Monday, October 11, 2010

English school bans 13 year old from wearing crucifix

Another example of religious discrimination against Catholics while allowing other religions to do as they wish.

See the full article here.

Teachers demanded Samantha Devine remove her chain and tiny crucifix despite allowing Muslim and Sikh pupils to wear symbols of their religion.
Her family have vowed to fight the decision "all the way" claiming it discriminates against Christians.
The school apparently allows people of other faiths to wear religious items and even lets kids get away with non-religious items.

In the latest clash, 13-year-old Samantha was left in tears after her form teacher told her she must remove her tiny half-inch crucifix and chain.
But her furious family yesterday pointed out the school - Robert Napier in Gillingham, Kent - allows Muslim pupils to wear headscarves and Sikh students to come to lessons with turbans and bangles.
Samantha even claims staff routinely fail to crack down on youngsters wearing non-religious jewelery, including large necklaces and earrings.
It seems a double standard is in place.

The 13-year-old, who wants to be a vet and has been getting A and B grades in her exams, added: "Other religions can show their beliefs by wearing bracelets or turbans, so why can I not wear a cross to show my devotion to God?
But Mr Devine said: "I have seen other religous pupils at the school who are not part of the Christian fath, but they are allowed to wear their religious garments and symbols without being questioned.
"So why should my daughter be told to remove a cross which means a lot to her from around her neck?"
"People in this country are too scared to say anything against other faiths because they don't want to be accused of discrimination. But it's acceptable to discriminate against Catholics.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Christine O'Donnell

The media is really playing up some comments from newly appointed Republican nominee for Senator of Delaware, Christine O'Donnell, about masturbation. She thinks it's a sin. What this has to do with her ability to be an effective senator or her platform, I don't know. Actually, I do know - It has nothing to do with it but it sure is a great way to get the public to think she is one of those crazy religious freaks like us Catholics.

But guess what - she's right. Sex is about love and procreation!

Under "Offenses against chastity," the church's Catechism says this:
By masturbation is to be understood the deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure. "Both the Magisterium of the Church, in the course of a constant tradition, and the moral sense of the faithful have been in no doubt and have firmly maintained that masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action." "The deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose." For here sexual pleasure is sought outside of "the sexual relationship which is demanded by the moral order and in which the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love is achieved."
The church's Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics adds that
masturbation is an intrinsically and seriously disordered act. The main reason is that, whatever the motive for acting this way, the deliberate use of the sexual faculty outside normal conjugal relations essentially contradicts the finality of the faculty. For it lacks the sexual relationship called for by the moral order, namely the relationship which realizes "the full sense of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love." All deliberate exercise of sexuality must be reserved to this regular relationship.

Friday, August 13, 2010

This Is War

Found this great song by a great artist, Dustin Kensrue, who is apparently Christian (he's also the lead singer for post-hardcore band Thrice). This video is for his song "This Is War" off of his Christmas album. There's an intro by Dustin followed by the music video. The video has a WWII theme and is just a little violent. Here are the lyrics:

"This is war like you ain't seen.
This winter's long, it's cold and mean.
With hangdog hearts we stood condemned,
But the tide turns now at Bethlehem.

This is war and born tonight,
The Word as flesh, the Lord of Light,
The Son of God, the low-born king;
Who demons fear, of whom angels sing.

This is war on sin and death;
The dark will take it's final breath.
It shakes the earth, confounds all plans;
The mystery of God as man."

Monday, July 12, 2010

Ender's Shadow

Well, here's a book I didn't think I'd end up saying anything about on here because it's not Catholic, not written by a Catholic, written a decade ago, and a mainstream sci-fi novel, but it surprised me. Ender's Shadow is a companion novel by Orson Scott Card to his best-selling and widely acclaimed Ender's Game, that is to say it takes place at the same time. Let me start by saying Ender's Game is brilliant and I highly recommend it but while reading it I didn't get smacked in the proverbial face by the religious imagery and references like I did with Ender's Shadow. I love finding these kinds of things in unexpected places (like in science fiction novels) rather than in books that are obviously about religious topics or take place in a real time in history where we have a reference point for what is happening with the Church and the world.

As I said before, Ender's Shadow occurs at the same time as the events in Ender's Game and you could read either one first. Ender is the title character in Game and his "shadow" is a very brilliant and very young boy named Bean. Both books take place in the future after a failed invasion by an alien species. Earth is preparing for a second invasion by rounding up all the world's best young minds to train them to fight and lead the forthcoming battle.

It's in this setting that young Bean is cast as a destitute toddler in the seedy streets of Rotterdam. Without giving too much away he is eventually discovered and recruited by none other than a Catholic nun, Sister Carlotta. And we have a very positive impression of her! She exudes compassion, love, and concern. No knuckle rapping with rulers at all! Here's my favorite exchange from her (Carlotta speaks first):
"Do you know why Satan is so angry all the time? Because whenever he works a particularly clever bit of mischief, God uses it to serve his own righteous purposes." 
"So God uses wicked people as his tools." 
"God gives us the freedom to do great evil, if we choose. Then he uses his own freedom to create goodness out of that evil, for that is what he chooses."
"So in the long run, God always wins."
"In the short run, though, it can be uncomfortable." 
Throughout the book are subtle (and not so subtle) moral questions that arise, some of which include cloning, the rights of parents, the role of the state, limiting the number of children a family can have, war, abortion, the good of the few versus the good of the many, and whether we should be morally concerned about the possible eradication of an alien species.

Card even sprinkles Scripture throughout the book. Not always quoting it, but referring to it and to the stories in it. But my favorite instance is when Bean is about to make a very tough and horrible decision. He paraphrases 2 Samuel 19:1 which reads, "My son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you, Absalom, my son, my son!" (NAB). There's a lot of good context there, too, so don't read too much of that Bible passage if you want to avoid some spoilers in Ender's Shadow.

Card himself is not Catholic (he is a practicing Mormon), but the content in this novel is great. I love the story and the moral questions and I applaud the use of Scripture and the characterization of a Catholic nun who is actually Christ-like. Nowadays we see all to often the Church being the scapegoat for evil, a wolf in sheep's clothing. It goes to show that sometimes you find God in the most unexpected places.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Jail Time For Going To Church?

Wow...A Catholic dad going through a divorce from his Jewish wife is facing jail time for taking their daughter to mass and having her baptized.

Video here.

This is a must watch.
My favorite quote from the Dad: "I'm taking her to hear the teachings of perhaps the most prominent rabbi in history." (That would be Jesus.)

Contraception: Why Not?

I recently received a free copy of Dr Janet Smith's talk Contraception: Why Not on CD, available here. I encourage anyone to get a copy of this and listen to it - after all, it's free!

The talk outlines how contraception has hurt and is hurting our society and our marriages, provides some great statistics and logical arguments, and explanations of the teachings of the Catholic Church on the matter.

While society touted contraception as the next great thing for society and marriages, the Catholic Church and specifically Pope Paul VI in his encyclical Humanae Vitae, predicted it would be devastating. Well, guess who was right? Paul VI's predictions are now very obvious and Dr Smith outlines them neatly (and so much more) in this 1 hour talk.

First Prophecy. The Pope noted that the widespread use of contraception would "lead to conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality."
Second Prophecy. Pope Paul VI also feared that the man who grew accustomed to the use of contraceptive practices might ultimately lose "respect for the woman," and "no longer caring for her physical and psychological equilibrium" might come to consider her as an "instrument of selfish enjoyment, and no longer as his respected and beloved companion."
Third Prophecy. Pope Paul VI also observed that the widespread acceptance of contraception would place a "dangerous weapon... in the hands of those public authorities who take no heed of moral exigencies." (government family planning and forced abortions, etc.)
Fourth Prophecy. The final warning Pope Paul VI gave about contraception is that it would lead men and women to think that they had limitless dominion over their own bodies and functions. (A rise in sterilization, test tube babies, euthanasia, abortion, etc.)

So much more can be found at One More Soul and anyone interested in NFP should contact their local diocesan representative or the Couple to Couple League.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Star Curiously Singing

It's hard to find good fiction. And by good I mean good. There is a disturbing lack of Christian fiction these days. What happened to the days of Tolkien and Lewis? My preferred genres are fantasy and science-fiction. Good luck trying to find something that is both fantasy/sci-fi and Christian! Oh, wait - I did.

Marcher Lord is a small Christian publishing company specializing in Christian speculative fiction. Recently I read the debut novel from author Kerry Nietz entitled A Star Curiously Singing. When the book arrived I really didn't expect much. Some small publishing company I've never heard of, an author I've never heard of, and Christian sci-fi. What kind of sappy drivel was I going to read? My expectations were, needless to say, low.

The cover was the first thing that hooked me - I know what they say. I knew nothing about the book when I got it, but the cover started to give me an idea. I immediately started browsing through it and started in on the first couple of pages - then I never stopped. I put down Ender's Shadow for this book.

Nietz has done a wonderful job creating a compelling and richly realized new world. Set in a technologically advanced future ruled by sharia law, A Star Curiously Singing sets the mood early on and it is bleak. Slavery, behavior control, a wide division between rich and poor, a strict caste system, and an overbearing sense of hopelessness and apathy. Just what you'd expect in a place ruled by extremists but with robots.

The story is told through some very interesting and different literary devices for this genre. A Star Curiously Singing is told in the first person present. I'll give you a minute to pull out your high school text book. The main character is telling the story as it happens. Not only this but he occasionally speaks directly to the reader. This creates a real sense of urgency and involvement on the part of the reader and it works very well.

Sandfly is a debugger, a person with an implant in his brain that allows him to interact with the nanotechnology of the time and with the stream, something akin to the internet. Debuggers are basically paid slaves of their "abdul" masters. Sandfly is chosen for a task in which he must solve the mystery of what happened to the servbot that accompanied the crew of an experimental deep space flight to a distant star. The robot picked up a transmission and promptly tore itself apart.

Now none of this may sound very Christian and that's exactly what I was thinking as I read it. However, this is the first in a series and at the end of the novel you get the first real sense of the Christianity in this story ("He stoops!"). A Star Curiously Singing is a quick and easy read, yet a compelling and intriguing novel. I look forward to future novels in the Dark Trench Saga as well as other books from Marcher Lord.

I know I haven't said too much about the plot, but that's because I don't want to spoil this deceptively simple novel. I highly recommend it.

Thanks to Karin Beery. Her blog got me a copy of the book and she has an interview with Kerry Nietz.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Leave Your Bats and Follow Me

Yahoo has the story about 23 year old future baseball star, Grant Desme, who quits to follow his calling to be a Catholic priest.

Susan Slusser has more on Desme's decision to leave playing against the Padres and Cardinals so he can start praying with other padres and cardinals at a Catholic seminary in Orange County. He said the news came as bit of a shock to Billy Beane, but that the Oakland GM and entire A's system have been supportive of his decision.

Here's what Desme himself says about it:

"I'm doing well in baseball. But I had to get down to the bottom of things, to what was good in my life, what I wanted to do with my life. Baseball is a good thing, but that felt selfish of me when I felt that God was calling me more. It took awhile to trust that and open up to it and aim full steam toward him ... I love the game, but I'm going to aspire to higher things."

Exactly the kind of role model we need for our kids. In an age where most athletes seem to be striving for mega-paychecks, craving fame, and brandishing handguns in the locker room here's a young man who is instead seeking eternal rewards. Pray for him and all our priests and seminarians and for an increase in vocations among our young people.

Have you encouraged your sons to be priests lately?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Virtual March For Life

For those of us who aren't at the actual march right now:

Join the Virtual March For Life!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Pat Robertson and the Bible

Maybe he should read his Bible before he claims that God sends earthquakes to destroy people.

Jeremiah 31:27-32
The days are coming, says the LORD, when I will seed the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and the seed of beast.
As I once watched over them to uproot and pull down, to destroy, to ruin, and to harm, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, says the LORD.
In those days they shall no longer say, "The fathers ate unripe grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge,"
but through his own fault only shall anyone die: the teeth of him who eats the unripe grapes shall be set on edge.
The days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers the day I took them by the hand to lead them forth from the land of Egypt; for they broke my covenant and I had to show myself their master, says the LORD.

Thank God for the New and Everlasting Covenant! God won't destroy us or punish us for the sins of our ancestors. Whew!

Please pray for all those affected by the earthquake in Haiti.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Vatican Paper Reviews Avatar

Yahoo Movies has the story of the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, review of Avatar.

L'Osservatore said the film "gets bogged down by a spiritualism linked to the worship of nature." Similarly, Vatican Radio said it "cleverly winks at all those pseudo-doctrines that turn ecology into the religion of the millennium."

"Nature is no longer a creation to defend, but a divinity to worship," the radio said.

Pope Benedict XVI has been very outspoken regarding our stewardship of the earth but obviously warns about some kind of neo-paganism. We don't want to go around worshiping it.

In a recent World Day of Peace message, the pontiff warned against any notions that equate human beings with other living things in the name of a "supposedly egalitarian vision." He said such notions "open the way to a new pantheism tinged with neo-paganism, which would see the source of man's salvation in nature alone, understood in purely naturalistic terms."

The pope explained in the message that while many experience tranquility and peace when coming into contact with nature, a correct relationship between man and the environment should not lead to "absolutizing nature" or "considering it more important than the human person."

Overall, the review says basically what I've heard a lot: great effects and little substance to the plot and characters. Many conservative bloggers have been speaking about how this movie is thinly veiled criticism of U.S. imperialism, greed, and the Iraq war along with the themes of environmentalism.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Necco Wafers!

The catechists favorite First Communion practice wafer, Necco, is now all natural!

The revamped product is now using red beet juice, purple cabbage, cocoa powder, paprika and turmeric to replace the artificial ingredients that had been flavoring and coloring the wafers for years.

Mmmmm...beet juice and purple cabbage! I am very disappointed that the green wafers didn't make the cut. However, I am intrigued by the wider variety of chocolate flavors (dark, milk, mocha and white).