Saturday, April 26, 2014

Bearing false witness

A liar for Jesus

Michael Voris has made a career of being more Catholic than the pope. You'd think, however, that so religious a person would hesitate to break the commandment against bearing false witness. I daresay he thinks it's okay because his lies of in the service of his imagined savior. Yet I wonder: How effective can the lies be when they are so transparent. In one of his typical rants, Voris castigates the president on the occasion of Obama's visit to the Vatican and an audience with the pope. Voris would have us believe that Obama wilted under the pontiff's glowering disapproval.

[T]he pope is the leader of the church militant and there is no more powerful organization on earth than the Catholic Church. Only it can consign the diabolical to the furnaces of hell. Perhaps that's why, when the pope encounters one of hell's agents, he doesn't have much of a smile on his face.... [The pope] doesn't like being a prop, especially for political leaders advancing evil, and his usual ebullient smile was missing from all the official photos, sending a clear message.
In a word, Voris's statement is untrue. The official photographs are readily viewed on the Vatican website. It does not take too long while scrolling through the voluminous archive of images to discover that Pope Francis managed to smile several times in the presence of our evil president and even while greeting Secretary of State John Kerry (often denounced by arch-Catholics for being a pro-choice member of the Church). See for yourself how readily Voris is refuted:

No further words are required.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Pandora's book

Things that you're liable to read in the Bible

Protestants often pride themselves on being “Bible-believing Christians” and excoriate Catholics for relying on clerical authority instead. There are two good reasons for regarding this Bible-centric position with skepticism. For one thing, Catholics are exposed to readings from the Old Testament and New Testament every time they go to mass. For another, despite the noisy evangelists who love to spout chapter and verse, Protestants are less familiar with the Bible than they think they are—or think they ought to be.

Some entertaining anecdotal evidence to this effect was presented in the Sacramento Bee in an article on Wednesday, April 16. One of the state capital's Lutheran churches has embarked on a program designed to guide its members through the entire Bible in three months' time. There have been surprises:
It’s been an eye-opener: The violence—the sheer level of bloodshed in the Old Testament—has taken many of them by surprise.

“Your Sunday school teachers didn’t tell you about that,” associate pastor Leslie Welton said to a recent class of almost two dozen people.
It's another example of Christians not being fully aware of what their holy book contains. Cherry-picking Christians can be shocked when they try to plow line-by-line through the text of scripture:
“How many of you are shocked by the blood and gore and carnage?” asked Welton.

There were nods of agreement around the room: Page by page, chapter by chapter, class members are deeply shocked. With its betrayals, infidelities and lessons stubbornly unlearned, its epic levels of carnage and vengeance, this wild ride through the Old Testament is not the Bible they expected.
What is a good apologist to do? The preferred approach seems to be “Look over there!”
The Old Testament also depicts a world in which God’s grace shines amid the violence
Really? That's the best you can do? God's grace shines amidst all of the God-induced violence?

Apparently the God of genocide (Deuteronomy 20:16-18; Joshua 10:40; 11:10-15, Hosea 13:16, 1 Samuel 15:2-3) gets a pass because he later cleans up his act by sending a merciful savior to bestow peace and redemption on humanity—that is, when the messiah isn't himself threatening war and dissension (Matthew 10:34, Luke 14:26).

Their leaders will do their best to put the Bible-readers at ease, but even in these first stages of the Bible-reading project we see how the Bible itself is one of the most effective cures for religiosity. Read the Bible! It's an excellent self-exposé.