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Love Wrested, Lost…By the Giver

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By Abby Kelly

I’ve watched a lot of heartbreak in the last few weeks. It makes me feel almost guilty to say that, because it hasn’t been my loss. No, I’ve felt pain as a ricochet, a blow bounced back, only slightly less forceful. I have watched loss strike violently at the hearts of my friends and I wonder if my comfort is sufficient or cheap.

Two have lost babies before birth. One knows her husband likely won’t be there to kiss her on January 1, 2015. Another lost her best buddy, a pup she’d loved from before she found her own husband. One buried a treasured aunt.

What do you say to loss when you cannot literally sidle up alongside and bear the brunt of it with the loved one pained?

You pray.

Unfortunately, even in Christian society, maybe especially in Christian society, that assurance has lost its power. It comes across as weak, timid, cursory and half-hearted. It’s the same feeling of resignation that births the statement, ‘I’ve done all I can. All that’s left is to pray.’

But this post isn’t intended to resurrect your passion for prayer, your conviction that it is the single most important, effective thing you can do for loved ones in pain, in the throes or on the precipice of loss. (Though it is.) If a renewed respect for prayer is a side effect of my words, may God receive glory.

No, this post is my own reflection on loss. It’s what I hope I recall the next time a beloved is wrenched from my hands.

Job 1:21 says, ‘…’Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither. The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’

I wonder about God taking away. In truth, there’s a vast difference between something being lost or stolen, and something being gently tugged from clutching fingers by a loving Father.

When I was little, I recall my sister getting into the medicine cabinet. After watching Mom dole out vitamin C tablets to her older siblings, she wondered about the orange-colored ‘candy’. Why couldn’t she have some?

So, this little one climbed up on the counter, popped the child-proof cap and downed the rest of the bottle. When Mom found her, she was mauling the final ‘candies’. Hastily, Mom snatched the poison from little fingers. My sister cried.

The pain a child feels when a parent takes something away (even a bottle of vitamins–innately good but harmful for a child at that age) is when tiny fists grip it tightly and sting when the object is finally wrested away.

Though my experience of these recent pains is only an echo, I marvel at the strength bearing up my friends. I pause and take notice of their valor and humble submission to the God of ‘every good and perfect gift’.

It is vastly different to lose something, have it stolen or to understand, even welcome, the loving hands of a Father who takes it away.

Blessed Be the Name of the Lord.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/christianity-articles/love-wrested-lostby-the-giver-7064123.html

About the Author

Abby Kelly is a Christian author and freelance writer living in middle Tennessee with her husband and ‘the world’s best dog’. She is the senior editor at http://www.MyDailyArmor.org, blogs at http://www.predatory-lies.com, and contributes to numerous other Christian blogs, websites and publications. Her book, The Predatory Lies of Anorexia: A Survivor’s Story, is availabe on Amazon and in many other locations and formats.


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Prominent Christians, Past & Present

English: The Ten Commandments, illustration fr...

The Ten Commandments, illustration from a Bible card published by the Providence Lithograph Company (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By PK Christian Writer

While preparing for Sunday school lessons on the Bible, I gave the children a few examples of noted Christians who did not only believe in the Bible, but excelled in the secular sphere as well.

I later published it online, and to my surprise, someone it shared it on another website as well.

Note that all entries in this article may not be considered “orthodox” Christians. Nevertheless, here is an overview of the influence of the Bible, and ode to people who rightfully were the “salt of the earth:

·         The Bible was the first major book to be printed in the world.

·         The Bible is still the highest selling book in the world.

·         The Bible is translated in more than 2000 languages. Almost 93% of the world’s population read the Bible in their mother tongue!

·         The King James Version has helped to develop the English language as well.

·         Scientists such as Isaac Newton, Galileo, Robert Hoyle, Johannes Kepler, Blaise Pascal, and Copernicus were Bible believers.

·         Famous sportspersons and athletes like Shawn Michaels and Eric Liddell have even preached the Bible.

·         Famous actors like Gregory Peck (Oscar Winner) and Johnny Lever are also known for their devotion to faith.

·         Johann Sebastian Bach and Mozart have a timeless influence on both secular and Church music.

·         Florence Nightingale, a Christian, was the founder of modern nursing.

·         William Wilberforce, an evangelical Christian, led the movement which ended African slavery.

·         Top universities like Oxford, Harvard and Yale were started as religious institutions.

·         Christian missionaries have helped local communities in poor countries immensely. Indeed, it is not a coincidence that education and health care came with arrival of missionaries in the third world

·         Many astronauts on both Apollo 8 and 11 were believing Christians. They read the Bible in space, and even performed Eucharist while orbiting the Moon! Infact, an athiest onboard on Apollo 8 actually filed a lawsuit against Christians reading Genesis in the Spacecraft.

Eleanor Roosevelt and United Nations Universal...

Eleanor Roosevelt and United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Spanish text. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This does not go without saying that adherents of other religions have not contributed in anyway to the development of humanity. Nor do I argue that Christians have never acted in way that has harmed mankind.

But history has shown us one thing: Christianity is a religion of revival. There have been dark periods in Church history, but today the nations influenced by Christianity stand on the forefront of modern civilization.

Most importantly, all major atrocities committed by the Church were stopped by the members of the same faith. Whether it was the slaughter of Jews, war with the Turks, or the burning of innocent women, every time it was the Christians themselves who rose against the evils done in the name of God by their own brethren.

This is one, but not the only one, reason that Christianity still holds some relevance today.

About the Author

Suleman, M. John – I am a writer who creates content for clients (and myself as well). I think, read, and surf a lot, but my strong areas of research and writing include religion, history, literature, and online content creation (especially ghostwriting).


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Did I Just Commit Adultery in My Dream?

Dream by Erathic Eric via Flickr

By Mark Virkler

Sexual dreams happen, even to Christians and even to happily married Christians. Sometimes those dreams include someone other than that Christians spouse. So, is it adultery if you dream about having sexual intercourse with someone other than your spouse?

Why do we have sexual dreams?

First we need to understand the reason we are having the sexual dream. There are a few reasons. Some can indicate sin, but others do not. So, why do we have sexual dreams?

1. The Bodys Natural Rhythms

Our bodies go through sexual cycles. This is not just women and their menstrual cycle. Both men and women will have times of increased sexual desire and decreased sexual desire due to hormonal changes in their bodies. What the body goes through physically can be reflected in our dreams. This is natural and not an indication of sin.

2. The Incubus and the Succubus

Demons are real and they can attack in our dreams. Throughout church history and still today there are records of people being attacked by demons we refer to as an incubus (a demon that takes male form) and succubus (a demon that takes female form). This, as well, is not a sexual sin, but rather a spiritual attack.

3. Symbolism

Not everything in a dream is to be taken literally. In fact, our dreams are filled with symbolism. The Bible has numerous examples of people having symbolic dreams which needed interpretation. Sometimes the sexual nature of our dreams has nothing to do with sex. The sexual nature of the dream is actually a symbol for something, possibly the unification of two things in our lives. In this case, since the sexual imagery is just a symbol, it is not sinful.

4. Sin

Dreams are often influenced by our conscious lives. If we are thinking about adulterous activities during the day, its not surprising that we would dream about them at night as well.

We’ve examined several different reasons a married person may have a sexual dream. Three of those reasons are not sinful, but the fourth reason is. If we are reading or viewing pornography or otherwise fantasizing about illicit sexual encounters, then we are likely to dream about that. However, the truth is that we committed adultery long before we had the dream. In Matthew 5:28 Jesus tells us, But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If that is why you are having sexual dreams, then you need to repent and ask for forgiveness. But there is good news. In 1 John 1:9 we are told, If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/christianity-articles/did-i-just-commit-adultery-in-my-dream-6386024.html

About the Author

Mark Virkler is with Christian Leadership University. CLU is an Online Bible College offering Christian education and college degrees including a Christian counseling degree and Masters of Divinity. http://www.cluonline.com


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Sunday Reading

English: Readin the Bible.

Reading the Bible (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mt 24:37-44

Jesus said to his disciples:
“As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. In those days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered the ark. They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away.

So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left. Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.

Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake
and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

Commentary:

It seems almost silly to comment on this. It’s just a fragment of an ancient text written by an anonymous ancient author with an ancient mindset. Right? Well, yes. But I think there’s a bit more to it than that. When I read the Bible, when it really works for me, I don’t suppose that I’m reading a history book. And I don’t suppose that I’m reading a work of pure fantasy either. The Bible is something in-between and more. But I had to open myself to the Bible’s possibilities before realizing just what it could do. Or what God could do to someone while reading it.

Sometimes I get the impression that non-Christians think Christianity isn’t cool. Or they think that all Christians are just brainwashed, narrow-minded goofs. The funny thing is, I find that people who prejudge like this often aren’t so cool themselves. They’re usually pretty conflicted and just as hypocritical as any Bible-thumpin’ Christian.

Not only that. Some folks who prejudge Christians waltz around as if they’re somehow free of all bias and belief. Right… To my mind, these people are fooling themselves, supposing that they’re “objective,” “scientific,” “holistic” or whatever they wish to call it, when really they’re bound up by their own biases and beliefs a lot more than they’re willing to admit.

Having said that, I have to admit that a lot of overly zealous, cherry-picking Bible thumpers do turn me off big time. That’s partly why I hesitated doing this Sunday Reading in the first place. And why I have to question doing it every Sunday.

I think it’s important to educate ourselves about things that matter to us. And the Bible is no exception. But by educating ourselves, this doesn’t mean we should turn off our sense of wonder, our openness to heavenly guidance. That’s not being smart. It’s just being “an educated fool” as the old song goes.

When I speak about education I mean we shouldn’t use the Bible as a history book. It’s far too fuzzy and ancient. And, as far as using it as a source book for moral prohibitions, one should be careful. People who cherry-pick verses from the Bible to “prove” their point are usually ignoring some other passage that could be taken as a counterexample to their alleged proof. The Bible is vast. One part talks about wars in the name of God. Another about turning the other cheek. These seeming contradictions are usually glossed over or massaged into some kind of ancient theological system.

But I digress. The main thing to take away from today’s reading, I think, is in these lines:

For you do not know on which day your Lord will come…. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.

Myself, I don’t know if Jesus is really going to come again in person. But if he does, it’s silly to pretend that we can know when. The important thing is to live as if he’s right here, right now. Because you know what? I believe he is.

—MC


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Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up!

Redondo Beach Jesus Man with Van

Redondo Beach Jesus Man with Van: Marshall Astor

by Anagarika Eddie Rock

“Follow not what wise men say, follow instead in their footsteps.” (Old Zen Saying). Meaning that in order to reach the levels of elevated consciousness that these wise men achieved, you must live the life that they did, or, “Follow in their footsteps” in order to reach those lofty plateaus. Only reading and following their words doesn‘t work.

If you look, not necessarily at what Christ said but the life that he led as depicted in the Bible – He was not a family man. Nor was He a businessman, or a politician, or nationalistic. All of that Old Testament stuff; procreation, obedience, commandments is for a different audience, an audience that was not capable of understanding for themselves and had to be told what to do by an authority figure.

The New Testament, which according to the Gnostic Gospels (conveniently excluded in the few hand-picked Gospels of the Catholic Church that originated Christianity) portrays Christ as leading a simple life and trying to show us how to find peace within. And that we are all Sons of God.

But contemporary Christians do not follow in Christ’s footsteps. Instead, they take selective, self-serving quotes out of the Old Testament that supports their thirst for accumulations of material and psychological things, and open the floodgates to acquisition, ambition, wealth and accumulation.

Old Testament views proclaim the accumulation of stuff as a spiritual pursuit, where just the opposite is true. Accumulations, whether they be large screen TVs, large families, large beliefs, stock portfolios, or large egos, are a burden on the human mind. Accumulation does nothing but induce fear into a mind that is naturally fear free.

I believe that Christ knew and understood this perfectly and tried to indicate by His life how to live, which is simply. But when one conveniently uses the Old Testament (old consciousness without personal insight) to justify their desires, and only uses the New Testament (new consciousness with personal insight), to justify their belief that whatever they do is excused by their faith in Christ, then you have a situation where they are not following in the footsteps of their teacher.

The old argument is that Christ was not here to teach, but simply here to save us. Therefore, we can do pretty much as we please. That’s very convenient, and that’s fine if that is what you want to believe, but I posit that if you look at a life filled with accumulations, including the accumulation of material things, strong opinions, unyielding spiritual views and the super egos that result, you will find a deep level of stress and unhappiness cloaked in a deluded, trance-like belief that all is happiness.

This is Old Testament consciousness with no insight. This is delusion compared to the enlightening ideas of the New testament, according to the Gnostic Gospels. I think that Christ knew that desires and attachments to things that we accumulate eventually cause disappointment and unhappiness, and tried to show us another avenue by the way he lived His life.

The religious wars that have resulted from tight, unyielding views have been anything other than happiness. And the current atmosphere of hatred between Christians, Moslems and Jews, openly expounded upon in the media, will only lead to a nuclear war.

Then we all lose. And I’ll just bet that the religious chicken hawks that are now squawking behind their safe computers that this conflict is our destiny as prophesized in the Bible will be the first to pee their pants when the mushroom clouds rise above their neighborhoods! There is a concept and a reality about proclaiming the desire to join God in heaven!

For Christ’s sake! Christ was trying to teach peace! Don’t you get it? In absence of material things, of strong opinions, of unyielding spiritual views and super egos . . . is love! Yes! Love cannot happen until those other things go away! You cannot love your neighbor as long as you have strong opinions and unyielding views, because you will try to persuade the poor chap to believe your way. Only then will you love your neighbors; when they give in and you can control them.

You know, Christian monks and nuns (not priests and preachers) understand this; they live a life of poverty A Buddhist monk or nun, when they take on the robes, give away their families, careers, relationships and possessions in trade of three simple robes and a begging bowl. Why? Because they understand, at a very deep level, what it’s all about, and it’s all about letting go. This was what Christ was trying to teach us – letting go!

Letting go of everything is the true happiness. This is the basis of true generosity and loving you neighbor – which is a complete happiness that we, as human beings, can achieve because when we hold onto our material things, strong opinions, unyielding spiritual views and the super egos, we are always afraid that things will change. And in fact; everything does change. Material things come and go, our opinions will be challenged endlessly, our spiritual views will change as we mature, and our super egos will diminish as we age and experience the realities of life.

When we hold tight to these things, even such things as nationalism, politics, and religion, we become tight inside; our hearts become cramped, fearful of someone challenging us, another country, another religion, another political view or party.

And we become fearful, which leads to hatred and anger. We become uncertain because deep inside, beyond a conscious level, we really are uncertain about whether or not our opinions are true.

It’s easy for us to give away things that we have no use for anymore, old clothes or old appliances, but not as easy with things that we still treasure.

Only when we no longer treasure the values of the Old Testament which bring us conflict, and discover the real meaning of the New testament, which brings peace, can we throw away those old values without a second thought.

If we can live a simple life, just enough to get by on, we will naturally begin to see the needs of others, and we will help them. And after we have enough money to live modestly, we begin to take care of the needs of others.

And as we relinquish all the stuff that we once thought made us happy but instead made us fearful, angry and hateful, we find ourselves slowly becoming really Christ-like in our actions and lifestyle. We become loving and generous instead of confrontational, striving and ambitious.

This is true generosity, where we follow our hearts and not our heads. This is the true happiness.

Anagarika eddie is a meditation teacher at the Dhammabucha Rocksprings Meditation Retreat Sanctuary www.dhammarocksprings.org and author of A Year to Enlightenment. His 30 years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Thervada Buddhist monk.

He lived at Wat Pah Nanachat under Ajahn Chah, at Wat Pah Baan Taad under Ajahn Maha Boowa, and at Wat Pah Daan Wi Weg under Ajahn Tui. He had been a postulant at Shasta Abbey, a Zen Buddhist monastery in northern California under Roshi Kennett; and a Theravada Buddhist anagarika at both Amaravati Monastery in the UK and Bodhinyanarama Monastery in New Zealand, both under Ajahn Sumedho. The author has meditated with the Korean Master Sueng Sahn Sunim; with Bhante Gunaratana at the Bhavana Society in West Virginia; and with the Tibetan Master Trungpa Rinpoche in Boulder, Colorado. He has also practiced at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, and the Zen Center in San Francisco.

Article Source: Amazines.com


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DVD Review – Diary of a Vampire: The Legacy of Bram Stoker

Title: Diary of a Vampire, the Legacy of Bram Stoker
Genre: Biography, Horror, Supernatural, History
Production Company: Reality Films

Philip Gardiner’s Diary of a Vampire enters into the intriguing world of Bram Stoker, the renowned Irish author of Dracula (1897).

As possible influences on Stoker’s work, the film looks at European history, Freemasonry, Asian mysticism, mythology, the esoterica of Madame Blavatsky, along with her well documented disagreement with the German scholar of religion, Max Müller.

A great deal of visual and narrative emphasis is given to the idea that, in contrast to the scathing account given in the biblical Book of Genesis, the serpent represents sexual energy that may be transmuted into spiritual power—i.e. the kundalini and seven chakras.

Whether or not this kind of subtle, inner power is healthy, hypnotic or perhaps manipulative is left open to debate. Along these lines, we’ve all heard about charismatic individuals who use their personal power to manipulate instead of honorably manage situations and other people.

The film’s treatment of the serpent is further developed by mentioning the Christian belief that, as a symbol of evil, the snake’s power is to be overcome through intercessory prayer and, in centuries past, abject violence.

Dracula, then, is taken as a symbol for the English fear of esoteric cults during a time that saw a resurgence of the ongoing conflict between the ‘Christian West’ and ‘Pagan East.’

To its credit, this thoughtful and well-researched film asks which side Stoker is on—Christian or Pagan. It also asks whether Stoker is merely observing and inadvertently encouraging a nascent consciousness shift that will culminate in a full-fledged Gothic revival in the Victorian era.

Diary of a Vampire is highly recommended for those interested in the ongoing tensions and ambiguities found among Christian and non-Christian beliefs. And this DVD is particularly strong when tracing esoteric, occult and underground influences in the Victorian era.

—MC (revised from 2010/01/11)


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The Dislike of Catholicism: Understanding the Holy in the Catholic Tradition, 5 – Psychological reasons

Debate between Catholics and Oriental Christia...

Debate between Catholics and Oriental Christians in the 13th century, Acre 1290. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1 – Introduction
2 – Theory and method
3 – Theological reasons
4 – Social and political reasons
5 – Psychological reasons
6 – Philosophical and historical reasons and conclusion

Projection onto the Big Bad Institution

Now we turn to those who dislike Catholicism mostly because of their psychological baggage.

Some non-Catholic Christians routinely advocate angry, hateful behavior. And if they see any vice among individual Catholics they arguably project their own anger – and other shortcomings – onto Catholicism as a whole. This type of Christian is self-perceived as genuine while Catholics are seen as invalid.

The self-righteous Christian is often eager to get embroiled in long, heated messaging wars over specific points of doctrine. All too often the ideal of loving in Christ seems more like negative attention seeking—or shall we say, spoiling for a fight.

Non-Catholic Christians are not the only people who project their personal shortcomings onto “Big Religion.” All sorts of people are prone to projection. Projection is a convenient way to ignore personal issues by blaming something outside the self.

Individuals and groups from non-US nations, for instance, often single out the US as the Big Bad Wolf, as if other nations aren’t acting in their own self interest, and perhaps less humanely than the US.

Religion and Spirituality mutually exclusive?

Some New Agers and alleged psychics believe they have paranormal powers or, perhaps, special knowledge of unusual phenomena like ETs and UFOs. These folks typically see religion and spirituality as categorically different. For them, there’s no overlap.

If the psi perceptions of alleged psychics critical of Catholicism were from God, these impressions, insights and intuitions would be accurate and used for the common good. But sometimes we find in people with alleged psi abilities a haughty kind of arrogance. Little or no attempt is made to verify their truth claims, which are sometimes boldly proclaimed through the media. And the possibility of “analytic overlay” remains unchecked. Analytic overlay is a concept used in Remote Viewing but it could apply to psi in general.

Remote viewing also involves the awareness that we can incorrectly interpret incoming data. A misperception can occur when our conscious minds get in the way and our imagination or existing mindset fills in the blanks or jumps to a conclusion about a remote viewing impression. Remote viewers call this “analytic overlay” and good remote viewers take steps to minimize it.¹

In fact, some psychics seem so entrenched in their paranormal, imaginative, deluded or perhaps pretend world that they have no appreciation for Catholic mysticism. The self-important psychic knows best. And that is all. Most mature Catholics, however, don’t flaunt or advertise their spiritual gifts for profit or self-aggrandizement. Along these lines, St. Paul says that any such gifts are utterly meaningless without true, unselfish love.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.  (1 Corinthians 13:1-4).

Fallen Away Catholics

Another consideration is the so-called ‘fallen away’ Catholic who dislikes Catholicism. Assuming fallen away Catholics did not suffer sexual or other kinds of abuse in their past experience with the Church, it seems probable that some – certainly not all – began as cradle Catholics who routinely went to church, possibly coerced by their families.

Due to their personality and early conditioning these people might never have become firmly established in the Holy Spirit. Catholicism just didn’t work for them. And later in life they embrace something else that provides tangible numinous experience and communal support—for example, a non-Catholic religion or a cult.

These individuals might be quite happy with their new path for their entire lives. Memories of Catholicism could conjure up combined feelings of familial coercion, boredom, etc. No wonder they would dislike Catholicism as adults. Quite possibly they’ve never been consciously aware of the Holy within the Church. And if they once did experience the Holy within Catholicism, bad memories and new interests could combine to replace their memory of their positive Catholic experiences.

The parable in Mark 4:2-9 of seeds variously planted on a path, rocks, thorns and good soil comes to mind:

In his teaching he said, “Listen! A farmer went out to plant his seed. He scattered the seed on the ground. Some fell on a path. Birds came and ate it up. Some seed fell on rocky places, where there wasn’t much soil. The plants came up quickly, because the soil wasn’t deep. When the sun came up, it burned the plants. They dried up because they had no roots. Other seed fell among thorns. The thorns grew up and crowded out the plants. So the plants did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It grew up and produced a crop 30, 60, or even 100 times more than the farmer planted.” Then Jesus said, “Those who have ears should listen.”

But let’s not jump to conclusions or unfairly generalize. No doubt many who leave Catholicism continue to experience God in their lives. And many may be on an extremely healthy path, according to God’s plan. Some Catholics might stop going to church simply because the Mass no longer speaks to them or because the demands of work conflict with their desire to attend. In their heart, mind and soul, however, these individuals might still see themselves as true Catholics or, at least, as God-fearing persons.²

¹ Steve Hammons, ‘Remote Viewing’ has Basis in Science, Military Intelligence.

² This article isn’t too concerned with non-Catholic spirituality. Obviously, many non-Catholics, religious or not, enjoy extremely healthy relationships with God. And from a Catholic perspective even those who don’t necessarily believe in God or belong to a particular religion, to include agnostics and atheists, are integral to God’s plan.

Copyright © Michael W. Clark, 2012.

6 – Philosophical and Historical reasons (coming soon)

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