Daily Archives: January 8, 2010

On the theme of forgiveness

By now, you may have heard about the Britt Hume spin-off of the Tiger Woods controversy.  On a Fox News panel recently, Hume suggested that Tiger Woods could redeem himself by converting to Christianity, since Christianity is the only religion that offers forgiveness of sins.  Noting that Hume’s own religious convictions are not public knowledge, Ann Coulter wrote a very interesting piece on the new controversy that has erupted due to Hume’s remarks. 

I’m not a big fan of Coulter.  She writes some funny zingers from time to time, and she shows some good insights, but she’s too much of a Bush apologist for my tastes.

In any case, Hume noted that it’s reported that Woods is a Buddhist, and he observed that Buddhism doesn’t actually teach forgiveness. 

And, really, he’s right.  Buddhism may teach the need to forgive *others*, but it does not teach the idea that there is a God who will embrace and forgive *me*.  It teaches that I have to overcome my fallenness by prayer and penance, but not that I can just be forgiven, carte blanche.  I recall that, upon the publication of Crossing the Threshold of Hope, John Paul II sparked outrage among secular liberals for making a similar statement about Buddhism.

Anyway, two particular points in Coulter’s piece caught my attention: one because it’s a good zinger, and the other because it’s well written but self-incriminatory.

On MSNBC, David Shuster invoked the “separation of church and television” (a phrase that also doesn’t appear in the Constitution), bitterly complaining that Hume had brought up Christianity “out-of-the-blue” on “a political talk show.”

   
Why on earth would Hume mention religion while discussing a public figure who had fallen from grace and was in need of redemption and forgiveness? Boy, talk about coming out of left field!
   
What religion — what topic — induces this sort of babbling idiocy? (If liberals really want to keep people from hearing about God, they should give Him his own show on MSNBC.)

Coulter proceeds to a very Evangelical take on salvation, but we’ll let that pass for the time being. 

Trimmed down a bit, here goes:

God sent his only son to get the crap beaten out of him, die for our sins and rise from the dead. If you believe that, you’re in. Your sins are washed away from you — sins even worse than adultery! — because of the cross.
   
. . .

Christianity is simultaneously the easiest religion in the world and the hardest religion in the world.
   
. . .

You can be washing the dishes or walking your dog or just sitting there minding your business hating Susan Sarandon and accept that God sent his only son to die for your sins and rise from the dead … and you’re in!
   
. . .

If you do that, every rotten, sinful thing you’ve ever done is gone from you. You’re every bit as much a Christian as the pope or Billy Graham.
   
. . . 
God ought to do a TV spot: “I’m God Almighty, and if you can find a better deal than the one I’m offering, take it.”
   
. . .
In a boiling rage, liberals constantly accuse Christians of being “judgmental.” No, we’re relieved.
   
Christianity is also the hardest religion in the world because, if you believe Christ died for your sins and rose from the dead, you have no choice but to give your life entirely over to Him. No more sexual promiscuity, no lying, no cheating, no stealing, no killing inconvenient old people or unborn babies — no doing what all the other kids do.

And no more justifying torture because you think it’s in the best interest of saving lives.  No more killing guilty people and depriving them the chance of God’s forgiveness.

And no more caring what the world thinks of you — because, as Jesus warned in a prophecy constantly fulfilled by liberals: The world will hate you.

Hence start dressing more modestly, Ms. Coulter, and drop the fancy suits and make-up and make-overs. 

With Christianity, your sins are forgiven, the slate is wiped clean and your eternal life is guaranteed through nothing you did yourself, even though you don’t deserve it. It’s the best deal in the universe.

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“I’ll be back”

An Interesting St. Jude Novena.

Now, I know there’s a thin line between devotion and superstition. On other hand, devotions, even when practiced in a seemingly superstitious manner, have been proven to work miracles in people’s lives. What counts is where you’re putting the faith, and whether you’re doing the practice as a witness to your confidence in God.

While at Adoration last night, praying about a difficult situation we’re going through, I found a print-out on the table. The print-out was a particular Novena to St. Jude, very similar to the one below, but not quite the same. The novena said to pray it six times(!) a day over 9 days. A bit much, and I’m sure Mother Angelica would have something to say about that.

However, what interested me about this novena is that it says to leave 9 copies a day in church. It isn’t “guaranteeing” like a chain mail, or saying, “If you don’t do this, your prayer ‘won’t’ be answered,” though it does make the dangerous claim that this novena has never failed.

What makes it interesting is the implication of its condition: in addition to “merely praying,” you’re encouraging 81 other people to say this Novena.

Also, it’s asking you to drop off the copies in Church, so you’re actually visiting the Church on each of those nine days. In any case, I figure I can get a start by just doing this. If 81 people read this blog post, that’s about the same thing, isn’t it?

So, here’s a link to the version I found online:
http://light-a-candle.org/St-Jude-Novena-Prayer.shtml

“You’re nothing but a scurvy little spider, spinning your webs”

It’s a difficult when living with an abusive situation, whether at home, or work, or church, or wherever.

I’ve read articles that say the vast majority of people in charge of any given organization are sociopaths, or that psychologists are considering creating a new category for the “bully persona.”  Over New Year’s, my brother in law was proposing a theory about why abusive people are the ones who get promotions. 

First, abusive people are more noticeable.  This rang true to me from a previous job where I, who always tried to be calm and professional at work, was passed up for promotion in favor of a woman who regularly screamed and threw temper tantrums at staff meetings. 

Second, the sociopath knows how to manipulate.   Bosses want “results” or perceived results.  Contrary to the myth perpetuated by _Star Trek_, in most real government and business situations, exagerating estimates doesn’t make you look like a miracle worker; it gets you fired.  If a real world captain says, “How soon can this be done?” he wants an immediate answer, even if that answer is a lie.  People don’t like hearing explanations.  Explanations sound like excuses, which sound like you lack confidence, even if you’re totally confident in your explanation.

Ergo, “C Students rule the world.”  Truly intelligent people do not succeed in the world because truly intelligent people bore everyone else with their analyses.

My brother in law told the story of his former boss, the former president of Tyco, who used to lecture his employees on having a work ethic, and claimed he spent 20 hours a day working to improve the company, and is now serving jail time for doing things like buying $100 shower curtains with money he embezzled.

It is tough when one is by nature a fighter, to have to deal with an abusive situation where fighting will clearly get nowhere, to see that situation deteriorate in spite of your best efforts.

Sometimes, the Christian thing is to quietly bear your cross, but that works fine if it’s just you and not other people who are effected by it.

Usually, the best (and very Christian) thing to do is to shake the dust off your feet and get into a better situation, though that’s not always practical. 

Often, God calls us to take leaps of faith.  Many of us fear taking those leaps.

But the greatest leap of faith of all is the one that we fear most.

I spent my holy hour tonight reflecting and praying on the situation that inspired this posting.  I started off reading from the Life of St. Teresa of Avila, and she talked about how scandalized we are of our own faith.  We’re often more afraid of giving scandal by talking about God, or talking about prayer, or doing something openly Christian, than we are about doing bad things. 

I just recently read a discussion on Facebook about a girl.  She wasn’t named, but we’ll call her “Sue.”  Sue’s parents are very permissive.  Sue is allowed to use drugs, get body piercings and tattoos, and fornicate.  When Sue started attending Mass with a Catholic friend, however, her mother put her foot down.  The one rule this mother was willing to give her daughter was not to go to Church.

And it’s for fear of offending people like *that* that we follow the “don’t talk about religion in public” rule.

We steam and stamp.  We grumble.  We harbor ill will.  We consider lawsuits.  We consider quoting speeches from Frank Capra movies.  We debate about how best to respond to the abusive situation.  We pray for deliverance from our enemies.  We pray for God to send a miracle to help us out of the situation.  We pray some invective Psalms.  We may even be willing to drop everything to get ourselves out of the situation.

We may even think, upon choosing one or the other of these options, that we’re being brave.

But do we have the real courage to do the absolute, earth-shattering thing?

Do we have the courage to do the thing that leaps burning coals’ on our enemies’ heads?  Do we have the courage to do what will really put everything on the line for God and get the miracle we desire?

Do we forgive?
Not just saying in the heart, “I forgive,” over and over, but actually confronting the person with forgiveness?

Do we say, “I could sue.  I could fight back.  I could do a Jimmy Stewart impersonation.  Instead, I’m just going to to forgive you”?
Do we invite the person who’s such a thorn in our sides to embrace the Lord and His forgiveness? 

Do we seek to feel the emptiness in the other person’s soul and encourage that person to seek fulfillment in prayer? 

Sr. Lucia, St. Louis de Montfort, and many others have told us there is no problem, however great, the Rosary can’t solve.  We say our rosaries trying to solve our problems.  Do we invite the people at the heart of those problems to say it with us?