Tuesday, October 30, 2007
You are right in being concerned in your soul discovering the truth of things. Truth in general is a dangerous thing to our cause and will likely set you back many days or months if not handled properly.
Without a doubt, combating the truth is an exhaustive and monumental task, which I have learned through many follies of my own that ended in more harm to the cause than anticipated. Some lessons are best learned the hard way, but in the dealings of true things this is not one of them, for an encounter with the truth can leave even the strongest of us tired, exhausted, and useless for sometime after the encounter. Even Legion has proven weak against it.
The fact of the matter is that to fight truth is as futile as trying single handedly to change the flow of a river in a moments notice or trying to draw closer the moon to the earth. In other words, it cannot be done. But that does not mean we must surrender and bow to the truth, if such a things happens then we would be no better than those whom we fight.
Here, my young Wormwood, I share with you in ease what I learned through strife and struggle, so as to save you from the anguish of losing souls and to further the cause. Your first task should be aimed at guiding your objective to things that makes him think and feel as if he is discovering truth. There are many unread ‘classics’ that will serve in this measure and at the same time help to promote pride -- as he will feel as if he is reading truth and better than others for reading those unread truths. Second, if your objective does discover a truth, hold it up before him and convince him that the reason he has never heard of this truth is because it isn’t relevant. If it was something relevant it would be known and practiced by all.
Lastly, since truth is what it is, the best technique for guarding against the truth of things is to simply convince your objective to ignore those things which are true. By ignoring what is true your objective will have a sense of bliss as by ignoring there is no engaging and no combat to endure.
Nephew, I share this with you as I learned it the hard way how exhausting, how monumental a task, and how easy it is to loose a soul to the truth if one does not heed to the side of caution when confronted by the truth. Do not be discouraged and continue to fight for the cause.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Our journey begins outside of Washington, DC. I am sitting at my desk, going through my SPAM filtered email, when I see one that catches my eye, “Dreams can cost less repl1ca w4tches from r0lex here”. Sounds interesting I thought, and I could use a new watch. Knowing the harmful effects of opening unsolicited email,I decided to open the email in a controlled virtualized environment. Below is the content of the email:
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Places not appearing: under your bed, in your closet, the basement, and old man Whithers' place.
Places that are appearing: Manchac Swamp, Easter Island, Whinchester Mansion, and others. Click on the link to find more.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Father Greene turned to look at his calendar on his desk. “December 9, 1965” he said to himself as he crossed off the date. It was late and Father Greene was calling it a night. He gathered his brivery, papers, and rosary, locked up his office and the church, and proceeded into the church to recite his night prayers.
The church was old and his steps echoed dully on the wood floor. Several boards creaked as he walked down the center isle. It was fit with a large high altar in the sanctuary, stain glass windows of bible stories and saints, icons, statues of the holy family and St. Michael through out the church.
When he made it to the front pews, he genuflected, made the sign of the cross, slipped into the right pew, and began night prayer. He finished his prayers, and on his way out he saw that the votive candles were missing. Except it wasn’t only the candles but also the three six-foot wide and three-foot high cast-iron stands that held the votive candles.
“Who? How,” Father Greene asked himself as he quickly scanned the church to see if the candles have been moved? “I guess they are being cleaned,” he whispered as he turned toward the vestibule to leave the church.
* * *
The next day Father Greene arrived at the rectory after the morning mass to find the secretary already diligently at work.
“Jessica,” Father Greene asked, “did we have the votive candle stands sent out to be cleaned?”
“No Father” said Jessica.
“That’s strange. After I finished night prayer, I saw that the votive candles, stands and all, were gone.”
“That is strange”
Father Green spent the rest of the day looking for the missing stands and candles. His efforts resulted in nothing; the votive candles and stands were never found, and Father Green would on occasion while passing by where the candles once were would wonder where the stands could have disappeared to.
* * *
Several months later, during his usual routine of night prayer, something strange occurred. While in the middle of prayer, he noticed a movement off to the side, just out of his field of vision. Then he saw it above him. Then again to the side.
Confused he turned around in his seat and saw with great horror, flapping in a silent wind: Banners! They were everywhere. Banners on the wall. Banners hung from the ceiling. Banners covering the icons. There wasn’t a place that a banner was not.
Father shaking in ghast. He fell out of the pew and to the floor. Quickly he grabbed his things and left the church in a great hast without looking back.
Upon closing the door behind him, he leaned against it, took a deep breath and sighed. He was glad to be out of the church.
* * *
On the Following day, Father Greene told Jessica of the incident. She knew nothing about the banners and how they could have gotten there. What was most startling for Jessica was how Father Greene said that before he started night prayer the banners weren’t there. It was only sometime during night prayer when the banners arrived, but Father said there wasn’t anyone with him in the church.
Father removed the banners from the church and threw them in the dumpster out back. Yet, from time to time, the banners would return with no sign of how they got there or who put them there.
* * *
Strange things like what happened with the banners and candles continually occurred in the parish, and in a somewhat alarming rate. It was first that Father Greene found that someone had taken all the old spirituality books out of the library – the ones like “Imitation of Christ”, “Confessions” -- and replaced them with newer books with titles like “Jesus and Me”, “My Buddy Jesus”, “Jesus the Warm Fuzzy.” Next all the icons and statues went missing: not a clue was left to their disappearance. After leaving the church one night and returning for morning mass, Father found the high altar to have been replaced with a wooden table and the gold vessels were also replaced by wooded and glass containers. If things couldn’t get any worse, the stain glass windows with rich images of saints and stories were somehow changed without any indication of how or who had done it. In the place of the 8 windows was now 8 colored glass windows with indecipherable images. Father Greene felt as if one might need a Phd in order to find the meaning of said new colored windows.
* * *
Exactly one year later, Father Greene walked through the church lamenting, “What happened to this church? Why are there bare walls here? Why can’t I keep any icons or statues in the building? People keep stealing them, that’s why.”
He sighed and exited the side door of the church and headed over to the small adoration chapel located about 30 paces from the main church structure. He reached the door and saw that someone had placed a sign on the door that read “Peace Room.” Puzzeling, he thought. He opened the door was stopped in his tracks by what he saw – it was certainly unexpected. The basket of rosary had been replaced with stylish meditation bracelets. The chairs were gone and in their place were bamboo mats. The bibles were replaced with copies of “I’m Fine . . . You’re Fine”. As Father Greene took in all the changes to the adoration chapel he let out in a tremendous yell, “What is going on here? This is the last draw!”
After that Father Greene was determined to catch the individual responsible for these unauthorized changes. He purchased a statue of Our Lade Queen of Victory and placed it in the Church. The statue of Our Lady was sure to be irresistible to this thief. So, he waited. For two weeks Father Greene did not sleep and barely ate.
Then late one night, as he prayed night prayer, he discovered what was behind the disappearances of art and beauty in the church. In a strong gust of wind the doors to the church blew open and in came a might wind. The banners for the Lenten season blew furiously in the church, and the chairs that now replaced the pews rattled against each other. From the back of the church from, through the doors, it appeared in all of its horridly bad plaid polyester. It was a spirit, and it was horrible -- like a soul without its body. The spirit was dead, and in a state that it was not meant to be in in the earthly place. In pain the spirit howled as if it being painfully ripped from its body. The spirit glided over to the statue of Our Lady that Father had placed in the church. Shaking, Father confronted the spirit, “Wh-Who-Who, What are you? Stop! Get away from that statue!”
“Spirit,” the thing moaned.
Father rushed to the holy water font a scoped up a handful of water and began blessing the spirit in hopes to put it to rest. His prayers and blessings had no affect upon the spirit.
Again Father asked, “What do you want here? What have you done with all our things?”
“Vatican”, the spirit groan and wailed.
“What!? What about the Vatican?”
“Two”, the thing shrieked.
“What are you saying? Are you the Spirit of Vatican II? Where is your body? Why are you separated from your texts? What have they done to you?”
The spirit groaned and mummered some more then moved toward Father Greene. Father stepped back and it came closer. Looking through the creature he could see the statue of Our Lady was missing. He also saw that the spirit was translucent and all the things that had been taken from the church -- the icons, statues, candles – were afloat within this hideous monstrosity.
The spirit advanced upon Father Greene. He fell back to the floor in a hard thump. He tried hard to skirt out of the path of the spirit, but it eventually overtook him. With a yell like something from the pits of Hades, the spirit was gone, and so too was Father Greene.
* * *
It has been said that Father Greene was never seen or heard of since. Some think that he ran off and joined the circus or just went crazy. Others say he entered a monastery in South Louisiana. Still it has also been said that Father Greene now wanders the globe after this spirit trying to restore the spirit to its body, the text. But whatever happened to Father Greene, it is uncertain and no one really know what happened to him after his encounter with the Spirit of Vatican II.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
I had about a dozen cups of coffee today and couldn't draw a straight line even if my life depended upon it. I take heart in knowing that the drawing still wouldn't get any better even if I could draw a straight line.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
- AP: Educators were punished in 2,500 sex cases from bizarre to sadistic
- Accused are overwhelmingly male, often popular, recognized for excellence
- Quiet punishments allow many violators move on to other schools
- One in 10 victimized children reports sexual abuse, say academic studies
This is by far one of the funniest books I have read in a long time. I was laughing out loud at some of the metaphysical jokes (this isn't one of them):
The optimist says, "The glass is half full."
The pessimist says, "The glass is half empty."
The rationalist says, "The glass is twice as big as it needs to be."
So LSU wins.
AND . . .
I do believe Louisiana has done one of the smartest things in the history of the state. They elected a Rhodes Scholar as the next governor -- at least that is what the unofficial results are saying. In LA if a candidate gets more than 50% there is no runoff the following November. I hope Bobby has more plans for recovery of the Gulf Coast than Blanco's great plans of using the surplus of money the state received for recovery efforts to build roads in North Louisiana.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Note: Picture is from the "Sugar Bowl Showdown" magazine for the 2003 National Championship Sugar Bowl game. The Picture was taken at the SEC championship game in Atlanta against Georgia. If you are interested I am the one with the sign. My roommates were Elvis, Batman, and the Guy in the cowboy hat. So you can only imagine what Friday and Saturday were like in my apartment -- if we weren't camped out in front of the stadium waiting from the night before so as to get the good seats we were driving to the away games. Elvis is now Married to the girl in the Superman/girl outfit to the left of the picture. Not appearing in picture (becuase the lens wasn't wide enough): LSU Spiderman, Purple and Gold Cow, LSU Speedracer, LSU Uncle Sam, and the numerous other fans wearing more ridiculous costumes and outfits. We were working on an LSU Riddler, but I don't think it ever panned out.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Via Mark Shea
LONDON (AFP) - Regular swearing at work can help boost team spirit among staff, allowing them to express better their feelings as well as develop social relationships, according to a study by researchers.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
HAMMOND, La. (CNS) -- So what's a nice, mild-mannered, 72-year-old Dominican priest doing collecting thousands of dollars in royalty checks for a rock 'n' roll classic that he co-wrote in the 1950s -- a song eventually made famous by Ricky Nelson and one that has furthered the religious mission of the Dominicans?
* * *
Yes, yes, I know what I said, “I took the one less traveled by,/ and that has made all the difference”. Now, eighty or so years later, not one person has bothered to stop and ask me how I knew then that taking the road that wanted wear has made all the difference or any difference for that matter. Because of this people have used my words to justify all sorts of things: taking dance lessons, learning to paint, traveling cross-country. Yet, too often instead of doing what the person should do, the responsible option, people do otherwise and justify it by thinking something like, “I will do this because fewer people have taken this path. I think I read about it once in a poem.”
In fact just yesterday, as I shopped for apples in the produce section of the grocery, the very thing I just mentioned happened. A lady, mildly attractive with brown hair, glasses, and two children hanging off her like monkeys, approached me and thanked me for speaking such words. They inspired her to do something she never though she would do, she told me. She quit her job to follow her passion. Her passion: sculpting. Though she had never any experience in sculpting, she knew it was her passion and livelihood, and that was good enough for her. I told the lady, who happened to be a husbandless mother, that it was nice she was following a lesser traveled road. It is exhilarating being able to follow one’s true passion in life. However, I questioned her, is passion going to feed a hungry mouth, heat a cold house, or clothe a body? It appeared she had not paused to consider if the road was a better road. Passion was all that mattered.
I have encountered this above scenario a number of times varying in content but nearly always the same in form. It is as if the assumption is made that because a road is less traveled that it is a better road to travel. The thought seems never to occur that there might be a very good reason the road is lesser traveled. It could be the case that the road isn't traveled because it leads to certain doom. Perhaps a troll lives at the end of the road. Maybe the road leads the traveler to an unnoticed pit where the traveler might not be able to escape upon falling into it. Then again, it might just lead back to the older trail and is not used because it is a longer trail.
I should not be surprised that thoughts like these never occur in the minds of the people these days. After all, why should they? People are obsessed with new things, and the lesser traveled road appears to be newer for the fact that it looks less worn. Yet, just because something appears one way doesn’t mean that it is. It could likely be the case that the path that wanted wear was really the more traversed but most lightly treaded upon so as to maintain its appearance -- like no trace camping – wouldn’t that be a whimsical discovery. The road everyone thinks is less traversed is really the more worn. So really, by traveling the lesser traveled road nothing extraordinary would have been accomplished, because it is what everyone already does – kind of like all those silly people trying to be themselves and in doing so discover they are just like everyone else. Besides, if what the old saying says is true, that there is nothing new under the sun, then it can be quite the case that this trail is no newer or less worn than the other. I don’t know. I wasn’t there at its making.
Still, people think that by taking the road less traveled that they are doing something new and something good or better. Argh! No where did I every say the road I took was good and fortunate. All I said is that it “made all the difference.” For all anyone knows, except for me and the a few others, the road could have been dangerous, disastrous, and bad. Where each day I might have been confronted by evil and other menacing things like presidential elections, mother in-laws, and cold stale coffee. For all you know the trail could have taken me right up to the top of Mt. Everest or through the fiery mountains of Mordar. The contrary could be true also; where I encountered fields of butterflies filled with rainbows and sunshine. But whichever I encountered I’m not telling.
It annoys me that people think the road I took was good. As if the fact that it being different qualified it being a good choice or my speaking it years later after I was finished with the road is the only sufficient reason for my choice to be good. Since when did difference become a good thing? Difference for difference’s sake: why is this good? Whatever happened to the good things being what is tried, tested, and useful?
To be honest, I don’t even know if my decision was a good decision or a bad decision for that matter. All I know is that I made a choice and traveled down it. Really, any choice can make all the difference. Likewise, the choice might make no difference at all. I don’t know because I can only travel down one road at a time, and I can only reflect back upon the roads that I have traveled.
I’m not saying don’t travel down roads less traveled, I’m just saying be wise about it. Notice, I did not take the lesser traveled road in haste. I’ve seen many lesser traveled roads while on my road less traveled that I wouldn’t recommend. Jumping off a skyscraper is a lesser traveled road and so is being swallowed by a whale or walking on hot glass, but I wouldn’t suggest doing any of them. Be careful in your decision. Realize that I took one road and then the other to see the claim and lay of each before making my choice. Though I didn’t have much time to make my decision and my information on which to base my decision was limited, I used the information I had and continued down a road.
So I implore you, the reader, to be wise in your decisions, and stop using my words to justify the most ignorant things. I am happy people are inspired by my words, but saddened at their abuse.
Monday, October 15, 2007
• 2000+ years of theology in 96 Pages: This mini-textbook features legitimate information on common theological mistakes (nearly all heresies deny the incarnation), and scriptural references (where you get to use your basic knowledge of theology on other), plus sections on Logic, Social Justice, Being and Essence, Fatih and Reason, and other standard Theological fields of study.
• 10 Heroes of Theology Trading Cards: They’re all here—from The 12 Apostles (on 1 card) to John Paul II. All with their portraits and important stats, on baseball-style trading cards.
• 5 Theologies at a Glance Cards: Quick reference information on How to talk to liberal hippies, How to talk to crazy conservatives, How to Determine If an act is morally objectionable, and much more.
• 5 Extra-Credit Course Cards: Information that didn’t fit in our 96-page textbook—but our attorneys claim we have a legal obligation to share with you.
• Mini-Theology Comps: Even Pope Benedict XVI would have a tough time with these tantalizing trivia questions. They come complete with detailed answers on an accordion-folded exam.
• Diploma (one side in Latin, reverse in English): Suitable for framing and showing off.
Other Costumes your child should not wear or go as:
- Ted Kennedy
- A Sister of Perpetual Indulgence
- Dan Brown
- James Carville
- Plan B
- The Spirit of Vatican II
Via Catholic Home and Garden
What is wrong with this first sentence from an Eric Adelson story on ESPN.com? Hint: you need to think culturally.BATON ROUGE, La. -- It's almost time. A rock band blares, and the brats brown, and the sun bakes, and a little boy waits.
I did not even know what a Brat was until I left Louisiana. I remember when I told my friends from the Midwest that I never had a brat before they nearly freaked. They asked, "Then what did you serve at tail gates and BBQ?" I replied, "Simple, boiled crawfish, fried chicken, shrinp or oyster po-boys, red beans and rice, gumbo, Jambalaya, crawfish pie, fried fish, etc..." It would turn out that there is a reason why South Louisianas don't serve brats: they aren't all that good when compared to the regional food from South Louisiana. I think we'll just save the brats for the kiddos and keep the good stuff for the adults.
I did like the answer provided by The Mighty Favog:
Poo yi yi, cher! Me, I didn't know what no brats was until I first went to the Midwest, me!
And dey OK, I reckon, but I likes 'em blackened, yeah! But dey ain't no substiture for a good chicken-and-andouille gumbo or a pot of jambalaya. Or maybe some catfish deep-fat fryin' on the camp stove.
If you fry your hush puppies and fried potatoes in the same grease as the catfish . . . cher, you got some good eatin', there!
Tonnaire, ca c'est bon, oui!
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Friday, October 12, 2007
I sometimes think that if anyone ever wanted to take over America all they would have to do is start by knocking out the cable throughout the nation. Then drive through the suburbs and residential areas of cities with 16 passenger vans fit with loud speakers on the roof with a person saying through the speakers, "We have cable in the van." or "The van will take you to cable." All the men, women, and children will shuffle out of the homes and apartments
in a zombie like fashion
and in one clean act been taken to a secure location and soon after America would be conquered.
DAMASCUS, Syria, Sept. 21 - In the last year or so, Barbie dolls have all but disappeared from the shelves of many toy stores in the Middle East. In their place, there is Fulla, a dark-eyed doll with, as her creator puts it, "Muslim values."I wonder when they will release the Barbie Theologian or Barbie the Catechetical Catechist?
. . .
Young girls here are obsessed with Fulla, and conservative parents who would not dream of buying Barbies for their daughters seem happy to pay for a modest doll who has her own tiny prayer rug, in pink felt. Children who want to dress like their dolls can buy a matching, girl-size prayer rug and cotton scarf set, all in pink.
Rumors are he might be running for president now. Well, he still won't get my vote unless he goes down to New Orleans and rebuilds my house.
From the article:
OSLO, Norway - Former Vice President Al Gore and the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize Friday for their efforts to spread awareness of man-made climate change and lay the foundations for counteracting it.
"I am deeply honored to receive the Nobel Peace Prize," Gore said in a statement. "We face a true planetary emergency. The climate crisis is not a political issue, it is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity."
Monday, October 08, 2007
Medicine Brian Witcombe of Gloucester and Dan Meyer of Antioch, Tennessee, for their report in the British Medical Journal, Sword Swallowing and its Side-Effects
Physics L Mahadevan of Harvard and Enrique Cerda Villablanca of Santiago University, Chile, for studying how sheets become wrinkled
Biology Johanna van Bronswijk of Eindhoven University of Technology, Netherlands, for a census of the mites, insects, spiders, pseudoscorpions, crustaceans, bacteria, algae, ferns and fungi with whom we share our beds
Chemistry Mayu Yamamoto of the International Medical Centre of Japan, for developing a way to extract vanilla essence from cow dung
Linguistics Juant Manuel Toro, Josep Trobalon and Núria Sebastián-Gallés, of Barcelona University, for showing that rats cannot tell the difference between a person speaking Japanese backwards and a person speaking Dutch backwards
Literature Glenda Browne of Australia, for her study of the word "the" and the problems it causes when indexing
Peace The Air Force Wright Laboratory, Dayton, Ohio, for instigating research on a chemical weapon to make enemy soldiers sexually irresistible to each other
Nutrition Brian Wansink of Cornell University, for exploring the seemingly boundless appetites of human beings by feeding them with a self-refilling, bottomless bowl of soup
Economics Kuo Cheng Hsieh, of Taiwan, for patenting a device that catches bank robbers by dropping a net over them
Aviation Patricia V Agostino, Santiago A Plano and Diego A Golombek of Argentina, for the discovery that Viagra aids jetlag recovery in hamsters
Via: The Deacon's Bench
The lawyer asks if the Cajun would like to play a fun game. The Cajun is
tired and just wants to take a nap, so he politely declines and tries
to catch a few winks.
The lawyer persists, that the game is a lot of fun. "I ask you a
question, and if you don't know the answer, you pay me only $5; you ask
me one, and if I don't know the answer, I will pay you $500.
This catches the Cajun's attention and to keep the lawyer quiet, agrees
to play the game.
The lawyer asks the first question. "What's the distance from the earth
to the moon?" The Cajun doesn't say a word, reaches in his pocket
pulls out a five-dollar bill, and hands it to the lawyer.
Now, it's the Cajun's turn. He asks the lawyer, "What goes up a hill
with three legs, and comes down with four?"
The lawyer uses his laptop, searches all references. He uses the
Airphone; he searches the Net and even the Library of Congress. He
sends e-mails to all the smart friends he knows, all to no avail.
After one hour of searching he finally gives up. He wakes up the Cajun
and hands him $500. The Cajun pockets the $500 goes right back to sleep.
The lawyer is going nuts not knowing the answer. He wakes the Cajun up
and asks, "Well, so what goes up a hill with three legs and comes down
The Cajun reaches in his pocket, hands the lawyer $5 and goes back to
Sunday, October 07, 2007
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Some scientists think they have figured out the real job of the troublesome and seemingly useless appendix: It produces and protects good germs for your gut.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Papal Envy – The psychoanalytic concept in which a non-catholic envies Catholic characteristics or capabilities, especially the position of the papacy. It is believed to be a reaction of a non-Catholic during his or her Christian growth upon realization that their church does not have a papacy. This realization is considered by some psycotheobabblist to be a defining moment in the development of a person’s theological, ecclesiastical, and ecumenical understanding.
Upon the discovery that one’s church does not have a papacy, two roads are commonly taken. The first is to seek out a church that has the papacy. The second is to develop a structure and office combined with local churches or comities that strongly resemble the papacy as seen externally from an outsiders point of view.
The latter usually develops anti-catholic biases in theology. Generally, he or she will shove off or try to discredit any bible text, church father, tradition, or teaching that claims the papacy was established by Christ in the person of Peter upon whom Christ is said to have built his church. After Peter's death, his position was filled by a successor and is believe to be unbroken to the current Pope, Benedict XVI.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
• Have I put God first in my daily life?
• Have I formed my day around God, or do I make God fit into my day?
• Do I pray everyday?
• Have I put sports, school, friends, family, or work before time spent with God?
• Have I participated in occult activities: ouija boards, wicca, spells, divination, evil eye, taro cards?
• Have I used God’s name without a purpose (i.e. “Oh my God!”)?
• Have I called upon God’s name with intent to harm others?
• Have I shown disrespect towards God and His Holy Name?
• Have I missed Sunday mass or any Holy Days of obligation since my last confession?
• Have I been patient with my patents and family members?
• Have I been resistant and stand-offish when my patents try helping me or when they ask something of me?
• Do I think my parents are stupid and just don’t get me or understand what I am going through?
• Am I ungrateful towards my parents and family?
• Do I feel as if I am better than everyone around me?
• Do I respect my parents and those people who stand in their place: doctors, teachers, coaches, etc…?
• Have I injured a relationship with my anger, jealousy, pride, gossip, or slander?
• Have I had an abortion or encouraged or assisted others to have one?
• Have I physically harmed another person with malicious intent?
• Have I destroyed or vandalized another person’s property or did not speak up when other did so?
• Have I stolen another person’s property, including illegally downloading music, pens, paper, books, money, credit card, etc…?
• Have I borrowed something without returning it?
• Have I been impure with myself or others by participating in premarital sex, masturbation, oral sex, watching pornography, or touching inappropriately?
• Have I lusted after other people or things?
• Have I used others or have allowed others to use me?
• Have I allowed impure thoughts to entertain me?
• Do I take care of my body by giving it enough sleep, exercise and food?
• Do I abuse my body by using illegal drugs, getting drunk, drinking underage, smoking underage, overeating, under-eating, not exercising, or exercising too much?
• Am I overly concerned with my physical appearance and what I think others think about me?
• Do I waste time by spending too much time on unproductive activities?
• Do I have a tendency to be lazy?
• Have I cheated on tests or copied a friend’s homework and claimed it as my own?
• Have I let others steal on account of my idleness?
• Have I failed to be generous with what God has blessed me?
• Have I forced peer pressure upon others or have given into peer pressure?
• Do I try to build up my family, friends, and neighbors or am I more concerned with tearing them down and with their own faults?
• Am I over critical of others and myself?
• Have I lied since my last confession?
• Have I broken promises deliberately?
• Have I shared a truth about another that should not have been shared?
• Do I gossip about others or fail to speak up when my friends gossip?
• Do I make the false presumption by sinning and think ‘God must forgive me’?
• Do I believe the lie that God won’t forgive me for what I have done or failed to do?
• Do I get jealous of others’ success?
• Am I envious or saddened when something good happens to others?
• Do I want things that I should not have?
• Am I selfish and only care about my own wants and needs?
• Am I not satisfied or unhappy with what I have and have been given?
• Do I use what I have been given appropriately, or do I misuse what I have been given (i.e. reckless driving that endangers you and others is an inappropriate use of a car)?
• Have I tried to make myself a better Christian and better person?
Remember sin is not about breaking the rules. It is about breaking and severing relationships with others and God.
Monday, October 01, 2007
“This is a religious experience,” the lady behind me said with satisfaction. I was unsure if I wanted to turn and ask if her church was accepting members, or to say, “How sad of a religion you must have.” Rightly so, we were at an event that contains everything a religious experience should have. There was an opening song where everyone sang together, which clearly signified the start of something important, namely a procession of people wearing clothing that were certainly out of the ordinary. It appeared to be the case that a certain degree of authority was associated with the strange clothing worn by the men in procession. With the procession came wafting scents that were not the norm for the average American. Most people could only experience these odors here, which was demonstrated by seeing others breath a little deeper upon entering the room or holding one’s nose a little higher, so as to capture as much of the scent as possible.
Upon reaching a raised platform in the center of the room, one older gentleman stepped forward, clearly the emcee or president, and gave a greeting, which the assembly returned to the president in their own way. More music and singing followed. Men cried. Women wept. Hats were removed. Banners were waved. The singing ended almost as abruptly as it began. Another gentleman came forward to read from a book after the second round of singing ended; he was said to speak on behalf of another who was not readily present at the celebration.
After the second man who spoke on behalf of another was finished, the band struck up another song and a second precession was seen making its way to the raised platform. This time, a barrel was carried in by several large men and set on a sturdy table in the center of the elevated platform. There was much gusto from the assembly when the barrel was seen in the procession – even more when the barrel was placed on the table with a heavy thud.
The original president stood before the barrel and said some words to the assembly. A young man handed him a strange round wooden hammer and a bent metal tube. The president carefully lined up the metal tube to a location on the lower end of the barrel. The assembly was quiet. The president gave a few practice swings to make sure he would be on the mark. Finally, on the last swing he hesitated at the apex of the swing just a moment -- the silence thickened – and with one great strike he drove the metal tube into the barrel. The assembly erupted in affirmative cheers, as did the contents of the barrel seeing that it sprayed those in the immediate area.
The president lowered a mug, filled it with some of the barrel’s content, raised it high to the assembly’s mighty cry, and took a drink. The assembly in a moderated disorder processed up the steps and to the barrel where they, following the president’s lead, did likewise – each partaking in the same drink. Some even had a mug in each hand. Of course there was music, dancing, and singing to end the whole celebration.
Despite the similarities to any liturgical celebration, I was not at a liturgical celebration. I was at an early German-Oktober Festival. Yet, there were few things about the festival that were not liturgical. So I do not blame the lady who stood behind me for calling a non-religious ceremony a “religious experience” when all religious experiences prior to this festival followed a similar pattern, a similar ritual. What else was she to think? There was ritual, music sung by the assembly, readings, preaching, a sharing of food, processions, extraordinary sights, sounds, smells, and a communal celebration combined with an element of surprise. Yet, any good liturgist, like my grandmother who has no education past high school, knows that the liturgy is more than the sum of its parts.
The real question that comes to mind is not why did the lady behind me mistake a German cultural celebration for a religious experience? Instead, what has happen to our liturgical celebrations that a German Festival looks more liturgical than the average religious liturgical celebration? Why is there a greater experience, which is other worldly, at this German Festival than in the halls of many American Churches? Has anyone ever wondered that a reason people do not go to church anymore is not because they don’t believe, but because they do not receive any kind of religious experience at church?
If the current liturgical experience found in most American churches must be described only ‘mundane’ will do. That is, liturgies are giving people an earthly experience and not a spiritual or heavenly experience as it is found in both the book of Revelation and in Jewish liturgy (Exodus). If people want an earthly liturgical experience Starbucks on a Sunday morning will suffice just fine as nearly all components of a liturgical experience can be found at the coffee shop.
Still, the lady’s comment is telling. Americans want religious experiences. Yet, in a culture where religious indifference is becoming creed, while religions across the board are becoming valueless commodities, how does a church set itself apart to provide its people with an experience that is something they cannot receive at a Starbucks on a Sunday morning, while lying on the couch watching House, or at a bible study on a Tuesday lunch hour? In other words, how do we make (if we ourselves can) church a supernatural experience? More rightly, how do we, through the means of earthly things, help the assembly see that the mass and liturgy is supernatural?
The reality is that we live in a society that thrives on experiences. I can make an equally good cup of coffee at home as the one I buy at Starbucks or purchase an equally good cup at Burger King, but coffee houses dominate the coffee enterprise. The reason for Starbucks’ dominance is that it provides not just a service to its customers but also an experience and charges four dollars for that experience. Churches might benefit from studying Starbucks and other businesses. However, one thing is certain, churches can no longer be a dumping ground for services – a place only for the drive-through reception of sacraments and graduation from Religious Education. Churches must become palaces of experience. If churches do not provide their congregations with religious experiences the congregations will go seek it and find it in worldly things, worldly places, and worldly experiences.