“Faith in Luther: Martin Luther and the Origin of Anthropocentric Religion” by Paul Hacker: A Review

Faith in Luther Book Cover

This book[1] is a re-publication of an older work by Paul Hacker originally published in 1970.  Hacker was in a unique position to write about Martin Luther.  A born-and-raised German Lutheran who spent an “intense immersion in and interrogation of Luther’s theology”[2], and coupled with an extensive study of the patristic theologians, Hacker left Lutheranism and entered the Roman Catholic Church.  He even became friends with Joseph Ratzinger and the two had “frequent intellectual exchanges.”[3]  (There’s a temptation to add the “fly-on-the-wall” cliché here but I’m certain their conversations would be far too over my head.)

Of this book, the subtitle alone is thought-provoking and Hacker immediately jumps into his topic on page one by quoting at length an American version of Martin Luther’s creed.  Here are just a few of the lines of that creed quoted in the book:

“I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my limbs, my reason, and all my senses, and still preserves them….that He provides me richly and daily with all that I need to support this body and life, protects me from all evil.”  “I believe that Jesus Christ…is my Lord, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won [delivered] me from all sins….”  “The Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, sanctified and kept me in the faith.”  “He forgives daily and richly all sins to me and all believers, and at the last day will raise up me and all the dead, and will give to me and to all believers in Christ everlasting life.”[4]

Hacker notes, “The most striking feature of its style is the preponderance of the pronouns of the first person singular (I, me) and the corresponding possessive adjective (my).”[5]

To be sure, the word “I” is necessary to a profession of faith.  After all, Creed comes from the Latin credo which means “I believe.”  But the content of the profession in the Apostle’s and Nicene Creeds do not contain “me” but are rather focused on something else outside the self or as a plural—the Trinity, the Church, salvation for “us” men, or Jesus’ suffering for “our” sake.

This sets up an introductory analysis by the author that moves into the main point of the book.

“Luther’s exposition of the Creed teaches the believer to profess the faith and at the same time to look back at his own self.  This is not just a pastoral suggestion compensated elsewhere by other doctrinal statements.  Rather, Luther intends to present here an exercise in the sort of faith which he conceived to be justifying.  The reference to the ego is not a meditation beside the act of faith but a part, and the essential part, of the act itself.  Within the very act of faith, the ego bends back on itself.  This sort of faith may fittingly be called reflexive.”[6]

But this view of faith was new and not part of the Christian tradition.  Hacker goes on to explain why this reflexive faith is so wrong.

“Pure Christian faith is an act of obedient self-donation.  The believer surrenders himself to the transcendent God in the assent of adoration.  This makes him understand creation and the Church as parts of God’s saving dispensation and assigns to him his place and his shelter in the order of Providence.  Thus he can trust in God the Creator, the Redeemer and Sanctifier, and move spiritually away from himself in love for God.  The more his faith becomes mature through loving cooperation with God’s grace, the less is it possible for him to turn his attention back to himself within the act of faith.”[7]

From here, Hacker begins to present his case that egocentric faith is the root of Luther’s new conception of faith.  Throughout the book Hacker quotes Luther at length.  For example,

“There are statements in which Luther expressly says that it is man’s confidence that constitutes the acceptability or agreeableness of his person to God….Positively, he teaches: ‘If you find your heart confident that the work is agreeable to God then it is good.’  Negatively: If ‘the conscience does not dare to know for certain or be confident that this or that is agreeable to God then it is certain that it does not please him.’  ‘If you think God is wrathful then he is so.’  In summary: ‘As (your heart) feels so Christ is behaving.’  ‘As a man believes so he has.’[8]

“Luther urged time and again that the believer should ‘assert with certitude’ (certo statuere) that his person is agreeable to God.”[9]

“The Galatians’ commentary admonishes: ‘Everyone should accustom himself to assert with certitude that he is in a state of grace….If, however, he feel that he is doubting, he should practice faith and struggle against doubt and strive for certitude.”[10]

This sort of faith takes the objectiveness of Christianity and makes it subjective.  Salvation is based on one’s certitude and feelings.  But this also means doubt essentially becomes a sin!  Hacker notes, “If certitude of salvation, equated with faith, is the means to obtain, or is identical with, salvation, then incertitude must be coterminous with certitude of perdition.”[11]

Throughout the book, Hacker details how Luther’s obstinate clinging to his view of faith affected and warped his views of other doctrines (love, works, sacraments, charity, etc.) and how Luther forces the Bible to align with his view.

Hacker says,

“That the doctrine of reflexive faith is contrary to Scripture is shown by the strained nature of Luther’s arguments.”[12]

“Nowhere in Holy Scripture, neither in the Synoptics, nor in other writings of the New Testament, nor in the Old Testament, can any instance be found of a person obtaining remission of sin because of his firm belief in the sin being forgiven.”[13]

“That an assertive spirituality is alien to the New Testament, becomes clearer still if a passage is considered where it is really an individual who speaks of his salvation.  At Philippians 3:12f Paul says: ‘Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect….I do not consider that I have made it my own.’  The King James Version translated thus: ‘I count not myself to have apprehended.’  This is quite the contrary to fides apprehensiva.  It is the attitude of humble incertitude which has at all times been the mark of devout Christians.”[14]

Is egocentric faith still around today?

It sure seems to be.  Just look around.

If Paul Hacker’s analysis of Luther is correct, then what is Oprah’s “God within” if not a progeny of Luther’s egocentrism?  What is Bruce Jenner and transgenderism (I believe I’m a woman, therefore I am) if not a fulfillment of Luther’s “assert with certitude” and “As a man believes so he has”?  What is relativism (you have your truth and I have my truth) if not a natural development of Luther’s confidence that “For to each one God is as he is believed to be”?[15]

Paul Hacker seems quite aware of all this when he ends the book with “there is more than one movement in the later history of modern thought which is indebted to suggestions that can be traced to Martin Luther.”[16]


[1] “Faith in Luther” by Paul Hacker, Emmaus Academic; Steubenville, Ohio, 2017 (http://www.emmausacademic.com/publications/2017/8/18/faith-in-luther-martin-luther-and-the-origin-of-anthropocentric-religion)

[2] Page viii

[3] Page viii

[4] Page 1-3

[5] Page 3

[6] Page 8

[7] Page 8

[8] Pages 21-22

[9] Page 22

[10] Page 26

[11] Page 49

[12] Page 82

[13] Page 67

[14] Page 77

[15] Page 170

[16] Page 170


Christian Holidays are Pagan? The Chronological Snobbery of Christian Temporal Provincials

One thing I’ve never had much patience with are Christians who refuse to celebrate Christmas and Easter because these celebrations were simply co-opted pagan festivals.  These are fringe fundamentalists “reclaim the gospel” by pontificating on how we should not celebrate those holidays.  I actually met one a couple weeks ago, which prompted this writing.  She said she doesn’t celebrate Christmas because the origins “really had nothing to do with Jesus.”  (Enter Napoleon Dynamite sigh here……)

The “proofs” summoned forth by these peripheral groups are typically just statements assumed to be fact; similarity proves equivalence; and no real historic analysis is brought forth.  “X looks sort of like Y; therefore X = Y and we don’t even need to bother looking at actual evidence.”  Reasoning like this would receive a grade ‘F’ in a college term paper.


via QuickMeme

One video I watched was called “Truth or Tradition.”  The title itself is a statement that assumes a preconceived answer; it immediately sets truth and tradition in opposition, as if tradition is synonymous with “lie.”  But I reject that premise straight out of the gate.  Truth and tradition are not automatic opposites.  Tradition can be truthful and truth can be traditional.  If truth is eternal, it would be traditional because it predates the present.

In another video the host begins by saying, “I want to talk about the origins of Easter.  I want to talk about whether we find this day in Scripture or whether we find this day within pagan worship.”  This echoes the same false dichotomy.  The host assumes if it is not in Scripture it must therefore be pagan lies.  That is simply ridiculous.

The “tradition = lies” mentality is chronological snobbery[1] and temporal provincialism,[2] which is ironic considering how they are trying to use history to ignore history/tradition.

There are two elements to this issue.  1) Is it true that Christians “baptized” pagan holidays? and 2) Does it matter?

Is it true that Christians “baptized” pagan holidays?

Historically, it is highly debatable whether Christians co-opted pagan festivals or whether the festivals even existed before Christianity.

  1. Easter: The Bible itself tells us Jesus was crucified and resurrected during the time of Passover, which even today is celebrated around the March/April period. Even if a pagan festival was celebrated during this time, the dating of our Lords’ Resurrection was still based on the time of the Passover and not based on the pagan festival.
  2. Christmas: Likewise, December 25 probably had no major pagan festival until after Christians had already been assigning that date to the birth of Christ.  And even if there was, the dating of the birth of Christ was connected to the time of His death during Passover and not connected to the pagan festival.  [See Calculating Christmas].
  3. From the history we actually know, when determining these dates, I know of no early Christian who said, “Hey look at these pagan holidays. Let’s co-opt them with a Christian spin.”  The pagan festivals most likely had nothing to do with the dating of Passover nor Christ’s birth.  These dating systems were likely unconnected and circumstantial.
  4. What about the imagery and symbolism? Didn’t all these come from pagan roots?  Even that is debatable.  For example, see Steadfast Lutheran for a host of articles Redeeming Holy Days from Pagan Lies.

    But this question transitions into my next topic very well.

Does it matter?

Even if Christians adopted “pagan” symbolism and baptized it with a Christian spin, I propose it does not matter.  Nothing is inherently evil; it depends on its use that makes something good or bad.  This Youtuber made an excellent analogy of bonfires.  Pagans used bonfires in their worship.  Does that mean hanging out around a bonfire is now “evil” and “pagan”?  The reasonable person says, “Obviously not.”  It’s the belief and use of the bonfire that makes it wrong or right.  That is the obvious nuance that fringe fundamentalists cannot seem to grasp.

Pondering these things recently I may have stumbled across a couple roots to the belief system of the anti-holiday iconoclasts.

  1. A gnostic Manicheism underlies their belief system.  For them, apparently, matter and spirit are in opposition (gnosticism).  They also seem to believe evil is a force that exists of its own nature (Manicheism); as if evil can also name itself “I am”.  But this is not the Christian belief of evil. Everything that exists was created by God (John 1:3) and everything created He called good (Genesis 1:31).  Even Satan himself was originally an angel—something really only known from tradition, by the way.  Therefore, anything evil is a corruption of something originally good.  Evil can only corrupt and destroy something that already exists. Therefore, pagans using imagery in their worship means they were the ones who co-opted and corrupted what was originally good. 

    via Wikimedia Commons

    To say Christians should not celebrate December 25 because pagans worshiped on that day is to say December 25 was originally evil.  To say Christians should not decorate Christmas trees because pagans did is to say evergreen trees with lights are inherently evil.  But something cannot be originally evil.  December 25 and evergreen trees were created by God, still belong to God, and are good.  As Christians, they also belong to us too.

    A star atop a Christmas tree is not evil because pagans used stars.  After all, one of them led wise men to the Holy Family.

  2. These people serve an emasculated god. They apparently believe their god incapable of redeeming a day devoted to paganism.  For them, December 25 is the province of Satan and the season encompassing Easter serves the will of evil.  God is impotent and can do nothing to stop it.  And yet again, this is not the Christian belief. Jesus, at the end of Revelation says, “Behold, I make all things new.”  Paul says eating food offered to idols is not sinful because “an idol has no real existence” (this seems to echo the idea that evil does not exist of its own nature, like its own “I am”).  Our very salvation is a witness to the redeeming power of God; this is what He does!  If we can’t believe that, why are we Christians?

So if holidays like Christmas and Easter were at one time pagan, there is no reason they cannot now be celebrated as Christian Holy Days.  To claim that Christians should not celebrate these days because of their pagan past is to serve a gnostic, Manichean, and emasculated god; the very type of god the pagans themselves worshiped.  In other words, it is to serve a god not found in Judaism, Christianity, or Scripture.  Serve that god if you will, but do not claim him Christian.

Final Note:  The only real “evidence” of Christians co-opting and “baptizing” pagan festivals seems like nothing but similarities that people assume are equivalents.  Like I said above, this reasoning would justify a grade ‘F’ in college.

As for similarities, when one thinks about it, the practices of those pagan festivals would simply be the sorts of practices performed in any religious festival.  Like Thorin told Bilbo Baggins; “If more of us valued food and cheer and song…it would be a merrier world.”  Food, cheer, and song; these things are necessary for festivity.

Of the ancient pagans, G.K. Chesterton said “this sort of heathen is enough of a human being to admit the popular element of pomp and pictures and feasts and fairy-tales. We only mean that Pagans have more sense than Puritans.”

Any religious celebration anywhere around the world will include song and dance, feast and drink, decorations and lights, imagery and symbolism, ritual and solemnity.  It will include sacrifice and thankfulness.  It will include those things that make us human.


[1] Chronological Snobbery: “…the uncritical acceptance of the intellectual climate common to our own age and the assumption that whatever has gone out of date is on that account discredited.” C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy; in other words, someone who believes that the past is inherently inferior to the present.

[2] Temporal Provincials: “…convinced that the present was the only time that mattered, and that anything that had occurred earlier could be safely ignored.”  Michael Crichton, Timeline


Christopher Tolkien resigns as director of Tolkien Estate


This news saddens me.  And with Christopher Tolkien’s resignation, the estate is looking toward a Middle-earth TV series.

I’ve wondered how long Christopher would remain, since he is getting quite old.  Even though it was obviously coming, it’s still sad to see.  Christopher is essentially the last member of the Inklings (the spontaneous literary group of friends formed by C.S. Lewis and included J.R.R. Tolkien) and he is the one most attuned to his father’s writings.  It’s been really cool seeing the material Christopher has published from his father’s notes and manuscripts.  But it concerns me that he will no longer be the main decision maker for things Middle-earth.

For a while I’ve tried to understand what makes J.R.R. Tolkien the master and what makes modern story-telling so lame.  So I’m going to muse a bit.  These thoughts are a mixture, part literary and part cultural, two areas where I’m not really qualified and don’t even fully understand my own thoughts.  But here goes….

Of particular concern to me is the Middle-earth TV series that will most likely emerge.  Honestly, I do not believe Hollywood can pull off an entire series of Tolkien’s world.  I do not believe modern movie-makers understand the spirit of Tolkien because the modern culture does not understand his worldview (I barely do and I love the guy).

Siegfried Slays Fafner

Siegfried Slays Fafner: Wikimedia Commons

Stories stem from the worldview of the author and Tolkien was a medieval and “old fashioned” man who loved epic romance (‘romance’ in the literary sense of a story about the adventures of a knight, hero, etc: Beowulf being an example).  Tolkien’s world has real heroes; noble, courageous, and virtuous, even while being imperfect.  In reviewing The Fellowship of the Ring, C.S. Lewis said, “This book is like lightning from a clear sky….To say that in it heroic romance, gorgeous, eloquent, and unashamed, has suddenly returned at a period almost pathological in its anti-romanticism is inadequate.”

A pathology of anti-romanticism: I feel that sums up modernity and affects it’s story-telling.  I think this is why modern movies feel so flat and unsatisfying and why I believe Middle-earth touches people so powerfully.  Middle-earth hearkens back to the old stories and the old virtues.  I sometimes think the culture is starved for the old ways and doesn’t even know it.

On modernity, professor Peter Kreeft said,[1]

“Every human soul craves ‘the good, the true, and the beautiful’ absolutely and without limit….[but] our artists deliberately prefer ugliness to beauty, our moralists fear goodness more than evil, and our philosophers embrace various forms of post-modernism that reduce truth to ideology or power.”

Along the same lines, professor Thomas Howard said,[2]

“I have sometimes given a class the following list of words: majesty, magnanimity, valor, courtesy, grace, chastity, virginity, nobility, splendor, ceremony, taboo, mystery, purity.  The reaction is quite predictable: a total blank, embarrassed snickers, or incredulity.  The entire list of words lands in their laps like a heap of dead basalt meteorites lately arrived from some other realm.  They don’t know what to do with them.  They have never encountered them.  The words are entirely foreign to the whole set of assumptions that has been written (or should I say televised) into these students’ imaginations for the whole of their lives….I point out to them that this awful list of words names an array of qualities that any Jew, any pagan, and any Christian, up until quite recently in history, would not have only understood, but would have extolled as being close to the center of things.  Their vision of reality presented them with a picture in which these things appeared not only natural, but blissful.”

How many like myself fail at upholding such qualities?  And yet they still speak to a deeper level of ourselves.


Wikimedia Commons: artwork by farmerownia 2003

Modernism is flattening out and de-spiritualizing all of its stories because it is relativizing truth and goodness which are spiritual traits.  It has thrown out God, the source of morality, and now struggles to portray moral argument in stories.  Creatures like vampires, dragons, and ogres are no longer personifications of evil but rather misunderstood or unjustly feared cultures or whatever.  For example, in Underworld vampires are not demons of inherent evil but rather products of a virus that evolved them into vampires and who become protectors of humans by battling the werewolves.  In Twilight the vampires and werewolves are simply lacking love which can be remedied by teenage girls with angst.  In Warcraft orcs are simply another civilization seeking a home.

But such creatures like vampires, dragons, and ogres came into legends and stories for a reason; to give evil a face; to give the protagonist a physical battle; to incarnate the spiritual battle.  Beowulf contra Grendel.  Their use in stories also stem from the belief that evil really does exist, and we either fight it or join it.

And pathological anti-romanticists making a TV series for other pathological anti-romanticists will not do justice to Tolkien’s world with its romantic, “old fashioned” ways and beliefs about good and evil, sacred and profane, friendship and virtue.

Peter Jackson miraculously pulled off The Lord of the Rings movies, for the most part.  But he also had a very specific—and much beloved—story on which to focus.  The lameness Jackson created with The Hobbit shows what LOTR might have been and I think also shows what any more movies or TV shows about Middle-earth will most likely be.

It could get even worse….

The article above had this line: “Christopher was far more interested in preserving legacy than money.”  The movie-making business is a money-making business and it will do what needs to be done for those ends alone.  If Middle-earth must be genetically modified to fit modern tastes, then that’s what the industry will do.  If it must flatten out Ilúvatar, the One, into a being like Odin who is more human than divine, then that’s what it will do.  If making money means turning the orcs into a misunderstood civilization to illustrate the evils of xenophobia, then that’s what it will do.  If worshiping the modern dysfunctional view of sex means turning some characters gay or adding depraved sex scenes, then that’s what it will do.

Perhaps I’m overly paranoid; or perhaps like Aragorn told the hobbits in Bree, “You fear them, but you do not fear them enough, yet.”  But I pray the Tolkien Estate keeps a tight contract on any story changes desired by those with dollar signs for eyes and modernism for a worldview.  (Some changes must happen; book stories differ in style from movie stories.  What I fear is the type of changes that will be made.)

Okay that’s my rambling.  And I could be wrong!  I’m wrong a lot.  Maybe they will pull a Peter Jackson and surprise us with a new epic that touches the heart and inspires those old virtues within our souls and remains faithful to the spirit of Tolkien and Middle-earth.


[1] Peter Kreeft, The Philosophy of Tolkien: The Worldview Behind the Lord of the Rings (https://www.ignatius.com/Products/PHILTO-P/the-philosophy-of-tolkien.aspx)

[2] Thomas Howard, Narnia and Beyond: A Guide to the Fiction of C.S. Lewis (https://www.ignatius.com/Products/NAB-E/narnia-and-beyond.aspx)

Thoughtful Theism: A Book Review

Thoughtful Theism: Redeeming Reason in an Irrational Age by Fr. Andrew Younan
Emmaus Road Publishing, 2017

From atheists who equate belief in God with irrationality to an increasing number of religious people who seem to agree, this is an age of very little reason and dialogue.  Mainstream thought is largely forgetting the rich Christian tradition of the faith and reason relationship.

Thoughtful Theism by Fr. Andrew Younan is an addition to this rich intellectual tradition that I hope reminds people that theism is a rational position to hold.  Believing in a god and becoming religious does not mean we check our brains at the door.

One thing Younan makes clear is that arguing for belief in God is all he attempts to do in the book.  From the beginning he states that this book is not about proving the Christian God but only about proving a God.  All the other questions about who God is are secondary to the first question about whether God even exists.

There are a couple of introductory chapters mainly dealing with some general fallacies and definitions of terms.  He discusses thinking, believing, and opinion and says, “Thinking is hard work….Having an opinion is the easiest thing of all.”

In chapter 3 Fr. Younan dives in and gives the classic proofs of God given by St. Thomas Aquinas in the 13th Century.  Younan says atheists do a terrible job refuting Aquinas’ proofs and adds “I haven’t found a single atheist writer who actually quotes Aquinas.”

Chapter 4 is about the Big Bang and how it “implies the existence of an eternal, immaterial, all-powerful, and intellectual Creator.”  Somehow over time, many theists and atheists came to regard the Big Bang as the province of atheists.  This is a strange position considering the theory was first proposed by George Lemaître, a scientist and Roman Catholic priest, and that even atheists at the time originally did not like the theory because of its theistic implications.

Chapter 5 is about evolution.  He begins with a story of being in a biology class and a fellow student wanted to discuss the topic of evolution vs religion.  The professor said, “The debate about evolution is not a debate between science and religion, and never has been.  It is a debate between atheists and Protestants.”  You can imagine how the rest of the chapter goes. 🙂

Chapter 6 is about the problem of evil.  This is indeed the hardest case for theists to deal with—at least theists who believe in an all-good and loving God.  It is also the case against God used most frequently by atheists.  Unfortunately, the issue is made worse by the fact that it is saturated with emotion.  Pain is such a personal thing and almost impossible to think through rationally, especially if we are experiencing an ocean of it.  But it is an issue that requires an answer.  Younan warns that his words will be blunt.  “I’m going to say them bluntly.  It’s not because I want to be mean, but because I want to deal with evil as an objection to God’s existence, not as something that has hurt you personally.”  In fact, he adds, “I’m also going to speak bluntly because the objection is a blunt one.”  A blunt accusation often requires a blunt answer.  Regardless, I believe Fr. Younan handled this topic quite well.

Chapter 7 is the last and has some general discussion about religion and epistemology.  There is also a great paragraph toward the end that I believe is worth quoting here.

“Oddly enough, the New Atheists and the Roman Catholic Church have something very deep in common.  They both consider heresy (false belief) harmful to humanity.  What they disagree on is what exactly the heresy is.  But for both of these groups, believing something false can have serious consequences—not only in its ‘extremist’ form, or only in exceptional circumstances, but simply in itself.  It is the ‘militant’ atheists who have the most in common with old-school religion.  It’s the watered-down religions and atheisms who would rather not discuss the issue at all, since it’s impolite to make people think.  To my observation, this is the final result of the ‘coexist’ mentality.”

I believe this is a great book for atheists who paint theists as irrational and for the many theists who seem hell-bent on confirming such a caricature.

Bill Nye, Just Another Eugenist Guy

The answers to some questions ought to be so self-evident that even voicing the question should sound strange.

Such a question is the one recently asked by Bill Nye; “Should we have policies that penalize people for having extra kids in the developed world?”  Thankfully some panel members took issue with the question, but there was one who said, “I do think that we should at least consider it.”

Obviously, such a question and statement brought the denouncements that they deserve across the internet and media.  But then some came to his defense with the rationale, “Bill Nye ‘the Science Guy’ did exactly what scientists are supposed to do this week — ask questions — and people are blasting him for it.”

Of course he is being blasted for it.  That is a crazy question that the 20th century alone should prove is a bad idea.  What if Bill Nye had asked, “Do black lives really matter?”  Would anyone have defended him by saying, “Hey, he’s a scientist and they are supposed to ask questions, right?”  Give me a break.  Bill Nye would have been denounced just as much for seriously considering a ridiculous question.  He would not have been allowed to hide behind the excuse “I’m a scientist; I ask questions; stop blasting me.”

It is a right to ask questions, but when you ask something shocking don’t be shocked when people are shocked.  Common-sense people have just as much a right to call “Bull crap!” when it is obviously bull crap.


Breaking down the sentence

“Should we have policies that penalize people…?”  Interesting how he says “we” since he will obviously not be part of the “extra” problem.  Some other human person is an “extra” who will be penalized, but not himself.

Mark Shea and Rod Bennet had an interesting discussion about the concept of “the scapegoat” on Mark Shea’s podcast “Connecting the Dots.”  The people who most want a scapegoat never offer themselves to be one.  Bill Nye even “jokes” that he emits as much carbon making his morning coffee than the average Nigerian uses annually.  Sounds like Nye himself is a major part of the problem.  But obviously it’s better to penalize the unknown masses for existing than to give up coffee, right?

The reality is that Bill Nye’s statement is nothing more than the simple Eugenics we’ve seen in the past.  Some self-appointed enforcer with a self-appointed authority will decide who gets to live, who gets to die, who is never born, and all in the name of science.

G.K. Chesterton’s book Eugenics and Other Evils was written in 1922 and is a glorious denouncement of the Eugenics movement.  Many of his statements can be equally applied to Bill Nye and his ilk.

“Now this is the first weakness in the case of the Eugenists: that they cannot define who is to control whom; they cannot say by what authority they do these things.” (Eugenics)

Indeed!  Mr. Nye, who will be doing this penalizing of who has too many children and by what authority do they operate?

“What is this flying and evanescent authority that vanishes wherever we seek to fix it?  Who is the man who is the lost subject that governs the Eugenist’s verb? In a large number of cases I think we can simply say that the individual Eugenist means himself, and nobody else.” (Eugenics)

This explains Bill Nye’s statement “Should we have policies that penalize [other] people….”  Bill Nye believes he has the authority but no one else does.

“Should we have policies that penalize people for having extra kids…?”  Here I will ask the same questions that have been asked a thousand places and which has received no reasonable answer, and never will.

  • What is considered “extra”? What number is one too many?  What is the magic number of children parents can have and be morally responsible but that number-plus-one is the greatest evil?
  • Will this number ever change or will it be fixed forever? As the situation in the world changes, I’m guessing this magic number will also change.  Will those who had a proper number of children soon have “too many” once the magic number decreases?  Will these fully grown children now be considered “extra” and the parents are criminals today because they followed the law yesterday?
  • What about immigrants? They had as many children as they wished in the undeveloped world but then immigrated to the developed world.  Will these poor people now be penalized for bringing in excess children?
  • What criteria would Bill Nye even use to answer such questions?

Here again let’s listen to Chesterton:

“indeed, the great difficulty I have throughout in considering what are the Eugenist’s proposals is that they do not seem to know themselves.”

Ask a Bill Nye type to nail down specifics on anything practical about their question and you will simply get watered-down and amorphous answers.  Their proposals are not concrete; their solutions will not be concrete.  It is easiest to hide in the ever shifting shadows.

“The Inquisitor violently enforced his creed, because it was unchangeable. The savant enforces it violently because he may change it the next day….If I gave in to the Inquisitors, I should at least know what creed to profess. But even if I yelled out a credo when the Eugenists had me on the rack, I should not know what creed to yell. I might get an extra turn of the rack for confessing to the creed they confessed quite a week ago.” (Eugenics)

“They are quite seriously, as they themselves might say, the first religion to be experimental instead of doctrinal. All other established Churches have been based on somebody having found the truth. This is the first Church that was ever based on not having found it.” (Eugenics)

“There is no reason in Eugenics, but there is plenty of motive. Its supporters are highly vague about its theory, but they will be painfully practical about its practice.” (Eugenics)

What criteria could Bill Nye even use to decide the answers to his question?

“Should we have policies that penalize people for having extra kids in the developed world?”

Bill Nye might not know it, but this seems like a hidden globalist agenda if ever there was one.  Right now Bill Nye does not blame Africans for having many children because he does not blame them for causing environmental problems.  But Africa will not stay that way.  As it stabilizes, becomes more developed, and quality of life increases, the current murderous warlords will be replaced by the Eugenist murderous warlords who need to keep the number of children in check.

As the undeveloped world enters the developed world the developed world will soon become simply the world and the Eugenists will increase their domain to the full.

By What Authority?

As asked above, “What is this flying and evanescent authority that vanishes wherever we seek to fix it?”  Chesterton offers the only basis Nye could use but it’s also the one Nye cannot use.

“In the matter of fundamental human rights, nothing can be above Man, except God. An institution claiming to come from God might have such authority; but this is the last claim the Eugenists are likely to make.” (Eugenics)

Having a mission from God Himself is the only criteria by which Bill Nye could claim the authority to advance his question, but that is the very criteria Bill Nye has thrown out as myth and anti-intellectualism.  And claiming a mission from God to penalize parents for having children is just as laughable as the original question about “extra” children.

Bill Nye has no foundation on which to stand; he has destroyed his base by his own hand.

The Third Day – G.K. Chesterton

On the third day the friends of Christ coming at daybreak to the place found the grave empty and the stone rolled away. In varying ways they realised the new wonder; but even they hardly realised that the world had died in the night. What they were looking at was the first day of a new creation, with a new heaven and a new earth; and in a semblance of the gardener God walked again in the garden, in the cool not of the evening but the dawn.

— G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man, Part II, chapter iii


A Social Religion by Frank Sheed

I have been finishing reading Theology and Sanity by Frank Sheed.  It has been a long chore because he is taking my mind to heights I did not realize we would ascend when first we set out.

The following is a section called “A Social Religion” which I found fascinating enough to post.  Why this section and not others probably more worthy?  Not a clue.  Perhaps because my old Protestant individualist thinking still holds sway in some areas and therefore this section impacted me particularly.  Whatever the reason, it seems a good reminder to Catholics in an individualistic religious culture.



Looking at man, almost the first thing we see about him is that he is not an isolated unit independent of others, but a social being bound to others both by needs which cannot be satisfied and by powers which must remain unused save in relation to other men.  It would be strange if God, having made man social, should ignore the fact in His own personal dealings with man.  To treat man as an isolated independent unit would be as monstrous in religion as it would be in any other department of human life.  It would be to treat man as what he is not.  But the one being who would not be likely to do that is God, who made man what he is, and made him so because that is what He wanted him to be.  A religion which should consist in an individual relation of each person directly to God would be no religion for man.  A social being requires a social religion.  Within that social religion the individual will have his own religious needs and experiences, but they will be within and not external to, or a substitute for, his approach to God and God’s approach to him in union with other men.

Individualist religious theories there have always been, even among Christians.  They have never been able to carry out the full logic of their individualist theory because their nature as men stood too solidly in their way.  Something in religion that have had to get from other men.  So the Bible Christian, despising the priesthood and minimizing the Church, has yet had to fall back upon the Bible, and the Bible, although it is given to us by God, is given through men, the men who under His inspiration wrote it.  A religion wherein the soul finds and maintains a relation with God with no dependence upon men is impossible, and what makes it impossible is the nature God gave man.  The only question then is whether religion shall do its very utmost to elude the social element in man’s nature, accepting only so much as it can by no possibility avoid; or whether it shall wholly accept and glory in the social element as something given by God, something therefore to be used to the uttermost in religion as in the rest of man’s life.  In giving man the religion of the Kingdom, God showed what His own answer is.

Christ did not leave His followers free at their discretion to form their own groups if it seemed good to them or to remain isolated if it seemed good to them.  He banded them into a society, a Church.

“He gave Himself for us, to ransom us from all our guilt, a people set apart for Himself.”

What the Jews had been, the Church now is.  We remember Moses’ words:

“This is the blood of the covenant.”

But now we have Christ’s words:

“This is My blood in the new covenant.”

There is a new covenant and a new people: not just millions of redeemed individuals: a people.  The brotherhood of every Christian with Christ involves the brotherhood of all Christians with one another.  His normal way of giving them His gifts of truth and life was to be through the society: in other words, the whole Christian life was not to be a solitary relation of each soul to Christ, but of each to all in Christ, this is what the Apostles’ Creed means by the Communion of Saints.  In solidarity with other men we fell in Adam and rose again with Christ; in the same solidarity we live the new life.

God can and does give this or that man what he individually needs.  But the great needs of the soul are not peculiar to the individual, but the same for all.  There is the need for the Life which Christ came that we might have more abundantly; and the need for Knowledge—knowledge of what God is and what man is, and of the goal of life and how we are to attain it.  It is through the society that God offers men the spiritual gifts by which these needs common to all are supplied.  The relation of Christians with one another is essential in their relation with Christ.  They are related to Him not one by one, but in virtue of their membership of His Kingdom.

–Frank Sheed, Theology and Sanity; chapter 21 Dispensing the Gifts, section 1

Some Fun Re-Wording a CARM Article

So I decided to have a little fun.  Taking this piece from CARM titled “Why do Roman Catholics believe what they do”, I re-worded the article from a Catholic perspective writing about Protestants instead of vice-versa.[1]  The blocked quotes are CARM’s and the responses are my own.[2]



But, it doesn’t matter what CARM presents to them because the Catholics will continue to believe and defend whatever the Mother Church tells them…whatever the Mother Church tells them…whatever the Mother Church tells them. It is almost a mantra of emotional dedication to the “one true church” that tells them what the truth is. This is, unfortunately, the exact same phenomena I see with Jehovah’s Witnesses when they submit to the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. Whatever the “true church” tells them, they defend . . . because it is the true church.

It doesn’t matter what Catholics present to them because Protestants will continue to believe and defend their own personal interpretation of Scripture… their own personal interpretation of Scripture… their own personal interpretation of Scripture.  It is almost a mantra of emotional dedication to “just follow the Bible as the Holy Spirit guides.”[3]  This is, unfortunately, the exact same phenomena I see with all heretics throughout history when they proclaimed their own fallible interpretation of Scripture as the only true one and everyone else wrong.  For Protestants, especially American Evangelicals like CARM, whatever the “Holy Spirit” tells them, they defend…because the Holy Spirit told them.  That’s how they know they are not mistaken.

In the cults, members always defend whatever the Mother Church tells them. Rationalizations abound and defenses are made, but the clear meaning of scripture is lost to them no matter what true followers of Jesus (not a church) tell them. Why? I believe I know.

1 Cor. 2:14 “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.”

Protestants always defend whatever the whims of their own subjective interpretation tell them.  Rationalizations abound and defenses are made, but the clear meaning of Scripture is lost to them no matter what true followers of Jesus (not of their own opinions) tell them.  Why?  I believe I know.

1 Cor. 2:14 “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.”

Those Catholics who defend the errors of their Mother Church, in contradiction to the Word of God, do so because they are not regenerate. This is what the Scripture tells us. It is as simple as that. They do not have the mind of Christ. They do not hear his voice (John 10:27-28). Instead they are blinded.

2 Cor. 4:4 “in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

Those Protestants who defend the errors of their own opinions, in contradiction to the Word of God, do so because they are not regenerate.  This is what the Scripture tells us.  It is as simple that.  They do not have the mind of Christ.  They do not hear His voice (John 10:27-28).  Instead they are blinded.

2 Cor. 4:4 “in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

As with the Catholics, it is certainly possible to appear Christian, to use Christian words and phrases, to do good deeds in the name of Christ, and to appeal to Christ as Savior and still be lost.

Matt. 7:22-23 Many will say to Me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.”

With Protestants, it is certainly possible to appear Christian, to use Christian words and phrases, to do good deeds in the name of Christ, and to appeal to Christ as Savior and still be lost.

Matt. 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many 1miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”

Notice that Jesus condemns those who appeal to their faith and works for salvation.

Notice that Jesus says those who do the will of the Father will enter the kingdom of heaven.

My heart aches for the Roman Catholics who think and behave like cultists, who defend whatever their Mother Church tells them to believe, who justify the error of works righteousness (CCC 2068, 2027, 2068) [sic], who have given themselves over to a Church rather than to Christ, who conduct themselves in a manner consistent with what their Mother Church tells them to do and believe.

“…no one, relying on his own skill, shall, in matters of faith, and of morals pertaining to the edification of Christian doctrine, wresting the sacred Scripture to his own senses, presume to interpret the said sacred Scripture contrary to that sense which holy mother Church, whose it is to judge of the true sense and interpretation of the holy Scriptures, hath held and doth hold,” (Trent, Session 4, “Decree Concerning the Edition, and the Use, of the Sacred Books”)

My heart aches for Protestants who think and behave like lawless anarchists, whose only authority is their own subjective opinions of Scripture, who justify their error of salvation by faith alone, who have given themselves over to their whims rather than to the Church established by Christ Himself, who conduct themselves according to what their fads tell them to do.

2 Peter 1:20-21 “First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”

The abdication of the self to a church leads to bondage and damnation. But, abdication of the self to Jesus always leads to freedom and salvation.

Matt. 11:28-30 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

The refusal to abdicate the self leads to bondage and damnation.  But, abdication of the self to Jesus working through His Church always leads to freedom and salvation.

Matt. 11:28-30 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

The burden of the Catholics is to believe and follow whatever the Mother Church tells them to believe and do (CCC 862, 883, 896, 939), to merit their own grace (CCC 2010, 2027)[4], and to keep the Ten Commandments and thereby attain salvation (CCC 2068). Such burdens are heavy and unbiblical, yet the Catholics will defend whatever the Mother Church tells them to believe. They follow another besides Christ.

1 Tim. 6:3-4 “If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing…”

The burden of Protestants is to be adrift in a sea of uncertainty.  Since they only follow subjective feelings about what they think the Bible says, they can never rest assured that they are standing on a rock.  They base their doctrines on a fallible interpretation of a few cherry-picked verses from which they interpret the entire Bible.  For every Scripture they use as a defense is another they stumble over.  They can never be unified because unity requires everyone to submit to an authority higher than themselves.  But since each is his own personal pope, there can be no unity and only endless schism.  They believe in “salvation by faith alone” contrary to the clear teaching of Scripture yet must rely on their good works to prove they are truly saved.  Such burdens are heavy and unbiblical, yet Protestants will defend whatever whims their subjective interpretation of the Scripture tells them to believe in defiance of all authority.

They follow a Christ made in their own image.

1 Tim. 6:3-4 “If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing…”


[1] Some things in this post I would never say as a Catholic, such as Protestants are not regenerated.  If they were baptized properly they are Christians.  I retained much of the wording of the original CARM article to show how silly this article sounds because the exact argument can be turned on the accuser. “Catholics are not real Christians” can be refuted with “Protestants are not real Christians.”  See how nothing has been determined and assumptions are the only evidence summoned forth?

Protestants like the ones at CARM probably had a true experience with Jesus.  Awesome!  Unfortunately, they began the race but seem to think the starting and finish lines are the same thing.  Whereas Catholics believe we don’t reach the finish line until death.  Hence the appearance of “salvation by works”.

[2] Note: I started about halfway down the CARM article because the first part is a silly critique about what CARM thinks Catholics probably/maybe/could/should/possibly believe.  For example, the article quotes the Catechism of the Catholic Church to claim that Catholics possibly believe they will become gods.  Meanwhile, they seem to ignore the fact that when the CCC says we will become “partakers of the divine nature” it is quoting directly from 2 Peter 1:4 which says, “by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, that through these you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature.”

[3] CARM’s article How to Interpret the Bible begins with, “The Bible is God’s Word. But some of the interpretations derived from it are not.  There are many cults and Christian groups that use the Bible—claiming their interpretations are correct.  Too often, however, the interpretations not only differ dramatically but are clearly contradictory.  This does not mean that the Bible is a confusing document. Rather, the problem lies in those who interpret and the methods they use.  We need, as best as can be had, the guidance of the Holy Spirit in interpreting God’s Word.”  https://carm.org/how-interpret-bible

[4] Notice these references begin with “no one can merit the initial grace.” So CARM is misrepresenting and simplifying Catholic doctrine and then “refuting” a caricature.

CARM and Revelation 12

queen-of-heavenEvery now and then I find amusement perusing anti-Catholic sites run by Evangelicals.  The intense desire to prove Catholicism wrong so often puts their own position in jeopardy.  The website known as Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry (CARM) is one such site.

When I saw this article[1] by Matt Slick questioning whether Mary was the woman in Revelation 12, I had to check it out.  And, of course, like any good random blogger, I will now bless the world with my thoughts.

The first and shallowest part of the article:

The first part of Slick’s article is not even about Revelation 12 but rather about trying to shock the reader with how much Catholics honor Mary.  Once this Evangelical “mortal sin” is established, Slick then infers that Catholics only see Mary in Revelation 12 due to their devotion to her.  But this is backwards.  Devotion to Mary developed largely because of Revelation 12, not in spite of it.  John Henry Newman said,

“But if all this be so, if it is really the Blessed Virgin whom Scripture represents as clothed with the sun, crowned with the stars of heaven, and with the moon as her footstool, what height of glory may we not attribute to her? and what are we to say of those who, through ignorance, run counter to the voice of Scripture, to the testimony of the Fathers, to the traditions of East and West, and speak and act contemptuously towards her whom her Lord delighteth to honour?”[2]

Scripture itself describes Mary in the highest of terms.  Should not a true “Bible Christian” do likewise?

Furthermore, Slick’s argument cuts both ways.  Since his theology does not allow for a Queen of Heaven, he cannot allow himself to see Mary in Revelation 12.  Boom.  Down.  Owned.  Touché.

This is a classic case of what C.S. Lewis calls “Bulverism”[3] and should not even be included in legitimate dialog.

The second part of the article:

The second part of Slick’s article then attempts to show a contradiction in Catholic theology.  Since the woman in Revelation 12 has pain in childbirth, and since the curse of sin upon women was pain in childbirth, Slick contends that Revelation 12 cannot be about Mary since Catholics believe Mary was without Original Sin.  According to Slick, since Mary felt pain she must therefore have Original Sin.

The errors here are obvious, right?

First, Slick must first pull in a separate Catholic doctrine (Mary’s sinless-ness) in order to make his case.  But since Slick rejects that doctrine too, what is his reason for completely rejecting the woman as Mary?  Since Slick believes Mary had sin, why not believe the woman in pain of childbirth is Mary?  It still fits his own hermeneutics.  One need not be Catholic to believe the woman in Revelation 12 is Mary and believing so need not automatically assume she is without sin.

Catholics believe Mary was sinless based on other Scripture passages, not Revelation 12.  At best, Slick has found a sticky paradox within Catholic teaching.[4]  But he has not proven the woman is not Mary according to even Protestant standards.

Second, the curse of sin was on men too, right?  Genesis 3:17-19 says men will have pain, sweat, and toil.  Death also came to mankind because of sin (Gen. 2:17, Rom. 5:12).  Now, Jesus was without sin, right?  And yet He still felt pain, sweat, toil, and ultimately died, right?  Does that mean Jesus had sin?  If Mary cannot be sinless and feel pain simultaneously, then neither can Jesus.  According to Slick’s hermeneutics, Mary must have had sin because she felt pain, therefore Jesus must also have had sin because He felt pain.

By desperately trying to prove Catholics wrong Matt Slick puts his own beliefs in jeopardy.  It’s a double-standard.

The non-existent third part of the article:

Finally, despite the title question, Slick does not actually answer the question of whether the woman in Revelation 12 is Mary.  His article is not only a failed attempt to prove Catholic doctrine “unbiblical” but he does not even give his own case of who the woman is.[5]  The closest he gets to “proving” the woman is not Mary is by accepting the Catholic doctrine of Mary’s sinless-ness and attempting to show a contradiction.


It is easy to be skeptical but difficult to form something positive; easy to tear down but difficult to build up.  Any negative explanation must be met with an equally satisfying positive explanation, otherwise it is simple protest-antism.  I’ve found that Evangelicals wade at ease within skepticism but are on slippery ground when attempting to build a case for their own beliefs.  And that is one reason why I eventually left Evangelicalism and accepted the Catholic Church.


Disclaimer – As usual, this blog post is just that: a blog post with the personal thoughts of a random blogger.  What is said here is not official doctrine of the Catholic Church.  I am still learning and am very susceptible to error.  Don’t take anything here as Gospel.  Don’t be stupid.  Do your own research and learn for yourself what the Church teaches.

Catholics: if my understanding of Catholic doctrine needs adjustment, please point out my error.

[1] https://carm.org/revelation12mary

[2] http://www.newmanreader.org/works/anglicans/volume2/pusey/section3.html (emphasis is mine) Is it possible to worship Mary in the way we worship God?  Technically, I suppose it is possible.  But then so does the Catholic Church.  That is why it makes a distinction between latria and dulia.  The first is worship given solely to God as God.  The second is honor and devotion given to others of high esteem, such as Mary and the saints.  To worship anyone else other than God as a god, including Mary, is a mortal sin, according to the Catholic Church, and puts one on the road to hell.  On a side note, I have been strongly researching Catholicism for about 3 years now and have been a confirmed Catholic for 1 year, and I have yet to find anyone who worships Mary as a goddess.

[3] See ‘Bulverism’ in God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics. Or watch this YouTube video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DH53uFBOGbw

[4] Indeed, there has developed a Catholic tradition that Mary experienced no pain during childbirth.  However, so far as I know that is not a dogmatic position; it is a small ‘t’ tradition.  Regardless, it is more difficult to deny that the woman in Revelation 12 is Mary than to believe Mary experienced no pain.  Secondly, in Revelation there are likely multiple applications and time periods within a single image and portions of the image will not apply to all applications.  That is why Catholic tradition identifies the woman with Mary, the Church, and Israel.  The pain section could apply to the Church or Israel.  Or, regarding Mary it may represent the sword that would pierce her soul that Simeon prophesied (Lk. 2:35).

[5] Perhaps Slick did so in another article, but this would be a good place to put a link to said article if it exists.

Is the Vatican a waste of money? Would Peter feel comfortable?

cq5dam-web-1280-1280One of the criticisms one often sees from non-Catholics is pointed toward the Vatican and all its “riches.”  Some wonder about all the good the Church could do if it didn’t have all this material stuff.  Other questions I’ve seen wonder about how comfortable Peter would have been in the Vatican.

“Think of all the good they could do”:

First, what good is the Catholic Church not doing?  The whole reason it exists is to spread the gospel to all nations and to ease the suffering of others.  Its whole existence is to feed people both spiritually and physically and it is doing these very things.

Is St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican a waste of money?

Some simple research reveals that the Vatican is actually not that wealthy.  The Vatican is a city-state with annual revenues of about $300 million which often goes into deficit.[i]  They not only maintain a government entity but house art in museums and maintain historical archives.  I believe, as most would, such cultural and historical preservation is important.  So the Vatican is actually doing quite a bit with the meager budget they have, in addition to being the head of a world-wide Church and giving to various charities.

To further the perspective, the Louvre in Paris has an annual budget of about $350 million.[ii]  Is anyone sitting outside the Louvre thinking, “If only they got rid of all this ‘stuff’ they could do so much good.”  The Louvre is doing good by doing exactly what it does; preserving culture and history.  Meanwhile, preserving culture and history is only one function of the Vatican but on the same budget as the Louvre.  So what exactly is being wasted?

To further the perspective even more, Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook and is now worth about $50 billion (yes, that’s with a ‘b’).  He made that by building a “social” networking site which is actually the antithesis of true society.  Some studies even show that it contributes to more depression and loneliness.[iii][iv]

If wealth is being squandered and not used for good, it is not the Vatican holding it back.

Finally, there are the simple, cold pragmatics of economics.  If the Church sold everything and gave it to the poor, it would feed a small fraction of the hungry for a day.  What will they eat tomorrow when they are hungry again?  Solving poverty and hunger requires long-term solutions but most people can only think in the short-term.  Initiatives like PovertyCure focus on long-term solutions to abolishing poverty, but such solutions are “boring” to most modern A.D.D. mentalities.

So what about the Vatican and the comfort of Peter?

Do I believe Peter would feel comfortable in a papal crown or living in the Vatican?  No, actually.  Nor do I believe most popes did or do feel comfortable.  For every Alexander VI there were probably far more like Celestine V.  Many—probably most—popes purposefully wore scratchy shirts underneath the expensive garments to keep themselves from getting too comfortable.

When the Pope Enters St. Peter’s for the coronation ceremony, he is greeted by a monk who blows out a candle—admonishing him not to forget that he is mortal like the rest of humanity.[v]

There is even a room in the Vatican called the Room of Tears.  It is where the newly elected Pope changes into papal vestments.  It is often accompanied by tears as the burden placed upon him is realized.  Because being Pope is actually not fun.

The Vatican and papal crown emerged from a time when people wanted to “see” their ruler and be proud of him.  They wanted him to look and act the part.  They wanted to hold him on a throne and walk through city streets receiving blessings from his hand—the very hand of the Vicar of Christ, ordained by God, and the hand of the direct successor of St. Peter himself to whom Our Lord entrusted the keys of the kingdom (not the keys of the democracy).

Even in our modern “progressive” society we see inklings of such human needs to “see.”  I knew a doctor who drove a fancy car and wore very nice clothes.  He once told me if he didn’t people would not believe he was a good doctor.  If he drove a beat-up truck and wore t-shirts most would not take him seriously and they would find another physician.

It is telling that today the Pope does not typically wear the crown or be carried through the streets on a throne.  His garments are much more undistinguished than in days past.  Why?  Because the culture has largely changed.  The culture no longer cares for such finery and would probably only be distracted by it.

These are the opinions of a random blogger.


Update January 12, 2017:  Mark Zuckerberg and his wife have vowed to donate 99% of their Facebook shares to charity.

[i] CIA World Fact Book, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/vt.html

[ii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louvre#21st_century

[iii] http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2015/04/08/new-study-links-facebook-to-depression-but-now-we-actually-understand-why/#1d4f6e342e65

[iv] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/04/facebook-envy_n_6606824.html

[v] “Liberty or Equality” by Erik Ritter von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, page 185