Why Did Peter Sink?

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A story of addiction, fitness, faith, and recovery. "He stretched out his hand and caught him, and said to him, 'Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?'" Listen to hear the answer to "Why Did Peter Sink?" Start with "Episode 1: Blue Light" to begin th

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    Why I am Catholic (part 9): Seat of Moses, Chair of Peter

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 5, 2023 39:18

    As for the failures of the Church: the faithful and the faithless have failed to be perfect in all eras and situations and nations since the beginning of time, and on that all groups agree. If you don't believe me, you haven't read the Old Testament or the Greek epics or even Native American myths, because all takes are full of fallen man. The news from last evening where I live was full of overdoses, murders, and domestic disputes. We cannot keep the Commandments, not without help from above. This is kind of the whole point of the person of Jesus, and why he came, in case you didn't know, and many today don't know. It's an interesting time because millions of people have not heard the Gospel, or have no idea of what it says.He brought us the second part of what we need, called the Beatitudes, but people are less aware of these than they are of the Commandments. The Commandments are like a beam we have to walk on above a shark filled tank. But the Commandments with the Beatitudes is like a nice sidewalk with a guardrail above the shark tank where we can relax, be joyful, and not be constantly worried about falling off the beam.We cannot live the Beatitudes by themselves either. We need the Commandments with the Beatitudes, otherwise we just discard the idea of sin altogether. We need to use the cheat code. There is a cheat code, but it's not as easy as what video game developers build into their systems. The way to win is to stop trying to cheat. We have to take up our cross and follow Christ. I think what people fail to understand is that Christ showed us how to live. In the devolving of Christendom, through our obsession with knowledge, we have to unlearn and invert nearly everything that our American teachers have taught us to value, from public school, to Hollywood, to government. Christ way of living is an inversion of Americanism, which is why Americanism was called out as a heresy by the Church in 1899. Pope Leo XIII didn't just go on the offensive against the errors of Karl Marx in Rerum Novarum (a prophetic encyclical that predicted all of the horrors of Communism), he also called out the errors that Thomas Jefferson gave birth to with his mistress, the “pursuit of happiness.” This might be a news flash to some: the Church is neither capitalist nor socialist. Instead, the Church is for both the Commandments and the Beatitudes. Again, Catholicism is a both/and religion, except for when it comes to ideologies - then it is neither/nor. Sometimes I think we focus on the Commandments too much and forget about the Beatitudes. A common critique of Catholics is that they are “too dogmatic,” and act like Pharisees. But oddly enough, while, yes, Jesus does scold the Pharisees frequently, the reason he does is telling. In Matthew 23, Jesus says, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat; 3 therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach.”Now, this can be passed over easily, but Jesus says something really important here. The Pharisees sit on Moses' seat. The Church today refers to “the seat of Peter,” or “the chair of Peter.” The Pharisees, according to Jesus himself, have authority to interpret Sacred Scripture. This, dear reader, is why the Pharisees bear the brunt of Jesus' anger in the Gospels. God chose Moses. He chose Moses' successors, and they are the Pharisees. It is not the Sadducees, or Jesus would have said that they sit on Moses' seat. This idea of Moses' seat must be attended to. Later, in Matthew 28, Jesus says before ascending to heaven something extremely important about that authority. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”So the Pharisees held the seat of Moses, and Jesus was given all authority in heaven and earth. But what about when he's gone? Then who has authority to interpret and defend the Word of God? Who will the Holy Spirit be with? Well, that was covered in Matthew 16:18-19. Simon was given a new name, Peter, the rock, upon who he would build his church. “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”Let's recap here. Jesus states plainly that there is to be a Church. One Church. Peter is the leader. This is a direct commission, by name. There's not even any wiggle room on this for interpretation. Further, nothing will ever defeat the Church that is founded on Peter, even though that Church may be attacked by Hell itself. There is only one Church founded on Peter. That is the Catholic Church. Ok fine. So we know there is to be a Church. We also know that baptism is important, even critical to salvation. The Eucharist is as well, which Jesus spoke ample words about at the Last Supper and in the Bread of Life chat after feeing the 5,000. And in this verse above, we know that Confession is important because in order to “bind” and “loose” sins, you have to speak them out loud to someone. As far as I know, the Apostles could not read minds like Jesus. (Although Peter does seem to be able to in Acts with Ananias, but that's another story). In Matthew 18:18-19, Jesus also states this “binding and loosing” power. He also says that his followers must gather in Jesus' name, meaning there should be what? A meeting. “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”Now, this brings me to a point about the Gospel of Matthew that has led me to many hours of pondering and displeasure, which I will write about later or this will never end. I am teeming with words here, so I need to resist commenting on the lies of 19th century German scholarship and their intentions of tearing down Matthew because of these important phrases.Let's get back to the Commandments and the Beatitudes, and why both are needed. Living by the Commandments and the Beatitudes can only come through following Jesus. You can't have one without the other. Otherwise you end up a Pharisee, a legalist on the one hand, and on the other hand you are all free-love and dope and Jesus becomes the Big Lebowski, the dude. In fact, if you watch the Big Lebowski, you can see the problems of Pharisees and libertines rather plainly. Walter is a jerk obsessed about the rules, and the Dude cares for no rules. One is all justice and is a hypocrite, and the other is a buffoon that stands for nothing. Donny, the forgotten third character, is a kind of Jesus character, and indeed, he is indirectly killed by Walter and Dude's dispute with the nihilists, which wouldn't have happened had they not both been so hell-bent on justice (Walter) and mercy (the Dude). Donny is martyred for their sins. So we need to be like Donny a bit. Humble. Peaceful. Seeking righteousness while following the rules. Ok, now forget Donny. Be like Jesus.When you wake up in the morning, surrender to God, be grateful for breath, and ask Jesus, “What are we going to do today?” To follow him requires surrender and obedience. Freedom requires forgetting the self. Let's cut to the chase: nobody loves a list of rules. Rules alone do not inspire. No one ever built a Cathedral because of a list of rules any more than the local swimming pool was built to hang up a sign of “pool rules.” Kids do not go to the swimming pool on a hot summer day to celebrate the rules. They go to the pool to play and cannonball and scream and splash. This to me is the fundamental error of the Pharisees, and Catholics can become Pharisaical quickly if they think the early Christians were gathering just to celebrate a list of rules instead of cannonballing into a pool with Christ. They came for community, beauty, joy, truth. St. Peter's Basilica and Notre Dame were not built so that we could hang up a sign that read, “No running. No glass bottles.” They were built because people experience a union with God that unshackles them from life and makes them free, in a way that the pool, or drinking, or sex, or money, or trophies can never even come close to reaching. The funny thing about the rules is that once you find that key that opens the door, and you follow Christ, only then do the rules make total sense and you actually want to follow them. You even yearn to follow them, because it would please God to do so. In fact, the pool was built for joy, but if there were no pool rules it would be chaos and no one would want to swim there. Lawless pools with loud drunks and kids running wild end up as empty pools. Suddenly, once you believe, the joy singing goes right along with the requirements of fasting. The prayer where the heart surges toward God goes right alongside Confession. That's the miracle that happens, which I will keep repeating it on this site until I move to my cave someday, following the leads of St. Benedict or St. Anthony of Egypt, where there is no internet.We're all “failures” to some degree and we deal with our human flaws in different ways. This is the problem of sin. In order to feel better, we need to elevate our side. Out of this competition, scapegoats are born. We want to scapegoat and point fingers at the failures of our opponents. The notion to blame is always inserted into our heads, put there as a thought from somewhere. I can tell you where that somewhere thought comes from. For many years I assumed thoughts came from myself, but the conception of thoughts have outer origins. It is from the devil, who is the divider and the distractor. There I said it. The devil is real. What a relief. It's nice to stop dancing around these things and just say it. The favorite, perennial scapegoat for all sides is the Church, as in the Catholic Church, because it's an easy target, and it is the main target. And I mean all sides are on the attack. Even Catholics attack the Church relentlessly, from both the liberal progressive side and the Rad-Trad side. After a while, when you see how much hatred is directed at the Church, it should start to make you wonder. Why? Why is there so much hate against the Church? Because they say that abortion is wrong? Because they say that marriage is between a man and a woman? Because they reprimanded Galileo? Because of the Crusades? There are hundreds of these reasons, but none of them are the real reason.The real reason is because God granted the Church authority on interpreting faith and morals until Jesus returns, and we really, really hate anyone telling us how to live. We hate authority. But that is exactly what Jesus claimed, and he deputized the Apostles, with Peter as the leader. Even “scripture alone” interpreters have to dance around the fact of Jesus giving the keys to Peter, and Peter being the rock of the Church. Furthermore, you have to pretend Peter never lived in Rome, and do all kind of “textual criticism” and other rain-dances to try and undo the fact that the Church was founded on Peter, and Peter's took his seat in Rome. We hate authority so much that we'll do anything to tear it down or avoid it. And this is precisely what the devil does. It's really the first line from the serpent over and over again, as he said to Eve: “Did God really say…?” That is his opening phrase and his unending hymn of rebellion. When Jesus gave Peter the keys to the Church, he chose a leader and gave him and the Apostles the authority to bind and loose sins. This is really irritating to people because it means that someone has the authority, and the reason we dislike that idea is because we, each of us, wants to be king. Thus, the claim to authority over faith and morals becomes a target just as it did in the Garden of Eden, when the authority of God was questioned and rejected. Now, I know for any of my Protestant friends who read this, they will disagree, and will assume that for 1,500 years the church was in the wrong, and only the Reformation brought Christianity back to life. But that assumes that all of the spiritual battles and bloodshed by every saint and martyr from 30 A.D. onward was for a Church on the wrong track, which to me is ludicrous. The early church was the Catholic Church, and the more I read of early Church history, the more it's clear that the doctrines in the Catechism we use today matches with what Jesus and the Apostles believed. As John Henry Neumann said, "To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant."But, even Protestants should be wary of this urge to blame Catholics, because if they pray for the demise of the Church and the Pope, you can bet that the next domino to go is your local Bible-believing neighborhood church, because the only keeper of doctrine is then in the pastor's head, or three-ring binder, or the next vote at the annual conference. Chastity is currently on the chopping block for many Protestants, and the faith of the early church is being flung aside for the spirit of the age. The long history of half-truths being told about the Catholic Church will only blow up in the face of anti-Catholic Christians in the end. Why? Because we are all, at the root, brothers in Christ. We are all drinking from the same vine. But here's my belief: the last stand of Christianity will be made in the barque of Peter, the Catholic Church, not in your local pastor's three-ring binder, or in the Southern Baptist Convention or in one of the Lutheran Synods or in the First, Second, or Third Baptist Church. And if the barque of Peter goes down, then so shall all other boats, because the focal point of the anger always lands on the Church. If the gates of hell were to prevail against the Catholic Church (which can't actually happen), then all of the denominations that came after the Catholic Church will lose the boogeyman. Then they will become the boogeyman and would crumble quickly under the weight of the world. The Church, I believe, is in the world, but is not of this world, and Jesus guaranteed that his followers would be hated, and they most certainly are. But that only encourages us to keep speaking, to keep partaking in the Sacraments, and to keep “praying to Mary and our statues” as the detractors like to say. As for the unbelievers, the “love of others” has taken precedent over the first commandment of Christ, which is to “love God.” And here's the problem with that: When love of God and his word gets put into second place and given the silver medal, then love thy neighbor attempts to take the podium, the gold. Unfortunately, this never works. There is a reason for the order. The imitation of Christ is not a game with optional modes of play, it's guidance for the salvation of your soul. So much has been forgotten in the distractions and fragmentation of modern thought. This is why you now see Pride flags outside of Methodist and ELCA churches that would make the Wesley brothers' and Martin Luther's heads explode. It's honestly hard to imagine a greater insult to their names and legacy than what has happened in their churches, but because their own step to form these churches was one of protest, it's not terribly surprising that the protestors are now protesting the earlier protestors. This again, goes back to the beginning and illustrates exactly why the odd story of the Garden of Eden has such lasting power. Obedience to God must be first. Not flags, not clubs, not organizations, and certainly nothing national or political. None of those things can provide the foundation needed. If Jesus said that not one letter of the law would be undone, meaning the Commandments, then how on earth can you skip Sunday Mass for youth sports or claim that sex outside of marriage is allowed? You can only do that if you are ignoring what Jesus says. And the Church was established to defend and follow his example. To argue against marriage and chastity means you have to throw out the Gospel, and if you start throwing out parts, you've thrown out all of it. It comes as a package. Moreover, it only makes sense as an entire package. The baby and bathwater are both out on the lawn now in those churches because they have rejected the Gospel and called it “love.” What they really mean by love is “lust.” Many people have forgotten that Jesus was a celibate man his whole life and ardently, clearly stated that there is to be one marriage in life, and if you aren't married, no sex. No one wants to hear that, but it's incredibly loud and crystal clear if we would just take a minute to open up the book and actually look at the words. The only thing the Church is saying to make people so angry is the exact words of Jesus in Mark 6. It's remarkable really, that just repeating the Gospel words, as they are written, can cause such madness among us lusty moderns. That is how you can tell that we are under a kind of slavery to the passions. The same happens when you try to take away an addict's drugs or when a wealthy person's finances collapse. When the devil finds the right bait for each of us, he keeps using it and sets the hook deep.In our era, methinks the Protesting hath gone on too long and each protesting generation tries to remake the world anew in its own desires. This is why the saying rings true that “A church that marries the age it finds itself in will find itself a widow in the next.” This is the logical conclusion of sola scriptura and sola fide. By faith alone, you can do whatever you want because you were saved fifteen years ago. With sola scriptura, you can interpret the book yourself, however you like, which is being proved out right now before our eyes. Want to throw out chastity? It's gone! Poof. Want to sacralize greed? As you wish, says Kenneth Copeland. Want to rid yourself of the Eucharist and just focus on preaching? Welcome to the party, Zwingli and all you other random people who wants to start your own church. Every heresy since Christ rose from the tomb has played out again and again, thanks to the five solas of Protestantism, but mostly because of two: sola fide and sola scriptura. You can argue yourself into any position, because, well, why not? If you're saved by your faith, actions don't matter. If traditional interpretations of scripture doesn't quite match your wants, then you can hammer it intellectually into the shape you like. Works? Works mean nothing. Works are optional. As soon as you cut out the physical, as soon as the Sacraments are not needed, you've cut the body from the soul, because the body is what carries out “works.” In fact, if there is one damning bit of evidence against Protestantism's shedding of the Sacraments it's that Covid proved that church attendance is not necessary. The internet and streaming video seems to be God's humorous way of proving that “four walls and a sermon” make not a Church, because now everyone can stay home to watch it online. Covid presented this fact in full, because a community gathering to hear a sermon is only as compelling as the speaker, and if the mouthpiece can be piped into the ear alone, then getting dressed and driving to church is not needed. With the Catholic Mass, attendance is required. You cannot do confession over Zoom, and you most certainly cannot receive the Eucharist through an iPhone. Again, body and soul are required in the Catholic Church. This is a great feature of the Church. It's worth noting that Jesus isn't here in the flesh. He is risen. So that means that we must act as the arms and legs now. He is the head of the Church, but the mystical body is important, too. We can use our individual bodies like cells of the mystical body. Our bodies can move around. We can use our bodies to feed the poor or to carry out sinful actions. Ideally, we move toward using it for God's purposes rather than our own. Socialists understand that the body is needed to do good things, so they have half of this whole thing figured out, except they deny the soul. Protestants have the soul and faith part figured out, but can't quite factor in the body because it's not really needed. Put them together and you have something more whole, body and soul, and it's called the Catholic Church. I don't believe that scripture alone or faith alone jives with the Gospel. Otherwise, when you are on your third marriage or looking at porn or having extra-marital sex, you get angry when the Church merely points out the words that Jesus said. Simply reminding others what Jesus said about marriage gets people fired up. It's not like the Church made any of this up. Jesus said these things and the Apostles wrote them down. Merely saying what Jesus said invokes rage from many unbelievers and Protestors, because they have already decided that Jesus is some watered down hippy teacher. But he's a knife that divides people. He was clearly offensive. Nice people don't get crucified. This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit www.whydidpetersink.com

    Why I Am Catholic (part 8): The Perfect Family

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 5, 2023 25:00

    You do not end up in the Catholic Church by accident. Even for the cradle Catholic who strays, a full return cannot happen without a deep search. For most people that convert or revert, it's a long story. It's a battle. The truth is: we resist the Church. We struggle with it. But many end up in the Catholic Church because they wrestled with faith and reason for a long time before having the moment that they understood why Jesus started this Church. They suddenly stop hating the Pope, as they were often instructed to do, and submit to that authority. We dislike authority. That is our nature. That is the story in the Garden. It is often the story of our lives. Coming to love God and his Church means letting go of our preconceived notions and cultural teachings about power. The idea of being required to go to Confession and attend Mass weekly (because skipping Mass is a mortal sin) seems ridiculous to non-Catholics, but the reason for it is solid. This is a pattern for living. Further, partaking in the Sacraments does what they actually claim they do. They make the invisible visible. This is a mystery, but a glorious mystery if you can move from doubt into assent. Not everyone can do this. For some it seems to come naturally. For some it takes years. For some, they can never fully give up the love of self, or take the leap of faith and “know” that the Eucharist is indeed the body and blood of the risen Jesus. God bestows this gift of faith on those he chooses and who cooperate with his grace. All are offered grace but many simply refuse to cooperate. We are all given time and multiple opportunities to react to this offering, to reject it or surrender to it. This is a centerpiece of our free-will, this choice to cooperate or refuse God's grace. So for anyone that seems to lack access to that grace, or rejects it, it is our duty to pray for them, and a good practice is to do a 9-day or a 54-day Rosary novena for your most beloved unbelieving friend. It will probably just irritate them, so you don't even have to tell them. But praying for others is important. Prayers matter. They work. I have watched people change through prayer that goes beyond explanation. Thousands of hours of therapy fail, and suddenly a healthy prayer life heals. Yes, it's bizarre. Oddly enough, knowing God is like knowing any other person. The infinite and unexplainable Creator must be known just like your next door neighbor: through conversation, visits, shared experience, the journey of life, and shared meals. It's very important he be invited to meals, and that is what the Eucharist at Catholic Mass is: a thanksgiving meal where God and his family come together. We get to have thanksgiving every week, or even every day if you live somewhere that daily Mass is offered. Through the years, a relationship develops, but only if you develop it. No relationship in the history of mankind has flourished by two people ignoring one another. No relationship can be made with mere thoughts either, because we are both body and soul. Hence, Sacraments. Hence, the spiritual and corporate works of mercy. Hence, prayer. Prayer is essential and it works, just as conversations and phone calls and get-togethers work with real people. Action, also, is essential, as faith without works is dead. Catholicism is a “get off the couch” religion, if you're doing it correctly. This relationship with God: it cannot be explained fully. It is a mystery. Like the Trinity, we can never really understand it. And rather than frustrate us with uncertainty, it is a great letting go of the need to control, of the ego, of the self. While this drives modern people crazy, resting in that mystery can “unmodern” your misshapen plastic brain all by itself. This requires the step where you go into the unknown, the uncertain, the un-Google. Call is mysticism if you like. Whatever it is, it's better than that THC or Fentanyl everyone get so excited about. Kneeling and asking for the willingness to be willing can change everything. It's also free, and still legal. Even simply saying, “God, please help me. Give me strength and direction today,” has altered people's entire lives. That was the first prayer I said on my road back to building the relationship with God. And I hope and pray that you, reader, will ask, seek, and knock on that door to find out. Because it will change your life beyond any drug or experience that this world can give you. What you “know” today may change into a new kind of “knowing,” especially if you have been ignoring the one relationship that can restore you to health and make you whole. In short, I was disenchanted from all things supernatural like the priest-hunter in the Graham Greene novel. If there wasn't a rational explanation for something, then I decided it was absurd. Praying for people? My response to that was: Sending money for therapy would be better, since prayer is just talking to an imaginary friend. Belief in Angels? Give me a break. Devils? Sure, if they were just people with pitchforks dressed up in Halloween costumes. Re-enchantment doesn't mean jumping into the deep end of the pool and booking a vacation to where a Marian apparition occurred. It all starts with one prayer, a simple reach, to a power outside of yourself. You may even begin with a generic “spirit of the universe” and later get to God himself, the Creator, to Jesus, the Word, and the the Holy Spirit, the breath of life. I had to jumpstart my dead heart with the idea of an absurd “Streetlight God.” Hopefully most people don't have to go that far downward, but it does work. If you can, just pick one person of the Holy Trinity to start with. But try all three. Some people connect with one element of the Trinity better than others. You've tried every flavor of ice cream, what have you go to lose? You've probably gone through the kama sutra trying sexual positions, but that didn't satisfy you any more than eating Snickers bars “satisfies,” as the advertisements claim. This time, and in the future, try a new position called “kneeling.” That is, kneeling before God. It does wonders. Surely on a sleepless night you can take five minutes to start a new relationship that isn't centered around your phone. You are not a moth, so you stop acting like one. Stop buzzing around bright lights and screens, as if that's all you were made to do. If you are like most people today, you are mesmerized by the dancing light of a screen. After all, entertainment is not your end goal. It is a distraction from your fears: of death, rejection, abandonment, and shame. All of those fears come from a lack of relationship with God. You'll sleep better once you start dialing up God in the middle of the night, because he's always there and doesn't need sleep. The thing is, once the relationship begins, you learn that you are never alone, or rejected, or abandoned. You have a perfect family that you've been neglecting. Sure, your earthly family has flaws, or isn't perfect, or makes mistakes. That's because they are compromised humans. They are compromised, but not broken. All of us were ejected from the Garden for our own good, so that we would not remain in a permanently fallen state. The family that you have here is the earthly family that has been given to you to love. That is the trial and test, of course, and as soon as you start seeing those people as redeemable, compromised creatures that God loves, they look different. But even if those people are not around, you are never alone, and here's why… You are never alone because God is always present and available. If he does not feel present to you, then he is letting you walk, just as a toddler who is learning is allowed to fall. He wants you to walk and carry the cross, but he has not abandoned you, ever, just as a loving parent doesn't let their toddler destroy herself. The parent will pick her up when the time is right. God is doing that in your life, in different ways. If your earthly father is controlling, you may have a problem with the idea of a heavenly father. Thus, kneeling may seem too much to give up, since submission makes your blood boil. But the father in heaven isn't like your earthly father. He doesn't coerce. He doesn't force. He invites you. If your earthly father was a “deadbeat dad” who abandoned you, you may not like the idea of forgiving a father. But again, this father has never and will never abandon you. Only you can abandon this father. The father that we all want is this kind. He is the father who runs out to meet the Prodigal Son. He is the father that weeps when his children disobey but allows them chance after chance to come back. He is the father that never leaves you but also won't coddle you, because he wants you to grow. Don't confuse your earthly father with the Father in heaven. So you have a loving father, but you also have a brother. If you are baptized and believe, or if you ask for belief, you have a brother in Jesus. He will pray with you. He will be beside you in prayer if you ask. Like the St. Patrick prayer, he will be in you, around, above you, below you. Further yet, you can “put on the mind of Christ” and let his thoughts become yours, and if that seems impossible, open the Gospel and see his words and life, or do Lectio Divina in the Hallow app if you don't like to read. So now you have a loving father and a loving brother (also your savior), both who are perfect, who can help you fight the spiritual fight. They will show you how to live. One will father you and one will guide you. You have navigation from headquarters and boots on the ground to walk with you. There is more. What family is complete without a mother? The beauty of Catholic complementarity is that we don't have to pretend men and women are the same. Sometimes we need a mother, and sometimes we need a father, but we need both. We are whole when we have a relationship with both. We know that men and women are not the same, despite what the modern media tells us. Sanity is sometimes as simple as stating the obvious. The genius of femininity is that it is not male. It is something different and wonderful. The Blessed Mother, Mary, is your mother. You have a perfect mother and she will pray with you, any time, any where. And her prayers go straight to the top, as no one intercedes ahead of Mary. From the cross, Jesus looked down and said to Mary, “There is your son,” referring to the Apostle John. To John, he said, “There is your mother.” The Church has always held that Jesus, right then and there, from the Cross invited all faithful into the holy family. If we are brothers with Christ, then God is our father, and Mary is our mother. There is more. There is another earthly step-father for you other than your biological one, and his name is Joseph. His moniker is the “Terror of Demons” because of how he protected Mary and Jesus, taking action when the dreams and warnings appeared. People often consecrate themselves to Mary and/or Joseph. Why? Because they love their family and want to grow closer to them. “What does it mean for a person to be consecrated to St. Joseph? Well, it basically means that you acknowledge that he is your spiritual father, and you want to be like him. Total consecration to St. Joseph means you make a formal act of filial entrustment to your spiritual father so that he can take care of your spiritual well-being and lead you to God. The person who consecrates himself to St. Joseph wants to be as close to their spiritual father as possible, to the point of resembling him in virtue and holiness. Saint Joseph, in turn, will give those consecrated to him his undivided attention, protection, and guidance.” (from the Consecration to St. Joseph)And lastly, the saints. We have the saints, a larger family, who can intercede and pray with us. I ask for St. Peter and St. Anthony of Egypt to pray with me, as well as St. Dymphna and St. Mary Magdalene. It's a co-ed team of prayer, every day. And there are thousands of saints to ask for intercession, and even Rafael and Gabriel, the angels that we have come to know through Sacred Scripture. When navigating this world, sometimes you need a father to guide to, sometimes you need a mother to help you, and sometimes you need your brother to fight off a dragon. And still, sometimes, you need just to be still with the Holy Spirit - that unexplainable breath of life. The simple prayer of “Come, Holy Spirit,” opens us up to God's grace. No matter what you need, you need to be open to your heavenly family, because that is your perfect family, your family without wounds, without identity lies. Knowing and building a relationship with that family will help you grow in relationship with your earthly family. You are never alone. When I heard someone say that in the past, I assumed they were schizo, but today I know exactly what they mean. Having been re-enchanted, the invisible spiritual world is now as real and palpable as that rock in my shoe. If you come to believe in Jesus, then you come to know, and one thing that comes along with it is the awareness of your own sin, but rather than being a horrible thing, it can be a liberating thing. You can't get found unless you were once lost. It's an entirely new kind of freedom, but not a freedom to do what you want, but a freedom to follow God, as best as you can. And you want to do it. It's not forced! Never forced. That is one of the miraculously weird things that happens once you know you are a sinner and come to love and know God. Sooner or later, you come to know that angels and demons are also as real as that rock in the shoe. Once that happened, I began to see why and how the world and individual people behave as they do. The faith of an atheist doesn't allow for miracles, or spiritual lives, or souls, or partaking of the divine nature. The faith of an atheist really offers only half of life. It offers nothing that I want to take back, because I have discarded my anti-depressants, I haven't drank in almost seven years, I have zero desire to scroll porn (because people have souls and are not objects), I pray for my enemies and enemies of the Church. Daily, I meet with whole people of faith that astonish me in their own miraculous underdog comebacks. I start and end my day with prayer and gratitude to God. What more could I possibly want? (If you're an atheist, you scoffed there, and that's ok. If you're a Protestant, I probably lost you back at my “faith alone” rant. To both - I'm sorry, but this is my blog site, and this is my body and soul story. There are many things I admire about Protestants, but I believe that Christ's Body in the world is the Catholic Church.)The strangeness of it all is this: it all fits together. All of it. Somehow, someway. The bizarre storytelling and miracles and parables and Marian dogmas and relics and Sacraments - they all bake into something perfect and unendingly satisfying - a bread that never stops feeding you. That is, I believe, what Jesus meant when he said, “I am the bread of life.” Hence, the Eucharist at Mass is food for the body and the soul. It is food for the faithful. It is a meal with God himself. The tie that binds is Jesus. “Love God. Love others. Let's all get together and eat my body. Do this in memory of me.” I recall reciting the Nicene Creed as a teenager and skipping certain elements, mostly the ones that required supernatural belief, which means a large portion of it. As the years went on, when I had to attend a funeral or wedding, I started to notice that certain elements had become less difficult to accept, as a rudderless life had tossed me about so much that I reached a state of openness. Through the use of alcohol, I had moored my ship on many rocks, on islands of ideologies and empty pursuits. Of course, this process of getting to shore meant getting both the rudder and the sail working together, not against one another. Switching metaphors, I'll move over to Chesterton's “lock and key” example. For me, it was not that one single grand moment made all the difference, but many small moments that carved away untruths and honed edges down. I could not open the door using the key I had, because the key just hadn't been fully prepared yet. At first the key was just a cylinder that did not fit the keyhole at all. But over twenty years, with many books and life experience, the grinding of the search shaped the key, until one day I tried the key again, and I felt the thunk of the lock as it sunk into the center. A stick might fit a hole or a stone a hollow by accident. But a key and a lock are both complex. And if a key fits a lock, you know it is the right key. (From Chesterton's Orthodoxy)Perhaps you know the feeling. When the key fits, you think it's the right key, but if haven't yet turned the deadbolt, you're still not certain. I'd had that feeling before, but the key wouldn't turn. A key seemed to have the fit, yet I still couldn't open the door. With modern versions of stoicism and epicureanism and humanism, I felt I'd had the key before, but none of those could turn the bolt. But then this time, when I twisted, the bolt moved. Then I had to decide, did I really want to open the door? Because I knew that opening the door meant the change of everything in my entire life. This is what Catholics call “cooperating with grace.” Even if the key has been given, and the door unlocked, each of us must still choose to open that door. The mystery of why God gives us trials and temptations in life is clear to me now: they key that we need to unlock the door needs to be shaped, and God shapes the key using these struggles. Of course, I had to open the door. After all, I'd spent a long time looking for that key and having it shaped. So what other choice did I have? How could I go back to the prior attempts that left me locked out? None of them had made me happy. If you have been given the key, you may think there is no choice but to use, but God does not coerce or force us to do anything. He wants us to open the door voluntarily, but he doesn't fling it open for us. He just gives us the key. And then opening the door, the treasure is there, the one that makes sense of all the struggle and searching. This is the key we are all looking for. If you haven't gotten the key fully shaped yet, you still might, given more time and experience. But you have to come back to the door now and then to test the key, because that is the game that God is playing with us. He's doing something in your life, but you may not understand it until much later.So that is my take on coming to faith. As Jesus said, we are only drawn to God if God draws us. This is confusing, but if you feel drawn, you should set down your busy life and try the key again. Free will is a powerful thing, because God beckons us but we have to take action. If the beckoning happens, then you are likely being called. If you ignore the beckoning, you may miss the opportunity. “No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day.” (John 6:44)Now, most people today have a real beef with the Catholic Church, so let me take some time to comment on that. Everyone seems to have this in common, especially Catholics themselves. This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit www.whydidpetersink.com

    Why I Am Catholic (part 7): “It didn't feel like they were trying to sell me a car.”

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 5, 2023 24:16

    From Graham Greene's novel The Power and the Glory, set in Mexico during the Communist persecution of the Catholic Church in the twentieth century, there is a great line from an atheist, who fully embraces his “faith.” It's interesting, in hindsight of my own experience: to not believe in God takes every bit as much faith in the end as does believing in God. However, the outcome of how you see the world is radically different. The character is an angry man who is hunting down the “Whiskey Priest,” a drunk, corrupt, unheroic hero who needs to be snuffed out, because snuffing out the priest will kill off God for good (this is another Herschel Walker Trade, which I'll discuss in future posts). Of course, this “kill ‘em all” approach has been the error of anti-Catholics since Nero first blamed followers of Jesus Christ for the fire in Rome. An unbeliever writhes at the stereotype of the faithful fool. He loathes the idiot who prays and believes in angels and demons. Why? Because he knows better. He knows that religion is all smoke and mirrors. It's all b******t, and he knows it. He knows that sees the wizard behind the curtain. These words could have come from my mouth or mind, even though I wasn't physically hunting priests to kill them:“It infuriated him to think that there were still people in the state who believed in a loving and merciful God. There are mystics who are said to have experienced God directly. He was a mystic, too, and what he had experienced was vacancy – a complete certainty in the existence of a dying, cooling world, of human beings who had evolved from animals for no purpose at all. He knew.” Yes, he knew. I knew. But I know now, too. Don't we all know? That is, after all, the point of the “tree of knowledge” in the garden. When we eat from that tree, we know, and we think we know better than God. We turn away from God. Genesis, what a timeless old thing it is! How on earth did the sacred writer know how to craft it so elusively and accurately throughout all the ages? Oh, right. I forgot: it's because God inspired the sacred author of Genesis (and I'll refer you to Dei Verbum for expansion on that idea, which is a worthy read for Catholics and anti-Catholics alike, and I would recommend followups of Faith and Reason (Fides et Ratio) and The Splendor of Truth (Veritatis Splendor). And if you've gone that far, you might as well read the Prologue and Part One of the Catechism). What the atheist “knows” is not known any more than what the believer “knows,” but assumes a similar kind of faith. In other words, to quote The Big Lebowski, you can say to either one, “That's just, like, your opinion, man.” But of course, one is right and one is wrong, but neither can ever prove it. After adopting the ideas of unbelief for about fifteen years, I realized that I do not have enough faith to be an atheist, particularly after witnessing addiction recovery miracles and seeing, literally, the power of prayer in real people's lives, including my own. The unbeliever's belief requires a kind of assent that is not at all different from the person of faith (and I'll refer you to John Henry Neumann and G.K. Chesterton for expansions on the idea of assent). We are assenting to a faith, like it or not, whichever way we lean, and the reason endless debates rage over the existence of God is because both sides “know” they are right and have ample arguments to defend their view. Yet only one can be right. Only one will be proven correct, and the test date is usually unscheduled, kind of a pop quiz, that happens with the final beat emitted from of our hearts. This makes for a lot of anger between the tribes of believers and unbelievers, because both “know” they are right. However, the unbelievers should never be mocked, because that is their job: to mock us believers. They get to keep that for themselves. They don't have much else to hold onto, so mockery and condescension remains theirs. To be mocked for having faith in God should not bother any person of faith. Seriously, faith is a gift. If you've been to a party where everyone received a gift except for you, the feeling results in sadness or anger, but the wound of being left out leads to envy. Sour grapes, insults on intelligence, accusations of inbreeding, and variations on the phrase “I don't need a crutch” are just some of the results of envy. The error of envy plays out in toddlers and adults in interesting ways. You'll notice that Jesus never exhibits any behaviors related to envy. Believers, as always, should imitate him and pray for strength daily. All adversity should be received as exercises in humility and for every insult for faith we should give thanks to God for the opportunity to be tested and grow in faith.The meaning of life is wrapped up faith in God. It fills the Big Empty. Those without faith cannot grasp this. It's impossible. If I try to explain that I believe in miracles to an atheist, the wall around them is built up so tall that they cannot even hear a word I'm saying. I had the same wall. The atheist will often say, “I just need more evidence,” meaning a sign, like the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, but even if Jesus flew around in the sky in front of them, they would start explaining the physics and asking for a video to review if he was wearing a jetpack. In fact, I had this very conversation about miracles recently with an atheist, and we spoke about the “calming the storm” miracle, and his answer was that science can do that, it can control the weather now. But I have yet to see a meteorologist reach out his hand and stop the wind and waves instantly. I didn't bother to ask, “What about the walking on water?” but surely he would have had a material cause, like a reef beneath Jesus' feet, or a first century paddleboard. My point is that you must take a leap of faith on miracles in order to believe. The alternative is to find material reasons for divine things, or deny the stories altogether. Many modern people have done all the way in trying to solve the problem, denying that Jesus ever existed. The problem with that is, like the ostrich, God still exists even while the head is underground. The walling-in of our wonder is what keeps us from opening up, from filling the God-shaped hole in our hearts. (This is where I start praising Protestants and Evangelicals if any are still here...) Many believers of non-Catholic faith are enriched and filled with the Holy Spirit, and many understand the faith part better than Catholics. I'm talking about Evangelicals and Protestants. (Here is where I even praise “faith alone” a little bit…) The great thing about “faith alone” is that people meet Jesus this way, without having to assent to the whole Catechism of the Catholic Church and go through an RCIA class for six months. Luther lowered the barrier of entry, and Jesus certainly criticized the Pharisees for keeping the kingdom of God from the people. Catholics can trend toward Pharisaism, and this is a well-known charge against the Church. Rules and regulations are needed, and must be adhered to, otherwise the whole thing falls apart. After all, Jesus said he didn't come to throw out the law but to fulfill it, and he also said that we must do more than just pray and say “Lord, Lord!” There are things that must be done. There are works like “Be baptized and believe” and “If you love me, keep my commandments” and “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.”While I don't believe that ease of entry into salvation is true with sola fide, that idea certainly gets people through the door. The ball gets rolling very quickly when someone is ready to change. So if someone is drawn to Jesus through a concert-style service or an altar call, there are far worse things I can think of people doing. I just don't think that it's the fullness of the faith. I believe that there is more to it, and that the Tradition that goes back to Peter is the Church, the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church that is guided by the Holy Spirit. The simple invite of “Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior?” has always seemed too easy to me, but I have seen it change lives in dramatic and stunning ways when someone takes it to heart, when it is not coerced or faked. I know Evangelicals and Lutherans who are on fire for God, and even though they say “works” are not necessary, these on-fire believers are engaged in mucho works, body and soul, helping people pray and get along in this world. And that is a beautiful thing. But the problem is that it leads to the Pink Cloud too often. What is the pink cloud? Addicts who get sober can experience a Pink Cloud after about thirty days of sobriety, and everything is wonderful. Life is amazing. Love is everywhere. And then the euphoria wears off. Many relapse because this new high of sobriety has dulled. The new feeling of being reborn in sobriety fades as real life plods along with the march of days. Thus are newly sober people warned, “Beware of the Pink Cloud.”In a similar way, the euphoria of an altar call or instant conversion lacks long-term staying power, because it's too easy. Having attended a few services in my life where sinners feel moved to come up to the altar, I watched with skepticism as it felt too dramatic. Perhaps too emotional, as feelings do not always last. This is why watching Marcus Grodi's “Journey Home” conversion stories is so compelling. These are five year or ten year or twenty year conversion stories. There is meat and potatoes in these stories, of life, learning, hard knocks, and revelations. Recently, a celebrity, Shia Leboeuf, did an interview on his conversion and said that “It didn't feel like they were trying to sell me a car.” He nailed it. He nailed the problem of cheap and easy evangelization. It's too glossy, too polished, too impersonal, too much sugar. Let me give some examples of this problem of feeling “sold” instead of assenting to Church teaching through a process of both reason and faith, as Chesterton and St. Augustine did. I can recall several attempts by people to evangelize me to Christianity while I was fallen away that repulsed me and pushed me further away from God than if they had scourged me with a whip. It was the sell. The approach. I think of these often now that I've returned to believe in Jesus, because they make me realize how obnoxious it is to sell religion to someone like it was soap or a gadget. Example #1: I was on a beach during spring break, drinking heavily, just like any good useless college student raised on Nirvana and Sublime, when a few attractive college girls approached. They wanted to hang out, but then within a short time, they asked if I had accepted Jesus as my personal savior. I said, “No,” and returned to the comfort of liquor.Example #2: I had paid $50 to do an “ejector seat” ride where bungee cords shoot you up into the air for three seconds of bliss, and right before we were about to eject, the operator said, “I can only hit this button if you've accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior.” And rather than say, “No, let me off,” I said “Yes,” because I had paid $50 and didn't want to get off the ride. But it irritated me and ruined the experience because at that time I was still happy on the side of the devil. Example #3: I recall retreat groups coming to church as a kid, with super motivated adults and teens who wanted to stir up the spirit in us. But I didn't get it. I also didn't get it when some kids would apparently feel the spirit and start crying and want to give their life to Christ. The retreats just kind of hit me like pie in the face. I just wasn't ready to eat. The thing was, the people were trying hard and probably did convert some people, but I just couldn't buy in. Example #4: I attended an “all-night party” as a kid thinking it would just be bowling and basketball and movies, but then it turned out to be a Christian rock concert and an altar call where the singer needed, “Just ten more of you to come up to the stage and give your lives to Christ.” All the hand-waving and teary eyes didn't phase me, as I eyed the pizza from the open side doors. Example #5: I remember Jehovah's Witnesses knocking on the door and running an elevator pitch at me while I was hungover and watching football. It reminded me of when I had to sell candy bars for the local booster club as a kid, and I hated it then, and I knew the candy bar buyers hated forking over a dollar for sub-par milk chocolate. Likewise, I cringed watching these people try to sell religion to me when I was not yet in the market. I also knew just enough about Jehovah's Witness theology to realize that it would be betraying my reason altogether to engage with them, so I said goodbye. Now, with all that said, I can tell you this: every single one of those people who tried to convert me had a lot better grip on life than I did, since drinking was my escape, my idol. Drinking and goals was the game, I thought, and despite having a decent sense of Biblical stories, I had zero idea why anyone was pushing these old tales my way. All I saw was a bunch of rules. I felt like Cool Hand Luke, when he said, “I ain't heard that much worth listenin' to. There's a lot of guys layin' down a lot of rules and regulations.” I'm pretty sure I actually wanted to be Cool Hand Luke, come to think of it. At the start of this series I talked about selling, because that is what people do with their worldviews. What's so strange about the Catholic Church is that it does not feel like a sale, because much of what they teach runs against our desires and instincts. What an awkward pitch it is. It's almost an anti-sales pitch, which is why we have to wrestle with it for so long. Just as Jesus confounded us and refuted our expectations, so does the Church. But for those of us who end up buying Catholicism, it's eventually purchased because it works. It is proven to work. People arrive at this place because nothing else has worked. Peter famously said to Jesus, “Master, where else will we go?” The Catholic Church is the last stop after all other sources of “truth” have been tried and found untrue. This has been the conclusion of people in every generation for 2,000 years. We may not like the pitch or the demonstration, but the application of it works. It offers sanity in a world of half-truths. It requires elevating faith ever so slightly over reason, but just barely. The beauty of Catholicism is that you get to keep your reason - all of it - and add on the mysteries of faith to it. It enriches reason because it tears down the wall of needing material answers for everything. It throws out religious fundamentalism while keeping the laws of physics, the Commandments, miracles, and the richest trove of literature and stunning architecture the world has ever known. Also, it's not forced upon anyone. It doesn't feel like trickery. How could it? The pitch takes away things that we perceive to be pleasure, so the gloss is off the flyer. The pitch is not easy, not a quick solvent or pill to swallow, but more of a tough love. It's like a stern but loving family that sits you down to say: “This will be difficult, but you can be holy. First, grow up and take responsibility, and second, be humble and return to the faith of a child. Now start praying and serving others.” What bothers me about saying “I accept Jesus as my personal savior” and being done with progressing to salvation is this: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit www.whydidpetersink.com

    Why I Am Catholic (part 6): More Than a Feeling

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 5, 2023 18:14

    I always sensed that something wasn't right. I'm not sure if it's a blessing or a curse. But even as a kid, I knew that something didn't feel right. It was a sense of incompleteness. Heck, I'm not sure if anyone did. But something was amiss. Something was out of order. I couldn't put my finger on it so I went looking for who might know the answer. I thought maybe Protestants knew, or atheists, or academics, or Buddhists, or workaholics, or athletes, or bums, or wildlings who closed the bars down. The search went on and on. But no matter where I explored, something wasn't quite right. What seemed to be happening all around me was a big show, a play, or a circus, with everyone in masks, and they were all pretending there wasn't a giant hole inside them. This giant hole, the Big Empty, is what drove me to search, and when I found that I couldn't fill it, I tried to fence it off, ignore it, yell at it, mock it, throw stones at it, drug it, intellectualize it, and weep at it. None of that worked either. And none of the solutions on offer could solve the disease either. Until I began to separate the tales of Hollywood, media, my teachers, my college professors, my Christian friends, my non-Christian friends, my co-workers, and my own reading, only then did I even begin to parse what the heck was missing. And a giant portion of that was figuring out what the heck the word God even meant, which required prayer, reading, and action to even get a match burning in the Big Empty. I began to understand the uneasy feeling when I realized I had been ignoring half of myself. Really, I was missing both halves of myself, because they were like estranged spouses, living separately but in the same house. They certainly weren't talking. The two halves I'm talking about are body and soul. The post-mortem of my first death revealed that I'd undergone a common pair of modern surgeries, which go undetected in many. These surgeries happen without us knowing, as the surgeons serve in unsuspicious places, often as helpers and guides rather than body snatchers or soul stealers. I had undergone the twin amputations. My soul had been surgically removed by a careful materialist unbelief, using the scalpel of what I thought were logical arguments. The other amputation came more like a dismemberment. My body had been ripped away from the spirit and the spirit ripped away from the body. Being amputated two ways obviously left me incomplete, and I was crawling about like the Terminator's hand in the final scene of the movie, where Linda Hamilton tries to crawl away from the crazed robot, animated by a programmed compulsive mania. I was that crazed robot-hand, intent on living, not knowing why, except for goals, going on seek and destroy missions. I was half a human being. I was a robot arm, bent on destruction, clamoring toward Linda Hamilton. The slicing and dicing of body and soul left me fragmented, because in atheist unbelief I was all body. Without the supernatural, we really are just a “clump of cells” or a “bag o' chemicals.” The mantra of our time is self-determination and “my truth.” Why? Because if we're just a pile of cells, then we are nothing but matter, and therefore, nothing matters. That's the ugly secret of pure reason. The real reason that abortion is no big deal to some people is because they don't believe in a soul, and it was no big deal to me when I lived in body-alone robot mode. Euthanasia? Shoot, shoot me up, doc. What's the big deal? Of course it doesn't matter if you kill yourself when there is no afterlife. The only life worth living is a life without pain, since pain is the great evil. Suffering - now there is a reason to doubt God! And when the body is just a bunch of wriggling, jiggling atoms, dumping that body has as much meaning as turning off a light switch. Here today, gone tomorrow. As the always depressing Albert Camus once infamously said, “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy.” On the flip side of that, you had Archbishop Fulton Sheen, in the same century, telling the world that, “Life is worth living,” and he seemed much happier.When materialism and unbelief forms the centerpiece of your worldview, life is kind of like how men see college girls in Girls Gone Wild videos. There's no humanity in a clump of cells because it's only body - there's no soul, so what's the difference if it dies? Pleasure becomes the only good, and pain the only evil. Epicurus and Marcus Aurelius lived in this space, with quite different interpretations on how to live with that problem. Camus himself decided that suicide was no good because…well, who cares? Honestly, when that is your number one philosophical problem, you know something is horribly wrong. The Big Empty owns you. When I think of how much ink has been spilled over Camus and this problem, I shudder more than I do after a full day of ice fishing. On the other side, there was a different problem. It was called faith alone. I've belabored this terribly by now. When I dabbled in that, I felt like I was all soul, or worse, mind alone, and that is a lonely and awful place to be. I recently read something from the celebrated atheist and transhumanist evangelist Yuval Harari, who said that Jews and Christians were only worried about the soul. Classic attack angle, Yuval! Except for it's the same old attack that never works. Like Judas, he is disappointed that Jesus didn't solved all earthly suffering. Like the Jews, Yuval wanted a political and military messiah. It's hard to believe people are still making this same error, but they do every day. Clearly Yuval and others have never read the Apostles' Creed or the Catechism of the Catholic Church, because God refutes our expectations. See, God can be postmodern, too! This world is not yet transformed, since we are in the messianic age. But the body will be resurrected. The glory will come. And in Catholicism, the body is good, our suffering here is transformed, and when we die, that isn't the last day of these bones. Mr. Harari has the same incomplete understanding of Christianity that I once did. If we are only worried about our souls, then we really don't need arms and legs, because salvation of the soul is the primary concern, and we're not required to carry out any actions in this world. Yuval's disappointment is in Christians that don't do enough here in this world. This is why Catholicism has the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. We are body and soul, hence we must pray and act. That is not a requirement in the Protestant world. I mean, it's cool if you do nice things for people, but always optional, because “Once saved, always saved” absolves you of works. And that in a nutshell is why Protestantism never sat well with me. Really, it's the same reason that Yuval dislikes about Christians. It's just too bad he doesn't understand Catholicism. As I've mentioned, a brain in a jar can satisfy the requirements of “faith alone.” A printer can spew out a message saying, “I accept Jesus as my personal savior,” and if that is the only requirement, can we really argue that the printer is any more sincere than a bad Christian who claims the same? Thank God we are not robots. Thank God we are not just bodies, and not just souls. The whole idea of the imago Dei, of being made in the image and likeness of God, means that God made us like him, body and soul, and that all that he created….…is good. Jesus is God. Jesus became a human. The Protestant idea of total depravity or that we are a “dung hill covered in snow” - that doesn't dovetail with Catholic doctrine, be it the imago Dei, the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, or John Paul II's Theology of the Body.I think the letter from James (the one that Luther tried to throw out of the Bible), contains the sentence that distills the truth of this lengthy article about what makes me whole: “For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.” (James 2:26) Dead. Body alone = death. Spirit alone = death. Faith alone = death. Works alone = death. This is why pure reason or pure faith, with either one on a lonely island, leads to the same thing: death. To me, that is the summary judgment against both Protestantism and atheism (and its subtypes like liberalism, humanism, Marxism, scientism, positivism, or wokeism). Both of those great trends of the last 500 years slice us in right in half, separating body from soul. That's what I'm trying to get at, in my excessive and overly-verbose manner. A separated body and soul results in death. It doesn't matter which way you slice, one without the other means that both are dead. (This idea will help a lot when you get to the most confusing line in Catholic theology, the second to last line in the Apostle's Creed, which is that we believe in the “Resurrection of the body.” This confusing and often-overlooked phrase cannot be skipped or left out, because… This is why I am Catholic: it makes me whole, both body and soul. That is the short summary. What I always felt was missing, that critical missing piece, that could never fulfill the Big Empty - that hole is gone, because I am once again whole. Returning to the faith of a child seems to be figuring out how to become whole, and it means believing in both body and soul. But it's more than a feeling. The band Boston sang about it, but didn't quite capture what I mean by “more than a feeling.” This wholeness comes from reason, experience, feelings, body, blood, soul and divinity. (Useless aside: No wonder the lyrics of the Boston song are so depressing: “More Than a Feeling” mentions only feelings, experience of loss, and sensory things; not once does the song mention body, blood, soul, and divinity.) The faith of the Apostles, in its fullness, is something total and beautiful. The Catholic Church appreciates both body and soul, faith and works. It believes in both the divine and the human. We seek to know both nature and grace. Faith is an act of submitting both our intellect and our will. The Eucharist is both bread and wine. It is also body and blood, soul and divinity. We are both fallen and redeemable. There is a visible and invisible world that we live in. We must live with both faith and reason. I am both a sinner and can be saved through God's grace. We are both matter and form. We have fasting and feasting. Baptism has both a physical action and a spiritual effect. Forgiveness requires both confession and penance. There is song and prayer. There is silence and celebration. What I'm trying to say is this: Catholicism is truly a both/and religion, not an either/or. And having gone on the wild goose chase of life, I reject the separation of body and soul as much as I reject that Jesus was just a wise teacher rather than both fully God and fully man. This is the key, of course. But once you spend time reading or hearing the Gospel, the day may come when you suddenly know, as much as you know that 2+2=4, that Jesus is God. As an unbeliever, I “knew” that Jesus was not God, and now I “know” that he is. This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit www.whydidpetersink.com

    Why I am Catholic (part 5): The Real “Spirit Murder”

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 5, 2023 24:29

    People don't really hate the Catholic Church. They hate what they've been taught is the Church, most of which is untrue. This quote from Fulton “the quote machine” Sheen sums it up:There are not over a hundred people in the United States who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions, however, who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church — which is, of course, quite a different thing. These millions can hardly be blamed for hating Catholics because Catholics “adore statues”; because they “put the Blessed Mother on the same level with God”; because they say “indulgence is a permission to commit sin”; because the Pope “is a Fascist”; because the “Church is the defender of Capitalism.” If the Church taught or believed any one of these things it should be hated, but the fact is that the Church does not believe nor teach any one of them. It follows then that the hatred of the millions is directed against error and not against truth. As a matter of fact, if we Catholics believed all of the untruths and lies which were said against the Church, we probably would hate the Church a thousand times more than they do. If I were not a Catholic, and were looking for the true Church in the world today, I would look for the one Church which did not get along well with the world; in other words, I would look for the Church which the world hates… Look for the Church that is hated by the world, as Christ was hated by the world. Look for the Church which is accused of being behind the times, as Our Lord was accused of being ignorant and never having learned. Look for the Church which men sneer at as socially inferior, as they sneered at Our Lord because He came from Nazareth. Look for the Church which is accused of having a devil, as Our Lord was accused of being possessed by Beelzebub, the Prince of Devils. Look for the Church which, in seasons of bigotry, men say must be destroyed in the name of God as men crucified Christ and thought they had done a service to God. Look for the Church which the world rejects because it claims it is infallible, as Pilate rejected Christ because He called Himself the Truth. Look for the Church which is rejected by the world as Our Lord was rejected by men… If then, the hatred of the Church is founded on erroneous beliefs, it follows that basic need of the day is instruction. Love depends on knowledge for we cannot aspire nor desire the unknown. (Fulton Sheen on Radio Replies)The Church that is rejected by men is a Church they rarely know or understand. The attackers have not read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which is clear because most of the attacks don't even make sense once you crack the cover of that book. Thus, it's useless for me to feel offended by atheist attacks any more that it is to feel offended by Protestant attacks. Yet I do feel offended sometimes. Why? Because I fail to fully surrender to God and his Church, hence the need for daily conversion, to fight the spiritual fight, and to submit my will and intellect completely to the care of God's grace. His will, not mine, will be done. This blog is just a journal of my reasons for believing, and if I didn't feel such a need to express these words, I wouldn't do it. Jesus commanded us to tell the story of the Gospel, and that his sheep would hear his voice. Seems like a small task for me to at least tell of my reasons for faith, with the hopes that perhaps someone else will undo their own Herschel Walker trade. Now, Protestants did not make the full trade, abandoning God, but they did abandon the Mother Church, the Body of Christ, the Bride of Christ, the barque of Peter (and any other pseudonyms you like). In Luther's defense, he was living in and around a period of time when frauds like the Donation of Constantine came to light, which called for questioning, correction, and improvement, and the Church was under heavy attack from all sides. It is also under attack today, from all sides. In Luther's time, the New World had been discovered, science was advancing, and there were three concurrent Popes at one time not long before. Add a few greedy clergy using “salvation for money” schemes that would make Bernie Madoff blush, and only a match it need to start a conflagration. It's just too bad Luther's exit ended up watering down the doctrines instead of shoring it up, because he really wanted to protect doctrine in the beginning - even the Eucharist. After all, he was an Augustinian monk, and the most “Catholic” Protestant there ever was, at least in the beginning, until Zwingli and the hoards came after him. I haven't come to bash Luther as much as I have come to bash Voltaire and Jefferson and the fruit of their legacy of unbelief. I routinely bash the 19th century German scholarship that tried to elevate Biblical scholarship and instead cut the trunk out from the tree. Even though things look bleak, I have to think of Joseph, Jacob's son, in Egypt. After getting tossed in a well, then sold into slavery, then living in prison after being falsely accused of seducing a powerful man's wife, Joseph had a winning streak. When he met his brothers again, many years later, he said, “As for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good.” (Gen 50:20) All of this, all that has happened in the past 500 years is part of God's plan, even the awful parts. We just don't know how yet, but we do know that the name of the game is adhering to Christ, his words, his commandments, and imitating him, which means sticking to the doctrines and not affirming every sin that feels good or sounds good. It means saying, “No,” to the culture, to popular opinion. Slavery was once popular opinion thanks to sola scriptura. Why? Because you can make the Bible be whatever you want it to be with “scripture alone.” The Church put out anti-slavery documents and statements early on. Just like today, that doesn't mean every person adhered to the teaching. Consider how poorly the laity adhere to birth control and admonitions of greed. There were hardly any Catholics in America until the Irish came, which was around the Civil War, and guess what? They were hated, too. It's almost a guarantee. Catholicism is the punk rock of all ages, because it is always a counter-culture. But unlike punk rock, Catholicism has a shelf-life that lasts longer than a decade. All of the fad counter-cultures disappear like smoke, like figdet-spinners and rolled jeans and pet rocks, they are passing fashions that mean nothing to the next generation. But Mary and Joseph do not fade. The impact of the saints and martyrs carries on. The Gospel does not fade, even if the books and scrolls wear out over time. The printing press was not necessary for Christianity any more than the internet is now. Only Jesus and a community of believers was required: Jesus and the Mystical Body of Christ was needed. It's also quite nice that the Church has a way to settle disputes with the Bishops as time and history introduce new issues regarding faith and morals. No other Church has that capability but the one that Jesus founded on a rock named Peter, who happened to setup shop in Rome. Somehow the faith starts a new fire every few years. And the fire always irritates the culture, and oddly enough, what irritates American culture is not the same as what irritates African culture, where in America the Church is hated for it's sexual teaching on chastity, and in Africa it's appreciated for it's sexual teaching on chastity. Americans, in classic form, just assume Africans are childlike. This has not changed, folks. Progressives in America preach sermons that treat Africa as less advanced because they adhere to traditional marriage and family arrangements. The condescension toward Africa today is as bad, if not worse, than it was from the 1500s through the Enlightenment. So which nation is more lost? Is it Nigeria or Uganda? Is it America? The answer is: all of them. America is a sheep that's fallen into a gorge in need of being found. But it's not special in that sense; every nation has its sins, just like every person does. If anything feels good, it is to be counter-cultural. What teenager doesn't want to rebel? But what is odd is that obedience to God is the ultimate rebellion, but it's against sin and the world. Rebellion against God is easy, undemanding, cliche. Rebellion against the flesh and the devil? That's freedom. That is timeless. To remain fully alive, body and soul, and seek union with the Creator is a fad that never dies because at the root, we desire God like we desire food. Jesus and his Church have been the unlikely underdog from the beginning and these two still are today. God has set things up this way. Why? I don't know, but what a joy to be a part of the team that calls itself sinners, who eat and give thanks together, who receive the Eucharist, the Body of Christ. The Reformation, the Enlightenment, the German anti-Catholic culture war, French existentialism, Americanism, Marxist atheism, Postmodernism, and technocratic utopianism - these are all different versions, different ways, of rejecting God. Our desire to eat from the tree of knowledge manifests in many ways, with each generation in competition with the prior one. They are various sides of the same set of dice. In my own confused journey through the chaff of modern ideas, of all these, I find that the Enlightenment did more permanent damage than anything else. Why? Because that is what killed our idea of the soul and all things mysterious. It denies the supernatural. At the very least, the Reformation still held on to the soul and God, but the unbelievers told us there was no soul, and it's hard to argue with dead people and academic scholarship that preaches more than it teaches. The bias in academia becomes glaringly obvious as we shove off from the shore further from the 19th and 20th centuries. There is a laziness in academics now that assumes historical and textual criticism is unassailable, that tradition has nothing important to say. The Reformation's disgust with tradition led to the dumping of all capital-T “Tradition,” and if I learned anything at all from Fiddler on the Roof, it's that Tradition is valuable. The death of wonder and enchantment is the greatest tragedy of the last five hundred years of human history. Death of belief in the soul is tragic for atheists because even if you fell for the lie, you still have a soul and just need to get back in touch with God to have him pull the string and turn your light on again. You have to get your soul out of coat-check and write a bad review of the devil's bar service. Recall that the devil is allowed to tempt and test us, and it is on us to muster the courage to leave the casino. That is what God wants us to do: to ask for help, to fight for faith, goodness, and truth. If you haven't experienced soul death, or the perception of soul death (because your soul is there even if you don't believe it), consider yourself blessed. You are blessed with the gift of faith. Literally. You are in cooperation with God's grace, and he has chosen you, and you have answered. Faith is the greatest gift we can receive, but it requires surrender and action. The good news, really, the greatest news, is that soul death is not a real thing. Just as atheists mock God as a kind of Santa Claus, I mock atheists' unbelief in the soul, because the joke is actually on them. It's just not a funny joke, it's sad. You have a soul. You may not believe it. But that's because much time is spent in convincing you that God and the devil are not real. You may accept the idea of a soul, but reject God and the devil. But all three exist. Losing your sense of the soul is the greatest tragedy of a life. If you've already lost that connection, I'm sorry. Start today in earnest to get it back, beginning with the simple prayer of request: “God, help me be willing to be willing.” Or you can say, “God, I want to believe, help my unbelief.” In your de-programming from the modern cult of unbelief, that's the diet you have to start on in order to get you back on solid spiritual food. Because God has a sense of humor, if or when you reconnect with your soul, it will be the greatest awakening you can possibly have. With all spiritual physics, you have to do down to go up. You have to die to be reborn. This is how it works.The non-believers like Voltaire, Rousseau, Locke, Hume, Whitman, and Jefferson severed the soul from the body. For many years, they kind of pussy-footed around the issue, with people like Descartes still clinging to belief while he killed the soul. Then later Hume and others just came out and said, “There is no soul!” That's why we have bold atheists today just declaring it, like Yuval Harari and every middle schooler on TikTok. If there was ever a “spirit murder,” as anti-racists like to talk about today, it is not what happens in public school with white male teachers. But it did happen by white men. They are right about that. Truly, the modern scapegoat, a.k.a. White Males, performed the greatest spirit murder of all time. But I'm not talking about what modern atheists are talking about when they talk about “spirit.” I suspect that most modern people don't even know what a spirit is (to find out yourself, listen to this Lord of Spirits episode). No, the real “spirit murder” happened from the white guys of the Enlightenment. The “death of God” declarations from the 19th and 20th century all came from white Europeans and Americans and Russians, so as far as I'm concerned, a spiritual genocide happened that is still being felt across the West. But then there was a “body murder” as well, which happened in the Reformation. What do I mean by that? I'm talking about the idea of “faith alone.” When “faith alone” became the basis for salvation, the body was cut off from the soul. So we had one group deny the soul in the Enlightenment, and the Reformers kill the body with faith alone. How? What am I talking about?Because we no longer needed a body. God was all in our head and heart. We can be saved just by laying on the couch. A brain in a vat kept alive by electrodes can be saved by “faith alone.” A software program can emit a string of text that fulfills the requirements of “faith alone.” With “faith alone,” our soul doesn't have much need for this lump of fat, muscle, blood, bone and cartilage. With faith alone, religion moved out of the physical world and took up residence in the ether, the mystical mind. There is much I'd like to go into right here about the Eucharist, but briefly, let me just say that the reason Protestant churches are dying is quite different from the drop in attendance from Catholic churches. The reason Protestant churches are shrinking is because they have always just been “Four walls and a sermon,” and if there is one thing that the internet has shined a light on is that, “sermon alone” does not make a church. It makes for a show. It's just entertainment. Whereas physical Sacraments, like Confession and the Eucharist, require the body to come along. But faith alone requires no works, so why leave the house? Why bother, when you can watch the best preacher in America from your house? Literally, a brain hooked up to a computer can do all that is required of a Protestant. I'm sorry if it sounds cruel, but we're not that far away from brain-vats and wetware, so let that by my prophecy. See, a brain cannot consume the Eucharist, which is why Jesus is so amazing - no matter how we try to box him in, he always rises over us. However, let me back up from bashing the Protestants. The Reformation axe caused less damage than the Enlightenment. Again, I have not come to bury Luther, nor to praise him. To me, the loss of the soul was far more damaging, because as soon as the soul is gone, so is God, along with the devil, and so is the meaning of life. After I had moved on from Catholicism, I wandered about, but the situation felt precarious, as if I were living on a ridge, with infinitely steep sides. Along the ridge I saw a tiny table and a chair at a mysterious little two-dimensional restaurant. The menu had two options. The first option on the menu was simple. Atheism. It had some fancy garnishes, like agnosticism or positivism, but atheism was the entree. The second option was Faith Alone, but it came with a million options, none of which appealed. I could see other people at their little tables, trying to decide, and trying not to look into the Big Empty that was on both sides of the ridge. Many wanted to choose Faith Alone, but the description of it went on for miles. A scroll rolled out of the menu and dangled over the cliff edge. It wasn't clear what Faith Alone was. It seemed like it could be whatever you wanted it to be, and I never saw any food delivered to those who ordered it. Eventually, I realized that there was nothing to eat. It was a trick. There was no food. This was a two-dimensional restaurant. There was no bread at all. Everything on the Faith Alone menu was a symbol, not real food. Some people were pretending to eat from empty plates, laughing, and taking drinks from empty cups. Many ended up ordering Atheism because of the confusion, and then the waiter just came and dumped the people off their chair, over the cliff into the Big Empty. That, too, provided no food. At least falling into the abyss provided an initial thrill. But there was still no food, there was just waiting to hitting bottom and feeling lost. It took me a long time to realize that there was a second restaurant, one with art on the walls and music, even statues (again, not for worshipping!) and there was actual food, real food there. There were four walls and a sermon, but also a meal. It was three dimensional, too. Actually, it was four dimensions. Maybe five. Honestly, I don't even know how many dimensions there are yet. That's the exciting thing about it. There's just so much to discover, and it's timeless, endless, eternal. It's better than any drug. It's wholeness. This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit www.whydidpetersink.com

    Why I am Catholic (part 4): The Problem with "Faith Alone"

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 5, 2023 18:10

    Before getting too far in this post, I want to start out with an admission. I am under no presumption of my salvation. I do not subscribe to the “Once saved, always saved” life insurance plan. To me, that is like saying, “I'm a marathon runner,” because I ran one two years ago. But I probably couldn't even finish one today. There is work that must accompany the claim of being a marathon runner if I intend to use that label in the present tense. God may be outside of space and time, but I'm certainly not. Thus the assurance of salvation that Protestants cling to is not for me, because it doesn't fit in with real life. It's like saying, “I'm asleep” when I'm awake, or “I'm eating” when I'm just chewing gum. The proclamation doesn't match the reality, especially if I'm living a life of sin and not efforting toward holiness. Wait - am I saying that works are required for salvation? Yes. Because that's what Jesus said. It's even what Paul said, and it's what the Apostles said, and it's what the Church said for 1500 years, going through centuries of martyrdoms and suffering and arguing and hammering out doctrine before the idea sprung out of Mr. Luther. That is the issue, of course, or one of them. How are we saved? How can we know? That's really what drove Luther to protest. It wasn't church corruption, because that has always existed. The idea that corruption was the cause is a myth, because corruption in the Church has been around since Judas. So please put the “paying to get to heaven” financial corruption on a shelf. Disgusting behavior by some priests was not the main cause of the protest. Not even close. He wanted to know he was saved, so that he could live his life in peace. He was obsessed with sin and grace, with salvation. He wanted assurance. But he fell into the trap called scrupulosity. This is a problem can lead to despair, so he tried to pole vault to salvation, and solve the problem. But he ended up on the other side of despair, which is called presumption. I get it. The moral life is hard. It's a difficult thing to deal with sin. But working toward holiness means not obsessing over sin but picking up the Cross every day and carrying it. The thing is, we're not complete with this life until the last breath, and along the way, we have to avoid presumption and despair, the twin pillars of error, represented perfectly in the two brothers in the story of the Prodigal Son. With faith, hope, and charity, I aim to work toward being in a state of grace, as best as I can, through the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. This working toward grace becomes the great “undo button,” the “un-trade,” where I sent Herschel Walker back to the Dallas Cowboys, in a sense. The good news is that with daily conversion, I can undo that trade every morning, every moment. Rather than be a cause for despair, it's a pattern for living that works. Faith and works, body and soul. They go together like peas and carrots. I returned to God and found a manner to live that removed the fear of death, making it not a cause for worry but a future occasion that brings hope. So much of our underlying fears are of death. The fear of hell is real, since Jesus spoke of it about thirteen times. But death and the void affects us all in different ways. This is why we wear fig leaves. We wear fig leaves of wealth, pleasure, power, and honor. Why are we wearing them in the first place? Because we fear death and the unknown. Happy Christians seem so odd, or even irritating, because death is no longer fearful to them. They don't make sense because they have indeed pole-vaulted the main problem of life. You sometimes have to wonder, “Do they want to die?” Well…in a way, yes, they do, because it means going home. But the gift of this life, even with its struggles and pain, is the way of the Cross, and you cannot get to heaven unless you go through the Cross. This life is our second chance after the fall in the Garden to choose the tree of life. I often wonder why video game fanatics are not on-fire Christians, because figuring out the game of life comes through Jesus. He has the codes and weapons that we need in the spiritual life. Forget Fortnite or Call of Duty, this life, both materially and spiritually, has enough slings and arrows to dodge and fight against. Having Jesus alongside to slay all dragons makes everything suddenly exciting. I recently met someone who was living at a homeless shelter, who has terminal cancer. She lives in pain, in a terrible situation, who has battled addiction her whole life. No one would envy her situation. But she told me how good that God had been to her. She was overjoyed that she might get her own apartment for this year, with her own bathroom. When you meet people with true faith like her, and then you go interact with someone who has a beautiful house and family but is miserable and faithless, you know which person has been given the real gift. It's not money. It's not stuff. It's not status. None of that matters if you have faith, which is why Jesus said that the prostitutes and tax collectors will recognize the kingdom of heaven before the wealthy and the Pharisees. The “winners” of this world are the ones that lose in the end. And that it by choice. Free will is granted to us for this very reason. What we trade, what we put in our hearts where faith should be, are all the crappy Herschel Walker trades of this world. The Church and its teachings provides the greatest framework for living that I have found after searching through worldviews and trying them on like I was thumbing through racks of clothing at Macy's or a Goodwill store. Nothing comes close. The pattern of life provided in the Church makes sense, but only if you live it. Striving for holiness may seem foolish, but only if you never try it - and I mean really try it, not just mail in a half-effort. The word “orthodox” scares people because it sounds radical, but it means “right path.” It even refers to feet in its root word. These “oppressive rules” are not intended to make you suffer. They are to help you walk toward God, to move away from sin, and toward grace. Now, I have much to say about the other worldviews that I tried on. Stoicism seemed a close second to Christianity, but without Jesus becomes a miserable facade to pretend to like. Epicureanism had the same problem. Atheism - that takes more faith than Christianity. What's most interesting to me now is how I got off the orthodox trail in the first place. Oddly enough, I was steered away from faith at a Catholic college, almost like I had paid for it to happen. But interestingly, in my falling away from Catholicism, Protestantism didn't attract me. Not at all, as the “faith alone” felt too easy and “scripture alone” (or “sola scriptura”) was too corruptible so that I knew immediately that I could make Jesus whoever I wanted him to be. After all, I was the authority. John Calvin ran into that problem almost instantly and sort of made himself a new Pope. You can even see how Luther's denomination have splintered in so many ways because if you don't like the current interpretation, you can just as easily make up a new one, just like Luther and Calvin did. (Here I should refer readers to my series About Uranus which covers how gods and religions come to be, and why Abraham is so important.) So, seeing other worldviews as unsatisfactory, I went straight for the answer of mighty Science, just like many young people are doing today. Unfortunately, I didn't even get a funeral for my spiritual death, although I did pass out quite a few times from alcohol use and may have missed it. Those blackouts always concerned me, for what I might have missed, or lost, only to learn much later that I had lost something, at least temporarily, and it was my soul. But turning back to God made me realize that the devil must give it back when you want to stop sinning. The devil is like both a coat-check service and bartender who holds onto your soul and pours drinks until you are ready to leave the party of sin. But he can't lock you in forever. He must let you leave, even though you have to fight him to get out the door. Hotel California is only a song, not a real place, but the devil would very much like you to believe you can never leave him. (That is, once again, the sin of despair). I have not come to bash Martin Luther, because he was right about some things, like corruption in the Church, and wrong about other things, like “faith alone” and “scripture alone.” Those two ideas are awful, no doubt, and I have much to say about it, but his initial motives were right. He despised corruption in the Church, but there has always been corruption. The Reformation was not about corruption. That's a myth. Corruption was part of it, but corruption has always been part of the Church, just as it is in any human organization or family. But in starting the Reformation, he released far more corruption of doctrine. Luther was a very smart man, but you can see how it all unravelled and grew beyond it's original scope, especially since he was a true defender of the Eucharist. Calvin was brilliant as well. However, there are many smart people in every age, but that doesn't make them correct on everything. St. Augustine was wiser than Luther or Calvin, and he stuck to the Apostolic teachings. He recognized the need for the authority of interpretation, because obviously if we all become our own Pope, then Jesus just becomes a sidekick rather than our master. Because of Luther's great step into the world of sola fide, and even more so from John Calvin, today in America the word Christianity means whatever you want it to mean. If you want to handle snakes and have orgies and call it Christian, who is anyone to judge? Sola scriptura! The arguments of slavery came from the anti-Catholic, heavily Protestant world of early America. How? Because you can read the Bible however you life with sola scriptura. Plus, you're saved no matter what. Today we have the sexual unravelling, which will be seen in the same way that we view 19th century horrors today. This explosion of resurrected heresies has happened because of the Reformation. A thousand denominations has helped spread the word of God, but it has also flattened the message of Jesus. The Reformation spread the word of God not like light but like butter. We are all our own authority now. Unbelievers with their doctrine of “reason alone” could not have pulled this off. Now the doctrines of the Apostles gets conflated and mashed up with every fundamentalist and Jehovah's Witness and Prosperity Gospel churches' interpretation of the Bible. Copeland and Osteen are the bad examples of faith that drive people away from faith. I try to make sure to use the word Catholic so that people know what I mean, since the word “Christianity” has been smashed into the atomic level, such that every Christian is his own authority now. What's strange about this is that the two thousand years of trying to understand the life of Christ is cast out for our own interpretation. As I've said, every age has had brilliant people, but brilliance alone is not a reason to follow someone to false teaching. Using the word Catholic ensures that most people I meet probably recoil with horror immediately. It's like a modern leprosy to those basking in the light of modern media, but given that Jesus assured us that his followers would be hated, it pretty much confirms that I'm on the right track. But there's a funny thing about that, too. People don't really hate the Church. They think they do. But they hate the cartoon version of the Church that they have in their mind, which looks like a construction paper, glue, and crayon creation from kindergarten class. This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit www.whydidpetersink.com

    Why I am Catholic (part 3): My Personal "Herschel Walker Trade"

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 5, 2023 24:23

    One day it dawned on me, after the long journey of having fallen away and then returning to the faith of a child. I made the worst trade imaginable. I had doubts about a few people and some political issues, so I ditched God. I had doubts about something of this world, so I turned away the Creator of it. I saw the faults of some human beings or current events or pain, so I decided to throw out the baby with the bathwater. After all, I wanted knowledge, so I put science in God's place. I thought I'd made a good trade. In hindsight, this is baffling to me. The Herschel Walker trade, which destroyed the Minnesota Vikings for years, was a better deal than what I got in return for my trade. Why? Because I didn't even get an aging football player, I got a false freedom and false self, or in other words, literally nothing in return. I traded wonder for nihilism. I traded mystery for a fake certainty. At least the Minnesota Vikings had that first glorious day where Herschel Walker ran for monster yardage over the Green Bay Packers, before everything fell apart. The Dallas Cowboys used the trade as the cornerstone to building one of the greatest sports dynasties in NFL history. (But enough on modern sports idolatry before I digress again, let's move on).I suddenly knew why there were two trees in the Garden of Eden. One was for knowledge, and one was for life. Somehow I made a bad choice. I passed over the “tree of life” in favor of the “tree of knowledge.” Out of the ground the LORD God made grow every tree that was delightful to look at and good for food, with the tree of life in the middle of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil…God said, “You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. From that tree you shall not eat; when you eat from it you shall die.” (Genesis 2:9-16) What a shame. To think that we were allowed to eat from the tree of life…and chose otherwise. We traded life for knowledge. This has to be one of the worst trades in history. The “tree of life” and the “bread of life” seemed to leap out at me from Genesis and the Gospel. It's like we were given a second chance at life. We were shown a way back to that first Fall, where a new choice could be made by each person, and not just Adam. Once again, we could choose. We could trade that Bread of Life. Or we could believe. We could eat it, and believe it, and live. That is exactly why the world caught fire with faith in Jesus. He brought back the tree of life, and, oddly, he was the fruit. He offers a new life, and I'm using the present tense on purpose. The presence of a living God is the only one that makes a difference, because a living God can be known and interacted with. A relationship can be formed. Once that occurs, every single instant of your life then changes, because once you believe and eat the Bread of Life, every decision matters and you are no longer just a mind, or just a soul, or just a body (a clump of cells). You are fully alive, activated and full of meaning. You get to undo your personal Herschel Walker trade that the Minnesota Vikings never could! Clearly the message of Jesus has a staying power unlike anything else, and it's because of this discovery, this re-do, this leveling-up. With the Enlightenment, the focus on the human, rather than the divine, took giant leaps forward, in revolt against that strange success of Christianity, which had produced the world's greatest art, music, and architecture. Collectively we've chose the tree of knowledge over faith. Faith leads to life, and knowledge leads to the enslavement by our desires. Like most things, success leads to pride and corruption. Familiarly breeds contempt. The message of Christ became so familiar that it bored us, I suppose, so we sought knowledge. Seeing bad examples of Christians flattened out the message. Seeing hypocrites preach morality extracted the gunpowder from the cannon. It's no wonder that God says, “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.” (Rev 3:15-16) Just as lukewarm coffee lacks it's reason for existence, so does the Church. The joy of discovering this source of life cannot be served lukewarm. Given that human beings have always made up the Church's body, it's no surprise that pride, envy, greed, lust, and such things infected the Church whenever it came too close to power. Also, these things invaded whenever the church became undemanding of its followers. No one really wants an undemanding Catholicism. It's ridiculous to watch if it's not demanding. It's sad to observe the lukewarm Catholic who is indifferent to the Eucharist, indifferent to Confession, indifferent to the Resurrection. But it is a thing of beauty and joy to see humble man or woman living in observance, who approaches the faith with reverence, obedience, and the faith of a child. If you don't believe me, you probably haven't met any yet. These people do exist, and the joy is real.There is nothing appealing at all of a Church with drunk, horny, and obese followers who live a life of debauchery while they store up treasures on earth. I'm sorry if that sounds crude. There is great appeal, however, to a Church where the rich and poor worship side by side, who fast and pray, who believe in chastity, and who stand equally in line for Confession and the Eucharist. There is great appeal where there are joyful believers working for the kingdom of God, even when - especially when - they realize that their efforts are pitiful compared to what God can do. That is why you have the repeated cycle of reformers like St. Benedict and St. Anthony of Egypt, and a thousand others, who retreat to a desert or a cave or a monastery to start over. When the culture and the Church turn away from God, God calls his sheep and they hear his voice. The message gets lost in the culture and needs a reset button to return it to what made it grow in the first place, and that is the demands of orthodoxy that led nearly every Apostle to a brutal end. Once I started to read more from the early era of Christianity, it became clear that what I had known as Christianity did not match up. Not at all. Later, I found that these people still exist - quite a few of them, I just hadn't met them yet. The undemanding faith I observed around me was not what the early church taught or experienced. In addition, I learned that this idealized world of Greece and Rome was left behind for a reason. There was nothing ideal about the pre-Christian world. It was a brutal slugfest of might-makes-right. Something better had been found in the Trinitarian God, in Jesus, than that of the serial rapist god named Zeus, who was a useless fertility storm-god. The will-to-power, that awful idea that German philosophers resurrected from the past, was not just a bad product that the Romans were pitching, it was a bad product in every age, wherever it was applied. The will-to-power is always pitched as a solution to our problems, as if it would get our dishes clean, but it's not a solution at all, it's a pure acid that eats through whatever it touches. Other religions in the ancient world didn't offer anything close to what Jesus did. The same goes for our modern religions. The reason Jesus won over the world is because he has a far better story than Buddhism, Islam, humanism or anything else. But it's much more than a pitch or a product. He, himself, is the product. He is way, the truth, and the life. That is what is so radically strange about Jesus. That is the whole point of every article on this site/podcast. It's just so odd, all of it. The pitch, the demo, the purchase, the application, the usage, and the result. All of it is strange. And all of it works as advertised. It does everything. It just works. What else can I say? He is The Way. In his person is the Truth. Through him we get new Life. (Sorry Mandalorian fans, Jesus was referred to as “The Way” long before Disney tried to make it a Star Wars thing, with proof in Acts 9:2; 19:9, 23; 22:4; 24:14, 22. But, then again, cultural appropriation and fake plastic faces is Disney's whole game, so nothing to see here…moving on.)In the last few centuries, we were fish swimming in a water called Christendom. We've taken for granted that our current ideas sprung to life out of the Renaissance or the Romantics or modern science. But it's actually the opposite. All of those things only sprung forth because they drank from the river of life. Our modern ideas could have only come to life in the world that Christianity created. We look at the flaws and call it ugly, without realizing how far we have come. Worse, we look at the flaws and lump all Christian actions over the last 500 years into a blob called “Christianity” when there were clearly denominations poisoning the well. We pretend that faithfulness in relationships, helping foreigners, building hospitals, educating youth, being humble, and loving your neighbors came about in spite of Christianity. But the truth is that none of these things existed in the ancient world because of the lack of Christianity. All of the things we celebrate as fruits of modernity only exist because Jesus came here to show us how to live, and inspired joy in millions of his followers to love their wives, to pray for enemies, to heal the sick, and feed the poor. None of those things came about from any other ideology, except for Judaism. The reason people hate reading the Old Testament is because they think the laws of Israel were brutal and cruel, but in reality they were by far the most humane in the ancient world, not only to women, but also widows, orphans, and foreigners. And Jesus put all that in hyperdrive as he corrected and encouraged all of the good things that modern atheists and agnostics assume came from Enlightenment thinkers. Taking this Christendom for granted has brought us to a strange place, where we speak like Puritans but sin like Samson. We want our world to be like Burger King, where their slogan is, “Have it your way.” But there is only one king, even over Burger King, who I now consider to be as significant as any other President or Prime Minister. The real King is the one who created Burger King and every other atom in this universe. While we swim in the waters of Christendom, we have started to deny there is water. First, the mistake of “faith alone” clipped the wings of authentic body and soul Christianity, and now even Faith itself has became the taboo, as many have switched over to “sola ratio,” or “Reason alone.” That is the new sola that our age manufactured. We are like goldfish speaking with our mouths full of water and pretending there is no such thing as water. Faith cannot be admitted, not at work, not at school, not in polite company. Why? Because it means signing our names to superstition and belief in the supernatural. No, we can't do that. That would be a betrayal of modernity, where psychology and sociology has all the answers, as long as you're willing to take enough pills and shell out for therapy and adhere to corporate human resources doctrine. Admitting you believe in ghosts and spirits and the Devil is social suicide. Death is, once again, something to fear and by reason alone we must stave off that monster. We made a crappy trade. Because death no longer brought fear. We only have this life in the “reason alone” worldview, thus we have to save ourselves. It's always the same problem. Control. We want control, because we can't surrender to God and trust in the promises of Christ. That is the Herschel Walker trade. We choose knowledge and this life instead of trusting in God, instead of moving back toward the tree of eternal life. I fell for all the modern fruit. The sales pitch and demo really took me in, and I bought the product. I presumed that everyone from the year 30 A.D. and onward, until we finally got to the Renaissance and Voltaire and Newton and Martin Luther, was little more than a God-fearing idiot under the cruel yoke of power-hungry Popes and bully Kings. Now, that is not entirely untrue. Corrupt Popes and Christian kings certainly existed, and will exist again. They are human beings. The falls in the Church have been significant and should not be swept under a rug, ever, as the Church must be held to a higher standard because it is the Body of Christ in this world. The failings of individuals and leaders come as no surprise, however, at least if you understand what “The Fall of Man” actually means. Most people don't today, as groupings of people get assigned flaws like elitist, racist, ignorant, hateful. The not-so-hidden secret of Original Sin is that everyone has it. All humans have flaws. All people abuse power. All people find scapegoats and cheerleaders, and the only person that didn't was Jesus, so we try to imitate him. Some, or many, have used God as a means to malicious ends. I'm talking about the televangelists and charlatans that prey on souls under the guise of Christianity. But that doesn't negate the reason for faith. God exists whether or not someone commits a crime or has a flaw that we don't appreciate. That's where we make the bad trade. A clerk who steals from the cash register doesn't mean we have to burn the whole store down. Or for a more crude example, a pimple on a nose doesn't mean the nose should be cut off, or that all noses should be removed because they may get a pimple. The faith and morals of the church still stand, and are true. They are right and just. Time does not alter these truths. What the Church lays out as the guidance on faith and morals remains true, and for those angry about the Church's position on these matters, the Pope and the priests are simply echoing the words of Jesus and the tradition of the Apostles. Everyone likes Jesus, as long as he doesn't demand anything from them. But he does demand action from us. Popular opinion does not alter these truths. No matter what modern French philosophers and internet influencers tell you, the purpose of sex is to create children, and marriage is a divine Sacrament. If you believe Jesus is the son of God, fully divine, and fully human, you have to actually read the words that he says and not invent interpretations. Jesus and the Apostles took care of that for us. The urge to twist and manipulate the words only happens because we want to sin. Those who dispute what the Gospel says, and the Apostolic interpretation of it, they will all be forgotten within a century. Maybe one or two names will stick around, but all of the noise is much ado about nothing. If you find your way through the multi-media mine field to the truth, and see Christ as God, then all of the hubbub no longer matters. But the reality is that God will find you, and if you are a seeker of truth, and I believe many atheists and agnostics are exactly that, if they read the Gospel with an open mind and heart, and ask for willingness to be willing, God will call to them. But it requires action on our part to cooperate with God's grace. We are the ones that must lay our guns on the table, and undress, and turn to face God, full naked, flaws and all. Of course, we will all be judged within a century, and God will take care of the judging. I am as concerned for myself as any atheist, due to many sins committed, and even confessed some still linger and bother me. While the Sacrament assures me those things are forgiven, I believe that the effect of those sins still dart about the world, for which I will be purified “to the last penny” in purgatory (see Mt 5:26). This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit www.whydidpetersink.com

    Why I am Catholic (part 2): We Didn't Start the Fire

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 5, 2023 22:01

    One great thing about our age is that humanism and scientism have sown the seeds for the return of faith. Let me explain. One of the mantras of modern education, especially in America, is: “Question Everything.” This has become a commandment, right after the first commandment of “Believe in Yourself.” Surely, the first commandment of modernity is “Thou shalt have no gods before Thy Self.” Through life experience, study, and observing others who follow this commandment, who believe in themselves, I have found this first modern commandment to be a tragic falsehood. Twenty years of personal research proved it to me. I really, really tested that commandment, and believing in myself led to every one of my problems. So that one had to go. But the second commandment of “Question Everything” remained stuck in my head for a while, and since God gave us brains to use, I did. Instead of subscribing to what academics and celebrities said, I started looking beyond what had been spoon-fed to me my whole life, starting with the history of the early Church. Reading material from the early Church is extremely enlightening, much more than anything I learned from the Enlightenment thinkers. In fact, because the first commandment of our time is false, this second commandment of questioning all that we know, led me right back to questioning all of the things I learned from teachers, professors, television, and even coaches. The funny thing about commandments is that there is an order to them, and badly ordered commandments make the whole structure crumble. Growing up, we are forced to listen to the sales pitch and watch the demo for the product that educators and screen magicians want us to buy. All children must go through this, even through their college years, and the aim is like any other sales pitch: to conform our minds and thoughts and ideas to the pitch and the demo. The Church once held this role of indoctrination of children, but the government took it over, really wresting it away from believers entirely, and making sure that anyone with faith was locked out of the school building. The new sheriff in town didn't believe, and it was imperative that parents or children that did believe, keep quiet about it, and like every modern HR department, the order to “shutup” is done using a very honeyed voice, with sugary arguments and niceties. However, the result is the same as if a drill sergeant has shouted it in your face. You are not to discuss faith, because the supernatural is not real, and speaking of such things will not be tolerated - not in public schools! The reason for the shunning of the supernatural is because that product has attributes that the school's product lacks. That product may appeal and detract from the mainstream sales pitch and demo. In the sales world, salespeople study “kill sheets” which is a list of arguments to kill questions about a competitor's product. I've seen these kill sheets and added notes to them, about why my company's products are superior, and that choosing the other company's product surely leads to the road to ruin. This is basically how apologetics works for Christians, Protestants, and atheists as well, where one side has it's “kill sheets” when someone starts suggesting another option, like for example, “What about Mormonism? I've heard that's good.” The salesperson goes to his kill sheet and says, “Yes, that is an option. Here's fifteen reasons why it's not for you.”The point of having a public education is supposed to be about enabling a workforce to build a strong nation. But it's become more about buying the school's product. As I said in a long post before, you will be indoctrinated to something. That is unavoidable. Moreover, after your indoctrination is complete, much of your life will be figuring it out and wondering if what you were indoctrinated into is the actual truth. Most people will never even learn how far down the indoctrination rabbit-hole they are, unless they turn off their devices and take a hard look back at the guidance they received. In case you are unaware, the purpose of the devices and the dancing images is precisely so that you do not begin to ask those questions. The commandment of “Believe in yourself” precludes the second commandment of “Question Everything” if in your questioning you come to question the first commandment. This is kind of like Isaac Asimov's laws of robotics. First LawA robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.Second LawA robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. Likewise, in the laws of modern indoctrination, since the human self is a god, questioning everything is permitted, so long as questioning the principle of “Self as god” is not questioned. There is even a third law, which I have to marvel at. Asimov was an atheist, and he kind of nailed the worldview that I was taught. Third LawA robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.In these laws, a human is sacred and the robot is a slave. The sacred thing must be protected at all costs, even if suicide of the slave is needed. Finally, obedience to all orders from the sacred things must be followed. Likewise, the first commandment of the “Self is god” is unassailable by the lesser laws, such as “Question Everything.” The goal of any indoctrination is to build a wall around you, so that you become a disciple who will not even consider other products. Because if you buy the product that the pitch and demo are indoctrinating you into, you will use it for the rest of your life. If you believe that the Self is a god, then the hope is that you will stick with that idea for the rest of your life. It's pitched to us as the only option, like fear-based advertising for life insurance. “Believe in yourself” is pitched in the same way that a salesman will suggest that there's nothing else in the warehouse and this is the only one in stock, so you'd better take it; and that the other models have been discontinued and are all recalled as defective. That is exactly the message taught about Catholicism - that it's no longer for sale, because it stopped working for people. The odd thing about Catholicism is that it was never pitched or demonstrated in the same way to me. There is no smoke and mirrors, even if there is incense sometimes at Mass. It's all laid out in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the Church doors are often not even locked, even when no one is around. It was the opposite of robotic. There was nothing coercive about it. There is not even any trickery. It's not a car that is being sold, it's something different. It's not my “Self” being sold to me, it's bigger. To be human, "man's response to God by faith must be free, and. . . therefore nobody is to be forced to embrace the faith against his will. The act of faith is of its very nature a free act." "God calls men to serve him in spirit and in truth. Consequently they are bound to him in conscience, but not coerced. . . This fact received its fullest manifestation in Christ Jesus." Indeed, Christ invited people to faith and conversion, but never coerced them. "For he bore witness to the truth but refused to use force to impose it on those who spoke against it. His kingdom. . . grows by the love with which Christ, lifted up on the cross, draws men to himself." (CCC 160)So once I bought the product of the “Self,” after high school and college the product, I had to put that product into usage. I suppose I knew early on that the product from the pitch and the demo wasn't working very well, but teachers and elders and newsmen and movie stars kept assuring me that this was the way. Perhaps I was just using the product incorrectly. I just wasn't believing in myself enough. Quite honestly, everything did go well for me, but luckily I had one glaring flaw in alcohol usage that revealed to me the gaping hole in my indoctrination of the “Self as god.”Once the professors faded away, and I finally started to turn off the screens around me, the product I had bought proved to be a real lemon. For all of us, life is the proving ground. Life is not a book or a lab experiment or a demonstration. It is real. Bad ideas and bad patterns of living surface eventually. They cannot be hidden forever. No matter how shiny, no matter how many people are nodding at you in assurance, a bad product tattles on itself. When you go to use the product that promised strength and direction on a dark and cold night, and it doesn't work, you know the truth because you are sitting in the dark and cold, and the “Self as god” can do nothing. The Self proves to be a useless god.But it wasn't only personal experience that showed the broken springs in the lessons of humanism and scientism. The problems were everywhere. I actually tried to ignore the obvious problems, because I wanted to believe my indoctrination. But observing macro issues happening in the wider world, which seemed to mirror my personal micro-revelations, I saw the same gaping hole happening on a larger scale that I discovered on the dark and cold night . Many of our current problems, particularly the threat of nuclear war, the disintegration of the family, the numerous eco-disasters, and the Covid virus itself, are a direct result of our choosing the way of Prometheus over the way of Christ. (Yes, I for one am done pretending that the virus didn't come from a lab. That “wet market” pitch didn't win me over from the start.) There was no doubt that a free-will choice happened before I was born, on a national scale. I use the Atom Bomb as a point of inflection. It's a fine explosion to mark the change in direction, where technology became a god to us. Honestly, I think the fire started much earlier, even way before 1776. The explosion happened when we ate the apple or separated from apes - however you want to interpret it, the difference between animals and humans is clear, and the “Fall of Man” is the best answer available. You can deny God all you like. The fact of sin remains, and is truly the one provable fact in Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. There was a Fall. Something is wrong with humans. Everyone has a flaw, a struggle, a dysfunction. Even Billy Joel acknowledges this in his history lesson called, We Didn't Start the Fire. So who did start the fire? Prometheus did. Or he is the one of the stories we use for where our problems came from. Sometimes his theft is portrayed as good thing. He was the ancient symbol of technology and human advancement. In the Bible, it's Cain, whose descendants built the first city and weapons. Both of these guys believed in themselves. When he chose to steal the fire from the gods, Prometheus certainly believed in himself. He may have even questioned why he shouldn't have fire. Oddly enough, questioning everything is exactly how the serpent in the garden lured Eve into eating from the forbidden tree. And even if Prometheus' intentions were good (I'm unconvinced), those scientists in Los Alamos who tinkered with physics to produce the atom bomb also believed they had good intentions. But like Prometheus, what was loosed into the world led to far greater problems, the biggest of which was fear and doubt. Fear and doubt lead to disenchantment. Fear of man overtakes fear of God. Doubt over God leads to faith in the self, or groupings of selves that will remove the fear. That was the mistake. And it's a huge error. It's the error that leads to all others. Jesus said, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Mt 10:28) The mantra of “Self as god” and “Question Everything” gets its wings in every age, just as surrender to Christ does. Affluence doesn't save you from fear. Pleasure doesn't either. Power? Not even close. If you have power, you are more fearful than the person with nothing. Because with the atom bomb, the United States had found power. But so did others, and it led to a fearful era in the fifties, leading to the hedonism of the sixties, the aimlessness of the seventies, the greed of the eighties, the nihilism of the nineties, and the internet age of narcissism and isolation today. And now we need a way out. We've painted ourselves into a corner, a lonely corner, where the light of our device only lasts as long as the battery. Technology went into hyperdrive and the message of the “Self as god” became louder and louder, because the technology carried the message, suggesting it at every waking moment, asking us the whole time the classic phrases from Genesis 3: “Did God really say that? Are you sure God said that?” and “He just doesn't want you to become like him.” Thus came the long march to meaninglessness that Nietzsche and Camus and Sartre and other philosophers saw coming. Meaninglessness is simple to explain. It's Godlessness. Meaninglessness happens because the Self is not a real god. It's a fake. The funny thing, however, of all this messaging and indoctrination is this: questioning everything is exactly what will lead you right back to the truth, and that truth is God. The truth is that the self is not-God. As the saying goes, the farther you run from God, the more likely you'll run right into the arms of God. The goals of the Renaissance, in its attempt to re-invigorate the world and ideas of classical Greece and Rome, were human-focused rejections of the long, successful, sustainable journey of Christianity through almost every culture in the world. The success of Christianity is hard to fathom or explain, given what it appears to offer externally, which is self-denial and humility. Its great sales pitch was the life of Christ and the demonstrations came through martyrdoms, which hardly seem appealing to humans who shun any and all discomfort and pain. Yet it drew people to Jesus. Self-denial instead of self-determination drew people in droves, because they saw something worth living for, and death, the great fear, no longer mattered because something greater was being given to all. This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit www.whydidpetersink.com

    Why I am Catholic (part 1): Guilt is Not a Doctrine

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 5, 2023 24:21

    I bought into a kind of mentality for a few decades where I would shake my head at the portrait of the faithful Christians as a bunch of superstitious, inbred fools. For quite some time, I could not revert to belief, because it meant letting go of many of my assumptions and biases. I wanted certainty. I had ingested from years of education, television, and gobs of self-help new-age fluff. Having lived some forty years, it became increasingly clear that a long campaign to bash and re-write Christian history has been the motive of many of my educators and most of the media that I've consumed. There was a clear villain, especially in public school and (oddly enough) the Catholic university I attended for one year before transferring to a public university. I lost my faith at a Catholic university. Today I feel like I paid $14,000 in my freshman year to have my soul amputated, which was an unexpected surgery. The enemy in classrooms was the Church. It wasn't always said directly, and was often more like a flank attack on every single teaching of the Church. But behind the “teachings” was always the Catholic Church. I put “teachings” in quotes because most of what I was taught turned out to be very loose on details and often directly dishonest. The accusation was not always made directly at the Church, but when the direct inverse of faith and morals was being taught, the wind from my professors, which I was paying for, was set on full sail toward anti-religion. Honestly, I have to wonder for a few if it wasn't kind of a thrill to teach history or philosophy at a Catholic university and actively try to kill a student's faith. Everything that the Church held sacred was discarded, and seemed almost a part of the core curriculum, literally, on nearly every doctrine of faith and morals. This may sound like exaggeration, but if I have enough time I will go into it further, and I have covered it in some degree in prior posts. Obviously it wasn't only the college experience, but television and the internet as well, and my own need to rebel and get buck-wild as much as possible, from Thursday to Sunday night if I could swing it. Four dollars bought a plastic cup at “all you can drink” house-parties, and with a fake ID, three beers for a buck at the bars. I could get hammered on the cheap. I took school seriously, but the extra-curricular of drinking was a close second. I often wonder why I even went to college because I could have learned to program and code myself, but instead I paid a lot of money to read books (that I could have read at home) and lost my faith and meaning in life. But I do love learning and reading, so I lapped it up, but the fruit of my education was full of worms for a long, long time, until I finally slipped on my own rotten banana peel and hit bottom.Somehow I was seeking answers and oblivion at the same time, and by the end of my freshman year, I had all the answers I needed. There was no God. Jesus was just a human teacher, like Buddha, or Bill Nye. The divine never broke through into our world. Miracles were ludicrous. The universe has always existed, and evolution explains it all. Now it was time for Metallica and shots of Blue 100 and Aftershock, Jag-bombs, straight whiskey. Eat, drink, and get wrecked, for tomorrow we die! Oh - and make money. Everyone assured me that money was very important, and that my American pursuit of happiness really, really needed money. So I really only saw oblivion and self-determination as the road ahead to any kind of meaning. And that is how I purchased the product that the culture and college were selling. There was a sales pitch happening with much fanfare and intellectualizing and it felt a lot like how I came to take my first drink, which was by peer pressure and wanting to be cool and counter-cultural. While the cheerleaders of the modern world assured me that “justification by STEM alone” and the unending song of “Believe in yourself” promised a glorious future kingdom on earth, the progress toward the utopia, whether by science, humanism, capitalism or socialism, didn't match the sales pitch. In the end, the shiny product I bought to be cool turned out to be Ford Pinto that exploded when life rear-ended it. When you are selling a product, you craft a story. This is critical in sales, and academics and business people have gone to great lengths to craft and hone their tales, and if you don't think so, if you turn on a radio, TV, or open your phone, within seconds you will be ingesting a crafted story, professionally made just for your eyes, ears, tongue, and stomach to desire. However, the crafted sales pitch is only one-third of making a sale. The second part is the demonstration, and the third part is proving it. Now, a “demo” can be every bit of smoke and mirrors as the pitch, and often is. For a company I once worked for, I was tasked with creating a “demonstration” for a keynote speaker for our companies largest annual event. To show how great our software was, we created an app that showed meters and gauges wobbling and measuring temperature and wind speed. It looked amazing, useful, cutting-edge. And it was all fake. We used fake data and the app was connected to no real world hardware, no wires, no live data. For another demo, I had to create a long series of click-through screens to show how well our product worked, with transitions to mimic a mouse click, so that the presenter could appear to be using the actual app. But there was no app. It was all just images appearing to look like the application. The demo was a magic trick. But it looked good. When a keynote speech is delivered, nothing can go wrong in the slides or demonstration. That was made clear to me, hence the need for the fake app and the click-through images. Nothing could go wrong. Even with the fake data, I was assured that if the demo errored or failed somehow, I would be looking for a new job. When I left that company, I joined one that didn't play the same games and it felt much more authentic, because we were showing and selling the actual product, without smoke and mirrors, or as little smoke and mirrors as possible. Customers appreciated this. Employees appreciated this. Being a “demo-dawg” means having to dance in front of the customer, but it's far more enjoyable when what you are showing actually exists and if it fails, you speak honestly about the problem. Authenticity: that is what people really want today, but the smoke-and-mirrors of the screens attract us like moths to the bug zapper. The third part of selling is the proof that it works. This is of course the most important part of all, because repeat sales do not happen with this piece, because in the end it's the only thing that really matters. A good salesperson can sell a piece a junk one time, but then he had better move on to the next town, because the jig is up when the product fails. Charlatans get caught, because reality always test and proves out the claims of both the story pitch and the demonstration. Remember the old Castrol GTX oil commercials? They showed engines running at high RPMs with a low quality oil. Of course, the engine with the lesser oil seized up in a dramatic clunk (while an engine with Castrol oil clearly would have kept hammering the piston like a sewing machine). The story was that Castrol protected your engine “from viscosity and thermal breakdown", which turned on every car guy and armchair engineer, and presumably even men who had no idea what those terms meant. (These were shown during NFL football games, as the target audience was men and boys who liked gladiator games and powerful engines as a substitute for their own insecurities and feelings of powerlessness…but I digress.) The demonstration in the commercial recorded engine breakdown at high RPMs, which made for a compelling story for the Castrol claim, which was: “Our oil is high quality and performs under pressure.” But the real test was always in the real world, not the advertisement or the demo. No one knows what engine was used, or if the gauges were even real. In other words, to keep selling a product, there has to be something more than words, more than just the demo. It must actually do what is promised. Marketing acts as the prophet, demonstrators (a.k.a. “demo-dawgs”) perform the sign, and the usage is the proof, the fulfillment of the prophecy. If the ball is dropped anywhere along the way through this gauntlet of sales, you don't make the second sale. Sure, for a while you can fool people, because companies can and do step up their marketing and sales games, but it cannot last forever. The cracks eventually show. We consumers may be stupid, but we are not completely stupid. Sometimes a failed idea that sold well can even take a few centuries to play out, as the marketing story sounds so good you just can't believe your eyes that it failed. (Here I am alluding directly to the stories and pitches of Karl Marx, the absurd demonstrations of Potemkin Villages, and the proof of the utter and complete failures of organizing a society around anything that even touches his ideas. Yet, we want to try it again…but I digress.) We are seeing the cracks today in four ideas that have dominated the past two centuries: socialism, capitalism, humanism, and scientism. All four of these, in their actual testing, have proven flawed beyond repair. The reason is simple. They all push God off the stage so that the sacred Self can be the center of all things. That alone is the flaw. These ideas in these ideologies alone are not bad, but anything that fails to include God as the highest good will fall into disorder. There is no other way. Order and disorder come from a cosmic, theological law of spirituality. There are laws of physics, yes. Then there are the higher laws: the laws of spirits. God is the author of life, of this book, so he chooses the ending, and any mere mortal that fails to follow the Greeks advice to “Know thyself” is writing himself clear out of the book. Knowing thyself means knowing humility before God, and as I've said before, most people don't seem to have a problem with that idea. Humility before God and thanksgiving to God is the point of religion, the purpose of all prayer, but we so easily forget that. Most people today would say I'm wrong. They would say that the one thing that has proven flawed is Catholicism. It's backwards, they say, forgetting that universities and hospitals came to be without it. It's sexist, they say, ignoring that women make up more of the Church and had more to do with starting the Church than any other religion in history. It's racist, they say, while it is in every country with every type of person imaginable who join together daily worldwide for Mass. They accuse it of many things. Its enemies are everywhere. But what I've come to learn is that few people, not even most Catholics, understand Catholicism very well. Much of what is known covers only the scandals of the church itself, which it certainly has its share of. Most people think it's just a list of rules, for a bunch of guilt-ridden fools. But by far the most divisive and false beliefs about the Church come from active campaigns of misinformation, libel, and slander. And lastly, millions of fallen away Catholics had a bad example as their icon of faith, who screamed and hollered and obviously misunderstood the whole thing, too. The common chorus is “I am a victim of Catholic Guilt.” Dear readers: Catholic guilt is not a doctrine of the Church. Joy, however, is. What a shame that no one knows this. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the word guilt appears four times. The word joy appears forty-six times. Something has been lost, or misinterpreted, in the translation and delivery of the Church teaching. Here's my point: no one ever built a cathedral out of guilt. No one ever did the unnecessary toil of lugging massive amounts of stone across the ground in order to hang up a set of rules on the wall. No one built statues or made sacred art or wrote hymns because of their guilt. All of these things were done for the joy that Christ gives to his followers. This association of guilt with the Church is the greatest tragedy of modern times, because it's so utterly incorrect, and it is largely a manufactured fib that has now been passed down generations. People who treat the faith like just another Elk's Club or Costco membership have completely missed the point. Costco followers have not yet built a Notre Dame or Salamanca Cathedral. It's far more than an identity, it's salvation, rest, peace, joy. (And by the way, feeling guilty is the correct emotion if you did do something wrong. It's appropriate. But if that's all you learned about Catholicism, you know nothing, just as I did not.)Now what floors me, over and over, as you comb through the history of the Church, is that through all of the persecutions and attempts to stifle it, it does not die. It returns. This is maddening to its enemies. Every earthly kingdom that has put resources into destroying it, whether by sword or tongue (which are often used as synonyms) have failed to complete the job. Why? How can the nearly unlimited resources of emperors and kings, with their armies of soldiers and intellectuals, fail to destroy the Body of Christ? I can tell you why. It's because they already tried it once on the Cross, and the same resurrection that happened with Jesus happens with those that he calls. It cannot be killed. But why? The reason is joy. The reason is that once you are lost and found again, the joy cannot be replaced by anything else in this world. For those who God calls, there is no replacement, no backup plan, no second option. All of what was desired before becomes absurd once Jesus finds his chosen followers. The question of “why?” doesn't have an answer beyond “joy.” The rest is the mystery, and the mystery is glorious.So the reason that it has lasted is because orthodox Christianity is the one thing that has worked for bringing joy to the world. It has worked for 2,000 years. It will work for as long as God keeps our story in the Messianic Age that we are now in, the third act, as we await the return. It has been proven to work. This is the product that has reviews from every generation, shouting that “This Jesus really does what he promises!” Tested repeatedly through the centuries, the results show through clearly. For those announcing its demise today, they will be disappointed just as every other group or king that tried to kill it by violence, propaganda, mockery, and indifference, and there have been many: Napoleon, Nero, Diocletian, Julian the Apostate, Suleyman, the Vandals, the Ostrogoths, the Visigoths, the Vikings, Henry VIII, Marx, Stalin, Lenin, Pol Pot, Hitler, Mao, Robespierre, and even Thomas Jefferson. That's just a short list of names. Christianity has been pronounced dead before. During the siege of Constantinople (A.D. 674–678), some were crying that the last days of Christian Rome had come, and that the armies of the Prophet would soon wipe out Christendom, as they had already destroyed Sasanian Persia and its ancient religion. In the thirteenth century, as Machiavelli observed, trust in the Catholic Church, mired as it then was in corruption and infested with heretics, only survived thanks to the holiness of Sts. Francis and Dominic. Prognosticators foresaw the collapse of Christian Europe after the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453, but two centuries later, following the Battle of Vienna in 1683, it was the Turks who were driven out of Europe. The French Revolution tried to de-Christianize France, but that campaign lasted less than a dozen years. (First Things)Nothing lasts like faith in Jesus. We know this God can't be killed. From history alone we know this is a fact. From the Cross to the tomb, we know this. It is a repeated and ever-present truth of The Way, with the uncomfortable reality being that Jesus isn't dead. God is a living God. So even though many today like to point to the flaws alone, the scandals, and call that the totality of Catholicism, there is something far more going on. At some point it doesn't even make sense that this thing would continue given all of the energy put forth to snuff it out. If that seems like I'm generalizing, read about the martyrs and the saints. Read about how the Church nearly died, time and again, only to re-emerge again. In real time today, I'm witnessing the onslaught of the world against the Church, from professors to internet atheists to national governments, all who go out of their way to attack and blame Christianity for all the world's ills. It almost feels like a game, or a joke, as the blame and accusations pile up. At some point, when considering it all, I even laugh, because the dogpile is so uneven and absurd. And that absurd imbalance leads to questions, as the resilience of this Church surpasses any other institution in human history. The big question that began to stick out like a sore thumb had less to do with the Church than with its enemies. The more you see a someone or something being attacked, the more you start to wonder about the attackers. This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit www.whydidpetersink.com

    We Want the Wrong Things

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 22, 2022 24:19

    People today believe that Christianity is being put back into its cage. That it's being snuffed out. But what those poor folks don't realize is how the release of the old pluralistic religions into the world, like that of Rome in the first century, is creating the exact same conditions that allowed Christianity to take hold and win hearts in the first place. What kind of world do we imagine the twelve apostles woke up in each morning? There wasn't even a single church for them to go to. They had nothing but the life and words of Jesus, and even that wasn't written down yet. They didn't have pamphlets to hand out or crosses to give away. They only had faith that Jesus was God, and with a rudimentary liturgy from the Last Supper, they built the church from that. They lived among the most hostile of worlds to the idea they were selling. It inverted everything that the Romans and Jews and every other culture held as truth. Yet the message of “Surrender your life to the crucified Christ, the humble carpenter, and you will find peace!” took the world by storm. For the apostles, there wasn't even so much as an Adoration Chapel to find refuge in, unless you count the Upper Room where they huddled in fear until Pentecost. Those who wish for the death of the Christian faith or the Catholic Church may be in for a rude awakening when the conditions are re-created so that this dynamite can erupt once again. The watered-down, lukewarm, stale versions of Christianity has turned people off, as familiarity breeds contempt. The merger of worldly desires with the goals of Christianity has repulsed people. But the more that we retreat from the ideas that Jesus brought to us, we will begin to realize what we had, and what we lost, and why it won so many hearts and minds in the first place. The Way, as it was originally called, long before it was called Christianity, was a life of total surrender to Christ; to Jesus himself, the risen and glorified God-man. The Way, long before the Mandalorian borrowed that noun, meant abandoning all possessions and goals and desires to be reborn in life through Christ. As we separate into our homes, hovering over our devices, in isolation, the communities of real people that form around Christ and his Church will once again remind us how his victory was achieved without sending down fire from heaven. That's the freedom that Christ gives. That's the relationships that he creates. That's the whole secret. And that's the recipe that has been put into storage and is waiting to be re-introduced, and will be in spectacular fashion once the “Big Empty” of this world's pleasures becomes felt again. As it was in the first century, so shall it be again. I've said it more than once on this site but I'll say it again. We are lost in the morass of modern desires because of a simple fact:We want the wrong things. In this age of comfort we have the extreme luxury of being able to assume that we are in charge, that we humans don't need a healer or savior. However, anyone who has gotten drunk a thousand times trying to find heaven can tell you (pick me!) that the next thousand times turns into hell. The same goes for sex or anything else, because the initial high wears off and the addiction takes you by the throat. We may not need a cataclysm to find the need for God, but we will have signs along the way even in days of comfort. One sure fire way to remove all doubt of our need for God is when food prices triple and fuel runs out. Then we may be reminded of what the pre-Christian world was like, and what type of people and powers occupied it. Affluence can provide a mask of control over our affairs, when in reality we are just a few weeks of broken supply-chain away from total desperation. Even without something dramatic we will find the same conclusion. We control nothing in the end. There are two great tests in life. One is not getting what you want, and the other is getting what you want. For those of us who have lived in the West our entire lives, we don't know what it means to live in a fully godless society, but we should remain under no illusion that our chance to learn isn't nearing. Within the last century, Mexico and Russia have had extermination campaigns to kill off every priest in the land, and both have failed. This has happened before. It has happened in all of Europe during the early centuries of Christianity. It has happened in Japan. Priests are getting killed every week in Nigeria even today. There are thousands of pages of martyr stories from every corner and country in the world. It is happening now in Nicaragua. It will most certainly happen in America at some point. Rest assured, there is a new Miguel Pro right now, already born today in one of the fifty states. There is a St. Lawrence and a St. Joan of Arc, already attending faith formation classes somewhere. They are out there, praying, on their journey toward God. St. Paul went to Athens, the place of sophisticated non-believers, and stood on the Areopagus long ago, but we are reaching a point where it will happen again, because most people today don't even know the story of Jesus. We are traveling backward in time. Few kids today could tell you who Moses or David was or why their names are known. This whole yo-yo effect nearly has a Big Bang feel to it, like how the universe is said to expand and contract. It's like there is a parallel in human history, as the expansion of sin ran amok from Adam to Noah, then contracted in the Flood. Then sin expanded again, from Babylon through Rome, and then contracted once Christ's message was rolled into the cosmos from the center-point of the ancient world in Jerusalem. The false religions started backpedaling into hiding. And today, as promised by Jesus, the devil would be let free for awhile and sin would seem to rule. The devil has been released for his time, and clearly the twentieth century was part of his allowance. If you don't believe the message of Christ is divinely inspired, then you have to at least consider the fact that the story of Christ is far more compelling to people than that of Zeus or Wicca or the other stories of supernatural explanations. The fact is that Christianity has a far better story, even if you don't believe in supernatural things. We have just stopped telling the story because many of the tellers can't separate themselves from the Word of God. The reason the message is diluted is because you have everyone claiming the message and welding their favorite sin onto the message, whether it be love of money or sexual sin. We are lacking heroes and authentic lives. We don't yet have our St. Benedict or St. Sixtus or St. Anthony of Egypt. But that person will arrive. The false prophets are loud, but they will fade away. And even if they continue to make noise and draw followers, the way of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving is already known to those who seek to follow Him. People have forgotten that demons exist. Now we are emboldened by a false sense of security, as the chaos of the world seems gone. We can walk into dark basements and tell ourselves that no monsters exist. Feeling so bold, we have even started seeking out those demons once again. But we are only bold because we know the light switch is near. The comfort of technology and electricity acts as a security blanket. After all, monsters aren't real, or so we tell ourselves. So there's nothing to be afraid of. Right? And yet people still go out into the countryside, or woods, or a basement when the bulb is out, and they start to wonder…what if they are real? The boldness shrinks when the lights go out, or the engine fails, or the boat starts to take on water. People who are glued to screens do not understand what prior generations did. As soon as the chaos peeks its head out from the darkness, we're not so sure that those monsters are gone. This is the result of people trying to live on reason alone. Stuffing our sense of the supernatural into a box doesn't make it disappear. The ghosts and demons come out of hiding once God is forgotten or ignored. Since the demons cannot destroy God, the next best thing is to destroy his beloved creation, and that means you and me. The best way to destroy a person is to tell them there is no God. It's also the easiest. We are wired for God, but we are wired for desire and rebellion as well. The wiring for God urges us, via our consciences, to seek God, as doing the wrong thing leaves us empty. No one wakes up from a one-night stand and feels fulfilled. No one wakes up after a food or drinking binge and feels it was a good decision. If they do, they are already long down the path of denying that sin exists. Habitual sin acts like blinders on a horse, keeping the soul going in the direction where the devil wants to take you. The good that we are after is not the stuff or substance that we want. It's something far better, but we have to give up our self to obtain what is truly good. As soon as there is no God, then we can not only do whatever we like, but then we must solve all of our problems by ourselves and using things in this world. Or, if we can't solve them, we at least must shove our problems out of the way. This can be seen in basic data points, like how non-religious doctors are much more likely to hasten and accelerate death of terminally ill patients. The reality of the denial of God and rejection of the idea of sin rises up like swamp gas. Once the flip of the switch is made where God is not something to be taken seriously, then something must take its place because we still need salvation, a healer. If you don't think you do, examine where all of your free time is spent and you will find your surrogate savior. For many, it's sports. For others, it's politics. For the more obvious sinners, it's drugs, alcohol, and sex. In all cases, the person of Jesus takes a backseat, or is kicked out the car altogether. For those who remain on a strict diet of Enlightenment thinking, they have tapped technology to play the savior. They have turned to science, because rejecting spirits and God leaves no where else to turn. At least the seekers who summon spirits are trying, unboxing that supernatural feeling. Reason alone leaves you as half a human. The body and the soul must be put back together, as is done to Peter in John, Chapter 6. When all other options have failed, when flat reason and unbelief leaves you flat, and the false religions are outed as nonsense, you will have nowhere else to turn. Consider this exchange between Peter and Jesus, but replace the word “Jesus” with “Science” or “Technology” or “Wicca” or “Astrology”. Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” (Jn 6:67-69)Now the modern version:Science then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Science, to whom shall we go? You have the words of material life. We have come to believe and are convinced that there is no God.” (Jn 6:67-69)Technology is the modern master, but it's an odd one because it's an amorphous blob of knowledge, not wisdom, that is so specialized that we just grunt and accept it as the one true god, like cave men who “knew” that the sun god or big oak tree held all the secrets of the universe. For 99% of us, if tomorrow we were told that electrons were found to be very tiny acorns, we would take it on faith as a fact, because in no way or scenario could most people ever test or prove otherwise. Now, we have to take it on faith that physicists and chemists would not lie to us like that. Yet often they do. Science takes bad paths that require a long time to undo, plus a massive waste of time and energy as good money follows bad science. (If you don't believe me, see the 2006 Alzheimer's research, or dry labbing, or the history of phrenology, or cold fusion in a coffee cup, or Piltdown man in Sussex, or many, many other cases). Unsurprisingly, scientists are as susceptible to the deadly sins like anyone else, much of which is prompted by the shiny tempting apple that promises to get their paper published and make them a science god. You can see that Genesis 3:1 verse playing out in those stories just like any other story. Can't you just see how the wheels turn in a brain to lie, to fudge the truth, in order to get a paper published? When the serpent says to Eve, “Did God really say you can't eat from the tree?” This is how that question plays out:“Did God really say…I can't alter this image to match my experiment results?”After all, we only sin because we perceive a good thing and want it, and decide that skirting the next right action will be acceptable, as the perceived good thing we want won't hurt anyone if we just cheat a bit to get it. We want status and recognition, that is the perceived good thing. In order to get it, how easy it is to be convinced that our ideas and interpretation of the data is correct, and that we just need to fit things into our mind's image of the world, instead of resting our in God's world. Faith is submitting our intellect and will to God, which means that unbelief is the opposite: it is submitting our will and intellect to our selves. So science has its own falls and corruption. It advances and retreats and advances again. Science can do so much, but only so much. The limitation to science is the fact that it can't get outside the universe, nor can it tell us why a sunset is beautiful, or why Shakespeare's stories are timeless, or why seeing a baby born can change a person's conception of everything in creation. In fact, this is exactly why so many people like to quote Hamlet when he says to Horatio, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” There is more to this world than science and technology. In fact, the dullest things in this world is the way we treat nature like it was a cadaver to be dissected. Consider Horatio to be like a Mark Zuckerberg, or any agnostic or atheist. Hamlet and Horatio have just seen and spoke with the ghost of Hamlet's father. Horatio is the archetype of the Enlightenment world-changer.Horatio, a model of rationality, is still having a hard time swallowing the whole business. Ghosts are not the sort of beings his "philosophy" easily takes into account. We know that Horatio is, like Hamlet, a student at the University of Wittenberg, a notable outpost of Protestant humanism. The philosophy he studies there is probably classical—a compound of ethics, logic, and natural science. The emphasis on everyday phenomena pretty much excludes speculation about talking ghosts. (From enotes.)So Horatio is just like a modern person, like me not that long ago, who must rely solely on reason and rationality. He is one of those poor folks sliced in half, by their own volition: all body, no soul. Because like our alternate version of Peter, anonymous internet user, where else can Horatio go? Peter can say to Jesus, the living son of God, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” The purely rational person cannot ask for any spiritual explanation, ever! Because even cracking the door to the reality of souls and spirits leads to a flood of what-ifs. To someone trying to live in a world of pure reason, the only thing holding back the chaos monster is science and technology. The odd thing about this position is that while you lampoon the religious as superstitious fools who puts his fingers in his ears and makes noise to drown out the reality of the material world, on the flip side, the rationalist must put his fingers in his ears and make noise to drown out the possibility of ghosts and spirits. Anything beyond the material world must be stuffed in a box, because if even a single ghost story is true, if a single prophecy of the future was proven legit, or if any being's soul is real, or any miracle has ever happened - even a single miracle - then the closed door of reason is suddenly flung wide open. Thus the savior of technology must be clung to, because to what else can the non-believing materialist turn? All spiritual things must be deduced to a chemistry problem. Many people can claim to make their decisions based purely on reason, but like many a Christian who claims to be in a state of grace while receiving the Eucharist, there is a lot of not-so-devout rationalists. But they believe that when push comes to shove, they will side with science, just as even the most lukewarm Christian will declare that their alliance falls on the side of faith. But these types of declarations are for grouping and identifying oneself, where the science-fan does not wish to align with the ignorant believers and the half-hearted Christian will side with believers to avoid being called a heathen. Marketing departments make healthy profits relying much on our instinctual reaction to divide ourselves among declarations. Selling cars and nail polish is not terribly different from selling a worldview, but the worldview you adopt has a far greater impact on your life and death than the color of your fingernails on the steering wheel.The promise of freedom through a gadget or technology leads to a kind of reliance, and ultimately a kind of slavery. But this servitude cannot easily be seen except by some unfortunate prophetic Cassandra who know of problems to come, yet can do nothing to halt its progress. Also, it should be noted that once Prometheus had stole fire from the gods, no one ever suggested that he put it back, even if it turned out the we weren't even ready to handle fire properly. The entrepreneurial maxim that “If you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door” holds true whenever we discover something new and shiny. But these are all distractions from the truth. And all of those shiny things will leave you empty, all of those experiences will end and require another chase down the next rabbit-hole. There is always something to keep looking for, until you trip over the treasure in the field, and find Jesus, the crucified carpenter, and discover that it was him you were looking for all along. Then like St. Augustine you can say, “My heart was restless until it rested in Thee.” This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit www.whydidpetersink.com

    The Gate of God (part 16)

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 16, 2022 36:40

    There are seven stages of empire. America has leveled-up, careening around stage four, past stage five, and we don't really fully realize it yet but we are already leaning over the cliff of stage six. While everyone gets worried or excited about the coming decline and collapse, let me be the one yelling, “All is well!” A century ago, the Austro-Hungarians were the winners, and now their capitals are lovely little tourist stops on a river cruise. We are going the route of the City of Man, which is to collapse, just like what happened at Babel. In fact, in our arrogance in denying God, we have worshipped and enabled the demonic powers to guide us, and thus the nation must be reset and humbled. This is basic Spiritual Physics. The seven stages of empire are: * The Age of Pioneers* The Age of Conquests* The Age of Commerce* The Age of Affluence* The Age of Intellect* The Age of Decadence* The Age of Decline & CollapseWe will go this path because the decline must play out. It must. The last season must come. This cycle is not anything new or surprising, or it shouldn't be, as Plato wrote about this process long before Edward Gibbon wrote The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Collapse of empire's gone wild is as old as human writing. We are in the last days of Babel, and it's worth noting how we got here, and why it's happening. But this fall of empire is not something to worry about because it is inevitable. The loss of your soul, however, is not. For that you have a choice to make. Free will is the great gift, from a God who will not coerce his followers. And joy is the gigantic secret that Christ shares with his followers. The real question for our time is: how will you endure the coming change? How will you persevere? How will you stay sane? How can you stand strong when the world starts to burn around you? How?The answer is: “By your endurance you will gain your soul.” Never take your eyes off of the truth. Never look away from Jesus when the wind comes up on the water. Never forget your own sin. Never forget your need for redemption. Never forget why the Cross had to be the way. Never look away from his love for you. By his life, by his death, by his resurrection, by his ascension - tunnel your gaze to that truth. Forget “my truth,” surrender to the the way, the truth, and the life, who all happen to be the same person. That is how you endure. When Jesus said that a follower of Him must follow him and even hate his own father and mother, his own family, he meant it. Because if anything can sway you to look away, to make you turn back to something of this world, then you have not endured, and you will not gain your soul. There is only one way to be free, to have certainty, and that is to never look away from the truth of Him. Today's president is tomorrow's dust. Today's billionaire is poor if he lacks faith. Today's popular opinion is tomorrow's joke. There is only one who rules the real kingdom, who wields real power, and who deserves all glory. The Tower of Babel is a warning about a bad way of thinking for a nation or a people. The rejection of God at a social level, where sin is selected as policy, is the problem in Babylon. Empire alone is not the problem. The word “empire” is not bad, just as the word and action of “sex” isn't bad. God made all things and saw that it was good. However, it all depends on what the thing is used for and how it is used. The story of Babel tells of everyone speaking the same language, but language in this case does not necessarily mean grammar and vocabulary (as I've beaten to a pulp in this series). You can read it literally, but it's boring. There is another way to think of language, and language here means worldview. And the worldview that is a problem is the one where money, honor, power, and pleasure become virtues, replacing actual virtues. The language of Babylon is that of most of our modern thinkers, Thomas Jefferson, Karl Marx, David Hume, Jean-Paul Sartre, Michel Foucault, right up to Ibram X. Kendi. The language is the denial of sin and the rejection of God in favor of man's Tower. There is a fundamental difference that everyone misses between Catholic theology and all other “solutions” like liberalism, Marxism, Protestant theology, liberation theology, Prosperity Gospel, modernism, and all the other -isms. The problem isn't people or government. The problem is spiritual and we are in a spiritual war. We have been in the spiritual way since the first two humans. Genesis does not disagree with science as much as people like to think. Even on an evolutionary path, somewhere along the two people's genes and souls were altered into something radically different from all other creatures. Just as the Big Bang matches with “Let there be light,” and as archaeologists keep confirming Biblical geography locations, and as the last ice age coincides with the ubiquitous worldwide stories of the Great Flood around 9000 B.C., we know through reason that something changed with humans that separated their way of life and worldview from neanderthals. The desires of humans have no bottom. They cannot be filled. There is a darkness in humans that does not exist in apes or any other creature. Thoughts and ideas come to human brains that make no sense and serve no purpose, aside from evil. That is what the spiritual war is about; keeping evil at bay, casting it back into the pit. If we fail to fight the spiritual war, we lose track of the problem. When we take our eyes off of Jesus, the devil embodies whatever we are looking at. If we see government as the solution, then the devil moves there. If we see sexual identity as the solution, the devil goes there. Even if we become too fixated on the Church as the solution instead of as a means to holiness, then the devil will occupy that space. The enemy is cunning and shifts shape, always waiting for you to forget about him. The number one enemy in the spiritual war is pride. This is why it's so telling that “Pride” is a celebrated virtue today, when in every possible case of hubris, pride leads to destruction. Always. Invariably. Every fairy tale, Bible story, fable, and even in stories like the Titanic or the Theranos fraud, pride always leads to destruction. There is no other outcome for the balloon of pride than to be deflated. It is a fact that even pure rationalists understand: what goes up, must come down. The interesting thing is this: if we wonder why God allows this evil, you have to realize this key secondary effect: to be reborn in the spirit, you have to go all the way down. God allows us pride in order to find our way to the truth and be reborn. Pride is the language we costume our ideas in, using intellectual arguments about how to organize an economy or how your identity is oppressed. Getting what you want, when you want it, and how you want it is what is considered “good” today. The unofficial virtues of America are those advocated by Gordon Gecko and the Marquis de Sade. The Marquis says, “Let us give ourselves indiscriminately to everything our passions suggest, and we will always be happy. Conscience is not the voice of Nature but only the voice of prejudice.”As for helping yourself to all thing, “Greed is good,” says Gecko. This language is all over our culture. “If winning isn't everything, then why do we keep score?” says the sports god, Vince Lombardi. “Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing,” says UCLA coach “Red” Sanders. So say we all! Competition and money and self-justification are the vocabulary and grammar, the pillars of the American language. That is how we speak, it's what we respect, what we aspire toward, what we aim our children at, how we measure success, how we measure someone's worth. For us, competition is the way, the truth, and the life. And it is the utter opposite of the message of Jesus Christ. “You justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts; for what is of human esteem is an abomination in the sight of God.” (Lk 16:15)In other words, the Lombardi trophy is an abomination, as is Gordon Gecko's wealth. Mark Zuckerberg's billions of dollars and users will be used against him in the court of God. Trump will have to answer for his gold toilet seat and various wives. Michael Jordan's championship rings will be gravel to be tossed aside. Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos may be first in line today, but the first will be last in the world to come. Those who cling to identity lies will be easy cases in the Last Judgment, because their language of self-assertion is the rejection of their real identities as sinners. Whatever we have think we have won or gotten power over in this world is perfectly useless and powerless in the next. If you are playing this game of fame and fortune and pleasure and striving to outdo your neighbor by elevating your desires, you are shoveling dirt out of your own grave. You cannot serve God and mammon. Mammon is a strange term. Mammon is the ego and all it's baubles: money, sex, drugs, power, diplomas. We are all about the mammon. It is fitting that Ben Franklin is on the $100 bill and he is now the symbol of the Benja-mammon. He is the idol of those seeking the “Benjamins,” the graven image that everyone is serving. When we are serving ourselves, we are serving our sins. This alone tells the tale. If any political issue concerns you more than the person of Christ, you have completely missed the message of Christ. He is the message. If you want to see some of kind of sin erased through political action, you don't understand what sin is or that you are a sinner. The language of Babel is the language of competition and the elevation of the self over God. Conservative Christians want to thump the commandments and liberal Christians forget that sin exists. And what are they all arguing about? “Stand for the flag and kneel for the Cross” vs. “Love is love.” Could someone help me find those in the Bible? God is over all things, and God is love. These equally empty platitudes of the political world have no meaningful grasp of Christianity, as they ignore Christ and ignore the spiritual battle entirely. What I have learned is that you can wear a cross and have no idea who Christ is. I've learned that you can call others scriptural cherry-pickers while holding a basket of picked cherries. Because in my reading, Christ does not endorse America, nor does he endorse greed, nor does he endorse racism, nor does he endorse same-sex marriage, nor does he endorse carving up your body, nor does he endorse Pontius Pilate's language that states: “What is truth?” He endorses chastity, marriage, humility, compassion, obedience, patience, and charity. He utterly rejects sin and all self-serving motives. As the Incarnation of the Living God, He is the Truth. If you cannot see this, then you may not know him as well as you think. Ask for help to get there. Go to God's information booth, otherwise known as prayer, because unless you come to know Jesus, you will not know the truth, and without him you cannot fight the spiritual combat. You can get win all you want, get all the laws passed through Congress that you think will save the world, but if you are not rooted in Christ, you will lose your soul. And once you do come to know him, the experiences and toys you desire here in this world will seem like trifles. They become like trinkets from gum-ball machines once you compare them to the value of faith granted from God. Worthless trifles will be set aside, just as Peter set aside the largest catch of fish he ever had and “dropped the nets” to follow him. Whatever exotic sexual fix you are seeking, or your desire to own the latest Tesla, those ideas will seem like distant memories of a childish phase of life. What once made you proud will suddenly be embarrassing. You will laugh at how you idealized the wants of the caterpillar after you are flying as a butterfly. You thought the creeping, crawling phase was the end, and whatever you got while still a struggling inchworm was all there was. Then you learn that you were far too easily pleased, as C.S. Lewis pointed out:If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. (“The Weight of Glory” p.26)So before you start defending that sin you love the most, like getting high or having one-night-stands, read the Gospels again. You want the wrong things. Remind yourself what Jesus endorsed: humility before God, serving the poor, healing the sick, partaking in the sacraments, and obeying God's law - including, and especially, one marriage in this life being between man and a woman. To take up our cross and follow him means to endure the struggles and burdens and problems of our lives, not to affirm our problems as our identities. Our crosses are made to be carried, not re-interpreted as virtues and carried as trophies. Your cross can become a gift, but only if it is carried with Him. This ancient language of Babel is what we still speak today. It is the language of twists and turns, like Odysseus, who lies and cheats and pillages his way through the Greek epic to get what he wants in all cases. It is the language of “me first,” of taking what I please, of justifying my desires, of shaping God to fit my sins. When speaking that language, I am the potter on the wheel, not God, and I will shape the world to fit my desires. The reason that Pentecost marked a new day in the world is because from Babel onward, God confused the language and scattered the cultures of the world. Literally or metaphorically, this is important. The various cultures could not coalesce into a sin-rejecting juggernaut, but they were still competing and scrapping for pieces of this world. The language was still competition, but the death match was happening in the ponds, not the ocean. So when Peter stepped out on Pentecost and spoke, everyone understood him. The apostles all started speaking and the people of “all languages” understood. Why? How did they understand? Again, literally or metaphorically, it works either way. Their message was getting through. The message was heard. And what was the message? “Jesus the Nazorean was a man commended to you by God with mighty deeds, wonders, and signs, which God worked through him in your midst, as you yourselves know. This man, delivered up by the set plan and foreknowledge of God, you killed, using lawless men to crucify him…God raised this Jesus; of this we are all witnesses…Exalted at the right hand of God, he received the promise of the holy Spirit from the Father and poured it forth, as you (both) see and hear. God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.” (Acts 2:14-41)Was it the words? Or was it the change in Peter and the Apostles that was seen? Was it the message seen, as they lived it out in their lives? Or was it heard by language, as God briefly “unscattered” the tongues of people. Somehow I think it was something bigger than Google Translate. I don't think it was only hearing the words. The language of Babel was that of competition and ego. The language of Peter was the opposite. His message was the un-Babel. He gave the world a non-compete clause, that you could follow through Christ. There was a way out of the fighting pit, the one-up-manship could finally end. There was a way to live that didn't require all the fake nonsense and puffery that we are used to living among. The reason Peter's message was fluent to all observers, is because the non-compete clause was given to us all. To stop fighting is what we all want. To stop competing with one another. We want peace. We want rest. We want healing. We're tired of being offended and wanting revenge. When Jesus appeared to the apostles, his first words were, “Peace be with you.” He gave it right then and there. Peace. All goodness and rest comes from a life in Christ, not through our own efforts to win or achieve. Peace does not come through our instinct, or through our competitive culture, and not via coercive policies. There is only one way to heaven and Jesus showed the way. He plowed the way to daylight through this blizzard called life. Still, for the science minded, how could they really understand what Peter was saying? How to get past this miracle? It's too miraculous to conceive as possible. I would just say, “Ask for belief,” but do you even need to ask in this case? We can understand it without a miracle. Did they even need to hear the words? When someone is free, can you not tell? When a child starts playing or singing or dancing, does it matter if you are the same nationality or speak the same language as the child? No. Any English speaking person can interact with a Chinese, Spanish, or Kenyan child and see the innocence and joy in the child. The listeners who heard and saw Peter could see it on his face, could tell by how he was preaching. How? Because he was open. He was no longer hiding. The fig leaves were dropped. The fear was gone. The pretenses were gone. The fake promises of a salesmen were nowhere to be found. He had returned to the faith of a child. This is why Babel is the opposite of Pentecost. God withdrew from selfish people at Babel, but he enkindled the fire of his love at Pentecost. Babel turned the world gray and the color came back at Pentecost. It's like the horrible movie Pleasantville, except in Acts of the Apostle, it's not the embrace of sin that adds color the world, it's the conquering of sin. The only way to heaven is through the cross. You can't avoid it, you must carry it and voluntarily let your ego die upon it. Then you will be like a child, like Peter, closer to Jesus. If you follow him, all the way, you will be a brother of Christ and son of God. When you observe the angry banter online today, if you can stand it, take notice that the person of Jesus is rarely mentioned unless it's to score political points. We have turned Jesus into a basketball, or a weapon. We've taken Jesus' non-compete clause and used him as a club to compete. It's the opposite of what he told us to do. Surrender to him. Surrender the need to win. Do you need to comment? Do you need to reply? When they come for you, and accuse you, and slander you, do you need to win? Jesus, using his non-compete, shows us that you do not need to reply. You do not need to get angry. Though harshly treated, he submitted and did not open his mouth; Like a lamb led to slaughter or a sheep silent before shearers, he did not open his mouth. (Is 53:7) This is the forever the permanent danger of shifting our focus from Christ as the fully divine and fully human second person of the holy Trinity. The minute you look away, you sink. You return to the pit, gladly leaping in and entering the fray. We just can't resist the language of Babel, and take up jockeying for position because we fear for our ego, our reputation, our loss of self. We think somehow this time it will be different, but when the fear strikes us, we begin…to sink. Must we do ask this same question again? Yes. We must. It's why this website is named what it is. Why Did Peter Sink? Because he looked away from Jesus. How was he saved? He asked for help. He said, “Lord, save me!”Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Mt 14:22-33)Why did we doubt? Why did we jump into the fight again? Why do we do what we do? Because you think you got this. You assume superiority. You want power and honor. But let it be known: you ain't got nothin'. Jesus is seated in heaven, waiting. He is not cheering for our ego. He is not waving the flag of America. Or did we all fool ourselves into thinking that it was Jesus that helped Jefferson craft the Declaration? I think we did. This “City on a Hill” tale is an invention. America does not have divine guidance. Let go of that fairy tale. Thomas Jefferson was a Deist that completely denied the divinity of Christ. Or do we imagine that Jesus got us walking on water like a toddler in 1776, and then we learned to do miracles alone without him, while we still kept slaves and were westward-ho steamrolling natives? Does any of this sound like the work of Jesus Christ that he performed in this world? The greatest fib of America is that this is a Christian nation, as it wasn't in the beginning, is not now, and never will be. There has always been many, many Christians in America, and that is why the nation has had such success. But as for the Founders and their ideals, it is a foundation built on sand from the Enlightenment. The fact that Lincoln and many presidents were believers does not mean that Christianity ruled in Washington. Without millions of Christians as bedrock, the Deist ideas collapse, as we are now seeing with liberalism and modernism. It was families - black, white, or in-between - rooted in Christian values that provided the glue the entire time. It was not politicians or businessmen. If anything, the wealthy used Christians as instruments to get what they wanted, because, after all, “God helps those who help themselves.” Following God's will is a goal of Christians, and nefarious forces are always at work to use and abuse that. Those who “help themselves” throughout history have looked at other people, especially Christians, like a shovel to be used for their own projects, not as tools to carry out God's will. Not everything America has done is evil, and not everything it has done is good, but America is not the marker or sign of the last days any more than was Imperial Japan or the Spanish Empire. We are in the final age, the messianic age, and it was not called or named the “American age.” Unhitch your nationalism from the message of Christ, otherwise you are taking up Jesus' non-compete clause and using it as a club. Jesus is not cheering for America any more than he is the Dallas Cowboys. He is cheering for us to carry out his Great Commission, to spread the word, to believe, to keep his commandments, to be joyful sinners, and move toward holiness by keeping practice of the Sacraments. Jesus rules over all of the nations, all of the powers and principalities of this world, which includes the United States. This current moment is just the latest empire in a long list of empires. We are just another Babylon, another Rome. They all crumble, but God's kingdom is here and being slowly worked out. The slowness is the hard part, since we are accustomed to getting what we want immediately. We think the world is under our control, but it's not, and we tire of waiting to we help ourselves and forget about God. That's how we fall into the water. That's how a nation sinks. We get cocky and forget of our frailty. We get rich and comfortable. What happens to nations, happens to the Church, too, just as it does for individuals, just as it did for Peter on the water. There is no way to be saved but through him, with him, in him, in the person of Christ. The focus must remain on him. He is the question, the answer, the truth, the way, the light, the life. Neither our selves nor the Constitution of this country can save you. Science can't save you. Money can't save you. Only He can. We are the people of a lost empire that thinks it is has been found. Individuals within this empire have been found, but the empire itself is foundering. The whole structure has been long held up by believers, but their arms are fewer now and fatigue is setting in. Shortly after World War II, somewhere in the 1960s, the soul of nation turned away from God. Then the fall began, as we began to value sex, drugs, and “the college experience” more than the gifts of the Holy Spirit. All authority began to tumble. As Satan said in Paradise Lost, “Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.” That became the national motto and adolescence began to creep past its sell-by date. Duty was replaced with honor for the derelict. Now we move into a last phase, where the drunk sailors are in the command center, guiding us to destruction, assuring us that desires alone make for a meaningful identity, and they are assuring us of this, even as we run aground. Thank God we can get lost. Part of his plan is to find the lost sheep. If we follow Jesus' own ministry on earth, he plays the shepherd the entire time, right to the last moments on the Cross when we converts the Penitent Thief. Getting lost is the only way to get found. There is much hope yet. God's plan exceeds our understanding, but he has allowed billions to stray. Could his plan for the smart phone be to reach every last soul on earth? Many end-times writers like to focus on Matthew 24:14:“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come.”Since God is outside of space and time, he moves salvation history along on his schedule, not ours. Just as Abraham did not begin forming a nation until languages and cities were established, and Jesus did not come until writing had advanced considerably, who is to say that God's allowance of our scrolling on our phones is not the next phase of his plan. Surely most people today has heard of Christ, but not everyone has yet. What better way to reach all people than through a common language, or better yet, a common protocol like http. It's entirely possible that DARPA and Tim Berners-Lee and Steve Jobs were unlikely instruments of God, and by serving themselves (a.k.a. mammon) they will end up serving God. In the meantime, confusion spins our people around as we seem to directing our lives, and our children's lives, with a misaimed compass. To realize that the needle has been sitting next to magnet and steering you off course is terrifying, but it's a relief to even discover that you were going the wrong direction, because then you can take action to change course. Once you finally turn, you can find true north. A person who strays can still be saved. A nation that gets lost can be born again. The word “blessing” means to be “kneeled,” so we should keep saying, over and over, “God bless America, and God please bless me,” because a kneeling is exactly what we need to find peace. How is that to be done? The same way it was done to the Roman empire and every other empire. The nation will be exorcised when people turn to God. When Jesus said, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand,” he meant it for you, not an abstract thing like America or China. God's salvation plan continues, in ways that we cannot understand, but we know what to do. We need to believe. We need to surrender our lives to God, and be joyful, and keep his commandments, and give to the poor. Forget about the evil that others are selling and focus on the words of Jesus - all focus on all of his words, not just the ones you like. Love God. Love others. Be joyful. Volunteer. Read the Gospel. Tell others about it. Read the Catechism. Go to Confession. Go to Mass. Kneel. Receive the Eucharist. Repeat. This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit whydidpetersink.substack.com

    The Gate of God (part 15)

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 15, 2022 35:49

    Think of the Tower of Babel as like the Manhattan Project, which is a great example because in the 1930s and 1940s everyone on earth was speaking the same “language” of hyper-nationalism. Immense projects among the nations took place in this grand competition. Through that period we found better ways to kill one another than ever before. If you struggle to believe that demonic forces are at work in the world, I don't know how else you can explain what happened in World War II. You can ask, “Why did God allow it?” but you should be asking, “Why did we?” The problem of pain is always with us, but never was it so obvious as in the 1930s and 1940s. It's still here, right now. We can choose to sin or not sin. I would guess that if we had lived in the era of the great Assyrian empire, or any empire, we would observe horrors and atrocities, but the scale could not have been so massive as what was on full display in World War II when clearly demonic forces took over Germany. The goal to get rid of Jews is the first sign of demonic forces at work, just as it has always been. To get rid of God requires getting rid of those who speak of God. To overcome the great evil happening in Germany, another effort sprung up to create a massive bomb. After all, we have to fight fire with fire, right? That is the common language of Babel. So in order for us to stop one country from engaging with demons, we had to all get together and do something that introduced and even larger problem into the world. In New Mexico, a mini-Babel story happened, but this one ended with a horrific boom. Scientists came to Mew Mexico from different nations and spoke different languages, but they all used the same language of English for this one project, rallying around science and competition to defeat a common enemy. However, as we all know, the nations all speak the same underlying language, the common language of Babel. But in this case we had this brotherhood in arms to defeat a common enemy, making it like a pre-Babel party in the southwest.These thinkers put aside their nationalism and joined together to take on a great project, a project unlike any other before it (except for the Tower of Babel where we invited the demons into the world). Total war across the world led to a recruitment of the world's greatest minds to the desert. However, this is one instance where “going to the desert” did not result in purified spirituality. The great minds - Oppenheimer, Fermi, Fuchs, Teller, Lawrence et al. - did not go out to the desert like Moses and Jesus did. In fact, these scientists went to the desert to say yes to the devil instead of do battle against his temptations. They joined, speaking a common language, to build a new Gate to God. They went to the desert to find out how God's universe works, but not out of curiosity regarding creation like the flower-cataloguing naturalist might, but rather to immolate and destroy those flowers. As God says in Genesis 11 while observing the Tower construction: “…they have started to do this, nothing they presume to do will be out of their reach.” Could we not also imagine God saying the same thing as he allowed Oppenheimer to tinker with atoms in Los Alamos? As Prometheus stole fire from the gods, so did our “American Prometheus.” And by the way, the myth where Prometheus is portrated as doing a good thing by stealing fire, is propaganda from the Silicon Valley of the ancient world. We have this idea stamped on us today that technology is good, and we just pursue technology for technology's sake. This is what the Tower of Babel was doing: trying to extract the secrets of God and the universe for our own dirty deeds. As Jesus said, “by their fruits you will know them” (Mt 7:15-20). The fruit of the Enlightenment is a world of nuclear weapons, among other things like carbon-dioxide-gone-wild. In the meantime, we call the old sustainable world of agrarian Christendom “The Dark Ages,” while we scramble to figure out how to block or undo the problems created through our dogged pursuit of God's secrets. There is a fascinating exchange about this from two Orthodox priests that I'm stealing at length here about Prometheus, which also applies to the Manhattan Project. This is from the Lord of Spirits podcast, a great source for breaking through the walls of the modernist propaganda that reigns in the media. They take it all the way back to the fall of Cain, and draw out the things we fail to notice in the dense meaning of his fall. Just as you can't get to heaven without going through the cross, you can't get to Babel without first going through Cain.Fr. Stephen: Cain founds the first city. The major figures in Cain's line who are named, it talks about the technological innovations that they produced, which are weapons of war, all of these things. So this idea is, yes, these spirits gave technology to man, but it was not to benefit man; they were giving man technology that humanity wasn't ready for, but for destroying themselves.Fr. Andrew: Right, and this same story is played out in multiple other ancient mythologies. The one that probably most of our listeners are familiar with is Greek mythology, and you've got the story of Prometheus, who gives fire from the gods to mankind. But of course in that story, it's depicted as Prometheus… It's correct in the sense that Prometheus is sort of rebelling, he's doing something he's not supposed to be doing, but it's presented as positive, like: look at this wonderful gift that he gave mankind.But the problem, of course, is that, again, it's propaganda. This is these demons saying, “Look at all these good things that we gave you. Why don't you just go ahead and bow down and worship us?” If you think about that, isn't that the same thing that's happening when Christ is tempted by the devil, that the devil offers him stuff? “Look what I'll do for you if you just bow down and worship me!” Even in our own lives, right? There's this promise of being great, being smart, being beautiful, being popular, being wealthy, being prestigious—if only you would serve whatever it is that you are asked to serve. It's a trick. As you said, it's for their destruction. Notice whom this technology is given to; it's given to Cain, the first murderer, and to his descendants.But the problem, of course, is like, you look at this stuff, and you're like: What's so wrong with iron-working and with music? What's wrong with that stuff?Fr. Stephen: Right, and it gets expanded firstly in the book of Jubilees, to include all kinds of things in terms of pharmaceuticals and sorcery and means of seduction of the opposite sex. But even if we're just talking about raw technology, again, it's not that it's evil any more than the tree of knowledge of good and evil is evil in and of itself, but it was wisdom for which humanity wasn't ready to use it appropriately. So it comes to these men as: “I'm giving you this knowledge so that you can use it to gain power and to conquer your neighbors, to set yourself up as a king, to seduce members of the opposite sex, so you will have this power and wealth and authority,” and that's what humanity uses it for.In New Mexico, Prometheus returned with fire again, and we were instructed in public school what a marvel this discovery was, where science and engineering “saved us” from Germany. I even recall watching Fat Man and Little Boy in science class as a kind of celebration of science. But science makes for a bad savior if it wins a battle by setting the stage for a much bigger and far worse war in the future. That's not a savior at all. That's a captor. We are in the same boat now with other problems stemming from our rush for technology, like cars that spewed carbon dioxide for a century, and a generation of lost souls who were raised on iPhones. You might even argue that we haven't even figured out how to handle fire properly yet, let alone nukes or smart phones. The great scientific and engineering minds proved that the secrets of the atom were not out of their reach. What they presumed was possible, became a reality. Like Geppetto, the dream to will an idea into existence turned Little Boy into a real atomic bomb. But it did not open a Gate to God. The Gate of Fission was opened, bringing down a new kind of demon. The solution created a short lived peace as the arms race and space race began. We found one of the great secrets of how God's universe functioned. The great minds had “pulled” God closer to earth and elevated humans, or so we thought, in the process. The payoff was to be endless free energy, but it didn't pan out. We were just left with the bombs. Most of the nuclear power plants are being shutdown today, while the warheads remain ready to fire. So in cracking the atomic code and creating what seemed like a gateway to the power of God, we ended up more like toddlers playing around with grenades in a crib. At the end of the project, the scientists disbanded and returned to their universities, but the knowledge stayed and proliferated to “the nations” and we now have the modern doctrine of MAD: Mutually Assured Destruction. This is the language of Babel fully articulated. Competition and greed lead to a prison-like behavior among the inmates, where you must dominate or be dominated, and as Ghandi may have said, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” After the Tower of the Mushroom Cloud was built successfully and displayed to the world in its awesome terror, the scientists' newfound instructions for building the Gate trickled out to all corners of the world, and now we have about ten nations who have these giant firecrackers ready to destroy billions of people, hinged on the decision of fallible people in leadership roles. So we came together for a while under a common goal: to defeat nations clearly under demonic possession. How did we solve it? By inviting demons to possess us. To defeat one powerful nation speaking Babel, we got together and spoke Babel to create something even more awful. Then once the war ended, it seemed that nothing like that dramatic or awful could ever happen again. The nations proceeded to ensure that it will happen by building many, many more bombs. The nations are now nervously smiling at one another, meeting in uneasy groups, wearing the fig leaves of NATO and the United Nations and the European Union, while holding loaded revolvers to each others' heads. Something interesting began to happen after the war. Nationalism became a dirty word. The pendulum had swung to peak nationalism, and the reality of what the nations were capable of doing to one another began to look like a bad idea. Another way of saying it is that the idea of “the nations” itself looked like a bad idea. Now the pendulum is swinging the other way, back toward the pre-Babel world where all the world was one nation. We are going back in time, to the days of Noah. There is a sense of inversion and reversal happening in quite a few parts of the Bible. Most of the Christian message is an inversion of the pagan, pluralistic world, which is exactly what it means to unlearn the language of Babel. The separation of nations was reduced somewhat in the aftermath of the war, as large conglomerates formed. There was a period where the opposite direction of Babel seemed to happen, where nations were kind of congealing, in some cases by force, and others by legitimate healing. While Russia used the sword, the West seemed to be in a state of repair, for a while anyway. After the war, Western nations thought it was obviously a bad idea to get caught up in nationalism and patriotism. Boundaries began to be removed or reduced to help foster cross-border trade and travel. While the Eastern Bloc was being beaten into submission, the Western nations were coming together, all while keeping a cold steely eye on its enemies. There was a pre-Babel impulse called globalization that took shape, and is still underway now. The lingua franca of the world became English. But underneath English was still the really old common language, that of competition and control. Even if the world became one nation again, as some suspect is happening, control would still be the underlying game. Was all of this a part of God's plan? Apparently it was. Rather, it is. His plan is still happening right now. As Peter said to Jesus about the Eucharist: This is a hard thing to accept. But accept it we must, if we are to trust in God's will, his plan. If we are to make progress in the Christian life, total trust in Jesus and the Body of Christ, his Church, is needed. We float on the sea in the ship of the Church, singing songs and sharing the sacred meal, while the storm rages around us. We just have to stop fighting in the ship itself. We must stick to sound doctrine, proper worship, and unwavering focus on Jesus. The great trial is coming, but we already knew that. To stop speaking Babel, we have to start speaking Pentecost, and I'm not talking about making nonsense noises. I'm talking about the process of letting go, forgiving, and not needing to win. I'm talking about doing what is right even when the world says it is wrong. I'm talking about turning away from the game. We now face the same pluralistic world that the apostles did, with the added threat (bonus points?) of nuclear annihilation and cyberwar. This should not make Christ's followers angry however; we should be overjoyed, as always, because death has no sting. As I've mentioned, Jesus did not get angry at the lost sheep; he went out to save them. That is the task now, and it was the task then. If the world intends to blow itself up, then that is God's will for reasons unfathomable to us. Our commission is not winning the war with guns, ours is in fighting the spiritual war. The same weapons are to be used: to believe, to be baptized, to pray, to fast, to sin no more, to keep his commandments, and to go make disciples of all the nations. The harvest is enormous but the laborers are few. What else is new? Today we are all speaking the same language in both English and that of Babel. The language is that of competition and pride, shame and honor. Whether or not capitalism or communism won, this language of the culture would be the same. Communism just has a higher body count. We don't seem to have been scattered again…not just yet. We have the means to self-scatter now through weapons, but there will be a different kind of scattering soon, and it seems there is a scattering or atomization as we lose focus on our families and the nation, and we move into the isolated world of technology where we live in the cold kingdom of “My truth.” We are living right now in the post-Manhattan Project, post-Cold War, era of globalization, and as the world comes together in consolidating nations, we grow further apart in our families and communities. We are going backward, toward the Big Bang that happened at Babel, before the scattering, when everyone spoke the language of Babel and understood each other. We are going back toward the era before the nations, but I don't think it will be what we expect or want when we get there, and I know it won't be if we try to do it without God's blessing. You might say that technology is the tool that allows us all to communicate with the same protocols today. What this means, however, is that we are returning to a state of pluralism. Thus we are not only going back toward the time of Babel, but we are going further back, returning to the time of Noah. In fact, with the advent of the Internet in 1995, you could say we have already passed the time of Babel, and are now hurtling toward the state of the world when Noah and his family were the last ones standing after the flood. And if we go that far, we may be going back further still, to the state of the world where God saw the flood as necessary to cleanse the world. As God said in the flood story, he would never again drown the world. He said he wouldn't use water the next time. But he didn't say anything about fire. Jesus on the other hand said something concerning, as we observe our world spinning into chaos, becoming more and more like the days of Noah before the flood. But of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. For as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. In those days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered the ark. They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away. So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left. Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come. (Mt 24:36-44)Stay awake. If you are short on time, you really only need the first three chapters in Genesis to get the main point of the fall in the Bible. Many people of great faith can stop at Genesis 3 and take a time machine to leap ahead to the Gospels. Many understand all they need for their faith to thrive with that alone. This saves them the burden of trying to slog through Leviticus and Numbers, too. All of what you need to know is in the first Fall in the Garden, and while the living God may be hard to make sense of in those early pages of the Bible, the clarity of that living God comes fully alive in Jesus, in the Gospels. If you read the Gospels, and re-read them, and read them for the rest of your life, you will see that that Jesus is God. Or you at least have to wrestle with Jesus as God, because he says it over and over. It's important to actually read the Gospels and not take what a YouTube personality says it is, especially one that doesn't know what sin actually is. You have to read or hear the words of a man who cannot be explained, who can perform miracles, and who doesn't sound crazy somehow when he claims that he IS the living God. This can be done alone, but is best done in groups of people, with those who are trying to unlearn the language of Babel. You unlearn it by spending time with the Gospel, and pondering lines like these:“Whoever sees me, sees him who sent me.” “I and the Father are one.” “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?”You have to decide if he is God. If you have heard the words of the Gospel, you must respond to it. While Jesus is making these claims, you have to compare his claims against the fact that sin and disorder and suffering are in the world, and compare his message to that reality. What do you make of a God who came here to suffer like us? To partake in the same pain and suffering that we experience? That to me is far more powerful than some self-help book that peddles worn out platitudes of “Be yourself.” If you want your suffering to be transformed into something meaningful, Jesus Christ is the only God that can show you how that is actually possible. The reason why Genesis keeps striking people as true in each passing century is because of observable facts of history, and more importantly, the experience of our own journeys. The story of life is on repeat. We all suffer. It's unavoidable. The question is: how are you going to deal with it? Will you take revenge? Will you run away? Or will you look to Christ for the answer when you cannot stand another day? The chaos waits to rise in our lives. We see order in nature, but disorder in people. What is the answer to handling this chaos? Let's just summarize the whole Bible in four lines: Nature is ordered.People are not. We need a savior. Enter Jesus.The end. Or maybe this one is better:Nature is ordered.People are not. We need a savior. Jesus is God.The end. There, that gives us the creation, the fall, the problem, and the solution, without the need to carry around a large book. The ordering and disordering of our world is a constant obsession with us, especially when we think we are the ones putting things in order. Dictators and ‘Tiger Mothers' have an extremely high sense of order, but while both attempt to cram their world into a box, everything they stuff inside gets damaged. Why? Because they are not God but they are assuming that role. The root motive for every dictator is the same as every sports-obsessed parent: to win, to be the best, and thereby be justified, and thereby be proud, and thereby feel loved. Actions taken out of pride are cries for help to be loved and approved. If only they knew that the love is available without all the struggle, that they can be loved without winning, without any effort at all! No matter how you chop up the story, the root problem of disordered choices is pride. Adam, Cain, Babel: all three “falls” stem from pride of self over humility before God. The worldview of Babel is simple when you burn off all the slag on top of it: the word is competition. Now there is competition in nature, but not like that of humans. “Survival of the fittest” does not explain the Empire State Building. It does not explain the heart of darkness in humans that goes far beyond that of plants fighting for sun or wolves scrapping for alpha. Plants and animals stop consuming and fighting when they get the food or the high ground in genetics. When nature becomes unbalanced, they balance out. Whereas we do not. Jeff Bezos continues amassing wealth long after he had enough, long after he could have stopped. Coca-Cola didn't stop spewing out plastic bottles once we all noticed it has created a horrid mess, nor did they stop shoving sugar at people once obesity became the norm. To win, you have to maintain the attitude of “to make an omelette, you have to break a few eggs.” Money, fame, sex, power, honor: these are a few of our favorite things, and once tasted and chosen, there is never enough. Addicts don't quit wanting the thing that makes them miserable. The competition is on. If we are not playing ourselves, then we cheer it on. The language of empire speaks of victory, winning, getting a better deal, finding a loophole, getting away with something. When this is your worldview, it devolves gradually into “rules for thee but not for me.” Why? Because winning. Because we want to get what we want. Because the need to win overrules morality and fair-play. That is the whole game. Once you start to realize the winners are cheating, then the jig is up. Hasn't the Olympics and Tour-de-France races taught us this repeatedly in recent decades? Hasn't every hero-athlete who is later revealed as a dope user shown us this fact? Didn't the Houston Astros show us how winning the World Series has less to do with talent and hard-work than finding a way to cheat? Didn't inflate-gate and spy-gate and every other “gate” scandal show us that the culture of competition leads to a downhill slide?Likewise, hasn't every empire that ever existed cheated and brawled its way to success painted itself as an honest, plucky hard worker? The Romans picked Virgil to write the legend of their path to glory. America had Lincoln and Washington and Jefferson to sell the narrative. There is a maxim that behind every fortune lies a great crime, and that applied to nations as well. What does all of this tell us? It does not tell me that we need to overthrow the government or adopt a socialist government, as it does to some today. No, it tells and re-tells me that the “shiny one” whispers ideas into our ears and we agree. We nod all too willingly, eager to win, with a chaser thought close behind of how we'll craft our mischief into an obstacle that we had to overcome. We sell sin to ourselves as a virtue. The secret sauce of all success is to tell a story that spins our sin into gold. You can hear this in small-talk everywhere, and even though I may only hear it in America today, the same choice of wealth and pleasure over humility before God was obviously the attitude in Babel. The line in the Tower of Babel story states it like the unspoken intention of every LinkedIn profile: “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves.” (Gn 11:4)How do you make a name for yourself? By winning. By getting ahead. By stepping on the guy's head who is directly beneath you and pulling on the lady's leg who is directly above. By using whatever means necessary to get something more than the guy in the next cubicle. The language that was used in Babel was that of competition. You might even say it was more of a feel or vibe than a language. America was not founded entirely on the principle of competition in the pit, but along the way, the “City on a Hill” morphed into the “Tower of Babel.” Every person and people must make a choice. This is a choice that defines their life in the end. We think of choices in belief as small, as not mattering all that much, but what you believe factors into nearly every decision you make. “How you do anything is how you do everything.” That quote causes me to shudder, as I know how my lack of attention to detail could land me East of Eden forever. Belief matters and the quote could be, “What you believe drives how you do everything.” Belief drives action, and action drives belief. Let faith in Christ become the center of all events in your life. Do not waver, do not look away. Peter sinks in the water because he gets scared when the wind comes up. He looks away. Stop being yourself. Put aside the modern nonsense of your own specialness and be special for someone else. Call your mother. Go visit an old person. The only thing that is holding you back is your personal goals. Stop chasing pipe dreams. Be like Christ. See Christ in others. Let the rituals of the Mass guide your days, and revel in the fact that you can partake physically in the Body and Blood of Christ. Not only can you imitate Christ, you can be physically formed to him. The choice of who we believe in can be seen in the language we speak and the actions we take. Remember that most of all, this choice is not shown externally. This choice must be made in the heart. Pray to God that he reaches to you, asking for his spirit to be sent to you. The only thing you can offer to God in trade is your whole life. He wants you to ask. He likes you. He's waiting. You can either ask, or he will ask you, and it usually works out best if you ask first. Humility is when you ask him, and humiliation is when he is done messing around hinting, and asks you directly. Shoot for the first option. Ask him to find you: “Draw me, Lord, and we will run.” This is a public episode. If you would like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit whydidpetersink.substack.com