Friday, December 18, 2009

I am not responsible for Muslim Terrorists

The other day I went to another college about an hour away to debate some kids. I say kids because at the ripe old age of 25, a college freshman now feels like a kid. Ug. I'm old. Anyway...

The topic was organized religion. They were arguing against it. I, of course, was on the pro-organized religion side.

I was only asked two days prior to do this. And, being in the middle of finals, I did not have much time to prepare. However, I spent several hours collecting my stats and figures, fulling intending to go in there and show them how the Catholic Church has made all of their non-God believing lives better. Their talking points were:
  1. Religion makes people violent and kill each other. Ex. Crusades, Inquisition, Islamic fundamentalist violence today.
  2. Religion causes intolerance of others (discrimination, inequality, repression, hatred, violence and even murder).
  3. Religion impedes scientific advancement and the overall improvement of knowledge.
Now, I must say number three made me laugh. Literally. It took one lousy Google search to come up with 10 incredible examples of how the Catholic Church advanced science. Modern genetics, chemistry...etc.

The other two however, fine. Lets debate.

I showed up the morning of dressed well, with tie and vest. I figured even if I couldn't out argue them, I could out class them.

They focused a lot on Islam. In fact, besides talking about how horrible Christianity is to oppose abortion and gay marriage, all they talked about was Islam. They spoke of terrorism and the Kuran telling you to kill infidels and beat your wife. I can't debate any of that. I think Islam can be dangerous. But I can't remember the last time I saw the Pope bomb a building. But that doesn't matter...Islam is bad, so all religion is bad,

I don't know where I am going with this, but it definitely gave me pause to stop and think. I spent most of my Catholic life arguing against Protestants...maybe I should spend more time talking with those who really need converting.

Monday, December 14, 2009

This is my rifle, this is my gun...

I spent four years in the United States Marine Corps. I don't really know why I did it, but in hindsight I am glad that I did.

I remember myself, about eight years ago, graduating high school and wondering the same question I often ask myself now - "What am I going to do with my life?" Lucky for me, at that point in my life I had a great delaying tactic...the military.

It all began, like most stories do, with yelling and getting my rear end beat day after day at Parris Island. Those days seem like a haze of screaming, running, and wishing I had some sweet and sour pork. With fried rice. And lo mein. Maybe a few egg rolls on the side.

The next several years I spent most of my time doing my job and trying to stay out of trouble. I got promoted several times...then they expected me to yell at people. I tried it, but the whole chain of screaming seemed so silly to me I usually just punished the guys under me with extra work. Making veins pop out of my neck just isn't my style.

I got to see several different countries - including the beautiful beaches of Iraq! Of course, no matter how far we walked we never got to the ocean. I am starting to wonder if it is really a beach at all...

So, when all is said and done, I have lots of stories to tell and some great things to put on my resume. Plus, free college. I also get to make fun of the Army and Air Force and feel good doing it. Not to mention I get to "casually" bring it up in conversation to impress new people I meet. Yeah...I guess it was a good life decision. Just don't ask me to reenlist. Not a chance in h-e-double hockey sticks.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Nothing is Better than Augustine in the Morning

I took a Biology course this semester on pre-historic life and evolution. My professor was actually a cool guy. He studies prehistoric clams for a living, so the class usually consisted of me waking up at the end when everyone stood to leave. And then there was the drool...I hated the drool...But, other than that, not a bad class.

Well, the last couple of weeks of the class we talked about creationism. And, on the last day of the semester we were thrilled and delighted to listen the Reverend Susan teach us about the Unity ecclesial community's view on creationism.

I sat in the back of this 200 person class so I could roll my eyes. And I did from the first sentence she said - "We all create our own truth."

As I pondered why I came to class that day, I realized I should at least listen to what she had to say. To be honest, it wasn't half bad. She was hammering home Platonic concepts, though she gave no mention of him. Her metaphysics principles were sound, and 80% of what she said was compatible with Catholic belief.

The one thing that shocked me more than discovering that most Chinese food isn't really chicken were the questions the students presented. It made me lament all Christian education. Of the 180 so people in this class, the majority seemed to be hearing for the first time that science and Christianity are harmonious. I think they place all of us in the school of strict, literal, seven day creationism and a 6000 year old earth.

Well, I have a message for all of my fellow students. It comes from a very great man. One who I consider wiser than everyone in that room combined. It may appear long, but give it a read. It may change your viewpoint.

Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he hold to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn.

The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason?

Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion. [1 Timothy 1.7]

- Saint Augustine in his work The Literal Meaning of Genesis (De Genesi ad litteram libri duodecim).

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Oh so many reasons...

So, to anyone who knows me, they know the reason I left seminary was for Carrie Underwood. She might not know it yet, but its true. Sort of.

I spent a lot of time in seminary with some wonderful home schooled families. You know the type - dad works at some prestigious job, mom has her BA in Education, and they have 8 of the most well behaved kids running around their beautiful home. Not to mention they grow their own food, make their own jellies and jams that they keep in the basement, and all the girls can cook anything under the sun. When you ask the kids who their hero is, they either say their dad or name a Saint. When you ask them what they do with their free time, they study Latin and recite the Divine Office. They eat every meal together. No one sits around the TV - instead they interact and spend time with each other.

I wanted that. So I left. Of course, in my head on my way out the door, I helped rescue Carrie Underwood's drowning puppy. So, to thank me, she converted to Catholicism, married me, got me a six figure job at her daddy's company (In my dream he had one), then we started poping out the best looking offspring this side of the Mississippi.

Then reality hit me in the face. And it hurts. I almost cried. Reality is mean. It stole my lunch money and pushed me in the mud.

I took a year off from college, which set me back. I don't regret it at all, but now I feel like an old man trying to finish my undergraduate degree. Not to mention I have NO IDEA what I want to do after this. I mean, I want to go to grad school, but where? You mean in the real world I have to actually get a good job that provides for a girl and family? I don't even know what that looks like.

Sometimes I still think about being a priest. I wonder if I left because I was in the wrong place, the wrong seminary, or I just wasn't ready. I know a few things for sure though - I love God, I love His Church, I love His priesthood, and I love girls. Now I just have to figure out which of those last two I can give up.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Solemn Vows are Always the Hardest

After dragging my rear end out of bed at 5 am, it occured to me later in class that I should write a blog. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing of value to offer to the wise sage known as the internet, just my meager opinions, but consider this my long overdue journal.

So, let's start things off right. I will make a solemn vow to you, my future faithful readers. I vow not to start papers at 5 am the morning they are due. Ever. Again. How did I ever get in this habit in the first place? Allow me to shun responsibility for a moment and say "It's not my fault!" One night I got overwhelmed, didn't have time to work on it, woke up the next morning, wrote it prior to class, turned in that stellar piece of work and made an "A-."

It figures. Positive reinforcement for my bad behavior. But that paper was only six pages.

Next came my eight page paper. Last time I had finished in plenty of time, why not give it another whirl? We were supposed to "research" a topic, but I decided that making everything up would suffice. 5 am rolled around, I got up, put on my nicest sweat pants, walked to the campus library, and began to type out some dribble of epic proportions. It worked again, with slightly worse results. B+.

So, this morning, I was faced with a daunting 12 page paper. This one required actual "data." (pffft). My on the spot statistics wouldn't work this time. I got it done, but while proof reading this paper 3 minutes before class, I figured I could have just written in crayon. For the level of sophistication I had put into this baby, I would probably get the same grade. This thing was worthless.

Next week holds the key - will I once again be rewarded for my bad behavior or will I be forced to reform?