greatest destruction upon the family and thus society ever known to man? How can the Pill and her children (all derivative forms of contraceptives) be so good when it allows couples to give themselves completely to each other in a lie? How is it that when male contraceptives were create and in the test study one man died they rejected the drug as unsafe but when the female contraceptive was created and 10 women died they approved it and marketed to the general public?

The Pill has actually enslaved women more than they could have possibly imagines.  The only hope for women is the grace of Christ renewing His people through the Holy Spirit.  Pope John II’s gift of the Theology of the Body is the Father’s gift to us to proclaim the truth to the world.  We must engage the world and tell them the truth in love – with logical and culturally-relevant arguments.  Let us study hard and pray harder.

I suggest we write to the Washington Post editors and let mothers know that they have been viciously violated by society and the medical community.  Some articles worth reading as a response:

Is Western Christianity Suffering From Spiritual Amnesia?

The following article was posted by a Eric Hendry (You’re the best Eric!) on Facebook.  Interesting article about our memory and how it is related to religion.  At the end, I have a short poll that I would love for you to answer my poll question.

Is Western Christianity Suffering From Spiritual Amnesia?

Original Article Link

In the 1990s, I taught history and theology at an evangelical college, a place where the students were serious young Christians. One day, lecturing on the medieval church and the Crusades, I explained how in 1095 Pope Urban II launched a holy war against Muslims. Most of the students took notes. One young woman, looking very worried by the idea of Christians starting a war, shot up her hand. “Professor,” she began, clearly wanting to blame Roman Catholics for the affair, “what did the Protestants say about this?”

“Well,” I answered slowly, “there were no Protestants in 1095.” I did not have the heart to tell her that Protestantism would not exist until more than four hundred years later.

Puzzled, she blurted out, “But where were they?”

At the present juncture of history, Western Christianity is suffering from a bad case of spiritual amnesia. Even those who claim to be devout or conservative often know little about the history of their faith traditions. Our loss of memory began more than two centuries ago, at the high tide of the Enlightenment. As modern society developed, the condition of broken memory — being disconnected from the past — became more widespread. Indeed, in the words of one French Catholic thinker, the primary spiritual dilemma of contemporary religion is the “loss and reconstruction” of memory.

In some ways, understanding the loss is easy. Many modern thinkers wanted to forget. To them, European Christianity was a trash heap of magic, superstition, and repressive tradition, a faith needing to be enlightened by Reason and Science. The medieval world was like a stained-glass window in one of Christendom’s ancient cathedrals — pretty, perhaps, but you cannot see through it. As the Middle Ages ended, rationalists and revolutionaries smashed the cathedral windows to let in the clear light of human progress.

In the case of Western Christianity, people shattered memory because the past was too painful, too oppressive, and too violent for modern sensibilities of tolerance and equality. Better forget than remember. Many Western people, even a good number of Christians, I suspect, secretly agree with the atheist Christopher Hitchens when he claims, “Religion poisons everything.”

Thus we inhabit a post-traditional world — a world of broken memory — in which some tell history badly, others do not know it at all, and still others use history to manipulate people to their own ends. All contemporary faiths struggle with lost memory. Some may protest that certain religious groups, such as various conservative, evangelical, fundamentalist, or Roman Catholic communities, possess a strong sense of tradition. One need only listen, however, to the jeremiads from evangelical leaders or cries from the Vatican bemoaning the biblical illiteracy and ahistorical sensibilities of their young people to know that all is not well among even those groups claiming with faith-filled assurance that they will never forget.

Moderate, liberal, and progressive religious people have suffered most dramatically from spiritual amnesia. Unlike Enlightenment window smashers or those asserting certainty, these people, like Reform Jews, mainline Protestants, and liberal Roman Catholics, took up the challenge of trying to reconstruct memories of faith in a changing world. Attacked by both secular humanism and their self-assured religious cousins, these groups wondered if trying was worth the effort, often vacillating between rejecting the past and bearing its weight. What to remember? What traditions can be retained? What should we teach our children?

About a year ago, I heard Newsweek‘s Jon Meacham say, “History is to a country what memory is to an individual.” The quip seems particularly apt to American religious groups. To paraphrase, history is to a religion (or a denomination, church, or faith community) what memory is to an individual. To lose memory is neither funny nor sad; rather, it is a path to profound brokenness, a loss of self, meaning, and God that leaves us in darkness unable to act in purposeful ways in the world. Thus, I wonder: Is spiritual amnesia a precursor to religious Alzheimer’s, a fatal loss of memory for which there is no cure? I hope not. And I hope that religious people — especially my progressive brothers and sisters — can tether their passion for contemporary faith to ancient wisdom.

These comments are adapted from Diana Butler Bass’ book A People’s History of Christianity: The Other Side of the Story, recently released in paperback by HarperOne (2010).

Follow Diana Butler Bass on Twitter: www.twitter.com/dianabutlerbass

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Reflecting on the Nature of God

When speaking on prayer and meditation teens and adults alike consistently ask, “What can I reflect on during prayer?”  Over the years, I have come to understand that they do not mean, “There is nothing to reflect on” but “What’s new that I can reflect on?”

We live in a society that is always moving and changing.  Technology and scientific advances are moving so fast that it seems that we have to keep up or we become passe like yesterday’s iPhone application.  Rationalism has taught us that if it cannot be empirically proven or the bottom-line doesn’t reflect the effort then it is extraneous – even in relationships.  Consequently, we project that same attitude into our relationships and prayer (correction: relationship is prayer).  If it isn’t exciting – it’s not worth pursuing.  But that is not love!  The question is not how many we love but how deeply we love.  We need to ask every day, “Do I love with the depth of the deepest ocean or do I love like an enormously-wide and shallow puddle?”

Jesus is a person.  Jesus is who He is and God is what He is.  To reflect on His nature is to learn more about His person.  We know this by nature.  You know what or who you love and you love what or who you know.

So let’s take time to get-to-know the Trinity by meditating on the nature of God[1].  here are a few starting points from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

Six Attributes of God

  1. Power
  2. Majesty
  3. Wisdom
  4. Love
  5. Mercy
  6. Justice

These are traditionally symbolized in the hexagonal base of the chalice.

God’s Omnipotence (CCC #s 268-274)

  1. God’s power is universal.
  2. God’s power is living.
  3. God’s power is mysterious (discerned only by faith).

Four Points of a Person’s Likeness to God

  1. Like God, the person is a spirit (simplicity).
  2. Like God, the person is immortal (immortality).
  3. Like God, the person can reason (intellect).
  4. Like God, the person can choose (free will).

Powers of the Soul

  1. Understanding
  2. Free Will

Five Implications of Faith in One God (CCC #s 222-227)

  1. Becoming aware of God’s greatness and majesty
  2. Living in gratitude
  3. Knowing the solidarity and true dignity of all people
  4. Making good use of creation
  5. Trusting God in every situation

[1] The following lists are summarized and quoted from Klein, Rev. Peter, The Catholic Source Book (Harcourt Religion Publishers, 2000) p. 63-64

Spirituality: Outside the Boundries

Prayer is an expression of our interior life.  How we approach and experience prayer is not divorced from our human frailties and weaknesses.  In fact, the lens through which we come before our Lord is always colored by our life story and because of this, we choose methods that are contrary Church teaching.  The beauty of the Church is that we have volumes of experience to discern our way through and make corrections in our journey to heaven.  Below are the most general and common heterodox tendencies in authentic spirituality:

Four Heterodox Tendencies:

  1. Encretism: Extreme discipline, discipline for its own sake.
  2. Rationalism: Using the intellect as a hyper-measure of all reality.  Whatever does not appeal to the mind, reject.
  3. Quietism: The rejection of discipline and ritual because the individual(s) are so “in the spirit” i.e., Montanism/Protestantism
  4. Pietism: Religiosity.  An extreme need for externals without the corresponding continual internal transformation.  Also, typified by an individual(s) who liturgically participates without knowing why they do what they do.