Fr. Jacobse: Christianity and Same-Sex Attraction

Fr. Johannes Jacobse
Fr. Johannes Jacobse
by Fr. Johannes Jacobse –
This past Sunday (May 20, 2012), Ancient Faith Todayinterviewed Dr. Philip Mamalakis and Andrew Williams who specialize in counseling people with same-sex attraction. It was hands down one of the most illuminating and informed presentations I have heard on this complex and often contentious topic in quite a while.

Without going into particulars (you can listen to the interview below), their grounding in Orthodox anthropology enabled them to avoid the common misconception that the object of a person’s sexual desire forms what I call a “foundational characteristic of personhood.” In practical terms this means that we error when we see a person first and foremost as either “straight” or “gay” believing that “sexual orientation” sums up much of who and what he is.

This way of understanding the human person is taken at face value in the larger culture, but in Orthodox self-understanding it misses the mark completely. We are not to conform our understanding of the human person to whether he prefers men or women because we don’t define a person in terms of his sexual desire. [Read more…]

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Doing Good for Goodness Sake? An Atheist’s Game of Scrabble

God and Adam Creation by Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq. –
In the order of being, there can be no natural moral law without the existence of God. In the order of being, implicit in the belief of a natural moral law is the existence of God. A moral law makes no sense without a Divine Legislator.

In a comment to a recent article I wrote, the notion that God is necessary for a natural moral law to exist was challenged by reader who identified himself as an atheist. God was unnecessary for morality to exist, he argued. “I am an atheist,” he observed. “I do good for goodness’ sake,” as if Christians don’t.

There is no reason not to take him at his word. If we take him at his word, our atheist reader believes in the first self-evident principle of the natural moral law: do good and avoid evil, which is the same thing as “do good for goodness’ sake.” [Read more…]

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Without Justice, What Else is the State But a Great Band of Robbers – St. Augustine

St. Augustine Without Justice State is a Great Band of Robbers by Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq. –
In his book City of God, St. Augustine famously said, “without justice, what else is the State but a great band of robbers?”  This statement seems to be a favorite of Pope Benedict XVI, and he has recruited it in warning lawmakers, particularly lawmakers in the Western nations with Christian heritage, of the way to which they are headed.

He referred to these words in his address to the German Parliament or Bundestag when he visited Germany.  Some years earlier, in his encyclical Deus caritas est, Pope Benedict XVI referred to those very same words.

It is useful from time to time to recall these words of St. Augustine and the deep truth that they convey. [Read more…]

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Are the “Less Fortunate” Less Fortunate?

Dennis Prager
Dennis Prager

by Dennis Prager –
In his front-page-of-the-business-section “Economic Scene” column in The New York Times last week, Eduardo Porter wrote, “The United States does less than other rich countries to transfer income from the affluent to the less fortunate.”

Think about that sentence for a moment. It ends oddly. Logic dictates that it should have said, “transfer income from the affluent to the less affluent,” not the less fortunate.

But for Porter, as for the left generally, those who are not affluent are not merely “less affluent,” they are “less fortunate.”

Why is this? Why is the leftist division almost always between the “affluent” and the “less fortunate” or between the “more fortunate” and the “less fortunate”?

To understand the left, one must understand that in its view the greatest evil is material inequality. The left is more troubled by economic inequality than by evil, as humanity has generally understood the term. [Read more…]

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Two There Are: The Church, the State and the Dangers of Radical Secularism

Church vs State God vs Secularism by Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq. –
Both Church and State have public voices; both sing a song. The Catholic, both a citizen and a member of Christ’s faithful, hears both songs and both voices, for he or she knows there are two. But like St. Thomas More’s last words as he approached the scaffold and imminent death, the Catholic is “the King’s good servant, but God’s first.” One song, one voice in particular, the voice of God, the vox Domini Iesu Christi, holds him in absolute thrall. …

Duo sunt,” said the 5th century Pope Gelasius I in a famous letter to Emperor Anastasius, “quibus principaliter mundus hic regitur.” “Two there are by which this world is ruled.” Pope Gelasius I merely reformulates what is the teaching of our Lord, and which is part of reality, of what is, in the political world for those who bask in the benefit of Revelation. “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matt. 22:21) Since Christ came into this world, the Christian knows that there are two public songs, and not just one, in the world.

The Catholic accepts the duo sunt as part of social reality. There is therefore in the Catholic mind, both Church and State, and a natural and necessary separation of Church and State. But this separation of Church and State does not imply subordination of Church to State. Quite the contrary, the State and the Church are coordinate powers each with its proper sphere. [Read more…]

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The ‘Progressive’ Legacy

Thomas Sowell
Thomas Sowell
by Thomas Sowell –
Whatever the vision or rhetoric of the Progressive era, its practice was a never-ending expansion of the arbitrary powers of the federal government. The problems they created so discredited Progressives that they started calling themselves “liberals” — and after they discredited themselves again, they went back to calling themselves “Progressives,” now that people no longer remembered how Progressives had discredited themselves before.

Barack Obama’s rhetoric of “change” is in fact a restoration of discredited ideas that originated a hundred years ago.

Although Barack Obama is the first black President of the United States, he is by no means unique, except for his complexion. He follows in the footsteps of other presidents with a similar vision, the vision at the heart of the Progressive movement that flourished a hundred years ago. [Read more…]

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ET and Politics, The Search for Meaning

Chuck Colson
Chuck Colson

by Chuck Colson –
In his book, Lost in the Cosmos, Walker Percy asked “why is Carl Sagan so lonely?” Percy’s question was prompted by the popular scientist Carl Sagan’s insistence that ET must be out there somewhere, despite the lack of any evidence to back it up. Percy believed that this insistence said more about Sagan and people like him, than it did about the possibility of extra-terrestrial life.

According to Percy, Sagan and others who reduced everything, including man, to soulless atoms, were desperate for something to transcend this purely-material existence. Not believing in God, they hoped a phone call from ET would do the trick.

Unfortunately for the scientists, thirty years after the publication of Percy’s book, we still haven’t heard from ET. And it’s not for lack of looking: Scarcely a week goes by when we don’t read or hear about yet another “earth-like” planet being discovered by astronomers.

Yet ET remains silent. [Read more…]

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Silliest Pro-Abortion Argument Ever: ‘We Can’t Legislate Morality’

We Can't Legislate Morality by Kristen Walker –

Tell me if this has ever happened to you. It’s lunchtime. You are eating at your desk at work and decide to look at Facebook. It’s as exciting as ever. Your aunt had a burrito for lunch. A girl you haven’t seen since college got a new tattoo. Someone is super happy it’s almost Friday.

Then you see that a virtual stranger (there’s a double meaning in that) has commented on one of your posts. And she has said something so asinine that you put down your fried pickle (’cause you’re in Texas and you eat stuff like that) and respond.

It’s daunting, the task before you. Do you even want to undertake this? Can you really change someone’s mind about abortion in one Facebook comment?* [Read more…]

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The End of Morality?

End of Morality Discover Magazine is wrong by John Feakes –
The End of Morality? A Critique of the Materialistic Views Expressed in Discover Magazine (July-August, 2011)
The two strongest arguments for Christian Theism, seemingly impervious to refutation by materialists, are the arguments from the validity of consciousness and thought, and the argument from morality. The former argument centers on the fact that if everything is reducible to molecules in motion, then our very thoughts – which are simply the result of the meaningless flux of atoms in the human brain – would be called into question as reliable sources of information as well. This would serve to undermine the validity of all reasoning, including the reasoning of the atheist who claims that his brilliant mind has led him to the conclusion that God does not exist. Such a view makes the task of determining which thoughts are more or less “valid” than others impossible. Conversely, Christian Theism has no problem assessing the validity of competing thoughts. Recall that on this view, God has designed the human mind for the express purpose of apprehending truths external to itself. The rational thinking that follows from such apprehension is a reflection of the mind of God, the Rational Mind responsible for this grand universe in the first place. [Read more…]

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Hunter-Gatherer Nut Cases

Hunter-Gatherer Nut Cases by Tom Gilson –
Let’s Just Reduce Our Altruism, Morals & Love to Brain Waves

I opened up “The End of Morality,” Discover magazine’s latest article on ethics and the brain (July/August 2011), and I wondered, “Will this be any different from the others?” Articles on this topic seem to follow a consistent pattern: (1) Researchers can pinpoint physical events taking place in people’s brains when they make ethical decisions. (2) Thus, science is discovering, finally, what ethics is all about: it’s chemistry and electricity doing their chemical and electrical thing inside your skull. And that’s it.

It’s an approach many thinkers call reductionist. Reductionism in this context means that crucial aspects of human experience, like consciousness, love, ethical decisions, the ability to make choices (free will), and so on are best understood as biological processes, which in turn are best understood in terms of chemistry and physics. It’s a matter of bringing down—reducing—these things to the lowest level of physical explanation.

According to reductionism, in fact, the only real thing going on is what happens at the level of chemistry and physics. [Read more…]

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Steve Jobs’ Last Words: “Oh WOW, Oh WOW, Oh WOW”

Steve Jobs Last Words Oh WOW by Peggy Noonan –
The great words of the year? “Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow.”

They are the last words of Steve Jobs, reported by his sister, the novelist Mona Simpson, who was at his bedside. In her eulogy, a version of which was published in the New York Times, she spoke of how he looked at his children “as if he couldn’t unlock his gaze.” He’d said goodbye to her, told her of his sorrow that they wouldn’t be able to be old together, “that he was going to a better place.” In his final hours his breathing was deep, uneven, as if he were climbing.

“Before embarking, he’d looked at his sister Patty, then for a long time at his children, then at his life’s partner, Laurene, and then over their shoulders past them. Steve’s final words were: ‘OH WOW. OH WOW. OH WOW.'” [Read more…]

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This Christmas, Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There

Christmas Nativity of Christ by John Jalsevac –
Christmas isn’t quite what it used to be, is it? And I’m not referring the usual laundry list of grievances that makes us religious fundamentalist extremists (i.e. Christians) seriously ponder setting up a utopian commune on a deserted Mediterranean island: the war on Christmas, the kitschy music, the consumerist madness, the widespread ignorance about even the most basic facts behind the feast.

Forget about all that for now. All I mean is, if you’re old enough to be reading this, somehow Christmas has lost much of the effortless magic with which it was surrounded years ago…in your childhood.

You know what I mean. As a child, it seemed so easy to get swept up into the rich mystery of Christmas: the presents, the smells, the music, the lights glistening on the snow, the tinsel on the tree, the strange guests, the parties, the good food. All these things spoke to you, and without thinking about it you gave yourself into the power of their enchantment. [Read more…]

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Contemplating Christmas

Merry Christmas, Peace on Earth by Rev. Robert A. Sirico –
In a Christmas season filled with noble sentiments such as “peace on earth and goodwill to men,” the remembrance of the joys and sanctity of the family, and the deep human desire for tranquility of heart, how is it that this is arguably the period of deepest tension, family strife and exhaustion?

Although I don’t have hard data to prove it, from both personal and pastoral experience I can safely assert that from roughly the last week of November to the first week of January we experience more stress, arguments within families, and grief, than at any other time of the year.

Much of this is no doubt of our own doing: the expectations we have of ourselves to write every card and attend every party and prepare every dish possible. We go too soon from the joyful welcoming of the “meaning of the season’ into crushing obligations the meaning of which we find ourselves simply too tired to contemplate. [Read more…]

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Signposts to God

Chuck Colson
Chuck Colson
by Chuck Colson –
In the quest for divine truth, how do we know when we’ve found it? Are there markers along the way to guide us — a kind of spiritual GPS?

British bishop N. T. Wright says there are such markers; he calls them “Echoes of a Voice.” He says, “I’m talking about voices that I believe virtually all human beings, in virtually all cultures, listen for and know, but are puzzled by.”

Wright shared his views at a New York City gathering called Socrates in the City — arranged by my friend and colleague Eric Metaxas, author of the amazing biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Metaxas put the Socrates in the City meetings together to help sophisticated New Yorkers think about the bigger questions of life. I’ve spoken there twice, and they’re great.

Referring to C. S. Lewis, Bishop Wright says the first “echo of a voice” has to do with an understanding of justice. Even the youngest child is aware of this — which is why, if you spend any time on a playground, you’ll hear cries of “That’s not fair!” [Read more…]

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