Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Concerning Sheeple (De Ovepolum)

I've been a baaaaaaad boy...

I have had a very painful revelation recently. Most of them are, when we discover something about ourselves we've been criticizing in others.

Cue wavy fade out to grey, as we draw our fingers down the canvas of memory... dodododo dodododo dodododo dodododo...

I was in high school or so when I first started to become politically conscious. I mean, I think I always knew that I was a Republican, but I didn't really care until about High School. That's when I started listening to talk radio.

Now, I don't agree with everything said on talk radio, but I do agree with a fair amount of it, and I liked it that someone else was talking about moves the government is making that didn't make me entirely comfortable.

One thing in particular I approved of was the distinct distaste for sheeple. Sheeple? you ask? Yes, Sheeple, those hair-brained woolies who only listen to what the media/news/hollywood tell them, who don't think for themselves. If only people thought for themselves, and really took a look at those people they keep voting in, maybe we could do something with this country!

Little did I know, I wasn't really thinking about the issue of sheeple. I was being a sheeple in hating sheeple...

Now, I don't deny that our country is easily swayed in its opinion by pretty folks in front of a camera spouting off the most recent politically correct and accepted theory about life/morality/the environment/etc. That being said, I realized that the term sheeple is and is only used as condescension. It is a dehumanization of our ideological opponents, and has no business in the vocabulary of politics.

How can I truly criticize someone for dehumanizing the growing person in the womb by calling them a "fetus" or a "blob of tissue," when I am dehumanizing them by calling them a sheeple? Even if I never use the term to their face, it colors my opinions of and my interactions with these people I disagree with.

It does more harm than good.

As I was thinking about this, I realized another truth that had been staring me in the face since the day I was born. You know what most people think of us Orthodox Catholics as? Sheeple.

If you have ever discussed faith with a bible-protestant, especially one who knows you are Catholic, you can tell there is among at least some a certain lack of respect for the faith of someone who hasn't worked to memorize the bible. They accuse us of blindly following Rome (to hell, some would add), of not reading and understanding the scriptures for ourselves.

Of course, our defense is strong in the Catholic faith. We have the authority of the scriptures establishing Peter as head of the church against which even the gates of hell would not prevail. We have a church that has been thinking long and hard about truth, and is there with an explanation whenever we ask.

But why is this necessary? Why is it OK to trust someone other than ourselves to tell us the truth about life, even the truth about ourselves?

Because we are human.

The human person is finite, and while it is good to not over-specialize, even the specialist cannot know everything these is to know in their field. It is simply not possible for us to know everything, which is why we rely on teachers, and experts. That is the Catholic's defense: it is the repository of the fullness of truth on earth so that we have recourse to it, so that we don't have to go it alone, and know everything ourselves.

But then, isn't it the same with politics? Don't I trust that whatever candidate has a high approval rating from Planned Parenthood and a poor one from the National Right to Life Committee has a pro-choice voting record and does not represent my morality? Don't I trust that the candidate approved of by the Tea Party is more likely to try and cut government spending?

While I do believe that we have a duty to inspect politicians as best we are able before voting for them, there are simply too many candidates in too many elections, too many thoughts, and not enough truth, and it is impossible for us to sort it all out.

And then it dawned on me fully. Matthew 9:36:

And seeing the multitudes, he had compassion on them: because they were distressed, and lying like sheep that have no shepherd.

Of course they're sheeple! We are all sheeple! It is in our very nature to seek out a leader, to seek out someone to teach us what is right and what is wrong. The problem is, we've been following false shepherds, and the wolves have come in sheep's clothing to live among us, and to tell us that the Shepherd is actually a vindictive and vengeful man who beats the sheep.

He has a shepherd's crook, it's true, but it's for the wolves that he aims.

We are scared to listen to anything, to believe in anything, most of all the one thing it matters most to believe in. We have become self-reliant and isolationist, which is a distinctly un-human condition.

We are the sheep of the flock of the Lord, the Good Shepherd. It is not that we should not think, that we should not strive for the truth, but rather that we should always bring our thoughts and our desires, our ideas and our beliefs, and weigh them against the voice of our Good Shepherd, on the lips of the helpers He has sent us through the gate of ordination.

My fellow sheeple, ewe and I should be careful to follow the True Shepherd.

The Joyful Mysteries

The Joyful Mysteries tell us of how Christ came into this world, and of his early years.  They are:

  1. The Annunciation
    Quem, Virgo, concepisti.
    Him, Virgin, Whom thou didst conceive.

  2. The Visitation
    Quem visitando Elisabeth portasti.
    Him Whom thou didst carry when visiting Elizabeth.
  3. The Nativity
    Quem, Virgo, Genuisti.
    Him, Virgin, Whom thou didst give birth to.
  4. The Presentation in the Temple
    Quem in templo praesentasti.
    Him Whom thou didst present in the temple.
  5. The Finding in the Temple
    Quem in templo invenisti.
    Him Whom thou didst find in the temple.

These mysteries are a wonderful reflection on the beginning of the end of our separation with God.  They are also, I was instructed by a friend, a wonderful reflection for Melancholics (the temperament), as the Joyful Mysteries are also a reflection on the dignity which God intended for His creation.

In these mysteries, we follow Mary from the conception of Christ to her finding of Him in the temple, and see in her the perfect and best example of what it means to be Christian.  She was the first to hear and believe, and to do the will of the Father.  She is the New Eve, the First Christian, and Our Mother, given to us at the cross.  We would do well to honor her, and to imitate her.  

Mary, Mother of the Word Incarnate, pray for us!

The Rosary Project

I am starting a new series of posts, which will all be tagged "Rosary Project" so that you can get them by themselves.  I will also likely update this post or start a page to track them all as I post them.

There is a legend about the rosary which has struck me since I first heard it.  In it, St. Dominic was in the south of France preaching against a very dangerous heresy which was inciting despair and utter lawlessness.  He preached tirelessly, but was driven from town after town.

He was in the forest one day, praying, bitter at the lack of success in converting the people whose souls he was trying to save, when Our Lady appeared to him, accompanied by angels.

She told him to not be surprised that he was achieving nothing.  Did he not know that when the Word of God came to the earth, the earth was first watered by the Angelic Salutation (Hail, Full of Grace, the Lord is with you)?

She instructed him to go into the towns, to teach the people her Psalter (the Rosary), and after leading them in the recitation of these Angelic Salutations, to instruct the people in simplicity - the mysteries of the Rosary.

This series is meant to be a 20+ piece reflection on the rosary, that Crown of Roses which we weave for Our Mother every time we pray it.  While I may include some posts as a defense of the rosary against various slanders and attacks, I mostly wish to share my reflections, in the hope that you will gain something from them.

If nothing else, I will be spending more time with Our Mother, which is reward enough.

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Singing Stone

Sometimes I feel like I am a singing stone.  I know that seems somewhat of an odd thing to say, but allow me to draw a few passages of scriptures together to illustrate what I mean.

Psalm 51:17

Lord, open my lips; my mouth will proclaim your praise.

Jeremiah 20:9

I say to myself, I will not mention him, I will speak in his name no more. But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.

Luke 19:40

He said in reply, "I tell you, if they keep silent, the stones will cry out!"
The first is used in the opening of the Liturgy of the Hours, the second is of course from my namesake, and the third has always had a remarkable staying power with these other two texts.

Do you ever feel like this?

Like the truth of His Love is all bottled up inside you, just looking for a release?

Like if you don't start telling people about Him, you might burst into flames?

Like in this age where "Freedom of Religion" has morphed into "Freedom from Religion," all you want to do is shout in a exultant cry, "Jesus Christ is LORD, to the Glory of God the Father, in the Power of the Holy Spirit!"

I suppose that's why I started blogging.  My long-suffering wife has heard all of this in some form or another at least twice, I'm sure, and I usually have her proofread anything I post.

The spirit of this age is oppressive, choking freedom by the false freedom of license. 

We have grown sluggish and tired, and we who ought to be proclaiming Him (myself included) grow scared, or timid, and don't want to rock the boat.

Except, when all other voices grow silent, these very stones shall break into song.

I leave you with a verse from a song I wrote on retreat once.

Lord open my lips,
'Cause I've been silent as a stone.
But even these stones shall sing your praise,
And again my mouth will proclaim your praise.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Creation Theories

Funny, the damage doesn't look as bad from out here...

Alright, today's post should be fairly brief, I just want to give all y'all some food for thought to combat the young idea of young earth creationism.

I'm not denying that if God wanted to create the world in exactly 6 days, or 6 hours, or 6 seconds, that He could.

I'm not denying that if He wanted to create everything appearing older than it was (i.e. "We now join your regularly scheduled universe, already in progress...") He could, though I do raise a question I didn't come up with: God doesn't lie, so how can we honestly suggest He would create an entire universe with the appearance that it was much older than it really is?  Isn't that the same as distressing forgeries so they look like the real thing?

But really, let's take a look at young earth creationism for a second, and apply the twin faculties of Faith and Reason to see what the scriptures are telling us.

Well, it's easy to see where we get the young earth truth from, many bible-christians will tell you.  It says so in the creation story.

Which creation story?

This is a link to the first chapter of the Book of Genesis.  I will be taking excerpts from the first two chapters, click "Next" at the bottom of the page to get to chapter two.

Genesis 1:1-3; 

In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters. Then God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.
We're all familiar with this story, right?  From Gen 1:1 to Gen 2:3, we tell the classic story of creation, 6 days, and on the seventh God rests.  


  • Day 1: Let there be light.
  • Day 2: Sky.
  • Day 3: Dry land & Vegetation.
  • Day 4: Sun & Moon & Stars.
  • Day 5: Aquatic & Flying Animals.
  • Day 6: Wild Animals, Cattle, People.
  • Day 7: Party!!! Er... I mean rest...

Specifically note Genesis 1:27;

God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them.
Some of you may know where I'm going here, and the rest are asking about the rib.  Mmm... Ribs... I think I know what I'm having for supper now...

Sorry, subject at hand.

Genesis 2:4-7;

Such is the story of the heavens and the earth at their creation. At the time when the LORD God made the earth and the heavens - while as yet there was no field shrub on earth and no grass of the field had sprouted, for the LORD God had sent no rain upon the earth and there was no man to till the soil, but a stream was welling up out of the earth and was watering all the surface of the ground - the LORD God formed man out of the clay of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and so man became a living being.

Keep in mind that Day 7 just ended at 2:3.  

In verse 8, God finally gets around to planting Eden, followed by all the various plants.

Verse 18: "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him."

In verses 19-20, God proceeds to create all the animals, bringing them before the man who names them, but none is a suitable partner for him.

Last, but certainly not least, in verses 21-25, we see the creation of Eve, who is, "at last bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh."

For those not keeping track:

  • Earth is made.
  • Adam is made.
  • Eden planted/plants are made.
  • Animals are made.
  • Eve is made.
  • No mention of days.
  • ???
  • Profit!

In case you didn't notice, that's two separate creation stories.  Not just like, hey, Joachim and Zebediah heard the same story and wrote it down differently.  Like, seriously, different order and a different point to the stories.

So next time you're faced with a bible-christian who emphatically insists that the earth is only 6,000 years old based on the scriptural evidence, tell them to read Genesis 1 & 2.  Their reaction to the actual words of scripture will tell you whether further discussion with them is worth it.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Everybody has one...

We elected these people???

Kinda feels like this sometimes, doesn't it?

I mean, sure, as Iowans we have Grassley, and he's pretty awesome on the whole, what with his actually making an attempt to be in touch with his constituents.

But when's the last time we've had a good option for any major elected position? Theoretically, the politicians should be both good people, concerned with the good of the people, and simply have different ideas about what's best.

When's the last time we've had even one candidate who was clearly superior, both from a moral and ideological background? Who is the last major candidate (i.e. not primaries) that didn't make you feel the least bit slimy?

I mean, look at the last presidential election. I haven't liked McCain for a long time, like, since before I could vote. But I voted for the man because I was apparently psychic and saw the mess we're in now coming. The election before that, the Dems admitted that Kerry's sole positive was that he wasn't Bush. What happened to candidates standing on their own merits?

Some of you may have seen this article that I posted on Facebook, but I will repost it for ease of access: Republicans kinda suck...

Back so soon? Are you sure you read it all?

Now, before you start arguing whether or not Republicans actually won big, remember that they they went from the Democrats being a mere 7 from supermajority (they had 59, even assuming that they win none of the three remaining contested seats, they only need to sway five Democrats and Independents (and their whole party). In the House, they've gained a majority, by swinging 14% of the total number of seats present.

That's big, especially with Obama winning ~68% of the Electoral College in '08.

So, we the people have sent a message to Washington, as well as our state capitols.


What's important here, what needs to happen, is that the Democrats need to realize that we're tired of their progressivism, that we are tired of them spending our money for frivolities outside their mandate, that they need to go back to the way they were before they went crazy in the 60's.

The Republicans need to understand that this midterm election is not a victory for Republicans, it is a defeat for Democrats, and they need to understand the difference. They are the annoying dog barking its fool head off next door, and we just bought ourselves a shock collar.

We need to remember that we are in charge of our country's destiny.

We need to remember that we have not and will not be giving the Republicans carte blanche.

If we forget, they certainly won't remind us.