Scriptures at the Sea of Galilee

Sea of Galilee western shore
We’re staying near the southern tip of the Sea of Galilee. This is a photo of its western shore.

Today we are at the Sea of Galilee. We arrived last night, and will be departing tomorrow. Our tour is constantly on the move, and every day is filled with many different sights. I couldn’t go with my group today to see the sights, because I had homework to finish. I worked on it like mad before leaving for this trip, but couldn’t get it all done. Some of it is due on Sunday, and because of the crazy touring schedule, today is the only day that I could have finished it. The entire trip, I knew that there would be at least one day that I would not be able to see the planned sights, and today was that day.

So everybody else boarded the bus after breakfast, and I stayed behind. I felt a little sad and lonely, but the area is very beautiful and the weather was perfect (the area reminds me of Batiquitos Lagoon in Carlsbad). Plus, I’m at the Sea of Galilee!! How cool is that? I felt confident that the Lord had something special for me today.  We are staying at a kibbutz that is on the lake, and it is like a small resort. It was very quiet all day, since most of the guests were out touring with their groups.

Before starting my homework, I sat down by the lake to pray and to read the scriptures. After I finished praying, I opened the mass readings for the day. The gospel reading was from Mark chapter 7. I hoped that the Sea of Galilee would be mentioned.

Golan Heights 20180209
Golan Heights, the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee

“Jesus left the district of Tyre and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, into the district of the Decapolis. And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him off by himself away from the crowd. He put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, ‘Ephphatha!’ (that is, ‘Be opened!’) And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly. He ordered them not to tell anyone. But the more he ordered them not to, the more they proclaimed it. They were exceedingly astonished and they said, ‘He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.'”

I was so touched! Here I was, sitting by the Sea of Galilee, perhaps near an area where Jesus himself once walked, and there it was in today’s reading.

Later, when reading it again, I noticed the part where it says, “He took him off by himself away from the crowd.” Then I got teary, because I had spent the day by myself “away from the crowd.” Yes, the Lord was with me, and he did have a special little signal for me today, as I thought he would.

(I took these photos later in the day, when it started to get a bit foggy. Earlier in the day it was very clear. I wish I had taken the photos then. Just imagine yourself at Batiquitos Lagoon on a quiet, sunny day, and you will have a good idea of what it is like here.)

 

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12 ways to spot a misogynist

Women haters (unconsciously) get off on treating women badly. Every time they can put down a woman or hurt her feelings, they unconsciously feel good because deep down in their hidden brain, their bad behavior is rewarded with a dose of the pleasure chemical dopamine—which makes them want to repeat the behavior again and again. […]

via 12 Ways to Spot a Misogynist | Psychology Today — Parental Alienation

Love with me

james judith jennifer johnson c 1966
My dad, my mom, and me. One of three or four photos of  us together.

I woke up this morning and had an epiphany: I cannot love my parents as if they were two separate people.

A couple days ago, I had a flood of emotion come over me about my mom. I could see her as I saw her when I was a child, as my beautiful mother whom I loved and adored. It was a deep and powerful feeling that I had not experienced since I was very young.

And my dad was connected to this emotion. If I let myself love her like that, I must also love my dad like that.

All these decades, I had been trying to separate them in my heart, since they seemed separate in my mind. All that did was make me confused, sad, and angry. My negative emotions never made sense… they are two individuals, right? That is how they behaved, after all. All I knew was that I was supposed to love them separately, because that is what their divorce and rejection of each other, and each other’s families, communicated to me in unequivocal terms. But all that did was diminish them in my heart, no matter how hard I fought it. And I did fight it.

It is still so weird to put them together in my heart, to love them together. It is good, but weird, old, so old it seems foreign… and scary.

This song by Keith Green comes to mind now, and brings tears to my eyes, Love With Me.

 

 

Weight loss

When I was younger, I was very thin. Never had a problem with weight. Even after bearing children, I lost all of the baby weight without really trying very hard. But when I turned 40 or so, the pounds just started to creep up! Very frustrating because nothing really changed in my diet or exercise. I got so heavy that I weighed 3-4 pounds more than I ever did while pregnant! Yuck. I didn’t like that at all.

I am happy to report that I’ve lost 16 pounds in the last six months, just through making better choices for food. Then, a couple weeks ago, Rebecca and I decided to join a gym. At first we were going to try to go together, but it hasn’t worked out that way so far.

When I go, I’ve been running on the treadmill and doing the weight machines, on alternating days, about 4-6 times per week. I can run for three miles without needing to walk or stop. My goal is to gradually increase both the length of the run, and the speed. Right now, I don’t technically run the entire time, I jog then run then jog then run, alternating like that. But I feel good about it because it is definitely not walking, except for the warm up and cool down.

I am not certain what my ideal weight should be, but my current goal is to lose another 16 pounds. I suspect that will be a good weight for me, but I’ll do some more research, talk to people, and see how it all goes. Will probably take another six months to do.

My jeans are getting big and it’s a good feeling. 🙂

Acts 15: private judgment and authority, part two (first response to Jesse)

I previously wrote about an exchange I had on a Protestant’s blog. On that same blog, another Protestant named Jesse invited me to respond to his post about private interpretation. My answer was similar to the other answer, but takes a different turn near the end:

council of jerusalen
The Council of Jerusalem from Acts 15

… in Acts 15 those who favored circumcision for new Christians were forced to use their private judgment regarding the verdict of the council. They had to choose to accept the council’s verdict, or their own view of Scripture. In like manner, the Catholic position is that an authoritative council, or the Pope, or all the bishops throughout the world, exercise a magisterium regarding what Scripture means. In just the same way as the council in Acts 15, with respect to all Christian dogma, Christians must accept this human authority on the meaning of Scripture and other matters. We are not free to interpret Scripture in a manner that contradicts the human authority. We certainly can read Scripture ourselves and the Church encourages this. I believe that Catholics can legitimately dissent from certain Catholic teachings (not all, just certain types) but I am not clear on how that works (Google the phrase “faithful dissent” if you want to learn more about it). I do know that the Church teaches that we must follow our conscience even if our conscience is wrong.

Catholics may use private judgment in a limited sense. But when we talk about private judgment, I am not sure that we are talking about the same thing. It seems like Protestants have much wider bounds to their private judgments than Catholics do? For example, I’ve heard of Protestant churches splitting over non-doctrinal issues. If true, that is private judgment going too far, don’t you agree?

You mentioned some limits of private judgment in your post by listing some reasonable sounding criteria, then saying this: “…and by obeying the wisdom of the godly church leaders or instructors who give us the necessary tools for properly understanding the written Word of God.” Aren’t you saying here that Protestants have a magisterium? That’s what it sounds like to me. We need a magisterium! After all, we are sheep, as Jesus said. We are not all able or capable of doing the theological work of discerning dogma, canon, etc. Because we are sheep, we need help, and God has provided it.

Catholic apologist Jimmy Akin (a former Protestant) has pointed out that Protestants inadvertently recreate their own magisteriums because somebody must establish and maintain group cohesion:

The typical Protestant church thus unconsciously reinvents the Catholic [magisterial] system that it consciously scorns. It does this out of necessity, since there is simply no way to maintain an organized, healthy group which works in harmony without having someone with the authority to determine what the group is going to do and to expel those who won’t go along. You cannot have a classroom, a work crew, a social club, or a nation without someone with that kind of authority, and you certainly cannot have a church without one. Someone in any group must be able to say, “This is what the group is going to do” and “If you won’t do it and will continually publicly oppose it, then you cannot be part of the group. You must leave the classroom, work crew, social club, society, or church.”

I think it is very tempting to think that we are absolute individuals, discerning every single dogma on our own with the Holy Spirit. Speaking for myself, I know that I did not discern the dogma of the Trinity on my own, for example. Somebody told me about it and showed me the Scriptures for it. I suspect that is what goes on with everybody.

God in his mercy gave us a magisterium that we can rely upon to help us know His will and His ways.

If you would like to read the exchange, go here.

Image credit: Distant Shores Media/Sweet Publishing

 

Would you choose the old manna or the new? Exodus 16 and John 6

OT manna
Moses and the bread from heaven from Exodus 16

Let’s say that an angel appeared before you. He held out his hands, and in one hand was a piece of manna from the Old Testament, exactly the same manna as what happened in Exodus 16. In the other hand was a piece of bread taken from one of your church services. Which would you choose? (I have left the type of bread open-ended so that any Christian who reads this can insert their own type of bread.)

I would not choose the old manna. I would choose the bread from one of my Church services, which is the Catholic Eucharist. This is because I believe that the new “bread from heaven” is superior to the old.

sheen eucharist
The new bread from heaven is superior to the old

The new “bread from heaven” is the body of Christ, as taught in John 6. The body of Christ is far superior to the old manna. If I had chosen the manna from the OT, let’s consider the ramifications. How is something from the old covenant, that was annulled because of Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection, more desirable than something from the new covenant? Did Christ institute the new bread from heaven, yet somehow the old bread from heaven is more desirable? How can that be? If I were to choose the old manna over the body of Christ, what would that say about my belief in the new covenant? Wouldn’t it say that I didn’t really believe in the new covenant, or that I believed it was weaker than the old?

Which would you choose, and why?

Acts 15: private judgment and authority, part one

Several days ago I had an exchange on another blog, a Protestant blog. Overall it was a cordial exchange and I think it went well. He made his points, I made mine, and we countered each other in a pleasant way.

I want to post portions of what I wrote there because I think it is important. It has to do with the idea of private judgment, and how private judgment ends at God’s established authority. Catholics often criticize Protestants for exercising an “absolute right to private judgment,” and Protestants will counter by saying that Catholics legitimately exercise private judgment too. But each side does it in a different way, with different limits. Here is what I wrote:

It is accurate to say that I made a private judgment regarding the claims of the Catholic Church. After that, I surrendered it. I do not continue to exercise it on individual doctrines, because I believe that the Church is Christ’s bride, and whoever hears her hears him.

I may be mistaken, but it seems that private judgment means something a little different to Protestants? The Catholic surrenders his private judgment once he becomes Catholic, because God only teaches one truth and the Church is his authority on earth to teach it. I am not certain this is the case with Protestants. I say this because of the different Protestant faith communities that exist. Aren’t they all continuing to exercise private judgment on various matters? I’ve heard of churches splitting over non-doctrinal issues. Wouldn’t they claim they were exercising private judgment? At what point do we surrender our private judgment?

I am completely convinced that God’s mercy is better revealed in and by the Catholic Church than the alternatives. So yes, that is my private judgment on the matter. I don’t think Catholics are being hypocritical to “call out” Protestants for their (seemingly inordinate) use of private judgment, but they might need to do a better job explaining it? It just doesn’t seem like we are talking about exactly the same thing.

I also wrote this:

… let me take an example from the book of Acts to support the idea that Christians need, and actually do have, a final human authority to resolve disputes or contradictions, and that private judgment ends with that authority, not with the Scriptures.

Certain Christians believed that people needed to be circumcised in order to become Christians. Others responded by saying that circumcision was not necessary. Debate ensued. Those who believed in the necessity of circumcision undoubtedly had clear Scripture verses on their side. But what happened? A council was convened, and more debate ensued. Ultimately, the council decided that circumcision was unnecessary. After making their non-scripturally based arguments, they cited one rather weak verse to support their position, a verse that does not even mention circumcision. Those who favored circumcision had to make a private judgment: either comply with the council, or with their own view of the Scriptures.

Given what I know of debates today between Catholics and Protestants, I find this circumstance quite convincing for the Catholic position. Debates today rage on and on over this or that doctrine, and victory is claimed on the strength of the verses presented. Not so in Acts 15. The issue of circumcision was decided by human authority with weak Biblical support.

peters vision
Peter’s vision from Acts 10

The issue of circumcision was decided by human authority. Peter had a vision about the gentiles coming into the Church, and there was a lot of debate during the council. Even if I concede that the council was totally following the Scriptures only, and not influenced by Peter’s vision at all (which seems highly unlikely) or anything else, it doesn’t matter. The council decided what the Scriptures meant, and those who disagreed had to make a private judgement: agree with the council about what the Scriptures meant (and change their views), or hold onto their views. They did not get to retain their previous interpretation of Scripture and remain in good standing as Christians.

The council was what enforced the issue, not the Scriptures. It should be obvious that the Scriptures can’t enforce anything. I’ve touched on this idea before here. Similarly, the NT verses discussing church discipline mean nothing if there is no human authority that has the final say.

If you want to see the entire exchange, go here.

A few of my family members read here

I feel reasonably sure that it is hard for my family when I write about the differences between Protestants and Catholics (I’ve mentioned before that I am the only living Catholic in my family, and how over 50% of the adults in my family are devoutly Protestant). At least, I assume it is because I’d probably feel the same way if the situation was reversed. Part of what I am doing here is leaving a record of my thoughts, ideas, arguments, etc. I don’t want all of these things stuck inside my head, and I don’t have any Catholic family members to discuss them with. So I write about them here. I do get some non-family traffic from these posts, but not a ton. A few posts get the bulk of the traffic. For example, the post about the differences between baptism and confirmation must be a popular result at the search engines because I get a lot of traffic for that post.

Anyway, I do consider the effect this will have on my family members who read here, which as of right now is only 2-3 but I am seriously considering letting the others know about it. I have considered starting a different blog in order to separate out the Catholic stuff, but that doesn’t seem right either. I was raised to hide half of myself from each of my parents, which is an extraordinarily damaging and unhealthy way to be formed as a child. Childhood is a time of formation, and being formed by one’s parents(with the explicit support of experts and leaders) to hide one’s self simply cannot ever be God’s will for any child. Learning not to hide who I am is a process, and I am working on it.

I am sorry if things I say here hurt anybody; I don’t want that, but I also need an outlet to express what is really going on inside of me. What is the solution?

Rachel’s picture at the mall

My daughter Rachel has played the violin since she was six years old. She is 26 now, so she’s been playing for 20 years.

When she was little, she had a violin teacher named Christina. At Christmastime, Christina organized a little concert at the mall with her students and some students of another teacher. I dressed Rachel in this adorable dress that had a red top and gold skirt. As it turned out, two other little violin students about her same size also wore red dresses. I took a bunch of photos, and one of my favorites is of the three girls standing there playing their violins.

A few months later, I was at the mall by myself doing some shopping. I walked past one of those vendors that has a display in the center of the aisle. He had a lot of sepia tone photos for sale, and other photos too. I think he was selling developing services also, but it’s been so long that I can’t remember.

While looking at his photos, I looked up and saw one of Rachel! She was wearing that red dress! It was sepia tone, cropped to fit a circular cardboard back, and protected by a plastic cover. I was confused at first, because I had no idea why this man had a photo of my daughter for sale at his booth. So I asked him where he got the photo. He said that there had been a Christmas concert at the mall. He saw an adorable little blonde girl playing the violin and wanted to take her picture, so he did. I explained that it was my daughter, and I purchased the photo from him.

Rachel has it now and it sits on a display shelf in her living room. It is getting faded and I am worried about how long it will last. Perhaps it can be restored someday. Such a precious memory!