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Today’s Top Tweet – Earth at night

OPINION

Part of me is tempted to go into the usual New Age preachy theme about how we’re all one and if we just came to realize this, there would be no war, no senseless killings, no crazed truck drivers, no hostages fearing their death…

Image via Wikipedia

Image via Wikipedia

But honestly, I don’t think it’s that simple. I believe there is evil in the world and that it furiously wants to sow discord. All you science-bots out there who think a new pill can save humanity can believe what you want. But I think you’re wrong. I don’t believe evil will ever be eradicated. And those who can recognize the difference between good and ill must take a stand.

Jesus talked about prayer and turning the other cheek. And in the ultimate sense he’s probably right. But in the course of history, if every good person merely prayed and turned the other cheek, I don’t think humanity would last that long. Evil would sweep the globe in a very short matter of time.

While no one perspective can solve our global problems, I do believe that the total dynamic is tilted toward the good. That means all the forces in existence, taken together, including pacifism and activism, will turn things out the right way.

This isn’t blind belief. I have reason to believe in an all-powerful God. Yet I realize not everyone does. To me, that’s their poverty, not mine.

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Parapsychology demonized by some Christians

Funny thing is, I believe in evil spiritual powers too. But I don’t think everything to do with parapsychology and mysticism is necessarily of the devil.


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Dealing With Denial

I am spotless!

Image by Vanny via Flickr

By: Domenic Marbaniang

One issue that leaders face continually is the issue of denial. “Denial” may be defined as the act of asserting that something alleged is not true. Such assertion may either be verbal or behavioral, or both.  Psychiatrists refer to it as a kind of defense mechanism in which a person denies the reality of certain facts in order to avoid the discomfort associated with them. The denial may be of the reality of a fact or of the seriousness of it, or of both. In many cases, it also appears as a mechanism to avoid responsibility in a given situation. Though, lying is a direct form of denial, there are still others like false justification, caricaturizing, and minimizing that also fall into the category of denial. In this article, we’ll look at denial with regard to leadership situations.

Few examples of denial are as follows:

  • Adam denied his responsibility in the crime at Eden. He projected the blame on Eve, instead, to somehow escape divine censure.
  • Pharaoh denied the greatness of Jehovah despite being struck by the plagues. His political obsession with keeping Israelites as slaves made him minimize the seriousness of God’s command.
  • Saul refused to recognize the choice of David by God for the throne. He imagined that, somehow, what had been prophesied against him wouldn’t happen and that he would retain the throne.
  • The worshippers of Baal kept on hurting themselves in hope that their god would respond.
  • Gehazi denied being elsewhere when he had really gone after Naaman. His memory somehow denied the prophetic ability of Elisha as he succumbed to greed.
  • The Israelites kept doing things against the Law, despite the warnings of the prophets, saying “the Temple is here, the Temple is here”. They were denying God’s definition of holiness and used the Temple as a shield behind which they could do their works of darkness.
  • The people in the days of Haggai refused to build the Temple since they didn’t consider it to be very important.
  • The Pharisees and the Sadducees rejected the claims of Christ despite Scriptural and providential (miraculous) proofs.
  • Peter denied any relationship with Christ in face of persecution.
  • Felix refused to listen to Paul anymore when he began to speak about things pertaining to God’s Kingdom.

Often times, the act of denial leads to a kind of self-deception in which memory itself begins to get conformed to the false tendencies of the will. In such cases, a return is almost impossible since the imagination has already overshadowed reasonability. While denial may be looked at as a defense mechanism of the organism; yet, one must be careful to not deny the role of will in deciding for or against any ideas arising from a situation. One must remember that falsehood is never beneficial at the end.

Voluntary and Involuntary Denial

Voluntary denial refers to that denial which is willful and persistent. It persists in falsehood despite evidences contrary to it. Involuntary denial refers to that in which the decision of the will is absent or delayed. It is mechanical in nature and often is an initial response through a defense mechanism of the organism that seeks to avoid the unpleasant. For instance, when someone hears of the death of a beloved one, the initial response might be disbelief or denial. Such initial response of the organism prevents against hasty shock and might be preparative and directive in the ascertaining of truth.  Such denial doesn’t fall under the purview of morality since the will has not yet been brought into rational accountability in it.

Hamartiological Analysis

Spiritual Roots

In John 8: 44, Jesus declares the Pharisees to be the offspring of the devil. He says, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (RSV).

Obviously, the devil was not their genetic father but a father in the sense of their being part of the rebellion of falsehood began by him. Falsehood and lying are natural to the devil since, by rejection of the truth of God, he has turned his back on all truth-values. The demonic kingdom operates basically on falsehood and influences the kingdoms of the world to do so. Worldly politics, religions, and businesses use falsehood as an instrument to gain and retain power over human minds. Jesus categorizes all such leadership practices as demonic in origin. Tendencies towards falsehood are sharp in any intellect that refuses the rule of the Spirit of God.

The Pharisees were incapable of acknowledging Jesus as the Christ of God because their inclinations were in favor of the devil’s desires – “Your will is to do your father’s desires,” He said.  All rejection of God-given leadership is an instance of demonic rebellion (1Jn. 3:12; Jude 1:11; 1Sam. 19:9ff).  Even within Christian leadership, Paul asks Timothy to not include a novice as a candidate for leadership; for it is possible that he become lifted up in pride and fall into the condemnation of the devil (1Tim. 3:6). Similarly, Christians who haven’t matured and are still carnal can’t properly accept or acknowledge the value of the other in the family of God since they are ruled by worldly standards of acceptance and egotistic desires for self-aggrandizement (cf. 1 Cor. 3:1ff) after the manner of the devil (Isa. 14:12-14).

Spirits of Deception

The tendency to reject demonic influence in hamartiological analysis (or analysis of sinful instances) is a mark left by secular theologies. Of course, there is the danger of extremism in both cases and one need to draw a line of balance. In the preface of his The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis writes:

“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.”

The Bible clearly states that “in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron” (1Tim. 4:1,2). The warning is against those who renounce the truth by embracing falsehood. This is one way in which cults arise claiming hold over some particularly distinct truth unsupported by the Scriptures. The elements of deception in the world that keep people blinded from the truth of God also fall into the purview of the kingdom of darkness.

The Bible, therefore, exhorts one to be watchful (1Pt. 5:8), never give an occasion to the devil through prideful or resentful anger (Eph. 4:26), and to beware of the wiles and deception of the devil (Eph. 6:11; 2 Cor. 11:13-15) who attempts to destroy the Body of Christ.

Selfish Carnal Passions

Jude talks about mockers in the last days (those who deride the things and offices of God) as those “who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit” (Jude 19). The psalmist draws a picture of their departure from truth in Psalm 1:1:

  • Step 1: Walking after counsel of the ungodly: Placing worldly wisdom and views above the Scripture.
  • Step 2: Standing in the way of sinners: Expressing one’s approval of or neutral opinion regarding things that the Bible expressly calls “sin”.
  • Step 3: Sitting in the seat of the scornful: Assuming the position and the role of the rebel, the derider and opposer of all God’s truth.

Jesus taught His disciples to pray “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one” because it’s evident that the enemy of our souls can easily use situations in life to distort reality and confuse decisions. Such followers of sinful flesh easily rebel against all truth. The temptation to give in slowly to the current of worldly opinion is strong and leaders must beware of that.

Dealing with Denial in the Self

Jesus gave the first code of examination when He stipulated,  “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matt. 7:1). He told the hypocrite to first remove the beam in his eye before he could remove the mote out of his brother’s eye (v. 5). Self-examination is crucial for a leader’s spiritual health.

Following are some questions that can help ascertain if one is a denier:

  1. Do I try to justify some action of mine that my conscience accuses me of (1Jn. 1:8-10)?
  2. Am I angry with someone for some fault of mine (Gen. 4:5-8)?
  3. Do I feel threatened by someone’s progress (1Sam. 18:7-9)?
  4. Do I have doubts regarding the Bible, God, and ministry (Ex. 32:1ff; Pro.30:9; 1Tim. 4:13-16)?
  5. Am I doing or saying things to make people think of me what is not really true of me (2Cor. 12:6)?
  6. Do I regard the Biblical warnings as not very serious, particularly in connection with my situation (Jer. 7:10)?
  7. Do I consider someone as inferior to or less important than me (Phil. 2:3)?
  8. Do I try to defame or slander someone (behind his back or openly) without regard to any proof in favor of him/her (Prov. 19:5,9)?
  9. Do I wish to be safe, regardless of what happens to others (2Sam. 23:16)?

Following are some ways to deal with denial in one’s self:

  1. Examine oneself in the light of Scriptures (1 Cor. 9:27; Ps.1:2).
  2. Confess and renounce all sin and false justifications (1Jn.1:9).
  3. Be committed to the truth in every situation (2Cor.13:8).
  4. Deny self and seek to please Christ alone in every situation (Matt. 16:24; Gal. 1:10).
  5. Encourage others and invest in them for the glory of God (1Thess.5:11).
  6. Confront sin in others; this guards against compromise (Eph. 5:11; 1Cor. 5:2; 1Tim.5:20).
  7. Make prayer, hearing from God, and fellowship a priority (1Thess. 5:17; Prov. 28:5; Heb.10:25).

Dealing with Denial in Others

One must beware of the following things when confronting denial in others:

  1. Do not be hasty in confrontation (Pro. 14:29; 29:20).
  2. Do not let hearsay cloud your opinion about the other. In fact, do not even let appearance influence your view of the other person for in doing that you can be partner in evil (Jn. 7:24; Pro. 17:4).
  3. Before confronting someone, make sure that you’re first of all in the right (Matt. 7:1-5).
  4. Do not confront unless you’re certain that you need to (Acts 24:25).
  5. Do not confront unless you’re confident that you’re equipped for it (1Tim. 3:16; Tit.1:9).
  6. Listen to the Holy Spirit before you’re going to confront and speak (Jn. 16:7, 8).

The steps of confrontation may be as follows:

  1. Recognize the individuality, dignity, and freedom of the other as given by God (Gen. 1:26).
  2. Be updated about the denier’s latest position. This is important since it’s possible that the denier might already have been feeling remorseful and has repented of his falsehood. One way to do that is to ask questions in that direction. Jesus provides a classic approach to this when He confronts Peter without talking about the three denials he made. On the contrary, He just asks him if he loved Him more than the other things; and when he replied in the affirmative, Christ asked him to work for Him (Jn.21:15-17).
  3. Be confident of your authority from God, not to destroy but to construct (2Cor. 13:10).
  4. Be gentle and caring (Matt.11:29;  2Tim. 2:24; Jas. 3:17)
  5. Only proceed if you’re sure that the person is open to reason, to a fair discussion (Isa. 1:18; Jas.3:17; Prov. 1:5; 10:8).
  6. Remember that God is the one in total control of the situation (Acts 5:34).
  7. Gently show the person the facts of his/her situation and give space for his/her approval or denial of them (Jn. 4:9-19).
  8. Remember that the person reserves the final decision to accept or reject the truth and God oversees it all (Prov. 16:1,2).
  9. Provide answers as long as you’re sure that the denier is honest about his/her questions (1Pt. 3:15).
  10. If you’re unable to answer sufficiently, do not fail to express your disapproval of falsehood in any case (Jn. 9:24-33).
  11. Seek the help of other leaders if necessary (Matt. 18:17).
  12. Aim at restoration (2Cor. 2:4-11).

© Domenic Marbaniang, Published in BASILEIA, April 2009

About the Author

Dean of Post-Graduate Studies, Professor of Theology, Religions, and Missions, Author, Editor of Theological Journal, and Pastor

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/Dealing With Denial


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The Devil’s Portrait

Scribo, Ergo Sum

A scene in “A Night on Bald Mountain” in the animated musical feature “Fantasia” (1940) by Walt Disney Studios

Most fairy tales and folk tales introduce a reader to an assortment of magical creatures and beings, from fairies and nymphs and unicorns to dragons and queer beasts and mermaids.  However, of all places, Eastern Europe often ignores fantasy in pursuit of a closer enemy: the Devil and his consorts.  Throughout almost all of these stories, demons and devils disguise themselves as ordinary humans in order to create mischief among mortals.  But more often than not, a paradoxical question arises.  In some tales, the Devil is almost sympathetic about his “job,” punishing sinful humans with a sense of righteousness and wicked pleasure in achieving justice.

Who is this figure, then?  Personified evil?  A symbol of evil?  A fallen angel?  An instrument of God?  An immortal “hired” to keep humans in check?…

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The Disease

Paradise Lost – Paul Gustave Dore (via Tumblr)

This poem was written somewhere between 1997 and 1999. I’d just completed my Ph.D and was living in an apartment in an old, run-down house in Ottawa.

Initially, I saw “The Disease” as a metaphor for oppressive ideas and images like J.-P. Sartre’s bad faith, Erich Fromm’s mechanical man and Albert Camus’ The Plague. The sociological notion of false consciousness also came to mind while writing it.

The poem wasn’t planned. It came, more or less, in a stream of consciousness. While tapping it out on my old Toshiba 286 laptop I remember noting just how foreboding it was getting (“rotting sky…all are doomed to die”) and not really knowing why. But I followed my instinct and didn’t delete the heavy parts.

After 9/11, I realized that this unsettling verse could be taken as a premonition. As the new millennium approached, not a few artists and sensitives seemed to be picking up something truly terrible on their radar.

That said, around the time of writing I was reading John Milton’s Paradise Lost and Dante’s Inferno. So one could say that I wasn’t foreseeing anything—just subconsciously aping the greats and their treatment of evil.

God only knows.

The Disease

I’ve watched it grow
I’ve seen it sow
true minds into despair

souls of sorrow
ladened deep
burning horrid stares

I’ve seen it work
at lightning speed
to destroy mankind’s seed

through the air
it does its deed
this is its only care

sans partiality
sans decency
Yes, this is “the disease”

You over there!
you believe you’re clear
of this melancholy breeze?

Well let me tell you
if you please
it’s a fatal,
dreadful siege

For once contracted
once enacted
you’ll go on normally
“it’s okay”
“I’m just fine”
“yes, I think I am still free”

But then, alas!
the grippe is tightened
beyond all points of ease
and shipwrecked sailors on the sea of life
all drown
irrevocably

Yes I’ve seen this blight
‘cross this land
and winds are blowing high
no apple pie nor starlit nights
will save this rotting sky
all is darkened
all are dead
all are doomed to die

Lance it fast while time remains
avoid a fearsome plight
destroy this curse
and rest assured
your mark is
for the
light

Cast it out and let us pray
“Lord give us back our sight”
Cast it out to guarantee,
Truth shall conquer might


The Disease © Michael Clark 1997 to present. All rights reserved.


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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 ABC’S of The Basic Theological Teachings: The Meaning of God and His Creatures

By Fr. Thomas R. Harding, Th.D.

This homily has been posted with the direct and generous permission of the late Fr. Thomas Harding, Th.D. (1918-2005).

As we celebrate the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, the Feasts of the Liturgical Year have taken on a deeper meaning now we are approaching some important ones, the Ascension of the Lord into Heaven, the Coming of the Holy Spirit and the Blessed Trinity. It is time to consider again the Meaning of God and His Creatures.

Before time began, there was a point when there was only one Being in existence, God the Father; God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, omnipotent, omniscient, uncaused, eternal, infinite. God was perfectly happy and did not need anything else, but good tends to diffuse itself and so God created Angels, meaning messengers, the universe, human beings and all the other animate and inanimate beings. Let us consider these beings briefly.

In the whole realm of being, there is, first and foremost, the Supreme Being, God. How is it that there is such a Being? St. Augustine says that theology is faith seeking understanding. In doing the theology of the Unity and Trinity of God, the theologians begin with the basic revealed truth that there is One God in Three Divine Persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and they go on to consider the Divine Processions, Missions and Relations.

To put it simply, it goes something like this. From all eternity God the Father knows himself and thus God the Son proceeds from the Father by an intellectual act of generation for the Son is the Image of the Father or the Knowledge of God Personified or the Word of God. Again from all eternity, the Father and the Son are united in a bond of love and thus the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son by a Divine Act of spiration as the Love of God Personified. The Three Persons are all truly God and perfectly equal in all things. There are only three members by nature in the Family of God.

There are four Divine Relations in the Blessed Trinity, Paternity or Fatherhood, Sonship or Filiation, Active Spiration or the Love of the Father and the Son and Passive Spiration or the Holy Spirit who is the Love of God.

Let us consider briefly the attributes of God. There are two kinds of Divine attributes, entitative, pertaining to His Being and operative, pertaining to His operations.

The entitative attributes are necessity, transcendence, immanence, infinity, perfection, unity, goodness, truth, beauty, simplicity, omnipotence, omnipresence, eternity, immutability, pure act, and God alone is a pure and simple spirit. We know some of these by analogy, that is by way of excellence, by affirming created qualities in creatures to infinity, and we know others by way of negation, that is, by denying to God some created qualifies by using negative terms such as infinite which means not finite.

The Operative attributes of God are His Divine intelligence, that is, He knows everything in one idea and His divine volition, that is, His will is perfectly free.

We can know about the Existence of God, that He exists, by reason, by the things that He has made, as St. Paul says in Romans I :20. But we can know much more about God by Faith in Divine Revelation in Scripture and Tradition.

First, Almighty God alone is a pure and simple spirit, that is, He is uncaused and not complex in any way.

Second, the angels are pure spirits but not simple spirits because they are created and complex. However they are created in the state of maturity, with all their infused ideas. They do not have to grow up and go to school. Each angel is a different species which determines their degree of knowledge and love. In the hierarchy of spirits, God has only one idea with which He knows everything actual and possible. Then the highest angel needs many ideas with which to understand his more limited capacity. In a descending order, each angel needs more ideas than the one just above him. Even the lowest angel is far smarter than the most intelligent humans.

Angels have such a superior knowledge and will that they were only given one chance when they were tested. Apparently, they would not have repented and changed their minds. Thus Lucifer said “I will not serve” (Isaiah 14:12) and he and the other fallen angels were cast into hell by St. Michael the Archangel (Apoc. 12:7). They are allowed to roam through the world seeking the ruin of souls. But the name of Jesus is stronger than hell.

The good angels continue to serve before the throne of God and they also act as guardian angels. They also have other functions as messengers, defenders and directors of the two hundred billion galaxies in the universe. Sacred Scripture tells us there are nine choirs of angels: (Col. 1:16) Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominations, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels and Angels. Beings spirits, they can travel through the world and the universe instantaneously by a simple act of the will. St. Thomas Aquinas, the Angelic Doctor has a great tract on angels in his Summa Theologica.

Third, human beings, in comparison with God and Angels, are relatively imperfect spirits. Because of the relative dimness of their intellects they have to inform a body and they have infra-intellectual faculties, as well as spiritual faculties, an intellect and will; that is, they also have faculties of the vegetative and animal stages of life. Thus, man is a spirit informing a body. He needs a body in order to function or to get started in the process of knowing and willing. Therefore there would be no use giving humans infused ideas at the moment of creation. We would not understand them anyway: e.g. E=mc².

What’s that?

Who cares?

We have to learn laboriously by abstracting ideas from our sense knowledge, verifying ideas by judgments and using these ideas and judgments in syllogisms to reason and to move from the known to the unknown. There are five operations we go through in knowing and willing: experiencing, understanding, judging, reasoning and deciding. What a tough life! We have to grow up, go to school for years and spend the rest of our lives in continuing to learn. I was a slow learner. I went to school for twenty one years and I still know only the ABC’s.

Because we need bodies, God created a material universe. How extravagant He was to make a universe with 200 billion galaxies and it is expanding! We share the world with other animate and inanimate beings. Is there human life on other planets? We have not the time or the knowledge to answer that. We have not yet communicated with people on other planets. Some have seen UFO’s, they say.

I have always wanted to know what God looks like but was running into a brick wall trying to understand Him and describe Him until I discovered that a finite person cannot comprehend an Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent, Infinite Being. To visualize Him, to reduce him to our comprehension, to describe Him in our language is impossible in the present order.

But cheer up. St. John says in his first Epistle, Chapter 3, Verse 2: “Beloved now we are the children of God and it has not yet appeared what we shall be. We know that when He appears we shall be like to Him for we shall see Him just as He is.” So we look forward to the Beatific Vision.

Oh pardon me, I forgot a few important things.

First, God has only three members in His family by nature, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, but he has billions of children by adoption because He created angels and humans and raised them to the supernatural level so that they share His life by sanctifying grace, i.e., God living in us as a friend.

Second, God is immanent in that He is with us and within us. He is Transcendent in that He is infinitely beyond us as the God of all glory. Never separate His Immanence and Transcendence. Never forget that the Immanent God is also the Transcendent God.

Third, we are so earth bound that we cannot imagine anyone without a body but the pure spirits don’t need bodies. For our benefit they may sometimes appear as though they had bodies, e.g. angels with wings.

Fourth, Scripture says “God made men just a little less than the angels.” There are two exceptions: Jesus Christ is a Divine Person and infinitely superior to them. Our Lady is Queen of the Angels because she is the daughter of God the Father, the spouse of the Holy Spirit and the Mother of God the Son and She is superior to the Angels.

No Wonder the Fallen Angels were Mad.

Fifth, The hypostatic union means that Jesus is One Person (the Divine Person) and He has two natures, Human and Divine.

This homily is not to be copied, duplicated, modified nor distributed in any way.