Friday, May 30, 2003
Oh, how I miss my Virginia Tech ethernet connection. Dialing up at 21.6 thingamagiggies just doesn't cut it. For pity's sake, my Instant Messenger slows down page loads! Thus, unless I'm using the computers at George Mason University or at FDCS later this summer, links are going to be few and far between for a while, as it takes me forever to load most pages. Blogger seems to load quickly, though, which is nice. I've got a lot of catching up to do, and actually not much time in which to do it.
Thursday, May 29, 2003
Dean Esmay posted about his religious beliefs over the weekend. Just so you know, he's very frank and straightforward.
It's hard to make an argument against the views of those who've been raised in the Christian culture, have studied its tenets, and still disbelieve. There are arguments to be made, but they're of the "have you considered this piece of evidence?" variety and not "2+2=4." When I run into people like Dean, they're usually agnostics who've been struggling for many years with their faith, and simply want to have what they see many other people having (they've usually resigned themselves to the idea that there's something wrong with either themselves of the nature of the universe which prevents them from knowing the Truth). I do not say these things condescendingly. These people, whom I'll call "serious agnostics" for my purposes, are very often more "devout" than Christians. However, I often think that they're trying too hard. It's as if they're trying to make a pencil from scratch, including mining the lead, cutting timber, learning woodworking, fashioning tin (I think it's tin) to hold the rubber eraser into place, and then making the paint to coat the thing. This isn't an easy task. However, while through extraordinary effort and a lot of setbacks, you may well come up with something that works as a pencil, you could also get your own ready-made, high-quality pencil at a store for about ten cents. In the time it took you to manufacture your pencil, you could've used the one that you acquired to write novels, biographies, or do physics equations.
Serious agnostics usually believe that there is a God, and that God even occasionally intervenes in the world. They often pray for faith, and get very discouraged when they don't literally find their heart warmed. I can say these things because I've been a serious agnostic before. Too often, serious agnostics get caught up in one thing they can't resolve and "shut down" because of it. I remember that when I was first becoming a Christian, I stopped reading early in Mere Christianity because Lewis said that if you didn't believe that Jesus was God, then you weren't a Christian. At the time, I considered myself an Arian, and so I stopped reading, since I knew that Lewis' arguments would center around the divinity of Christ. Later, when I had decided that I did believe Jesus to be God, I picked up where I left off, but I had "shut down" over that issue. The most common issues I've found are the un-Christian attitudes of Christians (ranging from things we consider felonies to simply being stingy), not seeing God working in their lives, and theological issues (usually what are seen as Bible contradictions or the nature of God). I can offer counter-arguments to most of these (which doesn't necessarily make me right, but may be worth considering for their validity or invalidity), but that's not my purpose in this post.
One person holds out a clenched fist, as in Rock, Paper, Scissors. The second person makes a "rock" and knocks it down on the first one, taking it's place. The first "rock" swings around and then comes down on the second "rock," dislodging it and briefly taking it's place. Both fists are then withdrawn slightly and then tapped together softly.
And then, if you're an FDCS Kindergartener or VT Navigator, you hug (possibly accompanied by a manly "ugh").
A few weeks ago I "led" a group of four other guys on a mission trip to help out at Frederick Douglass Christian School in Chester, Pennsylvania. Things went pretty well, I'd say. It was my second time going, and I was "leader" essentially because I organized the trip (I also turned out to be the oldest, though I didn't know that until mid-trip). Ryan had been there twice before, and John had been not only twice before with the Navigators, but also several times on his own, and is a sort of unofficial "Big Brother" to a former student of the school. Drew and I headed up on Sunday, and I was supposed to get a call from Dave so I could pick him up that day as well, with Ryan coming on Monday and John on Tuesday. We didn't actually get a call until Monday afternoon, due to sleepiness on Dave's part and poor answering service by Virgin Mobile. Late that night, Drew, Ryan, and I drove down to pick him up and bring him back so he wouldn't miss two days of classes by coming up with John. The fourth grade teacher, Erin, had a TA from Pennsylvania Biblical University, so she didn't need a helper, but I was able to find places for everyone else. John had dibs on helping Shelley with Kindergarten and Ryan wanted to work with Barry in first grade (he'd helped Barry over Spring Break, too). I got Drew settled with Renee in second grade and later on Dave with Pam in fifth grade. I helped Vicki in third grade, though she had to leave to attend a wedding and so I was with her substitute, Bonnie, for the end of the week. After school, we helped with the afterschool program, and I was with Mrs. Graham (an awesome woman and great disciplinarian) with the Pre-Kindergarteners. Before I go any further, let me state again how awesome the teachers there are. They've given up a lot to work at this school, and they really care about their students. I could see that they all looked a lot more tired than when we were there over Spring Break, though, and were very ready for the end of the year. If you're a single man or woman and are looking for a godly spouse, these people are too good for you. Nonetheless, some lucky men and women are going to marry these guys and be thusly blessed. I'm blessed to know them.
I think we have several roles when we visit. Obviously, we're to act as role models and tutors to the kids. When they see that you're sincere, they trust you almost immediately and want to be your friend. Some of them are attention-starved at home, and even pretend to be dumb just so you'll sit and help them with their work. It was a fine line to walk between wanting to be their peer and needing to be an authority figure, and while I think I did an okay job, I still have a lot to learn. Of at least equal importance, though, we're there to help the teachers. Obviously, we're helping in the classroom by grading papers, tutoring, and helping maintain order. However, there's a lot more than that. It's lonely being young, single, stressed, and often far away from home, living in a ghetto getting paid essentially minimum wage (from the money you raised to work there). Hanging out with young college kids on break meant that they had new conversations, new faces, and some company. It seemed like simply being able to talk to another adult (well...) and tell them where they were from, where they attended college, and such, meant a lot. The menial tasks and paper grading we did also helped immeasurably. Sometimes a teacher simply needs fifteen minutes more than she has in order to compose herself, make a plan, and be ready for the day, and our grading math homework and the like provided that. It also meant that students who were slower in learning could be tutored and troublemakers could be disciplined without hindering the class as much.
The third grade class was pretty good. I won't use their names, but merely a letter to represent the kids. I already knew Y, I knew T and his father, D's younger brother, and had a general image of the rest of the class from my time over Spring Break helping in the computer lab. For most of the time I was helping W and L with make-up work. L was just a little slow, and that was mostly just due to a short attention span. W was very discouraged, and had essentially just given up on his work. He knew he'd be moving in with his grandmother in Florida starting in the summer, so he said he didn't need to worry about working while here. I kept trying to think of ways of motivating him, and for everything he always had a ready response. At one point I told him he'd end up without a home and without any food if he didn't get an education or a job, and he told me that his uncle was homeless and that he got along okay. He also mentioned one day that his cousin had been shot in the leg the day before. W was disruptive in class, and was constantly getting "think sheets" (you have to write what you did wrong, why it was wrong, a relevant Bible verse, and have your parent sign it). Consequently, he virtually never had recess. On Thursday, I noticed that W only had eight minutes taken away from his recess for the next day, and that so long as he did his work that day, he would get recess for the first time in a long while (I had once told him that if he did his work, he would get recess, and he told me that he never had recess and that he could simply play after school). On Friday morning, our group had been asked to provide the lesson for the chapel services, and we did an excellent skit presenting the book of Job (as the only liberal arts major, I wrote the skit, hence the brilliance). When I got back, I found that W had received about thirty more minutes of time off recess, along with having his chair confiscated for constantly leaning back in it. Later that day, I was helping in his small group for reading, and he kept being disruptive, so I told him he had to stand up instead of sit down like the rest of the group. He kept talking back to me, and so I asked him if he wanted a think sheet. He told me "I don't care," and almost before I realized it I'd walked across the room, picked one out of the filing cabinet where they're stored, and taken him out into the hallway to complete it. I then walked back in and was immediately told "good job" by the substitute. It was a weird feeling, knowing that I'd wanted so much for him to have one day of recess and seeing how not only had he destroyed his chances, but forced me to make his punishment even worse. I really do worry about him, and I'd appreciate it if you'd pray for him.
F and J had slacker attitudes, but most of the rest were pretty good. I pulled R (probably the smartest kid in the class) aside at one point, since he'd been acting up a little lately, probably due to boredom, and told him that the other kids looked up to him and that he needed to act like a leader, which means being humble and serving others. I think (hope) he listened, and he may be in my summer school class. Y is also smart, and with some training could really become a star athlete. A lot of these kids will go far if they can get a college education. A lot of other kids act dumber than they are, but show themselves to be quite bright when they need to finish their work in order to get something. There seem to be three kinds of children at the school. Sadly, there are some who will probably end up in a bad situation, even with the intervention of this school. There are also some who will probably do pretty well no matter what, though FDCS will help them go a lot further. Finally, there are the kids on the border, for whom FDCS is the thing which keeps them on track. I'm very worried about what these kids will do after they leave, since there isn't currently a World Impact high school. One is slated to open in Fall 2004, though that may well end up being delayed. One of the most common prayer requests among the staff and parents was a Christian high school, since not only is there a good chance of the lessons learned at FDCS being diluted or even lost at a public school, but the students here have been insulated from public school culture and are going to have a lot of trouble there.
Not all was gloom and doom, though. We played floor hockey one night for over three hours, Virginia Tech vs. the World (Impact). We won 7-6, 7-5, and then lost 6-7. The other team was down a player, and so there's no telling how things would've gone if we'd continued. An injury early in the fourth game ended it, but we were still going strong. There's also a competition to see which class can get the most pop-tops (they're reedemed for cash from some charity), with the teachers taking very seriously. Kindergarten was in first place, with about 10,000 tops. Second grade (Renee) was in second place, with about 9,000. Barry's first graders were dead last with about 1,500. As Shelley was married and didn't really hang out with us very much, Barry and Renee were raiding soda cans (including in the middle of a deli, where they asked strangers for their pop-tops) and asking we volunteers for the ones we were hoarding. Renee argued that only she had a chance of winning, while Barry argued that he needed all the help he could get. Barry also chased Drew around the entire school when Drew filched the top from Barry's soda. A good time was had by all.
On Saturday, Ryan, Dave, and John had to leave, but Drew and I stayed to help the students with Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful Day. I got to talking with two of the parent volunteers. Salim was the stepfather to R and the father of one of the Pre-Ks. He worked as a printer at a newspaper, and we got to talking about a lot of things. His main concern was that R had forged his mother's signature on a think sheet, and he was trying to teach R how wrong that was and tell his wife how it could lead to worse things. Rodney had two sons in the school, in first and fourth grades, I think. He had all sorts of certifications in building and construction work, and he was hoping to be able to go on some mission trips to help with things like Habitat for Humanity in the next few years. Both men talked to me about Chester and its problems and the problems of raising children. It's parents like these who give the teachers and volunteers a reason to work there, since the community hasn't given up hope and is willing to work to provide their children with a good start and to help rebuild Chester.
In any case, I've rambled, but I wanted to say how things went. I left out all sorts of things, such as how cool Pam and Andrew are, the dedication and blessing of having Mrs. Bowdre as principal, some horrible things Pre-Ks told me which of which they didn't yet understand the meaning ("my father died with a needle in his arm"), and the heartbreakingly cute "handshake" we learned from two Kindergarteners and are planning to spread among the Navigators.
Apologies for the lack of posting lately. That which I could say is unimportant, and that which is important isn't sorted out yet. Until about June 27th, I'll be at home, taking a geography class at George Mason University and an art history class at Northern Virginia Community College while working on my French horn and basketball skills (I'm rusty with the former, and never had any of the latter) and working part-time at the animal hospital where I've worked seasonally for the past few years. My weekends are full of things like visiting friends and going hiking/biking. In July and early August, I'll be interning as a counselor/teacher at the school in Chester. Except for a little at the animal hospital, I'm not actually making money this summer, and am spending a lot of what I earned working in the cafeteria in order to intern. If the internship goes well, I'll probably apply to be a history and government teacher there for middle school and/or the new affiliated high school next door. It's a missionary position, so some of the next year will probably be spent soliciting support. I'm planning on taking a few education courses next year, and I may try and earn a teaching certificate or even a Master's. After that, I don't know what I'll do. I've considered getting an M.Div and being a military chaplain or rector of a church somewhere, though given my track record of switching interests, may or may not come to fruition. We'll see. I very much appreciate the support given to me already by my reader(s) and hope to have inspiration strike for some really good posts.
Thursday, May 22, 2003
I've returned from Chester. Details to follow.
Saturday, May 10, 2003
Somehow, I can finally access Xavier+! I'm on my parents' computer at home, having not yet set up my own, and since it's slightly newer and uses Internet Explorer 6.0 instead of the 5.0 that I've got, that may explain it. While I'm in Chester, I'll have access to the computer lab, and I'll check to see if those computers can also display it. I'll spend some time looking through his archives, so don't be surprised if you find me linking to posts that are over a year old.
From tomorrow until next Saturday, I'll be leading a mission trip to help out at Frederick Douglass Christian School in Chester, PA. It'll be tiring, dangerous, humbling, full of grace, and educational. Most of the kids at the school don't have a father living with them, and very few live with both parents. It's very important that these kids have male role models, and you'd be amazed how stunningly grateful the kids and their moms can be to just have someone play a little basketball and talk with their sons. A lot of the little girls are also under pressure, and simply being pleasant and understanding is a great help to them. I can't tell you how many hugs I got last time I was there. If you're of the faith persuasion, please keep John, Ryan, Drew, Dave, and I in your prayers, and pray that we can help relieve the teachers, educate and just be there for the children, and have our eyes, ears, and hearts open for whatever may occur.
Tuesday, May 06, 2003
'Scuse me while I go bang my head on something for a while. I'll be fine. All I really need is some good, loud music.
That's right, nearly all of my "Song Lyrics of the Day" posts have been deleted. I hadn't really considered that they might be copyright infringement, but that's what they are, and posting them is no better than stealing MP3s off Kazaa or Bearshare. The few that remain are those which I believe are not copyright-protected. If it turns out that the ones left are protected, I'll remove them as well.
I'm done with this semester! Don't tell my parents yet, but I think I made Dean's List.
Also, my friends Dave Rau and Jason Thaxton got baptized today in the New River. It was great, and I'm glad to have them as confirmed brothers in Christ. They're going to be mighty warriors.
There's a bit of a fracas over at Clubbeaux (scroll up, down, and all-around). Atheists are ticked, Christians are bewildered and ticked, threats of de-linking are flying, "big names" are weighing in and generally not showing much compassion, etc. I've got a few comments here and there on a few of his posts. Make of this what you will.
UPDATE: Joyful Christian has some thoughts on the Christian response.
FURTHER UPDATE: Clubbeaux has apologized for some of the things he's said. I wonder if anyone else will.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Raving Atheist says that this is part of a plot that he and Jody Wheeler cooked up. Bigwig, of the not-linked-enough-by-me Silflay Hraka, wants some proof. I'm pretty sure that Bigwig is atheist or agnostic, but he's not an MRA, and I trust him to be impartial and fair on this. If the plot is legit, then RA and Jody are just sad individuals. If it's not, then I really hope that the hraka hits the fan.
Okay, it's time for a first for this site. I'm going to link to a site I've never even read. Ready? Xavier+ is the newest Consie Christer in the Land o' Links. Why, you may ask, am I adding him, having never read his work? Well, since you asked, I tell you that I'd read it if I could. Neither my Internet Explorer nor Netscape will show it, and neither the Macs in the library nor whatever browser (Opera?) the Sun OS computers in the Torgerson Bridge use will show it, either. He's been kind enough to link to me, and yet I've been frustrated in my attempts to even read his site. If you know how to fix this, please let me know!
Androoolee is the latest addition to the Fighting Gobblers section in the Land o' Links. Andrew was a grad student in Engineering here at Tech last year, and led a Bible study in the Navigators for guys in the Corps of Cadets. He's originally from Philadelphia, and was so taken by the needs of Frederick Douglass Christian School in Chester, PA, that he put his degree on hold in order to teach there. He is an absolute stud of a Christian. I went with the Nav trip over Spring Break this year, and it was amazing how humbled and full of grace I felt that week. I've applied for a position over the summer as a counselor/teacher at their summer camp/school; I'll hear back soon. There was another trip over Spring Break, which went to Florida to help Habitat for Humanity. Several people, especially those who had gone to Florida and heard from the Chester group about our experiences, asked me if there was another trip going over the summer. The long and short of it is that I ended up putting together a trip that'll take place next week. It'll be myself, two guys who've been there before, and two Freshmen who went on the Florida trip (both are new Christians, and one is getting baptized in a few hours (the other was baptized as a baby and believes in the validity of infant baptism)). Chester is a very dangerous place; perhaps one of the most dangerous in the country. The World Impact mission there, especially the school, is truly a "city on a hill" for the community. While we'll stick out like sore thumbs on account of not being Black, it also means that we'll be identified as being missionaries and generally left alone by those who might otherwise seek to do us harm. That doesn't mean that we'll be completely safe, of course; if you read Andrew's blog, you'll see that shootings occur regularly on his street, along with other gang violence, drug dealing, and various other crimes. The area is seriously diseased, but you can sense something in the community which hasn't yet given up hope, and is still trying to raise children in a wholesome environment. It's not easy, but because of people like Andrew, the area (and the world) is a seriously better place.
By way of Dean Esmay, I read of Clubbeaux' dealings with militant religious atheists regarding evolution. Perhaps it's just me, but I've noticed that a lot of the more entertaining bloggers are Christians (of course, it may simply be that we have similar neural pathways...who knows?). In any case, David, a fellow Virginian, does an outstanding job of countering the weak arguments arrayed against him. While I've covered this topic before, it's not really an important issue. I've seen evidence that could lead me to support either view, though not really enough of either to make me say for certain. Given the lack of archaeological evidence, the holes in the phylogenetic tree, and the genetic and chemical improbabilities (I've taken courses in Zoology and Genetics, so I'm not just pulling this out of my donkey), along with my faith that the Bible is inerrant and should be taken literally in the absence of evidence otherwise, I tend to side with Creationism. However, it's entirely possible that we've misinterpreted what the Bible means, and that "guided evolution" may be correct. If so, I wouldn't suddenly cease to believe in God. It's just that my default position is trusting my current knowledge of the Bible. Prove me wrong and I won't be angry with you, or even feel defeated, since I'd rather know the truth than simply be comfortable in a falsehood. Of course, I have yet to see that proof.
Monday, May 05, 2003
This is cool.
I was raised generally in the broad-church Episcopalian tradition. That tradition doesn't deny that people can do things like handle snakes, speak in tongues, prophecy, or move mountains through faith, but it's generally of the opinion that these sorts of things don't happen very often. I've seen some pretty otherwise-inexplicable things before, but I pretty much agreed that these things weren't very common.
Tonight, the Navigators (the campus Christian group to whom I belong) held a prayer and worship night for anyone who was interested. A large group (twenty-two!) of us had just eaten at El Guadelupe's (outstanding Mexican restaurant, for many reasons), and some of those of us who didn't have 7:45AM finals tomorrow got together to pray and sing. At dinner I'd met a guy named David, who lived in one of the apartments populated by Navigators but whom I'd never seen before. He was pretty quiet during the meal, but did mention to me afterwards as we were standing in line to pay that the American Indian art upon which Mexican art is based reminded him an awful lot of East Asian art. I looked, and agreed that there were some similarities. I'm interested in anthropology, and while I don't normally look at art very much, it was still interesting to see that someone else notices these things as well. In any case, once at the house, it ended up being myself, another Nav named Jeet (cool guy), and David sitting on one couch. We would sing a few songs, stop and pray a bit, and lather, rinse, repeat. I was impressed by some of the things David was asking, but just figured that perhaps he was feeling very spiritual that day. For all I know, the things for which I asked may have impressed people as well, depending on what sort of things normally impress them. After we'd done an awful lot of songs and were about ready to get ready to finish up, he suddenly looks at Laura, apologizes for not knowing her name, and starts prophesizing about her. His eyes seemed sort of glazed-over at this point, and he the turned to Aaron and said stuff about him as well. Finally, he turned and looked at Heather, apologized for not knowing her name, either, and kept prophesizing! The entire time, I didn't know what to think. I was in some state between wonder and being utterly freaked out. The closest to this I'd ever heard was my friend Kyle analyzing my strengths and weaknesses as he prepared me to be a leader within the Navigators for next year. While David lived with Aaron, he had only met Heather and Laura once or twice before (as I mentioned, he had to ask their names). About half the people in the room felt the same way as I did, and the other half seemed to have seen things like this before. I ended up parking near Ruth and Laura when I got back to my dorm, and so we walked together. Ruth had seen stuff like this before, and seemed happy but not very surprised. Laura, whom David had prophesied over, and I were both somewhat speechless.
While David was speaking, he would occasionally fall over words and stutter, so I prayed that his speach would be made clear. Oddly enough, as soon as I started, his speech got clearer. This happened with my friend Matt at my last Bible study, something similar happened when I was in Chester, and I've had it happen a few other times as well. I don't know if I have some special gift for praying or if it simply took someone asking God for a simple blessing for someone else, but I'm feeling a little odd. I don't know what to say, but I do need to think and pray about all this.
Saturday, May 03, 2003
I predict that if this mutates and infects humans, there's going to be a very large upswing of public opinion towards monogamy.
Today I found out that a friend of our family, Mr. Ed Curenton, died a few weeks ago. He had played French horn in the US Army band, and also had a job repairing instruments and teaching lessons. He wasn't my teacher, but he did repair my instrument numerous times, on very generous terms. Every time I was over at his house, he was extraordinarily nice to me, even though I was just some kid. He had a loving wife and several children, all of them musical prodigies. The eldest played flute, and often gave things like backstage passes to her concerts at the Kennedy Center to my sister Christine, who also plays flute, and my mom. Everyone in their family was very kind to other people, even though it benefitted them nothing (at least in this world). I don't know if he was a Christian or not. I do know that he was one of the kindest men I've ever known, and has done an excellent job of raising his kids. He died of cancer, and he still has two boys in high school. I prayed that he would get well, or at least that his family would be taken care of if his recovery wasn't possible, every night for three solid months. He will be very greatly missed.
I know that he fit the battle o' Jericho, but not only wasn't I aware of that time when Joshua dooms Virginia, but I had no expectation that I would be the #17 Google reference for it!
On the other hand, maybe he's talking about UVA football. Yeah, that's it...
Dangit. I'm still somewhat heartbroken, but I'm slowly-but-surely getting over it.
On the bright side, though, I was able to help a friend of mine turn away from something she really didn't want to be doing. I just talked to her; it was she who made the decision, and I'm very proud of her.
He Lives! is back from hiatus!
Over at Religious Tolerance.org, I found a list of differences between Catholics and Protestants. In my bid to irritate as many people as possible, following each is my own stance. I won't go into great detail, but I felt like declaring my stances. I may (probably will) examine some or all of these in depth later. After each concept I will say whether I consider my view to be ultimately Protestant or Catholic.
Believe in the Apostolic succession: ordinations traceable back to St. Peter.
Concept rejected as historically invalid; It simply didn't happen.
I see no reason to believe that this didn't happen. If possible, those leading congregations should be part of the apostolic succession. Point: Catholic
Authority within the church
Vested in the hierarchy of the church.
Within the believer (soul freedom).
Ultimately, this resides with the believer, though the views of those more experienced in theology and doctrine should be considered better than the believer's unless there is strong evidence that the "experts" are mistaken. Point: Protestant
Baptism, significance of
Sacrament which regenerates and justifies.
Testimony of a prior regeneration.
Baptism is a sacrament; Confirmation is a testimony. Point: Catholic
Usually done in infancy.
Usually done later in life after person is "born again."
This should be done in infancy, if possible, as it helps a person become more able to accept Christ. Point: Catholic
Bible, status of
Historically teaches that the original writings by Bible authors are inerrant. This is being debated.
The original writings of the authors of the Bible are inerrant.
The Bible is inerrant, though not necessarily literal. Doctrines not from the Bible may be okay, so long as they don't contradict the Bible in any way. Point: Protestant
Change of beliefs, practices
Debate sometimes forbidden.
Free discussion allowed.
You need free discussion, or else free will would be useless. Point: Protestant
I prefer a heirarchy, though one that is responsible to all the believers. I basically want a sort of social contract between church leaders and the congregation. Point: Tie
Clergy, selection of
Appointed; all male; almost all unmarried.
Elected; mostly male; single or married.
The church should nominate clergy, and by hiring them, individual congregations confirm them. Nominated clergy should be confirmed unless there is a major problem. Point: Tie
More than a physical place, hell is a state of being involving "the pain, frustration and emptiness of life without God."
A real physical place of eternal torture.
I agree more with the Catholic view, though I don't see that these two contradict each other. Point: Catholic
Immaculate Conception of Mary
Denied. Point: Protestant
Infallibility of the Pope
Required belief in matters of religious doctrine and faith.
Denied. Point: Protestant
A place in Hell for infants who die before being baptized, and for Old Testament saints. Concept is not officially taught.
I don't know. Point: Neither
A sacrifice. Christ's body and blood are physically present and are consumed by believers.
Memorial meal. Christ's body and blood are present symbolically only.
Christ's body and blood are literally present in this sacrament. Point: Catholic
Mary's status is below Jesus', but above that of the saints. Some regard Mary as co-redemptrix with Jesus; this is not currently church teaching.
The Virgin Mary plays a relatively minor role. Only trust in Jesus saves a person.
I agree with the Protestants. Point: Protestant
Have some value for the truth that they contain.
Many Fundamentalists consider them worthless, dangerous and demon-led.
Many religions do have some elements of the Truth, often a lot of it. I believe that God revealed part of Himself to several faiths, though Christianity is the only one that works completely. The role of other faiths is to lead the believer ultimately towards Christ. They may also contain independent verification of beliefs or forgotten minor information. Point: Catholic
Prayer To God.
Also may ask Mary or a saint to intercede on their behalf.
To God only.
I understand the Catholic idea, but feel safer simply praying to God in Christ's name through the Holy Spirit. This may change. Point: Protestant, for now
A state of being in which souls are cleansed by purifying punishments before they can enter heaven.
Does not exist.
I'm not sure, though I'll lean towards it existing. Point: Catholic, for now
The means of grace.
The symbols of grace.
They give partial grace. You can't be saved by sacraments alone, but they can help make you more receptive to God. I think of them as being like a glass of water with pills. The water alone won't cure your headache, but they make the pills go down easier than if your throat was dry. I also only accept Baptism and Communion as true sacraments; the others are merely symbols. Point: Catholic, though only in a tie-breaker sense
Dependent on faith, works and sacraments.
Dependent on faith only.
Salvation comes only through faith, through Grace, but can be helped by sacraments. Works do not play a role, but are an outward manifestation of faith. Point: Protestant
Is lost when a responsible person commits a mortal sin. It can be regained through repentance and the sacrament of confession.
Usually, once a person is saved, they cannot lose their salvation.
I'm not sure. Point: Neither
Frequent veneration of statues and images as symbolic of the individual saints.
Idolatry. Big-time. Point: Protestant
Found in scripture, as interpreted by the church. Also found in church tradition.
Found in scripture, as interpreted by the individual.
I'm more in agreement with the Protestants, though tradition shouldn't be ignored completely. Point: Protestant
Visibility of the Church
The hierarchy of the Church, including the laity, plus the Church's Spirit, referred to as the "Spotless Bride of Christ."
Invisible fellowship of all believers
Visibility is nice, but is ultimately invisible. Point: Protestant
Not all differences have been mentioned, and some have been covered incompletely. Often, only the views of a particular Protestant or Catholic denomination have been used to represent all of them. However, based on this particular set of differences, we find that I have eight Catholic views, eleven Protestant views, and four cases where I'm ambivalent or agree with major portions of each. It should be noted, however, that most of the Protestant wins were of smaller significance than the Catholic ones, and so I'd declare a tie overall. Let the corrective emails commence!
A warm welcome to our newest additions to the Consie Christer section, TS O'Rama and IdeaJoy, along with the newest member of Team Pants, Dean Esmay! I've gotten into disagreements with all three of them before, but everything stayed nice and respectful, so it's all good. Check 'em out.
Via Mark Byron, I read the Midwest Conservative Journal's response to many Protestants' and Anglicans' (including my own from several months ago) calls for "open table" Communion. The MCJ correctly points out the Roman Catholic argument that if you believe in transubstantiation, which means that you believe that the body and blood of Jesus Christ is literally present in the Eucharist, then you cannot share it with those who don't.
I'm not quite sure where I stand on this. My opinion has changed since January, when I wrote my call for an "open table," in that I now do believe in transubstantiation (I'll remind my reader(s) that as an Anglican, I essentially have free reign to believe whatever I want on an awful lot of issues without violating the doctrines of my denomination). I do think that Roman Catholics should open Communion up to anyone who believes in it, and not just Roman Catholics, but that's another issue. The issue at hand is hard enough as it is. For instance, a few months ago I was with a friend's Protestant church group, and we had a sunrise service on Easter where we also took Communion. I wasn't thinking about transubstantiation at the time, since I still wasn't clear on what I believed, but afterwards some of the bread was thrown to the birds. I was horrified later as I thought of this and realized what I'd inadvertantly allowed to happen, and actually regard it as one of the more regrettable things I've ever done.
In my mind, a priest is necessary to consecrate the bread and wine, and thus instill in it the body and blood of Christ. This need not be someone who has gone through a licensed seminary, but merely someone who has been designated by the congregation to act as their leader. I think that apostolic succession should be followed if at all possible, but it's not essential, just the appropriate thing to do if available. Thus, even though the Protestant minister didn't believe it was more than symbolic, he acted as priest and actually consecrated the Eucharist. This also leads me to wonder what I should do about Communion in churches that don't believe in transubstantiation. If any of the Eucharist is wasted, sin has been committed.
I'm sure at this point Roman Catholic readers will think I'm just about ready to swear allegiance to the Pope, and Protestant readers will think I've gone of the deep end and have anti-Biblical beliefs. The former is definitely not true, and I hope that the latter isn't, either. I intend to look into this more in the near future to see what's right and what I need to do in response.
I'm not sure if this post'll make any sense, but it made sense while I was in the shower, so hopefully it'll stay that way. If you think I'm full of it, or perhaps simply mistaken, let me know.
Right after September 11th, we kept hearing about how Islam "means peace." I remember being taught that it meant "submission," and while I can see how it could mean both, I was a little skeptical. However, it turns out that Arabic, like Hebrew, is based on consonant clusters. By adding vowels, you get words. Thus, Islam is based on SLM. By adding vowels differently, you can also get Salaam, which is more familiar as "peace."
As I was reading my Bible, I remember noticing one day that while I had heard of people named "Nathaniel," the one in my Bible was "Nathanael." This latter one is a common ending, such as Michael and Raphael (in the Apocrypha). We also see that Jacob becomes Israel. This wouldn't normally catch my attention, except that I also realized that there was also a person named simply "Nathan" in the Bible as well. Obviously, -ael is a suffix, as likely is -iel. Thus, I decided to see what several of these names meant.
Nathanael- "helper of God"
Michael- "who is like God?"
Raphael- "God has healed"
Gabriel- "strong man of God"
Israel- "[that with whom] God has striven"
Uriel- "God is my light"
Uzziel- "Strength of God"
What do we notice here? All names that end with -el also have "God" as part of their meaning. In fact, even "angel" fits this. "Angel" means "messenger," and I very strongly suspect that this is very slightly off, and actually translates as "messenger of God." One Hebrew word for God is Eloi (also Elohim, with a slightly different meaning), and so it fits together.
What is my grand bit of brilliance in this? There isn't one. I just thought I'd share something new that I'd figured out. Names in the Bible are often very significant (you'll notice that an awful lot of names are defined there, even though we rarely need to know what, for example, Bethsaida means).
I also started thinking about our names. Robert means "bright, shining fame." Nathanael means "helper of God," as I stated above. These names are not originally English. When they were first given, they were literal, just as when we name a girl "Hope" or "Faith" (I was going to include "Constance," but that one's falling out of recognition). Now, names mean different things. If your name is John or Peter, I can probably guess the person for whom you're named (or the person for whom that person is named, at least). No one names their son Peter anymore because they want him to be rock-solid. Sometimes names don't have a meaning, but merely sound good to the ear (that doesn't mean that there aren't meanings, but that they're ignored). For instance, I think that Tirzah and Anastasia are lovely names, but I don't know what they actually mean. Lastly, as I mentioned, people can be named for things like virtues or places.
When I get married and have kids (in that order), I've got an urge to give them unique names. I'm not sure how I'll do this, though. I'd like to honor people in my family, and I'd also like to honor people in my wife's family, along with giving the child a Biblical or Christian name of some sort. Thus, let's say that my wife's father was named Harold. Let's say my father's name was Eric. I'll pick a Bible/Christian name, and also a "unique" name. Thus, my son might be named Thomas Harold Eric Godslove Bauer (the middle names could go in any order). However, as most people have three names, this could be awkward at times. I know I'm rambling, but it's often worth examing what's in a name.
Friday, May 02, 2003
This whole Thursday-blogging thing isn't working out as well as I'd hoped. I've got a lot to say, but oddly enough just feel the urge to chew it over, and not spit it out (I produce lovely images, don't I?).
I will say, however, that I recently bought the Trigun Complete DVD Box Set - Limited Edition, and I currently regard it as one of the coolest things I've ever gotten. Why? I'm glad you asked
Trigun is a Japanese anime (cartoon) based off the manga (comic book) of the same name. It's set in a Wild West environment of another planet, though the population is made of humans. I would tell you how this happened, but that would be revealing things, and I won't do that. On this planet is an outlaw known as Vash the Stampede, accused of destroying a town and currently having a bounty of sixty billion double-dollars on his head. Wherever he goes, disasters tend to follow. In light of this, the Bernardelli Insurance Society has dispatched Meryl Stryfe and Milly Thompson to keep an eye on Vash and, if possible, prevent him from causing too much trouble.
The series is very well-done. I first saw it in Japanese with subtitles, and the voices were perfect for the characters. I'm now watching it in English with subtitles, and the dubbing is also excellent (it doesn't always agree with the subtitles, and the subtitles occasionally have typographical errors, such as calling Vash "dash"). It goes on for twenty-six episodes, including several two-parters. The idea of guns being able to help prevent crime is prevalent, and Christianity is held in high esteem by the "good guys," though the writers seem to have either a very limited or a very differently-oriented view of it. Environmentalism is also brought in, but not preachily. Furthermore, while Vash keeps saying that all he wants is "Love and Peace," he knows that that can't happen unless he does something about it, and he wrestles with this throughout the series. There is swearing and adult situations (no real nudity, though it sometimes gets fairly close), but Trigun would likely be diminished by their absence, as they're essential to the atmosphere and the plot.
The dozen episodes or so are almost slapstick, and include a lot of funny and random parts, such as Vash running away from a crowd, crying for his "Maman," and then wondering why he's crying in French (if I remember, the Japanese version actually has him speaking French). However, mid-way through, it changes. There are still some funny parts, but it gets sadder as Vash's choices get harder and harder. In the last few episodes, I very nearly cried at some points. If you want a well-done story of virtue, sacrifice, and idealism vs. reality, this is a good bet. There's apparently a rumor that the next part of the manga will be made into anime; if so, I can't wait to get it.
Now, why do I consider this so great? Well, I'd wanted the whole series, but had seen that they only came with three episodes per $20-DVD. Obviously, impossible. I went looking on Amazon, but found that even a boxed set would run me $170. Then, I glanced at the "New & Used" section, and saw that some started at about $35. Even more surprising, these were for new DVDs. I figured that I wouldn't lose much by trying, especially since the seller had a five-star rating. Lo and Behold, it's now in my hands. The DVDs came in envelopes outside the box, but that was no problem. If I understand it correctly, what I have is the imported Japanese version (you can tell that Trigun was made by the Japanese for Americans as you watch it). It comes in one of those folding paper DVD boxes (with the proper cover art, though) instead of the plastic cases like most American DVDs, but is otherwise the same. It's coded for all regions, and works well on both my computer and on my regular DVD player. If you've got $35 you're willing to spend, you could do a lot worse than to invest in this.
I'm very pleased.