God Wrote the Bible, Literally!

I’ve recently had occasion to discuss with my Christian brothers, among other things, what the proper understanding of the Bible is. Is it the Word of God? Is it proper to read it literally? Is it infallible? And so on. As I reflected on the conversation, I noticed at times we were speaking past each other. Despite being intelligent, sensitive individuals, our vocabulary got in the way of understanding one another. This happens all too often to me, and that inspired this post. Specifically, I believe the Bible is

  1. A human, historical book,
  2. Rightly called holy and sacred,
  3. But neither an idol nor a magical talisman.

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A Model to Follow

John 13:1-15

The Washing of the Disciples’ Feet.

Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end. The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over. So, during supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Master, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.” Jesus said to him, “Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed, for he is clean all over; so you are clean, but not all.” For he knew who would betray him; for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
So when he had washed their feet [and] put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.

Period.

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Walking the Jesus Walk

St. Ignatius’ Prayer for Generosity

Lord, teach me to be generous.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve;
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to ask for reward,
save that of knowing that I do your will.

I began the Spiritual Exercises today and while I’m fearful of the unknown, I’m drawn by poetic prayers like this. They cut right to my core and say something beautiful and profound. Serving Christ as He deserves is to carry the cross with him. To give of oneself without condition or reservation. This is a very dangerous theology. It rebukes the pragmatism and cynicism and nihilism in this world. No wonder Ignatius was arrested by the Spanish Inquisition!

I’m excited about the journey.

What happens when Jesus is not the answer?

What happens when Jesus is not the answer?:

Doing good cannot be an optional extra for Christians, but must be at the core of our existence. For our faith is not measured by a list of sound doctrine, but instead by the fruit it produces in doing good.

(Via Red Letter Christians)

Amen. Read the whole post. It’s worth it.

Quick Reply to Some Quick Thoughts

Opinionated Catholic: Quick Thoughts On Forced Organ Donation Hypo and Aborton.

Let me say at the outset that Opinionated Catholic’s thoughts are anything but quick.  You should take the time to read the full post. Good stuff in there. Opinionated Catholic has turned out be one of my good Twitter-friends whose thoughtful (stubborn :) ) and carefully thought out (aggravating :) ) ideas have been a blessing. Keeps me honest!

Opinionated Catholic (O.C.) has been careful to not speak for me on my position on abortion which I characterize as a Catch 22.  The short version is that a total and complete ban on abortion is ugly because it not only is akin to rape, but in extreme cases it is murder, so-called “double effectexceptions notwithstanding. (That would take a whole other post!) On the other hand, abortion on demand is also ugly because it makes life a matter of convenience and by such logic I should not exist. My father was poor and born to a single mother. So there we have my basic position.  I should add that I am not trying to debate the morality of abortion per se or what should be the proper form of legal abortion.  I’m only interested in the morality and integrity of the Catholic position.

Now, in discussion with O.C., I asserted that the pro-life movement, at least that advocated by Catholics, is more pro-baby than pro-life since we will respect a person’s body in some cases where life can be saved by another person donating tissue but not others. I used organ donation as an example to show that we play favorites. We will go to any length in some cases, i.e. abortion, and not others.  I also asserted that this is not true to Christ who’s love knows no bounds since our love does in fact have bounds.

O.C. has made a compelling reply on the basis of voluntary and involuntary moral obligations.  For the sake of brevity, I will paraphrase I hope accurately.  The mother’s obligation to her child is different than merely person to person moral obligations.

  1. The mother has a duty to care for her child.
  2. The uterus unlike other organs exists for the express purpose of carrying her child and serves no other essential function.
  3. Denial of treatment, e.g. refusing kidney donation, is not the same as intentional act, e.g. abortion is killing the unborn child.

To all of this I would say, is a strong legal argument for limiting if not outright banning abortion if somehow the unborn can be given citizenship rights.  Until that happens, legal abortion will remain the law of the land.  A woman has no parental rights obligations whatsoever to a non-person under our law.  And the unborn are not persons under our law.  But what O.C. fails to see, as far as I can tell, is I am not arguing a legal case.  I’m looking at how Christ loves.  To wit, Christ was deeply radical in his love.  It is not a respecter of boundaries, especially as a disciple:

  • Matthew 10:37 “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;”
  • Matthew 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. ’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? 48 So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

This is not worldly love and makes worldly life difficult if one wants to be true to Christ. I am not saying that the abortion issue can’t be resolved. I for one would gladly ban it, under certain conditions. For example, if we had the technology to carry any child from zygote to full term by artificial means, I have no trouble at all banning abortion, taxing the responsible parties for child support (and the general public in cases e.g. rape), and making adoption a real social and governmental priority.

So if I love both mother and child, I have to be true to what it is I am doing. Justice is the sound love makes when it speaks in public. And my justice ultimately comes from Christ.  So if I play favorites with my love and say that the child is more valuable than the mother then I’ve sinned.  It’s why, if it came to it, I would put my body on the line to ban abortion. Justice demands that I be on the same chopping block as any rape victim.  If we can traumatize her to save her child, I can lose a kidney in fairness.