Search This Blog

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Easter and the Pagan Wars (Part 3)

Inline image

It's that time of year again...when anti-Easter memes make their way on the internet. 

There's this, stating that Easter gets its name from a Germanic pagan goddess of fertility named "Eostre":

Inline image

And this, claiming that Easter gets its name from the Babylonian goddess of fertility, "Ishtar":

Inline image

Easter is not pagan. It is Christian and comes from the Jewish tradition of the Passover, where a lamb was sacrificed to atone for the sins of Israel.  Jesus is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. As St. Paul wrote, "Christ our Pascha (Passover) has been sacrificed for us"--1 Cor 5:7.  And, thus, in almost every other language except English and German, Easter is called by a derivative of the Hebrew word for Passover, Pesach. In Spanish it's called Pascua; in Greek it's Pascha,; in Tagalog (Filipino) it's Pasko; in Malay it's Paskah.

So in virtually every other language any accusation that "Pascua" comes from a pagan reference to "Ishtar" or "Eostre" would be nonsensical.

It's only an objection that an English-speaker could make, thousands of years after Easter was already being celebrated by millions of people around the globe.

The memes above also make references to eggs and bunnies originating in paganism. And this website finds eggs, bunnies, (and, curiously, hot cross buns and ham!) to be quite sinister.

It’s important to note that eggs were noted fertility symbols, as for rabbits, Tammuz was noted to be especially fond of rabbits, and they became sacred in the ancient religion, because Tammuz was believed to be the son of the sun-god, Baal. Tammuz, like his supposed father, became a hunter.
The day came when Tammuz was killed by a wild pig. Queen Ishtar told the people that Tammuz was now ascended to his father, Baal, and that the two of them would be with the worshippers in the sacred candle or lamp flame as Father, Son and Spirit.
Ishtar, who was now worshipped as the "Mother of God and Queen of Heaven", continued to build her mystery religion. The queen told the worshippers that when Tammuz was killed by the wild pig, some of his blood fell on the stump of an evergreen tree, and the stump grew into a full new tree overnight. This made the evergreen tree sacred by the blood of Tammuz.
She also proclaimed a forty day period of time of sorrow each year prior to the anniversary of the death of Tammuz. During this time, no meat was to be eaten. Worshippers were to meditate upon the sacred mysteries of Baal and Tammuz, and to make the sign of the "T" in front of their hearts as they worshipped.
They also ate sacred cakes with the marking of a "T" or cross on the top. Every year, on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox, a celebration was made. It was Ishtar's Sunday and was celebrated with rabbits and eggs.
Ishtar also proclaimed that because Tammuz was killed by a pig, that a pig must be eaten on that Sunday. By now, the readers of this tract should have made the connection that paganism has infiltrated the contemporary "Christian" churches, and further study indicates that this paganism came in by way of the Roman Catholic System.
The forty days of Lent, eggs, rabbits, hot cross buns and the Easter ham have everything to do with the ancient pagan religion of Mystery Babylon.Worshipers of the Babylonian religion celebrated the conception of Tammuz on the first Sunday after the Full Moon that followed the Spring Equinox..

Since eggs and bunnies (and hot cross buns and ham) are not referenced in our Catholic theology/doctrine/worship at Easter, this objection can be easily dismissed. Eggs and bunnies and buns and ham are not inherent to our understanding of Easter, but are rather a cultural tradition many people have embraced. 

Finally, even if it were true that Easter developed from paganism, Christianity took it, elevated it, made it holy and sacred, and now we claim it as ours. No Christian is inadvertently worshipping a Germanic or Babylonian goddess by observing Easter rituals. 

Indeed, no one can worship something without intending to worship it.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Why are Catholics so opposed to abortion, if these babies are going to end up in heaven anyway?

I heard this question posed by a prochoicer the other day: why are Catholics so opposed to abortion, if these babies are going to end up in heaven* anyway?

Our response as Catholics should be: we don't kill people just so they can go to heaven. If this were our moral code, then we should be killing every baby right after he's been baptized, because then they'd be guaranteed a place in heaven. And killing everyone once they step out of the confessional. And killing anyone baptized who's in a state of grace.

Obviously, that's an absurd paradigm.

Rather, we work in cooperation with the will of God, and let God determine when a person dies. 


Also, there's been a lot of dialogue by prochoicers that asserts things like "When you have a uterus, then you can have an opinion on abortion. Otherwise, stay out of my business". 

Image result for no uterus, no opinion

It is a peculiar objection prochoicers have, which excludes 50% of the population from voicing an opinion.

And it should also be noted that 9 men (who presumably did not have a uterus) made their opinion on abortion the law of the land 45 years ago. These 9 Supreme Court Justices were permitted by prochoicers to rule on Roe v Wade, making abortion legal through all 9 months of pregnancy ..and prochoicers seem to have no problem with their not having female body parts on this ruling. 

As a parallel: imagine if a Northerner in the 19th century objected to a Southern Plantation owner's slavery. And the Plantation owner said, "If you don't know what it's like to manage a plantation, stay out of my business. You can't oppose slavery if you don't own a plantation". 

No plantation, no opinion! (on slavery)

That would be nonsense, right?!


Finally one other prochoice question I've seen lately is: are you going to adopt every baby that's in danger of being aborted? No? Well, then stay out of the woman's business if you're not going take responsibility for that fetus.  

Our response: do you adopt every puppy that's being beaten? Should the people who oppose domestic violence take every victim into their homes to protect them? Should the abolitionist have been responsible for caring for every slave that was freed? 

Hopefully, our parallel questions will help the prochoicer recognize the absurdity of her position. One can be opposed to a particular issue on its own merits, without necessarily being responsible for every foreseeable consequence of this opposition.


*The Church doesn't profess that babies who are aborted go to heaven. Rather, we entrust them to the mercy of God and can have a sure hope for their salvation. "It must be clearly acknowledged that the church does not have sure knowledge about the salvation of unbaptized infants who die. She knows and celebrates the glory of the Holy Innocents, but the destiny of the generality of infants who die without baptism has not been revealed to us, and the church teaches and judges only with regard to what has been revealed. What we do positively know of God, Christ and the church gives us grounds to hope for their salvation, as must now be explained." 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Ash Wednesday is not in the Bible!

There's a lot of non-Catholic Christians who have adopted the Catholic tradition (small "t" tradition) of observing Ash Wednesday.

However, there's also a lot of Christians who vehemently object to our Ash Wednesday liturgy. "Ash Wednesday is not in the Bible!" is the mantra of these folks.

From a website I found: 

But guess what? Ash Wednesday is not in the Bible. Jesus never kept Ash Wednesday and neither did the apostles of the Early Church. If this “holy day” is a “Christian” ritual to remember Christ, then how come none of the disciples kept it after Jesus ascended to heaven? I’ve never read about Apostle Paul or John teaching in his letters to the churches about burning ashes and putting it on their foreheads.

Firstly, we should ask these folks: why does every practice we do have to be found in the Bible?  Does the Bible say that we're supposed to do this?
     Inline image

                                                This meme by Catholic apologist Steve Ray could also apply to "Where is Ash Wednesday in the Bible?"

Secondly, we can point out that there's probably a whole lot of practices that they do which also aren't found in the Bible.
To wit:
-altar calls
-Wednesday evening Bible studies
-having steeples on churches
-folding one's hands in prayer
-weddings in a church
-praying to the Holy Spirit
-wearing a wedding ring

And here's a lot of things these folks probably do that Jesus/Paul/John never did:
-attend a wedding on a beach
-sing hymns with an organ accompaniment
-preside at a wedding
-use a sound system at a prayer meeting

I also saw this from another website objecting to Ash Wednesday:

Based on what Jesus said in Matthew 6:16-18, those who participate in Ash Wednesday are… hypocrites.

“When you fast,* do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.

But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,

so that you may not appear to others to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.--Matthew 6:16-18

I think the response to this is: if we are putting ashes on our foreheads to let the world know we are fasting, and therefore holier than everyone else who isn't fasting, then we are indeed "like the hypocrites". But I doubt any person walking around with ashes is doing this in the same way the hypocrites of Jesus' time did.

Finally, there are numerous references in the Bible to using ashes as a sign of repentance.

A Benjaminite fled from the battlefield and reached Shiloh that same day, with his clothes torn and his head covered with dirt.--1 Sam 4:12

Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the long tunic in which she was clothed.--2 Sam.13:19

Ashes also symbolize death and so remind us of our mortality. When the priest uses his thumb to sign one of the faithful with the ashes and says, "Remember, man, that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return," he is echoing God's address to Adam:

For you are dirt, and to dirt you shall return.--Gen. 3:19
And Abraham's confession: I am nothing but dust and ashes" --Gen. 18:27.

In short, Ash Wednesday is deeply rooted in Christian tradition/practice/custom and there's nothing we do in our Lenten obervations which is contrary to Scripture.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Abortion/Free Will/Religion

The anniversary of Roe v Wade is upon us, and it often invites discussions with folks who disagree with prolifers on our view of abortion.

One particular argument presented by prochoicers is this:  "God gave us all free will.  If we make abortion illegal, aren't we interfering with a woman's free will?" As presented on this prochoice website:

"We have a clearer understanding that men and women are moral agents and equipped to make decisions about even the most difficult and complex matters. We must ensure a woman can determine when and whether to have children according to her own conscience and religious beliefs and without governmental interference or coercion."

Prolife Response: We are all free moral agents, but our right to self-determination does not involve being free to inflict harm on someone else. There are thousands of laws which, in some manner, bind us from utilizing our free will to inflict harm on another. If the prochoicer is being consistent, then she would have to oppose any laws which make domestic violence illegal as well. That is, making it illegal for a husband to harm his wife would remove the husband's right to act as his own moral agent in decisions about what goes on in the privacy of his home.

All we are doing by making abortion illegal is protecting a tiny human being from being killed.  It's a matter of human rights, not human free will.

And that segues into another prochoice argument:  "I'm not Catholic, so don't inflict your religious views about abortion on me".

Prolife Response: Abortion isn't a religious issue. It's a human rights issue. That the Catholic Church has a teaching on abortion doesn't make it a religious issue, any more than feeding the poor is a religious issue because the Catholic Church has a command to feed the hungry. I don't know many prochoicers who say that the government shouldn't be involved in federal assistance programs to feed children because they're not Catholic. 

We can argue against stealing, lying, depravity, deception,  etc  etc etc without ever appealing to the Bible or to Catholic teaching.

Just like we can argue against abortion without ever once referencing religion.