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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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The Dislike of Catholicism: Understanding the Holy in the Catholic Tradition, 3 – Theological reasons

Soufrière Catholic Church

Soufrière Catholic Church (Photo credit: waywuwei)

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

Sociologists and philosophers, alike, say the Catholic religion generates ‘truth claims.’ The idea of a truth claim gives us a convenient way to talk about a given set of beliefs without necessarily advocating or dismissing them. Non-Catholics often say that Catholic truth claims are not eternally given but, rather, culturally and politically motivated truths—that is, relative truths.

Infallibility

The notion of Papal infallibility is probably one of the biggest reasons why people dislike Catholicism. But educated Catholics realize that only two Catholic truth claims are deemed infallible while most others are less authoritative, and merely disseminated as general guidelines for good moral behavior. Many lay-critics of Catholicism don’t realize that not every Catholic teaching is forwarded as an eternal, unchangeable truth. Instead, Catholic theologians say the Church’s teachings have various levels of certainty. And Papal infallibility only applies to these two dogmas:

  1. The Blessed Virgin Mary’s sinless birth (Dogma of the Immaculate Conception)
  2. Her bodily assumption into heaven (Dogma of The Assumption)

All other Catholic teachings are not infallible.¹ So it’s just wrong to say that all Catholic teachings are infallible when they’re not. True, some Catholics say that infallibility includes all of the Church’s teachings. But these fanatics – and that’s what they are – are a vocal minority that the majority of sober scholars, Catholic or not, would readily dismiss.

Papal Authority

Some non-Catholics say that even two (allegedly) infallible declarations are good reason to dislike Catholicism, a religion that endorses Popes who, from the critics’ perspective,  are mere pretenders to the throne of truth. This is variation on the above reason why people dislike Catholicism. Some just don’t believe in any kind of Papal infallibility whatsoever. And the fact that only two dogmas are deemed infallible makes no difference. These people want none of it.

Christianity as a Stereotype

A third theological reason why people dislike Catholicism is based on a misunderstanding and, arguably, unclear thinking.

Many use ‘Christianity’ as  a blanket term for all different types of Churches, organizations and individuals calling themselves as Christians. If I say “I’m a Catholic,” sometimes it’s like waving a red flag in front of people who dislike Evangelicals, Fundamentalists and Televangelists, and who really don’t know the difference between these forms of Christianity and Catholicism. It’s just one big amorphous dislike for all things Christian.

However, differences among Christian denominations (and even among individual believers within each denomination) are tremendous. In Ireland, for instance, Protestant and Catholic youth gangs engage in violent clashes. And as CNN’s Anderson Cooper once pointed out, some Christians align themselves with the Green movement while others are out to make greenbacks.

Falling Short of the Ideal

People also dislike Catholicism because of churchgoers who inevitably fall short of the Christian ideal. Some Catholics sharply criticize and even denounce one another. Mean-minded gossip and talking behind another person’s back is not unheard of in Catholicism, even though Jesus tells us to love one another. As in most spheres of humanity, pettiness and hypocrisy are alive and unwell in Catholicism, which is a turn-off for many.

Private and Public

With a little probing it sometimes becomes clear that a given Catholic’s private beliefs are quite different from his or her apparent beliefs as publicly expressed at the Mass. After all, human beings are social animals and usually don’t want to rock the boat. But arguably just as important, most Catholics believe in the necessity of liturgical structure. Structure affords unity and continuity amidst inevitable points of disagreement.

So Catholics with their own private beliefs are not necessarily just toeing the line at the Mass. They could very well be respecting the need for structure while perhaps secretly believing in (and doing) their own thing—e.g. using birth control, engaging in homosexual relations, having affairs or premarital sex.

On the need for structure, learned Catholics point out that even the very first Christian disciples disagreed on certain issues (Acts 15: 1-21; Galatians 2: 11-14; 1 Corinthians 3: 1-23). So there’s a need, they believe, to outline a clear set of teachings to carry the Catholic ship of salvation through all storms of disagreement.

Judging a Book by its Cover

Another reason people dislike Catholicism has to do with their perception of what it means to be ‘alive in the spirit.’ Some non-Catholics say the Catholic Mass looks or feels quite dead. Catholic parishioners apparently behave like robotic victims of a Roman cult, just going through the motions, not really thinking nor believing in what they profess during the Mass.

With few outward signs of ecstatic joviality or other emotional displays, critics wrongly assume that apparently wooden Catholics are spiritually dry and unhappy. These critics really have no appreciation for the possibility that Catholics may experience a very high and delicate kind of interior sweetness, healing and joy.

By way of contrast, Catholics, especially contemplative ones, may see non-Catholic forms of easily recognizable joy as commendable and perhaps even of Christ. But these manifestations of the spirit are usually subjected to the analysis of discernment, which tries to determine if they’re possibly of a different interior quality than the sacramental graces afforded through the Catholic Church.

Catholics are instructed to respect other religions. And the late Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said that she “loved” all religions while being “in love” with her own. Along these lines, the existence of worldwide Catholic Missions speaks volumes. Why would Catholic missions exist if the majority of Catholics did not believe that their religion was best? And would not many of these Catholics base that belief on how their religion made them feel?

Jesus as another teacher

Another theological reason many non-Catholics dislike Catholicism is that Christ is taken as just another teacher, not unlike the Buddha or the Hindu god Krishna. This critique often comes from contemporary Gnostics. For them it’s a mistake to insist on Jesus’ uniqueness. And the highly structured Catholic liturgy just gets in the way of their supposedly genuine, gnostic spiritual experiences.

In response, the Vatican recognizes any partial truths in non-Christian religious figures and their associated teachings but firmly disagrees with the belief that Buddha or Krishna, for example, are equal to Christ. It’s as simple as that and no politically correct or sugar-coated interfaith dialogue will change this fundamental point of disagreement. From a Catholic standpoint, it’s possible that some non-Catholic critics have yet to reach a point in their spiritual formation to appreciate the fullness of Christ as experienced through the sacraments.

Mary and the Saints

Another theological reason why people dislike Catholicism relates to Saint Mary and the rest of the Catholic saints. Misinformed Christians often dispute the supposed Catholic ‘paganism’ of praying for the saints’ intercession.

As outlined at earthpages.ca:

Some Protestants and Fundamentalists complain that Catholics have got it all wrong because, so they say, Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and Man. But these very same people freely ask their friends and associates to “pray for them” which to any thinking person is clearly a request for intercession.

The Catholic reply to this contradictory Protestant and Fundamentalist charge is that if you can ask souls on Earth to pray for you, why not souls in heaven?²

Catholicism clearly outlines its stand on intercession. Asking the saints to pray for us does not elevate them to the status of gods and goddesses, as so many non-Catholic detractors will say. This is just theologically wrong and represents another groundless reason for disliking Catholicism.

¹ Dr. Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Rockford, Illinois: 1974 [1960], Tan Books, pp. 8-10 » See online discussion at socrates58.blogspot.com

² See in context.

Copyright © Michael W. Clark, 2012.

4 – Social and political reasons


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Famous American band produces groundbreaking album on Vedas and presents to Hindu leader Zed

The only Sanskrit rock band of the world, “Shanti Shanti”, has come up with a groundbreaking new album on the oldest scripture of the world Vedas, and they presented the first copy to the acclaimed Hindu leader Rajan Zed in Nevada (USA) today.

This CD titled “Veda”, produced by Ganesha Publishing BMI, contains shlokas (hymns) from all four Vedas-Rig-veda, Sama-veda, Atharva-veda, and Yajur-veda, some as old as 1,500 BCE. With extensive research and selection process, it took one year to complete this CD, which is their sixth album.

“Shanti Shanti” consists of American sisters Andrea Devi Forman and Sara Anjuli Forman, their younger brother Micah Mahdev Forman and father Robert Henry Forman. The Formans have never been to India, never had a Sanskrit teacher, and still Andrea and Sara can spontaneously chant, read, write, and translate Sanskrit since they were nine and seven years old respectively.

Devoted Catholics, Andrea and Sara have also translated and chanted Ave Maria, a traditional Christian prayer, in Sanskrit. They have toured various countries and various states of USA giving packed Sanskrit musical performances. They have been in various television shows, mentioned in various publications, and extensively written about. 

“We fell in love with the overwhelming stillness, exuberance, clarity and amplified sensory awareness of Sanskrit poetry which we have attempted to share with you in this record,” Andrea and Sara stress.

Youth, specially of India and those living in foreign countries coming from India background, need to learn from the example of Forman sisters who have mastered ancient language Sanskrit (also known as “the language of the gods”) and are promoting it in a big way on their own inspiration, living in a non-Sanskrit environment and coming from a heritage with no Sanskrit background, Zed points out.

Andrea and Sara thanked Rajan Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, for blessings, encouragement and guidance, while presenting him with the first copy of the new album.

Details of the picture attached: Andrea (left) and Sara Forman (right), lead singers of Shanti Shanti rock band, presenting the first copy of their new album “Veda” to acclaimed Hindu leader Rajan Zed (center) in Nevada (USA).

Picture by: Roger Bowen Weld


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Catholics to have serious dialogue with Hindus and others

Autumnal Faith

by paulbence photography (CCL)

Special to Earthpages.org

Catholics will have a serious dialogue with Hindus and other religions during the Annual Diocesan Conference of Reno (Nevada, USA) Catholic Diocese in January next.

According to Father Charles T. Durante, Pastor of Saint Teresa of Avila Catholic Church of Carson City, it will include dialogue among leaders of Muslim, Protestant, Hindu, and Jewish faiths besides Catholic. The Conference will be held on January ninth and tenth.

Invited religious figures include acclaimed Hindu leader Rajan Zed, Reverend V. James Jeffrey, Rabbi Myra Soifer and Imam Abdul Rahim Barghouthi, besides Durante.

Catholic Diocese of Reno, established in 1931, covers 70,852 square miles spread in eleven Nevada counties in addition to Carson City. Before 1840, this area was under the Diocese of Sonora in Mexico, when it came under the jurisdiction of Bishop Moreno of California. Current Bishop is Most Reverend Randolph R. Calvo.

Rajan Zed has congratulated the Catholic Diocese efforts in reaching out to other religions for a dialogue. “Religion is a complex component of human life. Dialogue helps us to see interconnections and interdependencies between religions and even similarities in doctrines,” Zed adds.


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Demand of public apology by Paramount and Viacom gathering storm

             Hindu Leader Rajan Zed

Special to Earthpages.org

Calls for public apology by Paramount Pictures and its parent Viacom on issues surrounding “The Love Guru” movie, started by acclaimed Hindu leader Rajan Zed, are gathering strength.

Now Nevada Clergy Association (NCA); which is composed of Christian (various denominations), Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Bahai, Native American, etc., clergy; has joined others in asking for Paramount/Viacom apology.

In a statement issued in Nevada (USA) today, Right Reverend Gene Savoy Jr., NCA President, said, “We urge Paramount and Viacom to issue a general public apology over this issue, which will help heal the wounds of seemingly perturbed one-billion-strong Hindu community”.

Rev. Savoy, who is himself a well-respected Head Bishop of International Community of Christ, said in this statement, “We are dismayed at Paramount Pictures, presenter of this movie, for backtracking on their promise to protesting Hindu brothers-sisters, which we consider an unethical business practice. We are also appalled at Paramount and its parent Viacom for utter disregard of the protesters and making no efforts to have an open civilized dialogue with protesters and arrive at a mutually acceptable solution, who have been stressing that this movie denigrates Hinduism and Hindu concepts.”

He congratulated Rajan Zed “for his successful campaign” against the Hollywood movie “The Love Guru” and thanked him for “effectively creating this debate and awakening the future filmmakers to be more sensitive to the feelings of devotees when dealing with faith related issues”.

Rev. Savoy further said, “We at NCA are for free speech as much as anybody else if not more. But faith is something sacred and attempts at debasing it hurt the adherents. Hollywood should be more conscious while handling faith related subjects, as cinema is a very mighty medium and it can create stereotypes in the minds of some audiences. We are concerned that today it is Hinduism; tomorrow Hollywood might attempt to mock another denomination/religion, which can be very painful to the faithful.”

Sometime back, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, and Hindu religious leaders, in a joint signed statement, described Paramount’s backtracking on their promise to protesting Hindus as “un-Christian, un-Hindu, un-Buddhist, un-Jewish, etc., besides being unethical.”

Meanwhile, various other organizations, including Universal Society of Hinduism, Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, Hindu Alliance of India, Shri Ramayan Pracharini Sabha, Sanatan Sanstha, India Heritage Panel, have also demanded public apology from Paramount and Viacom.

Rajan Zed launched the protest movement against “The Love Guru” in March, saying that it appeared to be lampooning Hinduism and Hindus and using Hindu terms frivolously.

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