Showing posts with label salvation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label salvation. Show all posts

Sunday, June 26, 2022

It’s Iimi! Nadir

Mid-season finale…

Post Comic Comments: Normally, I give a lede for the comic on the title page. I did not want to do that this time because I felt I would unavoidably give away the plot if I did so.

The comic is titled Nadir because the mid-season finale marks the lowest point in the yearlong plot I’ve been working on. The story will continue of course.

Nina’s death was envisioned since I began the Paula’s Abortion Arc [Season 2 Episodes 27-35]. The tricky part was how to avoid either rushing it or dragging it out for so long that it became boring. You, the reader, will have to decide whether I succeeded or failed.

See you in July. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

It’s Iimi! Will I Ever Awaken From The Endless Nightmare?

In the double length conclusion to the Paula’s Abortion storyline, we see Paula wracked with guilt and despair, clearly mentally unstable. When she contacts Iimi through Kismetta, Iimi rushes over, determined to help. When Paula runs off, her friends must work together, learning that they can’t do everything alone. Sometimes, as hard as it feels, they need to step back and rely on God’s help for what they cannot do.

This isn’t the end of Paula’s story of course. But, at this time, this is all Iimi and her friends can act upon.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Dealing With the “In the Real World” Brush-Off

You, son of man—I have appointed you as a sentinel for the house of Israel; when you hear a word from my mouth, you must warn them for me. When I say to the wicked, “You wicked, you must die,” and you do not speak up to warn the wicked about their ways, they shall die in their sins, but I will hold you responsible for their blood. If, however, you warn the wicked to turn from their ways, but they do not, then they shall die in their sins, but you shall save your life.  (Ezekiel 33: 7-9)

* * *

Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age. (Matthew 28:19-20)

The other day, I wound up involved in a combox argument with a woman who was using all the old arguments certain Catholics use to downplay abortion when they want to vote for the candidate who is pro-abortion and do not want to delve into whether that choice is compatible with the Catholic teaching. As the dialogue devolved, I heard the typical “the pro-abortion candidate is more pro-life” and “personally opposed but I can’t impose my beliefs on others.” When I pointed out that the Catholic obligation to go out the world to teach the nations about what they need to do to be saved (John 14:15 figures in prominently there), she came up with an even older argument, that ran, “That might be the ideal, but the Church needs to consider the real world.” That is nothing more than a repackaged version of “the Church needs to get with the times.”

This is not an advocacy article trying to tell you how to vote, however. Rather I see this attitude as a warning sign that we have work to do in evangelizing the world… starting with ourselves.

The fact that some Catholics continue to fall back on those arguments shows that they either do not grasp or do not care to follow the Church teaching on areas that would go against their preferences. But, before we get cocky, we should remember that this sort of thinking also exists on the other side of the political factionalism. Consider how many times we hear that the Pope grew up in a socialist country so he does not understand how economics work in the real world (currently this is directed against Pope Francis, but this argument was also used against St. John Paul II)  and it is unreasonable to follow his uninformed opinions. How many times do we hear Catholics say that the Church is out of touch in condemning torture because these times are more dangerous than they realize?

This is the same argument as the first, only applied to a different disobedience. Regardless of faction, this argument effectively denies that the Church can teach in a binding manner if we dislike that teaching. Their personal political preferences come first and if they dissent against a teaching or fear their political preferences will be harmed by a teaching against them, they define the Church teaching as out of touch with the real world.

The problem is, we cannot pretend this is compatible with the Catholic Faith. The Great Commission makes clear that we have a mission. We must let the people of the world know about the need for salvation and the need to reject what goes against that salvation. The fact that people will continue to try to do evil things and be harmed if they are blocked if those things are barred by law is not an excuse for us to avoid saying what is right and explaining why it is vital to follow these teachings.

“The Real World” that everyone appeals to against the Church is not the reality of what is right. “The Real World” is identified in Scripture as “the flesh,” “the world,” “the carnal,” etc. It is the attitude that puts self-gratification first and reacts hostilely to anything that threatens it directly or indirectly. While it would be wrong to interpret it in a gnostic sense—that matter is evil—Our Lord did warn us, The world cannot hate you, but it hates me, because I testify to it that its works are evil (John 7:7).

We are called, as part of the Great Commission to let people know they need salvation and what they need to do to be saved. Peter Kreeft described it this way:

Christianity is the “good news” indeed, but this good news makes no sense unless you believe the bad news first. The good news is like the offer of a free heart transplant operation from God; but if you don’t think your heart is desperately diseased, you won’t see that offer as good news at all. As Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mk 2:17). He said this to the Pharisees, the self-righteous fools who thought they were just good people who didn’t need to repent of sin. The good news of forgiveness is really good news only because the bad news of sin is really bad news. The greater the problem, the greater the solution. The deeper the valley, the higher the mountain. (Peter J. Kreeft, Because God Is Real: Sixteen Questions, One Answer.Ignatius Press, 2008, 209).

Those who say the Church teaching does not work in the real world are like those Pharisees who thought they did not need to repent. We do need to realize we need to repent and turn away from the values of “the real world” and teach others to do the same. Otherwise, we should remember the words of God to Ezekiel warning him of what should happen if we stay silent.



(†) One of the bizarre behaviors of the critics is, the same Catholics who say that the Pope’s words about the abuse of capitalism are more applicable to socialism also say we must oppose him because he is a socialist. Well, which is it?

Sunday, July 26, 2020

It’s Iimi! A Dialogue on Misconceptions

Another comic involving a misconceptions about Catholic beliefs. When Saul misunderstands Catholic teaching on free will, Iimi clarifies and asks why don’t people ask what we believe before assuming that accusations are true.

Friday, July 17, 2015

To Hell With You? Not If We Can Help It!

The doctrine of Hell is one that is easily distorted into portraying Christians as gleefully awaiting non-Christians to be sent there, while thinking that we have a free pass where what we do doesn’t matter. While it is true that some Christians have so missed the point about what they are called to be that they do think this way, it is an aberration which perverts what Christianity really believes.

Far from being a cruel belief invented by a vindictive people in a way that contradicts the concept of a loving God, the concept of Hell recognizes that:

  • God created us with an immortal soul
  • God created us with free will to choose Him or to reject Him
  • If we misuse free will in a way which rejects God, our immortal soul has to exist somewhere that is the logical result of that rejection

So, Hell is not an issue of “don’t steal that cookie or you’re going to burn forever!” It’s a reality of, “If you choose to reject God, that decision has eternal consequences if you do not change your ways.” Peter Kreeft describes four major errors which leads people to think Hell shows that Christians are judgmental: 

Those who have been hurt by the misuse of this doctrine often seem to think that those who believe in hell:

1. want hell to exist (as if doctrines were not facts but desires);

2. want humans to go there (as if Christians could want what the Devil wants!);

3. self-righteously exclude themselves from its dangers (as if Christians were Pharisees instead of saved sinners); and

4. coolly and detachedly discuss this ultimate holocaust and horror (as if missionaries were making maps of the ocean instead of throwing out the life boat).

All four assumptions are false, of course—in fact, hellish distortions. If Christians follow Christ, they will give anything to save humanity from hell, because that is what Christ did.

The third cavil above is the most devastating, if true—but it is not. Christian teachers have repeatedly made the point C. S. Lewis makes to conclude his chapter on hell in The Problem of Pain: “In all our discussions of hell we should keep steadily before our eyes the possible damnation, not of our enemies nor our friends ... but of ourselves. This chapter is not about your wife or son, nor about Nero or Judas Iscariot; it is about you and me.” That is the proper use of the doctrine of hell.

[Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli, Handbook of Christian Apologetics: Hundreds of Answers to Crucial Questions (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994), 309.]

So, when we stand up and say something is morally wrong, we’re not acting out of hatred of sinners any more than the person who puts a “Danger! Bridge Out Ahead!” acts out of hatred for motorists. Indeed, if the distortions Kreeft listed were true, we wouldn’t be warning people against sin. We’d be watching with smug satisfaction and take bets on how each individual was going to crash and burn. But such behavior is actually monstrous in the eyes of Christians who understand their faith.

The fact is, the Church did not invent Hell. Jesus is the one who warns us about Hell and warns us to turn back to Him. If we’re faithful to Him, we will carry out that mission on informing people of the danger and trying to turn them to the one who can save them—even if it makes us unpopular in the process. So when you call Christians “hateful,” ask yourself this: If we really hated you, would we go through all the discomfort of being hated by letting you know what we believe would benefit you? Does that make any sense? Something to keep in mind.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

TFTD: Do People Understand What the Church is For?

He then addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else. 10 “Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity—greedy, dishonest, adulterous—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’ 13 But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ 14 I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18: 9-14)

When one reads the comments on blogs and on Facebook, it’s easy to feel despair at the state of the average Catholic. I’m not talking about the trolls here. I’m talking about those people who think they are faithful Catholics, but their comments show a fundamental lack of understanding on why the Church exists. They get upset that the Church does something they think should not be done, or does not do what they think should be done.

But I think this is to miss the point of what the Church exists for. The Church is the ordinary means Christ chose to bring His salvation to all the world. That salvation is for both the people who know they need salvation and those who do not know they need salvation.

The people who know they need salvation are those who recognize their sinfulness but do not necessarily know how to come back to the Church. The ones who don’t recognize their sinfulness either think they are without sin or else think that their sin is nothing to worry about in comparison to them. Because they don’t see their own sin, they don’t seek to come back to Christ.

I believe Pope Francis is frequently speaking to this second group. It’s easy to focus on the notorious sinners out there, like the Catholic politicians who take a public stand in opposition to the Church. But if we use their behavior as the norm for what is sinful, we’re going to be exalting ourselves and denouncing others—which is exactly what Christ said not to do.

So, I would say that when people are upset that the Pope doesn’t speak out more on topic X, perhaps they should be asking themselves whether he is following Christ’s example and speaking out to them.

Perhaps he isn’t neglecting other sins. Maybe he’s being the vessel of Christ to reach out to us to make sure we don’t become pharisaical.

At least that’s what I think when I read his sermons.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

To Whom Will You Go?

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I’ve always thought that this pre-WWII comic by David Low could make a good analogy of the Catholic Church and the dangers around it. Replace “Collective Security Policy” with “The Catholic Church” and “Cut-throat Arms Race” with “Error” and you have a pretty good idea of what the real situation is.

There are some Catholics who feel disillusioned by the way things are going in the Church. The idea was that with another Pope like St. John Paul II or Benedict XVI, we’d be triumphantly purging the Church of error and impressing people with our doctrinal purity. The pontificate of Pope Francis seems like a delay or a mistake at best, and a danger at worst.

That kind of approach is something I think is based on a mindset of “We’re going to go in the wrong direction, and maybe sink.” But I am struck by a certain account in the Gospel of Mark:

35 On that day, as evening drew on, he said to them, “Let us cross to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. 38 Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!”* The wind ceased and there was great calm. 40 Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” 41 They were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?” (Mark 4:35-41)

If we fear that the Catholic Church is dangerously adrift, then we need to remember that Jesus is with us in the boat and will not permit us to sink. But that doesn’t mean that He will spare us from the discomfort of the wind and the waves. The real danger is in assuming that Jesus has left us in the hands of an incompetent helmsman and our choices are to either replace him, abandon the boat, or sink.

But, if we have faith in Christ, we can know that He will not let us sink.

I was struck by some words of Cardinal Burke (probably taken out of context—the original source of the article [RNS] has a bad habit of misreporting Catholic news. So take what is said with a large grain of salt):

“Many have expressed their concerns to me. At this very critical moment, there is a strong sense that the church is like a ship without a rudder,” Burke said.

“Now, it is more important than ever to examine our faith, have a healthy spiritual leader and give powerful witness to the faith.”

Yes, some people are feeling uncomfortable. The ship of the Church is being buffeted about by a storm of error. But the storm is not made by the Pope. As I see it, the attacks against the Church are changing. After decades of the “The Pope is a rigid bureaucrat and legalistic pharisee” attacks on the Popes, it seems that they are trying to push a different approach. Now they’re trying to take any similarity they can find and try to make it seem that the Pope is actually siding with them. That’s nonsense if you get your info from reliable sources (Vatican Information Service and ZENIT are two good ones to get what was said in context). But if you go by the mainstream media or Catholic sources who believe their claims are accurately reported, the belief is more understandable.

Yes, we have had bad Popes in our history (John XII, Alexander VI and Benedict IX come to mind here) where the Holy Spirit’s main role appears to have been protecting the whole Church from sinking. And, yes, we have had eras in the Church where a majority of people seemed swept up in error. But the thing that should be remembered by those who fear Pope Francis is a bad Pope, is that no Pope has ever taught error when teaching as Pope. Even Pope John XXII who personally believed an error, never taught it as a formal teaching.

But here’s the thing. Pope Francis is not a John XII, Alexander VI or a Benedict IX. He’s not even a John XXII. He’s a man who deeply loves God and has sought to be faithful to Him in the role as priest, bishop, and now Pope. Reading his writings and addresses from before and during his pontificate, it is clear that he has no intention to change Church teaching from saying “X is forbidden” to “X is allowed.” Instead, his approach is one that takes the Church teaching as a given and then ask, “how do we reach out to those who have fallen astray?"

Yes, we have had some cardinals come out and say things that seem to be examples of wanting to change “Not X” to “X is OK.” But to assume that the Pope will promote such views seems very much like the Spotlight fallacy. Just because Cardinal Kasper appears to support a position on the Eucharist that seems incompatible with Catholic teaching doesn’t mean Pope Francis does.

Personally, I have a growing suspicion that what is going on here is actually the devil’s attack on faithful Catholics to lead them into suspicion of the Pope and doubting or forgetting Christ’s promises. If the devil can get these people to jump ship, that serves his purposes. But even if they don’t, if he can undermine their faith in the successor of St. Peter and lead them to think they know better than the magisterium who teach with Christ’s authority, that’s good for him too.

Remember, not all who followed Christ remained with Him. Remember John, chapter 6:

60 Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” 61 Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you? 62 What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?* 63 It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh* is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. 65 And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.” 


66 As a result of this, many [of] his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. 67 Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” 70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you twelve? Yet is not one of you a devil?” 71 He was referring to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot; it was he who would betray him, one of the Twelve. (John 6:60-71)

Even though Christ had taught them Himself, some decided that their judgment was better. Peter’s response shows the grace of God. If Jesus is the Holy One of God, it makes no sense to go elsewhere.

Now the Pope isn’t Jesus of course. But as he is the Vicar of Christ with the authority given to him to bind and loose, we have an important thing to remember. Unless we would claim that Jesus will bind and loose error in Heaven (blasphemy), we need to have faith that Jesus will not permit the Pope to teach something as permissible if it would endanger souls of those who follow it.

So, for the people complaining of the attacks made against the Church, they should realize that it’s not something that a different Pope would have prevented. It’s something we need to ride out with faith in Christ. Otherwise,where else are you going to go?