Today we celebrate the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

There are many Ave Maria’s, and this one is one of my favorites. Ave Maria means Hail Mary. It’s taken from Luke 1:28.

If you’d like to read more about the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I recommend this link.

The Unjust Steward is the pope? Luke 16

The Parable of the Unjust Steward appears in Luke 16. It is also referred to as the Parable of the Shrewd Manager. It is part of the mass readings for yesterday. This parable always confused me, but recently I think I might have made some sense of it in light of Catholic teaching. I have not seen this explanation elsewhere. Let me give a shot and see what you think.

Summary: the master hears a bad report about the steward squandering the master’s property. So he demands an accounting and fires the steward. But the steward needs a place to go after he’s fired. So he contacts some of the debtors and reduces their debt. The master commends him for this. Presumably, the debtors then welcome the steward into their homes.

Here’s what I think:

  • The master is God.
  • The steward is the pope.
  • The debtors are souls in Purgatory.
  • The steward reducing the debt represents indulgences that are possible due to the pope’s possession of the keys to the kingdom and the treasury of merit (reward).

When I say, “the pope,” I am referring to the office of the Pope and not any one particular pope.

Catholics believe in two kinds of punishment for sin because there are two kinds of sin. There is mortal sin which leads to eternal punishment if it remains unrepented, and there is venial sin which leads to temporal punishment. Eternal punishment is hell. Temporal punishment happens here on Earth and also in Purgatory.

Because of the keys of the kingdom given to the pope by Jesus, and also the treasury of merit (reward), the pope through the Church can reduce (or even eliminate) the temporal punishment of sin. He can do this even though he himself might be doing bad things or have bad character.

Then, the holy souls in Purgatory will be grateful for receiving a reduction in the amount of temporal punishment they receive that came from the pope’s possession of the keys to the kingdom and the treasury of merit (reward). God is obviously happy with the debt being reduced, since he wants people with him. Once they are out of purgatory, they will pray for the pope, since he will be in Purgatory for being an unjust steward. Once he is out of Purgatory, they will receive him into their dwellings (John 14:3).

Having said that, I’m struggling what appears immediately following the parable. For example, immediately after the parable Jesus says:

..for the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light. And I say to you: Make unto you friends of the mammon of iniquity; that when you shall fail, they may receive you into everlasting dwellings.

I’m not sure how that part fits into what I’ve said.

Here is a similar explanation, but it places Jesus himself as the unjust steward. I think it makes more sense to put the Pope as the steward. What do you think?

Here is a video of two Catholic apologists addressing the question of the bad popes. Both are very well known in Catholic circles, and I’ve met them both. The man on the left in the red shirt is Patrick Coffin, and the man on the right is Tim Staples. They don’t address Luke 16; I linked the video as a way of showing that, possibly, bad popes = unjust stewards.

See also:

What is the difference between baptism and confirmation? Depends on who you ask

The Catholic Church teaches that baptism actually does something to the soul in an objective sense: it removes the punishment for sins committed up to that point in life; it removes the punishment for original sin; it makes the person a new creature; it imparts sanctifying grace.

But I know that a lot of Protestants don’t hold that view. They believe baptism is a symbolic action but not that it does anything objective to the soul.

I’ve thought about this difference a lot, and I’ve come to the conclusion that baptism really isn’t just a symbol to most Protestants. It is that they believe that baptism is a public demonstration that the person has entered into the Christian life. They have freely chosen to follow Christ and baptism is the public act that demonstrates this. So it looks to me like, generally speaking, Protestants baptize while attributing to it what Catholics call confirmation. This difference explains why Protestants will very often rebaptize somebody. They want the person to make a public statement regarding entering into the Christian life. This explains why some Protestants argue that baptism is not necessary for salvation (which is my mother’s position). If it is only a public act regarding the free choice to live as a Christian, then I would have to agree with that argument.

Catholics want everybody to be baptized because it does something objective to the soul. On the other hand, we acknowledge that there are times when somebody could still be saved without being baptized. Catholics recognize Protestant baptisms, but only as baptisms, not as confirmations. This is because when the Protestant was baptized, the objective actions that I mentioned above actually did take place (assuming a few details that I won’t go into here but are usually used). Any baptized Protestant who converts to Catholic is not rebaptized since it is not necessary, but they must make a public act of faith and be confirmed. They do this as part of the sacrament of confirmation.

Here is a table I made to help distinguish the Catholic view from the Protestant view. It doesn’t necessarily apply to all Protestants–they aren’t a monolithic group and it can be difficult to generalize about them, but I think it works pretty well for many of them.

Name of act Catholic view Protestant view (generally)
Baptism Does something objective to the soul (see above); a sacrament that imparts grace; obedience to the scriptures Public confirmation that the person accepts Christ and freely chooses to live as a Christian; obedience to the scriptures
Confirmation Public confirmation that the person accepts Christ and freely chooses to live as a Christian; a sacrament that imparts grace; obedience to the scriptures Not applicable; not acknowledged as a distinct and separate act

Here are a few scripture verses that distinguish baptism from confirmation:

 

The Screwtape Letters, Letter 1

I have studied and practically memorized the first letter of The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. It is brilliant. I found it to be a great consolation after the election of 2012. I was still working in an office at that time, and to console myself I copied and pasted portions of it into a Word document, formatted it nicely, printed it and taped it to the door to my office. I’d stand there and read it from time to time, and have ruminated on it for several years now. Please do read at least Letter 1, several times. It is available here.

I later learned that the actor John Cleese narrated the entire book, and it is available on YouTube. He does a phenomenal job. Start with Letter 1, then go from there. I recommend buying the book too. I used to have a copy of the book but can’t remember the last time I saw it. It might still be at Dad’s house. About three years ago I bought one for my Kindle. You can probably find an older edition very inexpensively on Amazon.

Jesus established a visible Church that He protected all this time

Remember when I told you how I saw the pattern of how things would play out? So much just dropped into place in my mind’s eye. I saw the Church like a tree going back through history. I have struggled to articulate it with any detail. Here’s what I said back in July:

Not long after I left the cult I knew that I had to reject the gnosticism I had been taught there. I wanted to return to my first love of Jesus, son of God, second person of the Trinity, that I had when I was younger. For a couple years I considered returning to some sort of Protestant church but intuited that I would eventually become Catholic anyway. Meandering through Protestantism first, then converting to Catholic later, was a definite possibility, but at some point I realized that it would be inefficient. So I went straight to the Catholic Church. Seeing what I saw about contraception and how it harms the “one flesh” teaching of scripture was the main pivot point, but there were other things as well. For example, I needed a firm historical basis for the church I would join, and I found that in the Catholic understanding of apostolic succession. So again I saw the pattern of how things would play out and made a choice based on that. But articulating that pattern came later, and, in fact, I’m still working on it.

Just today I came across the blog of somebody who articulated much of what I saw. So if you’re curious to understand better why I became Catholic, I recommend this:

Ecclesial Deism

I must warn you: it is long. But it is really good. The comments are good too (although I’ve only read a few of them). Just to be clear: it is not that I had every thought expressed there, but the general structure of his thinking reflects what I saw about the Church. In particular, what the author said about ecclesial gnosticism, I intuited but couldn’t articulate.

The arguments and evidence that Jesus established a visible Church that He protected for 2,000 years are far stronger than arguments and evidence for the opposing view. Ecclesial Deism makes this very clear.

 

What’s the difference between these?

Just a quick little thought-exercise. What’s the difference between these three groups:

  • orthodox Catholic
  • Orthodox catholic
  • orthodox catholic

Which am I? Which are you?

 

Deep Impact’s subplot about divorce and remarriage

The 1998 film Deep Impact has a really interesting subplot about divorce and remarriage. The lead character, whose name is Jenny, has divorced parents. In one of the opening scenes, Jenny and her mom are having lunch. It is the day Jenny’s dad is remarrying a woman who is two years older than Jenny. Jenny’s mom is imagining the wedding ceremony, sort of narrating it out loud to Jenny. She doesn’t seem too emotional about it, but it seems odd to me, to narrate it like that. If she didn’t care, then it wouldn’t even be a subject for conversation, right?

Then at about the 17:10 mark, Jenny is walking into what looks like a hotel lobby. She is meeting her dad and his new wife. The scene is really classic in so many ways, as far as all the stuff I’ve been saying here. Jenny is deeply disturbed about the new marriage. The dad and the new wife are utterly clueless about Jenny’s pain. He tells her that he’s “disturbed” that she didn’t go to the wedding. The new wife tells her that she has to “get over it, life goes on.” Jenny echoes these words in an incredulous way, then the dad echoes them in a bewildered way. Then Jenny steps up to the plate and tells her dad the truth. Hit the pause button as soon as Jenny walks out:

Now let’s fast-forward to almost the 1:03:00 mark. Regarding the subplot, there is one very important detail that happens between the scene above and the one below, but I’ll leave it out since I can make my point without it. Now Jenny has an encounter with her dad in the rain. She tells him that she feels like an orphan:

But wait. How can she feel like an orphan when her dad is right there? All the professionals said that she’d be fine if her parents were happy, and her dad was more than happy, he was absolutely ecstatic at finding a young and beautiful wife.

Here is a popular explanation: Jenny is crazy and needs therapy and medication. And what a convenient explanation that is. Parents don’t need to examine their own behavior. They don’t even have to consider that there might be something terribly wrong with what they’ve done. Instead, label the child of divorce as crazy and having resolvable “anger issues,” insist that the person needs medication and therapy to help them see the error of their thinking. Feelings for first families must be suppressed through re-education efforts such as photoshopping or destroying family photos, pretending that the first family never existed (aka gaslighting), perpetual denigration of ex-spouse and/or ex-spouses’ family to the children, medication for the children, therapy, lies, public shaming, propaganda, euphemisms, role-reversal, chopping down the child’s family tree, falsification of birth certificates, and the implementation of self-refuting family structures, for example this one:

remarriage-diagrams-both-together

I can hear the sexual libertines now:

“Aren’t all families just collections of individuals? What difference does it make if we rearrange a few pieces here and there? It is the state’s job to annul my familial obligations whenever I choose!”

 

 

 

How the State frees us

As a conservative and former libertarian, I can understand why people don’t see how the state frees us. It does, but it also depends on how you define certain other ideas such as freedom, justice, and oppression. Let me start by using an example with which we can all agree.

Let’s say a person enters your home with the intent to kill you. You manage to hide in a closet somewhere. You call 911, the police arrive, and capture the person. He goes to jail, is convicted, and spends a long time in prison.

The state has freed you, right? How did that work? One of the obligations of the state is to protect the innocent and to render justice. But the potential murderer almost certainly thinks that the state has acted in an oppressive manner to convict him of a crime and throw him into prison.

So it is a matter of perspective. It is a matter of deciding where your ethics originate.

Now, let’s take that concept and apply it in another area: marriage, family, and religion. Marxists, communists, and feminists have argued for decades (if not longer) that these institutions are oppressive and unjust. They’ve made excellent headway using the legal system to suppress those institutions thereby reducing those “injustices.” Even a lot of conservatives and many libertarians are on board with these changes. However, we have seen a corresponding rise in the power of the state. How do we explain this? The state doesn’t give freedom, does it? Well, as we saw with the example above, it sort of does in the sense that it is supposed to render justice. So by suppressing all of the pre-existing social institutions, a lot of people believe that the state is rendering justice and freeing the oppressed. By suppressing those institutions, the state liberates the individual from his familial and religious obligations. It is a very seductive idea, with superficial appeal. I went along with it myself for quite a while.

From a conservative and libertarian perspective, the problem is that the state’s power has gone up rather than down. It is the opposite of what we anticipated when we got on board with “sexual liberation,” which is just another way of saying that the state should free us from familial and religious obligations. The dilemma for conservatives and libertarians who believe in “sexual liberation” is this: those social institutions were founded on the concept of rights coming from “nature and nature’s God.” Those rights have their own obligations, and those institutions served as a buffer between us and the state. But many among us are are endorsing the state suppressing them in order to free us from those obligations. This leaves nothing except the individual and the state, and our rights from “nature and nature’s God” go into the trash can, along with those responsibilities.

That’s how the state frees us.

=================================================

Other posts in this series:

Sara, a song about Stevie Nicks’ abortion

I used to like this song. The melody is pretty, but once I found out its meaning, I couldn’t enjoy it like I used to. From LifeSiteNews:

Stevie Nicks is no stranger to rumours. She finally confirmed longstanding conjecture that she wrote one of her best-known songs partly about the child she conceived with Eagles frontman Don Henley, then aborted.

Henley said more than 20 years ago that the Fleetwood Mac song Sara, which hit number 7 on the Billboard charts in 1979, was about the baby they never saw.

“I believe, to the best of my knowledge, [that Nicks] became pregnant by me. And she named the kid Sara, and she had an abortion – and then wrote the song of the same name to the spirit of the aborted baby,” he told GQ magazine in 1991. “I was building my house at the time, and there’s a line in the song that says, ‘And when you build your house, call me.’”

In a special interview with Billboard magazine on Friday, Nicks said their baby inspired many of the song’s lyrics.

Ronald Reagan said, “I notice that everybody for abortion has already been born.” He naively thought that once it was proven scientifically that the unborn were human, this would change people’s minds. But it didn’t. Why? I think one explanation can be found in gnosticism, which I define as a denial of the importance of the human body in God’s plan for salvation. The lyrics of Sara might be a good example of gnostic thinking. Why is Nicks’ singing to the child as if nothing significant about their relationship has changed? Maybe it’s because what she did to her baby’s body doesn’t matter, and the baby’s body itself doesn’t matter.

I can’t wait until the Ph.Ds admit they were wrong about divorce and children

I can’t wait until the Ph.Ds admit they were wrong about divorce and children. I can’t wait until I no longer see blogs in my WordPress feed saying divorce won’t scar children for life. It is a lie, and it is malpractice to say it. The social science data is very clear about the long term impact and dramatically increased risk factors for those kids. Anybody who isn’t familiar with the data should not call themselves a therapist.

Furthermore, to promote the idea that fighting is the main contributor to post-divorce problems among children demonstrates a dramatic intellectual failure. “Structural issues” are always present and are largely independent of the parents’ behavior. This should be self-evident. My parents never fought but they did ignore each other, which meant they ignored half of me. It was extremely confusing and lonely to live that way.

I suspect that in their minds, they justify divorce on the grounds that they have the skills and knowledge to take care of any bad effects among the kids. It’s just a hunch–I have no evidence–but it fits what we know. If I’m right, then we know for certain that they are not ignorant about the data, and they really ARE lying to people about it.

See also:

The medical community is deliberately ignoring data about childhood trauma

Divorce is killing our children: a medical doctor speaks out