The Theist Thread - Let's Share

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OK.

Since the Agnostic and Atheist group of GWJ have got their thread, time for ours. Theists only please. Atheists/Agnostics/Dunnos, if you see something here you are really curious about, PM me.

Let's talk real theology, philosophy and history. I would love to trade resources, books, videos, podcasts and start sharing our faith in God.

Also, any topics you guys want to share regarding Catholicism, I would be very happy to answer for you. Want to know the traditions of the Catholic Church but are afraid to ask, ask me.

So, let's have at it.

Cheers,
Darren

Books I'm reading right now:

Catholicism - by Fr. Robery Barron
- Fr. Robert Barron is becoming one of my heroes. This man knows his stuff. Find lots of his stuff over at wordonfire.org. PBS special coming up that was hosted by this great thinker found here: http://www.catholicismseries.com/

Compendium - Catechism of the Catholic Church
- Gotta know your faith...this will get you there. The why, what and who of the Catholic Church.

Theology for Beginenrs - Frank Sheed
- I have to read only a couple pages a day on this one. It makes you think. HIGHLY recommended

Dr.Ghastly wrote:
Really?

Why not?

I am going through a crisis of faith so I'm not even sure if I believe it anymore. But, before that, I am a big GK Chesterton fan.

Ulairi wrote:
Dr.Ghastly wrote:
Really?

Why not?

I am going through a crisis of faith so I'm not even sure if I believe it anymore. But, before that, I am a big GK Chesterton fan.

Great to have you Ulairi.

I haven't read Chesterson yet and I hear he is the man. Which ones should I get first? I hear Orthodoxy is the goto.

Also...what's the crisis you're facing right now?

darrenl wrote:
Ulairi wrote:
Dr.Ghastly wrote:
Really?

Why not?

I am going through a crisis of faith so I'm not even sure if I believe it anymore. But, before that, I am a big GK Chesterton fan.

Great to have you Ulairi.

I haven't read Chesterson yet and I hear he is the man. Which ones should I get first? I hear Orthodoxy is the goto.

Also...what's the crisis you're facing right now?

If there is a loving god then why the f*ck did my wife get cancer and die? So pretty much, If there is a god then he's evil and we should be out to destroy him.

Ulairi wrote:
darrenl wrote:
Ulairi wrote:
Dr.Ghastly wrote:
Really?

Why not?

I am going through a crisis of faith so I'm not even sure if I believe it anymore. But, before that, I am a big GK Chesterton fan.

Great to have you Ulairi.

I haven't read Chesterson yet and I hear he is the man. Which ones should I get first? I hear Orthodoxy is the goto.

Also...what's the crisis you're facing right now?

If there is a loving god then why the f*ck did my wife get cancer and die? So pretty much, If there is a god then he's evil and we should be out to destroy him.

/speechless

I'm so sorry Ulairi.

/hug

I'll be afk for a bit (...going to the apple orchard...). Let me ponder how to respond to you.

Ulairi wrote:

If there is a loving god then why the f*ck did my wife get cancer and die? So pretty much, If there is a god then he's evil and we should be out to destroy him.

...back, and I've pondered.

There is clearly nothing I can say from the emotional side of things, Ulairi. I'm not a friend of yours, just a nameless dude on the internet. I don't want to attempt anything to address the anger, grief, sadness you have because I just don't know enough about you to be even close to effective.

With your specific case, I can't answer the "why" of it..cause I don't know. Plenty get hit with cancer these days. For some, that draws them closer to God (...I've met relatives of some who've passed away in this category...), for others, they get angry and move away from God. I'm not sure if there is an in between.

I'm wary of commenting further because of the emotional nature of your situation. Clearly, going theological or philosophical won't do any good here.

Great set of podcasts that I was pointed to a couple weeks ago:

http://frjohnriccardo.libsyn.com/cat...

If you look on the right, you'll see a whole bunch of other categories. I highly recommend the Catholicism for Cradle Catholics and the RCIA for Catholics podcasts as well. Lots of great information in there.

The abuse scandal one is quite enlightening since that comes up a lot:

http://frjohnriccardo.libsyn.com/cat...

darrenl wrote:
The abuse scandal one is quite enlightening since that comes up a lot:

http://frjohnriccardo.libsyn.com/cat...

I am curious as to what you found particularly enlightening about this podcast.

I was hopeful at the beginning, although I did wonder about the female parishioner who asked if the pedophilia scandal was due to Communist moles infiltrating Catholic seminaries in the 1960's and 1970's.

Then, I kept listening for the contrition, the acknowledgement that the Catholic Church was wrong to cover for pedophiles within the ranks of the RCC clergy. Instead, what I heard was that, yes, there are pedophiles in the ranks of the Catholic clergy, but let's talk about the fact that pedophilia happens all over the place. That, of course, does nothing to mitigate the pedophilia within the RCC nor does it give absolution to the bishops that simply moved pedophiles around and did not report them to law enforcement.

Just over halfway through the podcast, the topic turns to sexual sin, and the following is stated by the priest:

People, we'd love to talk about the sexual mess in the country. Let's talk about it all. I mean, let's really talk about it. We would love to do that because that is the root. We would love to blow the lid off of that. On contraception. On pornography. On promiscuity. On homosexuality. On you name it. We would love to because all those things crush the human heart and makes the person who has engaged them or suffered them or whatever they might be, they hinder their capacity to love, which is what we are made for. That is the vocation of every human person is to be loved and to love, and sexual sins are always grave. They are not always mortal, but they are always grave because they wound the capacity to know love and to give love. That is why they are so harmful.

Two things stand out from that quote. First, Fr. Riccardo has now stated that Rubb Ed and I have a hindered capacity to love, which I assume also means each other, and my love for my husband is some "grave" sexual sin.

Second, pedophilia isn't even mentioned by name, although that is supposed to be the point of podcast, or so I thought. The take away is that there are other sexual sins in the world as well. Again, how does that mitigate the clergy abuse problem facing the Catholic Church?

And, toward the end of the podcast, Fr. Riccardo discusses homosexuality again and expresses his concerns that it is accepted as a "lifestyle." He then drops the NAMBLA bomb, because, apparently, Rubb Ed and I being gay somehow assists NAMBLA in their vile agenda... or something. I am still not sure of Fr. Riccardo's point in bringing it up other than to garner some pearl clutching within his parish.

However, it is an interesting podcast in that is tells me the Catholic Church still is not ready to fully and unconditionally accept its duplicity in aiding and abetting child molesters.

I'm fairly sure that it's never going to do anything like that, Phoenix Rev, because it's a fantastically large organization banking on moral ascendancy for its product. Kind of like a country founded on morality rather than nationality.

Given the fact that countries like Japan, China, and the US have problems admitting to organizational misconduct about matters that are not central to their raison d'être, I think it highly unlikely that the Catholic Church will ever own up to the misconduct of its members.

That said, I'm more of a fan of the message rather than the messenger in all my dealings. I gather that I'm really weird that way.

Though my own feelings about an intervening God are not as personal, I cannot get past a firm conviction that no, God doesn't intervene... on the basis of genocide. Particularly, the Holocaust. I see God as the Creator, or, to go Jeffersonian, "Nature's God". I love that God, but I do not believe that this God steps into our day to day lives and makes miracles.

Edited for relevance.

Phoenix Rev wrote:

However, it is an interesting podcast in that is tells me the Catholic Church still is not ready to fully and unconditionally accept its duplicity in aiding and abetting child molesters.

Phoenix Rev, I'll point you again to the letter that the Pope sent to the people of Ireland:

http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/be...


You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry. I know that nothing can undo the wrong you have endured. Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity has been violated. Many of you found that, when you were courageous enough to speak of what happened to you, no one would listen. Those of you who were abused in residential institutions must have felt that there was no escape from your sufferings. It is understandable that you find it hard to forgive or be reconciled with the Church. In her name, I openly express the shame and remorse that we all feel.

I'm not sure what else you want, Phoenix. I just hope that you are applying the same scrutiny to other organizations that have had to deal with this horrible reality...and in greater than numbers than the RCC, e.g. soccer coaches, family members, guiders, teachers, doctors, Protestant ministers. Where are the public apologies from these organizations? Where is the support for victims from these guys? This evil is EVERYWHERE! Hopefully you're giving those groups an earful as well. Heck...give me an earful; I'm a father and my demographic abuses children way more often than priests do. Let me have it, and I will apologize on behalf of all fathers who have abused their children and hopefully that will be enough to account for the duplicity encountered in those cases.

I think, Phoenix...what scares me is that while the RCC cases are being highlighted all over the media in what I think is disproportional coverage (...and I'm not alone http://www.post-gazette.com/forum/co..., http://www.psychwww.com/psyrelig/pla...), we have tens of thousands of kids being abused by other groups being left unnoticed and are being ignored. How does that make us feel? So while, yes, it's fun to kick at the RCC, I find it disgusting that other organizations are essentially getting a free pass...and worse, we let them because it's more fun to watch the RCC squirm.

I realize I may be unwelcome in this thread, but what the laity who have left the church most likely want is an adherence to that which they preach. Forgiveness is important, but it does not mean that the due punishment is waived. I have heard the pastor of my church say as much from the pulpit more than once.

What folks are looking for is a church that is no longer going to shield these wrongdoers.

NSMike wrote:
I realize I may be unwelcome in this thread, but what the laity who have left the church most likely want is an adherence to that which they preach. Forgiveness is important, but it does not mean that the due punishment is waived. I have heard the pastor of my church say as much from the pulpit more than once.

What folks are looking for is a church that is no longer going to shield these wrongdoers.

..and I'm 100% confident that the RCC agrees with you Mike. Every priest I've talked to certainly does as well. We can forgive, but making things right is a long road. Totally agree with you. Take a read of those two articles I linked...espectially the second one. Back 40-50 years ago, all organizations who had this issue were being councilled into doing the same thing when it came to sexual abuse: the RCC, soccer orgs, scouts. Everyone.


Almost all the cases coming to light today are cases from 30 and 40 years ago. We did not know much about pedophilia and sexual abuse in general back then. In fact, the vast majority of the research on sexual abuse of minors didn't emerge until the early 1980's. So, it appeared reasonable at the time to treat these men and then return them to their priestly duties. In hindsight, this was a tragic mistake. It has been estimated that 40 years ago about 23% of male psychotherapists have been sexually involved with their clients. Of course this is no longer true today. Forty years ago we thought that autism was caused by cold and withholding mothers referred to as the "ice box mother." We can't take what we know in 2010 and apply it to problems and decisions made in the 1960's and 1970's.

Furthermore, 40 years ago, most priests entered seminary during high school, did not participate in a comprehensive psychological evaluation prior to admission, and had no training in sexuality, maintaining professional boundaries, and impulse control. Advice regarding dealing with sexual impulses included cold showers and prayer. Today, most applicants to the priesthood are much older (generally in their late 20's or 30's). They often have had satisfying and appropriate intimate relationships before entering the seminary. They have completed a psychological evaluation that specifically examines risk factors for sexual problems. They now get good training in sexuality and issues related to managing sexual impulses. It is not surprising that the majority of the sex-offending priests that we hear about in the press are older. In fact, our research indicates that the average age of these men are 53.

The whole approach took back then was wrong.

My fear is mutli-faceted.
1. We throw the baby out with the bathwater. Hey...some priests have done this, and in some cases the RCC handled it badly: lets' get rid of the RCC. Not very constructive.
2. Kids who are being abused by other groups/organizations are ignored and passed over. Because of the media attention on the RCC, we see people get ignored and not helped. Sure, the RCC has to deal with the mess they caused, but when was the last time you heard a teacher's union or school board address child abuse and pay for reparations/councilling?

The current crop of priests coming up are put through the ringer psychologically...so hopefully this happens at a rate closer to zero.

Darren, out of respect for your intention for this thread, I continued our discussion in a PM.

darrenl wrote:
Phoenix Rev wrote:

However, it is an interesting podcast in that is tells me the Catholic Church still is not ready to fully and unconditionally accept its duplicity in aiding and abetting child molesters.

Phoenix Rev, I'll point you again to the letter that the Pope sent to the people of Ireland:

http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/be...


You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry. I know that nothing can undo the wrong you have endured. Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity has been violated. Many of you found that, when you were courageous enough to speak of what happened to you, no one would listen. Those of you who were abused in residential institutions must have felt that there was no escape from your sufferings. It is understandable that you find it hard to forgive or be reconciled with the Church. In her name, I openly express the shame and remorse that we all feel.

And yet, this letter came to light after the Vatican said the RCC never, ever instructed local bishops to protect pedophiles within the ranks of the RCC.

The Vatican response to the criticism of that letter was to recall the Papal Nuncio from Ireland.

I'm not sure what else you want, Phoenix. I just hope that you are applying the same scrutiny to other organizations that have had to deal with this horrible reality...and in greater than numbers than the RCC, e.g. soccer coaches, family members, guiders, teachers, doctors, Protestant ministers. Where are the public apologies from these organizations? Where is the support for victims from these guys? This evil is EVERYWHERE! Hopefully you're giving those groups an earful as well. Heck...give me an earful; I'm a father and my demographic abuses children way more often than priests do. Let me have it, and I will apologize on behalf of all fathers who have abused their children and hopefully that will be enough to account for the duplicity encountered in those cases.

Well, since you asked...

As a matter of fact, I do. I have no tolerance for pedophiles and have been very active in calling them out in any quarter they reside. But, again, the podcast you linked was about the RCC.

I think, Phoenix...what scares me is that while the RCC cases are being highlighted all over the media in what I think is disproportional coverage (...and I'm not alone http://www.post-gazette.com/forum/co..., http://www.psychwww.com/psyrelig/pla...), we have tens of thousands of kids being abused by other groups being left unnoticed and are being ignored. How does that make us feel? So while, yes, it's fun to kick at the RCC, I find it disgusting that other organizations are essentially getting a free pass...and worse, we let them because it's more fun to watch the RCC squirm.

Again, the podcast you linked was about the sexual abuse scandal within the RCC. Both Fr. Riccardo and now you have used the "but what about all those others" defense. There isn't a dime bit of difference between what you have said and the motorist who says, "I don't know why you pulled me over. All of those others were speeding too!"

I am more than happy to have the discussion about the other organizations and people who deserve the full weight of the law to fall upon them for the sexual abuse of children. However, you provided the link and I had issues with was Fr. Riccardo said.

I'm also someone for whom this thread is not intended, but I wanted to share something anyway.

I went to an all-boys Catholic high school outside of Philadelphia, and no fewer than three priests were charged with sexual misconduct against students. When I was in eigth grade, I got the scariest theology teacher our school had ever know: Father Liggio.

He was scary not because we thought he was a pedophile (frankly, it wasn't a thought that crossed our minds). Rather, he was a very difficult teacher in a course none of us put much effort into. We knew one day, we would have to use Math and English, but theology? What good was knowing about arcane Church decrees and the difference between venial and mortal sins?

Anyway, twenty other classmates and I took his class. He made us memorize dates and events and pushed us to understand faith in a way none of the other teachers dared. He spent entire classes playing music and not speaking, making us interpret his lesson visually and auditorily. He made us question our faith, realizing that my class was full of Catholics who only believed because they were told to. I knew many other priests who believed in God because they wore the cloth. For Fr. Liggio, God was not only real, he was everywhere. He lived every moment convinced that God was watching him and guiding constantly.

During our school's Procession of the Cross, he sobbed as he led the mass because the passion of Christ was so real for him.

He said that the best reconciliation prayer he ever saw a student write was, "I'm sorry."

And then in the middle of 8th grade, he left. We never saw him again.

I knew Fr. Liggio since I was very little. He was always a nice man, a man I would trust. I never worried about spending time alone with him and he always acted like a responsible adult. To me, he was a source of wisdom, humor and entertainment. If I ever met a sage, it was him.

I was shocked when I heard that a former student who had been expelled from my school years prior had filed a lawsuit against him. He claimed that Fr. Liggio had given him alcohol and touched him inappropriately. Our beloved sage was replaced by another man, who while knowledgeable, lacked Fr. Liggio's spirit.

A year later, we found out that the charges against Liggio had been dropped. Rumors spread that the kid who had brought charges against him was a drug addict who was bitter with my school and was trying to capitalize on the recent cases against priests. The DA wouldn't hear the case for lack of evidence, but it didn't matter. Once a teacher, especially a priest, was charged with something as serious as sexual abuse, it was game over for him. He disappeared off the face of the planet. The last I heard, he was a chaplain on a cruise ship.

Truth be told, what happened to Fr. Liggio is one of the reasons I started to reject faith. How could a man so close to God be ruined by such accusations. One the one hand, he could have been guilty in which case my faith in the man was ruined, making me wonder what being close to God even means. On the other hand, he could have been innocent in which case my faith in the system was ruined. How could religion be so ridiculous?

I saw a bunch of posts about priests and felt compelled to share. I really wish I knew where Fr. Liggio is today, but I am afraid that the whole situation left him a broken man, or worse, he was actually guilty of the crime they said he committed. When I see that the Catholic Church tried to hide things regarding the allegations, I get mad not because I like to kick around Catholics--frankly I don't care enough to--but I get mad because I am sure good priests are being ruined by the climate that the Church is creating.

Fr. Liggio is the only reason I don't look down upon theists; he taught me true belief, religion and morality can, in fact, go hand in hand (in hand).

Grubber,

First...that is an awesome story. Thanks for that.

Second, take a real close look at this question you asked and think of what Jesus went through:

"How could a man so close to God be ruined by such accusations."

...awesome though that you had someone like Fr. Liggio. He knew more than anyone that following Jesus is not easy...and never will be.

Don't argue over it. Just do it.

Almost all the cases coming to light today are cases from 30 and 40 years ago. We did not know much about pedophilia and sexual abuse in general back then. In fact, the vast majority of the research on sexual abuse of minors didn't emerge until the early 1980's. So, it appeared reasonable at the time to treat these men and then return them to their priestly duties. In hindsight, this was a tragic mistake. It has been estimated that 40 years ago about 23% of male psychotherapists have been sexually involved with their clients. Of course this is no longer true today. Forty years ago we thought that autism was caused by cold and withholding mothers referred to as the "ice box mother." We can't take what we know in 2010 and apply it to problems and decisions made in the 1960's and 1970's.

Wait, we knew the important thing: this was a crime. It was the rape of children. You don't need 40 years of science to figure that out.

And speaking of ridiculous relics from psychology's past, what about same-sex molestation? Back then if they caught you engaged in a voluntary sexual experience with another man, they'd think you were mentally disordered. Yet if you get caught with a boy, you just needed a little treatment and you're good to go?

Was this thread intended to be for discussing a subject (priest molestation) that's been ground down to a fine paste already? Seems to be going that way.

Also removed a few off-topic posts.

Certis wrote:
Was this thread intended to be for discussing a subject (priest molestation) that's been ground down to a fine paste already? Seems to be going that way.

Also removed a few off-topic posts.

Indeed...would like it to get back on track. Consider the priest thing covered.

Would love for some Theists to share more books, resources, and experiences.

What's are you struggling with right now in terms of theology?

For me, it's transubstantiation...but I'm very close to understanding this. Trick here is to look to Aristotle and substance theory:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Substan...

...still plugging through that.

@Niseg, I think you need to be careful when discussing "What Jews Believe". There are many different beliefs within Judaism, and unless you are prepared to declare anyone besides the Orthodox heretics, and thus not really Jews, nearly anything you say will exclude a large number of Jews. By referring to secular Jews as sinners, you may be placing yourself in that camp (apologies if you are not), but I don't think that that stance is conducive to discussion.

For instance, you mention reincarnation. There is certainly the belief of reincarnation among the Chasidic, I was taught that while there are hints in the Tanakh as to the nature of the afterlife (e.g. mentions of Sheol, or Gehinnom), and generalized language (Olam haBah) there is no official doctrine on the matter, just competing sets of beliefs.

For another example, I recall you mention once that the Mezuzzah is treated as an amulet to ward away demons and spirits. Again, I was taught that it is a statement of faith, fulfillment of a Mitzwah. There is at least one example in the Talmud (though I couldn't point you even to which tractate anymore) of the Rabbis being rather distressed that people were treating it as an anti-demon amulet.

This post isn't meant to call you out specifically. Just to point at that just as most statements that begin "Christians believe..." are misleading if they don't take the various denominations into account, the same is true of Judasim.

Niseg wrote:
you have to study the bible for several decades get the high level of understanding major rabies have.

Hah!

darrenl wrote:
Certis wrote:
Was this thread intended to be for discussing a subject (priest molestation) that's been ground down to a fine paste already? Seems to be going that way.

Also removed a few off-topic posts.

Indeed...would like it to get back on track. Consider the priest thing covered.

Would love for some Theists to share more books, resources, and experiences.

What's are you struggling with right now in terms of theology?

For me, it's transubstantiation...but I'm very close to understanding this. Trick here is to look to Aristotle and substance theory:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Substan...

...still plugging through that.

Planning on posting later tonight, when I'm not at work. Wait, I just did...:D

Dragonfly wrote:
Though my own feelings about an intervening God are not as personal, I cannot get past a firm conviction that no, God doesn't intervene... on the basis of genocide. Particularly, the Holocaust. I see God as the Creator, or, to go Jeffersonian, "Nature's God". I love that God, but I do not believe that this God steps into our day to day lives and makes miracles.

Trying to learn more about my religion I watched quiet a few of Amnon Itzhak's videos. He's we'll known for turning secular Jews (sinners) into practicing ones. He explains Judaism pretty well but unfortunately all of his lectures are in Hebrew and not many are have subtitles. He had a lecture that explained how believing Jews explain the Holocaust(Hebrew so if you don't know the language don't bother).

First you have to understand the concept of reincarnation in Judaism. When a person commits sins he/she will reincarnate and pay for it. I recently discovered there are 3 human reincarnations and the rest of the time you get reincarnate as other things. The way he explained the Holocaust was that many Jews were turning away from god by marrying non Jews. And he said that In the book Deuteronomy 27:11 the punishment of turning away from god is clearly written. The things that were written in there kind of resemble the Holocaust.

Later he talks about Deuteronomy 31:16 and said that the Hallucinate is encoded in there (bible code). It said that god said he'll hide his face on that day.

The other things Amnon Yitzhak explained in his lecture is how god can be a merciful god while causing great suffering. He said that god saved the 6 millions who dies endless reincarnations. He also explained how god let people who didn't sin to get exterminated.

I know it may sound far fetched but many religions try to explain reality in some way or another. He said in one of his other lecture that his knowledge of the bible is limited and that you have to study the bible for several decades get the high level of understanding major rabbis have.

Garden Ninja wrote:
@Niseg, I think you need to be careful when discussing "What Jews Believe". There are many different beliefs within Judaism, and unless you are prepared to declare anyone besides the Orthodox heretics, and thus not really Jews, nearly anything you say will exclude a large number of Jews. By referring to secular Jews as sinners, you may be placing yourself in that camp (apologies if you are not), but I don't think that that stance is conducive to discussion.

I agree this is generally only one view on the event .I'm not sure about others I do know religious people who don't like him. He's also an anti-zionist but not in the extreme levels. In Israel the Orthodox Jews generally hold a monopoly on the religion. There are groups of Reform Jews but they don't make a lot of noise.

I'm totally secular but I do know the rules I break every so often. There are still a few things I won't do . Each secular Jew has his own red lines . Due to that there are a few levels of worshipers. In recent years there is an increase of people returning to religion . Many Orthodox Jews sees it as a sign .

Garden Ninja wrote:

For another example, I recall you mention once that the Mezuzzah is treated as an amulet to ward away demons and spirits. Again, I was taught that it is a statement of faith, fulfillment of a Mitzwah. There is at least one example in the Talmud (though I couldn't point you even to which tractate anymore) of the Rabbis being rather distressed that people were treating it as an anti-demon amulet.

My wife claims Mezuzzah are old magic people shouldn't mess with. It's generally customary to check them if someone gets seriously ill. My wife is a channeller so she's well versed in the spirit world .She recently only channel drawing people want after she talk with them for 30 minutes to figure out what they want so they get a souvenir for their money . Most customers are generally satisfied (95%).

I got sources other than google and youtube to find out about god and spirituality ;).

Okay, here we go...

I'm slowly making my way through Jesus Among The Other Gods: The Absolute Claims of the Christian Message by Ravi Zacharias. Good read (I say I'm making my way slowly through it because that's how I tend to consume non-fiction)...it's the second book by him I've read, the first being the slightly snarky The End of Reason.

'Course, as far as Christian apologists go, it's tough to beat ol' C.S. Lewis. His arguments might not be the most airtight out there, but I just love his writing style. Plus, he scores bonus geek cred for being a close friend of J.R.R. Tolkien. In fact, it was conversations with Tolkien that led Lewis to reconsider his agnosticism.

Podcasts...I listen to the Focus On The Family Daily Broadcast on occasion, though since Dobson turned over the reins to a new president, the subject matter has been less and less relevant to where I am in life. There's been a lot more focus on...uh...families, and less about general Christian life and its place in society, which is fine. Lots of good info there for parents, even non-Christians.

My pastor, David O. Dykes, has a few podcasts. Well, he doesn't have podcasts, but several of his sermons are on iTunes. He's a good example of what is often called a "teaching pastor," and generally backs up his points with context, linguistics, and other things that so many other pastors replace with spittle.

...but the most intriguing podcast I've come across is called "Sects and Cults." Fellow by the name of Ergun Caner, teaches a class on religions that are often considered, well, sects or cults, and invites leaders from each group to come in to discuss their beliefs. Sounds like a trap, right? But, at least as far as I can tell from the recordings, he does a great job of creating a totally non-confrontational atmosphere, and really allows them to get their points across. In fact, by the sound of it, several of the participants are good friends of Caner, and that really comes across, even as much as they may disagree with Caner on certain points.

There is more I could write about that one, and about Caner himself, but I've got to get some sleep tonight. Maybe more tomorrow!

Tagged

Grubber788:

That's an interesting story and a topic many lay people find hard to accept. I think it's harder for comfortable people in industrialized nations to accept it, because they do not constantly live in a reality where random death, horrible diseases, and tragic poverty are everyday events that one experiences and observes.

If Fr. Liggio is as strong in his faith as you've related, then this turn of events would not even register as a test of faith. Hey, I get assigned to be the chaplain on a ship that goes to great sights and has great food with great company and tourists! You tell a starving Third World garbage dump dweller that that was his fate and he'd think he'd won the lottery - which is probably a fair comparison from his point of view.

It is not for God to dictate to us what we do and how we do it, even though He knows what we will do even before we do it. It's like a Rube-Goldberg engine, I suppose - even if you can see how it will end, you can choose not to interfere and let the machine runs its own course - because you've chosen to let that machine be itself.

The kid who chose to accuse Fr. Liggio is doing his thing, and people who continue to be suspicious about priests who have accusations on their records - they're doing their own thing, too. We're all doing our own thing, and we are prone to sin and hate, which kind of makes this world a little bit of a living hell (for many of us). Is Free Will worth all this suffering and pain? I can't say. If I had no Free Will in a universe that was designed not to allow Free Will, I would probably say no, and so would all of us - but since I have Free Will, I reserve the right to be skeptical.

The best place to start for me is resources. So, here is a list of books I have in my library that are the best of the best.

The New Oxford Annotated Bible (Revised Standard Version) - The best English bible to study with due to the scholarship involved. Excellent translation with copious footnotes.

The Septuagint

The Early Church by Henry Chadwick - Excellent overview of the first couple of hundred years of Church history. An easy read, but filled with the great details of what happened after the Apostles were gone.

The New Interpreter's Bible - A stunning 12-volume set of books on biblical interpretation based on the work of 97 contributors and edited by my New Testament Interpretation professor, Leander Keck.

The Interior Castle by Teresa of Avila

The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross

Concerning Christian Liberty by Martin Luther

The 1979 Book of Common Prayer

In the Heart of the Desert: The Spirituality of the Desert Fathers and Mothers by John Chryssavgis.

Practice in Christianity by Soren Kiekegaard

Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Any of the Gnostic Gospels

And, despite the fact that it is a movie, I would probably recommend Monty Python's "Life of Brian" simply because they probably got it right about someone at the back of the crowd during the Sermon on the Mount.

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