Archives for March 2015

A Weak Reason for Leaving the Church

Social critic and “dissident feminist” Camille Paglia, who often boasts of being a Democrat and/or Green Party supporter but who seems to have a soft spot for conservatism, was interviewed recently by the liberal Catholic magazine America in which she discussed her abandonment of Catholicism.

I asked the nun what still seems to me a perfectly reasonable and intriguing question: if God is all-forgiving, will he ever forgive Satan? The nun’s reaction was stunning: she turned beet red and began screaming at me in front of everyone. That was when I concluded there was no room in the Catholic Church of that time for an inquiring mind.

Why doesn’t God forgive Satan? As I mentioned in the comments to that article, even if God did forgive Satan, he wouldn’t come back to God. Angels’ intellects are far superior to those of humans, and once they make a decision – which Satan did when he chose to rebel against God – they accept and embrace that decision as final, with full knowledge of the consequences.

Another commenter explained that God did not provide a plan of redemption for the angels (which includes Satan, a fallen angel) as He did for mankind.

It’s silly to leave the faith because a nun couldn’t adequately answer that question. I’m sure Ms. Paglia had other reasons, but one should not join or leave a religion based on personal preferences. One should do so based on whether that religion is true.

There’s abundant circumstantial evidence, as outlined in several recent books, for the divinity of Christ and authenticity of the Gospels. There’s also a very strong case to be made that the Church that Jesus established upon Peter’s rock was the Catholic Church. By rejecting that Church, Ms. Paglia is taking an extreme risk. Best not to set oneself up for a rude awakening when it’s time to plop down on that judgement seat.

Will Greece Go Russian?

GreeceAthens is due to run out of cash within the next few months, and prospects are dim for a new loan agreement between the European Union and the recalcitrant new Greek government.

During negotiations with Germany, instead of trying to work out a deal Greece’s radical left leaders have been acting more like Soviet-bloc leaders used to act toward the West, making threats (e.g. to seize German assets and flood the E.U. with migrants and jihadists) and demanding that Germany pay reparations for World War II which ended 70 years ago.

With a cash crunch looming, Greece could abandon the West altogether and seek the assistance of Russia, and/or China. Early next month Greece’s new prime minister Alexis Tsipras is due to make a trip to Moscow to meet with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

There are a lot of Marxists in the new Greek government, and still a lot of Communist influence in Russia. There also are reports that some top Greek government officials are cozy with their Russian counterparts.

Will Greece fall into the Russian orbit? The signs are pointing to that. Here’s hoping that the Greeks work out a deal with the West, liberalize their economy, and stay in the euro zone.

 

Courses on Christianity by a Christ-Naysayer

There are a lot of book authors arguing in favor of the divinity of Christ and authenticity of the Gospels. There don’t see to be many authors, however, who’ve made a name for themselves arguing against those assertions. One such author, though, is UNC-Chapel Hill professor Bart D. Ehrman. It seems whenever anyone wants to challenge a Christian apologist, or hold a debate between a Christian apologist and a contrary spokesperson, they turn to Dr. Ehrman. (Is there no one else to whom they can turn? Are the arguments against the authenticity of the Gospels so weak that so few researchers are prepared to defend that position?)

You may be familiar with The Great Courses – the audio lecture series with hundreds of courses in a variety of disciplines, presented by prominent professors. The Great Courses has several courses on Christianity, including History of the Bible, How Jesus Became God, A History of Early Christianity, Historical Jesus, The Greatest Controversies of Early Christian History, and The Writings of the Apostolic Fathers.

Those constitute a large portion if not the majority of their courses on Christianity. And guess who’s the lecturer for all of the aforementioned courses: yep, none other than Bart Ehrman.

To be sure, The Great Courses has another course relating to Christianity, The History of the Catholic Church, taught by a professor who’s a Catholic himself. So they aren’t all religion-bashers there.

But Dr. Ehrman certainly is. Calling himself both an atheist and agnostic, he’s produced voluminous literature arguing against the divinity of Christ and authenticity of the Gospels. The Freedom from Religion Foundation even presented him with their Emperor Has No Clothes award last year. See here and here.

It’s obvious that this is a man with an axe to grind.

A less controversial lecturer would be preferred – at the very least someone who is coy about whether or not he or she believes in the divinity of Christ.

In their bio of him, it behooves The Great Courses to add that among Dr. Ehrman’s awards is the above-mentioned one from the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

Update: Having listened to Ehrman’s History of Early Christianity, it turns out that his presentation was more objective than I had expected. In any case, his FFRF association should still be in his bio.

 

 

New San Diego Bishop’s Wrong Approach to Poverty

First Chicago, now San Diego. Pope Francis just appointed a left-leaning bishop to lead the Diocese of San Diego, Bishop Robert McElroy. He reportedly is prone to “placing abortion and euthanasia on the same moral level as immigration and poverty.” That probably means he plays down the former in favor of issues such as poverty.

The irony is that it’s left-wing policies, which the Bishop no doubt espouses, that breed poverty. High minimum wages, for example, price unskilled people out of the job market, resulting in a large underclass of unemployed. Welfare often discourages work, which even Bill Clinton recognized. High taxes and regulations on businesses discourage business creation and hiring, resulting in fewer jobs and putting downward pressure on wages. Huge government expenditures and stronger government control of the economy slow economic growth – and slow growth is the biggest producer of poverty. It’s no surprise that inner cities, where leftist policies dominate, are breeding grounds of poverty. Same with leftist-controlled countries around the world.

So it’s quite ironic that the good Bishop, who claims to be most concerned about poverty, unwittingly supports the very policies that encourage it. (Preceding paragraphs taken from my comment to the above-linked article.)

Absolute poverty throughout the world has declined considerably over the past several decades. That has coincided with a much greater embrace of free markets, especially in places like China, India and other Asian countries. If Bishop McElroy were really serious about eradicating poverty, he would be a champion of free markets. But alas, my guess is that he does the opposite.