Thursday, September 30, 2010

Obama's New Age Christianity

Obama professed his Christian faith in an effort to combat confusion among the electorate regarding his religion.

But his own explanation of why he is a Christian is very confused. Two statements he made that I found the most troubling:

(1) "But what we can do, as flawed as we are, is still see God in other people and do our best to help them find their own grace.”; and

(2) "This is a country that is still predominantly Christian, but we have Jews, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, and their own path to grace is one that we have to revere and respect as much as our own, and that’s part of what makes our country what it is."

As Christians we do not help people "find their own grace," but help them participate in the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Also, there is only one path to that saving grace, it is through Christ and not through any other religion. People from other religions might be saved, but it is through Christ and His Body, the Church, by which they will be saved. They are not saved by following "their own path to grace," i.e., their erroneous religion.

Christians must respect everyone's freedom of religion. But that does not mean that we should stop spreading the good news that the only name under which anyone can be saved is that of Christ Jesus. Indeed, the concepts of salvation and grace are foreign to most other religions. 

Helping people find their own grace or their own path to grace rather than finding Christ who is the source of grace sounds pretty New Age to me. What about you? Are Obama's statements of his Christian faith enough to convenience you he is a serious Christian or do you think he just views Christianity through the lense of the New Age/modernist spiritual creed of "I'm okay/you're okay."

Acts 4:10-12: "Be it known to you all and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God has raised from the dead, even by him, this man stands here before you, whole. 11 This is the stone which was rejected by you the builders, which has become the head of the corner. 12 Neither is there salvation in any other. For there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved." http://www.newadvent.org/bible/act004.htm

I'm Back

I will be making an effort to post more frequently.

The Fire is back.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Health Care Reform: Other Ignored Dangers

I think the fact that the pro-life amendment passed is great, but how come we as Catholics are not asking other important questions. If the reform is about basic care and ensuring that care conforms to the true nature of human good we should also make sure that it does not cover:

1. Contraceptives
2. "Sex-change" operations
3. Same-sex "marriage" partners
4. Tube-ties, etc.
5. Invitro-Fertilization
6. Surrogacy

I am sure there are other immoral medical procedures, but I do not have the time to think of them right now. The abortion ban is great (though it will probably be eliminated in conference) but there are many other intrinsic evils that do not count as health care that we should not be paying for in the name of helping the poor and middle class have more affordable health care.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Accepting the Obama/Kmiec Abortion Argument is Contrary to Caritas in veritate

Doug Kmiec stated that he accepted Obama's personal rejection of abortion and rethought his pro-life stance because of Obama's argument that as much as he was personally opposed to abortion he could not impose his religious beliefs on people who had a religious belief that allows for abortion.

This was further reflected in the pluralistic "ideal" proposed by Kmiec in his 2008 October editorial in the Los Angeles Times stating that in a pluralistic society like America we must accept the legal "space" that allows for abortion to accommodate the diversity of religious belief on the subject.

But, Pope Benedict XVI, in Caritas in veritate, reminds us that accommodation of all religious belief is just as bad as the intolerant persecution of religious practice which is in conformity with the common good: "There are certain religious cultures in the world today that do not oblige men and women to live in communion but rather cut them off from one other in a search for individual well-being, limited to the gratification of psychological desires. " CV Paragraph 55. In other words, the philosophy of radical personal autonomy, which of course includes the right to abortion.

We should not give those who espouse this belief, the right to act on it. We have the power to prevent this belief from being practiced and must due so: "Discernment is needed regarding the contribution of cultures and religions, especially on the part of those who wield political power, if the social community is to be built up in a spirit of respect for the common good." CV Paragraph 55.

In other words, Obama's and Kmiec's admitted lack of discernment regarding the religious belief of others that allows them to kill babies, is not a commendable and democratic act, but an abdication of responsibility that thwarts true human development and is in fact contemptible.

Christians cannot and should not waffle on abortion. Murder is wrong, we know it and it is wrong to let others hide behind irrational religious belief to practice their crimes. We do not let Islamic terrorists do it, we should not let pro-abortion/pro-choice people do it.

Full Quote from CV:

"Other cultures and religions teach brotherhood and peace and are therefore of enormous importance to integral human development. Some religious and cultural attitudes, however, do not fully embrace the principle of love and truth and therefore end up retarding or even obstructing authentic human development. There are certain religious cultures in the world today that do not oblige men and women to live in communion but rather cut them off from one other in a search for individual well-being, limited to the gratification of psychological desires. Furthermore, a certain proliferation of different religious “paths”, attracting small groups or even single individuals, together with religious syncretism, can give rise to separation and disengagement. One possible negative effect of the process of globalization is the tendency to favour this kind of syncretism[132]by encouraging forms of “religion” that, instead of bringing people together, alienate them from one another and distance them from reality. At the same time, some religious and cultural traditions persist which ossify society in rigid social groupings, in magical beliefs that fail to respect the dignity of the person, and in attitudes of subjugation to occult powers. In these contexts, love and truth have difficulty asserting themselves, and authentic development is impeded.
For this reason, while it may be true that development needs the religions and cultures of different peoples, it is equally true that adequate discernment is needed. Religious freedom does not mean religious indifferentism, nor does it imply that all religions are equal[133]. Discernment is needed regarding the contribution of cultures and religions, especially on the part of those who wield political power, if the social community is to be built up in a spirit of respect for the common good. Such discernment has to be based on the criterion of charity and truth. Since the development of persons and peoples is at stake, this discernment will have to take account of the need for emancipation and inclusivity, in the context of a truly universal human community. “The whole man and all men” is also the criterion for evaluating cultures and religions. Christianity, the religion of the “God who has a human face”[134], contains this very criterion within itself." Paragraph 55

Two Interesting Tidbits from Caritas in veritate

Improvement of constitutional governments should not rely on government expansion: "The State does not need to have identical characteristics everywhere: the support aimed at strengthening weak constitutional systems can easily be accompanied by the development of other political players, of a cultural, social, territorial or religious nature, alongside the State." Paragraph 41.

And, although advocating for religious freedom in general, not all religions need to have the same freedom, because my friends some religions are not just wrong but BAD and governments can make the distinction (side note, those lame "coexist" bumper stickers are impliedly condemned, take that syncretism!):

"The Christian revelation of the unity of the human race presupposes a metaphysical interpretation of the “humanum” in which relationality is an essential element. Other cultures and religions teach brotherhood and peace and are therefore of enormous importance to integral human development. Some religious and cultural attitudes, however, do not fully embrace the principle of love and truth and therefore end up retarding or even obstructing authentic human development. There are certain religious cultures in the world today that do not oblige men and women to live in communion but rather cut them off from one other in a search for individual well-being, limited to the gratification of psychological desires. Furthermore, a certain proliferation of different religious “paths”, attracting small groups or even single individuals, together with religious syncretism, can give rise to separation and disengagement. One possible negative effect of the process of globalization is the tendency to favour this kind of syncretism[132] by encouraging forms of “religion” that, instead of bringing people together, alienate them from one another and distance them from reality. At the same time, some religious and cultural traditions persist which ossify society in rigid social groupings, in magical beliefs that fail to respect the dignity of the person, and in attitudes of subjugation to occult powers. In these contexts, love and truth have difficulty asserting themselves, and authentic development is impeded.
For this reason, while it may be true that development needs the religions and cultures of different peoples, it is equally true that adequate discernment is needed. Religious freedom does not mean religious indifferentism, nor does it imply that all religions are equal[133]. Discernment is needed regarding the contribution of cultures and religions, especially on the part of those who wield political power, if the social community is to be built up in a spirit of respect for the common good. Such discernment has to be based on the criterion of charity and truth. Since the development of persons and peoples is at stake, this discernment will have to take account of the need for emancipation and inclusivity, in the context of a truly universal human community. “The whole man and all men” is also the criterion for evaluating cultures and religions. Christianity, the religion of the “God who has a human face”[134], contains this very criterion within itself." Paragraph 55

Monday, August 31, 2009

Kmiec Speaks On Role of Church in America

Doug Kmiec is at it again. The debate on conscience protection is from April 2009 but has some interesting insights into the new thinking of Doug Kmiec.

Much of what he offers borders on a mistake in thinking that he pointed out in his Constitutional Law book. In the book Kmiec asks "Democracy, means or an end" (not exact quote but close enough). He used to answer the question "means" but now he has done a complete 180 and finds that democracy is actually the end. Amazingly, he states that democracy is no longer the favored means of achieving the good, it is the preferred method for determining the good:

"Unfortunately, in this temporal exile of ours, the fourth proposition is also true: the good is always disputed, and some mechanism in a pluralistic society is needed to resolve the differences in the conception of the good.
The fifth proposition, in America we decide in most cases to depend upon reasoned argument, persuasion, and ultimately democratic choice, to determine the good."

The fifth proposition is the most troublesome. Both from a Catholic and an American perspective. Here in America we have begun to define the good by democratic choice, especially individuals who label themselves liberals; but, this is not the American tradition.

In America, we hold the good of man and the rights and duties he must exercise to achieve this good to be "self-evident," i.e. not up for discussion, dialogue or democratic compromise. The right to life, being the first listed in the Declaration of Independence.

To argue that the very concept of the good can be disputed and chosen by a electoral vote, is to concede that we live in a tyranny, not of a monarch but of a mob. A mob without restraint, that has the power to say that good is evil and evil is good, is not the democratic ideal as Americans or our Founders understood it. It is these very two different conceptions of "democracy" that allowed thinkers like Edmund Burke to support our revolution and despise the French. The French revolution was the triumph of the mob, our revolution was the triumph, at least in the real of ideals, of government built on the non-negotiable Truth about man.

Turning now to the problems presented by Kmiec's statement from the Catholic perspective. Kmiec first starts by giving quick recognition of Church teaching, but then goes on to weaken its effect:

"Now, here is where the difficulty comes in. The church I love, the faith of my fathers and grandfathers, the American Catholic Church, has in modern times often chosen not to accept the democratic outcome as the conclusion to be guided by. Now, in some ways this is unproblematic, and one can find constitutional scholars across the land who dissent from various propositions when the Supreme Court of the United States, for example, undertakes to do something — like Roe v. Wade from my perspective — that is usurping of the legislature authority
and structure provided for in the Constitution. So the Church, when it echoes those arguments, is not particularly controversial.

But the Church makes a broader claim than that. It is a claim I am quite fond of, but it has great difficulty to it in terms of application. That is that democratic outcome can never trump the truth, that, as John Paul reminded us in Veritatus Splendor, a democracy not
well aimed with the truth of the human person in mind is very well on the track toward totalitarianism. The problem is that truth claims, like other claims of the good, are always disputed.

Then we come to really difficult times in our current Church circumstance, and that is some of our leaders guide us internally by intimidation and sacramental denial, or the threat of sacramental denial, and by practices of shunning, most recently Professor Glendon. She is the shunner, Notre Dame is the shunnee, in case you haven’t been following the stories.

. . .

So my eighth question and proposition is: How well situated is a church that proceeds in this fashion to ask for an exemption from generally applicable laws that we ask others to abide by? I would suggest that it tends to weaken its position in terms of asking for that exemption, and that in itself presents its own problems.

. . .

With respect to institutional claims for conscience exemption, I suggest that there should be a presumption against giving those, largely because they are anti-democratic. By contrast, in terms of individual claims of conscience, I suggest the law should be highly sensitive to those, for among other reasons, as I have been told over and over again because of my sin of “Obama meisting,” that I have a lot to answer for with St. Peter and for whom he works, and some metaphysical consequences of individually engaging in intrinsic evil are more profound for the individual than for the institution, which may or may not continue into eternity. The law should be particularly sensitive about it."

In other words, Kmiec thinks it anti-democratic for the Church to refuse to prostitute Herself to participate in the evil aspects of programs put forward by politicians who want to turn the Church from an independent entity to an arm of federal and state government public policy. Moreover, when Her pastors, our shepherds, the Bishops, shepherd us or our fathers, the priests, chastise us, who are their children, it is "intimidation" and "sacramental denial." This sounds like a teenager who is grumpy with his parents for threatening to punish them for staying beyond curfew. It is an act of mercy, not intimidation, to chastise the sinner, just read your Baltimore Catechism Professor Kmiec.

Finally, Kmiec (beyond advocating for the elimination of marriage and treating homosexual pairs and marriages equally in law and naming them all "quarks" as a model for religious freedom), states amazingly that:

"This notion of creating an ideal world through law is a forfeiture of the faith and the power of the faith. It is directly contrary, it seems to me, to Thomas’s teaching, to the Thomastic teaching about not seeing to enact every virtue or prohibit every vice. The human condition is just simply not capable of that and it is more variegated than that.

But it doesn’t mean you give up on the transformation of the culture. It just means you don’t expect the Supreme Court of the United States to be the chief catechist. You expect yourself to in fact embrace the Scripture and the Catechism, and through homiletics and through good works and your own personal witness and what happens in that parish community. That’s where the ideal world gets constructed."

Pretty ironic since Kmiec addressed the criticism of Obama by Cardinal Stafford by informing him that the cultural change the Cardinal had worked for his whole life in Christ would come to pass upon the inauguration of Obama, as President of the United States, a political office held by a non-Catholic! http://www.cuatower.com/2008/11/21/prof-doug-kmiec-on-cardinal-staffords-obama-comments/

Just imagine Kmiec sharing this point of view of the role of Church and the political State with the people of Malta who have shown an ability to engage in democracy and upholding the truth about the human person.

P.S.

Kmiec also mistakenly implies that Humane Vitae's teaching is only applicable to Catholics rather than a teaching based on natural law and morality: "In terms of the conveyance of the significance of marriage and these other teachings on contraception, you don’t need to stop the coverage of insurance for contraception for people who have no moral objection to it in order to convey to Catholics the significance of Humanae Vitae. Now, you are going to need a lot of help conveying the significance of Humanae Vitae, and people have been working on it for a long time. But you are not going to get help from this passage of the law." Humane Vitae must be accepted by Catholics, but as a truth applicable to all mankind, we Catholics need to convey its significance to all peoples.


The transcript of the conference at Fordham re conscience protection is available here: http://mirrorofjustice.blogs.com/mirrorofjustice/2009/08/conscience-at-fordham.html



Thursday, August 20, 2009

Catholic Health Association Against "Caritas in Veritate"

I highly recommend that you watch or listen to the Raymond Arroyo, The World Over, interview/debate with Sr. Carol Keehan president of the Catholic Health Association (CHA). The CHA has come under fire for demanding health care reform "now." Sr. Keehan clearly believes that it is the role of the federal government to pay for the majority of health care in this country.

In response to Sr. Keehan's almost unreserved support for government financed health care Mr. Arroyo asked her what would prevent the "reformed" American health care system from resembling the rationed care in Canada and Britain that abuses seniors and denies essential care to the very sick. Her response was shocking and let the mask slip on the CHA agenda: "The political reason I think it won't happen here is 'cause it [the elderly] is the largest voting block."

This is in direct conflict with the Pope's current encyclical which expressly rejects a social order based on benefiting those with the most political power:

"Without truth, without trust and love for what is true, there is no social conscience and responsibility, and social action ends up serving private interests and the logic of power, resulting in social fragmentation, especially in a globalized society at difficult times like the present." Caritas in veritate at Paragraph 5.

"In promoting development, the Christian faith does not rely on privilege or positions of power, nor even on the merits of Christians (even though these existed and continue to exist alongside their natural limitations)[44], but only on Christ, to whom every authentic vocation to integral human development must be directed." Caritas in veritate at Paragraph 18

In her statement, Sister Keehan belies her statements of wanting to promote the Catholic conception of charity and social justice. Her statements reveal her willingness to implement a system that depends and promotes the interests of the politically powerful, which is probably why the CHA is so comfortable spending so much money lobbying Congress. It is an admission that the CHA push for health care reform is a push for the politicization of health care.

Additionally, the idea that the federal government, which already makes up 33% of the health care industry needs to become a larger provider of health care runs dangerously close to promoting the concentration of power warned against by the Pope:

"When technology is allowed to take over, the result is confusion between ends and means, such that the sole criterion for action in business is thought to be the maximization of profit, in politics the consolidation of power, and in science the findings of research." Caritas in veritate at Paragraph 71.

We need to fight this consolidation of power not promote it.

Finally, the most disturbing line of the interview belongs also to Sr. Keehan: "We have to be in the mainstream."

No Sister, we have to be in Christ.

P.S. After listening to the interview, did anyone appreciate her justification of conceding 150 billion dollars of Catholic Hospital Association money to the government by saying that the money is going to the "Medicare Trust Fund," which has a 60 trillion dollar unfunded liability, that would be paid back in 2013? It was so ridiculous I laughed out loud.