Thursday, December 27, 2007

Assassination of Benazir Bhutto

So I thought I would post one more time before 2008. This one is a departure on my faith observations, however. I had called this one. Awhile back, when NPR announced her return to Pakistan, I said she's going to be taken out.

Today, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto, was assassinated while speaking at a rally. While Bhutto appeared to have died from bullet wounds, it was not immediately clear if she was shot or if her wounds were caused by bomb shrapnel. Bhutto led Paksitan from 1988 to 1990 and was the first female PM of any Islamic nation. She was participating in the parliamentary election set for 1-8-08, hoping for a third term. A terror attack targeting her motorcade killed 136 people the day she returned to Pakistan after 8 years of self-imposed exile.

I just want to say that as a woman, aside from any religious implications, I have to view her as a martyr for all women. We currently have Hillary Clinton running for the presidency of the United States. She is seen as a potential breakthrough for females in the course of history as the U.S. has never had a woman president. But how much more courage does it take as a woman to run for office in a region where women are second-class citizens and often treated as property, knowing at any time your death could be lurking in the hands of a sniper. A region that I so eloquently refer to as "the fucking dark side of the moon". Obviously, Bhutto knew this as she had been out of Pakistan for years. But surely upon returning, she had to brave the volatility amongst the tribes and the extreme risk she took standing up to speak in public at all. I think this woman was a fine example of one who actually deserves history-book credit and standing recognition not just for her views, but for HER.

Hillary runs for office from the comfort of her well-guarded plush home in New York. Bhutto knew death was a great possibility every time she showed her face in public. While both women should be lauded for their leadership, I tip my hat to Bhutto and her courage. Courage in that amount, no matter what the sex of the vessel or the location of the vessel on this earth, cannot be contained to itself. It is a deluge that, rushing down the mountain with vigor and zeal, sometimes clashes and ends its purposeful quest against the doom of a man-made dam waiting at the bottom. But before it is stilled and its dramatic journey ended, it saturates the greenery and life on the side of the mountain...leaving a little of itself behind over all that it touches.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Churchmas

I am almost 30. This will be my first year ever of not attending Christmas Mass at one of the few Catholic churches in my home town. I used to lovingly force my non-believer husband to go with me to mass on Christmas. In a few past years, too, I have gone with my family or by myself to 2-hour Christmas vigil masses. I used to think wow, no good believer should EVER miss Christmas mass...its like the queen-mother of all holy days and God will be watching to see whose been naughty and whose been nice and went to honor church.

When you attend regular mass and then go to Christmas mass - the church is packed with "Holiday Catholics" - those who only attend church on Christmas and Easter, which, in a way, seems even more hypocritical for some reason than a regular churchgoer, but I digress from my point...

I have felt some sadness when I hear Christmas music as of late. Yes, I will miss the "smells and bells" of a dimly lit church filled with Christmas hymns and the smoky clinging of the incense lantern as it is being swung to and fro around the altar by the priest. This type of experience was always part of the landscape of my life. More than a feeling of passing sadness is a greater feeling of what I can only describe as a validated peace in quiet Truth. I plan on having my own meditative moments at home as my "new mass".

As God can see me sitting in silence on my couch in my house on Christmas and know the pining I have in my heart for Him and the utter gratitude of sending his Son as the ultimate loving sacrifice, so can God see the person in a noisy church at Christmas mass in the front pew, gossiping to her friend next to her, straightening her husband's tie and thinking to herself "I am so glad I got this Ann Taylor blouse everyone can see how sharp I look." Yes, I will be fine having a dedication to God in the privacy of my home.

"But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you." -- Matthew 6:6

I think as social animals in a church setting -- and anyone who has been knows exactly what I'm talking about -- people get distracted from the point of being in church to honor Christ and simply get caught up in "people watching". Will I see anyone I know? How can I avoid shaking the sick person's hand next to me during the Sign of Peace? That guy behind me is so hot! Yes, among masses, Christmas mass is a HUGE distraction from true prayer and meditation in drawing closer to God. Sad that so many don't confront this fact within themselves and are conditioned to feel such GUILT to attend church. I know. I've been there and felt that. That whole guilt thing keeps the money rolling in for the diocese. All churches take out ads in the newspapers in the month of December, gently chastising you to get your ass to church on Christmas. It's big business.

Aside from the church issues I have -- which is about a truckload worth -- I have just as many issues with the whole gift-giving culture Christmas has become. I don't have the time or energy to expound on the bastardized commercial this holiday has become, but I do want to share as my gift to you, dear reader, the following item that you may (laughing) consider purchasing for the holidays...I give you the God Robot.

This little number out of Japan offers the dweeby nerd the know-how to pray to God and gain the love of his dream girl (as seen on the box, I apologize for the small photo). After all, if you don't pray you are doomed to heartbreak. LOL.

Unbelievable that this is an actual item, isn't it?

Seriously, may God bless you with a clarity of spirit and a knowledge of his eternal grace, reader.

See you in 2008.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Water Dripping from the Ceiling

On Sunday my husband and I were driving through town and we were listening to National Public Radio which announced that services honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe were being held to bring Caucasians and Hispanics together. We passed a full parking lot which we hardly ever see full. He commented that something big must be going on. I said Mass is happening at the Presbyterian Church. Later that evening we were watching "Dinner: Impossible" on the cooking channel and the chef was at The Ice Hotel in Quebec. The hotel had a chapel made of ice with pews and an alter.

So, funny enough, I had a dream about church last night:

I dreamt that I was in an old city with cobblestone streets and a tornado or storm was coming and I was seeking shelter. My grandmother was with me and she led me into a Presbyterian church that had large marble stairways displayed in flights leading down, down, down, really far into the ground, similar to the depths of the Paris catacombs - maybe a quarter mile into the earth. It was a safe place to weather the storm. The storm could never reach us or shake the walls in this cavernous sanctuary. Everything was softly lit and palatial, lots of polished taupe marble and when we reached the bottom, there was a chapel that was half-filled with people who were getting settled in for a mass that felt semi-Catholic. We sat in a pew.

I remember feeling apprehensive because I am no longer Catholic. I felt that I owed respect, so I sat through the service...until the end. At the end, the pastor said that this congregation and church was so blessed because as of late the statue of the Virgin Mary was weeping. In disbelief, I got from my seat and inspected where the statue was and saw that -- like the Parisian catacombs -- water was seeping through the earth and dripping down the front of the marble face of Mary. It streamed down her face and it pooled onto the marble floor. I pointed at it and angrily shouted, "No, she is not weeping - condensation is coming through the ceiling!" Everyone just sat there with their hands folded as if they did not hear me, rocking back and forth and praying the rosary. In lieu of my past Catholic split and realization of Truth, I felt almost like picking a fight because of this ridiculous situation. I screamed "Don't you ever question these things? They are not tears! It is not a sin to question!" No one answered, they just kept repeating their prayers and ignored me, hell-bent on believing that the Virgin was actually crying. I felt that while I was in a physically safe place, I was in a place that felt wrong. And frustrating. And untrue.

I woke up and my first thoughts were that 1) Truth cannot be found in beautiful marble churches and in deep underground sacred havens of prayer. 2) That the obvious problem of "miracles" and putting faith into statues and people other than Christ would be pretty close to blasphemy if I were God looking in on these things. Not to mention the misuse of one's brain in questioning things such as streams of water that are mistaken for celestial tears. 3) Safety and feeling safe and accepted does not guarantee that you have found Truth and going into the storm, whilst difficult, may be better than sitting through false safety.

I do feel like I am screaming at people who are stubborn and unwilling to question any aspect of faith sometimes...especially elders (maybe this is where my grandmother came into my dream). However, I feel thankful that I have come to break out of the blind following of incorrect dogma to see the water dripping through the ceiling.

Friday, December 14, 2007

God, The Mover of Lands and Peoples

"Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; And all flesh shall see the salvation of God."

Luke 3:5-6

What a fantastic Truth. While this passage is self explanatory, it can be reiterated that the following words are spoken in absolute terms: EVERY, EVERY and ALL. Not some. Not a few. ALL. And ALL flesh shall see salvation. If this isn't a plug for universal reconciliation, I don't know what is.

All mountains will be leveled, all paths made straight. I believe that the example of large expanses of earth that cover thousands of miles and are billions of pounds provide the enormous example of what God can do. And if God can put all peaks low and the valleys high - making the earth straight at the snap of His finger, in the end He can surely "correct" the flaws of infinitely smaller beings, humans. With God all things are possible. This just goes to show that the huge things are cake for God to fix....and so the small things (us) will be an obvious snap.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Universal Salvation

God is Love.


Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged.
1 Corinthians 13:4-5 puts it beautifully:

It seems pretty clear that if God were to send people to unrelenting torment for not saying the right words or believing the right thing, then he would not be patient and certainly not kind. He would be demanding his own way. He would be keeping a record of us having wronged him. My friends, He would be disregarding the Bible's very own meaning of Love - in addition, failing to save all men, Christ's very purpose in life. However, if every person is to be saved, nobody is forever lost, and no suffering is eternal, then his death on the cross would be completely fruitful, and triumphant in what it was meant to do. God would dwell in a fullness. "Love never gives up." 1 Corinthians 13:7

Today, we will not question God, but man. And, let us no longer question God's love but man's careless estimations of Scripture, and God's power to save the world through Jesus Christ, that we may trust in His love - knowing that though men lie, He is yet faithful.

[end quote]

The eventual salvation of ALL is the only outcome worthy of God and the love He promises to all his lambs in scripture.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Thy Will Be Done

The big prayer in the Catholic Church is the Our Father. We used to all hold hands and say it each time. This is a beautiful prayer taken from scriptures. Most Christians know it in one variance or another.

Look at the highlighted words:

Luke 11:2 "And he said to them, When ye pray, say, Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth."

Thy will be done. Not man's will be done. Thy will covers the earth now and forever, so how can people think they are in charge of their own salvation. God's will is salvation. And it will be done.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Misled Are Many

One of the things that piss me off is when people make idle threats, subtle judgments or asanine insinuations in the name of Jesus Christ, quoting the bible as in giving someone an ultimatum. It is fundamentally hypocritical and I see this from time to time on MySpace, where I have a profile and about 65 'friends' (many are old acquaintances that I rarely interact with). One of these friends posted this on the bulletin board recently. I removed her identity but if you cannot quite read it I have put the plain text of this message next to the image.

"I'm curious to see who believes in God on my friends list...there is no bribe of a miracle or anything like that. If you truly believe in God, then repost this bulletin and title it "My Best Friend". If you don't believe in God, then just ignore this. In the bible, Jesus says, "If you deny Me before man, then I will deny you before my Father in Heaven."

The passage quoted is Matthew 10:32-33. The Concordant Literal New Testament verses are:

32 "Everyone, then, who shall be avowing Me in front of men, him will I also be avowing in front of My Father Who is in the heavens.33 Yet, who should ever be disowning Me in front of men, I also will be disowning him in front of My Father Who is in the heavens."

Context is so important. Take something out of an entire context and the meaning can change. Put that piece of Scripture taken out of context and stick it in a MySpace bulletin to everyone and it looks like an unfriendly ultimatum. It is not followed up with the rest of the Truth. It is not followed up with the whole story, just a section that looks like a threat to the recipient. Two topics to soapbox about that won't gain one friends on an open forum like MySpace: politics and religion. The person who posted this bulletin, I can say in all honesty, is relatively "new" to Christianity, so her newfound zeal is misled in an incomplete message.

This passage does not imply eternal damnation, but rather a judgment. It means you will have to answer for your actions on this earth, and yes we will all be purified of our sins, but we will all acknowledge and return to God. All is of God and all will return to him. God has a goal. He intends to become All in all of His creatures. He will accomplish this by way of reconciling all His enemies by the blood of Christ's cross, by justifying, vivifying, and saving all mankind at the consummation. Those who believe now are saved by His grace. For those who do not believe there is a process of judgment, all the while leading to the same bright goal.

“God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:17)

Christ is "the Savior of all mankind, especially of believers" (1 Timothy 4:10).

Not exclusively of them.

Spiritual author Mark T. Chamberlain beautifully descirbes the consummation of all citing Scripture in a way I could never improve upon, here it is:

To bring this out clearly, I'm going to quote from a number of texts that have been pieced together like the links of a chain that all fit together to show that the Kingdom of Christ will one day include everyone who has ever lived and God will truly be "all in all."

The chain begins at creation when all things were created by Christ with full knowledge of the fall of man that was to come and a plan already in place to redeem mankind. He who created all things will "reconcile to himself ALL things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross" (Colossians 1:20). This reconciliation or restoration of ALL things was foretold by God when He "spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago" (Acts 3:21). God has appointed His Son to be the "heir of ALL things" (Hebrews 1:2) and in God's Son "shall ALL the nations be blessed" (Galatians 3:8).

God has given His Son "authority over ALL flesh, to give eternal life to ALL whom He has given Him" (John 17:2). "The Father has given ALL things into the Son's hands" (John 3:35) and so "ALL flesh shall see the salvation of God" (Luke 3:6). Because of "the unchangeable character of God's purpose" (Hebrews 6:17), because His love for His enemies is unchanging and "He is kind to the ungrateful and evil" (Luke 6:35). "He desires ALL people to be saved" (1 Timothy 2:4). He "gave himself as a ransom for ALL" (1 Timothy 2:6). He "is not wishing that ANY should perish, but that ALL should reach repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). He "has consigned ALL to disobedience, that he may have mercy on ALL" (Romans 11:32) "for from him and through him and to him are ALL things" (Romans 11:36).

So God's plan is "to unite ALL things in Christ, things in heaven and things on earth" (Ephesians 1:10). The Father has "put ALL things under Christ's feet" (Ephesians 1:22) and has "given ALL things into his hands" (John 13:3). Jesus has promised to "draw ALL men" to Himself (John 12:32) because "the Father loves the Son and has given ALL things into his hand" (John 3:35). Jesus said, "ALL that the Father gives me will come to me" (John 6:37). Jesus says that like a good shepherd, He will search for each of His lost sheep "until he finds it" (Luke 15:4). "God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him" (John 3:37). "The grace of God has appeared bringing salvation for ALL people" (Titus 2:11).

Jesus is the "Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). Jesus gave His flesh as bread "for the life of the world" (John 6:51). "He gives life to the world" (John 6:33). He is "the light of the world" (John 8:12). "He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2:2). "He is the Savior of ALL people" (1 Timothy 4:10), “the Savior of the world” (John 4:42; 1 John 4:14). "He appeared to destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8).

Jesus "abolished death" (2 Timothy 1:10). "He has put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:26). His power "enables him to subject all things to himself'” (Philippians 3:21). "The gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does" (1 Peter 4:6). He has "the keys of Death and Hades" (Revelation 1:18). He will throw "Death and Hades into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:14).

"In Christ shall all be made alive" (I Corinthians 15:22). He "accomplished the work" that the Father gave Him to do (John 17:4). "He restores all things" (Acts 3:21). "At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:10-11). "Every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, `To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever! "' (Revelation 5:13).

"Then comes the end, when he [Jesus] delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For 'God has put all things in subjection under his feet.' But when it says 'all things are put in subjection,' it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all" (1 Corinthians 15:24-28).

These verses have not just been thrown together haphazardly. They are the expression of that purpose that runs through the Bible, a purpose first stated in mankind's creation in the image of God, a purpose that can be traced throughout the entire Bible, in the Law, the Psalms, and the Prophets, and most clearly in the New Testament. From it we learn at least three things:
1. Christ came claiming the entire human race as His own, to the end that He would save and restore the entire race, not just part of it.2. He came with full power and authority over all men, having received all power in heaven and earth over all hearts, all evil, all wills.3. He lived and died and rose again, completely victorious, having fully accomplished the work His Father gave Him to do, which was the salvation of the world.

To deny universal restoration and reconciliation is to mutilate the Scriptures. We are not dealing with a few isolated verses in which it might be possible to say that "all" was used loosely and doesn't really mean "all." We have a connected series in which link follows link---a series that teaches the actual, not potential, universality of Christ's Kingdom. Let's look closer at these passages, taking them in their natural and fair meaning, not obscured by the traditions of men.

Luke 19:10: "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." The question is this: Will Jesus Christ really do what He said He came here to do? He didn't say He came to save some of the lost. He came to save the lost. And that is everybody! Apart from Christ, we are all lost, but He came to seek for us until He finds us (Luke 15:4).

Luke 3:6: "All flesh shall see the salvation of God." This verse is probably taken from Isaiah 40:5, which says, "And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken." Surely these verses point in the direction of universal salvation. Matthew 5:8: "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."

[End quote]

The threats of Scripture taken out of context do not attract people to Christianity, but repel them from it. That's simple psychology. God is the Great Psychologist. He knows that threats will not turn men's hearts. It is a shame the poster of that MySpace bulletin does not realize she is doing more harm than good. I guess ignorance is bliss when you have a whole church backing up that falsehood by teaching from an incorrectly translated Bible. Humans are base and bloodthirsty creatures, they want to see their enemies, murderers, etc. burn for eternity. They get pleasure from thoughts of that. But God's ways are not man's ways. Man wrongly spun God's message into a very human ultimatum. Believe in my gracious love......OR DIE FOREVER IN A FIERY HELL!!!

Does anyone else see what's wrong with this?

What a shame that the ultimate message of peace and love that God gave the world is consistently raped by the ignorance and blindness of bloodthirsty men who want to make God out to be a spoiled child tyrant king who stomps his feet and smites you for ALL ETERNITY when He is not acknowledged. And all of these typical Christian existing believers wish to stand by and watch as the pitiful "unbelievers" are skewered over the barbeque. And they all smile wide at their pain.

Hypocrisy? Your order is up. Would you like fries with that?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Word To Your Mother

I used to pray the rosary. In fact, my grandparents used to say decades of the rosary on their way driving to places. When I would spend the night at their house, I remember saying the entire rosary before bedtime with my grandma. All five mysteries. My other grandma used to make rosaries with lovely heavy glass beads. And they were beautiful indeed.

Even though I have left Catholicism, I still have a print of the Virgin of Guadalupe hanging on my bedroom wall. I have a black rosary hanging from my crucifix. I have a scuffed up little statue of Mary on a dresser in my walk-in closet that I've had since I was little. She's in her usual blue and white gown, hands folded, head slightly looking down with a tranquil expression. And I even have a silhouette of the rosary tattooed on my back around a crucifix.

I haven't really addressed the Virgin Mary too much after my departure. But now is a good time to do so.

Mary has always been "the softer side of Catholicism" - a sweet and soft landing for the sinner who wants to hide behind her gown like a child as she goes to The Big Guy to intercede for them, possibly reducing their punishment. Like a kid going to Push-Over Mom to soften the blow that might come from Angry Dad. She's a very attractive feature of the Catholic religion as women are rarely symbols in the religious forefront. (Even though it is a misnomer symbol in a largely sexist religion).

While I still respect the symbol and person of Mary, I don't pray to her anymore for the following reasons:

1) She's Not God. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. One shouldn't feel like they need an intercessor with an all-powerful God who knows your prayers and needs before they are even apparent to you and before you even utter them. It's the whole can't-get-a-hold-of-God-so-leave-a-message-with-his-staff type of thing. Mary doesn't pack the punch that God does. Many people put her on par with Jesus, it seems. She was a blessed instrument, but an idol she should not be.

2) Repetitive Prayer is Bad. "And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words." Matthew 6:7 ...Enough said.

3) Tradition of Men: Roman Catholics borrowed the idea of praying with beads from the pagan religions who were already using them hundreds of years before: In 456 AD, Hindus are thought to have introduced the concept of praying with beads to the world. The earliest reference to a rosary (boberkhas) is in their "Jain Canon" (456 AD) These boberkhas had various numbers of beads 6,9,12,18,36 (any sub-multiple of 108) Islam (610 AD) uses a rosary of 99 beads, one for each of the names of God. Buddhists have 108 prayer beads on the string. The Rosary is of pagan origin and no Christian prior to 1000 AD used beads to pray. Catholics pray repetitive words with Rosary Beads that were first invented in 1090 AD, by "Peter the Hermit" and made popular by St. Dominic in 1208 AD. Catholics believe that Mary appeared to St. Dominic in 1208 AD, at the church of Prouille and revealed the Rosary Beads to him. From this time, Catholics prayed 15 sets of 10 consecutive "hail Marys" in a row (150 times), in the Rosary. However, in 2003 AD, Pope John Paul added a new set of Mysteries, so now it is 20 sets of 10 "Hail Marys", (200 times in the Rosary, in total.) Catholics will vainly appeal to Psalm 136 that alternates the same phrase 26 times with 26 different blessings God gives us. It is not 26 in a row as with the rosary! This is also a song, not a prayer. Revelation 4:8 has "angels singing" not "men praying".

I don't know how long I will keep my print of the Virgin on my wall or the ancient statue in my closet. I will likely keep my rosary on my crucifix and I don't regret the rosary in my tattoo in the least. Not a bit. I think the rosary is an interesting (if not misled) symbol of prayer, but now I just choose not to actively use it. It was a stretched section of my path to knowing the real message of God and I cannot dismiss it as something "bad". It was a necessary phase and I don't feel keeping it around for posterity is harmful. It is that which is flawed that reminds me of my own flaws and keeps me humble, I suppose. It is a memory of an era past and a stepping stone that I outgrew and outknew, but one that I nonetheless still respect and cannot find it in me to "bash". I will just quietly take my leave of this Catholic tradition.

I'm happy that the Virgin Mary, as a woman, played such an important role in the life of Jesus. Where would we be without that gentle woman? And what a great role model for mothers.

I hope to hang out with her someday : )

Saint's following is more diverse: Non-Latino Catholics in L.A. are drawn to the Virgin of Guadalupe. - By K. Connie Kang - Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
December 3, 2007

The Virgin of Guadalupe -- the beloved brown-skinned image of the Virgin Mary long venerated in Mexico -- has won a new following in multiethnic Los Angeles. "We see the Virgin of Guadalupe as Mother of the Americas -- north, central and south," said George Takahashi, a Japanese American who is a member of the Maryknoll Japanese Catholic Center, St. Francis Xavier Chapel near Little Tokyo. "She is not just for Latinos. She is for all people of the Americas." An estimated 10,000 devotees turned out Sunday for a procession in honor of the Virgin, among them ethnic Chinese, Korean, Filipino, Tongan and Vietnamese worshipers. Although Catholic leaders disagree, some historians theorize that the Virgin of Guadalupe represents a melding of two strands of belief -- Catholic teachings about Mary and indigenous traditions about the Aztec goddess Tonantzin. Devotees of the Virgin believe she appeared in 1531 to a Catholic convert, Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, at the hill of Tepeyac in Mexico. According to tradition, she spoke in the local language and directed Juan Diego to build a chapel on the site. The local bishop asked the man, now canonized as St. Juan Diego, for proof, so the Virgin told him to gather roses from the hill -- even though it was winter. Miraculously, the roses bloomed, and Juan Diego brought them back wrapped in his cloak. When the roses fell from the cloak, believers say, the image of the Virgin appeared on the cloth. On Sunday, dancers and musicians in colorful costumes performed in the Virgin's honor. Street vendors did brisk business selling flags and T-shirts adorned with her image, and spectators lined the street along the procession route. "I brought all my children because I want them to learn about their heritage and history," said Francisco Morales, a salesman from Santa Ana. But that heritage has been expanding, as Catholics who don't hail from Mexico adopt the Virgin as their own. "She is our intercessor -- a very powerful, loving mother," said Dr. Truc Truong, a Vietnamese American physician who is among the growing ranks of devotees of the Virgin of Guadalupe. For the last year, Truong, who came to the United States after the fall of Saigon in 1975, has been donating 2,000 roses every week for the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe at Hombre Nuevo, a Catholic media center in El Monte. "I can never spend enough money for Mother of God and God," she said of her $1,500 weekly flower bill. The physician donated thousands of orange and red roses for Sunday's event, which culminated in a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Roger M. Mahony at the East Los Angeles College stadium. The roses were arranged like flower beds, filling a sizable portion of the field, where 6-foot framed images of the Virgin of Guadalupe and St. Juan Diego stood. Roses also filled giant urns. "The whole world's here," Mahony said, looking at the sea of people around him. "We are all brothers and sisters under her." Some credit the growth of devotion to the Virgin of Guadalupe among non-Latinos to Bishop Oscar A. Solis, vicar in charge of ethnic ministries for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Solis, a native of the Philippines, was invited in 1984 by the archdiocese to start the outreach to a number of ethnic groups. "This is an exciting moment in our church," Solis said as he walked with other auxiliary bishops in the procession. "You see a multicultural perspective of this celebration. That's what excites me the most." Recognizing the importance of the Virgin of Guadalupe to the Catholic faith, Pope John Paul II in 1992 dedicated a chapel within St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican to her. Seven years later he named her patron saint of the Americas, and in 2002, John Paul canonized Juan Diego before a crowd of 12 million in Mexico City. Clara Park, a member of St. Paul's Korean Catholic Church near Koreatown, said she feels blessed to have both "God the Father" and "Holy Mother" to go to. "When I need forgiveness, I often pray to Holy Mother to intercede in my behalf," Park said. Park's group walked in a one-mile procession from La Soledad Church to East Los Angeles College with members of its sister Latino congregation, which shares the same facility. Soana Moimoi, a native of Tonga and a member of St. Anthony's Catholic Church in Long Beach, loves the account of Mary appearing to an indigenous man. For the eighth year in a row, Moimoi and her family were at the procession.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Muslim Crazies

The big to-do in the news recently concerns a British teacher in Sudan who was teaching a group of children and for educational purposes used a teddy bear. The children chose to name the bear Muhammed. God forbid. The teacher is being charged on blasphemy for "insulting Islam".

Islam insulted via a teddy bear? Wouldn't thousands of years have built up a little tougher of skin than this? Isn't that a little extreme? Some people are even calling for her execution! A woman innocently teaching children executed? What about the children - they were the ones who chose the name? They blasphemed just as much as the British teacher! Off with their heads!

Following 9/11 Muslims have tried to express that theirs is a religion of peace - and then this happens and everyone goes apeshit. The zealots who fly off the handle in any religion seem to tarnish the whole of the religion. And Islam is no different than Christianity in this respect.

How ridiculous. How absolutely ridiculous. These people act like children and forget themselves. Their knee-jerk reactions and pouting and calling for a pound of flesh makes them look like fools. A teddy bear for learning is about as insulting and harmful as a snowflake lightly landing on a bear's snout. What about people who give themselves the name of Muhammed, i.e. Muhammed Ali - is it the case where if Muhammed Ali loses a boxing match he inadvertently insults Islam in this way?

The hypocrisy of so-called peaceful religions know no bounds.

He has chosen things of little strength and small repute, yes and even things which have no real existence to explode the pretensions of the things that are

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

The Blasphemous Teddy Bear

Monday, Nov. 26, 2007 – Time /
By Rob Crilly/Khartoum

It probably seemed like the most innocent of ideas to the newly arrived teacher from England, still settling into life in the Sudanese capital Khartoum. She asked her class of six and seven-year-olds to dress up and name a teddy bear, and keep a diary of his outings. She hoped it would provide material for projects for the rest of the year. And it might have, except for the name the children chose for their bear: Muhammad. Now Gillian Gibbons, 54, is spending her second night in a Sudanese prison, accused of insulting Islam's Prophet. She faces a public lashing or up to six months in prison if found guilty on charges of blasphemy. And Unity High School — one of a number of exclusive British-run schools in the Sudanese capital — has been closed as staff fear reprisals from Islamic extremists. Robert Boulos, the school's director, said the incident had been blown out of all proportion, but added that the school would remain closed until January to let ill feelings blow over. "This was a completely innocent mistake," he said in an office decorated with sepia photographs dating back to the school's colonial heyday. "Miss Gibbons would have never wanted to insult Islam." Police raided the school, where Gibbons also lives, on Sunday. "We tried to reason with them but we felt they were coming under strong pressure from Islamic courts," said Boulus. "There were men with big beards asking where she was and saying they wanted to kill her." A similar angry crowd had gathered by the time she arrived at the Khartoum police station where she is being held. Unity, founded early in the last century, is one of several British schools run along Christian lines in an overwhelmingly Muslim country. Its high brick walls shut out the dust of everyday Sudanese life, transporting the visitor into the shady courtyard of an Oxbridge college or English private school. Many of its pupils come from well-to-do Sudanese families keen for their children to get the best education that money can buy. But Sudan is ruled by religious conservatives. Sharia law was introduced in 1991; alcohol is banned and women must wear headscarves. Convicted criminals are routinely flogged or executed. The bizarre turn of events that led to the teacher's arrest began in September, soon after she arrived in the country, according to colleagues who have rallied in her support. Her young class was due to study the behavior and habitat of bears, so she suggested that pupils bring in a teddy bear to serve as a case study. A seven-year-old girl brought in her favorite cuddly toy and the rest of the class was invited to name him. After considering the names Hassan and Abdullah, they voted overwhelmingly in favor of Muhammad — the first name of the most popular boy in the class. "No parents or teachers complained because they knew she had no bad intention," said Boulos. Until last week. Parents from another class raised concerns with the school. Then Sudan's feared police came calling at the weekend. Gibbons' colleagues said they feared a disgruntled member of staff may be using the issue to cause trouble. Bishop Ezikiel Kondo, chairman of the school council, said: "The thing may be very simple, but they just may make it bigger. It's a kind of blackmail." Khartoum has exploded with anger at accusations of blasphemy in the past. Last year angry demonstrators denounced cartoons of the Prophet that appeared in Danish newspapers. And there have been protests at the actions of Zoe's Ark, a French charity accused of trying to smuggle children out of neighboring Chad. Now everyone is waiting to see whether religious leaders or politicians will take their supporters onto the streets this time. Most parents arriving at the school gates were supportive of the British teacher. One mother, whose seven-year-old son was in Gibbons' class, said her family had not been offended by the name. "Our Prophet Muhammad tells us to be forgiving," she said. "So she should be released. She didn't mean any of this at all."

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bad News and Good News

When a co-worker comes to work sick and coughs all over your world, it is only a matter of time before you get sick. That time is now. That 'you' is me. And that 'sick' feels like an acute sinus infection, though possibly just a bad cold.


But, even though I sit here and complain that I can't breathe through my nose, I know that its not so bad. The bad news is that a local family has it much worse than me....I truly feel for them. A distant acquaintance from high school died the day after Thanksgiving. He was a couple of years younger than me. In the news, it said he was taken from his home in an ambulance and died in the emergency room at 12:45pm...

Strange, the first thing that went through my mind was that he actually died in the daytime - in the full light of day. I guess in some unsupported stereotypical way I always associated the death of a young person with nighttime shenanigans on the highway - the witching hour or in a firey blaze between 1:00am-3:00am. A daytime passing of a youth. It seems so harsh. Daytime is for living, right? It is so true that ye know not the hour. While I didn't know him very well, I pray for him and his grieving family and friends.

In lieu of this tragic news, I think about what will be thought following this man's death. I think about the typical depressing Catholic eulogy. Eulogies tend to be really unsure about saying whether or not the departed is going to be with God. Many times it is a "pray for the soul of such and such that s/he may not experience everlasting torment" sort of thing.

I think it is an appropriate moment to say that since leaving the Catholic Church, I have found the actual Good News. It was always there, but it was shrouded in apostasy, in ill-translated scripture and in false dogma. A sheep in lion's clothing. The scriptures were originally written in Hebrew and Greek. God specifically chose these languages for their special nuances in the conveyance of his message. When the scriptures were translated into Latin, many very important words were mis-translated, some of which include the words 'eternity / eternal' and 'hell'. Replace these mistranslated words with the original ones (do your homework) and it entirely changes the terrifying biblical message most Christians are fed into actual GOOD NEWS...not Good News with severe stipulations.

The Concordant Literal New Testament is one of the bibles that retains the correct and original Greek translations. I recommend it to any thinking Christian. Forget the King James Version or the New International Version, etc, etc. When it comes to communications in any form, the orignal message is very important. And this is the message which has brought me much peace:

Jesus died for all mankind. All is of God and all will return to God. Salvation is the only outcome worthy of God. There is no salvation by self. A human cannot do what has already been done for them by Christ. Salvation occurred (notice past tense: occurred) through Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. It was the most powerful and loving gesture ever to be done for humankind and nothing we do (including works or even belief) can change the fact that through His grace we will all return to God.

This isn't just the Good is the Best News.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Sex and the City (of God)

The song remains the same: Holy Leader Commits The Unholy.

The article below could be an episode on a soap opera. You can't write this stuff. This kind of drama plays out in the news regarding leaders of one Christian denomination or another on an almost daily basis.

The key issue that ties all these unfortunate headlines together is sex. Say the word in front of a church congregation and many will still blush, cross themselves or pass out. Why is it such a forbidden topic? Catholics see sex as a blessing and a curse - it is a blessing because it produces more Catholics (want 'em or not, here they come) and it is evil and reeks of sin because of the unspeakable mechanics of is obviously sinful because people get the basest pleasure out of it. Pleasure - in the eyes of the Church, that word is as dirty as the word sex. They're all about suffering, baby. They seem to deny that God would want them to enjoy it.

Sex is a gift from God, not to be abused... or misused... or neglected. If you gave someone a beautiful gift and they left it in their closet, never to be used, how would you feel? If that person mistreated your gift or dropped it on the floor, how would you feel? Like many gifts from God, sex is a something that needs attention and not repression / suppression. I don't understand how celibate priests can speak of sex (or counsel on marriage) in any way. They are human, too. Those pent-up feelings always seem to end up coming out and eventually hurting someone - scratch that - they hurt many people. A levee holding back too much water will eventually burst. This is the law of nature; and therefore, God's law. People need to be open and honest about sex and that goes for reverends, pastors, deacons and priests, too.

I feel that if sex wasn't so taboo in Christian churches, we would see a decrease in moral offenses by church leaders. Healthy open dialogue about sex and sexual issues needs to take place in Christian churches, for both leaders and followers.

Bonus Article: An older piece about the "Reverend" Jesse Jackson and his hypocrisy. Every time he runs to cheerlead someone's cause or issue, I just have to shake my head. It's not the fact that he had a child out of wedlock, but for God's sake, the man still preaches with unbound arrogance and, I feel, selective racism. You would think that his little fall from grace might be God's way of saying "Calm down, son. Be humble. That's the lesson, here." Mr. Jackson missed the point, I think.

SEX SCANDAL: Archbishop Admits Sleeping With Brother's Wife - POSTED: 4:29 pm EST November 19, 2007

DECATUR, Ga. -- The 80-year-old leader of a suburban Atlanta megachurch is at the center of a sex scandal of biblical dimensions: He slept with his brother's wife and fathered a child by her. Members of Archbishop Earl Paulk's family stood at the pulpit of the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit at Chapel Hill Harvester Church a few Sundays ago and revealed the secret exposed by a recent court-ordered paternity test. In truth, this is not the first -- or even the second -- sex scandal to engulf Paulk and the independent, charismatic church. But this time, he could be in trouble with the law for lying under oath about the affair. The living proof of that lie is 34-year-old D.E. Paulk, who for years was known publicly as Earl Paulk's nephew. "I am so very sorry for the collateral damage it's caused our family and the families hurt by the removing of the veil that hid our humanity and our sinfulness," said D.E. Paulk, who received the mantle of head pastor a year and a half ago. D.E. Paulk said he did not learn the secret of his parentage until the paternity test. "I was disappointed, and I was surprised," he said. Earl Paulk, his brother, Don, and his sister-in-law, Clariece, did not return calls for comment. A judge ordered the test at the request of the Cobb County district attorney's office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which are investigating Earl Paulk for possible perjury and false-swearing charges stemming from a lawsuit. The archbishop, his brother and the church are being sued by former church employee Mona Brewer, who says Earl Paulk manipulated her into an affair from 1989 to 2003 by telling her it was her only path to salvation. Earl Paulk admitted to the affair in front of the church last January. In a 2006 deposition stemming from the lawsuit, the archbishop said under oath that the only woman he had ever had sex with outside of his marriage was Brewer. But the paternity test said otherwise. So far no charges have been filed against Earl Paulk. District Attorney Pat Head and GBI spokesman John Bankhead would not comment. The shocking results of the paternity test are speeding up a transformation already under way in the church after more than a decade of sex scandals and lawsuits involving the Paulks, D.E. Paulk said. "It was a necessary evil to bring us back to a God-consciousness," said the younger Paulk, explaining that the church had become too personality-driven and prone to pastor worship. The flashy megachurch began in 1960 with just a few dozen members in the Little Five Points neighborhood of Atlanta. Now, it is in the suburbs on a 100-acre expanse, a collection of buildings surrounding a neo-Gothic cathedral. For years the church was at the forefront of many social movements -- admitting black members in the 1960s, ordaining women and opening its doors to gays. At its peak in the early 1990s, it claimed about 10,000 members and 24 pastors and was a media powerhouse. By soliciting tithes of 10 percent from each member's income, the church was able to build a Bible college, two schools, a worldwide TV ministry and a $12 million sanctuary the size of a fortress. Today, though, membership is down to about 1,500, the church has 18 pastors, most of them volunteers, and the Bible college and TV ministry have shuttered -- a downturn blamed largely on complaints about the alleged sexual transgressions of the elder Paulks. In 1992, a church member claimed she was pressured into a sexual relationship with Don Paulk. Other women also claimed they had been coerced into sex with Earl Paulk and other members of the church's administration. The church countered with a $24 million libel suit against seven former church members. The lawsuit was later dropped. Jan Royston, who left the church in 1992, started an online support group for former members to discuss their crushed faith and hurt feelings. "This is a cult. And you escape from a cult," she said. "We all escaped." These days, Earl Paulk has a much-reduced role at the cathedral, giving 10-minute lectures as part of Sunday morning worship each week. "My uncle is 100 percent guilty, but his accusers are guilty as well," D.E. Paulk said, declining to talk further about the lawsuits.

Jesse Jackson fathers child out of wedlock, asks forgiveness

January 18, 2001 - Web posted at: 2:23 p.m. EST (1923 GMT)

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Civil rights activist and CNN talk show host Jesse Jackson is asking for forgiveness after acknowledging Thursday that he had an extramarital affair that resulted in the birth of a daughter now 20 months old. "I fully accept responsibility and I am truly sorry for my actions," Jackson said in a written statement. Jackson, a Baptist minister and one-time aide to Martin Luther King Jr., admitted that he fathered the child and has provided "emotional and financial support" since her birth. "As her mother does, I love this child very much," he said. "I was born of these circumstances," said Jackson, himself born out of wedlock, "and I know the importance of growing up in a nurturing, supportive and protected environment so I am determined to give my daughter and her mother the privacy they both deserve." His New York-based spokesman, John Scanlon, told CNN that Jackson issued the statement in advance of tabloid newspaper reports about the child. "We decided to issue this statement so that our point of view could be reflected in this story," Scanlon said. The statement does not reveal the name of the mother or the child, calling it "a private and family matter." Jackson says that "to protect all those I love I will not discuss it any further beyond this statement." The two-time former presidential candidate plans an indefinite hiatus from his activist activities, which included opposing the confirmation of President-elect George W. Bush's attorney general nominee, John Ashcroft. "I will be taking some time off to revive my spirit and reconnect with my family before I return to my public ministry," the statement said.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Here's some good old-fashioned right-wing fundamental Southern Christian intolerance for you.

Jesus died for ALL humanity...not just Christians...not just Jews....not just Muslims...EVERYONE. It is this type of Christian "elitist" group that acts like they are above trying to respect and reach out to another faith that so chaps my hide. These "Christians" are hypocrites and blasphemers. Jesus embraced everyone he came across. He reached out in love. He didn't get snippy like a prissy little schoolgirl and flip his hair and say, "No, we don't want them around. They aren't the cool kids."

Hyde Park Baptist church is a terrorist organization. They terrorize Christianity because they twist it like the Jihadists twist the Muslim religion. Instead of blowing up cars in acts of terror, this Baptist church bastardizes scriptures and blows up all that Jesus came to establish. If this ridiculous behavior defines a Christian, I renounce that label effective immediately.

John 15:12 - This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

Notice that "Christians only" is absent from this passage. How friggin' hard is this to comprehend? Do they need a map drawn out for them?

Church rejects interfaith service on its property
Hyde Park Baptist says it didn't realize Muslims were leading annual Thanksgiving event.


Friday, November 16, 2007 - Austin Area Interreligious Ministries, the city's largest interfaith organization, announced Thursday that its annual Thanksgiving celebration Sunday had to be moved because Hyde Park Baptist Church objected to non-Christians worshipping on its property. The group learned Wednesday that the rental space at the church-owned Quarries property in North Austin was no longer available because Hyde Park leaders had discovered that non-Christians, Muslims in particular, would be practicing their faith there. The event, now in its 23rd year, invites Jews, Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Bahais and others to worship together. Organizers had booked the gymnasium at the Quarries in July and made the interfaith aspect clear to Quarries staff at that time, said Simone Talma Flowers, Interreligious Ministries' interim director. Several Muslim groups were acting as this year's hosts for the event. Kent Jennings, associate pastor of administration at Hyde Park, released a statement Thursday that said church leaders received a postcard about the service Monday and only then realized that it "was not a Christian oriented event." The postcard also "promised space for Muslim Maghrib prayer and revealed that the event was co-hosted by the Central Texas Muslimaat, the Forum of Muslims for Unity, and the Institute of Interfaith Dialog," according to Hyde Park's statement. "Although individuals from all faiths are welcome to worship with us at Hyde Park Baptist Church, the church cannot provide space for the practice of these non-Christian religions on church property," the statement said. "Hyde Park Baptist Church hopes that the AAIM and the community of faith will understand and be tolerant of our church's beliefs that have resulted in this decision." Central Texas Muslimaat and Forum of Muslims for Unity are local Muslim nonprofit groups that promote charitable works and education. The Institute of Interfaith Dialog holds regular interfaith gatherings that aim to teach non-Muslims about Islam. With hundreds of people expected to attend and only a few days to find another site, Muslim organizer Shams Siddiqi said they couldn't find another facility. That's when leaders at Congregation Beth Israel, Austin's largest synagogue, offered to host the celebration. "Symbolically, that's a very good thing," Siddiqi said of the joint Jewish-Muslim endeavor. Of Hyde Park's decision, he said it was "unfortunate that people still feel this way in this day and age." Some Christians object to praying with people of other faith backgrounds or allowing those people to worship in their sanctuaries. Hyde Park Baptist, an evangelical megachurch at West 39th Street and Speedway, is not a member of Interreligious Ministries, and church leaders were not planning to participate in the service, Flowers said. Every year, a different faith group hosts the Thanksgiving event, which typically includes food, prayer, song and dance. Last year, St. Louis Catholic Church hosted. This year, because the Muslim groups did not have their own space that was large enough, they decided to rent the Quarries, a 58-acre property near MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1) and Duval Road that the church has owned since 1984. Flowers said she was disheartened by the church's decision. "As a Christian, my first response is, what would Jesus do in this situation?" she said. She also stressed the importance of respecting all beliefs and said Beth Israel's involvement is a blessing. "They said, 'It's an honor to be able to provide the space, especially knowing our co-hosts are Muslims,' " Flowers said. Synagogue leaders said they would arrange space for Muslims to make their evening prayers, Flowers said. "What a great testimony of inclusion."

Monday, November 19, 2007

Tell Me What I Think

Any relationship where fear and guilt are a daily occurrence is an unhealthy relationship. Take for an example, the benign wife fearful of her overbearing, demanding husband who has raised his hand threatening to hit her, but never actually gone through the motion of hitting her. He makes her feel bad and guilty about having an extra slice of cake after dinner because he finds her weak will and thunder thighs unattractive. Think this woman is able to fully give all her love and heart wholly and comfortably to this man? Not on your life. One’s relationship with God should not be this way, either.

The Catholic Church, however, rules the roost with this method. Do this…or suffer the consequences. Don’t do this…or suffer the consequences. Cast votes based on black and white church views only …or suffer the consequences.

When I was Catholic I would have said “How dare you threaten me, sirs!” …and I would have been taunted ...with consequences.

There are counseling centers for those who escape abusive relationships and many marriages end in divorce citing mental cruelty. I think there should be spiritual rehab centers for recovering Catholics, to help get one’s self-esteem back, rebuild a spiritually correct concept of the living God, and find new meaning in a personal pursuit of scriptural knowledge.

God gave people minds to use – not to turn over to a religious institution for conditioning. To use one’s mind to think for oneself, to contemplate, to research, to study, and learn is to praise God. Just as a parent is proud of their child for coming up with the answer on his or her own, so is God joyful in our personal utilization of the mental gifts He has blessed us with.

The article below is just one more painfully obvious example of how the Church wants its followers to fall in line and cease all independent thought right this minute. Cookie cutter, meet the Catholic. Don't look within yourself for the answer. Look to us, they say, because you are not intelligent enough to discern the right and wrong, good and bad in political issues. Leave it up to us, kids.

Here’s the thing, God loves ALL His children, His entire creation so much more than the most loving parent on Earth loves their children. Contemplate this for a moment. Imagine your own children are the peoples of the Earth and you are God. Would you be one to manipulate your children with idle threats: “Eat your veggies or all your teeth will fall out?” No, you would use POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT and say “Eat your veggies, love, and they will help you grow up nice and strong.” God is not a frustrated novice of a parent; He is an expert parent, an expert psychologist, an expert friend, an expert lover, and an expert fan of yours and mine. The Lord is my Shepherd, not my Executioner.

The Catholic Church's concept of God is absolutely terrifying.
But man cannot live on fear alone...


Catholic bishops say voters' souls at stake - November 15, 2007

BALTIMORE - Proclaiming a sense of new energy and empowerment, the nation's Roman Catholic bishops on Wednesday issued instructions to Catholic voters that their eternal salvation could be at stake when they cast ballots. Bishops emphasized that voters must consider the church's teachings on abortion and other moral issues when they select a candidate for the White House or any other office. If they don't, bishops said, it's not clergy who will judge them but God. "It is important to be clear that the political choices faced by citizens have an impact on general peace and prosperity and also the individual's salvation," the bishops said in the document, titled "Faithful Citizenship." "Similarly, the kinds of laws and policies supported by public officials affect their spiritual well-being." Bishops have drafted a similar document every four years since the 1976 presidential election, when concerns centered on Soviet dominance in Eastern Europe and recovery from the Watergate scandal. But the guidelines issued Wednesday for the first time spelled out possible consequences as well as giving much more nuanced instruction to the Catholic electorate than in years past. Voters are implored not to support abortion-rights political candidates but also advised that views on abortion should not be the sole factor. Catholics should also weigh church teaching on such moral issues as immigration, just war and poverty, bishops said. "It was groundbreaking not in the sense that it changed any doctrine or added any doctrine," said Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Conn. "What we did provide for the first time in this document is some concrete guidance in how a voter goes about making prudential judgments." Rev. Thomas Reese, senior fellow of the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University, said previous statements in his memory have not spelled out such specific consequences. The statement reflects the bishops' frustations with pro-choice Democratic politicians and Republican leaders who focus solely on ending abortion, he said. For many bishops, approving the statement recalled the heyday of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in the 1970s and 1980s, when the group earned a reputation for going against the grain and exercising moral authority. "The Challenge of Peace," a historic pastoral letter that tried to explain church teaching on war, peace and the nuclear arms race, was issued in 1983 under the leadership of the late Joseph Bernardin when he was archbishop of Cincinnati. Bishop William Weigand of Sacramento noted that the document was approved on the anniversary of Bernardin's death. "In a way it replicates what we did 30 years ago," he said. The document does not tell voters which candidates or party to favor. It also does not address whether priests should deny communion to Catholic politicians who stray from church teaching. Cardinal Francis George, the newly elected president of the conference, said bishops probably would discuss the issue this week behind closed doors. The voting guidelines followed a letter issued by outgoing President Bishop William Skylstad of Spokane, Wash., calling for a responsible transition in Iraq. "Our nation must focus on the ethics of exit than on the ethics of intervention," Skylstad wrote. "The morally and politically demanding but carefully limited goal of responsible transition should aim to reduce further loss of life and address the humanitarian crisis in Iraq, the refugee crisis in the region, the need to help rebuild the country and human rights, especially religious freedom." Russell Shaw, information director for the bishops' conference from 1969 to 1987, said it's too soon to tell whether the bishops have emerged from the sexual abuse crisis and entered a new era of influence. But the bishops' optimism is clear. "They are looking for hopeful signs that they have turned the corner," said Shaw, who observed the meeting this week. Fighting back from financial woes caused by the abuse crisis, the conference reorganized last year, resulting in a more collaborative process to develop such statements. They debated the statement publicly for the first time. As a result of the public debate, bishops were able to shape the document on the floor. Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Chicago insisted that the guidelines urge Catholics to consider the religious roots of current conflicts overseas. "The people who coalition forces are fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq and a dozen other locales are not the poor and oppressed seeking to throw off their chains," he said. "They are jihadist fanatics who believe they are doing God's will." Bishop Robert Baker of Birmingham, Ala., praised the document, which he says "gets to the guts of the moral and conscience formation." "We've never gone that far in clarifying those issues," he said. "Bishops can't always get inside a person's head." Whether they can get inside the ballot box is another question, though the initiative may get an extra boost when Pope Benedict XVI visits the United States in April, the peak of primary season. The Catholic electorate tends to be diverse ethnically, politically and even religiously, noted Gregory Smith, a research fellow at the Pew Institute on Religion and Public Life. Adherence to Catholic social teachings often corresponds with church attendance, which varies, and just as many Catholics voted for President Bush in 2004 as for John Kerry. Karl Maurer, a director of the conservative Catholic Citizens of Illinois, said "If the statement had been more stern and more clear" it would impact the behavior of voters as well as the politicians they have to choose from, he said. Alexia Kelley, executive director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, said the bishops' guidelines convey an important message about the breadth of Catholic social tradition. "The key is what people hear from their pastor and get in the pews," she said.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Truth Hurts


1) Serving God as a priest in the Catholic Church only works if you have a penis. God hates vaginas.

2) Only priests can successfully interpret scripture, so don't bother trying it yourself. It will be wrong. Don't ask questions. Follow our interpretations of an ill-translated bible blindly or burn in hell.

3) Embrace your guilt: We give you the Utopian ideal to fall short of because we know you will. We love your guilt. It allows us to control you and keeps you coming back to church every week. We have enough carrots to put on sticks in front of all you horses out there.

4) Attention all married women - have babies with wild abandon. It is God's will. Even if you can't afford or don't want children. It doesn't matter what YOU want. Of course we know the rhythm method doesn't work - but don't tell all the overwhelmed mothers that. We had to give them a placebo method so that'd they'd shut up about how "they don't have the energy for another". Hey, if they get pregnant again, its just God's will and their pain and suffering is their punishment for having (dirty, dirty, sinful) sex in the first place.

5) Even though the bible outright condemns repetitive prayer (Matthew 6:7) - go and pray 10 Hail Mary's and 5 Our Father's and you will be forgiven. God loves meaningless words repeated over and over to Him, while the person robotically saying the prayer daydreams about what's for dinner.

6) Who cares if the concept of Original Sin was made up by Augustine due to his own guilt and that the bible states that there is no Original Sin (Ezekiel 18:20) - we'll go with it; all unbaptized infants will forever be lost unless water is poured on their head! God hates dry infant heads.

7) The Pope is incapable of being wrong, is infallible and all those under him are holier than thou, even those who cover up sexual abuse, Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston who fled to Rome and has a post at the Vatican. He's holier than you, too. The Pope is allowed to give asylum to whoever he chooses. Unless they are a woman, of course.

8) Confessing your sins to God doesn't work - you MUST go through a priest to have that done, even though the priest himself is likely full of sin, as he is human. Oh well, do it anyway - remember, no questions asked. (See #5 for how to be forgiven of your transgressions.)

9) God is great but so is the Virgin Mary, too. Mmmm, ok, just to be safe - pray fervently to both. Oh, and all the saints, too. Sometimes you just can't rely on Jesus to take your should leave messages with his staff, too.

10) Jesus Christ died for ALL of us and ALL of our sins, saving humankind through his sacrifice of utmost Love. Not good enough; One can only attain salvation by self - you can only save yourself by believing in God, otherwise, enjoy hell. The end.


Of course, I included an article in this post and it pertains to #1.....

Women's ordination spurs rift: St. Louis Catholics and Jews split after a synagogue offers to host the ceremony.

The Associated Press - November 11, 2007

ST. LOUIS: The Archdiocese of St. Louis and a Jewish Reform congregation are on the same side when it comes to advocating for immigrants and the poor, often finding common ground in a zeal for social justice. But when the Central Reform Congregation offered its synagogue for today's ordination of two women in a ceremony disavowed by the Roman Catholic Church, it drew the ire of church officials and a pledge never again to partner with the congregation. Two women who profess to be Roman Catholic -- Rose Marie Dunn Hudson, 67, of Festus, and Elsie Hainz McGrath, 69, of St. Louis -- are to be ordained by a former nun as part of Roman Catholic Womenpriests, a small movement that began in 2002 independently from the Roman Catholic Church. The Reform congregation's rabbi, Susan Talve, informed her friend and colleague, the Rev. Vincent Heier, who directs the archdiocese office for ecumenical and interreligious affairs, of the decision. Heier told her it was unacceptable. "It's not appropriate to invite this group, to aid and abet a group like this, which undercuts our theology and teaching,'" Heier said he told Talve. The Roman Catholic Church is framed in hierarchy, which sets rules and offers guidance for the faithful. The Jewish tradition has no centralized leadership, and congregations operate autonomously, answering to their own mission statement. It was precisely that mission that Talve and her congregation's board relied on when considering the request of the two members of Roman Catholic Womenpriests. But the ceremony defies Catholic Church doctrine that reserves ordination of priests and deacons to men only. The women say it is unjust and discriminatory. The two women are ignoring the warnings of Archbishop Raymond Burke, who last week said they will be excommunicated if they proceed with the ceremony. Of the roughly 100 women who have been ordained as priests or deacons worldwide in the Womenpriests movement, including 37 in the U.S., only the first seven were officially excommunicated by the Vatican, said spokeswoman Bridget Mary Meehan. Others have received letters from their bishop like that sent by Burke, she said. Talve was in her office when the women approached her this fall. "They said they were looking for a sanctuary, and that got my attention," Talve said. "As Isaiah said, we are a house of prayer for all people." The congregation's board voted unanimously to serve as host, drawing on its core values and principles, which include hospitality and providing sanctuary. Heier and Burke pressed Talve and the board to withdraw their offer, saying the act would "cause pain" to the church. "It's akin to us inviting a group that is contrary to Jewish life," Heier said. "She didn't understand." Heier said he and Talve disagree on abortion and gay marriage, "but this is the straw that broke the camel's back." Talve said she regrets the church is pained by the decision to host the women, but a decision not to would have hurt others. She said hundreds of practicing Catholics have called to thank her for taking a stand. Heier enlisted the help of the larger Jewish community, but the local Jewish Community Relations Council neither condemned nor affirmed CRC's decision. In a statement, the council emphasized the autonomy of each congregation.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


When I read this article I had to laugh. The Reverend Creflo Dollar? Are you kidding me?

"The minister is among the religious leaders who preach the "prosperity gospel," the teaching that God will shower faithful followers with material riches. "

Material riches, eh? 'Prosperity gospel'...which gospel is this in again? Don't the meek inherit the earth? If I recall correctly, Jesus drove the moneychangers out of the temple with a whip and chastised them about turning His Father's house into a place of business. I don't recall Jesus' words on the best way to invest in annuities or real estate, or which luxury vehicles should be driven by His so-called "chosen few". It is a truly laughable situation but what is scary are the minions of misled sheep (many dirt poor) who blindly give their hard-earned money to this pseudo pastor and follow the Gospel According To Bling. A message, no matter what it is, never looks as good unless its wearing Gucci. Give to the poor...why do that?

Megachurch took in $69 million in 2006 – Monday, Nov. 12, 2007

An Atlanta megachurch took in $69 million in 2006, according to a financial statement the church's minister released in response to a Senate investigation into him and five other well-known televangelists. The Rev. Creflo Dollar disclosed the World Changers Church International's financial information to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, but said the money he spends is his own. Dollar said his income comes from personal investments, including businesses and real estate ventures. But the church gave him a Rolls Royce, which he mainly uses for special occasions, he said. "Without a doubt, my life is not average," he said. "But I'd like to say, just because it is excessive doesn't necessarily mean it's wrong." Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, launched an investigation into the finances of six ministers after hearing reports of some preachers' lavish and opulent lifestyles. In a letter last week, he requested answers by Dec. 6 to questions about their executive compensation and amenities, including use of fancy cars and private jets. Besides Dollar, the letters were sent to faith healer Benny Hinn, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland of Texas, David and Joyce Meyer of Missouri, Randy and Paula White of Florida and Bishop Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Ga. Dollar questioned the investigation's focus on religious groups. The minister is among the religious leaders who preach the "prosperity gospel," the teaching that God will shower faithful followers with material riches. But he said he uses only his personal finances to pay for his luxuries. "My lifestyle does not come out of the church's bank account," he said.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Sister Act

Don't get me wrong, I know there are sincere, dedicated nuns out there. But I'm not talking about them in this post. Abuse cases by Catholic nuns are obviously not as prevalent as are abuse cases by priests, but they do happen. And they are no better than anyone else - priest, bishop, etc. - in a Church position of trust that betrays innocent children. Abuse is abuse is abuse, whether by man or woman.

I have heard numerous stories from people older than I who recall the angry mean nuns of Catholic school with their rulers and furrowed brows. I only went to Catholic school for Kindergarten and 1st grade, but I also recall the stern scoldings the class would get from a Sister - I don't recall what for, but perhaps just for being unruly kids.

A couple years ago for a short time I volunteered to mentor and hang-out with at-risk kids at a local Catholic convent / former orphanage. It was a huge old brick facility and some Catholic nuns still lived there, retired and living rent-free in the building. There were rape / abuse counseling rooms on the lower level where sessions would be held with professionals as well as other crisis-centered groups. When touring the facility, I asked the manager if the nuns ever come downstairs to talk to the children or help with counseling, speaking to the victims or women or anything like that. She said [paraphrased] "You'd think that, but none of the Sisters here want anything to do with any of it. They get around fine but they like to be left alone and prefer not to deal with anyone." I was semi-shocked. I thought when a nun took her vows it was for life, not just up until age 65. How disappointing it was to hear that. I have to question the motives of a nun who takes vows for life and then stops caring after retirement, especially when the needs of those are so close at hand. Walk down the stairs and continue God's work.

Being a nun could be a good career for the woman who is a hermit, closet lesbian or who just wants to do as little as possible and coast by in life, while still retaining a level of respect...and I have a sinking feeling that this type of motive is the rule rather than the exception. I don't know, I could be wrong.

Nun who taught in Chicago pleads no contest to abuse - 1:24 PM CST, November 12, 2007

A Sister of Mercy nun who taught in Chicago-area Catholic schools for more than three decades has pleaded no contest to two counts of indecent behavior with a child. The incidents involved male students at a Milwaukee elementary school where she was principal in the 1960s. A complaint filed against 79-year-old Norma Giannini says many of the incidents took place at a church convent and the St. Patrick's School office while the boys were middle school age. Giannini, a Chicago native, later worked in Illinois. The Sisters of Mercy removed her from service in December 1992 when the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee notified them of allegations against her. At that time, she was principal of Most Holy Redeemer School in Evergreen Park. She began teaching in 1949 and served at parish schools including St. Paul of the Cross in Park Ridge, St. Catherine in Oak Park and the now-closed St. Finbarr in Chicago until 1964. After her stint in Milwaukee, she returned to Illinois in 1969 and served at Christ the King in Chicago until 1972. She then worked at Mother McAuley High School until 1977, finishing there as one of four deans before becoming principal of Little Flower on the South Side. After Mother McAuley, she moved to St. Clare of Montefalco in Chicago, then became principal of Holy Redeemer in 1989. The two boys connected to the charges in Milwaukee, who are now adults, say Giannini had sexual contact with them dozens of times. Sister Betty Smith, regional president for the Sisters of Mercy in Chicago, says the nun received counseling after the sisters learned of the accusations in the 1990s. She says Giannini has been closely monitored and separated from minors since then.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


[ Check out my latest drawing which inspired this blog ]

Here's a wingdinger for ya...(see article below)

Anyone who knows me knows I am all about women's rights. And that includes the stance that women should be allowed to be priests if they want. But, while I am disenthralled with the idea of the established Christian institution as a whole, I guess that is neither here nor there at this point.

In this article a bishop is backing a campaign to legalize brothels "without condoning them" (but if you're not against us, you're for us, right?) He claims it is for the safety and health of the women, which is a nice thought.

Prostitution. Not the safest line of work -- physically or psychologically -- and certainly not a wholly respected profession. It is a fact that many women who go into this line of work are uneducated women, women with a history of self-esteem issues, abuse / drug abuse and / or existing psychological problems or a combination of all. They are human beings. Someone's daughter, someone's sister, someone's mother...they need more than just protection of their health. Let's be honest, chances are that this is not a first choice of a career for most of these women, but because they lack choices, they go this route. Many could be desparate single mothers, many could have a need for counseling, or just need someone to give them the self-esteem and direction that they continue to search for in futility.

And if there are those women who went into this line of work with full gusto, fully informed and enjoy what they do despite all the risks, so be it. Everyone is in charge of their own happiness and who am I to judge? But I'm not talking about those women.

For this bishop to throw in his two cents in this way is truly a half-assed assertion of the power he actually has to help out. He made a statement that focused on the health of patrons and health of the women in the brothel, but there is more than just "physical health" to these women. It seems as if the women in these brothels are viewed as just "bodies in danger". There are are other fragile parts of these women - their minds and their souls --which need just as much protection, nurturing and safeguarding as their persons. If this bishop did his true duty, he would use his power to establish in his church (or elsewhere), regardless of whether or not the brothel law passes, counseling centers, mentor programs, safehouses and means of further education and hope for these women, instead of just letting them be where they are - perhaps safer - but still without other options. It is the duty and responsibility of those with such power to help those without. Even Jesus counseled prostitutes.

I give this Bishop points for 'social grammar', but his "statement" is seriously lacking in depth and content. I guess they don't teach sensitivity and social problem-solving in seminary...especially not where women are involved. Catholic clergymen may as well sing out in a baritone chorus: "Function on, women! Copulate and procreate! That's all there is to you."

Bishop backs brothel regulation

Reuters – Yahoo News – Thu. Nov 8, 10:03 AM ET

A Roman Catholic bishop in the southern English port city of Portsmouth is backing a campaign to legalize brothels without in any way condoning them. The Right Reverend Crispian Hollis supported the local branch of the Women's Institute which wants to license brothels. "If you are going to take a pragmatic view and say prostitution happens, I think there is a need to make sure it's as well regulated as possible for the health of people involved and for the safety of the ladies themselves," Hollis said. "That's not to say I approve of prostitution in any way. I would be very much happier if there was no prostitution in Portsmouth," he told The Portsmouth News. "But it's going to be there whatever we do and it has been from time immemorial. So I think that is something we have to be realistic about." His comments won praise from Rachel Frost, from the International Union for Sex Workers. "The bishop should be commended for having the guts to come out and say that," she said.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Tea, Christmas & Conan

On Sunday, my mom and I had a little tea ceremony at my house. We had the ceramic bowl cups and a clear teapot and we poured hot water over a tea flower bulb and watched it bloom before our eyes. Along with this beautiful tea we talked about God. We had planned it for awhile, for just the two of us. It was really awesome. She said something supremely validating: "You didn't leave the church because you stopped believing, you left because you believe." I'm really happy that I have the support of both my Mom and my Dad. I couldn't ask for better parents.

I told my mom that this year I find myself very sad when I hear Christmas music. It reminds me of church -- the ceremony, the candles, incense, choir, decor -- and the utter disappointment in its corrupt apostasy. I won't be going to Christmas Mass this year. It will be the first ever, I think. I would like to have my own 'dedication' at home and have been thinking about the specifics of it. I will likely write about this at a later time.

On an unrelated topic here is a recent article about a stalker priest. A stalker priest?! Why are so many crazies in the priesthood? It is almost like a haven or cover for those with problems. Maybe as part of the ordination, a priest should also receive the fake nose and mustache get-up. It might help disguise their extracurricular shenanigans. (Me laughing out loud).

Priest Fit for Trial in O'Brien Case

The Associated Press – Nov. 9, 2007, 2:50 PM EST

NEW YORK -- The priest accused of stalking Conan O'Brien was kind and caring, nothing like the obsessed man who allegedly told the late-night talk show host he was "tracking him through space and time," his seminary mentor said. The Rev. David Ajemian, a priest in the Archdiocese of Boston, was arrested last week while trying to enter a taping of "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" in New York City despite being warned to stay away by NBC security personnel. He was arraigned on charges including stalking and aggravated harassment and ordered held for psychiatric evaluation. Ajemian, 46, was scheduled to appear in court Friday for an update on the case, said Jennifer Kushner, a spokeswoman for the Manhattan prosecutor's office. His attorney, Eric Seiff, said Ajemian was being held at a New York jail, but declined to comment except to say "it will be worked out in court." Ajemian, who allegedly began writing O'Brien in September 2006, has been placed on leave by the Boston Archdiocese and can't minister publicly. He was removed in June from his last posting, at St. Patrick Parish in Stoneham, after two years at the parish. A spokesman at the archdiocese did not respond to questions about whether the move was related to the stalking allegations. But on July 2, Ajemian wrote security officials at NBC questioning "why you chose to raise this matter with my superiors after I left you a clear message by phone several weeks ago that I would cease all contact with the show," according to court papers. In the same letter, he called himself "a stalker of a very different order than the kind you are used to dealing with" and dared them to "tell Conan about your surveillance of me." In a previous letter, Ajemian expressed frustration to O'Brien that he had been denied a spot in his audience after he'd flown to New York "in the dimming hope that you might finally acknowledge me." "Is this the way you treat your most dangerous fans???" he wrote. "You owe me big time pal." He also told O'Brien he knew where he lived and wrote, "Remember (mobster) Frank Costello once dodged a bullet in your building and so can you." Ajemian's seminary mentor, the Rev. John Mark Hannon said Thursday he believes Ajemian can still be a good priest if he receives proper psychiatric help. "He was a good seminarian. He was kind and generous and affable and concerned how people were," said Hannon, who mentored Ajemian before he graduated from St. John's Seminary in 2001. "He's very likable," Hannon added, "it's just he's stupid, apparently." Ajemian, the son of former Time magazine journalist Robert Ajemian, attended Harvard University at the same time O'Brien did. Ajemian graduated from Harvard in 1983, while O'Brien graduated in 1985. It was unclear if the two crossed paths there. O'Brien's roommate at Harvard, the Rev. Paul O'Brien, a priest in Lawrence who is not related to Conan O'Brien, declined comment. NBC said Conan O'Brien would not comment on Ajemian. After graduating from Harvard, Ajemian took a roundabout route to the priesthood. Among his jobs was work in 1990 as a legal assistant at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, and he also worked as a teacher. The Rev. Hannon, pastor at St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Hanson, said Ajemian never spoke to him about O'Brien and never gave any indication anything unusual was happening in his life. He's not a dangerous person, Hannon said. "I still consider him a friend," he said.