Monday, December 29, 2008

Do Catholics Believe in Faith Alone?

I am a convert so if I make a mistake in the following article, please do not hesitate to correct me.

A few evangelicals accuse Catholics of having a works based faith. It is assumed that because Catholics put emphasis on obedience to God that we must therefore believe that it is our own efforts that save us. If we Catholics really thought that our own actions could get us to heaven then other Christians would have a right to criticize us.

Catholics take Eph 2:8-10 seriously. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. It is grace alone that justifies us, and that Grace gets applied to us when we have faith.

A search in the Catholic Catechism for the word justification will yield evidence that Catholics do not believe that our own human works can save us. From the Cathecisim 1987 The grace of the Holy Spirit has the power to justify us, that is, to cleanse us from our sins and to communicate to us "the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ"... and 1996 Our Justification comes from the grace of God, Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God....

Yet, I still occasionally have Protestant friends argue that I, as a Catholic, believe that my works alone save me Why such confusion when every Catholic source I have ever read puts emphasis on the fact that it is Grace which saves us?

It's my opinion that the real problem is how the word, "faith", is defined. Faith is more then simple belief. James 2:19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.

Faith is not just belief, it isn't just a strong, emotional reaction. Yes, I realize that some people define the word, faith to mean feeling really positive that God exists and that Jesus is his son. The problem with this definition of faith is that it leaves people confused when they have times of doubt or spiritual dry spells. It also leaves some people feeling as if they should always be at the top of an emotional high in order to have real faith.

When we read the New Testament as a whole, an entire book, instead of taking verses out of context to discover tortured theological truths(How is that for an Alliteration?)we discover that
the Bible speaks a lot about what we have to do as Christians not just how much belief that we should place in Christ. This is because active faith is not just believing, its also a combination of works. Belief and works make up faith.

Once, a man I knew told me in touching detail how much he adored his wife. He informed me that she was the most beautiful woman that he had ever met, she was perfect in every way. I am sure that he felt some intense emotion for his wife, but I also learned later, from several sources, that he was physically abusing her. So, did her love her? Certainly he felt something for his wife but in order for us to call his feelings love he would have had to acted differently toward her. Most people understand that the individual's personal feelings have to be combined with actions in order to be termed love.

The same is true of faith. Can you really say that an individual has faith if he doesn't obey God? Jesus said, He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him.

I am sure that many of us have had the experience of listening to a fellow Christian defend their actions with the words, "But God knows my heart." Whether it be adultery or having sex before marriage, certain Christians will put more emphasis on the importance of their feelings toward God and not the obedience that he expects. And no, I am not judging these people, because I am pretty certain that there have been moments in my life when I assumed that God just wanted me to feel his presence without the bother of following his commandments. But can such a person-and I am including my past self- be said to have real faith if they ignore what they must know God wishes them to do?

So, do Catholics believe in faith alone? Do Catholics believe that their faith saves them?

Actually, I don't think that any Christian should say that their faith saves them because that is not what the Bible says. It is God's Grace that saves us. As I wrote before, Grace gets applied to us when we have faith.

I think that instead of the words 'faith alone', Catholics(and many Protestants, by the way) should say that they believe in Grace Alone.

Friday, December 26, 2008

First Time, Cheerful Obedience Rant

Despite homeschooling and being an exfundamentalists, I was unaware of the concept of either first time obedience or cheerful obedience. It wasn't until some, intrusive older lady tried to 'correct' my parenting that I began to research different "Christian" parenting methods. Apparently some of my former Independent Baptist Church Members were concerned because I counted to three when my younger two girls disobeyed. They wanted my kids to immediately obey with big smiles on their face.

To be honest, their advice creeped me out. I had always got compliments on my kids behavior without expecting them to 'ask how high when I told them to jump". So, I was confused as to why anyone would complain about my parenting methods when they obviously considered my kids polite and well mannered.

What I discovered was that the 'ideal' fundamentalist parent had children who could sit perfectly still and quiet through a hour service, never disturbed talking grownups and obeyed quickly with a big, wide, happy grin. No, my kids are not 'ideal'. Yes, they whine and get grumpy sometimes. We've had issues with them that we have to work on as a family together. But we manage to deal with these problems without breaking our children's spirits down.

Several aspects of my childhood influenced me to strongly disagree with 'cheerful' obedience. (although I think kids and adults should be polite)First, my mother was abusive and she expected quick obedience and for us to hide our emotions. We had to be outwardly happy when we were actually very upset. Startlingly enough, I can understand the motives behind children who kill their parents. At one point, I was very, very angry with my mom, no matter how much I smiled. If my mother had used religion as a basis for her actions, I have no doubt that I would have hated God instead. Emotionally, it is easier for a child to hate an unseen entity then a parent. I wonder how many atheists and pagans were brought up to fear that any expression of anger toward their Christian parents equalled disloyalty to God. What a burden to place on a young child's shoulders.

I've always valued the ability to think for one self and not follow the crowd. My goal as a parent is to teach my kids that rebelling against the societal norm for what one considers morally right is the correct thing to do. Ultimately, I want my children to not just be good but to be noble. Part of being noble is learning to balance respect for authority with the ability to question and perhaps stand against the same authority.

My youngest son went through a period when he felt angry often. We worked with him, discussing the best way to handle anger and how to differentiate between appropriate and inappropriate ways to handle his temper. It took some time but I am grateful that I was able to see that he had a problem. What if he had been trained that the only legitimate emotion for a Christian to feel was happiness? Would he have swallowed down his anger only to have it reemerge when he had power over someone else?

I believe that God gives us warnings by allowing us to feel negative emotions. From a human vantage a situation or person can seem wonderful, but our emotions, instinct-God- is nudging us and trying to warn us. How does an adult brought up to believe that they should deny their emotions and only be cheerful handle situations in which they come under the authority of a evil person masquerading as a Christian? They won't know that they can trust their own instincts or that the icky feelings that they are experiencing might actually be God warning them.

My main problem, though, with cheerful, first time obedience is spiritual. I have trouble asking kids to do something that we as Christian adults do not do. I do not always obey God without whining. When it is cold out, I whine about attending church, I whine about saying my prayers, I whine about a lot of my obedience. God wants our hearts so even if I smile outside, he wants my inner smile and I don't always give it to him. Often the changes that have occurred in me as a Christian were accompanied by a lot of inner tantrums on my part. Learning to forgive my mom was something that I complained, whined and moaned about. I am probably one of God's 'difficult' children. LOL

God understands that we are a work in progress. In first time, cheerful obedience, the parent is expecting more perfection on the part of the child toward a fallible human then the parent is likely giving to God. That really bothers me.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Have The Pearl's Changed Some Of Their Advice?

On their website, No Greater Joy, the Pearls have a collection of various readers' questions and the responses from Michael and Debbi. The questions typically revolve around marriage and childcare.

One particular Pearl response has been strongly criticized on many blogs. A mother had written to No Greater Joy about the fact that her husband had molested his children. Michael Pearl had answered that the woman should indeed press charges against the husband. If his response had ended with his call for the man to serve time, few people would have had issue with him. Unfortunately his advice continued. He advised the woman to visit the husband in prison and to bring the victims of his crime, their children, on these visits. After the man had served his term, the wife was advised to welcome him back into her home and presumably her bed. Her children would, Michael reasoned, be adults and need no further protection.

Despite the fact that others had covered this particular subject, I wanted to write about it. To my surprise, I can no longer find the letter on their website! The original letter has been replaced by another one written by a mother of seven children. In this letter the Pearls take a much stronger stance against the evil of sexual abuse.

Michael writes: You husband has committed a crime against humanity. You are legally obligated to report this crime to the law. He will be jailed and stand trial; you and the girls will testify against him; he will be sentenced to about 20 years.

Oh my, I agree with Michael Pearl. On their website, the Pearls state that Michael conducts a prison ministry. Perhaps his years of contact with such men has finally convinced him that his original advice was wrong.

I would add that beyond a legal requirement to report the husband, the mother has a ethical and moral responsibility to do so.

Further, Micheal states: If he truly repents and gets saved, and you should choose to forgive him, the girls should never be forced to be in subjection to him again. He forfeited the right to be their father when he committed a crime worthy of death against them

This is much better then the first letter. The children should never be forced to live in the same household with this man again. It doesn't matter what the mother's personal feelings toward her husband are, she has to protect her daughters.

If they choose to forgive and accept him as their father, that would be a blessed thing for them. They have been hurt enough; they shouldn't have to live with the hate and anger. That would mean that his sin is continuing to follow them.

Disappointingly, the above comment is a bit vague and could be read several different ways. I am uncertain exactly what Michael means by 'accepting him as their father." Hopefully, this doesn't mean that the father would be allowed to return home if his minor children wish him to do so. Abusive people are often very manipulative and are not above using emotion and guilt against their victim. Such people should never be allowed access to vulnerable children.

Many wrongly assume that forgiveness means that the wronged individual welcomes the offender back into their life. This is not true. Forgiveness means letting go of the anger and hate that can destroy the innocent victim's life. But the wronged are not required to allow dangerous indiviuals back into their lives.

I would love to know what led to Michael's change of heart. Did he truely have an epiphany? If so, the Pearls should issue a statement on their site for the mothers who followed Michael's original advice. The skeptic in me wonders if this change in attitude is caused by the fact that the Pearls have been investigated by social service. Perhaps they are afraid that if a repeat of the Sean Paddock case reoccurs, they might be liable for their advice.

Hopefully, though, Michael has really had a change of heart and his perspective has changed. I just wish that he had written another article explaining that the older article should not be followed.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Pearls Advice For A Child Who Strikes Others

Below is a section taken from the Pearl's book To Train Up A Child, chapter nine. To avoid accusations that I am taking the writer's out of context I have included a link to an online copy of their book. If you have any doubts about what I write, please click on the link.

If you have experience with children, then include how you handled the following situation. Perhaps if an overwhelmed parent comes to this site and finds a variety of approaches to their problems then that parent will be less susceptible to listen The Pearls.

As my wife was counseling with a young mother, I watched a most amazing scene unfold. The first of two children (a two-year-old), upon failing to get attention, picked up a plastic toy wrench and began to pound his mother's arm. Occasionally, he would reach up and poke her in the face.

This isn't amazing. It sounds like normal two year old behavior.

The parent can very briefly model using a wrench correctly and encouraging the child to copy them. When the toddler does so the parent can praise the child and then ask the child for a high five. "Give me a high five for using that toy correctly, son." At least this is what I did when my kids were very young.

If the behavior continued and nothing else worked then I would take the wrench from the child and firmly tell him/her "No, don't hit." Yes, your child will probably cry but be comforted. Once your child understands that his/her parents' no really does mean no then your job as a parent is much easier. You don't have to be overly punitive to teach your child to listen to you. All you have to do is be consistent. By the way, you don't have to take the toy away forever, just for a few hours.

This was not new behavior. We had previously observed these "way of Cain" acts of violence perpetrated on the little brother as well as on the mother.

If this child has a continued problem with striking others then it would seem wise to discover the roots of his behavior. The Pearls give no background about the family. Is the father respectful of the mother? Is the child modeling behavior that he has witnessed in the home? What are his television viewing habits? Some children are more prone then others to copying the violence that they see on tv. Have the parents indicated that certain food, schedule changes etc have a bearing on this child's behavior? Treating only the symptoms without addressing the real problem will only cause the child's negative behavior

Just as an aside, you can prevent some jealousy from an older sibling toward a new baby just by asking the older child to help you. For example, when you change the baby's diaper, have the older child bring you a diaper and praise them for their help. Tell them how lucky the baby is to have such a great and helpful brother/sister.

Considering that Cain killed his brother Abel, I am guessing that the Pearls included the reference as a scare tactic. There is nothing in the bible, after all, about two year old Cain hitting infant Abel.

As the talk continued, little Johnny got tired of assaulting his mother and turned on my wife. After the first blow, almost without diverting her eyes from the mother, and with no change of expression, she picked up a matching plastic toy. This was not to fight back, but to train.

Notice the word "train" in the above section. The Pearls sometimes call physical punishment 'training" instead of spanking, striking or hitting. So, although this story obviously has an adult hitting a child with a plastic wrench, the Pearls can claim that this isn't happening because they are 'training' the child.

The mother is the one who would most benefit from what was about to occur. As little Johnny drove home the next blow, swiftly and with more than matching force, my wife struck

Although spanking might not be the best response to the child's misbehavior, it would be much better for the mom to swat her toddler's bottom then to allow a non relative to strike her son. To prevent sexual abuse, children should know that they can tell an adult who is not their parent that they don't want to be touched.

Also, by picking up the wrench and striking the child, Debbi Pearl has lowered herself to his age. She hasn't taught the child that he shouldn't strike someone with the wrench, just that you shouldn't strike someone who can fight back.

Such surprise! What is this little Johnny feels coming from his arm? Pain! And somehow it is associated with the striking of this toy. Again, Johnny strikes. Again, swift, retribution (training really). Johnny is very tough; so, though he didn't cry, he pulled back his pained arm and examined it carefully. You could see the little mental computer working. As if to test his new theory, again, but with less force, he struck. The immediately returned blow was not diminished in strength. This time, I thought he would cry. No, after looking at his mother, as if to say, "What is this new thing?" he again, and with even less force, struck my wife on the arm. I was thinking, "She will lighten up this time and match his diminished intensity." Again, my wife struck, seemingly, with all the force she could possibly muster without standing for a wind-up.

Even those parents who spank do not strike their child with their full force. To do so would leave bruises. According to Michael Pearl, Debbi is hitting the child with all her strength. I have counted four times that the child was struck in the above section, the last time was with all Debbi's strength.

Johnny, tough enough for special forces, did one of those pained, crying faces covered by a forced smile.

I don't believe this. I think that Michael Pearl's memory is fuzzy. There is no way that a woman could use her full strength to strike a child's arm with a plastic toy without causing the child to scream.

To my amazement, with one-fourth the original force, he again smack my wife. This time, her bottom came off the couch as she drew back to return the blow; and I heard a little karate like wheeze come from somewhere deep inside. I was hoping that Johnny was getting close to learning his lesson. The conversation had about died in anticipation of the outcome. Johnny must have had a Viking lineage, for he continued to trade blows about ten times. On Johnny's part, the blows got lighter and lighter until, after a short contemplative delay, he gave a little tap that was returned with a swift, forceful blow

Again, common sense would tell us that this is false. Debbi Pearl has hit this child so hard that her butt has lifted off the seat. This boy would be bruised. If you don't believe me then please find an adult who is as much larger then you as Debbi must be compared to a two year old. Hand the adult a plastic, toy wrench and have them repeatedly hit you full force on the arm. Remember the blows have to be powerful enough to lift your friend off the couch.

By the way, it sounds like there were 11 blows applied to the child's arm in this section alone. Add these 11 hits to the above four and that makes 15 hard strikes on a two year old by an adult woman. So, your friend has to strike you at least 15 times and many of those blows must be at his full strength.

What is the boy's mother, his supposed protector, doing during the abuse of her child? Sitting quietly, not interfering. After Debbi finishes she hands the wrench to the mother who hits the child two or three more times!

Michael Pearl assures us that,This was not discipline, but training.

Again, notice the word, training.

The child was cheerfully striking with the toy. Though frustrated, he was not angry or mean. Had that been the case, his medicine would have been the rod.

So, worse could have happened to a two year old child?

The returned blows were teaching him that what he was doing was painful and undesirable. He was also being taught that there were others who could give it out better than he. Most little bullies are cured by meeting a bigger bully.

I don't even know how to comment to the above statement. I want to write further on this group but I will have to take a break from them. Reading their material makes me sad.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Pearls

I’ve decided to cover the Pearls and their child rearing methods on my website. There are many excellent resources on the web about the Pearls. Tulip Girl immediately comes to mind as a Christian blogger who has written about this subject. Her site is a good starting point for those interested in the Pearls and their ministry.

Because I wish to be fair, I am providing a free, online link to the Pearl’s book, To Train Up A Child. You can also find their website, No Greater Joy, by doing a Google search. If you doubt the validity of any of my criticisms, please check the sources yourself.

I have many beefs with the Pearls. People who are making money off giving child raising advice should be very clear. Yet, the Pearls contradict themselves and are very vague as to what they consider abuse. They also distort the common meaning of some words, making understanding their advice difficult in some instances. For example, the word training is used to replace spanking, especially when they are talking about the punishment of very young babies. This is why one of their adult daughters can honestly report that she was only spanked once despite the fact that her parents describe ‘training’ her at four months old.

There is much on their site that is good, but it is combined with some exceptionally ghastly advice. And for all their commendable talk of tying heart strings, following their recommendations exactly as written could potentially cause an adversarial relationship between parent and child. Although some parents have the ability to pick out what is good in the Pearl’s methods, not everyone is blessed with an ability to discern the good from the bad.

I have some problems with the guilt trips that the Pearls place on parents who do not follow their advice. There is no one way to raise all children. Kids, just like adults, are individuals. Its impossible to say that one methods works with every single child, yet the Pearls do seem to indicate that anyone who does not follow their methods are doomed to have horrible children.

A lot of people, even those who disagree with Michael and Debbi Pearl, have commented that it is obvious that the Pearls love their children. My response is, so what? As an adult from a highly dysfunctional household, I can attest that abusive parents and spouses often love their victims. Granted the love might be twisted and selfish but the abuser does believe that what they feel is genuine love. I, for instance, never doubted that my mother loved me. Her love did not make her less abusive, but it did make it more difficult for me to overcome the results of her abuse.

Also, my siblings and I were the ‘good children’. Due to fear of my mother, we did not argue with her or show disrespect. We were very outwardly obedient children and my mother got many compliments on how well mannered we were. I was very afraid of my mom and her temper. I decided early on as a mother that I would rather have less well behaved children, who were independent and could think for themselves, then to have children who were perfect.

So much has been written about the Pearls that I don’t think it would be effective to write an article detailing both their faults and strengths. My plan is to take a few articles from the Pearls’ website and segments from their book and discuss them in more detail. I haven’t seen anything like that done on other blogs.

Let me admit right now. I am not a perfect parent with perfect kids. I do not have a degree in child psychology or in theology. I really don’t have an opinion on spanking either. My problems with the Pearls have nothing to do with corporal punishment.

I was an abused child and I don’t want future children to be abused by well meaning but overly zealous parents. it is an emotional issue for me. Hopefully any discourse on the subject can be polite and civil. I understand that most parents who follow the Pearls are well intentioned. Hopefully, I can do a good job of covering the Pearls.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Purgatory And My Mom

Purgatory is especially comforting to me. I believe that my mother was a Christian. Granted, I could not see into her heart, but she had a strong love for God. Unfortunately, my mother had a mental disorder that kept her from seeing life clearly.

Describing my mother is a difficult task. She was an extreme. When she was good, she was nearly saintly, but when she was bad, she was a horrible, vindictive, manipulative human being.

Both homeless and stray animals were brought home by my mom. Admittedly, my mom's judgement was off. She allowed one man to live with us who drank all our liquid cold medicines, hid alcohol bottles all through the house and brought porn into our home. His relationship with our mom was platonic, she simply felt sorry for him. But despite her good intentions, this man was a horrible, frightening person to have around young children.

Once she became concerned that another single mother did not have enough money to be Santa for her children. Even though we had very little money ourselves, she decided that we could fix up old toys and leave them anonymously in a box outside the lady's house. It was a wonderful lesson for us in not expecting credit or praise for our good deeds. Mom always stressed that we treat others with kindness and empathy.

My mother entertained us with silly accents(she was actually very good at mimicry) and funny stories. She could turn the worst events of her life into humorous antidotes. I learned the skill of coping with life's problems with laughter from her.

But this same mother could turn on a dime and become, abusive, cruel and manipulative. From the time that I was 11, she started telling me that I was a slut and a whore. I was also cold and unfeeling, at least according to mom.

When my mother was angry, she was a very frightening person. There was a period in my preadolescence, when I slept under my bed because my mother had indicated that she wanted to kill us. When I grew older, I became more concerned with my younger siblings and would sleep sitting up so that I could wake and protect my sister and brother.

Mom was very addicted to pain medicine. In order to get prescriptions she taught me how to fake migraine headaches so she could get more medicine. One time she sent me downtown by way of city bus to buy a dime bag of marijuana for her. She had a car, she just didn't want to get caught buying drugs. As I was under 18, she explained, I wouldn't get in trouble if the police caught me. Besides, she was going to buy the drugs anyway and if she went to jail, she said, it would be my fault if my siblings went into a foster home. So at 16, I went downtown and had a prearranged meeting with a man that she knew. I gave him money that my mother had entrusted to me and brought home my mother's pot.

Sometimes my mom was very negligent and ignored us completely. I signed all my brother and sister's school paper work and wrote their absence notes. Mom just couldn't be bothered. Other times she smothered us by refusing to let us leave her side. We missed school, were told not to ignore her by doing homework and had to sit up all night with her. She was lonely and we kids had to be her confidants, pals and support system.

Because she wanted to be in love, my mom was constantly falling in and out of relationships. Men liked my mom. She never had any problem getting a date or having men fall in love with her. Unfortunately, she was addicted to the adrenaline rush of falling in love and couldn't sustain a relationship. So, we had men constantly in and out of our lives. My mom was married seven times!

It was a very unstable homelife.

My mom wanted to be a good person. She read her bible and, I sincerely believe, reached out in her own confused way to God. She expressed a strong love for Jesus. An untreated mental condition can make a person see faith and religion in a twisted manner. So many family members protected Mom from hitting bottom and assisted her in hiding her mental condition. At one point, a doctor put my mother on lithium but she stopped seeing him or taking the medication. I have no idea if she had received a diagnosis for her condition or not.

You almost have to be an abused child to understand the discordant nature of such a home life. Sometimes my mother was a nearly saintly, intensely compassionate, loving person while at other times she was cruel and selfish. I have always thought that the loving person that my mother could be was her true nature free of her mental illness.

A couple of years ago, my mother died, alone in a broken down single wide trailer. I was the last of her children who had talked to her and that had been six months previously. To protect my own kids, I had tried to set boundaries on their grandmother. Mom wasn't allowed to make them feel guilty, call them names or inform them that they weren't going to heaven as she had said to my older daughter. In other words, I had given my mother rules as to how she could interact with my kids. She chose not to comply with these very basic rules and so we had no contact for six months.

My mother had obsessively written out her prayers to God on little, yellow memo notes. These notes were stuck all along her walls. Many of them spoke of her deep faith that God would change her children's hearts and convince them that they were mistaken. One very sad note read that my mother knew, if her faith was just strong enough, her children would walk through her door and ask for her forgiveness.

I believe that my mother was sincere in both her faith in God and her love for her children. But her mind was so clouded by insanity that she was incapable of understanding her own contributions to her many problems.

Yet, if I meet my mother in heaven-I honestly believe that she is either there or in Purgatory now- she will not be burdened with insanity. She will be the sweet, loving, funny person that God meant for her to be all along. In heaven she won't suffer from the effects of mental illness. That is a great comfort to me.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Is Spanking MANDATED By The Bible?

This is neither an anti- nor prospanking article. My oldest son was diagnosed as ADHD and yes, we did spank him. With each successive child, we have used spanking less and less as a form of discipline. All four of my kids are equally well behaved, despite the lack of spanking that two younger girls received. In fact, I've been humbled by the example of some nonspanking families who still manage to produce kind, well spoken, respectful children.

It would seem to be common sense-at least now that I am older-that because family temperaments and backgrounds differ that no single child rearing method will work for everyone. So imagine my surprise when I began to read on some Christian sites that the Bible mandates spanking. Even more startling are the claims that there is only one "Biblical" way to raise children.

Granted most of these sites are not Catholic but are fundamentalists. But people react to confidence, even if it is misplaced. I worry that the fundamentalist certainty that there is one way for Christians to raise children will spread and become "The Christian way to parent." Also, I am concerned that some of these parenting methods will produce either passive adults who will be ripe for a charismatic leader or that these kids, because of their upbringing, will grow up to hate Christianity and seek to undermine our faith.

Let me say, I am not a permissive parent and I don't have a strong opinion on spanking. My goal is only to prove that there isn't a Biblical rule that Christians have to spank. I am not arguing for or against corporal punishment.

There are about six verses in the Bible that deal with striking a child. These are mainly found in Proverbs. In most of these instances the Hebrew word for child used is na'ar. Na'ar is a masculine word for a male child of any age. Although there are a few instances of na'ar being used for a infant, in the Old Testament, na'ar is mainly used for older adolescent males.

Proverbs is a book of wise sayings. There is an entire section of Proverbs in which unrelated sayings follow one another. There is no way to tell if na'ar means a young boy, a male infant or an adult man still living at home. Certainly if you strike your college age son with a rod you run the risk of serving jail time for assault. So, I would not advise anyone to decide that corporal punishment can be used on their adult sons.

The word na'ar does not mean a female child. So, technically to follow these verses literally a parent can strike their male children but not their daughters. I do not read that certain extreme fundamentalist sites differentiate between male and female children.

The Old Testament has many laws that Christians no longer follow. For example, modern Orthodox Jews use salting or broiling to ensure that meat is free of blood. Some Orthodox Jews consider rare meat unkosher. Lev 19:19 seems to indicate that we should not have the different varieties of cattle that farmers have available today(no interbreeding of cattle), use two kinds of seed in our fields or wear a garment that is a mix to two different materials. Who decided that the book of Proverbs is more applicable to modern Christians then any other book in the Bible? I didn't get the notice that I could ignore Leviticus but had to uphold Proverbs. On what grounds has this been decided?

If we are going to use the Old Testament as a guide shouldn't we read it as the ancient Jewish people did? I came across an interesting article on The Jewish Virtual LIbrary. It states that:

The Oral Law is a legal commentary on the Torah, explaining how its commandments are to be carried out. Common sense suggests that some sort of oral tradition was always needed to accompany the Written Law, because the Torah alone, even with its 613 commandments, is an insufficient guide to Jewish life.


Strangely enough, the Oral Law today is a written law, codified in the Mishna and Talmud. Orthodox Judaism believes that most of the oral traditions recorded in these books dates back to God's revelation to Moses on Mount Sinai. When God gave Moses the Torah, Orthodoxy teaches, He simultaneously provided him all the details found in the Oral Law

Apparently ancient Jews were not Bible Alone believers. They translated the meaning of scriptures through their oral traditions. In order to know what God meant by certain Old Testament scriptures shouldn't Christians study both the Mishna and Talmud or at least ask a Orthodox Rabbi for his opinion?

Please understand that I am not putting down any one who spanks. My concern is not with corporal punishment. I am worried at the fact that some fundamentalists sites are using scare tactics and a distorted view of the Bible to push parents into following their methods. It bothers me that some parents claim to be following the "Biblical " method for child raising, which means that anyone who chooses to parent differently is ignoring the Bible. I don't want parents to be guilted into following a method that might be bad for their families.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Purgatory...Yes, One More Time

Jeaux has left a new comment on your post "Scripture Dealing With Purgatory.": Deb:While I respect your use of scripture in your argument, I ask that you go and read the latter part of Hebrews 9 again. Christ suffered once for all of our sins and man will face judgment following his death. It is Christ's blood that makes us holy, not any works that we do lest any man should boast.

It is quite possible that my writing lacked some clarity. So, I apologize for any confusion I have caused. Catholics agree with Jeaux. Christ did suffer once for all our sins and works alone do not save a person.

Purgatory is not a means to work one's way into heaven. It is not a giant second chance to get into heaven. My younger son once jokingly referred to Purgatory as a spiritual washing machine and, humor aside, that is a good description. Most Protestants also believe in Purgatory, although they don't realize that they do. Very few Protestants-if any- believe that they will enter heaven with even small faults like envy or anger.

When I became a Christian, I had the uncomfortable feeling that God was shining spotlights on certain aspects of myself that needed changing. Let me say, that it is painful to change. But our Lord wants us our best. He doesn't half cleanse us and then say, "Ah, not perfect, but good enough." He wants us to be worthy of paradise, to be completely clean. Even those little, minuscule sins are supposed to be cleansed off of us before we enter heaven.

Christians believe that in heaven, the blind will see and the lame walk. God will heal all matter of physical infirmities before we enter heaven. Yet, some Christians apparently don't understand that a being powerful enough to make a wheel chair bound man walk is also powerful enough to cleanse you of small sins, for example feeling that pang of envy when your neighbor gets a raise after you've lost your job. In heaven none of us will want to pout when we don't get our way, nag anyone, feel envy or jealousy, listen to gossip, have doubt or get annoyed at our parents.

Let me use an invented example. Imagine that there is a man who was severely abused as a child. He never knew anyone that he could trust. As a young man, he robbed a bank and killed the bank teller. In prison he meets someone who manages to explain Christ's love in a manner that the young man can understand. The prisoner makes a sincere commitment to Jesus and becomes a Christian.

Of course, he hasn't become a perfect person. God's grace will help the young man to have the power and the desire to change his life. But the process of sanctification can take time. In order to become the Christian man that he was meant to be, this man has a whole history of pain and turmoil that he must overcome. God does work miracles and it is possible for even the worst criminal to change their lives with the power of Christ.

But what if, at the very moment that he has committed his life to Christ, another prisoner attacks and kills him? Remember the bible says in Revelation 21:27 that nothing unclean will enter heaven. Does that mean that our young prisoner is doomed to spend eternity in Hell because he is a very new Christian? After all, he probably has some residual anger to work through. Will this man be in the presence of God still furious at his mom for abandoning him and a foster care giver for abusing him? Catholics and most Protestants will say that no, this man will not be angry in heaven. He will no longer resent anyone and he will not be burdened with the mental scars from past abuse.

Catholics call the entire change that occurs after death, before Christians have entered heaven, Purgatory. Protestants simply haven't named it but most Protestants that I talk to do believe that some sort of change does occur.

I don't know if this article clears up any misconception about Purgatory. If any of you are still confused, please don't hesitate to ask questions. If I don't know the answer to your questions then I will either research and find the answer or direct you onto better sites. I don't mind questions, so please don't be afraid to ask. I just hope that I can provide good answers that don't confuse anyone.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Photos From The Devil's Tramping Grounds.

We decided to invite the kids' friends, Anthony-age 19 and Jarod-age 10, on our field trip. We are very blessed to have fellow homeschoolers who live next door to us. My younger kids enjoy the trips more when their friend, Jarod, tags along. My oldest son, Josh, is in college and would not normally take trips with us, if it wasn't for his friend, Anthony. Before we left, I took a group photo of the six kids together.

Because I am a masochist, I let the kids each get their choice as to what CD's that would play. They took turns picking the music. So, we had a variety of heavy metal, religious and country music blaring from our minivan. My ears are still ringing.

Surprisingly, a minivan with eight people in it is very loud. Anthony and Joshua entertained us by clowning around, although I think Josh. was a little perturbed when his friend jokingly threatened to kiss him.

Unlike other historical sites, there are no road signs or markers for The Devil's Tramping Grounds. A portion of the trip went through the proverbial "boonies". There was really nothing on either side of the road except forest. It made pretty scenery, so I snapped a photo.

On a funny note-at least to everyone else in the car- my son, Chris. complained that he really had to go to the bathroom. So we pulled over and he ran into the woods. We females all needed to use the bathroom also but we decided to wait. Poor Chris, just a mile further down the road we found a gas station. LOL

The attendant at the BP very kindly directed us to the road that the tramping ground is on. Just past a tire store is a road fittingly called The Devil Tramping Ground Road.
As I wrote previously, there is no sign announcing that you have found the actual Devil's Tramping Ground. There is just two gravel pullouts, located on the side of the road. The second pullout is the correct one.

We knew that we were in the correct spot because teenagers had painted several upside down crosses and pentagrams into the surrounding pines. I am a big nature lover and really wish someone had just posted a sign instead.

The area is no longer forty feet and isn't even really circular. My husband said that it doesn't look that drastically different then other bare places that he's come across while camping in the woods.

Judging from the trash left in ring, the devil likes Krispy Kreme doughnuts, lots of beer and smokes heavily. I overheard Josh comment to Anthony, "Man, since God threw Satan out of heaven, the devil has really went to hell." What can I say, the boy has his father's sense of humor.

We had a very nice picnic in the middle of the not quite circle. Actually, I found the area very peaceful, but I like being in the middle of the woods. By the way, we carried our trash back to the car with us and didn't leave any litter behind.
I will try to post direction to the Devil's Tramping Grounds later.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

On Silliness And Pearl

My husband and I have always been a bit goofy with our kids. We both are just naturally silly people. One of our sons once described us as a ‘jokative family.” Bad English aside, I believe that he was correct. We are sometimes a pretty goofy family. I used to get my sons to eat noodles by helping them pretend the pasta was really worms. Yes, very sick but my boys loved the whole grossness of pretending to eat something wiggly.

Imagine my surprise when-while looking for herbal information-I came across these words:

A silly boy is disgusting and repulsive, because he is the antithesis of all that is attractive in a male. There is no age at which silliness is normal. It is in all circumstances inappropriate. How many times have you heard people say it, “Don’t be silly”? All of my readers could mimic the tone at which it is always uttered—a hurried, dismissive, embarrassment, carrying a presumption that it is out of place and most unbecoming.

At first I thought that I had wandered into one of those brilliant satires like The Onion. No.....Michael Pearl is serious.

Of course, parents should teach their children that there are times to be funny and moments to be serious. Learning how to behave in various sitiuation is part of growing up. I am not certain why being occasionally goofy is the "antithesis of all that is attractive in a male." Many of the men that I admire most, including my wonderful husband, can be real goofballs sometimes.

I was in grade school in the fifties and started high school in 1959. I don’t remember any really silly boys, not like today’s crowd of them.

Although No Greater Joy is located in Tennessee, I can't help but wonder if Michael Pearl isn't a transplant. Most southerners that I know enjoy a good belly laugh. The older people, especially those who have undergone hardships, are sometimes the funniest. Humor in the face of tribulation seems to be a southern trait.

One of the toughest women that I have ever known was my Grandmother. We called her Nanny. She had survived the depression, a very abusive, alcoholic husband, poverty and my mother’s mental disorder. Yet through it all she maintained a sense of humor that helped her cope with her life. Her ability to be silly and funny made her strong. It helped her to view life, not as a victim, but as a survivor.

Once, after my three year old son, Joshua, had asked her to draw a dog, Nan decided to tease her younger sister, Avo. Drawing an ugly picture of a horrible creature she labeled it with her sister’s name. She instructed Joshua to give it to his great aunt but to make certain that she knew it was from Annie (my grandmother). Poor 70 year old, Avo, was innocently crocheting on the couch when her little nephew brought her the crude drawing. Looking across the room at my grandmother, she yelled, “Annie, what is wrong with you?” Both women burst into loud laughter. My great aunt wasn’t offended at her big sister.

Silliness can only exist in a responsibility vacuum. A man (or boy) who is given responsibilities and is committed to performing his duty will never be silly. Where there is self-respect, there will be sobriety and dignity.

My husband actually got angry at this statement. One of the duties of my husband and his coworkers is the protection of certain weapons systems and personal, although their main job is meterology. Yet,according to my husband, the men and women that he works with can get pretty silly at times. It is because these soldiers have a lot of responsibility that they have a need to blow off steam by joking around.

Daddy and his friends will respond to foolishness like they would a cat licking its XXX.

Could someone explain what the above statement means? Is Michael Pearl being silly? I didn't know that most men had a problem with cats cleaning their privates beyond amazment.(think Puss in Boots on Shrek) I have to admit, when our male siamese would throw his leg up, bend his head over and begin to purr, I would leave the room so he could have privacy. I always felt that I was watching cat porn when our he cleaned himself. Yuck. But what any of that has to do with little boys being silly and the reaction of their fathers is beyond me.

In fact there is a lot in the article that doesn't connect to the main subject of the article-boys silliness. Most of us worry about the effect of Hollywood on our children. Although we still have tv, we no longer have cable in our house. Until we can get cable channels a la cart, and don't have to pay for the junk channels, my hubby and I have decided to have it disconnected. Michael Pearl though connects the junk on tv with, what he seems to consider, a new problem of boys being silly.

It is not the kids sitting zombie like in front of the television who are creative and energetic enough to figure out exactly which joke will gross out their siblings. Its the kids digging in the dirt, enteracting with their friends and being outdoors who come up with new ways to make one another laugh.

I would also like to point out that Pearl, by his own admission, is a child of the fifties and was a young man in the sixties. Considering that his generation brought us hippies and public unrest, maybe we could have avoided all that if young kids during the 1950's had been allowed to make a few fart jokes. LOL (Sorry, I am being silly LOL)

I began by saying that silly boys are public proof of a father’s neglect and of a mother’s indulgence. I have addressed the father’s responsibility. Now, please sit down, mothers. When a son is over-indulged by his mother, and criticized by his sisters, he will be silly

This didn't offend me so much as amuse me. I think that I am a bit more strict then my hubby and Russ is very involved with our children. He's always been a hands on dad. Plus my daughters adore their big brothers.

I am guessing also that Pearl wouldn't approve of our watching The Holy Grail with our kids. Mmmmm.....Our family-even little Sarah-quotes the movie. On second thought lets NOT go to Camelot,(Russ and Deb's house) tis a silly place.-King Arthur

Admittedly, Pearl does give good advice about parents being involved with their kids, giving them chores, helping them learn skills that appeal to them, teaching them to be independent etc...But the fact that he mixes sound counsel and common sense with some very bad parenting advice, fear mongering and psychobable as to why children, boys, are silly, actually makes the article worse.

Here is a link to the article-in case you missed my first link-

Check it out for yourselves.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Why I Don't Give Parenting Advice On This Blog

Even though it doesn't appear that God will bless our family with another baby, I like to read blogs on child rearing. Often these blogs are geared toward mother's of younger children, so they don't really apply to me. But I do find the various opinions interesting. I am always open to learning new and better ways to parent.

Considering that I have four kids, and a happy marriage you might think that I would be bustling with advice for younger women. I certainly get compliments on my children's behavior and my sons often seek out my advice on their own. God has blessed me.

But the truth is, I still have no idea what I am doing. LOL Some blogs give very definite advice on how children should be raised. And as I scroll through the comments, I am struck by how many mothers really want their children to be well behaved. But in all honesty, there isn't one single, perfect way to parent that works for all situations.

Being a military wife has exposed me to many different families and child rearing methods. I've known good kids to come from both moderately permissive households and slightly strict homes. The one thing all these families had in common were that they were consistent and the parents were involved with their kids.

I can say that those families who were at extremes in discipline, either overly permissive or very, very strict, had children who were difficult to be around. I've noticed that the kids who had no boundaries or discipline were often jerks in the parents presence, while the children who had very authoritarian parents were bad when they thought adults weren't observing them.

Most people who read this blog probably know that I stay home and teach my children. You might think that I would advocate all women doing the same. But that assumption would be incorrect. My sister and her husband love each other very dearly, their children are a joy to be around and they are strong Christians. But its my little sister who works and her hubby who is the home maker. She has chosen a completely different path then me but had very similar results to mine.

If you are wondering what inspired this post, I've been on several blogs which give very precise methods of being a Christian mother or wife. First let me say, I have never left a comment on these particular blogs, so don't get alarmed if I have visited your site.LOL Second, as is obvious by this post, I don't agree that there is one, single way of mothering children.

God has blessed me by putting such a variety of Christian men and women in my path who were wonderful but different then me, that I can't declare that my way of being a wife and mother is the only, best way.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Man Arrested In Murder Of Pregnant Soldier

My local paper, The Fayetteveille Observer, reported that a man has been arrested in the Megan Lynn Touma murder. The suspect is Sgt. Edgar Patino Lopez who was training at Ft. Bragg in psychological operations tactics at the Special Operations Command school. Touma discovered that Patino was married shortly after she realized that she was carrying his child.

I don't think that any event could compensate the Touma family for the death of two of their members, Megan and her unborn child. But perhaps, knowing that the police might possibly have their loved one's killer will give them some small comfort.

We should remember the Touma family in our prayers so that they continue to have strength to endure this tragedy.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Scripture Dealing With Purgatory.

On Lily Maiden’s blog a young poster named Bethany asked for the scriptural references for purgatory. I promised her that I would post them. If you have other questions about Purgatory please check out the two articles that I link to at the top of my blog. Chances are that I covered your question already.

I am asking any readers of my blog to please get out your bible and double check what I am writing. Never take another person’s word for what the bible says but instead, read the verses in context. That is a good habit to get into.

Let’s start with Matthew 23:26 Come to terms with your opponent or you will be handed over to the judge and thrown into prison. You will not get out until you have paid the last penny. Most people will quickly understand that the judge in this parable is actually God. Some will mistakenly assume that prison he is referencing is Hell. But how can that be when no one gets out of Hell? The verse says that you will not get out of jail UNTIL you have paid the last penny. That indicates that at sometime the person will have the ability to get out of jail. How is that possible if the above verse is speaking of Hell.

In Luke 12:41-48 Jesus describes the actions and rewards of the good, bad and ignorant servants when the master is away. The good servant will be rewarded, while the bad servant will be beaten and assigned a place with the unfaithful (hell) Yet, Jesus qualified this story by discussing the plight of the ignorant servant. 48 And the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating shall be beaten only lightly. The servant obviously is not in Heaven because there will be nothing akin to a beating in Paradise neither can it be Hell we will no longer be with the Master(Notice that the bad servant was sent away)

Corinthians 3:10-15 compares Christ to a building foundation Verses 11-114 For no one can lay foundation other than the one that is there, namely, Jesus Christ(faith in Jesus)If anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay or straw the work of each will come to light, for the Day will disclose it. It will be revealed with fire and the fire will test the quality of each one’s work. If the work stands that someone builds upon the foundation the person will receive a wage. These verses speak about the fact that we need to have our life built upon Jesus in order to enter heaven. The next verse states that But if someone’s work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved, but only as though fire. The person indicated in the verse is still saved but will need to go through a purification process to enter heaven. Catholics call this purification process Purgatory.

Also in Corinthians 15: 29 Paul speaks about a Christian practice during his time period in which the individual was baptized for the dead. Paul does not state whether he approves or disapproves of this now defunct practice. He is using it as an example to prove the resurrection of the dead. But it would seem a waste of effort for early Christians to be baptized for either those who were in Heaven or Hell. No one goes from Hell to Heaven or back.

Peter affirms in 1 Peter 3:18-19 that Christ did indeed die for our sins but that after his death and before his physical resurrection he preached to those souls in prison. It would make little sense for Jesus to preach to those in Hell who can not be saved by him. Neither would it seem appropriate for Peter to refer to those in Heaven as being in ‘prison’ The only logical explanation is that Jesus spoke to souls who were in a third realm that was neither Heaven or Hell.

It is very possible that I missed some verses so please visit Scripture Catholic which is a wonderful resource that I visit frequently.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Letter About My Father's Death.

My father, Robert E Pugh, died in Vietnam over forty years ago. Today I was rummaging in my closet and found this letter to my mother. It is dated 30 May 1967 and is from LTC Robert L. Moore.

I am trying to decide how to display such items from my mother's that deal with my father's death. I don't want this items to get lost in my closet.

I thought some of you might find the letter interesting. In case you are curious, my dad was sent to Vietnam when my mom was seven months pregnant and she got news that he died when I was five weeks old.

Dear Mrs. Push,

I was recently assigned as the Commanding Officer of the 87th Engineer Battalion(construction); shortly after I arrived, I was made cognizant of the circumstances surrounding the death of your late, beloved husband. It also became readily apparent ot me that he was held in very high esteem by many of his comrades who remain with us and who knew not only of his contributions to our efforts against the enemy but also of his personal contributions to the Battalion and his associates.

At the time, it was suggested to me that it would be both fitting and appropriate to dedicate a facility, constructed by this Battalion, to the memory of your husband. I wholehearteldly concurred and there was a consensus of opinion that the most meaningful structure that could be memorialized would be the South Beach Amphitheater which is the principal entertainment facility on Cam Ranh Peninsula. This particular structure erected in order to better cope with the Viet Cong threat; rather, it symbolizes the universal quest for understanding and a communion of ideals. The Amphitheater has already payed host to such notables and dignitaries as Bob Hope and Cardinal Spellman.

This week, the Battalion received approval from General Westmoreland's Headquarters to dedicate the South Beach Ampitheather to the memory of your husband, and to redesignate the facility as the "Robert E. Push Memorial Amphitheater." In this regard, I would like to request your concurrence as to the memorization and I would like to note my regret that we are unable to request your presence at the formal dedication ceremonies tentatively scheduled for 2 July, 1967. The distance involved and the military situation preclude any possibility of requesting your presence.

There are two requests that I would like to make of you; first, if at all possible, I would appreciate a very brief resume of your late husband's early life in order that pertinent portions my be extracted for inclusions in the General Order which officially memorializes the Ampitheater. In addition, I would appreciate your informing any relatives that you may deem appropriate of the pending memorization and, in this regard, I will attempt to forward you any pictures and other material that maybe available and which are of such a nature as may prove to have a sentimental value for you.

My best regard to you and yours and with a sincere hope that I shall hear from you in the near future.

Respectfully Yours,

Robert L. Moore

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Why Do Catholics Put Ashes On Their Forehead.

Tomorrow we celebrate Ash Wednesday and no doubt your protestant friends are going to ask why you have a smudged cross on your forehead. Before I converted, my Catholic friends would shrug off this question with the response,” It’s just something that we do.” What an appalling answer that completely neglects the opportunity to teach someone about our Catholic faith.

So why do Catholics put ashes on their forehead?

Anyone who has read the Old Testament will notice that the ancient Hebrew culture expressed grief differently then we do today. Mourning or extreme distress was expressed by throwing ashes over one self. There are many Catholic practices that have roots in ancient Judaism.

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, a time when Catholic ponder the sacrifice of Christ’s death for us. It is a period of solemn contemplation. The ashes on our forehead are a sign of our mourning for our savior’s impending death. There are some Protestants who accuse Catholic of putting to much emphasis on Christ’s death. But please understand, we celebrate our savior’s triumphant resurrection not only on Easter Sunday, but every single Sunday of the year!

The ashes also represent our own human mortality. All of us, will die and be judged. This is a sobering thought. In our contemporary, feel good society we don’t want to be reminded that our existence is not always care free and that none of us are immune to the passage of time.

What a humbling reflection on our life. Some people might even say that the reminder we are mortal is depressing. But we know that ultimately, if we persevere in Christ, that we will have victory.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Repetitive Prayers

I have many NonCatholic Christian friends, so I am used to answering questions about my faith. As long as they are polite, I welcome questions. It gives me an opportunity to discuss a subject dear to me, The Church, and helps me dispel some of the myths that are so prevalent about Catholicism.

One question that pops up occasionally is why Catholics have some prayers such as the rosary when Matthew 6:7 states"And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words." (Some bibles use the phrase, vain repetitions)

Remember Jesus did not say, don't pray using meaningless repetitions like the Jewish people do. He specified "As the Gentiles do." Let's look at Jewish prayer. Jewish people pray three times a day with a set series of prayers. On the Sabbath the Jewish wife blesses the candles with a words that her ancestors have used. Her husband blesses the bread, wine and children all with non-spontaneous, prewritten words.

Yet Jesus did not condemn these types of prayers. Jesus certainly wasn't shy about challenging the traditions of his fellow Jewish people when he found them So, he apparently was not alarmed about using prayer that had past down through previous generations.

We also know that the angels use repetitive prayer. In Rev. 4:8 the angels repeat, "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty." God is also pleased at the tax collector's repeated prayer in Luke 18:13 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' Finally we are told that Jesus himself used a repetitive prayer in The Garden of Gethsemane. Three times he repeats in agony, "O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. "

Many Protestants, unknowingly, use repetitive prayers. What is a hymn but a method of singing your prayers to God? Most songs have a chorus that repeats. Does this mean that Protestants should give up beautiful songs of praise? I certainly hope not.

So, if it wasn't set prayers or words that repeat that Jesus was prohibiting what exactly did he mean? The Greek word that is translated as 'vain, repetitions' can also mean babbling. Because our savior was in a Roman dominated world, he would have been aware of the practice of using an oracle to predict the future. The Greek priest would translate the oracle's babbling for her audience.

The word vain also has to be taken into consideration. Imagine this:

A toddler has fallen from his seat and been rushed to the hospital. Tortured by agony and guilt all his young mother can pray over and over is the words, "Please God help my son." Her whole soul is poured into this plea.

While in the hospital, the family is visited by a church member who is very aware that others are listening to his prayers. He prays, not to glorify God, but to bring honor to himself. In fact, he isn't thinking of the young couple and their toddler at all, but how beautiful his own words must sound to those listening to him.(Come on, we've all known hypocritical people).

Which person, the mother or the visitor, do you think that God is pleased with and which one has prayed a vain prayer?

Friday, January 4, 2008

Does Purgatory Negate Christ's Sacrifice?

One common objection to Purgatory is that it somehow makes Christ's sacrifice on the cross unnecessary. I've never understood this. None of us could ever merit heaven without Christ. This is something that both Catholics and Protestants agree on.

As I have written before I like analogies. They help me to see complicated concepts more clearly.

Imagine that your child accidentally breaks your elderly neighbor's window. Your child is upset because he/she knows that he will have to have to admit his mistake to the neighbor. Yet being a responsible parent, you march your child nest door. The sweet elderly lady hugs your child and assures him that she completely forgives him. She isn't mad at all. But of course there is the detail of the broken window. Windows are expensive to replace. You promise to pay the charges but your child will have to work off the cost.

Is your child any less forgiven because he has to clean up his mess? Do you tell the elderly woman that her forgiveness doesn't count because your son has to do some work?

I don't want to get to heaven as I am, a person full of faults and sin. I welcome the chance to be made clean. How merciful and wonderful is our God.