Tag Archives: critiques

If this is the end times, why is the evil Catholic Church shrinking?

My favorite thing is to watch or read conversion stories. One resource on YouTube is the Precious Testimonies channel. A recent video they posted, however, attacked the Catholic Church in particular, as if its members weren’t Christian at all, which didn’t sit well with me for some reason. And the sentiment of the video was echoed by commenters who spoke of the evils of ‘idolatry’ towards Mary and the saints, and how Jesus wants a relationship, not a religion.

Where I live

I think the gulf between Protestants and Catholics in the Philippines is not as wide, compared to elsewhere. I gave copies of my latest book on my conversion to Protestant friends, and I don’t think they took that badly. The Philippine situation comes partly out of a genuine respect for others and their views, but also, unfortunately, due to miseducation in Catholicism to the point where it’s considered as just one of many denominations, each one’s errors negligible enough for Jesus to set aside when His judgment comes.

Is saying ‘Lord, Lord’ enough?

So I wonder about the need to write this article to correct the anti-Catholic attitude of a good number of Christians in other parts of the world. What’s the point? I’m wondering. After all, accepting Jesus at all is already half the journey, an improvement over much of the beliefs out there. But I don’t think that the Holy Spirit wants us to trust in an automatic process by which to arrive at the right beliefs. If the thousands of denominations with conflicting beliefs is an indication, we’ve left too much to seeing how things play out without a duly-appointed authority that establishes what is true.

For example, some think making any graven images at all is forbidden, even though the Lord himself instructed this for the Ark in Exodus 25:18. The Church clarifies that the problem isn’t the use of materials as aids for worship, but rather idolatry, the assumption that such statues or the creatures they depict are divine.

There is always the danger of autonomous interpretation disguised as devotion to Jesus. And we know that not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” (Matthew 7:21) will be welcomed into His Kingdom. He wants submission to Him, and on Earth, this is fully achieved by communion with the Church He built upon Peter.

Are saints too dead to hear us?

But the Church’s critics would belie such authority on account of questionable doctrines she allegedly espouses. For one thing, saints are considered as dead, for which our prayers are pointless, or worse yet, directed to demons. But Jesus Himself says He is the God of the living, in reference to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Matthew 22:32). Hebrews 12:1 speaks of a cloud of witnesses that surrounds us who are yet here on Earth. We also know that the prayers of saints are valued (Revelation 5:8).

When Saint Paul speaks of those who no longer live on Earth as “asleep” (1 Thessalonians 4:15), that has more to do with their earthly situation prior to Jesus’ second coming, rather than their state of awareness in the afterlife.

Whatever reservations you may have about talking to holy men and women who no longer live on Earth, just remember that Jesus hears every word, and that He loves these people whom you ask intercession from. He could tell the difference between your requests for their powerful prayers (James 5:16), and channeling their spirits via mediums (Leviticus 19:31; 1 Samuel 28).

Humility and history

‘Relationship not religion’ ultimately doesn’t make sense. If we do want a fruitful relationship with Jesus, we need to work on our relationships with everybody else, by which we make a community of His followers. That is the Church. He wants us to be one (John 17:11), not in the sense of Him being a leader of troops making their independent analyses of His written word or who go along with what ‘feels right’ for them, but in the sense of Him being the center of each and every relationship we have, whether here on Earth, or in Heaven. We have been left with the objective data on who has received the interpretation of Scripture and tradition (2 Timothy 3:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:15) directly from the Apostles through an unbroken line of succession, though some falsehoods have to be dismantled in the process, such as thinking Catholic practices began with Constantine in the fourth century.

When Jesus calls the Kingdom of God a Kingdom, it’s not surprising that His Church, by which His will is to be done, would take on similar features to earthly kingdoms, including a hierarchical structure, and unfortunately, fallen, broken people even high up. Also of note is that in spite of her worldly dominance and ubiquity, the number of faithful Catholics is dwindling, hardly a sign that Church doctrine is responsible for today’s societal decay.

Almost too lazy to ‘work’ on the following topic

We need faith in Jesus to be saved, but such faith is reflected precisely in works, which on their own have no merit apart from our being graced by the Lord.

Only Jesus’ sacrifice, the perfect act of love, justifies us. But clearly, He values what we do. It’s all over the Old and New Testaments. Look through the Book of James. John 14:15. John 15:17. Romans 3:31. There’s no excuse to misunderstand Paul’s words on the primacy of Christ’s grace in relation to works (Galatians 2 and 3). Very few take ‘faith alone’ to mean a license to commit wanton sin, but we can’t deny that it is possible to lose Christ’s grace after receiving it (Hebrews 10:26-29).

Food indeed

In all this, the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, which is pretty much the main reason He left us a visible Church, is neglected. In my years being educated in Catholic schools, the real presence was a side issue at best. I just remember during rehearsals for First Communion my being taught to say “Amen” after the priest said “Body of Christ,” but I didn’t know what that meant. It took me 30 years to find out! And if I had heard about it earlier, I might have made the dismissive remarks His disciples made in John 6, shortly before parting ways with Him.

What I now know is that if only more people open their hearts to His Blessed Sacrament, there would be less ex-Catholics grumbling about how the Church is out of touch, and how much more fulfilling it is in other churches, or outside of Christianity altogether.

John 6:53 says unless we eat His flesh, we have no life in us. I’m inclined to believe, or hope, that the Lord provides for the dispensation of grace outside of the ‘ordinary’ sacramental means, and this makes salvation possible for non-Catholics and even pagans. But who’s to say when we’ve received such a privilege? I suppose Mother Mary managed, being “full of grace” (Luke 1:28) even before the birth of Christ, and Saint Faustina once received the Sacred Host directly from an angel, but do we dare assume our being saved by merely professing we believe? It’s worth taking an extra look at the Church’s sacraments at least.

Christ’s Church’s Bible

In the current state of Christianity, the Catholic Church is the target of many of Christ’s followers. But only have them be more vigilant in critiquing each other’s interpretations of the Bible to find glaring differences in each other’s interpretations, and perhaps the pope and the institution he oversees will no longer be the main object of interdenominational ire.

How best to resolve such differences? For a start, maybe recognizing that there is no unity, no wholeness, in followers left to their own devices, left to decide what is good and pleasing (Genesis 3:6), with only ‘Bible only’ as their guide. ‘Bible only’ is in fact not found in the Bible, but a mere human tradition begun long after Jesus’ earthly ministry. No prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation (2 Peter 1:20).

Bye now

If you’ve gotten this far into this article, you’re in rare company. In fact, consider your finding of this blog of mine an act of providence; barely anyone reads it.

Might I also suggest for you to watch one or two episodes of EWTN’s ‘The journey home,’ or other Catholic conversion testimonies, and perhaps you’ll find several if not all your objections to the Church addressed. Check out Austin Suggs’ awesome Gospel Simplicity channel on YouTube. He’s a Protestant exploring the worlds of Catholicism and Orthodoxy up close, while remaining an outsider (as of this writing). I learn a lot from him.

Even if you’ve found a couple of holes in my argument above (I’m new to the art of Bible thumping), I pray it’s enough for you to at least know, the Catholic Church is not your enemy. The real enemy has been telling you that. After some investigation, you might even want to move here.

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Did I mention I had left the Catholic Church as a teenager upon the ‘widening’ of my spiritual horizons? I tell about my recent return in ‘How to be Catholic during your rebellious years,’ available on Amazon. If you’d rather not support a Catholic book by paying for it, write me and I’ll see if I can give you a copy.

How does an atheist experience experience?

Maybe God had me encounter this dude Matt Dillahunty on YouTube today as a fearful reminder of what I could become if I succumb to a crisis of faith. From what little I gather, Matt’s position is to be doubtful of anything by default, and to only accept what could be demonstrated as true, though he’s enough of a truth seeker to acknowledge a variety of ways by which we determine things as true. He doesn’t seem to equate knowledge with quantitative knowledge, or visible knowledge, for instance.

Still, his bias towards the scientific method as the primary if not sole determinant of truth is present, which would actually invalidate much of what he implicitly accepts as true, such as:
1. His being here at all, not just existing but being aware of it as from the inside, which isn’t so much proven as it is self-evident, and that
2. There is a way to discover reality, which assumes that consistency with reality is affirmative of one’s position.

Our modern ‘evolved’ way of thinking makes it the easiest thing to look at the world as a science laboratory, in which the only meaningful answers are those deduced through experiment. One is unaware of how one’s assertion of things often hinges on mere familiarity, e.g. cars as opposed to mystical experiences. The latter’s noetic quality, though sworn by by mystics as providing knowledge as clear as what is observed in the everyday, is brushed off by the outsider skeptic as ‘warm and fuzzy feelings.’

By being a default skeptic to everything, all arguments that aren’t presentable to the mind in a sensible manner are void. The divine, of things unseen (Colossians 1:16), escapes one’s scope of attainable or relevant knowledge, and it doesn’t help that much of what was once unseen is visible with current technology, giving the impression that everything is knowable, provided sufficient advancement of technology.

Faith remains elusive but for grace, of which apparently Dillahunty has not accepted yet, though I pray he does. No better witness than a former inner-circle unbeliever, except he frequently comes across as an uncaring jerk. But the Holy Spirit does wonders.

My parting shot is, if you’re a fan of Dillahunty, and were to find out that Christ is the truth, that there’s an explanation to the absurdity surrounding Him — including those terrible Bible verses you detest — and for whatever reason it’s only made clear to you now, would you ask Him into your heart? Maybe you should try asking then. I dare you.

[UPDATE: Maybe it’s Providence, maybe it could be explained away by algorithmic wizardry, but Matt Fradd hosted a Resurrection debate between Dillahunty and Trent Horn the day after I wrote this article. To think I’d never heard of or paid attention to this guy before. It’s clear that the D Man is completely closed to the idea of God, let alone God as a man rising from the dead, and wouldn’t consider it even reasonable to suppose a person could be brought back to life even if everybody else gave witness to it. To Dillahunty, he’s maintaining an intellectual standard, but this also means a rigidity in adjusting his presumed rational worldview. This reminds me of the final chapter in Michael Crichton’s ‘Travels’ in which he tries to get the reader to consider widening their possibilities frontier, so as to include mental spoon bending for one. Dillahunty claims to live by reason, but an ad hominem of the scientist Crichton’s open-mindedness might be what D-Bone needs.
Trent and Dillahunty are way more experienced in debate than I am, but a couple of questions I would have posed to D Dude would go something like:
“Is it possible for others to have a truer scientific and philosophical worldview than you, one which would reject some of what you now hold to be undeniable?”
“Could it be that Christians hold such a worldview?”]
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My new book, How to be Catholic during your rebellious years, is on Amazon.

Alan Watts, patron of know-it-alls

I first heard about Alan Watts from Van Morrison’s song ‘Alan Watts blues.’ Great chorus. I didn’t know anything else, he just seemed like some cult figure admired by artsy types, but I had no opinion of him. Eventually, I got to listen to an audiobook of his, where he was explaining all about life like he knew what he was talking about. Towards the end of my listen, I did a little googling about his life, and found out he died a miserable alcoholic. That to me demonstrated how little a person’s words could reflect their internal life. He sure didn’t live out his sagacity. And sure enough, in the audiobook I heard of his, he spoke of alcoholics who kept going back to alcohol even when they didn’t like the taste of it. I thought he spoke out of a surmounting of the human condition, but he was just describing his brokenness as it was.

He looks cool at least

With his bad-guy British accent and white streak of hair, he had charisma. People ate his stuff up, in particular those who thought they knew what traditional Christianity was all about and who found it detestable. You know the type. You may be such a type. I sure was. “What hypocrisy of those priests.” “Jesus didn’t mean that literally.” “His followers got Christ’s message all wrong.” “Don’t be a sheep, think for yourself.” “Society has evolved since then.” And the list of ‘edgy’ clichés goes on.

I guess I could be a little more charitable. Watts meant well. He appreciated truth-seeking, and thought he was providing truth to a truth-starved audience. Watts has been dead for nearly 50 years now, and there’s no use tarnishing his person further. But it’s left to us to do better, starting by not falling for his impressive-sounding but unsubstantial crap.

On this pebble

I am here critiquing some main points in this video ‘Jesus, his religion’ where Watts claims to tell the audience who Jesus really was.

Watts maintained that the Bible couldn’t be what Christians said it was, namely, infallible, because his God would have wanted people to think for themselves. Implying that being assured of the truth of something makes for unthinking acceptance. Making up your mind about something, discovering your truth, is what’s liberating. If you’re not inclined to do so, then you can’t rise above what a powerful elite tells you to think, say, and do.

(For the sake of simplicity we’re leaving out the fact that the Bible does involve proper, even scholarly interpretation and reasoning)

Watts didn’t outright express a disdain for wide-eyed, trusting children, the poorly educated, and the mentally challenged, but that’s what his attitude, of valuing smarts over faith, points to. Enlightenment was only available to those who saw truth as clever and evasive mystery. To claim truth as true was to be slave to one viewpoint.

Why would he take the Gospel as undiluted truth? How much more reasonable, it seemed to him, to doubt that the Holy Spirit, God Himself, could transmit truth to evangelists dozens of years after Christ’s death. Or rather, he never took such an idea seriously. It reeks too much of a Creator’s personal plans for each one of us.

What arrogance or carelessness one must have to assume one’s modern, Hinduized view is more instructive a lens to understand Jesus than the Jewish tradition in which He was raised!

Meh-racles

Being the brilliant sage he was, Watts boasted of how Eastern thought put little stock in miracles. Similar to what I heard from Osho back when I read that stuff. To be sure, the Church doesn’t treat miracles as evidence, but rather as signs to those with eyes to see, that God does reveal Himself to us personally. Faith remains the basis of faith.

But actually, in spite of Watts’ lip service about miracles being possible, his spirituality was so scientized that any miraculous phenomenon was to be explained away by scientific principles merely undiscovered in our time. Hence his claimed indifference. If he took such claims at face value, then he would admit to not believing in miracles.

Into the mystery

Watts’ denial of reality and embracing of Eastern unrealities (that is, doctrines that don’t have the fullness of truth in the person Jesus) led him to think that he had seen through the mirage of Christianity, with its sin and salvation and Heaven.

It really does boil down to faith. Is Jesus Who He says He is, and capable of spreading His truth in as seemingly trivial a way as a book? Or do you have to be special, charismatic, eloquent, etc. as Watts was, to know God?
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How to be Catholic during your rebellious years,’ my story of conversion from the faithlessness of Eastern and Western philosophies, is on Amazon.

Did Nietzsche go to Hell?

No.

But let me explain why I don’t think so.


Friedrich Nietzsche is probably most known for saying “God is dead,” although Fyodor Dostoevsky said the same thing decades earlier. He wasn’t saying that God doesn’t exist — although he did think that — nor was he saying that God is a figment of our imagination — though he also thought that — but rather that the meaning of God in our lives has been lost, as compared to religious people in ancient times. His solution is a return to the Greeks, who aspired to live well and die well, in their not knowing anything better.

This ‘anything better’ is Christ. Even the Greek language, informed as it is by Plato and Aristotle, was enslaved by Christ to be the language of the Gospel, just one display of how Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33).

Jesus-less truth

Nietzsche has many ideas that when freed of their materialistic bars, allow for openness to real spiritual experience. A big problem though is that being spiritual is not good enough. As Peter Kreeft likes to point out, even the devil is a fully spiritual being. What we want is spiritual development or spiritual goodness. Because there is spiritual badness and it’s associated with much that is wrong in this world.

Let’s look at Nietzsche’s pronouncement of loving fate. ‘Amor fati’ is really just a distorted version of trusting in the will of God, where instead one places trust in whatever it is that dictates our destiny, even if this isn’t acknowledged as God.

Nietzsche is like a toddler who refuses to try new food, judging it to be yucky based on appearances. And when they finally try it and find out how delicious it is, they admit that it’s yummy, but only “a little.”

That’s how Nietzsche rejects the unseen Christ’s message of salvation. Nietzsche may have referred to himself as the antichrist, but as a child of God he couldn’t help but aspire for His truth in some way; just not the way.

Epistemology

When it comes to the study of knowing, Nietzsche takes on after Immanuel Kant a good deal, of being skeptical of knowing anything at all, but Nietzsche has the advantage of writing after Kant, and so gets to be skeptical of Kant as well. He criticized Kantian categorizing in favor of a more outward-inward experience of spirit.

In spite of such skepticism over science’s knowledge claims, Nietzsche couldn’t accept Jesus or even a more generalized concept of God, since Nietzsche himself is stuck in the materialism he rails against. When he reduces Saint Teresa of Avila’s interior castle to be a matter of sexual ecstasy, you know Nietzsche himself is trapped in his dungeon of categories.

Nietzsche doesn’t have all the answers

Nietzsche prefers Buddhism to Christianity, and sure enough for the reasons why Buddhism is regarded as more a psychology than a faith, a science more than the provider of a supernaturally true experience for its adherents.

If we regard Nietzsche’s work solely for their psychological explorations and thought experiments, we have a lot to learn about our being human. But we’re not just the animals he portrays himself and us to be.

I wanna know why he didn’t go to Hell, not an exposition of his philosophy! We have Wikipedia you know

So why didn’t Nietzsche go to Hell even after spending his last two lucid decades at war, mostly in his head, with Christianity? We could think of the millions of people whom he turned away from the faith by the sheer force of his writings, which if you’re not protected by the truth that is Jesus, convinces you, “You’re stupid and weak for believing in that crap.” How could he escape God’s divine justice?

My answer would be, simply, grace. People who loved Nietzsche prayed for him, and this began before he was even conceived. Born from a line of pastors, I’m sure his ancestors prayed for the salvation of their children’s children’s children, if not of the whole world.

There is much folly brought on by Nietzsche’s ideas, however ill-represented these were by his fans. But I also believe God’s goodness could very well have triumphed over his lack of trust. I believe Nietzsche’s insanity for the last 11 years of his life could be considered purgative, God’s way of saying, “Enough already, this is what your lifelong suffering actually means.”

Insanity as compassion

In his autobiography ‘Ecce homo,’ Nietzsche claimed gratitude for his ill health, in that it helped him develop his ideas and style so as to tell things as they were, or rather, as he saw them to be. He opposed comfort as a goal or desired endpoint in life, echoing Christ’s call for us to take up our crosses. Rather than following our Lord, however, Nietzsche felt it better to say, “Thus I willed it!” and other things that puffed up his self-importance.

Rendered helpless by the disease that ate at his brain, Nietzsche had no will of his own, but this may have been what was needed to elicit the pity, and the prayers, of those whom he encountered. In this sense, the insanity was God’s mercy. Nietzsche, critic of pity, would have otherwise driven away his well-wishers.

Jesus’ second coming should be interesting. We will get to see who did get to Heaven, among whom would be the most unlikely characters such as this miserable man, who fashioned himself God’s ecstatic archenemy.

If you liked this rambling, you might appreciate ‘How to be Catholic during your rebellious years,’ where I discuss my recent conversion after a long time away from the Church.

School of materialism

school of life twitter
Logo fairly used for purposes of critique

It’s videos like this,  ‘How science can be as comforting as religion,’ made by The School of Life, that help me realize I have far yet to go in getting along with people and loving the unlovable, including the arrogantly naïve, however calming their voices may be. Although being a newbie to Catholicism, I already see how a lack of faith renders one’s depiction of reality sterile.

As if comfort is the point

What comfort is it, as the video claims, that the universe is so much bigger than our individual organism? If the universe was the size of, say, a tiny apartment, are we entitled to start worrying? Will things only then be of consequence?

And why should feeling like we’re “nothing” be a consolation anyway? How troubling is it when science is considered comforting because of the alleged meaninglessness of it all? No wonder depression is such a pervasive issue nowadays, when being “something” is a perceived threat. I would reason out that we ought not to be anxious because of our significance to the Creator Himself who loves us.

The makers of the video take Ecclesiastes’ “All is vanity” — which is about the futility of a life aimed at satisfying strictly natural needs — out of context, so as to ‘improve’ it with, and this is lame… the second law of thermodynamics, or the tendency of all matter and energy to entropy. With the Bible verse interpreted so myopically, it’s no surprise that the physical parallel is, methodologically speaking, irrelevant to human action, which is about defying a state of rest.

Infidels

Contrary to what the video tells us, religion’s purpose is not to make life bearable. Only a nonbeliever, or rather, a believer in the necessarily detached, flat world that is science would characterize religion as such, explaining it away as an evolutionary mechanism no more real than a comforting lie. But religion, specifically Christianity, is about union with God and eternal salvation as accorded us spiritual beings through Jesus.

If science was everything, was all existence had to offer, there’d be no one to experience it. Now that’s one big nothing.* But this is not true; we’re here to confirm life, whatever finiteness we attribute to it in our lack of faith.

Fueled by randomness

Science is about the application of cause and effect to phenomena, where any randomness of events is assumed due to the natural limits of cognition, and not because randomness is proven. Faithless materialists, however, latch on to an assumption of randomness to reality, in order to elicit amazement that thinking creatures came to be at all, for which to be grateful. So much for being comforted by our ‘nothingness.’

All this talk about evolutionary development at a cosmic scale dupes even the video’s authors to thinking they’ve gotten farther than primitive, homogeneous religion at answering the why of those things we value, e.g. gratitude. On the surface, the answers of both materialism and religion are just as unsatisfying. Materialists speak in terms of species survival without pinning down the driving force behind this. And the religion-waving person could only really answer, “God made it so.”

However, it is only with the religious that the inquirer is invited to be with He who made all things as they are. The materialist isn’t even good at science when they invoke science.

Making clear what a mess they make of things

For example, the video’s authors have a baseless faith, i.e. superstition, that evolution will sort out all moral inadequacies of ‘personkind.’ We never really choose to do evil; it’s our impulses that just need adjustment. In this evolutionary Eden, we’ll all be satisfied mentally so as to not intrude on others.

So much for thermodynamic vanity, which we were told just a couple of minutes ago should relieve us of any future to deal with! It’s brilliant, really, how the authors couldn’t help contradict themselves in the very same video.

Evolved-impulses-will-vanquish-uncivilization is yet one more cry for a materialistic utopia, where good and evil (or good and bad since the evil one doesn’t really exist) depend on the economy, which is connected to our psychophysiological stability. The fact that so much evil continues today, when economic output has multiplied far greater than the population, doesn’t help sell this dream.

Parting words

I admit to having once agreed with a good deal of the ideas espoused in the video, particularly the buzzwording of ‘evolution’ as though it made sense of actual day-to-day experience and wasn’t just another cop-out for one’s ignorance such as dark matter.

What changed in me was, simply put, Jesus. Faith in God will always be a priority in your life, however advanced in thought you’d like to think you are.


* Science will never address the question of consciousness because by the very nature of science in its being a fictional view from the outside, consciousness from the inside is denied, or merely explained away by physiological or psychological symptoms.

Thank you Caroline Myss

If you meet the Buddha, kill him, that Christ may live in you. — Traditional

myss castle
Photo from Amazon.

About 10 months ago, I purchased a book called ‘Entering the castle’ by Caroline Myss. I was intrigued enough by its citing of Saint Teresa of Avila’s ‘Interior castle,’ and I had listened to Myss’ ‘Advanced energy anatomy’ audiobook the previous year without any significant objections.

I never got around to finishing it, thanks to Myss herself. Prior to reading ‘Entering the castle,’ I had pretty much abandoned prayer, save for an occasional “Thank you” to no one in particular when it occurred to me to be grateful for my life. But early on in Myss’ book, she speaks of addressing God in a personal way, and I did just that, fashioning these words together: “Lord, may I be ever more aware of Your presence.” From this, and other things going on then, it wouldn’t be long before I was convinced not just of some general “God” but of Jesus Christ Himself as God.

Paganizing Christ

With this newfound faith, the remainder of what I read of Myss’ book became distasteful to me. She spoke a good deal of Jesus, but always lumped in with other supposedly holy masters such as Buddha and Krishna. Apparently, according to Myss, the real message of Jesus is for us to grow in spiritual awareness, and we’re free to select our spiritual guides; Jesus Himself is not the point, in this homogenized soul evolution. That thing in the Gospel about Jesus being the way, the truth, and the life? That’s just His way of saying that we should be directed towards greater consciousness and let our higher souls prevail.

As much as she may not want to be considered a New Age guru, Myss drips of such marketing sensibilities. Instead of just giving psychological advice, which for argument’s sake she does fine, she presumes to wrap this in spiritual terms, all the while giving Saint Teresa a bad name.

Scientizing faith

And who’s to stop her misrepresentations? She has a degree in theology and had a Catholic upbringing, however little this is apparent in her conclusions. Faith in specific persons such as Jesus and Mother Mary is replaced with pigeonholing into mere archetypes. The substance of true religion thus degrades into mere fiction, as fictional as the Force in ‘Star wars’ anyway.

teresa castle
Accept no counterfeits. Photo from Amazon.

Myss is oblivious to the fact that she turns spiritual development into a mere matter of method for the sake of achieving mental health, even as she opposes such a view of yoga and meditation.

And she wouldn’t be the evolved spiritual teacher she is without her jabs at the Catholic Church, the same Church that Saint Teresa belonged in and whose doctrine the Catholic mystic accepted in faith, owing to Christ Himself founding it.

Devil’s advocate

If smart satan were to devise a plan to sway people away from Jesus, it would do well to involve the following:
– Undermining the Church on account of its members, who are all sinners, and characterizing gender roles in the clergy and matrimony as oppressive;
– Equating Jesus as revealed in the Bible, to Buddha and Yoda, the difference of which is merely tribal (or planetary in the case of Yoda);
– Uttering the phrase ‘spiritual but not religious,’ branding spirituality as rising above dogma-fixated religion, neglecting that the spiritual is value-neutral and that evil spirits are spirits; and
– Keeping the ‘spiritual leaders’ of such an elevated philosophy in the inertia of their nirvanic or samadhic bliss, for which knowing God through Jesus is discarded. I mean, could you picture Obi-Wan and Yoda ever abandoning their Jedi ways for Christ, when they already get to float around as holograms more powerful than masters of evil could imagine?

All the above of which Myss promotes or condones. Except maybe the ‘Star wars’ references.

Prayer’s still the answer

My conversion to Catholicism comes after having spent two decades growing out of ideas from the New Age, Eastern religions, and modern philosophy. Which do have worthwhile things to say but for their confounding with or usurping of true religion, that is, Christianity as founded by Christ, Who actually lived, died, and rose again in history.

When I now hear someone like Myss speak of the divine and use God’s name when discussing their oh-so-reasonable thoughts, it’s apparent that they miss the whole point of faith. We could pray, as Myss tells us to do, but her particular brand of all-inclusive incantations makes for a static, self-satisfied hell rather than an ongoing connection with God.

But who am I to say this, when I only started praying again after reading I ought to do so from Myss herself? But let’s give credit where it’s really due. When God reaches us amid the sin and untruth of the world, the glory is to God and not to sin and untruth.


Disclaimer: I only read half of Myss’ book. If it ends with Myss proclaiming her return to the one true Church, then forget you ever read this.

Kierkegaard, gateway to Christianity

In my mind, Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) and German composer Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) are the same person. Just look at pictures of them and you could see the facial resemblance. And it isn’t all that necessary to know better in that regard.

mahler
Yes I know don’t tell me.

It’s easy for artistic types to imagine that the pinnacle of human life is aesthetic contemplation. Much of the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche, the at-heart pagan Greek, assumes such, and when I read Kierkegaard place art at a lower level to ethics, which is lower yet to religion, which is lower yet to Christianity, I resisted such an idea. Without realizing it, I was caught up in a materialistic, naturalistic manner of understanding things, something affirmed by those I once thought of as the wisest of men, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Immanuel Kant.

I couldn’t quite get how so many philosophers, atheists needless to say, were indebted to Kierkegaard, a Christian. I liked his moral discussion — of the imitation of Christ and how this involves suffering and yet more suffering — well enough, but to take this Christ as a historical figure on whom the fate of the world rested! Even the beginning of ‘Concluding unscientific postscript’ seemed to reject that notion, which prompted me to continue reading it at all, and thank God I did, for it bore lasting fruit and continues to bear lasting fruit to this day.

This awakening is only hinted at towards the end of my ‘Depression and other fictions’ (Sept. 2019), and even then, with an appeal to something ‘substantial,’ an attempt at grounding faith in impersonal observations, such as in etymology, as opposed to discovering the essentially personal.

But even such a poorly balanced ‘leap,’ for lack of a better term, made a world of difference, the difference between a “No” and a “Yes” to Christ.

Kierkegaard has helped me glean that Christ’s dying and rising from the dead are mysteries that are meant as mysteries. They’re not for us to solve. But that does not mean believing in Christ is arbitrary.

What we do know is that to be with Christ is to be rejected, even killed. Funny how in ‘Depression and other fictions’ I spoke much of adhering to an ideal, when Christ is the only true ideal, and Catholic doctrine is the only doctrine that holds on to such an ideal, however the world goes.

As terrible as the world is depicted by those who hold to the one true faith, we also know that Jesus in being God is the one true life. And how assuring is it that true life is also true love! Put this way, the Resurrection and its defying of what little we understand of the world is hardly the hardest thing to believe.

As grateful as I am for Kierkegaard’s influence, I do consider him more as a gateway to Christianity, rather than ‘the way’ so to speak. Kierkegaard let his understanding of ‘truth as subjectivity’ get in the way of community, misassociating the social aspect of religion with a herd mentality that deviates from God and godliness. But the Church is of souls whose fundamental union is of Christ, however corrupted the events in Christendom and history in general may be.

I’m just glad certain books of Kierkegaard came into my life at times that I was receptive to some of his message, soon enough leading me to, of all things and quite anti-climactically to everyone else, Catholicism full-circle. That’s the thing I noticed about the truth that is Jesus. However distorted your understanding may be in this world of materialism and ‘objective’ science, He will reach you, He will speak your lingo, if only you want to believe. All you need to get started is something as simple as, “Jesus, please let me know You are with me.”

My critique of the 6-9 meme critique

6 9 meme critique critique


Text:
But almost nobody believes in unlimited relativism of ideas and values.
Much of the phenomena we observe is not purposely created by a person. In addition, no one person is capable of knowing all there is to know about any issue, hence the value of outside perspectives. The origin of much of our conflicting views is in the belief that any one belief is the ‘objective’ one, where everything is settled.
Even when another person is obviously wrong to us, their method of knowing what they believe to know could be instructive in our methods of knowing, our means of argumentation.
If anything’s wrong with the world, it’s in not recognizing that others have a point, even when they don’t express themselves that well.


Update: I discuss the matter further in my book How to get good, the section ‘How to think critically.’ The required openness to other points of view is shown by curiosity and a willingness to be wrong. I say it much better in the book.

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