Rational Lies

This weekend was a good one spiritually. Saturday, Bishop Steib from the Memphis visited and gave us a Word that had people rushing for his autograph. Today at Mass, Father gave a great homily on authentic Christianity. Both had me pondering on how I saw my own faith. Was it something I should defend against attack from the Jehovah’s witnesses at my door on the one hand to the subtle (and often not so subtle) condescension of my atheist friends and the likes of Bill Maher on the other? For a long time I, in fact, thought so. Well, no longer. I am willing to evangelize and to explain, but I’ll no longer defend. To do so is to accept the premise for attack. I don’t apologize for loving my wife. Why in the hell should I for loving Jesus? Rationally, neither makes any sense.
I remember a good friend asking me essentially why I was a man of faith, “You’re so bright,” he said. He went on with the usual old saws about how religion is good to get your through a tough time or if your are weak mentally or emotionally but not for the serious minded and intelligent. And I explained, patiently, where I was coming from.
Such thinking is ironic to me. It demonstrates a strong faith in one’s senses. If a man born blind denies the existence of color, what argument could convince him? His senses tell him nothing about the existence of color. In fact, every argument that I know of made to convince him could easily be employed to “prove” the existence of God!
Faith like love or art is a part of the human experience that is not subject to argument. It is ineffable and undeniable for those who experience it. To quote St. Thomas Aquinas:

To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.

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The Messiah Myth – TIME

The Messiah Myth – TIME:

“It pains me to deliver this sobering news to those who think Obama will wave his hand and erase whole ghettos: Barack Obama is a black President, not black Jesus.”

(Via Time Magazine.)

PREACH!

When I Became a Man

I was recently told old saw: “When you are young and not a Democrat, you have no heart. When you are old and not a Republican, you have no brain.” The implication being that being a liberal or progressive is good-hearted naivete and that as one grows older, and supposedly in wisdom, one must understand certain realities. It’s like Paul telling us that when he became a man he put away childish things.

I was recently told old saw:

When you are young and not a Democrat, you have no heart. When you are old and not a Republican, you have no brain.

The implication being that being a liberal or progressive is good-hearted naivete and that as one grows older, and supposedly in wisdom, one must understand certain realities. It’s like Paul telling us that when he became a man he put away childish things.
As I celebrated my Lord’s resurrection today, I thought about the friend who told this to me and I wondered how old I would have to be to outgrow Luke 6:20-38.

And raising his eyes toward his disciples [Jesus] said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours. [Note Jesus’s priorities.]
Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who are now weeping, for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man.
Rejoice and leap for joy on that day! Behold, your reward will be great in heaven. For their ancestors treated the prophets in the same way.
[This is where most people stop, but reading on…]
But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
But woe to you who are filled now, for you will be hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now, for you will grieve and weep.
Woe to you when all speak well of you, for their ancestors treated the false prophets in this way.
[This is usually where we pick things back up…]
But to you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well, and from the person who takes your cloak, do not withhold even your tunic.
Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back.
Do to others as you would have them do to you.
For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.
And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same.
If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit (is) that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, and get back the same amount.
But rather, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
Be merciful, just as (also) your Father is merciful.
Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.

Why was there woe to the rich and comfortable? I think the answer is located in the Master’s next words:

And he told them a parable, “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? No disciple is superior to the teacher; but when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,’ when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye. A good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For people do not pick figs from thornbushes, nor do they gather grapes from brambles. A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil; for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks. Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ but not do what I command? I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, listens to my words, and acts on them. That one is like a person building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when the flood came, the river burst against that house but could not shake it because it had been well built. But the one who listens and does not act is like a person who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, it collapsed at once and was completely destroyed.”

If growing old is to outgrow that, may I die young.