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The Dislike of Catholicism: Understanding the Holy in the Catholic Tradition – 2 – What is truth?

Famous posthumous portrait of Niccolò Machiave...

Posthumous portrait of Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What is truth?

Religion deals with beliefs and practices concerned with truth.

Most religious leaders appear open to interfaith dialogue but many, it seems, aren’t too keen to alter their core beliefs. They’ve invested their entire lives in a given belief system. It not only provides a comfortable living. It also gives them an identity. An importance. And some might say, a bit more sympathetically, a sense of meaning and purpose in their lives.

Unless religious leaders are utter charlatans, like some TV evangelists, their sense of truth keeps them on track. To deviate from their cherished beliefs would be, in most instances, too psychologically and economically disruptive.

So after all the pomp and circumstance that goes along with interfaith conferences has subsided, many religious leaders probably walk away virtually unchanged, each still believing, my way is best.

This might seem cynical. But clearly there’s a politically correct aspect to religion.

In his classic The Prince Niccolò Machiavelli (1469–1527) wrote that good ruling means

It is necessary to know well how to disguise this characteristic, and to be a great pretender and dissembler; and men are so simple, and so subject to present necessities, that he who seeks to deceive will always find someone who will allow himself to be deceived.¹

But what would a Machiavellian ruler have to do with religious leadership? The one works in the world of realpolitik while the other addresses the realm of the spirit. At least, this is the image that many religious leaders tend to portray. In reality, however, we can’t separate religion from the world. Consider the Vatican Bank, a global institution worth about $8 billion.

Not only that. There have been allegations about money laundering in the Vatican.² And other stories about Church payoffs to keep victims of sexual abuse quiet.³ Corruption and sexual abuse happen everywhere, in all corners of human experience. They are not only Catholic concerns. Still, Catholic leaders must publicly manage the weak side of human nature as it manifests within the Church.

During the Pope Benedict years, especially, Catholics heard a lot about homosexuality, abortion and other easy targets. But they almost never heard about the alleged corruption, closet homosexuality, and proven perversions within the Church. This arguably was a kind of lie by omission. But it wasn’t just a lie. It was pointing the finger to individuals less powerful, more vulnerable, and who, for the most part, couldn’t fight back.

Michel Foucault

Michel Foucault (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The French postmodern historian and thinker Michel Foucault wrote volumes about truth and morality. Foucault wasn’t interested in declaring truth or the good moral life. Instead, he was quick to point out how some discourses about truth and morality are highlighted while others are buried. Foucault believed that power, itself, was the key agent.4 Power either makes or breaks a given discourse about truth and morality.

This may be the case with most organizations, religious or not. But we should be careful when talking about power. What exactly is power? Isn’t there a negative, controlling type along with a positive, liberating form of power? Could a given institution, like the Catholic Church, express some combination of these two fundamental types of power?

Introduction « 2 » 3 (coming soon)

1. See XVIII – CONCERNING THE WAY IN WHICH PRINCES SHOULD KEEP FAITH

2. http://onforb.es/1hmS43i

3. http://goo.gl/XSR9rT

4 See Michel Foucault, Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews & Other Writings, 1972-1977, ed. Colin Gordon, trans. C. Gordon et al. New York: Pantheon Books, 1980.

Copyright © Michael Clark, 2014.


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The Dislike of Catholicism: Understanding the Holy in the Catholic Tradition

Jesus le nazaréen by *Katch* via Flickr

Introduction

If you ask someone on the street about the difference between a Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical and Fundamentalist Christian, chances are they’ll smile and admit ignorance.

Back in the 1990s, a fellow student of Religious Studies raised an interesting point in one of those mandatory seminars that everyone attends but secretly wishes they didn’t have to. He said humanities researchers should state their personal biases at the outset of a study instead of presuming they’re objective observers.

These days, the whole idea of objectivity is under fire, and rightly so. Any academic or scientist worth their salt will admit we can’t escape bias. The sciences have emerging concepts like “confirmation bias” and “experimenter bias.” And spiritual persons believing they’ve had a divine revelation should step back and ask if their apparent truth belongs within a given context. Is their revelation merely one that is appropriate for a given moment? It may be powerful. But it is universal? The highest?

This much said, and in keeping with my classmate’s prescription, I’ll tell a bit about myself to illustrate where I’m coming from.

English: Catholic church in Tehran

Catholic church in Tehran (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before converting to Catholicism in 2001, I had little interest in organized religion. Childhood summers were spent enjoying the natural environment of Georgian Bay’s eastern shores. In winters I downhill skied at a resort overlooking the south side of Georgian Bay. So, in a sense, the great outdoors was my religion.

As for religion, itself, I was baptized in the Anglican church but never attended regular services. Weddings and funerals, that was it.

Like many kids, I asked the big questions. Why are we here? What is infinity? I never really got any answers but I kept on asking.

Eventually, I went to university and had summer jobs to help defray the cost. By that time I’d gravitated toward Freud, Jung and sociologists like G. H. Mead and Emile Durkheim. Later, I studied East-West philosophy, New Age and non-Christian religions. In 2001 I became a bona fide Catholic. But a free thinking one.

Since then I’ve met many critics of Catholicism. Instead of ignoring their views, I’ve talked with those honest enough to say what they really think. And from this I have a pretty good picture as to why some folks dislike Catholicism.

yesterdays_6

High Rock Island, Georgian Bay

Before writing this article, I told a Catholic friend about my plan to do so. She suggested I call it “Why people like Catholicism.” But I feel that dislike is the better term, because I’m mostly responding to the critics. And I’m not trying to put a positive spin on the all-too-human side of the Church. God knows, there are many issues in the Catholic Church.

Despite its real and pressing problems, I continue to experience the holy within the Church. And it’s not just because I was brainwashed as a kid. As mentioned, I wasn’t even a Catholic, and as a Protestant, I never went to church. I skied. I swam. But church? Nahhh.

Copyright © Michael Clark, 2014.

Part – 2


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Only 22% Americans know a Hindu

English: Bhagavad Gita, a 19th century manuscr...

Bhagavad Gita, a 19th century manuscript. North India. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Special to Earthpages.org

Only 22 percent Americans know someone who is Hindu, according to a Pew Research Center survey published on July 17.

This number is lowest than any other religion/denomination surveyed.  Catholics rank highest with 87 percent, followed by evangelical Christians, Jews, Atheists, Mormonscial , Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus.

Americans express warmest and more positive feelings towards Jews (average rating 63); followed by Catholics, evangelical Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, etc., the survey adds.

Reacting to this survey findings, Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, urged American Hindus to make outreach efforts towards non-Hindu communities, do charity, invite others to visit Hindu temples/ashrams, offer help to neighbors, be good role models, act for the benefit of all, volunteer, try to stay pure and exhibit warmth and love towards fellow Americans.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, pointed out that ancient Hindu scripture Bhagavad-Gita (Song of the Lord) urged us to act selflessly without any thought of personal profit.

Rajan Zed suggested to each American Hindu to take a vow of undertaking at least one charitable project during this year for less fortunate members of the community. Quoting scriptures, Zed stressed that charity was a duty, which should be undertaken with sympathy and modesty.

Headquartered in Washington DC, “Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world”. Alan Murray is President.

Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. There are about three million Hindus in USA.


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Understanding Bipolar Disorder and Ensuring a Spiritual Approach is in the Treatment Plan

English: Emil Kraepelin

German psychologist Emil Kraeplin first distinguished between manic–depressive illness and “dementia praecox” (now known as schizophrenia) in the late 19th century – via Wikipedia

This article is a good example of how the Catholic Church understands many psychiatric issues. I almost didn’t post it because imo a few points are simplistic. Mental health and illness is a complicated topic, and I think the power of the scientific ethos can have a deleterious effect on some individuals when it is uncritically (or incompetently) applied. Having said that, we must begin the discussion somewhere. And Brother Christopher makes a good stab at it, given the reservations just mentioned. — MC

By Brother Christopher

Once called manic-depressive illness, Bipolar Disorder it affects around 5.7 million American adults or about 2.6% of the population in the United States. According to the literature most people will start to see symptoms of bipolar when they are around 25 years of age or older. Race, creed, culture, gender, social class, and age do not seem to have any bearing on the diagnosis.

According to the study done by the National Institute of Mental Health, more than two thirds of people living with Bipolar Disorder will have a history of bipolar disorder within their family, which typically includes at least one close relative who has the diagnosis or unipolar major depression.

Statistically there are three times as many women over men who experience rapid cycling bipolar. Other studies show that women tend to have more depressive episodes and more mixed episodes than men do.

When it comes to children with bipolar and the teens who present with it, they usually have one parent who has the disorder. Children who have parents with this illness will have a risk of 15% to 30% to be diagnosed with Bipolar. If both of the parents have it then the risk will be increased to 50% to 75%.

So, what are the symptoms of Bipolar? Bipolar Disorder causes serious shifts in mood, energy, thinking, and behavior—from the highs of mania on one extreme, to the lows of severe depression on the other. More than just a fleeting good or bad mood, the cycles of bipolar disorder will last for days, weeks, or months. And unlike ordinary mood swings, the mood changes of bipolar disorder are so intense that they interfere with the ability to function in life’s day to day challenges. The initial symptoms can be subtle and confusing and many people with Bipolar Disorder are often overlooked or misdiagnosed—resulting in unnecessary suffering for all involved. But with proper treatment and support, everyone can lead an abundant and satisfying life.

During a manic episode (the high), a person might impulsively quit their job, charge up huge amounts on credit cards, or feel rested after sleeping only two hours sleep, if that. While during a depressive episode (the low), the same person might be too exhausted to get out of bed, and be full of a self-loathing and hopelessness temperament over being unemployed and in debt or just disgusted with life in general. These cycles of up and then down wreak havoc on not only the individual but the family and friends in his or her circle. And those friends and family, often stressed themselves by the actions of the individual’s disorder, often separate themselves from the afflicted over time. The causes of Bipolar Disorder aren’t completely understood, but it often it appears to be hereditary. A 2000 study in the American Journal of Psychiatry it was reported ‘in those with bipolar disorder, two major areas of the brain contain 30 percent more cells that send signals to other brain cells.’ This report theorizes that ‘the extra signal-sending cells may lead to a kind of overstimulation, which makes sense considering the symptoms of bipolar disorder.’ Other studies suggest that a low or high level of a specific neurotransmitter such as serotonin, norepinephrine or dopamine is the cause of the illness; while other studies suggest that an imbalance of these substances is the real problem, i.e., that a specific level of a neurotransmitter is not as important as its amount in relation to the other neurotransmitters. And still other studies propose that they have identified evidence that a change in the sensitivity of the receptors on nerve cells may be the causing issue. In summation, researchers are quite certain that the neurotransmitter system is at least part of the cause of Bipolar Disorder, but further research is still required to verify the exact underlying cause. What we have determined is that research has found that stressful life events can lead to the onset of symptoms in bipolar disorder. These can range from a death in the family to the loss of a job; from the birth of a child to a move (stress affects each of us differently). The stressful event can be just about anything. Once the disorder is triggered and progresses it takes on a life of its own. Once the cycle begins both the psychological and biological processes take over and keep the illness active.

So to provide an exact cause of the illness the best explanation, according to the current research available, is what is termed the ‘Diathesis-Stress Model.’ (Diathesis meaning’ a physical condition that predisposes a person more than usually susceptible to certain diseases.) The Diathesis-Stress Model states that each person inherits certain physical vulnerabilities to problems that may or may not appear depending on what stresses occur in his or her life. The bottom line in the causality of Bipolar Disorder is something you were born with that lays dormant until something in your life sets it off; at least this is the working model until research finds something new.

There are different faces of bipolar disorder in which the medical community classifies the illness.

Bipolar I Disorder (mania or a mixed episode) – This is the classic manic-depressive form of the illness, characterized by at least one manic episode or mixed episode.

Bipolar II Disorder (hypomania and depression) – In Bipolar II disorder, the person doesn’t experience full-blown manic episodes. Instead, the illness involves episodes of hypomania and severe depression.

Cyclothymia (hypomania and mild depression) – Cyclothymia is a milder form of bipolar disorder that consists of cyclical mood swings. However, the symptoms are less severe than full-blown mania or depression.

The most effective treatment for Bipolar Disorder is a combination of medications and counseling. Physicians often treat the mania symptoms associated with bipolar disorder with one set of medications, and use another set of medications drugs to treat the depression. Specific medications are also used for ‘maintenance care’ to maintain a stable mood over time. And although chemic al (medication) treatment is primary, ongoing counseling is important to help patients, and their families better cope with the disorder.

Today, the recommended treatments for Bipolar Disorder may include medications like lithium, anticonvulsant medications, antipsychotic medications, mood stabilizers, or a combination of any these medications they are prescribed with the goal of tempering moods without igniting the manic episode. It is important to take the medications exactly as prescribed and not to stop them. Should the patient feel the need to stop the medication both the patient and the family together should consult the doctor. Many of these medications have harmful effects if discontinued suddenly and should be tapered under the care of the prescribing physician.

As a pastoral counselor our role is to be involved with the counseling aspect of the treatment. ‘Talk’ therapy is an important part of the treatment for Bipolar Disorder. During therapy those involved, both patient and family can talk over their feelings, thoughts, and behaviors that are causing problems within their lives. It’s easy to feel alone and abandoned by God. But God has not abandoned his faithful. It is the person who abandoned God because of the way their disease performs. It is here that a program which includes not only mind and body approach, but an approach to strengthen the spiritual relationship with God; a renewal of faith must be part of the healing process.

Such a Christian approach to treatment is based on the belief that:

God who created us and loves us (Genesis 1:26)

-Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’

Jesus the Christ who redeems us (Isaiah 53:5)

-But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

The Holy Spirit who guides us (Acts 1:8)

-But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’

Within this approach the goal is to minimize symptoms, help individuals address life problems that they have in developing their lives, and to provide the tools to live a more fulfilling life. While God certainly has the ability to work miracles and cure any malady, He often allows us continue our journey with a ‘thorn in the flesh’ to remind us that He is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:7–9).

2 Corinthians 12:7–9

7 or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

If a Christian had diabetes or cancer, he would seek medical advice from trained doctors, take prescribed medications and treatments, and seek righteous counsel on how to deal with both his physical and emotional symptoms. The same must hold true for a believer with Bipolar Disorder. Because Bipolar Disorder affects the way a person thinks, finding spiritual counsel and spending time in God’s word are essential to reconnect to God. In order to do what is right, we must identify what is True. Bipolar Disorder alters a person’s perceptions of reality, so a strong and consistent foundation in truth is a necessity when dealing with its symptoms. Followers of the Christ should treat the afflicted with Bipolar Disorder with the same Jesus-like compassion they would show toward everyone else.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/mental-health-articles/understanding-bipolar-disorder-and-ensuring-a-spiritual-approach-is-in-the-treatment-plan-7023694.html

About the Author

Brother Christopher Bashaw OFD, RN, M.Div. is a professed Brother in the Franciscans of Divine Mercy, an Old Catholic Tradition within the Independent Catholic Church of the Americas. He is also enrolled in the Independent Catholic Church of the Americas Seminary studying for the permanent deaconate. Brother Christopher has worked as a RN since graduating nursing school in 1984, with nursing experience including drug and alcohol recovery/detox, psychiatric nursing, physical rehabilitation, pain care, military nursing, occupational health, nursing home care, and pediatric/camp nursing. He has brought these skills into the developing his ministry the Mother Mary Society and Franciscan Pastoral Counseling. In addition to holding a M.Div., he holds certificates in Biblical Counseling, Marriage and Family Counseling, and Alcohol & Drug Addiction Recovery (Level 3) with a Christian approach.


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The Three Poisons of Buddhist Psychology or Christian Teachings Left Ignored

Temptation via Tumblr

By Brother Christopher

There are what is known as the three poisons in Buddhism, ignorance, attachment (greed), and hatred. This concept of the three poisons is important whether you consider yourself Buddhist or not, and by understanding this concept of the Three Poisons both your pastoral practice and the client will benefit to wholeness.

Greed, anger and ignorance are treacherous toxins which can build and destroy our life, are noted as the cause of human suffering. Buddhist psychology reveals that not only are these ‘poisons’ the source of our material greed in wanting more and more possessions, and the root cause of all of our harmful illusions of the ego, but they are also painful pollutants, which bring both physical and mental illness.

From the Christian angle, the core definition of greed or attachment defines the term(s) as the obsession with accumulating material goods; a greedy person values material goods more than they value God.

Luke 12:15 New International Version (NIV)

15 Then he said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.’

Greed’s buddies are desire and lust; these appetites and attachments cause us to want to ‘get hold of’ things, and to have more and more of them. Leading to never being satisfied. In essence greed and his entourage separate us from the One True God; Greed is that Golden Calf of the Old Testament.

Hate, simply put from a ‘Jesus perspective’ is when we stop considering another’s welfare. Hate is when we simply don’t care. Hate includes ‘when my thing is more important than your thing’.  Hate kills harmony. Hate kills inspiration. Hate kills others. Hate is suicide.

1 John 2:11 New International Version (NIV)

11 But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.

God&Window

God&Window (Photo credit: Tallapragada)

Hatred’s cohorts are anger, animosity and loathing, which trigger us to reject that which displeases us or infringes upon our ego. Again we create and divide the separation to the Divine as we promote hatred.

Matthew 22:36-40 New International Version (NIV)

36 ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’

37 Jesus replied: ‘‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’

Ignorance, which is ‘not knowing,’ our true nature, sets the path for delusion or in our believing something that is false when it is not or in believing lies in order to support our ego and avoid hurt.

Mathew 7:21-23 New International Version (NIV)

21 ‘Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

With ignorance we breed fear, co-existence with others diminishes, our intolerance of people, ideas, and practices grows. Out of ignorance we have bigotry, lack of understanding, lack of compassion. Ignorance is a choice that can be overcome through acceptance and education, and is something that is continual in our human life- ever evolving. Ignorance does not allow us to live in God’s Light.

Christ and the devil via Tumblr

Countless numbers of us are most likely to be dominated by at least one of the poisons. These poisons fill our lives with suffering, unhappiness and our ability for tolerance and co-existence.  They are the reason we make poor decisions that upset our future.  They are the source of our self-serving and dishonest intentions, which lead us to act both unethically and immorally.  They are the roots of not only our own pain and misery, but the cause of the pain and suffering to those who love us. They bring ruin upon society itself.  Fortunately, there is an antidote, a treatment, a cure to these three poisons.  The practice of loving kindness and compassion and the connection to God, serving God,  is the medicine.

If we become aware of the Three Poisons, their causes and their cures, we can bring about a wonderful metamorphosis to those we serve as well as to our self.  Through the practice of loving kindness and compassion poison is transformed into nectar. And from the nectar evolves true happiness and righteousness that God intended each of us to behold.  When we realize our interdependence on each other, our connectedness to each other and to the Divine Source, as well as our unique oneness, we rid ourselves of the poisons that keep making us sick.  With pastoral counseling guidance can be offered, lessons can be given, but each one us must take the hand reaching out to us, embrace the tools being given to us, and then use those tools. This is God’s way.  As pastoral counselors we must look at how these poisons are affecting our clients… and unlike many other counselor types use the teachings of the Master, Jesus the Christ to teach our clients how to rid themselves of the poisons and bring harmony and wellness back into their life.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/mental-health-articles/the-three-poisons-of-buddhist-psychology-or-christian-teachings-left-ignored-7021341.html

About the Author

Brother Christopher Bashaw OFD, RN, M.Div. is a professed Brother in the Franciscans of Divine Mercy, an Old Catholic Tradition within the Independent Catholic Church of the Americas. He is also enrolled in the Independent Catholic Church of the Americas Seminary studying for the permanent deaconate. Brother Christopher has worked as a RN since graduating nursing school in 1984, with nursing experience including drug and alcohol recovery/detox, psychiatric nursing, physical rehabilitation, pain care, military nursing, occupational health, nursing home care, and pediatric/camp nursing. He has brought these skills into the developing his ministry the Mother Mary Society and Franciscan Pastoral Counseling. In addition to holding a M.Div., he holds certificates in Biblical Counseling, Marriage and Family Counseling, and Alcohol & Drug Addiction Recovery (Level 3) with a Christian approach.  


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Pope Francis could be from several names

St. Francis de Sales, the gentleman saint and ...

St. Francis de Sales, the gentleman saint and patron of St. Francis de Sales High School (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

CNN has mentioned St.  Francis of Assisi and St. Francis Xavier, but there’s another one: St. Francis de Sales.

Francis de Sales, C.O., T.O.M., A.O.F.M. Cap., (French: François de Sales) (21 August 1567 – 28 December 1622) was a Bishop of Geneva and is honored as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_de_Sales

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British Cardinal says priests should marry

Image via Pinterest / BBC

Cardinal Keith O’Brien: ‘Allow priests to marry’ www.bbc.co.uk/…

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