3 Aspects of the Christian Rosary #prayer #rosary

IM001380While most of us grew up thinking of the rosary as an exclusively Catholic thing, the fact is that the devotion predates the Protestant movement and the resulting division between Christians. Christian use of the rosary is not just found among Catholics, but survived among some Anglicans and Lutherans, and has also been revived, often under names such as Christian rosary or Lutheran rosary, in some Christian communities.

Since the rosary is in common Christian use, it is well to think seriously about it. What is the rosary, anyway? There are three aspects of the rosary we might need to study to achieve full understanding.

The Beads

A rosary is a physical set of beads used to count prayers. Many cultures have something similar to a rosary. In Eastern religions, a string of 108 beads is used to count repetitions of a mantra, or religious phrase. In the Eastern Orthodox Christian churches, a prayer rope is used to count repetitions of the Jesus prayer.  Muslims are said to use beads to count the many names/attributes of Allah.

A forerunner of rosary beads in the Western church was Paternoster beads, which were used to count repetitions of the Our Father or Lord’s Prayer. These were used by Christians who could not read, or could not afford a Liturgy of the Hours prayer book, which is a devotion based on the Psalms. Repeating the Our Father, and later, the rosary prayers, was a substitute.

The Verbal Prayers

The rosary is also a set of verbal prayers to be recited. They were prayers regularly taught to young Christians at the time the rosary was created. Besides the Our Father and the Hail Mary, they include the Glory Be to the Father, the In the Name of the Father, and the Apostles Creed.

I knew all these prayers, except the Hail Mary, from when I was a Protestant. We sang the Glory Be in our Presbyterian church every Sunday. The Hail Mary prayer can be a stumbling block, but the older version of the Hail Mary is made up of two Bible verses, and the longer version just asks Mary to pray for us. To God. The same way we ask our friends to pray for us. It’s not a form of worshipping Mary, which would be a serious sin. For those who worry, the short form Hail Mary or the Jesus prayer can be used in place of the full Hail Mary.

The Life of Christ Meditations

There is a third factor to the rosary. It is a series of 15 events and topics from the life of Christ that we are to think about while reciting the verbal prayers. Much later, Pope John Paul II added 5 more events, called the Luminous Mysteries. Protestants may use these extra Mysteries or not, as they choose. All are Bible stories known to Protestants, anyway.

The meditations add depth to the rosary devotion and keep us from just mindless and thoughtlessly uttering the verbal prayers. They are the heart of the devotion. There are many Catholic leaflets, books and videos that help us keep these meditations in mind when praying the rosary. I don’t know that there is much of this nature made for various sorts of Protestants, but if you can’t find anything, adapt something Catholic!

The Lutheran Rosary

Martin Luther and the Lutheran Hail Mary

 

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Deniers or Heretics? #lchf #health

JimmyMooreJust discovered that my favorite health podcaster, Jimmy Moore, has been added to a list of ‘cholesterol deniers.’ Along with other respected names like Dr Jason Fung, Gary Taubes, and Tim Noakes.

I guess this is the latest in pseudoscience. When the research doesn’t come out the way you like, turn it into a dogma and go to war against the heretics. Who you have to call ‘deniers’ if you want your dogma to sound like a sciency dogma.

Actual science doesn’t work like that. Science doesn’t have dogmas. We are welcome to question any scientific idea, theory or law. The ideas that win are the ones with the most proven facts on their side.

Of course, individual scientists are only human. They can hang on to a pet theory for years after research has failed to come out with the evidence they hoped for.

That’s how the flawed cholesterol-heart hypothesis became current medical dogma. Read Gary Taubes’ book ‘Good Calories, Bad Calories’ to understand how that happened, and how, in the United States, government played a role in the adoption of the flawed theory and the ignoring of facts.

I guess I am just a little prejudiced on this topic. Learning some true science from the works of Dr Robert Atkins, Dr Jason Fung, Jimmy Moore, Dana Carpendar and others helped me control my T2 diabetes without drugs and lose over 60 lbs. The approved dietary dogmas, on the other hand, are what helped me gain the extra weight and get the diabetes. They never got me anything but hunger and guilt.

In our current culture, arguers love to use the word ‘science’ to silence an opponent, but few even know about the scientific method, let alone use it. But we need to start questioning those pseudoscientific dogmas in our head. Why do people think that? What was their evidence for starting to think that way? Are there other theories with more evidence? Are there studies that need to be conducted to find more facts?

Science is a wonderful tool, though it cannot do everything. But pseudoscience, especially the kind that calls all dissenters, ‘deniers’, cannot do anything but lead you astray.

Jimmy Moore can be found on Facebook at: https//m.facebook.com/livinlowcarbman 

Is Atheism a Religion?

The typical Internet ‘athiest’ bully may declare that ‘athiesm’ is against all religions because religion is about ‘God’— usually meaning the God of the Bible. But we want to look into the question more deeply than that. And, as is so often the case, we need to start at the dictionary.

The word ‘religion’ in English comes from the Latin word ‘religio.’ The first definition in my dictionary says ‘belief in or worship of  God or gods.’ But there is a second. ‘A specific system of belief or worship, etc, built around God, a code of ethics, a philosophy of life, etc.’ So atheism is a specific system of belief built around a philosophy of life. That is a religion. Though it is more popular in many circles to call a non-theistic religion a ‘philosophy of life.’

‘Athiests’ may complain at this. But they shouldn’t. Why do atheists have freedom of religion in the United States and elsewhere? Certainly not because atheism was considered to be a socially responsible viewpoint worthy of protection by the United States’ Founding Fathers. In fact I heard of an early murder case that went unprosecuted because the eyewitness was an atheist who at the time could not be sworn in as a witness in court. Atheism is protected now because it is considered a religion— in the ‘philosophy of life’ sense, not in the ‘code of ethics’ or ‘worship of God/gods’ senses.

As a system, atheism lacks a lot that other religions have. Religions usually have quite a few specific required beliefs, or dogmas. The only universal atheist dogma is ‘there is no god.’ To which some add other dogmas like ‘atheism is based on logic but we can’t say how,’ or ‘all atheists are logical and all God-believers are not’ or ‘God is evil and causes earthquakes’ or ‘if you don’t accept atheism you must be a Bible-believing Evangelical Christian’ or ‘atheism is so logic-based and science-based it is obviously true and needs no proof.’ But all atheists don’t believe all of those.

Atheism also lacks a moral code— though atheists themselves may have a moral code from some other source or philosophy. There is nothing within the belief of atheism to tell us to love our neighbor and help our neighbor, rather than hate our neighbor and steal from our neighbor. The Founding Fathers of the US thought that belief in a God, an afterlife, and afterlife punishments and rewards was a necessary thing to make one a good and law-abiding citizen. Atheists don’t believe that and I am sure that most of the more thoughtful/intellectual atheists do have some sort of moral code that does not contradict their atheism— though it is not require by atheism itself.

There are multiple kinds of atheists. There are rude atheists, like Madilyn Murray O’Hair and the internet ‘athiests,’ and there are simply people who don’t happen to belief in a God, for whatever reason. The beloved Christian apologist and writer C. S. Lewis was an atheist for a number of years. He doesn’t mention having mocked Christians or caused a fuss over his atheism, and I honestly can’t imagine the man he was ever bullying someone over their Christianity. If only he had written articles on atheism during his atheist years, he could have been a decent role model for atheists today. Though they would likely reject anything he’d written because he became a Christian and a defender of Christianity (a Christian apologist.)

What about an atheist who says ‘atheism isn’t a religion, it’s the truth!’ Well, first I would wonder if the atheist got that argument from the (Evangelical) Christians who say ‘(Evangelical) Christianity isn’t a religion, it’s the truth!’ Regardless of the source of the saying, I would say frankly: atheism is a religion. Evangelical Christianity, like Christianity in general, is a religion. There is nothing in the dictionary definition of ‘religion’ that says that a religion may not be true! And I would imagine that nearly all people regard their own religion as being true. If they don’t think it’s true, in what sense are they adherents of that religion? Christianity has a name for that state: a ‘nominal Christian’ is one who may say he is a Christian, for social or other reasons, but does not actually believe. So to say a ‘religion’ can’t be the truth is simply being illogical.

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For further study

Logical Thinking by Richard L. Purtill

Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis

Christian Churches that teach Birth Control Mentality

I’m not talking, in the title of this post, about the post-Christian churches like the PCUSA Presbyterians or ELCA Lutherans— both church bodies that are pro-abortion— or the Episcopal church that asked a woman to leave the congregation when she left her job at an abortion clinic because of ethical concerns about abortion.

I am talking about Bible-believing and therefore prolife churches. I have read accounts of women who announced they were pregnant with a third or fourth child, and they got nothing but grief from the people in their church because of it. They were asked if they knew what causes pregnancy, or people pretended they could not count the children in their ‘large’ family. Husbands got the offer to be driven to the clinic for a vasectomy. And this was with much-wanted pregnancies! Is it really anyone’s business if a Christian married couple wants three or four or even five or six children? And what should a woman do when she’s already pregnant with a child that her church members are convinced she shouldn’t want? Get an abortion? Or just complain about the unwantedness of her child?

Birth control mentality is morally wrong because it teaches that human beings— female ones, anyway— are in charge of their own fertility. If they want a child (and have no more than one) they have a ‘right’ to have a child, even if it takes in vitro fertalization and the sacrifice of the lives of ‘extra’ embryos to get what they want. And when a pregnancy is not desired, it is proclaimed that all ‘responsible’ people will be using artificial methods of contraception. Some of which, like IUD or the birth-control pill, cause the death of very young embryonic children.

In reality, no ‘birth control’ is 100% effective. And so it is demanded that abortion must be available as a backup. Prolife Christians want people to choose life, not abortion, but if they are living in the birth control mentality themselves, they are helping people to choose abortions.

I have read of an internationally known prolife activist— a priest— who said that when a country legalized contraceptives (which used to be illegal or restricted), legalizing abortion was not far behind. Because contraceptives are part of the birth control mentality, and that mentality demands abortion when contraception proves unreliable.

Lest you think I am just picking on the Evangelical/Protestant community here, there are I am sure also Catholic parishes where everyone is presumed to be using contraceptives, and the Church’s teaching on being open to life is mocked. No homilies are ever preached in which abortion is called a moral evil, and ‘Catholic’ politicians who vote pro-abortion are lauded as good Catholics.

To be truly prolife, we have to acknowledge that fertility, and children, are gifts from God. We will never have 100% control over when babies come. When an ‘unplanned’ pregnancy occurs, we must consider whether it is not a blessing from God that we didn’t know we wanted. It is a matter of trusting God. And when we are tempted to criticize a Christian sister for having ‘too many’ children, we must think twice and thrice before adding our critical words to what may be a difficult time for our sister.

Prayers for Ruth Bader Ginsburg

When SC Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had her recent fall, I was sad to notice a small number of conservatives offending all the other conservatives by expressing negative wishes about Justice Ginsburg’s health. Big fail! We don’t want our political ‘enemies’ to pass away, but to repent and reform. Or at least to cease doing things that cause harm. Remember the ‘Love your enemies’ thing from Matthew 5:44?

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is no spring chicken, and when I see a picture of her, she looks very fragile. We want her to be in good health, but as she is mortal and imperfect, we want something better than just physical health for her. She needs spiritual health. Because we want everyone, even our political or other enemies, even people we don’t much admire, to have a shot at heaven rather than be stuck with the alternative.

The first step in getting good spiritual health is to repent— to turn away from any wrong things we have done, and to be sorry for them, not just for our own sake, but for the sake of not offending God. This is not just for people of a certain political viewpoint, by the way. ALL human beings do wrong things. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God….” (Romans 3:23)

Every person also needs spiritual wisdom to know what is right and therefore pleasing to God, and what is wrong and therefore displeasing to God. And just knowing that God exists and has certain attributes is beyond the knowledge of many people.

And just having spiritual wisdom is not enough if you don’t do anything about it. In the Catholic Church we often talk about the blessed dead as having ‘died in friendship with God.’ That’s not a religious or denominational label. A Christian teaching is that God writes His law in our hearts— which would mean that every single person has some hint of God’s truth— and is free to embrace that truth or turn away from it.

We want Ruth Bader Ginsburg to embrace the Divine wisdom she has access to; to live in friendship with God so she can die that way. As a Supreme Court Justice she has had the power to make decisions which affect the lives and deaths of many people. May God prevent that she make any decisions that prove harmful to others.

Real conservatives don’t want bad things to happen to people like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, but we don’t want her helping to make any harmful decisions that would expand ‘abortion rights’ or take away religious freedoms. Not just because we would disagree with such decisions. We also don’t want such decisions on Justice Ginsburg’s soul or any other Justice’s soul.

Let us pray.

(Here pray the Our Father/Lord’s Prayer and any other prayers for the spiritual and physical benefit of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. For Catholics & open-minded non-Catholics, add a Hail Mary or three.)

Christian, Catholic authors need Bible Knowledge

If you are a Christian and/or Catholic writer or blogger, whether you like it or not, your readers are going to be taking you for a knowledgable authority on Christianity and the Bible. And so it is your job to become more knowledgable— at least a little.

In earlier generations Protestant/Evangelical Christians often taught that good Christians were ones that read the Bible every single day. Good Catholics were seen as those who attended daily Mass every day, if possible, and would hear the assigned Bible readings for that day. But today people think they have so much less time for such activity, and in addition many listen to preachers like Joel Osteen who tend to be very ‘lite’ on actual Bible teaching.

Many Christians do read the Bible— but they find much of the Bible difficult. Some end up reading the same few Bible passages over and over, and others read, but without much comprehension. What can take your Bible reading to the next level is reading the Bible using a good Bible commentary.

I learned about Bible commentaries when I was in high school or just starting college. I was a Presbyterian at the time, but planning on becoming Lutheran. At that time, a Bible commentary series, the Tyndale commentary series, was available for sale in Christian bookstores and my college bookstore. Volumes were available for the New Testament and the Protestant books of the Old Testament. I wanted a full set of those commentaries! I know I got Romans, and Revelations. But I lost those volumes over the years.

Now that I’m Catholic, I want commentaries written by Catholics— but I like the format of the Protestant commentaries I read when younger. Luckily, there are commentaries for that: the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture. So far I only have the one on the Gospel of Matthew.

These commentaries are nice because after every Bible passage it gives parts of the Catholic catechism that clear up points in the reading, and it also tells related passages from other books of the Bible, and if the Bible passage in question is part of the Church’s Mass readings, it tells the Church feast or occasion that the passage is used for.

There are also sections on ‘Reflection and Application—‘ which help prevent your Bible study from being a mere intellectual exercise. Very helpful. The only bad part of this series is that it is new, and only the New Testament books have been covered. Is an Old Testament series in the works? I don’t know, but I’m hoping one is forthcoming.

Both the Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture and the Tyndale Old Testament and New Testament commentaries were written by Bible scholars who teach at seminaries and colleges, or who at least have a comparable level of knowledge. They have deep knowledge of the Greek and Hebrew texts. This is the kind of commentary we need to build our knowledge.

I have a few other commentaries in my collection that don’t measure up to that standard. Some are slim volumes by J. Vernon McGee, an old-time radio Bible preacher. Now, I used to listen to McGee on the radio, but he was not a Bible scholar. And when  you hear what he says about various Bible passages, you can wonder if what he was saying was based on knowledge, or just on a human opinion. For example, McGee believed that the Apostles did the wrong thing when they chose Matthias by lot to replace Judas Iscariot. McGee thought that St. Paul was the man God had chosen to replace Judas, but I don’t know if there is a single Bible passage that would confirm that.

Now, if I were stranded on a desert island with only my Bible and a complete set of McGee commentaries, I would read them, but I would not take McGee’s words as necessarily correct or wise. For that matter, even the best Bible scholars can have unwise or incorrect opinions. But I have more confidence in these two scholarly commentary series, and would prefer to use them since they are available.

Bible knowledge and your writing life: First thing to remember is that you don’t have to use everything you know. Even the most pious of Evangelical publishers does not like to publish books with long church-sermon-scenes and Bible-study-scenes. Such scenes slow down the action and make the work more dull for readers. You want to be planting seeds of faith, not dumping Bible and faith knowledge by the truckload.

  • My reading plan: I am currently reading the Gospel of Matthew with the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture series. After I finish, I’m planning to do an Old Testament book, probably Psalms, using the Tyndale series. (I have a lot of OT commentaries from that series since I found a bunch for sale on Ebay.) After I do that, I’m hoping to afford the Epistle to the Hebrews in the Catholic series.

Fallacy: The Ad Hominem attack

George_Soros_-_Festival_Economia_2012_01_(cropped)In the study of logic, one thing we learn is the logical fallacies. A logical fallacy is a mistaken way of thinking. Logical fallacies have been identified— often in ancient times— so we can learn not to make mistakes like that.
When you hear politicians making a personal attack upon other politicians, this is often an ad hominem attack. This is how it works. When you are discussing something— a proposed political policy— and perhaps you feel you don’t have a strong argument— instead of discussing the issue, you start discussing how evil the guy with the other position is.
Why is that a fallacy? Because bad people can hold a good idea just as good people can have bad ones. So, therefore, if you prove another person is a wife-beating swine, it doesn’t prove that the swine’s tax policy proposal is wrong.
You can talk about the policies or ideas of another person, or you can talk about the person himself. When you respond to a statement about an idea with a condemnation of a person with that idea, you are changing the topic. In a way, you may be admitting that you don’t have any good reason to reject the idea you are discussing, when you change the subject by starting a personal attack.
Another way to do something on the line of an ad hominem attack is to associate the disputed idea with a person who is generally regarded as objectively bad. The most popular bad person to use here is Hitler. The idea is bad, you claim, because Adolf Hitler was in favor of it. Or might have been in favor of it. Or was against it but might have changed his mind.
This is a somewhat indirect ad hominem attack. Instead of directly saying Joe, the guy who made a proposal for a tax reform, is a bad man and so his idea must be bad, you connect the idea to Hitler, and (usually) don’t actually say that Joe is just like Hitler for making the proposal.
The ad hominem attack is a type of logical fallacy which is called a non sequitur. Non sequitur means ‘it does not follow.’ In other words, it’s something that is not the point.
Now, if a human being— perhaps a politician— can be proved to be a swine, a racist, an adulterer, a liar, or corrupt, you can certainly mention such things when you evaluating the man’s character. It’s just that the man’s character does not affect whether his individual policies are good or bad. When talking about the policies— the ideas— the character of an individual who has these ideas is a non sequitur.