Saturday, March 03, 2007
CABALA IN THE JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIA
The material I've posted so far is contained in the first 13-1/2 pages of the printout of the entry "Cabala" in the Jewish Encyclopedia. To orient you in case you want to double check what I'm posting, I'll post the section sub-headings starting now.
According to the article, the pious can ascend to God if they free themselves from whatever binds body and soul. Here again Gnosticism is said to be "closely connected with Jewish mysticism", and that this union between God and the soul of a man is its objective. Is this the "alchemical wedding" often spoken of in esoteric and occult literature? They sound very much the same from the description given in the encyclopedia.
Through the employment of mysteries, incantations, names of angels, etc., the mystic assures for himself the passage to God, and learns the holy words and formulas with which he overpowers the evil spirits that try to thwart and destroy him. Gaining thereby the mastery over them, he naturally wishes to exercise it even while still on earth, and tries to make the spirits serviceable to him.
The angelology and demonology, magic and incantation are said to have been borrowed from Babylonia, Persia and Egypt, Judaized in the process, and became the "mystical adoration of the name of God and of speculations regarding the mysterious power of the Hebrew alphabet."
Another pagan conception which, in refined form, passed into the Cabala through the Talmud, was the so-called..."mystery of sex"..., Possibly this old conception underlies the Talmudical passages referring to the mystery of marriage, such as "the Shekinah dwells between man and woman".
Syzygies means "pairs".
Pantheism is a part of this doctrine:
...as mysticism attempted to solve the problems of creation and world government by introducing sundry intermediary personages, creative potentialities such as Metatron, Shekinah, and so on, the more necessary it became to exalt God in order to prevent His reduction to a mere shadow; this exaltation being rendered possible by the introduction of the pantheistic doctrine of emanation, which taught that in reality nothing existed outside of God....the writings of the church fathers bear evidence of many Judaizing Gnostics who were disciples of anthropomorphism.
Different Groups of Mystic Literature
Geonic literature is the link between the Talmud and the Cabala.
The theosophical speculations deal chiefly with the person of Metatron-Enoch, the son of Jared turned into a fiery angel, a minor Yhwh--a conception with which...many mystics of the Talmudic age were occupied.
Friday, March 02, 2007
MORE COMMENTS FROM CARDINAL BIFFI
delivered during the Lenten retreat for the Pope and top Vatican officials.
The cardinal comments that
- Christians tempted to set aside their belief in Christ as the only saviour in order to promote dialogue with others are being tempted by the Antichrist.
- the Antichrist presents himself as a pacifist, ecologist and ecumenist. He convokes an ecumenical council and seeks the consensus of all the Christian confessions, conceding something to each one.
- The crowds follow him, except for tiny groups of Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants.
Lee provided a link to Soloviev's story of the Antichrist down below in a comments box. Since both John Paul II and now Benedict pay attention to this story, it deserves a reading. Check it out. These two popes may just be trying to send us a message. If they are, it's one that shouldn't be ignored.
CATHOLIC SPIRITUALITY OR LAW OF ATTRACTION ?
Michael Brown at Spirit Daily has posted some comments which he titles "When the Enemy Slings His Arrows, Get Rid of them with the Spirit of God's Joy" which he has apparently taken from a book by Fr. DeGrandis. As I read through them, hints of "The Law of Attraction" kept coming back to me. The closing paragraphs read as follows:
Stings spring from jealousy and are the devil's attempt to steal the joy we have in God.
Don't let them do that. Maintain your peace. Keep your joy. Grab onto it and don't relinquish it! Slough off insult.
How do we stop it?
By blessing them. By blessing those who curse us. When you respond to an attack with love, it loses its power.
We also do it with joy. Simply ignore the attack and put yourself back in a frame of mind that is joyful. Joy is closeness to God and sweeps away the fiery darts. Joy sweeps away the darts like leaves. Have you ever noted how -- when we let leaves decay -- they can stain even cement?
More than peace, joy is the marker of God. Look to the Rosary, where we see first joyful mysteries and then the ones of sorrow but finally those that are luminous and glorious.
What starts with joy ends in glory.
Couple it with blessings.
"The words we are pronouncing say much about ourselves," said an astute Croatian priest. "A word can wound and heal, it can kill and bring back to life. This is why it is important to overcome what is bad and evil within us with what is good, pure, and blessed.
"Whatever is blessed brings blessing. Bless a thing and it will bless you! Curse it and it will curse you! Whatever you judge in your life will come back to you and hurt you. If you bless a situation, it has no more strength to hurt you and, even if for a time it causes you trouble, little by little this trouble will disappear, and the blessing coming from a pure heart will become a blessing for others. When you bless, you become ready to receive blessing. Blessing is the strength and the light for our paths. Through the blessing, light and peace enter into us. As soon as someone starts to bless instead of curse, wishing good to others instead of cursing them, he becomes healthy, happy, and saved from the hands of the enemy."
"Let joy reign in your hearts," said the Blessed Mother of Medjugorje. "I wish only that you would be happy, that you be filled with joy, that you be filled with peace and proclaim this joy. I desire that through you the whole world may get to know the joy of God."
What do you think? Is that an example of the Law of Attraction and the "Don't be negative" command that is so popular today, or am I way off base here?
MORE ON CABALA FROM THE JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIA
There is a relationship between Judaism and Gnosticism. The entry states that Gnosticism is of Caldean origin and "Gnosticism was Jewish in character long before it became Christian."
Gnosticism--that is, the cabalistic "Hokmah" (wisdom)...seems to have been the first attempt on the part of the Jewish sages to give the empirical mystic lore, with the help of Platonic and Pythagorean or Stoic ideas...It was the ancient Cabala which, while allegorizing the Song of Songs, spoke of Adam Kadmon, or the God-man, of the "Bride of God," and hence of "the mystery of the union of powers" in God...Speculative Cabala of old...spoke of "the germ of poison from the serpent transmitted from Adam to all generations"...
In the Cabalistic tree, the right side is the source of light and purity, the left side is the source of darkness and impurity according to the entry.
The Testament of Solomon is said by the entry to have
recently brought to light the whole system of conjuration of angels and demons, by which the evil spirits were exorcised...
The Sefer Refu'ot or Book of Healing
contains the "prescriptions against all the diseases inflicted by demons, which Noah wrote according to the instructions given by the angel Raphael and handed over to his son Shem.
There is a reference to healing by demonic powers.
Neoplatonism is said to produce "that state of enthusiasm and entrancement that made people "fly in the air" by "the wagon of the soul" and achieve all kinds of miracles by way of hallucinations and visions."
Spiritualism of the New York Trancendentalists reported by Fr. Herbert Thurston, S.J. in his book THE CHURCH AND SPIRITUALISM--a spiritualism that manifested in table-rapping sounds--very much resembles this passage from the encyclopedia entry:
The whole principle of emanation, with its idea of evil inherent in matter as the dross is found there, and the entire theurgic Cabala is in all its detail developed there; even the spirit-rapping and table-turning done in the seventeenth century by German cabalists by means of "shemot" (magic incantations)...
Contrary to the Christian concept of God creating out of nothing, according to the encyclopedia "God created the world from matter He found ready at hand...Eminent Palestinian teachers hold the doctrine of the preexistence of matter in spite of the protest of Gamaliel."
A fourth century Palestinian Midrash
asserts that three of the elements--namely, water, air, and fire--existed before the creation of the world; that water then produced the darkness, fire produced light, and air produced wisdom, and the whole world thereupon was made by the combination of these six elements. The gradual condensation of a primal substance into visible matter, a fundamental doctrine of the Cabala...
God is said to be the dwelling place of the universe by the mystics of the Talmudic period, but the universe is not the dwelling place of God. This would make the universe a part of God, even though God is not contained in the universe. Out of this comes the idea of union between God and man. The concept is pantheistic and is also a part of New Age doctrine.
According to the entry Metatron, said to play the role of the demiurgos, and expressly mentioned as God, passed into the Cabala from the Talmud. It is the demiurgos that Blavatsky claimed was the God of the Christians, an inferior god who created the world and caused the spiritual essense of man to fall into materialization.
Thursday, March 01, 2007
BLOG HIT COUNTER
I don't know what's wrong with the hit counter, but it keeps resetting itself. It has just reset again tonight. It's been a while since I last added up all the hits, but it must be over 100,000 by now.
THE LAW OF ATTRACTION
Linked at Spirit Daily is this article about the Oprah "Secret" DVD, the voice of the spirits who collectively speak as "Abraham" through the channel Esther Hicks, and most surprising of all, the involvement of three CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL book authors, Jack Canfield, Lisa Nichols, and Marci Shimoff.
This is trafficking in spirits, plain and simple.
SOLOVIEV SUBJECT OF PAPAL RETREAT
The Antichrist is the reduction of Christianity to an ideology, instead of a personal encounter with the Savior, says the cardinal directing the retreat which Benedict XVI is attending.
Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, retired archbishop of Bologna, delivered that message during a meditation Tuesday, drawing on the work of Russian philosopher Vladimir Sergeyevich Solovyov.
Blogger credit to Spirit Daily.
The real world is making demands this morning, and I may not get much time to blog today.
In the meantime, check out the Jewish Encyclopedia entry for Magic.
official Judaism bitterly opposed black magic, there was a constant stream of prohibitions against it, and from these the existence of various forms of witchcraft can be inferred. The secret Jewish name of God was a powerful factor in incantation, as is shown by the Egyptian magic papyri written in Greek, in which heathen and Jewish names of the Deity are frequently found in juxtaposition or combination, termed..."union"...by the Talmud...
However the article also states:
This ingrained belief in magic infected even the scholars; for although they did not practise (sic) witchcraft for gain or for unlawful ends, they occasionally counteracted black magic by white...Healing by means of white magic is not condemned except when the means employed are pagan or idolatrous...since this magic was regarded as a punishment for sins which had been committed, the passages of the Talmud which mention it take no exception to it...
That appears to represent two divergent streams of thought regarding magic within the Jewish community--one applied to black magic and the other to white magic.
Then there is this passage:
According to the Book of Enoch...the angels taught the daughters of men "incantations, exorcisms, and the cutting of roots, and revealed to them healing plants"...Noah's book of healing (Jubilees, x.) was magical in character, as were the writings of Solomon and Moses...
In the Middle Ages, as in antiquity, the Jews were regarded as magicians, and many of them doubtless profited by the general delusion....The Jews were considered sorcerers in Germany also...In times of drought, during the Middle Ages, the people turned to the Jews, who were supposed to be able to cause rain, and they are still regarded by some peoples as magicians.
With the following passage we get much closer to modern occultists' cited sources:
The scholars of the first centuries of the present era refer frequently and unanimously to Egypt as the original home of magic...In the Bible the real homes of all varities of witchcraft are given as Egypt...The influence of Egypt admits of no doubt as regards post-Biblical Judaism, which was for a long period under the control of the Ptolemies both in its civilization and its government. The Egypto-Hellenistic syncretism influenced first the Hellenistic Jews, especially those of Alexandria, and through them the Jews of Palestine. The Jewish and Judaeo-Christian view as to the source of Hebrew magic is confirmed by the Books of Hermes and by the recently discovered Greek and Coptic magic papyri, in which the Jewish element is no small factor; and Jacob...has recently proved that the belief in the almighty power of the name of God is Egyptian in origin....
There is no doubt that the majority of the theurgic and magic elements in the post-Talmudic literature which Jellinek collected in his "Bet ha-Midrash," date from Talmudic, and in part even from pre-Talmudic, times....This ancient magic, blended with Hellenistic and medieval European elements, was incorporated in the "practical Cabala." At the close of the Middle Ages the Cabala influenced the Jewish and the Christian world alike. The "Nishmat Hayyim" of Manasseh ben Israel, chief rabbi in Amsterdam in the seventeenth century, is filled with superstition and magic, and many Christian scholars were deluded. The evil deeply and widely infected the people, and is still active, especially among the Hasidim.
Books on Jewish magic at Amazon.com. Check it out.
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
has an article up at The Free Press websitein which he describes what he claims is the new Russian religious persecution, namely persecution of the members of the Church of the Mother of God. This church is neither Russian Orthodox nor Roman Catholic, but seems to be a blend of both formed out of the visionary experiences of its leader.
Without knowing the legality in Russia of various cults and sects, having an opinion here would be difficult. Is the Russian Orthodox Church persecuting this small sect? Is the sect illegal? Is it growing?
In any case, this article is poised to play on the sympathies of Americans who take religious freedom for granted. It sort of introduces this small sect to U.S. readership.
ESTROGEN IN THE WATER
makes "he" frogs into "she" frogs.
Does it make men into homosexuals?
Is it giving us cancer?
Interestingly enough, there is some Catholic prophecy that recounts a time after chastisement when "They will have clean water, purified by God from the lingering effects of the previous afflictions." In this website the three days of darkness and the subsequent abundance and clean water available to the third of the population that survives the chastisement is attributed to the book of Zechariah. Neither the Douay Rheims nor the NAB talk about this time of clean water in Zechariah 13, however, so where Catholic Planet got the passage is a mystery.
INTERESTING STORIES LINKED AT NOR TODAY
The San Diego diocese has filed for bankruptcy, making it the fifth to do so. This can be viewed two ways:
1. It is a legitimate strategy to assure that all victims will be fairly compensated for endured sexual abuse
2. It is a legal strategy to assure that the ugly details of diocesan secrets are kept under wraps.
Draw your own conclusions.
Another mystic bites the dust, temporarily at least. This one is said to be the new Padre Pio. He exhibits the stigmata every Easter. He has established his own community called the Apostles of God, and goes by the name Bro. Elia or Bro. Elijah, depending upon the source.
There is a developing showdown in Canada taking place between homosexuals and Christian/private schools. Will religious freedom prevail?
Al Gore gets the hypocrisy award of the year for consumption of electricity at his home--20 times the average. Sort of like all the peaceniks who promote conservation while jet-setting around the world attending peace conferences that accomplish...well, nothing discernible.
Romanian bishops believe fat bellies are telltale signs of priests living a good life. They recommend marathon prayer sessions and disapprove of sports as a solution.
JEWISH COSMOLOGY - KABBALAH
Material contained in Rabbi Geoffrey W. Dennis' account of Angels, blogged yesterday, and in the entry for "Hekalot" in the Jewish Encyclopedia promoted me to turn to the entry in this source for "Cabala".
This is a very long entry. It prints out at 59 pages--a small book. The very first thing that is worthy of note is the spelling of the term. "Cabala" is said by some to be the "Roman Catholic" spelling of the word, while "Kabbalah" is thought to be the Jewish spelling, and "Qabala" the Islamic spelling. The title of the entry in the Jewish Encyclopedia unhinges that concept.
It claims that "From the thirteenth century onward the Cabala branched out into an extensive literature, alongside of and in opposition to the Talmud." Is this, then, a separate branch of Judaism? The entry states further "The Cabala is divided into a theosophical or theoretical system, Kabbalah...and a theurgic or practical 'Cabala'..." "Theurgy" is the magical invocation of disembodied spirits that the occultists practice. You will find the practice of theurgy within the Ordo Templi Orientis, of Aleister Crowley fame.
The entry continues:
Cabala comprised originally the entire traditional lore, in contradistinction to the written law (Torah), and therefore included the prophetic and hagiographic books of the Bible, which were supposed to have been "received" by the power of the Holy Spirit rather than as writings from God's hand...Each "received" doctrine was claimed as tradition from the [early sayings of the Jewish] Fathers...The chief characteristic of the Cabala is that, unlike the Scriptures, it was entrusted only to the few elect ones; wherefore, according to IV Esdras xiv. 5, 6, Moses, on Mount Sinai, when receiving both the law and the knowledge of wondrous things, was told by the Lord: "These words shalt thou declare, and these shalt thou hide."
Esoteric knowledge, then, as opposed to knowledge from sacred books, is obtained through spirit contact of the same sort that is contained in Roman Catholic prophecy, such as the work of Anne Catherine Emmerich, from whom Mel Gibson took the story of Christ that he put into a movie. In reading Roman Catholic prophecy, it quickly becomes evident that accuracy is iffy, that other "spirits" convey it too often, and that discernment is vital. What has been the discernment process for the Kabbalah, or Cabala? How does one determine that the spirit conveying the message is "Holy", and how have the promoters of Kabbalah within the Jewish community made the determination? According to the article an early Jewish writer "Ben Sira warns against it in his saying..."Thou shalt have no business with secret things."
The source of the material is credited to the Essenes:
...the apocalyptic literature belonging to the second and first pre-Christian centuries contained the chief elements of the Cabala; and as, according to Josephus...such writings were in the possession of the Essenes, and were jealously guarded by them against disclosure...
How much is being contributed to our New Age movement by the discoveries in the Dead Sea Scrolls?
Another source of this material is the Book of Enoch. It is cited many times in the Encyclopedia entry. One of those occasions tells us:
Its angelology, demonology, and cosmology, give a fuller insight into the "Merkabah" and "Bereshit" lore of the ancients than the "Hekalot," which present but fragments, while the central figure of the Cabala, Metatron-Enoch, is seen in...a process of transformation. The cosmogony of the Slavonic Enoch, a product of the first pre-Christian century...showing an advanced stage compared with the older Enoch book, casts a flood of light upon the rabbinical cosmogony by its realistic description of the process of creation...Here are found the primal elements, "the stones of fire" out of which "the Throne of Glory" is made, and from which the angels emanate; "the glassy sea"...beneath which the seven heavens, formed of fire and water are stretched out, and the founding of the world upon the abyss...the preexistence of human souls and the formation of man by the Creative Wisdom out of seven substances...the ten classes of angels...[the] ten heavens instead of seven, and an advanced chiliastic calendar system.
To tease Roman Catholic cosmology out of that passage is beyond possibility. This is certainly not Genesis.
The article goes on to cite the Book of Jubilees, Pythagoras and the "magic power of the letters of the Tetragrammaton and other names of the Deity" as sources. The "Prayer of Manasses" is credited to the Chaldeans. "Magic" is introduced shortly after these citations, and that is where I will pick up this look at Jewish cosmology next time.
BOOKS PROMOTING THE NOAHIDE LAWS
The Soc.Culture.Jewish Newsgroups Reading Lists includes 13 books on the Noahide Laws.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Of all the world's various faiths, the one closest to Christianity would have to be Judaism. We share many of the same sacred books and history up to the birth of Christ. Given that, I had assumed that Jewish cosmology and Christian cosmology would be identical. Not necessarily so.
Unlike Catholicism which looks to the Pope for direction, Judaism is not monolithic. Many voices speak with authority, and those voices do not necessarily agree. To understand Judaism, one has to understand that theology is presented by a number of Rabbis who may be in total disagreement on various points. There is no court of last appeal. There are only the Jewish followers of various Rabbis.
For example, let's look at angels. Catholic angels are described this way in the CCC:
With their whole beings the angels are servants and messengers of God. (329)
As purely spiritual creatures angels have intelligence and will: they are personal and immortal creatures, surpassing in perfection all visible creatures, as the splendor of their glory bears witness. (330)
Christ is the center of the angelic world. They are his angels. (331)
Angels have been present since creation and throughout the history of salvation, serving the accomplishment of the divine plan. (332)
The whole life of the Church benefits from the mysterious and powerful help of angels. (334)
From infancy to death human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession. (336)
Behind the disobedient choice of our first parents lurks a seductive voice, opposed to God, which makes them fall into death out of envy. Scripture and the Church's Tradition see in this being a fallen angel, called "Satan" or the "devil." The Church teaches that Satan was at first a good angel, made by God: "The devil and the other demons were indeed created naturally good by God, but they became evil by their own doing." (391)
Now turn to Rabbi Geoffrey W. Dennis' account of Angels in the Encyclopedia Mythica. There you can read that Angels "manifest themselves as pillars of fire and cloud, or as a fire within a bush." The source for that claim is the Book of Exodus. But wait...wasn't it God who manifested Himself in a pillar of fire and a burning bush? Well, Rabbi Dennis sees angels as God: "Perhaps the most ambiguous creature is the Malach Adonai, an angel that may or may not be a visible manifestation of God."
He also states that: "The Book of Daniel includes a number of ideas about angels that would be elaborated upon in post-Biblical texts, including named angels and guardian angels, that all the nations of the world have their own angelic prince, that angels are arranged hierarchically, and that angels have delimited spheres of authority."
And we are told that in Rabbi Dennis' cosmology: "the boundary between human and angelic states is permeable. Elaborating on cryptic passages found in the Bible (Gen. 5:24; II Kings 2:11), it is taught that exceptional mortals, such as Enoch, may be elevated to angelic status (I Enoch)." That is certainly a departure from Catholic Old Testament cosmology.
We can also learn that in Judaism "angels may be invoked and employed by human initiates, later a staple element of Merkavah mysticism..." Rabbi Dennis goes further:
In late antiquity angelology becomes a major element in Merkavah mysticism. Any adept wishing to ascend the palaces of the heavens and achieve a vision of the Divine Glory needed to know how to get past the angelic guardians (usually by knowing and invoking their names) at each level. Perhaps even more important to this mystical tradition, angels can be summoned and brought down to earth to serve a human initiate. Many rituals and practices devoted to this end have been preserved in the Hechalot writings."
That is a significant departure from Catholic cosmology. The departure is magnified by Rabbi Dennis' words here:
Visitations by angels were widely reported among kabbalists. The mystic-legalist Joseph Caro wrote of his maggid, the genius of the Mishna, who visited him in the night and taught him Torah ha-Sod, the esoteric Torah.
The main contribution of Chasidic thought to angelology was a distinctly anthropocentric, even psychological, interpretation of angelic nature. Specifically, early Chasidic masters held that ephemeral angels were the direct result of human action. Goodly deeds created good angels, destructive behavior created destructive angels, etc. In other words, most angels are ontologically the creation, really a byproduct, of humans rather than God!
Such claims need verification. Next I turned to the Jewish Encyclopedia for the entry "Hekalot" and found Hekalot literature is:
based upon the remnants of the apocalyptic books of the mystic Essenes (see Apocalyptic Literature; Eschatology; Essenes) found in Mishnah (Ḥag. ii. 1) and Talmud. They originated, according to Hai Gaon ("Teshubot," No. 1), among the mystics of the geonic period known as the "Yorede Merkabah" (riders in the heavenly chariot), who, by asceticism and prayer, entered a state of ecstasy in which the heavens opened before them and disclosed their mysteries. These mysteries, and the means by which the "Merkabah-ride" can be achieved, are described in the "Hekalot Rabbati," of which thirty fragments have survived....
The "Hekalot Rabbati" begins with praises of those found worthy to see the "Chariot-Throne". Nothing that happens or that is about to happen in the world is concealed from them.
"Hekalot" refers to the seven heavenly halls which are guarded by angels. An "enumeration of the angels, and of the formulas by which they can be invoked" is part of this literature. There is a reference in the encyclopedia to the guardians of the door to the seventh hall, "terrible warriors with drawn swords, whose eyes send forth stars of fire, and from whose mouths issues burning coal; there are also guards who ride on terrible horses, horses of blood and of hail, which consume rivers of fire." It almost sounds as though it has been taken from the Book of Revelation. And it sounds somewhat like the toll booths in Orthodox Christianity, a kind of parallel to Roman Catholic Purgatory. The trick is to get past the guardians:
The seeker of the mysterious Chariot-Throne gains these halls by formulas which have the virtue of compelling the angels to grant him admission. Metatron serves him as guide. To undertake the perilous Merkabah-ride one must possess all religious knowledge, observe all the commandments and precepts, and fast frequently."
Contained in the Hekalot Rabbati are hymns of praise; a conversation between God, Israel, and the angels which confers instant wisdom to those who are initiated into this conversation; and an explanation of the mysteries of charms and prayers.
I'll pick up the discussion of Jewish angels at this point next time.
Monday, February 26, 2007
JESUS' BURIAL BOX
or Hollywood at its anti-Jesus thing again.
With no film in the running this year, director James Cameron seems set on muffling the post-Oscar rhapsodizing by loosing the publicity hounds on his latest project, which strikes at the foundations of Christianity and already has Church authorities upset.
It looks like things really got rolling, buzz-wise, with a TIME magazine blog whisper on Friday, which outlined details on 90-minute documentary in which Mr. Cameron, along with journalist Simcha Jacobovici, say they have uncovered the burial cave of Jesus and his family — along with enough DNA evidence to establish, they say, that Jesus wasn’t resurrected and that Jesus sired a son with Mary Magdelene.
James CameronJames Cameron (Photo: Getty Images)
The story was picked up over the weekend, and although the documentary will not air for another month (on the Discovery Channel), and an accompanying book co-authored by Mr. Jacobovici, “The Jesus Family Tomb,” is not quite shipping from Amazon.com yet, the condemnations have already started to fly.
“Every Christian knows that Jesus the son of God and man died and rose again on Easter Sunday,” a New York Archdiocese spokesman, Joseph Zwilling, told The New York Post on Sunday. “No alleged DNA test or Hollywood film is going to change that.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Cameron is scheduled to hold a press conference at 11:00 a.m. in New York, at which he will reportedly unveil the burial boxes that he and his colleague say once contained the bones of Jesus.
Read the rest...
THE DEATH PENALTY
There is a story at Catholic Online that presents an argument for abolishing the death penalty. It is the story of Kirk Bloodsworth who was convicted of the brutal rape and murder of a 9-year-old girl, spent many years in prison, two of them on death row, and was subsequently DNA tested and found innocent. He describes his experiences in prison, including his decision to join the Catholic Church and his confirmation and first Eucharist administered by Bishop John Ricard through prison bars. The real killer of the girl was finally identified by DNA, and Bloodsworth was freed and granted a pardon.
His argument for abolishing the death penalty is persuasive as very few other arguments have been. Most persuasive of all is this: "since 1973, more than 150 people have been wrongfully convicted and later freed from prison based on DNA evidence." If it can happen to 150 people, it can happen to anyone. Our legal system is not infallible.
Most haunting of all about this story is his account of the "angel" in his holding facility who told him it would be alright. Was he visited by a supernatural being?
I have not been a supporter of the push to end the death penalty, but Bloodsworth's story makes me pause to consider.
Websters describes it as "the branch of philosophy dealing with the origin and general structure of the universe, with its parts, elements, and laws, and especially with such of its characteristics of space, time, causality, and freedom."
When we speak of the "structure of the universe", we are speaking of creation. "Origins" address how we got here; and "space, time, causality, and freedom" involves what we are to be about now that we are here. In other words, you can't talk cosmology without talking God and purpose. Not if you are a religious person, you can't.
Therefore cosmology necessarily includes metaphysics...Who God is and what He is about are important components.
Living in what had still been the "Christian West" in the lifetime of some of the older members of our civilization, we have taken cosmology for granted. Doing so is no longer wise. With a plurality of religions comes a plurality of cosmologies. We had better know our own.
A component of Catholic cosmology is the hierarchy of beings. God is at the top and He is Trinitarian. Below Him are His created angels who were given free will. Some of them chose to sin and were cast out of heaven as punishment. Descending to the next lower level we find man who has been put in charge of God's created world and who also has the free will to choose sin. Man is subject to the influence of the angelic realm--good and fallen.
The remainder of creation falls on a level below man.
In Catholic cosmology God is ever and always "other". We share a life with Him by adoption, not by nature. We are not God in any way that fails to acknowledge His choice to make us so.
Our purpose here on this earth is to know, love, and serve God and ultimately to be happy with Him in heaven. We are subject to the penalties due to sin, which include death, but death is an introduction to eternal life won for us by Jesus Christ who suffered on our behalf to save us from death's curse. We cannot save ourselves, but we can reject our salvation by choosing to say "no" to God.
Another component of Roman Catholic cosmology is Purgatory, a place of purification following our death that will ultimately lead us to heaven, the dwelling place of God. There is also hell, the outer darkness reserved for those who reject Him.
We believe that we will live only once, after which we will be judged for the way we have lived, by Christ Who sits at the right hand of God the Father. We believe that the earthly human mother of Jesus, God's uncreated Son, is in heaven body and soul, and that after death we, too, will be reunited with our bodies for all of eternity.
Belief in these things are what makes us Roman Catholic. They are not options. They are not subject to our interpretation. They suffer if we attempt to import beliefs from other religions into our system. And when they suffer, we also suffer by no longer having the sure knowledge of who we are and what we are doing here.
Grasping firmly our Catholic concepts, we can then look at the cosmology of other religions; but doing so without a firm grasp on what we believe is dangerous to our spiritual health since there are many other cosmologies floating around in the sea of contemporary ideas, any one of which can disassemble our faith in an eyeblink and leave us alone and confused.
PILLA HAD A "RETREAT" IN GEAUGA COUNTY
According to an article in the Plain Dealer website:
nearly half of the $177,000 that the one-time top financial officer at the Cleveland Catholic Diocese says was secretly funneled to former Bishop Anthony Pilla was spent furnishing and remodeling a spacious Geauga County home that was to be used as a getaway spot.
Pilla kept many of the household items - including a large-screen television - after the diocese sold the Munson Township house and 30-acre lot in 2003. Movers took the furnishings to a home Pilla owns in Cleveland Heights.
The allegations about the money come from two former church employees who are accused of defrauding the diocese and are facing federal charges. The two men say that the diocese had hundreds of secret accounts - including one in Pilla's name - to hide and distribute money.
The diocese issued a statement Saturday denying what it called "scurrilous accusations." Pilla said that the diocese cooperated fully with federal investigators and that the only wrongdoing that was uncovered involved the two former employees.
Diocesan spokesman Bob Tayek said private donations paid for improvements at the Munson property. After the sale, items in the home were split among diocesan headquarters, St. John Cathedral and the Cleveland Heights residence that Pilla inherited after his mother died.
"The diocese is responsible for a retirement residence for him," Tayek said.
The Munson home was donated to the diocese in 1995 by Larry Dolan, now the owner of the Cleveland Indians, who suggested that it be used as a retreat house for the Cleveland bishop. The house was intended for whoever was serving as bishop of the Cleveland diocese, not just Pilla, Tayek said.
Read the rest of the story...
So, if everything was on the up and up, why are two former Diocesan employees involved in a trial for misuse of funds? Why did Bishop Pilla suddenly request retirement early? Why was that retirement approved in Rome ASAP?
Also, now that we know there were two houses to which Pilla had access, how many more houses are there that we do not yet know about? What took place in those houses, given that we had, and for all I know may still have, a major sexual abuse scandal in Cleveland?
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Two thumbs down.
We turned it off in the middle of Bob's torture scene and looked for something else to do.
Why on earth does anyone find entertainment in such a movie?
ICY ROADS AND LAST NIGHT'S DVD
We got up this morning to a thin layer of ice covering everything outside. Driving looked like a very bad idea, and walking over the sidewalks looked even worse. There is no traffic on the street in front of our house, but there is a prediction of a warm front that may arrive in time to melt the mess before Mass at St. Bernard's this afternoon. Hopefully we will be able to drive and walk safely by then.
Last night's movie was "One Night with the King", the Old Testament Biblical account of Esther. If you plan to see it, read the Scripture account first so that it will be clear what is taking place. I didn't, and now I would like to read it and then watch the movie again.
TAKING ON THE CENTER FOR ACTION AND CONTEMPLATION
A bit of good news...
New Age spirituality is particularly seductive when it apes Christian language or adopts Christian elements for its own uses. A blend of novel and familiar offers a stimulating kick of a 'spiritual experience.'"
Those are the words of Stephanie Block, a writer for "Los Pequenos", a newspaper published in New Mexico, used to open an article at Spero Forum critical of Fr. Richard Rohr and the Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC).
In the article she evaluates the spiritual program offered by the center and finds it wanting of Catholic beliefs and cosmology while being steeped in New Age, including the Labyrinth, the Enneagram identified as New Age in the Vatican document "Christ the Bearer of the Water of Life", Zen meditation, centering prayer, and a new cosmology, none of which reflects Roman Catholic doctrine.
She also documents the association between CAC and Call to Action. The article is a thorough review of the faults and deceptions of Fr. Richard Rohr, and notes that Fr. Rohr "delivered an address as part of the World Community for Christian Meditation Way of Peace initiative, and at a John Main Seminar. Both of these organizations feature the Rosicrucian birdbath on their website. A red flag to be sure.
Fr. Rohr's intentions may be good, but he falls short in his syncretistic approach to religions. The executive director of the U.S. episcopal conference's Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, Fr. James Massa said recently in an interview for Zenit:
there is dialogue, which requires that all the participants be knowledgeable and fully committed to the tenets of their own religious tradition.
If the Catholic participant is conflicted about this or that particular teaching of the Catholic Church, then he or she is not an adequate representative of the tradition. Dialogue becomes a farce. I have been in attendance at such meetings, and they are not terribly edifying.
I keep in mind no. 36 of the John Paul II's encyclical: "With regard to the study of areas of disagreement, the council requires that the whole body of doctrine be clearly presented. At the same time, it asks that the manner and method of expounding the Catholic faith should not be a hindrance to dialogue with our brothers and sisters.
The spirituality of Fr. Rohr is anything but a presentation of "the whole body of doctrine".
But I've labeled this "good news". The reason for that is that here is a lay Catholic journalist who is calling Fr. Rohr to account. Others have done so as well, of course. Each instance of a new voice added to the pool of those who have figured out the heresy is good news that is worthy of note.
We members of the laity can take back the Church from those who would pervert her doctrine. We must do it one journalist and one article at a time. It will take an army of journalists committed to Christ and His Church. It will take a flood of articles to turn the tide, but with the help of God it can be done.