The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench


Author: teens are following a “mutant” Christianity

posted by jmcgee

Here’s some disturbing news about religious trends among teenagers — what you might call Teenage Mutant Ninja Christianity.

From CNN:

If you’re the parent of a Christian teenager, Kenda Creasy Dean has this warning:

Your child is following a “mutant” form of Christianity, and you may be responsible.

Dean says more American teenagers are embracing what she calls “moralistic therapeutic deism.” Translation: It’s a watered-down faith that portrays God as a “divine therapist” whose chief goal is to boost people’s self-esteem.

Dean is a minister, a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary and the author of “Almost Christian,” a new book that argues that many parents and pastors are unwittingly passing on this self-serving strain of Christianity.

She says this “imposter” faith is one reason teenagers abandon churches.

“If this is the God they’re seeing in church, they are right to leave us in the dust,” Dean says. “Churches don’t give them enough to be passionate about.”

Dean drew her conclusions from what she calls one of the most depressing summers of her life. She interviewed teens about their faith after helping conduct research for a controversial study called the National Study of Youth and Religion.

The study, which included in-depth interviews with at least 3,300 American teenagers between 13 and 17, found that most American teens who called themselves Christian were indifferent and inarticulate about their faith.

The study included Christians of all stripes — from Catholics to Protestants of both conservative and liberal denominations. Though three out of four American teenagers claim to be Christian, fewer than half practice their faith, only half deem it important, and most can’t talk coherently about their beliefs, the study found.

Many teenagers thought that God simply wanted them to feel good and do good — what the study’s researchers called “moralistic therapeutic deism.”

Read the rest.



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Michael

posted August 28, 2010 at 10:13 am


Kenda Dean wrote a follow up to the CNN interview. It helps clarify some statements that were made by the author.
http://kendadean.com/307/cnn-response/



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mendelssohn

posted August 28, 2010 at 10:17 am


Deacon Kandru:
although impassioned and sometimes shrill, Jerome Cantor’s points were well-taken.
If this is to be a “Catholics only” blog – i.e., Judenrein, “No Jews, Protestants allowed, et al.” then say so.
If Church teaching is truthful, then you should have nothing to fear. “Because I say so” is not an argument.
Papal teaching should be able to defend its position logically, with common sense, reason and intelligent explication of the clear meaning of Scriptural sources.
BobRN was incapable of this, and so went crying to you.
And it is not Jerome’s fault that God spoke Hebrew, not Latin.
Restore Cantor’s postings, or don’t be surprised if this blog will go the way of David Klinghoffers’.



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Fiergenholt

posted August 28, 2010 at 11:14 am


Mendelssohn:
Just some points of correction:
–God does not speak in any human language; God does not need to.
–Moses probably was bi-lingual: the ancient Hebrew of the “Ha-Bi-Ru” slave community and the Aristocratic Egyptian (maybe Semitic in some manner) of the court he was adopted into.
–Jesus of Nazareth was certainly bi-lingual: Aramaic and Kione Greek.
–St Paul (Rabbi Saul of Tarsus) was certainly bi-lingual (Aramaic and Kione Greek) and may have known a bit of Liturgical Hebrew. He never would have spoken Latin.
Beyond that, I have to admit most of your concerns are not mine.



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RpmCath

posted August 28, 2010 at 11:17 am


“although impassioned and sometimes shrill, Jerome Cantor’s points were well-taken.”
Anti-Catholic rhetoric and the hostility he showed toward the Church and its teaching authority are not ever “well taken”. Sorry.



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Paul

posted August 28, 2010 at 12:30 pm


“Papal teaching should be able to defend its position logically, with common sense, reason and intelligent explication of the clear meaning of Scriptural sources.”
Good thing Papal teaching uses both scripture and tradition. -1 for the sola scriptura troll attempt.



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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted August 28, 2010 at 12:36 pm


Mendelssohn:
Jerome Cantor’s points may have been compelling, but his tone was hateful, and not in keeping with the spirit of the blog that I try to maintain. I don’t mind disagreement and debate — even, to a certain point, dissent. But his remarks were sharply anti-Catholic. People of all faiths, and even no faith, are welcome to comment here, provided they do so with respect and charity.
Dcn. G.



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Gerard Nadal

posted August 28, 2010 at 12:36 pm


“”Churches don’t give them enough to be passionate about.”
There is much sobering truth in this statement.
Mendelssohn,
“Papal teaching should be able to defend its position logically, with common sense, reason and intelligent explication of the clear meaning of Scriptural sources.”
You CAN’T be serious! Really, you CAN’T be serious! Your statement indicates that you have never read a papal encyclical, or else you simply cannot understand what you are reading. Papal encyclicals are LOADED with scriptural refernces, logical, and quite explicative.
Here is Pope John Paul II’s Encyclical, Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason):
http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_15101998_fides-et-ratio_en.html
It’s always helpful to know what you’re talking about before opening your mouth.



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Megan

posted August 28, 2010 at 12:48 pm


I have a comment about the topic of this blog if that is OK. I have seen this study and the CNN article written about quite a bit now, as hand-wringing about my generation always seems to make for good blog and news content. But what is the study, or what we now of it, actually saying? All I see are weasel words like “more” teens and “many” teens then “most” teens. We don’t even know what Professor Dean’s definitions are or what questions she asked. The CNN article was essentially meaningless. How many of you “adults” can talk coherently about your beliefs? All i have is my limited experience, no study, but it tells me not many.



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Panthera

posted August 28, 2010 at 12:57 pm


I think it is worth noting that logic may be used to prove anything – look at Christopher Hitchens, Pius XII, John 23rd.
Both popes and Hitchens are masters of logic yet all came to quite different conclusions using rational logic.
Come to think of it, several posters here defend torture using the same logic the Catholic church and I use to defend the Christian position that torture is forbidden as a tool to Christians, at all times, under all circumstances.
As for the kids, well – goodness. Their knowledge of Christianity is based on what we have shown them.
Considering what Ken Mehlman revealed about conservative Christian strategy over the last 10 years this week, I frankly find it to be a wonder that they associate God with love, at all.
Too much of our energy goes into hating each other and defining our ‘love’ of God through attacks on our enemies. Those enemies happen to be fellow Christians.



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Panthera

posted August 28, 2010 at 1:05 pm


Megan,
That’s a very valid point you make. I’ll go first.
My core belief, as a Christian, is that salvation is through God’s grace, offered through Christ’s death for my sins, not my good works.
A necessary corollary to that is that God’s grace does not absolve me of the necessity to perform good works.
I believe that God has not only not called me to judge, but forbidden me to do so.
I believe that when God called me to tithe 10%, he meant off the top, pre-tax and he meant that that money was for the aged, children and the ill. Big full-stop there.
I believe that dominion over the earth meant that we are his stewards and when he said he notes the falling of every sparrow, he was speaking literally. What you do to the least includes animals and people to whom ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’ applies in your mind.
That’s a start.



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Megan

posted August 28, 2010 at 1:27 pm


@Panthera. I say those things too when I am asked to explain my beliefs to people who talk in theological language. But just saying that doing good, loving people, i.e., doing what Christ tells us to do, will (hopefully) get me into Heaven doesn’t mean someone doesn’t understand basic faith.
I guess it’s just my circle of friends…everyone I hang out with is Catholic, I go to a Catholic school, but belief is pretty much a given. What concerns me more is the impression that people get that one can loudly believe then be a heartless, uncaring jerk the rest of their life and still go to Heaven and the person who is loving and charitable who doesn’t go around proclaiming belief and using the right “theological” language is supposed to go to Hell. I just wonder if Professor Dean, and too many Christians, are too busy looking for the right words, some sort of shibboleth, and not paying attention to what we really believe.



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Panthera

posted August 28, 2010 at 1:34 pm


Megan,
I very much agree with you – I noted Ken Mehlman’s statements this last week on how the Republican party worked with conservative Christians during the first decade of this century to achieve goals which included:
Torture
Two unlawful wars
Secret authority to suspend the Bill of Rights
And all sorts of other un-Christian positions. All the while, claiming to be following God’s will.
But, really, until you are challenged, how do you go about living as a Christian in this safe and wealthy world we live in?
Do you volunteer your time for those less fortunate than you?
Do you clean house for your mother?
Do you help your little brother figure out his algebra problems?
When a beggar in the street – lots of them, nowadays, asks you for money to eat, do you sniff and walk on by, snarling “get a job” or do you take the risk that he’s ripping you off and give him that dollar or two?
I don’t doubt that God meant His forgiveness and that I shall go to heaven. I also don’t doubt that He is going to have a very long list of things I could have done but did not. That list will be far longer than the one the conservative Christians here (the ones similar to your friends at school) focus on, the list of things I did do which were against His will.



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Shirley

posted August 28, 2010 at 1:47 pm


Panthera and Megan, thank you both for concerned and meaningful dialogue said in a most caring way. I do hope to hear more from both of you!



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Leonard

posted August 28, 2010 at 6:00 pm


I think this is an excellent post and mutants beget mutants. Hopefully the changes in the New English Translation of the Catholic Mass will help address some of these issues for Catholic Teeagers anyway.



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X Contra

posted August 28, 2010 at 6:32 pm


My own observation of teenagers is that they are usually not very articulate about ANYTHING!!



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Gerard Nadal

posted August 28, 2010 at 8:30 pm


Panthera,
How are you?
As goes Hitchens, I wouldn’t say that he employs logic, so much as he does sophistry. Logic requires syllogistic reasoning that begins with valid premises. Hitchens denies the Christian God as a starting point, arguing that it is supremely illogical to maintain there could be a deity that has no beginning ad no end.
Yet Hitchens maintains the First Law of Thermodynamics, which says that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. So Hitchens posits for energy the same eternal state of being that he denies to God.
Come on Panthera, we’re both science professors, and neither of us would tolerate such sophistry from an undergrad.
My regards to your husband.



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BobRN

posted August 28, 2010 at 9:55 pm


Mendelssohn,
As I tried to make clear in my comments to him, jerome cantor and I were coming from two disparate world views on the Church’s teaching authority. Everything I said to defend Bp Choby’s actions re: Fr. Breen were based on the Catholic Church’s understanding of herself and her mission. Jerome rejected that out of hand (along with certain Biblical books and ancient translations of the Scriptures). On what, then, were we to base our conversation? I said what I had to say; he said what he had to say. I allowed that, not being a Catholic, it was understandable that jerome would not embrace the Catholic Church’s understanding of herself. However, given our disparate world views, I felt there was no basis on which to continue the conversation, and I told him so.
The reason I went “crying” to Dcn Greg, as you say, had nothing to do with jerome’s arguments and everything to do with the obscene and gratuitous direction he chose to go with his comments. On no grounds whatsoever, he accused me of being anti-Semitic; he compared Bp Choby’s expectations of Fr. Breen to that of a Nazi’s expectations of a subordinate; finally, and completely out of the blue, he perpetuated the lie that Hitler was allowed to die a Catholic in good standing, and credited my comments as reason for his understanding why. In my mind, these are not impassioned and shrill points well-taken, but obscene and gratuitous attacks and unworthy of this blog, at least based on Dcn Greg’s reasonable and clearly stated rules.
As well, I think Dcn Greg is generous and welcoming to people of all faiths and none who choose to visit his blog. But, I don’t think the expectation of non-Catholics who visit here should be that every Catholic on every post is expected to defend the foundational principles of our faith to the satisfaction of those who are quite obviously hostile to our faith.



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BobRN

posted August 28, 2010 at 10:21 pm


Parents are the primary religious educators of their children, whether they like it or not, or whether they embrace the responsibility or shirk it. Children learn the faith from their parents. I suspect the reason so many teens adhere to a “moralistic therapeuitic deist” God is because their parents do. The parents are simply passing on the faith. This is the consequence of the conviction that faith is based on what I believe about God, not what God has revealed to us.



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Deacon Norb

posted August 28, 2010 at 11:16 pm


Panthera wrote:
“I believe that God has not only not called me to judge, but forbidden me to do so.”
and I write: Amen, Alleluia, Amen, Amen!!!



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BobRN

posted August 28, 2010 at 11:47 pm


We are forbidden to judge souls. We are expected to judge actions, and our own actions first, as right or wrong. Otherwise, how is it that Christ commanded us to correct the sinner? Correcting the sinner is a spiritual work of mercy and ought not be disgarded in favor of the wrong-headed notion that God is a God of love and not of justice. He is the God of both, and all things besides.
Justice without love is tyranny.
Love without justice is chaos.



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RomCath

posted August 29, 2010 at 8:30 am


Thank you BobRn for making that clarification. Of course we cannot and must not judge hearts, but we can certainly judge actions as objectively evil. Jesus taught about fraternal correction. How could we do that unless we first see that some action is objectively wrong. The only heart we can judge is our own.
People get a little carried away saying we should not judge forgetting that while we can’t judge hearts and souls, we can judge actions.



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Steve in Illinois

posted August 29, 2010 at 9:51 am


Megan & Panthera,
I have to agree with what Shirley said. You’re both writing about Christian living, day-to-day Christian practice, in thoughtful and detailed ways. You have both provoked me and challenged me in my walk with Christ through what you have written here. And, like Shirley said, I hope you’ll both continue to post here on a regular basis. You both have a lot to bring to the conversation.
Peace.



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Michael Gyura

posted August 29, 2010 at 10:44 am


An almost Christian is not always a fake Christian. Another follow-up post by Kenda Dean.
http://kendadean.com/318/almost-christian/



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Panthera

posted August 29, 2010 at 11:31 am


Gerard,
We’re fine – sad, a dear friend is losing her son. His alcoholism has now led to a series of brain seizures and ICU tells us he almost certainly won’t live. He has a wife and two children. We took the kids this week, so his wife and our friend could concentrate on him.
I do hope you all are well. Now that my favorite female dog is back to good health, I am again reminded of what really matters.
BobRN and RomCath,
I am not entirely sure I follow your reasoning. By invoking the need to correct fraternally, respectively, by defining God as judgment, are you not putting yourselves in the position of judge, prosecutor and hangman?
I ask, because, one, my reading of the Catholic version of Romans 2 and Mattew 7 this morning doesn’t seem to grant that authority and, two, because, after all these years, I notice that your ‘responsibility’ to correct fraternally is, to put it mildly, inconsistently felt.
Therein lies, I believe, a reason for this injunction against judgment. How do you know, without having passed judgment yourself, that God wants you to spend 87 million dollars in California to take away rights and not spend one cent on repealing no-fault divorce, certainly one of the greatest causes of harm to poor women and children? How do you know that it is A-OK with God to subject the entire country to impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton yet, at the very same time to tell your (current) wife that your affairs don’t matter because what counts is what the people believe, not your actions?
How may it be that we both find abortion abhorrent, yet my firm belief in programs to aid children of poor parents is ‘socialism’ and thus bad, while supporting tax cuts for the top 2% is ‘capitalism’ and thus good? I don’t support extending those tax cuts and I’m affected by them.
I could go on – but I’ve tried hard to find topics here which are not specifically Roman Catholic, yet relevant to all of us as Christians.
I just can’t get past these two passages, Matthew 7:1-29
1 ‘Do not judge, and you will not be judged;
2 because the judgements you give are the judgements you will get, and the standard you use will be the standard used for you.
3 Why do you observe the splinter in your brother’s eye and never notice the great log in your own?
4 And how dare you say to your brother, “Let me take that splinter out of your eye,” when, look, there is a great log in your own?
5 Hypocrite! Take the log out of your own eye first, and then you will see clearly enough to take the splinter out of your brother’s eye.
6 ‘Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls in front of pigs, or they may trample them and then turn on you and tear you to pieces.
7 ‘Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you.
8 Everyone who asks receives; everyone who searches finds; everyone who knocks will have the door opened.
9 Is there anyone among you who would hand his son a stone when he asked for bread?
10 Or would hand him a snake when he asked for a fish?
11 If you, then, evil as you are, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
12 ‘So always treat others as you would like them to treat you; that is the Law and the Prophets.
13 ‘Enter by the narrow gate, since the road that leads to destruction is wide and spacious, and many take it;
14 but it is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
15 ‘Beware of false prophets who come to you disguised as sheep but underneath are ravenous wolves.
16 You will be able to tell them by their fruits. Can people pick grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles?
17 In the same way, a sound tree produces good fruit but a rotten tree bad fruit.
18 A sound tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor a rotten tree bear good fruit.
19 Any tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down and thrown on the fire.
20 I repeat, you will be able to tell them by their fruits.
21 ‘It is not anyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” who will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but the person who does the will of my Father in heaven.
22 When the day comes many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, work many miracles in your name?”
23 Then I shall tell them to their faces: I have never known you; away from me, all evil doers!
24 ‘Therefore, everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on rock.
25 Rain came down, floods rose, gales blew and hurled themselves against that house, and it did not fall: it was founded on rock.
26 But everyone who listens to these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a stupid man who built his house on sand.
27 Rain came down, floods rose, gales blew and struck that house, and it fell; and what a fall it had!’
28 Jesus had now finished what he wanted to say, and his teaching made a deep impression on the people
29 because he taught them with authority, unlike their own scribes.
And, Romans 2:1-24
1 Therefore, you are without excuse, every one of you who passes judgment. 2 For by the standard by which you judge another you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the very same things.
2
We know that the judgment of God on those who do such things is true.
3
Do you suppose, then, you who judge those who engage in such things and yet do them yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?
4
Or do you hold his priceless kindness, forbearance, and patience in low esteem, unaware that the kindness of God would lead you to repentance?
5
By your stubbornness and impenitent heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself for the day of wrath and revelation of the just judgment of God,
6
who will repay everyone according to his works: 3
7
eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immortality through perseverance in good works,
8
but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth and obey wickedness.
9
Yes, affliction and distress will come upon every human being who does evil, Jew first and then Greek.
10
But there will be glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does good, Jew first and then Greek.
11
4 There is no partiality with God.
12
5 All who sin outside the law will also perish without reference to it, and all who sin under the law will be judged in accordance with it.
13
For it is not those who hear the law who are just in the sight of God; rather, those who observe the law will be justified.
14
For when the Gentiles who do not have the law by nature observe the prescriptions of the law, they are a law for themselves even though they do not have the law.
15
They show that the demands of the law are written in their hearts, 6 while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even defend them
16
on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge people’s hidden works through Christ Jesus.
17
7 Now if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast of God
18
and know his will and are able to discern what is important since you are instructed from the law,
19
and if you are confident that you are a guide for the blind and a light for those in darkness,
20
that you are a trainer of the foolish and teacher of the simple, because in the law you have the formulation of knowledge and truth–
21
then you who teach another, are you failing to teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal?
22
You who forbid adultery, do you commit adultery? You who detest idols, do you rob temples?
23
You who boast of the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law?
24
For, as it is written, “Because of you the name of God is reviled among the Gentiles.”



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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted August 29, 2010 at 11:46 am


Pan…
Please refrain from monopolizing the bandwidth, and dominating the conversation, with extended scripture passages. Is that really necessary?
Dcn. G.



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RomCath

posted August 29, 2010 at 12:20 pm


I think the teaching is pretty clear. Didn’t St Paul spend a lot of time correcting people who were straying from what he taught them? Was he judging them or leading them back to the truth? Jesus didn’t say not to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye, but he said to remove the plank in your own FIRST.
I can firmly believe that abortion is objectively evil. When a woman has an abortion, I can’t judge if she did it out of force, fear or ignorance. That judgement belongs to God.



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Panthera

posted August 29, 2010 at 12:24 pm


Deacon Kandra,
I apologize. In the future, I’ll just include the link(s).



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Panthera

posted August 29, 2010 at 12:37 pm


RomCath,
You are assigning rankings to sin and evil and, based upon your writings here over the last years, those rankings quite often include those things of which you are incapable.
This, I think, is what Paul was referring to. This, I am certain, I what Jesus clearly meant.
I don’t get to pass judgment on people who do things I consider to be a sin and you don’t (torture being one of them). I seriously doubt that you get to, either.



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RomCath

posted August 29, 2010 at 1:21 pm


You are assigning rankings to sin and evil and, based upon your writings here over the last years, those rankings quite often include those things of which you are incapable. This, I think, is what Paul was referring to. This, I am certain, I what Jesus clearly meant. I don’t get to pass judgment on people who do things I consider to be a sin and you don’t (torture being one of them). I seriously doubt that you get to, either.
First, let me say that I have no idea what the above is saying. It is incomprehensible. May I point out in fraternal correction your seeming sin of presumption in saying you are CERTAIN as to what Jesus meant. How dare you!
Second, let me say that there surely are clear rankings in sin and evil. Not all sins are of equal weight or severity. That’s not Catholic opinion, it is in Scripture too since you love to quote it.
Third, let me just conclude that I really don’t want to engage in any further dialog with you. Your anti-Catholicism is revolting. Your refusal to accept any Catholic teaching and further to ridicule it is hardly Christian. Whatever brand of Christianity you preach is unrecognizable to me. Your brand seems to sound more like glorified social work and includes nothing about any kind of morality.
Adieu.



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romancrusader

posted August 29, 2010 at 1:22 pm


“By invoking the need to correct fraternally, respectively, by defining God as judgment, are you not putting yourselves in the position of judge, prosecutor and hangman?”
What a strawman argument. We are simply separating sin from the sinner. We are not putting ourselves above God when we do this. Using Matthew 7:1-29 and Romans 2:1-24 as ur referrence point is quite laughable. There’s a reason why we have the Catechism.



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Panthera

posted August 29, 2010 at 1:43 pm


Megan,
Is my exchange with RomCath and RomanCrusader what you mean? I think all three of us are genuinely trying hard to follow God’s will and, obviously, if we include concord in the Christian body as part of that will, we are all three failing.
It strikes me that, if absolute certainty – the kind that led to the auto-da-fé sentencing of burning (if one was lucky) is at the center of a wheel of false interpretation, then moral therapeutic deism is one of the spokes.
RomCath, yes, I am quite certain that Jesus meant me when he forbade passing judgment. Sorry, but there are some absolutes. Just as torture is absolutely forbidden to all Christians, so is using the tool of judgment to further one’s own private agenda.
By the by, I am become mightily tired of this argument that I attack Catholics and the Catholic church. There is a very specific reason why I refer to “conservative” Christians or “liberal” Christians when I praise or criticize. That is because I do not have any desire to attack the entire Catholic church. That dog just won’t hunt.



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RomCath

posted August 29, 2010 at 2:00 pm


Panthera, you just don’t quit do you?
Jesus forbade passing judgement on hearts and souls NOT on the objective evil of actions. Get it? By your logic, we couldn’t judge the evil of Hitler’s holocaust.
And please don’t try to tell me what you are certain of in regard to Jesus’ words. Your selectivity in accepting his words is remarkable.
I am as tired as you are in listening to your attacks on the teachings of the Catholic Church, the popes and the orthodox Catholics here. If you want to learn more about our faith buy a Cathechism or google it. If you don’t agree with them so be it. I frankly don’t care nor are they going to change because you don’t like them. Being a Catholic Christian is not easy.Hunt that dog and leave me alone.



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mendelssohn

posted August 29, 2010 at 2:29 pm


listen up:
Fiergenholt: you assert that “God does not speak in any human language”. Therefore, when it says in the Pentateuch that “and God said to Moses..” and a bunch of Hebrew words follows, then the Bible is lying?
Secondly, as to “Rabbi Saul of Tarsus’: whatever Paul/Saul was, he was not a rabbi since that term only came into definitive usage post-70, way after Paul died. Similarly, when Gospels refer to Jesus as ‘rabbi, it can not possibly be a contemporaneous account, but reflects editorial retrojection from a much later period.
When you use the term “certainly” you seem to mean “your best guess.”
Also, Christians claim that Jesus is God, the second part of Trinity. If, as you insist, “God does not speak in any human language” then how can you claim that Jesus was b-lingual? Aren’t Aramaic and Koine Greek human languages?
Deacon: how/what were Mr. Cantor’s remarks ‘anti-Catholic’. Chapter and verse, please. His Holocaust/Nazi analogies? Glenn Beck- a favorite of many posters on this blog- invokes those all the time!!
Gerald Nadal: you prove Mr. Cantor’s point in your use of the term “Christian God.” I have never heard Jews refer to the One Whom they worship as the “Jewish God” or Muslims to theirs as the “Muslim God.” God is God, period. Allah is the Arabic word for God – it is NOT, as is Jehovah or Zeus – a personal name for God. Arabic-speaking Jews and Christians say “Allah” when the context calls for referring to God. It is the ultimate in particularism (of which, e.g., Judaism is so often accused by Christians) is to proclaim such a thing as the “Christian God.”
One more thing, Deacon: you do realize that by deleting Cantor’s postings, BobRN’s reply to them exist in isolation and make no sense.



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RomCath

posted August 29, 2010 at 3:06 pm


Therefore, when it says in the Pentateuch that “and God said to Moses..” and a bunch of Hebrew words follows, then the Bible is lying?
Does not God “speak” to us in other ways than verbally?
When the Bible says that God spoke, God could have been speaking to the heart and mind of the hearer without using any words whatsoever.
The same could have been said about those who were divinely inspired to write the Gospels etc. God “spoke” to them but not in words.



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Deacon Norb

posted August 29, 2010 at 6:20 pm


Mendelssohn:
I hate to tell you but FIERGENHOLT is correct here:
The process you are referring to in your comment is called “Stenographic Inspiration” — that means that the Holy Spirit of God spoke in a human language to the human author of the sacred text and that author transcribed it exactly as a court stenographer would.
“Stenographic Inspiration” was totally abandoned by Roman Catholic Biblical Scholars in the early 1950′s (sixty years ago) after scholars at the colleges, universities and seminaries finally had a chance to read and digest Pope Pius XII encyclical “Divini Afflnate Spiritu” written in 1943.
Biblical scholars from Lutheran (and other Protestant traditions) had already dropped that notion around 1900 and the Jewish rabbinical schools quit teaching it several centuries even before that.
Every priest and deacon now alive has been taught in his Roman Catholic Seminary training what Pius XII taught about bible studies in that encyclical. My firm suggestion is that you download it and read it.
NOW, consider a few more points:
–The language of the ancient “Ha-Bi-Ru” was an oral language only — in fact the oral language of a slave-culture — until the court of Solomon (sometime around 950 bce). That was when a written alphabet was finally created — and this has been substantiated by secular historical work in Israel. Even if the Lord High God had spoken Hebrew to Moses, Moses could not have written it down because an alphabet was not even invented for that oral language — and would not be for several centuries or more after the Sinai experience.
–The Books of Leviticus, Deuteronomy and Numbers were not edited into their final shapes until a full thousand years after Moses lived. It took the Restoration of the Temple Cult — spear-headed by Ezra and Nehemiah — that finally caused these “sacramentary style” works to be composed and copied and 450 bce is generally used as an acceptable date for the canonical edition we know and love.
NOW to your concern about “Rabbi Yeshua ben Yusef” and “Rabbi Saul of Tarsus.”
The first one was called “Rabbi – Teacher” on a regular and consistent basis and that is solidly scriptural. (Funny you cite as “stenographic” certain Jewish Scriptural points but deny the impact of that same “stenographic” teaching for the Christian Scriptures !)
The second one — Rabbi Saul — went to the Yeshiva at the Temple in Jerusalem and was educated at the feet of one of the best Rabbi’s of his era — thus avoiding the very criticism the first had to suffer.
Even today, the teachings of Rabbi Gamaliel II of Jerusalem — Rabbi Saul’s primary mentor — are still widely respected in Judaism.
Both were entitled to the title “Rabbi” — absolutely — and it was in use well before the start of the Christian era. In fact, most historians believe that the term surfaced with the rise of the Synagogue experiences during the Babylonian Captivity when the cultic priesthood had no religious relevance since the very temple itself had been destroyed.



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Stu

posted August 29, 2010 at 6:53 pm


Witness the fruits of modernism; an increasing number of our youth embracing moral relativism and the novelty of “multiple truths.” This article just depicts another example of such dangerous thinking. Only when people embrace the objective Truth of the Church will they truly be free.



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Peg

posted August 29, 2010 at 8:15 pm


I love this blog and always enjoy reading your posts.
However I am frequently disappointed by the seemingly random, often mean spirited and weirdly contentious comments. I really wish you would moderate the comments to keep them on topic. If you kept the comments on topic, it would prevent people from ranting about their pet obsessions.
Once the “characters” wander off, your readers who are interested in discussing the topic of your post will feel much more welcome.
The inadequate faith formation of teenagers is extremely interesting… Crackpot biblical “scholarship” not so much! Thank you.



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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted August 29, 2010 at 8:31 pm


Thanks, Peg. I hear ya. And I agree. I wish I had more time to devote to baby-sitting some of the characters around here, and sending them into the Time Out corner. People often start off on topic, then career into a ditch, where they spend the rest of their time furiously spinning their wheels and honking their horn…it’s maddening. Generally, I try to keep people on a long leash — some of that is by necessity, since I can’t be watching the blog 24/7 — but that can be problematic, as we’re finding … Dcn. G.



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BobRN

posted August 29, 2010 at 9:06 pm


Panthera,
First, I’m not aware that I’ve practiced fraternal correction inconsistently and, since I’ve only been commenting recently, certainly not “over the years”. When I disagree with someone, or when correction re: Catholic teaching is necessary, I try to be polite and to the point. Disagreement is not condemnation. I apologize, however, if I’ve failed in that effort.
Second, your political examples aren’t helpful, unless you assume that everyone who disagrees with you is a Glen Beck Republican. I have no interest in and feel no responsibility to defend political positions of a party to which I don’t belong, though I agree with some of their positions.
Finally, there are a number of Scripture references related to fraternal correction:
Mt. 18:15-18
1 Cor. 5:1-13
Gal. 6:1-2
Col. 3:16
1 Thess. 5:14
2 Thess. 3:6
2 Thess. 3:14
2 Tim. 3:16
James 5:19
1 Jn. 5:16
As well, these links offer some fine reflections on the matter of
franternal correction:
http://catholicwisdom.stblogs.com/2010/03/02/fraternal-correction/
http://blog.adw.org/2009/11/fraternal-correction-the-forgotten-virtue/
Dcn. Greg,
I apologize for my part in taking this thread off road. I found the CNN article very interesting, though I wonder if the situation Prof. Dean describes is unique to the current generation of teens. I’m thinking about looking into this more for a possible column of my own. I learn a lot about what’s going on from you blog.



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plavo

posted August 29, 2010 at 9:54 pm


Stu, our kids (and us) have been led astray by a whacky capitalist culture (what’s in it for me?), not modernism



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tim napier

posted August 29, 2010 at 11:24 pm


If we can inject a whhole generation of teens into our society who believe in”doing good,” we’ll be a lot better,a lot safer, and a lot more loving than the last generation or two, or five. If that scares some religious folks away, that’s too bad for htem.



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Panthera

posted August 30, 2010 at 9:16 am


BobRN, I can see how my comments would link you to someone else and I do apologize.
My examples were not meant to imply any political affiliation, rather, they are examples of actions which are strongly condemned in traditional Christianity and thus suitable for ‘fraternal correction’.
Unsurprisingly, there was no outcry from conservative Christians – those most concerned with ‘fraternal correction’ – just the opposite, in fact, unlimited support and understanding and comprehension of ‘mitigating circumstances’.
Did I not already know the above cited Romans and Matthew passages were proscriptive, the hypocrisy, the baseness of choosing which ‘sins’ merit ‘fraternal correction’ and which don’t in American conservative Christianity would serve to convince me that I am not to be the judge over my Christian brothers and sisters.
Let’s take a look at how the Catholic church reacted to the situation in Ireland recently. Was there a cover-up of important, conservative Catholic authorities? No.
Was there a transfer of guilt from the abusers to the victims? No.
Did the Vatican make a concerted effort to undo what might be undone and to mitigate that, which is beyond repair? Yes.
That is fraternal correction. What I see being defended here is an apology for supporting those upon whom conservative Christian politics smiles and damning those upon whom they frown.
This, precisely this, is why Jesus forbade us judgment. The ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’ tree has borne fruit which has done nothing, absolutely nothing, to win hearts for God’s loving grace. Quite the opposite – it has institutionalized hatred and disdain.



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mendelssohn

posted August 30, 2010 at 1:30 pm


Deacon Norb:
Apologetics is not scholarship. The Gospels can’t even get their story straight on the timing of the Last Supper- e.g.. John is variance with the Synoptics.
Acts is a faith document, not a historically accurate record.
“Stenographic inspiration” has long been discredited as just so much theological apologetics to avoid addressing embarrassing historical problems for those who stuck with believing in an inerrant text.
and the business about …
NOW to your concern about “Rabbi Yeshua ben Yusef” and “Rabbi Saul of Tarsus.”
The first one was called “Rabbi – Teacher” on a regular and consistent basis and that is solidly scriptural.
The second one — Rabbi Saul — went to the Yeshiva at the Temple in Jerusalem and was educated at the feet of one of the best Rabbi’s of his era — thus avoiding the very criticism the first had to suffer.
Even today, the teachings of Rabbi Gamaliel II of Jerusalem — Rabbi Saul’s primary mentor — are still widely respected in Judaism.
Both were entitled to the title “Rabbi” — absolutely — and it was in use well before the start of the Christian era. In fact, most historians believe that the term surfaced with the rise of the Synagogue experiences during the Babylonian Captivity when the cultic priesthood had no religious relevance since the very temple itself had been destroyed.
is FICTION for the credulous. “most historians” my foot: That is a lie.
Moreover, there may have been houses of study in Jerusalem, but no such things as a ‘yeshiva.’
If ‘rabbi’ were an established title, it would have been given to the greatest Jewish scholar of the first century, Hillel, but the Talmud simply refers to him as “Hiller the Elder” . Which rules out Paul, let alone Jesus, as being called ‘rabbi.’



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samantha

posted August 30, 2010 at 1:41 pm


a quick lesson on comparative religion:
Rabbi Brad Hirshfield, on his Jewish BELIEFNET blog, NEVER deletes
reader postings from it, nor matter how silly or offensive even those which denounce Jews as Christ-killers or wish to proselytize Jews to become Christians.
Might this be because there are no dogmas in Judaism, and the tradition is not afraid of intellectual inquiry?
By contrast, Deacon Kandra, coming from a culture of IMPRIMATUR and NIHIL OBSTAT, feels compelled to crack down on arguments that hit home because of their “tone”.
BTW, if Hitler did not die as a Catholic in good standing, as Mr.Cantor noted, then why did Church authorities allow Generalissimo Franco of Spain to have a Memorial Mass celebrated on Hitler’s birthday, in Hitler’s honor, every year until Franco died?



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RomCath

posted August 30, 2010 at 1:59 pm


This is Deacon Kandra’s blog not Rabbi Hirschfield’s. The Deacon can do what he wills on his own blog as he as stated before.
Whether or not a Catholic dies in “good standing” a mass can always be offered for his/her soul. The mass prays that a person’s sins will be forgiven.



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Patrick

posted August 30, 2010 at 2:45 pm


Okay, ah, most of the comments I have read, perhaps as much as three quarters, has no relevance to the article. However, I would like to note a few things:
1. Capitalism is not synonymous with the economic activity of the United States. Capitalism is the principle that overall prosperity is best achieved by allowing pooled resources of one party to be invested in another party (by lending or by share of ownership), to the profit of both.
It is not a religion, nor a political party, nor a class, nor a conspiracy, nor a system of governance, nor anything else. Both the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Sen. Al Franken are grossly incorrect in their estimation, though they are polar political opposites.
I could go on for hours on the subject, noting the many failures of fixing “the system” over the generations has turned the whole of Western economic policy into an incoherent mess. Suffice to say, everyone of consequence in policy, law, finance, and commerce relate to one another in a grotesquely incestuous manner. Blaming capitalism is a cop-out, and a cheap one at that.
2. Modernism is the belief that whatever is new is intrinsically better than anything that came before. This belief follows like a parasite to scientific and technological advance. Much has been learned in these realms, yet that does not mean that philosophy has advanced in like manner.
In fact, our progress in the realms of science and technology have left our ability to contemplate the deep questions of life to atrophy. We are too busy in our digital age to really think deeply about anything, and so we have replaced the likes of Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, or even Calvin with… well, slogans best meant for bumper stickers.
This is why Modernism is such an abomination. It leaves us as mindless putty to be manipulated by the powerful through clever marketing, and thus capable of rationalizing any wicked act.
3. Judging, as is related to Matt 7:1-2, refers to condemning someone according to their objective state of Grace. This belongs solely to God. Actions, however, are fair game. Even so, we must be mindful that fraternal correction is meant for the betterment of the one receiving such correction, not for the ego of the one correcting.
4. We live in a relativistic culture of unlimited excess and permissiveness. We live, even now, in a culture that is bloated with the luxuries of technology and a dearth of consequence.
What is mercy without consequence? What is sacrificial love if it cannot be expressed? This is why crude affection has been equated with Christian love; if only they knew that love is a choice, not a feeling. Catholics especially aught to be ashamed, for the very Truth of Love is worn about our necks or hung upon our rear-view mirrors in graphic and unflinching display. This is why we, fallen nations of man, turned to God in our distress.
Is the backsliding of the West today any different than in the time of Moses, or the Judges, or the Kings, or any time after? No, and the only answers in history for our return to being nations of Grace is by the scourge or by the prophetic voice of the ascetic, the hermit, the virgin, and the cenobite.
Is not the purpose of the Christian to integrate himself to Christ? Then there is only power in our words if we too become signs of contradiction or stumbling blocks for the proud.



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Patrick

posted August 30, 2010 at 3:30 pm


Samantha,
I am not a moderator of this board, however deleting offensive posts is hardly a dogmatic cover-up. I’ve been on numerous boards covering a host of topics, religion being only one of them. Any given blogger is within rights to remove offensive material, regardless of opinion, if said blogger believes that the offensiveness damages the quality of the conversation. Differing bloggers have differing opinions on civility in postings, and whether such civility must be enforced.
I am certain that Deacon Kandra would be no less swift or decisive were I to post destructive propaganda against the Protestant denominations. I’m certain that I could whip up some truly vile assertions and distort Protestant theology into absurd slogans, or cherry pick examples of leading Protestant figures behaving badly. This, however, would assuredly not serve Christ Jesus, nor advance the Catholic case for legitimacy in Protestant eyes, nor even be on topic in relation to the above article.
As for Masses held by dictate of Franco, I am surprised you do not find the matter absurd as much as I do. Surely if a gun (or worse) is held to enough pastors of Denomination (insert here), there are any number of atrocities they would permit or even perform. Oh wait, that happened too. Your very words make it clear the real disposition of the Spanish Church as a whole, as those memorial Masses ended when the tyrant died.



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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted August 30, 2010 at 4:28 pm


Samantha…
If you’re new here, welcome! At this link you’ll find some guidelines that I posted a few months back, which sum up the kind of blog I try to operate here. Blog standards are a matter of personal preference and personal taste. Some people have a high threshold for snark, spite, condescension, insults and disrespect bordering on bigotry. I don’t.
I’m an ordained member of the Catholic clergy and, as such, feel a responsibility to make this a place of charity, inspiration, information and mutual respect. It’s not always easy. The line between vigilance and censorship is often very thin. Sometimes I let people run on a long leash — and I usually regret that. I can’t monitor this blog 24/7, so occasionally angry people wander by and spout off and it takes a while before I’m able to delete offensive remarks. Again, “offensive” is a matter of personal taste. I’m not a fan of ad hominum attacks, or blanket judgments about people (i.e., all Democrats are baby-killing liars and all Republicans are greedy war-mongers. Neither statement is true, but people have tried to post them here.) I don’t mind people who disagree or even dissent, provided they do it with respect and the notion that, just maybe, the other guy has a good point and might be right.
Back before Easter, the debate here was getting hostile and accusatory, and many longtime readers whom I respect were telling me they just didn’t want to hang around here anymore. The place was becoming inhospitable, and downright ugly. I shut down comments for a time to let everyone cool off. A lot of readers were grateful. Since then, I’m trying now to keep things more on track and, at least, maintain a tone that is civil.
Hope that helps explain my point of view.
Dcn. Greg



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