Monday, June 29, 2015

Will The Protestant House of Cards Come Tumbling Down?

Martin Luther burns the Papal bull in the square of Wittenberg in the year 1520.
Oil Painting on Canvas by Karl Aspelin 1857-1922

By now we should all know what happened last week on June 26, 2015, a date that will live in infamy. Five Supreme Court justices violated their oath of office and invented a 'right' out of thin air, overturning constitutional amendments in various states, which were voted on by the people with overwhelming majorities, imposing upon every state and all Americans, same-sex 'marriage' as the law of the land. The implications of this are staggering.

The minority opinions written by the dissenting justices were no less historic. They heralded the end of American democracy and the rise of persecution for Christians who oppose this judicial fiat. The news media and Internet are filled with commentary on this decision, so I will not go into it in detail here. I will say only this. This third branch of government, headed by the United States Supreme Court, has historically been the most tyrannical branch of government in the failed American political system. It was this branch of government that gave us Dred Scott; a horribly bad decision that contributed greatly to the first fall of the American Republic in what is commonly called the Civil War. It was this branch of government that also gave us Engel v. Vitale, and Abington School District v. Schempp, which made prayer and reading the Bible in public schools illegal. It was this branch of government that gave us Roe v. Wade, which usurped state laws and constitutions, making the wholesale slaughter of unborn babies a 'protected legal right'. Fifty-seven million dead babies later, the Supreme Court of the United States gives us this.

In Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court proved once again that there are no limits to the tyranny of moral relativism it can impose on the American people. In regards to the failed American political system I will say only this. King George III in all of his imperial majesty could have never imagined a tyranny like this. What Americans have created by their own hands is a thousand times worse than any tyranny England ever dished out on the original thirteen colonies. Our state constitutions have just been nullified. Our state laws have just been obliterated. The Supreme Court of the United States has just demonstrated, yet once again, that it will erase any law, overturn any vote, nullify any democratic process, and thwart the will of any people that five of their nine justices don't particularly like. King George III was a gentle and kind ruler compared to this. That however, is not what this essay is about. I will leave the failed American political system to my fellow countrymen. If they wish to try to save it with another constitutional convention (Convention of States), than let them rise up and do it. I will support them. If they wish to let it crumble into the ash heap of history's failed ideas, that too is their choice. I will not stop them. For this essay, however, I have something much more significant to address.

As a former Evangelical Protestant, I can attest that there are certain Protestant individuals who will never cave in to the homosexualist agenda. I can think of my parents and sisters as examples of this. They will never cave in. I have many Evangelical friends who will never cave in either. My question is; where will they go however, when there are no Evangelical churches left to support them in this? For now, most of them are safe, but not for much longer.
(Reuters) -- Evangelicals are starting to change their minds about gay marriage. In recent months, three large evangelical churches — EastLakeCommunity Church in Seattle, Washington, GracePointe Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and City Church in San Francisco, California — have announced that they no longer believe all same-sex relationships are sinful. Leading evangelical ethicist David Gushee changed his position on the issue in a landmark speech last fall, and celebrated pastor Campolo did the same in a statement on his website earlier this month. 
This new pro-gay movement among evangelicals is still a minority, and staunch conservatives have been pushing back. But bit by bit, the number of American evangelicals who support marriage equality continues to rise... read more
You see, Protestantism (for the most part) has had it pretty good for the last five-hundred years since its birth in the sixteenth century. Granted it had a few bouts with the Catholic Church in those early years, but even then, it was supported by a number of governments in Northern Europe. In the English colonies of America, Protestantism enjoyed the support of the state. By the time the United States was founded, Protestantism enjoyed primacy among all religions in North America. The freedoms Protestants have enjoyed under the American political system have allowed for them a great deal of luxury. Schism into multiple sects has always been the primary way Protestants dealt with differences over doctrine and practise. In America, such schisms were so easily accomplished, without state intervention, that literally thousands of denominations and sects have arisen on the North American continent. In all of this however, Protestantism has never encountered a real and serious heresy. Oh sure, there have been little heresies that have arisen here and there, but Protestants mainly deal with this through schism. Some groups have even broken away from Protestantism entirely, but still nothing in the way of real and serious heresy -- until now. When I say real and serious heresy, I'm talking about a cultural heresy that is backed by the full weight and authority of the state, resulting in forms of persecution (mild to severe) of those who do not comply. The United States of America, through the third branch of its failed government (the Supreme Court) has created the legal precedence necessary for such a serious heresy to result in the persecution of those who refuse to comply. The heresy is same-sex 'marriage' and those who refuse to go along with the lie will soon find themselves at the mercy of the state. The heresy has become a popular one in society too, so Christians, who refuse to comply with it, will find no sympathy from the general public. As a result, some Evangelical churches are beginning to cave in. We've seen this among mainline Protestant churches for a long time. They caved into the homosexualist agenda long ago, before there was any public pressure to do so. Many Catholics assumed, perhaps falsely, that no matter what, the Evangelicals will stand with us against the homosexualist agenda. It now appears that we were wrong. The Evangelical mega-churches are falling very quickly now, and I suspect we may see this increase at an exponential rate as persecution ramps up in the months and years ahead.

I am now witnessing this even in conservative Greene County Missouri, as small pockets of Evangelicals are starting to come out in favour of same-sex marriage. Granted, there will always be individual Evangelicals who will never sign on to this, just as there have always been individual mainline Protestants who have refused to cave in. In years past, we saw how these individual mainline Protestants were able to hang together, by breaking with their mainline Protestant denominations, and starting their own offshoots. The Anglican Church in North America serves as one excellent example of this. By breaking with The Episcopal Church of the United States, and the Anglican Church of Canada, individual Anglicans were able to resist the homosexualist agenda, break with their former denominations (schism), and regroup under a new denomination of their own making. This has worked well for them, for now, but I should point out here that Anglicans are a little different than Evangelicals. Anglicans are steeped in liturgical tradition and heritage. It is something that binds them together naturally and organically. This gives them an extra layer of something they hold in common, allowing them to easily unify not just around doctrine, but around tradition as well. For the most part, Evangelicals just don't have this.

Evangelicalism is built primarily around doctrine alone. Its traditions are fluid and relatively new. In many ways, its worship services are often indistinguishable from a Christian music concert, which one can see in any auditorium. When the government comes to take Evangelical church buildings away unless they comply, and it will, what will they do? This will be the first time Protestantism has ever faced any real persecution in North America. Indeed, aside from its bouts with Catholicism it had early on in Europe, this is the first time Protestantism has had to face any kind of real persecution -- ever! Many of these Evangelical mega-churches will cave in. Many Evangelicals will be forced to go underground, and worship as small groups in their homes. What will happen to Evangelicalism then? Without one mega-church pastor to hold them together doctrinally, and without any kind of liturgy or sacraments to bind them together traditionally, what will become of Evangelicalism? Can we expect them to deviate even further on doctrinal issues? Will each small-group become a denomination unto itself? Will Evangelicalism just devolve into some kind of Christianised Individualism? I really don't know the answer to these questions.

What I do know is this. Catholic Christianity will survive this, because we have survived many persecutions before, far worse than this one. We've endured the wrath of Pagan Rome, the Arians, the Muslim Jihadists, Protestant kings and queens, the Communists, the Nazis and now this. They may reduce our numbers. They may cause many apostasies. (Lord knows there are many Catholics more than willing to go, and have already left in heart.) They may take our properties. They may even put us into prison. We, however, have seen all this before. We will outlive them. We will bury their failed system like we buried the once great Roman Empire. Catholic Christianity will not only survive, but it will once again be victorious. Just as it always has throughout history. The Rock of Saint Peter is littered with the hulls of many vessels that have shipwrecked on it. Each had its own captain; Caesar, Arius, Mohammed, Napoleon, Stalin, Hitler, etc. They're all gone now, but the Catholic Church still remains, the Rock of Saint Peter stands tall.

My own decision to leave Protestantism and become Catholic was based on what all of Protestantism is about to undergo. My primary reason for becoming Catholic was over the issue of authority. As I studied to become an Evangelical pastor, it occurred to me that Protestantism has no real authority structure other than what Protestants create by their own hands. They cannot agree with each other, so they literally have hundreds of various authority structures. This should be as no surprise to us. For Protestantism itself was founded in the sixteenth century on a 'personal interpretation of Scripture' (Sola Scriptura) that allowed them to reject the historically established authority of the pope and the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. This in turn led to many reinterpretations over the centuries, resulting in literally thousands of Protestant denominations, affiliations and individual sects. Without any real absolute authority to firmly established doctrine and interpretation of Scripture, what will become of Protestantism in the face of real heresy and real persecution for not following that heresy? Only history will be able to answer that question. For now, however, we are beginning to see the Evangelical mega-churches fall like dominoes. How it ends nobody knows. One thing is certain though. We shall all find out within our lifetimes -- in the very near future.

Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of ' -- Apologetics and random musings from a Catholic in the Bible Belt.'

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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Christian Environmentalism

St. Jacob church in UrtijÃĢi, Northern Italy
This magnificent photo was taken by  Wolfgang Moroder.

Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato Si presents for Christians (and the world) an alternative vision of environmentalism that puts mankind in harmony with God, each other, and the environment. The Holy Father gives us a vision of authentic Christian environmentalism, which on the one hand overlaps Secular environmentalism, but on the other hand repudiates many of its shortcomings. In every way the encyclical corrects the errors of the modern world, and seeks to redirect man's ecological efforts toward a moral and sustainable future. I will leave the detailed reviews to others, but instead point out a general theme, and follow with practical ways that normal people can implement the teachings of this encyclical in their regular lives.

The general theme of the encyclical is Christian, and it is a correction of the two political extremes we see popularised in modern society...

On the one hand, we have Secular Environmentalism, which is often embraced by the political Left. Secular Environmentalism views mankind as an aberration of nature, as if we are interlopers upon the earth. This view is spawned by atheism, which holds that human beings are nothing more than sand monkeys with oversized brains. These monkey brains grew too big for our own good, and went far beyond what mother nature intended. In other words, in the Secular Environmentalist point of view, nature made a mistake and allowed human beings to become too highly evolved. Once that happened, human beings overpopulated the planet and began destroying it. Therefore, their solution to the problem has less to do with living in harmony with nature, and more to do with eliminating human beings. The popular consensus among those who subscribe to Secular Environmentalism is that the earth is overpopulated with human beings, and that population must be reduced by any means necessary. The most popular solution is widespread availability of artificial contraception and chemical abortion. Even though these substances have proved to be harmful to the environment itself, let alone contribute to the breakdown of society, the ends justify the means in the minds of many of these people. A smaller number of elitists in this camp advocate the forced sterilisation of entire populations and cultures. Some radical elitists within that group even advocate the creation of man-made plagues to reduce the population entirely. The underlying theme of Secular Environmentalism is a murderous and childless future, all in the name of 'saving the planet'. One begs to ask; saving the planet for who? For it would seem that in the final apocalypse of Secular Environmentalism, the rich shall inherent the earth.

On the opposite end of the spectrum we have American Neoconservatism, which is often embraced by the political Right, particularly in the United States, but certainly not limited to it. American Neoconservatism views mankind as a force of nature, like a hurricane or forest fire. Under this point of view, man and nature are one in the same thing, and mankind is reduced to the level of an animal herd. Human beings may do intermediate destruction to the environment, like a swarm of locusts, but in the overall scheme of things, man is incapable of hurting the environment in any significant or lasting way. Therefore, global efforts to clean up the environment are largely a waste of time, and should only be pursued when it involves enriching the lives of those who can afford it. In this mode of thinking, wealth is the key to conservation, and the way to conserve more nature is to simply increase the riches of more people. While appearing to be logical on the surface, it denies a fundamental truth Our Lord Jesus Christ taught us -- 'the poor you will always have with you' (Matthew 26:11). We most certainly can do things to reduce the damages of poverty, but we shall never eliminate poverty completely. Consequently, there will always be richer nations and poorer nations, and since this is the case, the natural tendency of man is for richer nations to exploit poorer nations. In recent decades such exploitation has equated to environmental degradation in poorer nations, as big corporations are permitted to do things in poorer nations they would not ordinarily be allowed to do in richer nations. This of course is not a problem to American Neoconservatives, because man is just a force of nature in their view, and cannot do any real harm to the environment in the overall grand scheme of things. This mode of thinking makes it virtually impossible for a Neoconservative to accept the premise of greenhouse gases and man-made climate change. So just as Secular Environmentalists embrace man-made climate change with religious fervour, so too American Neoconservatives reject man-made climate change with equal and opposite religious zeal. For both parties, it is a matter of personal faith.

The pope's encyclical repudiates these two extremes and corrects the religious errors. Mankind is neither an aberration nor a force of nature. While man's spirit is alien to this world, because it comes from God, his body and mind is very much a part of this world. God has placed man as the apex of his creation on earth, and in doing so, he has charged him with the responsibility to gently tend and care for the planet he's been given. The earth was made for man, but in like manner, the earth is all man has at his disposal. So when it is damaged or destroyed, man must bear the consequences of his actions. There are no 'other earths' nearby for man to exploit. Mars is a dead planet, and the hope of planting and harvesting that world is a dim one. Venus is a burning hell, incompatible with all life as we know it. Nothing in our solar system is even remotely appealing to mankind as an alternate home, and the stars are simply too far away to even consider on a rational level. So what we have now, is all we have. The earth is 'it'. If we damage this planet, we have nowhere else to go. We must reap the consequences of our sin, and herein lies the one and only crisis we must face. God will forgive. Man might forgive. Nature never forgives.

The issue of man-made climate change has become the hot topic of this encyclical. The pope is careful to point out that climate change is both the result of nature and mankind working together. While man is certainly not 100% responsible for climate change, as some would have us believe, he does have a significant role in it. The encyclical is careful not to weigh in on the merits of various scientific theories or proposed political solutions, unless those theories present a theological error, or such solutions are immoral and cause more harm than good. For the time being, the pope appears to trust the general consensus of scientists who assert that man plays a role in climate change, while those who say that man plays no role are clearly in the minority. (Science is never in 100% consensus on anything by the way.)

Those who deny any possibility of man-made climate change, even at the smallest level, will not be pleased with this encyclical. They will simply go back to their religious belief that man is a force of nature and cannot possibly do any real damage to the environment even if he wanted to. Of course such a notion is a blatant denial of Christianity. For the Christian faith teaches that while mankind is very much a part of nature, he was also given free well, and that has resulted in sin. You see, unlike nature, man is free to operate outside of the will of God. A hurricane is a force of nature. A swarm of locusts is a force of nature. A forest fire is a force of nature. All of them operate within the limitations of nature, that God has imposed upon them, because they have no free will to decide on their own, and therefore they cannot sin. Because they cannot sin, they do not normally result in any significant or lasting damage on the global environment, because you see for the time being, that is God's will. Mankind is different. The Christian faith has always taught that mankind is a free agent, that he was given free will by God, and that in turn has given him the ability to deny the will of God and operate outside of natural limits. Therefore, when man is at peace with God, he will do nothing to substantially harm the environment, because that is God's will. However, when man sins, he most certainly can operate outside his natural limits, in such a way that harms the environment with significant and lasting effects. One need only look at the radiation fallout of nuclear accidents and atomic weapons to see how significant and lasting the damage can be, just in one local area alone.

The issue of man-made climate change will not be settled definitely in our lifetime. History will be the judge. By the time man knows for sure just how much impact he has on the global environment it will be long past the time when changes could have been made to make a difference. This is why it is so important to act now, just on a moral level alone, so that when the science finally catches up with us, history (and our descendants) will judge us as prudent and reasonable. Pollution isn't just a scientific issue, it's a moral issue. If we cannot settle on the science, than let us at least settle on the morality. It is morally wrong to pollute in any way that could be harmful to human beings or their natural habitat -- the earth. Let scientists hash out their theories, but let mankind take the moral high ground in the meantime. In a previous essay, before the pope's encyclical was released, I pointed out the moral and ethical reasons why we must make an effort to clean up our pollution. I stand by that essay today, even more so than I did before.

As I said above, I leave the detailed critiquing of Laudato Si to others. Here I will just point out a list of actions that average people can do in response to it, in their normal everyday lives. As an economic Distributist, I find no inconsistencies with this pope's encyclical, and previous encyclicals on social justice. It is rather people's refusal to accept Distributism that causes them to see 'inconsistencies' between papal social encyclicals. So with that in mind, you will notice I include distributist points within my list. This is because I see them as working together quite harmoniously toward creating a truly Christian environmentalism...

  1. Go back to the Catholic Church, and get a real appreciation for a balanced Christian approach to environmentalism. It's not just about peace with nature. It's about peace with God, man and nature. One relates to the other, and they're all interconnected. 
  2. Admire nature in all of its beauty. Come to appreciate the natural world around us in every way you can. Get outdoors. Go to parks. Take walks in the wilderness. Do a little fishing or hunting (legally of course) if that is your thing. Do some bird watching. Take a kayak or canoe down a river. Be close to nature. Don't shut yourself up in a house or apartment. Get outdoors!
  3. Spend time with others. Get to appreciate your family, friends and neighbours. Keep your emotions in check and don't lash out at others. Along those same lines, don't let computer or virtual relationships overtake personal relationships. The internet was made for communication, but it is no substitute for face to face human contact.
  4. Stop all forms of chemical abortion and contraception. DON'T DO IT! Not only is this a great sin, but it also destroys the family, and wrecks havoc on the environment. Use natural means of birth control instead, such as Natural Family Planning, putting our bodies in harmony with nature and in submission to free will in accordance with God's plan. This also means embracing the gift of pregnancy when it is given. And that means of course helping pregnant mothers and their children in need.
  5. Get married. Traditional marriage between one man and one woman is what God and nature intended. Married couples can produce children more responsibly, and raise them in the most stable environment. Attacks on the traditional family do not in any way help the environment and can potentially harm it. Unnatural sex is environmentally unfriendly sex. No rational or sane person can deny that nature, and nature's God, intended one men and one woman to be together in a lifelong committed relationship. If you're involved in any way in attacking the traditional family -- stop it. If you're involved in a committed relationship between a man and a woman, and you intend for that relationship to be lifelong, get married.
  6. Look for ways to limit extreme consumerism in your life. For example; in the summer time, turn off the air conditioner and open the windows. Use ceiling fans, or stationary fans, in place of air conditioning when possible. Use air conditioning only when necessary for health reasons during extreme heat. Keep your thermostat set a little lower in the winter time and wear some more clothing indoors instead of turning up the heat.  
  7. Ditch the plastic and Styrofoam cups, plates and utensils. This causes unnecessary waste. Use real cups, classes, plates and utensils instead. 
  8. Save water.
  9. Recycle.
  10. Reuse items as much as possible before discarding them.
  11. Turn off lights and appliances when not in use.
  12. Always buy and prepare just the right amount of food so it doesn't go to waste, and save anything unused to eat as 'leftovers' later.
  13. Try not to use unnatural substances for gardening or pest control. If they must be used, limit their use as much as possible. Consider natural alternatives instead.
  14. Get out and walk to places more, or use a bicycle if you can. Otherwise carpool as much as possible, and use public transportation whenever possible and practical.
  15. Respect animals and plants, understanding that God put them under our care and we shall answer to him if they are abused or misused.
  16. Buy locally grown foods! Go to farms, farmers markets, cooperative markets, etc. 
  17. Request locally grown foods at your grocery store, and keep pestering them about it. The squeaky wheel gets the oil.
  18. Support consumer advocacy groups. They're trying to prevent you from being poisoned by what you eat.
  19. Pull your money out of the big banks and put them into a local credit union.
  20. Support cooperative corporations that are worker owned.
  21. Support local family-run businesses.
  22. Start your own family-run business.
  23. Homeschool your children, or put them in a religious school. Demand the government support you in this.
  24. Exercise naturally, outdoors if able. Take care of your body and your mind.



Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'FullyChristian.Com -- The random musings of a Catholic in the Ozarks.'

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Saint Thomas Becket

Saint Thomas Becket was the Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury from AD 1162 until his martyrdom in 1170. He is venerated as a Saint in both the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion.

As an archdeacon and servant of the king, he was nominated to become the Archbishop of Canterbury on May 23, 1162. He was not even a priest at this time. Some have speculated that King Henry II favoured the nomination after the death of Archbishop Theobald, hoping that Becket would continue to put the royal government before the Catholic Church. Becket was ordained a priest on June 2 of that year, and the following day was consecrated archbishop. (Talk about a rapid career rise!) King Henry II, however, failed to realise that such a radical chain of events in Becket's life would have a profound spiritual influence on him. Becket's transformation into an ascetic began at this time. A power struggle quickly ensued between the new archbishop and the king, and their friendship became a rivalry. Becket resigned his chancellorship and sought to recover the rights of the archbishopric. In response, Henry began turning the other bishops at Westminster against him. King Henry II was working to weaken ties with Rome at the time, and he had made great strides with all the bishops of England -- except Becket. Eventually, King Henry II brought Archbishop Thomas Becket up on phony charges of contempt and malfeasance. In a kangaroo court, he had him convicted of these charges, and in response Becket stormed out of the courtroom, fled Britain, went to Europe, where he received protection from the King of France.

At this point I cannot fail to mention the 20th century retelling of the Saint's life in this 1964 Hollywood film 'Becket' starring Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole. The entire movie can be viewed online here, but as we reach this point in Becket's life, it is fitting to embed a clip from the film that depicts Saint Thomas Becket's trial in King Henry II's mock court. Becket has been summonsed to answer the erroneous charges and the king watches his friend-rival defend himself overhead...

Archbishop Thomas Becket spent two years in France, until Henry's threats against his friends forced him to seek return to England and contend with the wayward king. The pope, coming to Becket's defence, sent papal legates with the authority to act as arbitrators. In 1170 King Henry II allowed Becket to return to England from exile.

The actual place of Becket's martyrdom
Canterbury Cathedral in Canterbury England
Later that year, King Henry II was formerly crowned by three bishops in violation of English protocol and of Canterbury's privileged to crown English kings. Seeing this as a political ploy and an act of treachery toward the Catholic Church, Archbishop Thomas Becket excommunicated the three bishops, and then began systematically excommunicating all those who opposed Rome's prerogative over the Church of England. Word of this reached King Henry II, and what happened next is disputed. Henry reportedly spoke ill of his rival-friend Becket in such a way that some who heard it mistakenly believed he wanted him dead. The fact that there are many versions of his exact words only seems to verify the confusion that resulted from whatever he said. In response, four of the king's knights; Reginald fitzUrse, Hugh de Morville, William de Tracy, and Richard le Breton, took it upon themselves to set out to confront the Archbishop of Canterbury. Initially they ordered Becket to report to the king at once. Seeing that these men held no note of authority from the king, Becket rightfully refused. The knights then went back outside, retrieved their armour and swords, and proceeded back into Canterbury Cathedral to kill the Archbishop. They met the archbishop inside the cathedral where he was leading the Divine Office. One account of the murder/martyrdom comes to us from Edward Grim, who was himself wounded in the attack...
The wicked knight leapt suddenly upon him, cutting off the top of the crown which the unction of sacred chrism had dedicated to God. Next he received a second blow on the head, but still he stood firm and immovable. At the third blow he fell on his knees and elbows, offering himself a living sacrifice, and saying in a low voice, 'For the name of Jesus and the protection of the Church, I am ready to embrace death.' But the third knight inflicted a terrible wound as he lay prostrate. By this stroke, the crown of his head was separated from the head in such a way that the blood white with the brain, and the brain no less red from the blood, dyed the floor of the cathedral. The same clerk who had entered with the knights placed his foot on the neck of the holy priest and precious martyr, and, horrible to relate, scattered the brains and blood about the pavements, crying to the others, 'Let us away, knights; this fellow will arise no more.'
History tells of a great storm and some miracles that followed Becket's murder. It wasn't long after that the faithful throughout England and all of Europe began honouring Thomas Becket as a martyr, and in 1173 he was canonised as a Saint by Pope Alexander III. King Henry II later humbled himself at Becket's tomb and submitted to public penance for his crimes. The knights who murdered Saint Thomas Becket were excommunicated by the pope. They eventually grovelled to Rome and begged for forgiveness. The pope granted them absolution, but for penance, they must serve as knights in the Holy Land for fourteen years. Today, Saint Thomas Becket is honoured as the patron saint of secular clergy for England and Wales. He is also seen as a hero who stood up to the corruption of government and its attempted influence over the Church.



Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'FullyChristian.Com -- The random musings of a Catholic in the Ozarks.'

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Monday, June 15, 2015

Gender Theory -- The New Nazism

Hitler Youth in Berlin-Grunewald in June of 1933
German Federal Archives

It's an old article, and one the mainstream media basically ignored, but it's worth pointing out here...
(CNS) -- Elaborating on comments he made in Manila Jan. 16 about "ideological colonization that tries to destroy the family," the pope offered a 20-year-old example of an unnamed government official, apparently in his native Argentina, who was offered a loan to build schools for poor children on the condition she assign students a textbook on "gender theory." 
Catholic leaders often use the term "gender theory" to refer to ideas that question or deny the God-given nature of sex differences and the complementarity of man and woman as the basis of the family.  
Pope Francis said African bishops attending the October 2014 Synod on the Family had complained of similar restrictions on funding for projects in their countries, 
"Why do I say ideological colonization? Because they use a people's need as an opportunity to come in and impose their will on children. But this is nothing new. The dictatorships of the last century did the same thing; they came in with their doctrine. Think of the Balilla. Think of the Hitler Youth," the pope said. 
The Balilla was a youth organization instituted by Italy's fascist dictator, Benito Mussolini. 
Here is what the pope is talking about. Gender theory is the liberal ideology that a person's gender can be fluid, influenced and in some cases, even chosen. Rather than a matter of biological fact of nature, gender is subject to a person's mental constructs. In other words, men can decide to be women, and women can decide to be men. Sexuality crosses over into this as well, wherein men and women can choose to behave as members of the opposite sex (homosexuality). Both Pope Benedict XVI and now Pope Francis have strongly condemned this ideology, and Pope Francis in particular has done so in very strong language.  In the same interview on January 19, Pope Francis continued...
(Christian Post) -- 'For example, I wonder if so-called gender theory may not also be an expression of frustration and resignation that aims to erase sexual differentiation because it no longer knows how to come to terms with it.' 
The idea of gender theory was introduced in the 1980s, and since then it has grown into a social and political agenda. Today, in Western nations (such as the USA, Canada, Europe, Australia, etc.) people who do not acknowledge gender theory as 'fact' are considered bigots, and are treated as such in the mainstream media. Laws, in the form of city ordinances and court decisions, are putting those who refuse to accept gender theory in financial and legal jeopardy. People are losing their businesses over this, and some are even losing their jobs. There appears to be no end in sight. Many public schools in Europe and North America are now indoctrinating children in gender theory. Meanwhile, in third-world nations across the seas, Christian countries are being told by the United States, and some other Western governments, that they will not receive any foreign aid if they do not sign on to the gender theory agenda. Some Christian countries in Africa, in a life or death struggle with Islamic militants, are now being told the United States will abandon them if they do not modify their laws to accept homosexuality and other gender theory ideas. The Western world, led by the United States, is now the chief promoter of gender theory around the world, and this is primarily what the pope is talking about when he speaks of 'ideological colonisation' comparing it to the Nazi Hitler Youth program of the last century.

It is becoming increasingly difficult for liberals and mainstream media elite to use Pope Francis as a tool. His positions on key social issues are coming down as increasingly orthodox, and his manner of expressing them is far more militant than previous popes. Early in his pontificate the mainstream media frequently quoted him out of context, and liberal pundits capitalised on this to drive home their own agenda. The 'who am I to judge' comment was probably the most profound example of this. I explored this comment in detail in a previous essay, and pointed out that when put into the full context of what he actually said, the pope is not only orthodox, but extremely Catholic! The liberal media simply didn't pick up on this, or else they didn't want to, and so a false narrative about Pope Francis was created. However, in recent months, it has become increasingly difficult for liberal pundits and the mainstream media to maintain this false narrative. Turning against the pope at this point would be a losing proposition to them, and they know it, so instead they have chosen to simply give Pope Francis the silent treatment. By that I mean, when he says something traditional and orthodox, they are silent. They don't report on it. The only media that carries the story is Catholic media. Everyone else ignores it. Such was the case with the 'ideological colonisation' comment on gender theory above. If you haven't been reading and listening to Catholic media, you've probably never heard about it.

What you likely have heard about is the pro-homosexual agenda of the German cardinals (Kasper and Marx in particular) which is going to be pushed at the upcoming Synod on the Family in October. By the way the media reports on this, it would seem as if a massive change in Catholic teaching on homosexuality is under way. The mainstream media would do well to be reminded, however, that Cardinal Kasper is not the pope, and neither is Cardinal Marx. The German bishops' conference is not the Vatican either.

Make no mistake about it, the liberal, mainstream 'Council of the Media' is hard at work. Their job is to spread confusion and convince people that the pope and the Catholic Church now support gender theory and the homosexual agenda. I'm telling you it's all false. It's propaganda! Yes, it would appear that some bishops (particularly those in Germany) back this ideology, but that is a minority of Catholic bishops worldwide. The German bishops risk formal schism with Rome over the actions they've taken, and the actions they've promised to take in the future. The mainstream media and liberal pundits are clearly on their side. It would do us all well to remember this in the months ahead.



Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'FullyChristian.Com -- The random musings of a Catholic in the Ozarks.'

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Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Beyond Tomorrowland

Entrance Sign to Tomorrowland at Walt Disney World
I can do all things through him (Christ) who strengthens me. - Philippians 4:13
Apart from me (Christ) you can do nothing. - John 15:5
As a young man these two biblical versus had the most profound effect on me. They became a constant reminder of hope, reminding me that anything is possible, but without him I can do nothing. Of course I'm talking about God here, but more specifically Jesus Christ.  I call this a level-headed hope; because as a young man, it helped me reach for the stars, but at the same time kept my feet planted firmly on the ground. It was a way to accomplish great things, but at the same time not get trapped in the vanity of pride.

Recently I saw a movie called Tomorrowland.  It was a Walt Disney picture. I enjoyed it immensely. It reminded me of something I had nearly forgotten, but not entirely. When I was a young man I used to live in Southern California. Trips to Disneyland were an annual event. As a teenager I went more often. Unless you live in Southern California you can't appreciate how much Disneyland is part of the Southern California culture. It has become a place for locals to go for any occasion, or just no particular reason at all. Living in Southern California as long as I did, I happen to be fortunate enough to make some connections. I won't go into details about that, because it's not important. What is important is what happened to me on one particular trip. The person I was with had a connection to the Disney family, and this connection got me access to a place I would never ordinarily be able to go. I found myself standing in the living room of Mr. Walt Disney's private apartment at Disneyland. This was back in the 1980s! I believe it has since been renovated into something else. I'm not sure because I haven't been there in over 15 years. At the time however the apartment was restricted. Only certain people were allowed to go in there. At that time the apartment was a museum of sorts. It contained all of his artwork spanning the decades of his life. Yes, there were plenty of cartoon figures to be seen, but what many people don't know is that Walt Disney was a realist artist too. Of the many works he drew, one of his favourite subjects was futuristic cities. He drew pictures of future cities on the earth, on the moon, and on different worlds. Disney was in every sense a dreamer, and his dreams were filled with hope. Like Tomorrowland at the Walt Disney theme parks, the movie which bears the same name, carries a similar message. If you haven't seen the movie, I suggest you do. It's worth it. I know that some Christians will not, because of Disney's support for homosexuality and other modern perversions, but honestly, unless you live like the Amish, I don't know how it is possible to boycott all the major companies that support these things. I personally believe the way you get a company to create more wholesome family entertainment is to support them when they do create it.

As a child, my mind was filled with Disney-like hopes and dreams for the future. When I became an adult however, much of those hopes and dreams were dashed. As I learned of the horrors of the 20th century, I came to see man's progress as a source of much pain and suffering, and not so much the bright star that men of the 19th century hoped it would become. It's a familiar story really, one that echoes through history. However, when I consider the intense optimism of the late 19th and early 20th century, countered with the bleak hopelessness that seems to pervade the late 20th to early 21st century, I can't help but wonder what happened? How could the hopes and dreams of humanity rise so unnaturally high, only to plummet to such depths not known since the fall of the ancient Roman Empire? The movie Tomorrowland explores this topic, and of course gives us a science fiction explanation, couched in a moral message that is generally positive and helpful. However, I personally find it only to be helpful when that moral is put in its proper historical-Christian context, which is something that Disney obviously doesn't do, nor would I expect them to. That's my job.

Driving my children home from the movie theatre, I began asking them what they thought of the film, and the message it conveyed. They liked it, and thought it was a good message. Then one of them said, 'I can't wait until we get to the future!' At that point, I knew I had them right were I wanted them. I had them look around at the large buildings we were passing. Then I asked them to consider the highway we were driving on, and the massive flying overpass we were just about to use. There was a long pause.

'Dad?' I heard from the back seat.

'Yes' I replied.

'Is this Tomorrowland?' my son asked.

I grinned with satisfaction, turning the wheel gently as we rounded the top of the overpass. I responded; 'Yes son, this is Tomorrowland, the real Tomorrowland. Look around you. It's magnificent! Isn't it?'

The blue sky caressed the green tree-clad hills of the lush Ozark Mountains, as the peaks of buildings pierced between them. All around us, rooftops of houses, surrounded by trees peppered the landscape. Below us, the streaming traffic of horseless carriages raced at speeds unheard of a hundred years ago, all of this commonplace now. I reminded my children; 'You know, a hundred years ago, it would have taken us practically all day to get to Springfield in a horse and buggy.' My children had seen many Amish carriages in and around the Springfield area before. They were quite familiar with the sight. 'We'll be home in 20 minutes,' I informed them, as I then proceeded to remind them of the small chores they needed to complete upon arriving there. After that, I continued the exercise. I told them about the advances in technology made just in my lifetime. The iPods they held in their hands opened the world to them in ways I couldn't even imagine when I was their age. (Yes, I use child safety features to protect them from the filth out there.) However, when we consider the advances made in the last 100 years, it's staggering. A century ago, unless you lived nearby me, and I happened to be a paid columnist in a local newspaper, there would be no way for you to read my thoughts and random musings. This essay would never exist. Most of us would be farmers, or living in rural small towns. Some of us might have jobs in sweat shops in the big city. A tiny few of us would have money, and the comfort that comes along with it. Travel would be slow. If you had to go anywhere, just figure that it's going to take you at least an hour to travel 10 miles by horse. For this reason, suburbs were kept close to urban areas, so as to cut down on commute time. A few modern cities might have some slow rail systems. Fortunately, the telephone existed a hundred years ago. So if you had enough money to put one in your home, you could give it a few cranks, and nearly yell at somebody a few miles away. Anything beyond that was 'long distance' and would have cost you quite a bit to place a call. Some of us remember how bad the sound quality was on interstate calls even during the 1970s. I can't even imagine how poor such calls must have been a hundred years ago, that is, if such calls were even possible. Washing your clothes was an afternoon event. Drying them took longer. Washing dishes took some time as well, and as for preparing a meal? Well, let's just say that people slaved for hours doing that. The most reliable source of communication was the written letter, or what we call today 'snail mail'. It took days to weeks for one to travel in just one direction. The most advanced form of public transportation was the ship. As for higher education, that was reserved for the wealthy, those who could afford to set aside several years to accomplish it.

In contrast, in the Tomorrowland of today, we place international calls with crystal clarity, and relatively cheaply. We use Skype and other Internet services to conference with people visually. Video-phones seem antiquated now. In today's Tomorrowland, I can talk to a group of people, each one in different states, and see them all on my computer screen. In today's Tomorrowland I drive at speeds of 60 to 70 miles per hour, in my horseless carriage and commute to a job 20 miles away in just 20 minutes or less. If I want to go on a vacation, I can hop on a jet-liner, visit a location a thousand miles away, and be back home in time for work within a week. In today's Tomorrowland, all of my food is kept cold in a freezer, and I can cook a whole meal in just minutes with a microwave oven.  Dirty dishes are no longer a chore, as I simply rinse them off and throw them in the dishwasher, leaving them sparkly clean and dry for me to take out the next morning. Washing clothes, a chore that would take hours in the home of Yesterland some 100 years ago, is no problem any more. I just throw them in the washing machine, drop in some detergent, press a button and walk away. The most tiresome thing about it now is just folding them after they're clean and dry. In today's Tomorrowland I can watch astronauts on the Internet, orbiting the earth hundreds of miles above my head. I can look at images taken from Mars, and using that same Internet, I can peer into the vastness of space to gaze upon distant galaxies seen by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. Today's Tomorrowland is virtually limitless in the amount of knowledge I can acquire as a common working man. As I write this essay, I have enrolled in college courses that I'll be taking in the comfort of my own home. As for this essay itself, half of it was verbally dictated to my iPhone and faithfully translated into text by the microprocessor. In fact, the computing power I hold in my hand surpasses all the computing power in the world -- combined -- just 40 years ago. Where is Tomorrowland? Look around you. It's magnificent!

'But there is something missing from today's Tomorrowland,' I asked my children 'what is it?'

They thought for a moment. Then from the back seat, I heard my nine-year old daughter say three words: 'faith, hope, love'.

'YES!' I responded, then I asked the follow-up question. 'But faith in who?'

'GOD!' they shouted, 'Jesus Christ!' and the 'Holy Trinity!'

Out of the mouths of babes came the answer to my entire life experience. I had grown up in Tomorrowland. All of us had. We witnessed in our lifetime the greatest technological accomplishments the human race had ever achieved. However, we did it without God. Or at least we tried to. As a result, our world became cold, and the instruments of our progress, became for us over the 20th century, the very tools of our demise, and the stuff of our nightmares. Perhaps the reason why most of us never think of our modern world as Tomorrowland is because it lacks the hope we once knew in Walt Disney's version. Of course, Disney was just an entertainer, and the corporation he created is really nothing more than that. Neither he nor his business could ever give us real hope. That's not the kind of business he started. Disney hoped to capture our imagination, and help us dream of a better world, but he couldn't guide those dreams morally. It wasn't his job. It never will be.

That job belongs to the Catholic Church, and herein lies the secret of the hopes and failures of the 20th century. Nearly 100 years ago, three shepherd children in Fatima Portugal saw a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Now personally, I am very sceptical of such things, unless I have good reason to believe. However, their vision was verified by a miracle witnessed by some seventy-thousand people, more than all the people who witnessed the resurrection of Christ. Then it was confirmed by the Catholic Church, not only by the local bishop, but also by the Vatican itself, and many popes. We have just as much reason to believe this vision as we do any other religious event. So for that reason, because of the HISTORICAL FACTS, I believe in Fatima.

The message is given in great detail in many places on the Internet, and in Church archives, so I will instead just summarise it here.

The message of Fatima did not define a specific number of years, though many believe the span to be about 100 give or take. Of course the question remains to be asked, if that is so, when do you start counting? Is it in 1917 when the vision was given? Or is it 1938 when the vision warned that the chastisement of God would begin? I don't know, and I suppose that's not all that important really. Because the overarching theme of the message of Fatima is about the loss of faith in the world during the 20th century. From the communists in Russia and the Soviet Union, to the advancing Secularism and Relativism in Western nations, the Christian faith of millions would be lost. Immorality would increase, and this would bring about the rise of great World Wars and persecutions of the Church. The greatest calamity of all would be the loss of souls to hell. Millions of them would fall into the grasp of Satan and spend eternity with him. The message of Fatima, or at least the one I understand, is that mankind would attempt to build his Tomorrowland without God, and because of that, his dreamy vision of utopia would become a nightmare dystopia. The industrial progress of the 20th century promised man the hope of long and comfortable life, with wonders beyond imagination. Indeed, lifespans were increased. Comfort became commonplace. Yet with it became visions of Nazi gas chambers, the threat of atomic war with the communists, gas shortages, rising inflation, increased immorality, drug wars, and now the constant threat of terrorism. Our own government spies on us; listening in on our phone calls, and reading our emails. Sadly, it seems it's only just begun. Now, as immorality receives government protected status, those who dare speak truth are coming under the persecution of politically-correct thought police. They will soon fine us, and jail us, as being 'haters' because we dare to love people enough to tell them the truth of their sin and of God's mercy to those who repent. Yes, the Tomorrowland of today is coming to an end, but it will not go out quietly, not before it attempts to eliminate all that is good and wholesome in the world.

The environment my wife and I create for our children, indeed the environment most modern parents try to create, is one that is very much like the Tomorrowland many of us remember from our 1980s Disney experience. Though my own children take it for granted, the filtered and sanitised environment my wife and I created for them is a Tomorrowland wonder world. They whiz around on highways and overpasses at speeds in excess of a mile a minute. They fly to our vacation resorts a thousand miles away in just a couple hours. The television I used to have to go home to watch, my kids carry with them now in the form of an iPad. Video games are a daily experience. The Internet has made all the knowledge of man accessible to them at their fingertips. Their father goes to work in a ten-story tower, which is tiny in comparison to the skyscrapers some fathers and mothers go to work in. Their world is ideal, because we (their parents) have made it that way. They are growing up in the Tomorrowland Walt Disney could only dream of. As they mature however, they are gradually being exposed to the real world, and having been trained in the Christian faith, they see it for what it really is -- a cold dystopia filled with fear and perversion.

At the dawn of the 20th century, in the Yesterland of some 100 years ago, men set out with their industrial might to create a new world filled with hope and anticipation. God was no longer necessary in their minds. Instead of creating their utopia, they created a dystopia, and the hope their generation was filled with, has now been replaced with the hopelessness of our generation.

When I was a young man, in the late 1980s, my admiration of Walt Disney and his dreams of Tomorrowland was dashed by the realities of this modern world. I found myself overwhelmed by it, and prone to depression. So I turned to my faith in Jesus Christ as a source for comfort and answers. I was an Evangelical at the time, and so these answers were accompanied by apocalyptic visions of impending doom for our modern world. We were taught that the end of the world was upon us, and soon the Antichrist would come to finish us off. Our hope was in the Rapture of the Church, and that we would escape the fire that was about to descend. It wasn't a very pretty picture. Indeed, apocalyptic visions like this have been part of Christian teaching for two millennia. So there is nothing new here. However, one of the many reasons why I eventually became Catholic was the hope Catholicism offered in the face of this new modern world. The Tomorrowland of today need not be a scary place, and indeed, Christianity gives us the tools we need make it a better place -- a much better place. Yes, the end of the world will come -- someday.  Yes, much of the world will be totally deceived by the Antichrist and be led into perdition -- someday.  Yet, if we believe that this day has to be now, and there is nothing we can do to change it, than we are no different than the Pagans of old, who believed their destiny was governed by the fates, and nothing could change it.

Christianity has undergone a shock by the modern world. Even the Catholic Church is still reeling from this. Yet, I believe part of my purpose in this life is to assure my children, and anyone else who will listen to me, that it's not over yet. There are still many Christians left in this world, and as long as there is till breath in our lungs, it's not over yet. We may have to endure the wrath of our Secularist masters, and perhaps even the chastisement of God himself for the sins of our time, but so long as we are still around, it's not over yet. We are here for a reason. We live for a reason. We keep our faith for a reason. It's not over yet.

It's time to move beyond Tomorrowland. Just imagine what wonders the future could hold, if man's technological and cultural progress were only governed by the moral responsibility of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. That my friends is something that hasn't been tried yet. At the beginning of the industrial revolution, God was put aside, and so the modern world has never known a society governed by Christ and his Church. That is the stuff of medieval history. The modern world has no idea what a modern Christian society would look like. IT'S NEVER BEEN TRIED!!! Atheists baulk at the idea, pulling up in their imagination a warped image of what they believe medieval society must have looked like. I tell you it is impossible to go back to that, for two reasons. First, the warped atheist image of the Middle Ages never existed. Second, even the real historical Middle Ages were just a transition period between the ancient world and the modern world. A modern Christian society simply wouldn't look like that at all.

What would a modern Christian society actually look like? Well, I don't know for sure, because I've never seen it in my lifetime, but I can say I've seen glimpses of it. As the main heroine in the movie Tomorrowland saw glimpses of a fictional world with fantastic technological developments, so too I have seen glimpses of what a Christian Beyond Tomorrowland might look like. Yet there is nothing mysterious a magical about my visions. They are every day visions really. I see those visions in my church, and in the families that attend there. I've witnessed it in the Latin Mass community at the local cathedral, and in the growing homeschool community in the Springfield area. I've seen it in the budding Christian businesses cropping up in the Ozarks, and in the larger corporations that are now seeking ways to accommodate the conservative Christian population. There is money to be made in Christendom, and only now, a hundred years after the 20th century began, are big businesses starting to understand this. I remember when I first became Catholic, the local McDonald's couldn't understand why so many people were ordering fish sandwiches on Friday's. They literally ran out of patties. Now they advertise it on their billboards, carefully keeping track of when Lent begins and ends, so as to capitalise on the growing Catholic culture in the area. Some might see this as shallow. I personally don't care. It's business recognising a need in the culture and accommodating it. Whether it's McDonald's providing fish sandwiches during Lent, or Disney providing wholesome family entertainment with a positive message, it's all the same. What we are witnessing are the green shoots of a budding Christian culture just starting to break forth from beneath the earth.

Don't expect the old Secular/Modernist/Relativist culture to just roll over and let it rise in peace. We are just now beginning to see the final rebellion take place. These dinosaurs will not go extinct without a fight. They see what is coming, and they would rather die (or better yet kill) before letting it happen. So just as people here in the Ozarks know that with every spring comes a myriad of thunderstorms, some of them packing deadly tornadoes, so too this revival of Christendom will not come without trial, tribulation and persecution. Nevertheless, when these thunderstorms pass, the grass is always green and the trees always bud forth their leaves. So too, in spite of all their efforts to the contrary, the land beyond Tomorrowland will bring forth a new world of Christian evangelism and revival.

Beyond Tomorrowland will by no means be a utopia. I think a century of hell on earth has taught my generation to be more realistic than the generation of Yesterland a century ago. We know that beyond Tomorrowland there will still be natural disasters, and man-made dangers as well. We can reasonably hope however, that if we return to Christ and his Catholic Church, a new and better world can be created. It can be a world with all the technological and industrial wonders we enjoy today, balanced by wholesome living in moral simplicity and environmental responsibility. Beyond Tomorrowland can be a place where going to mass is the central focus of every week, children are primarily educated by their parents while they are aided by the Church, the state supports the good work of religion, and public decency is the norm rather than the exception. Beyond Tomorrowland can be a place where wars between nations are extremely rare, and terrorism is no longer a significant problem. While crime will never be eliminated, it can be reduced beyond Tomorrowland, not by the brute force of the state, nor by micromanaging people's lives, but rather by distributing property in such a way so that poverty is reduced, and backing religion in such a way that less people think of evil as a necessity. Beyond Tomorrowland can become not a utopia, nor a dystopia, but rather simply a nice place to live. It is possible. If the 20th century has taught us anything, it has taught us that technology alone is no substitute for good religion and virtue.

Our Lady told those three shepherd children at Fatima that in the end, her Immaculate Heart would prevail. I believe this, and I believe we are just now at the precipice of this. It is coming within our lifetime. We will have to endure some thunderstorms along the way, and those will not be pleasant. Such storms will sweep away false religion, as well as those who promote it. Beyond that, Christendom will rise from where it is now, beneath the surface. It is progress -- real progress. It is God's will. Nothing can stop it, and only the wise will embrace it. So let us take up our crosses, carry our burdens, brave the unknown, and boldly go into the revived Christendom beyond Tomorrowland.



Shane Schaetzel is a published author and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'FullyChristian.Com -- The random musings of a Catholic in the Ozarks.'

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