Saturday, December 17, 2011

May Peace and Love be Ours

It's been snowing lightly all day, and we have our first real layer of snow on the ground. Now it's dark, but Christmas light decorations from surrounding neighbors shine their various shapes and give enough illumination for us to see the snow. It's a peaceful, pretty scene.

We are blessed in many ways, and pray for blessings for others. Though our house is small, it is nice and warm. We have had a good dinner and trust we will have plenty to eat for our Christmas holiday meal. We live in a relatively safe place in the world.

We Christians have a wonderful, loving God. I pray we may be pleasing to Him, to work as much as we can through our hurts and divisions to be the followers He wants us to be.

I pray we may have a peaceful, content, loving Christmas.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Woman at the Well

As you might realize from the name of the blog, one of my favorite Bible stories is the woman at the well in John 4. Jesus came upon a Samaritan woman who was drawing water from a well and asked her for some. She was shocked, because for a Jewish man to be talking with a Samaritan woman was doubly unthinkable. Jews did not talk with Samaritans and there was a religious restriction against men talking with women. Beyond that, she had had 5 husbands, which Christ knew and told her so. Yet, Christ was willing to engage her. He probably spoke with both gentleness and authority. He told her the water He shall give would satisfy so that she would never again be thirsty. How could she not be both awestruck and curious?

He announced to her that He was the Messiah Jews were waiting for. She understood and went to her people. How did the townspeople see the woman who had lived with so many men and even a sixth one now? It must have been something of God's miracle that at least some of them listened to her at all. Yet Jesus Christ allowed her to be one of his first evangelists, and many of the townspeople were saved through following her call to come and hear Him. They did listen to Him and believed.

There is disdain for what some call "Cafeteria Catholics," that they pick and choose rules of the Church instead of "towing the line." It seems even though we each are supposed to have different gifts to give to the Church, somehow we are to fit in one mold. Naturally, some doctrines are non-negotiable in the Church. But it seems some of the problems come when individual persons are not seen as respectable in their own desires or interpretations of what God is calling them to do.

Some don't want people to be too different from them, or they might have to stretch their interior understandings to try to meet other people half-way in trying to see their side of things. This takes time and effort. It's much easier to tell other people to conform.

It's no wonder many of the Jewish leaders of the time didn't like Jesus. Though He said he did not come to abolish the Law, there were many times He did not conform to what they expected. Even His disciples, who loved Him, were often baffled. In the John 4 story, they were amazed when they came upon Him talking with this Samaritan woman.

The people and the leadership of our Church I'm sure are trying to do the right things. But sometimes we have to stop and consider that more discernment on certain points may be needed. We in fact do that with Church Councils and things do slowly change. So let's, instead of calling people "Cafeteria Catholics," engage in the deeper issues of where we think differences and change may be valid and encourage development rather than peer pressure to fit in a rigid mold.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival 12/11/11

Welcome! It's been a while since I've checked out Catholic Carnival or had a link to it. I'm glad to see so many bloggers taking advantage of the connection. I've decided to try to write a book again, and since I don't multi-task too well, my blogging has become very limited.

However, the recent events of the Penn State scandal have caused me to reflect on the blog about certain aspects of it, especially since I went to that school. I thought I would share them. Links are in the posts of the accusations of sexual misconduct against the former assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky. As most of you probably know, these led to the firing of long-time coach Joe Paterno. It is not unlike the struggle that those in the Catholic Church continue to suffer even when they have nothing to do with the alleged or proven cases of sexual abuse. To be both Catholic and a Penn State alumnus is a double dose of shock. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science from there.

Sad, Not Mad

A Terrible Time

The Victims

Changing Story

Penn State Alienation

The link to the Catholic Carnival host site is here at This, That and the Other Thing. To get to the Sunday Snippets post, click here.

May you all have a blessed holiday season.

Mind Changing

Well, leave it to a woman to change her mind. I had decided to leave comments open, but after seeing some pretty filthy language languish on comments from another blog, I've decided to go back to moderating. I don't get many comments anyway. It's just the principle of the thing. (Sorry if I sound whiny. I know it's unfair to expect comments when I'm not blogging much or commenting on other blogs. I'd like to post more, but I'm working on writing another book and, unlike many others, find it hard to do both.)

Bad language is everywhere, and it bothers me even to read books or watch TV shows that have it. Unfortunately, I sometimes still do that or I'd hardly have any entertainment available. Nevertheless, I'm trying to move away from all entertainment with foul language, and I don't use it myself. I don't want it bouncing around in my brain being ready for use at any moment. I neither use it in my conversation or my writing. I try to read Christian writers, but I like mysteries and have a limited number of "favorite" authors. Anyway, I heartily invite anyone reading my blog to comment, but I sincerely hope you can do it without swearing.

The significance of "damn" and "hell" are scary to someone who fears God. Some say "fear" in this sense is just a word to mean respect, and I agree that is one of the aspects. But I also think there is real potential for separation from God after death, and that should bring fear to any heart.

I'm not saying I have been perfect by any means. But now I am trying to follow God the best I can. I believe that using pure speech is one of the ways to do that.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Penn State Alienation

While suffering through the Penn State mess, I reflect on the problems of institutions of "higher" learning. I know I can't begin to imagine what it takes to keep a university going on the scale of this one. Yet I have had experience on the Internet and with a few colleges and their personnel when it comes to making presentations about Intelligent Design theory (ID). Though grinding their teeth to make themselves accept one presentation at a religion-science seminar, they wanted to hear no more. Some had been polite, others not so much.

I admit I'm not an expert on genetic research which goes at so fast a rate that few can keep up with all of it. Yet design seems obvious even at very basic levels. At my presentation, no one questioned the science. It was the theology, in my opinion, which made some uncomfortable.

Our institutions have become embarrassed about simple Christianity. Religion is still OK if presented in far-out Far Eastern terms, such as blending of consciousness and the universe. It's OK to talk about materialistic evolution where nature's laws are all that is needed to create everyone and everything. It's OK to study the Testaments as mythic historical stories. But let anyone talk about even the possibility of the God of the Bible directly creating the world, he or she is avoided like the plague.

I have written about changing my point of view from ID to Creationism, because even ID adherents have problems about admitting the theory has anything to do with religion. It is about science, they say, even though individuals may have their own religious views. Science appears to be the "higher" part of the institutions to which we refer. Higher, they seem to hold it, than God Himself.

We all know the research at colleges and universities has had great impact on our world. But not all they do is so momentous or good. Last summer, Penn State scientists came out with a theory that aliens may attack Earth to stop us from killing ourselves through global warming. I think I saw that in a movie somewhere which is where they probably got the idea. So-called scientists can have any theory imaginable (the multi-universe theory is another example), but just approach a student group about the design in nature and you are cut off cold.

Perhaps this "Alien Theory" is to shore up scepticism which is due to a continuing scandal. One of Penn State's professors, Michael Mann, has been accused of doctoring data to prove dangerous, presumably man-made, global warming exists. The release of e-mails between him and other scientists a few years ago has been supplemented by more recent ones. Huge amounts of money are involved in grants for research in this area. I'm no expert, but I read some of the e-mails and they don't look innocent to me. Human nature is the same whether it be in scientists or Wall Street traders (and it can be good or bad in both).

How does one get back to what is morally right? Even preachers have their problems, but if they are in church for the right reason, they know they are sinners and they need the Foundation, yes--Jesus Christ, to get them back on the right path. He is what the leaders of Penn State and any institution need in order to have the wisdom and courage to make the right decisions.

Philosophers try to root moral answers based strictly in human reason, and it doesn't work. Why should a sexual predator worry about whether he is hurting someone else? What makes the other's feelings more important than his own? Why should a scientist care more about accurate data than millions of dollars he gets for his research project? It's not what Aristotle or Plato said thousands of years ago, or what human beings alone can make of their thoughts now.

What really matters is what God says. He speaks through His Word and His works. That is, through the Bible and the beautiful design of nature. Though not everyone will be willing to listen, institutions of higher learning would do well to study them both in the way they are meant to be.