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Ask a Christian
Posted: 19 March 2008 03:21 PM   [ Ignore ]
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This is in response to George, and the arrival of another Catholic to the forum, Paul.

Please ask a serious question. I happen to be Catholic (and once was Lutheran). I can’t speak for others.

Please be careful about asking rhetorical questions: if you’ve phrased the question so that no-one can answer rationally other than your preferred answer, it’s not really a question.

‘How can X’s be so stupid as to believe B?’ is pretty sure to be starting on the wrong foot.

I myself will not promise to answer just any question put to me, nor even reply to every posting directed to me.

Well, let’s see what happens.

Sincerely,

Kirk

[ Edited: 19 March 2008 04:11 PM by inthegobi ]
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Posted: 19 March 2008 03:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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OK ... are you a Christian? If so what kind?

Kyu

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Kekerusey

“Keye’ung lu nì‘aw tì‘eyng mìkìfkey lekye’ung”
(Insanity, the only answer in a world insane!)

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Posted: 19 March 2008 04:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Can you suggest any good Christian writers? Ok, that’s too broad. As apologists go, I really enjoy C.S. Lewis, and I can’t do more than muddle through Augustine and Aquinas. De Chardin and Shelby Spong also go in the “I enjoyed it” column. I don’t like to just read the stuff I agree with, but of course it’s hard to slog through something you tend to start out disagreeing with unless it is really well-written and cogent.

Thanks, both for any suggestions and for the bravery of the thread. I am hopeful the community will treat the idea seriously and respectfully even as I am sure you will got lots of strong challenges to what you say.

[ Edited: 19 March 2008 07:24 PM by mckenzievmd ]
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Posted: 19 March 2008 04:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Kyu:

I edited the original post to make that clearer.

thanks,

Kirk

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Posted: 19 March 2008 10:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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How can X (you) be so smart and still believe B? Just kidding.  grin Why are you a Catholic, Kirk? (I must confess that were I to pick a religion—if I really really had to—I would choose Roman Catholicism. I love their churches, the music and I absolutely adore Latin. I am not sure what it would take to not see all the monstrocities commited in the name of the church, but again if god decided to show up one day, it would be a Catholic church I would sprint toward.) What has attrackted you to the Catholic church?

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Posted: 20 March 2008 02:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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OK ... why are you a Catholic? I know why I was before I ditched it but why are you?

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Posted: 20 March 2008 04:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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There was never an initial conscious choice for me to not believe in a god.  The various arguments and reasoning may support and reinforce that position but they came later.  Was your experience more like the obverse?  Did your belief start inexplicably and the support came later?  Or do you feel your belief is more of a product of conscious choice?  Or…?

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Posted: 20 March 2008 05:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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the PC apeman - 20 March 2008 04:19 AM

There was never an initial conscious choice for me to not believe in a god.

Though I know why I ditched it that is with hindsight ... it wasn’t a conscious choice for me either. TBH I don’t know of any atheists who became atheist as a conscious choice which is the way many fundies (and even some relatively moderate believers) try to portray it.

Kyu

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Posted: 20 March 2008 05:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Thanks, Kyu.  I guess I should have made it clear I was responding to Kirk’s invitation to ask a Christian.  But maybe you can answer it anyway.  What was your experience of becoming a believer?  Can you remember being a non-believer prior to that?

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Posted: 20 March 2008 07:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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mckenzievmd - 19 March 2008 04:09 PM

Can you suggest any good Christian writers? Ok, that’s too broad. As apologists go, I really enjoy C.S. Lewis, and I can’t do more than muddle through Augustine and Aquinas. De Chardin and Shelby Spong also go in the “I enjoyed it” column. I don’t like to just read the stuff I agree with, but of course it’s hard to slog through something you tend to start out disagreeing with unless it is really well-written and cogent.

Here’s a rough list, in no good order, based on the CS Lewis reference:

Aquinas and Augustine belong to an older age of the world. How about Cardinal Newman? I’ve not read any of his stuff in detail, but he was a 19th century convert, and his thought is more modern and readable.

Dorothy Sayers, The Mind of the Maker. A popular, published author of fiction explains the Trinity using creative writing as her analogy.

I prefer her translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy; it’s clear and readable. The Notes to the ‘Inferno’ and ‘Purgatory’ books are worth reading in their own right.

JRR Tolkein, ‘On Fairy Stories’. An essay that at the end claims the Gospel story is a fairy-story, which he sees as a type of myth that is at last made true.  ‘Leaf by Niggle’. A short story based on the ideas of ‘On Fairy-stories’ on one’s life on earth and afterward. Both can be found in a couple of different anthologies: The Tolkein Reader is the most common.

GK Chesterton will be an interesting ride for you! Tey Orthodoxy or The Everlasting Man. He was a journalist, so he talks a little like Dawkins etc. - he doesn’t mind using a little ridicule, and that might just rile you. (But if you read Orwell you ought to read his first novel, The Napoleon of Notting Hill, which takes place ‘80 years’ from the book’s writing in 1904; the intro notes claim that Orwell disliked its vision of the future so much that 1984 is a deliberate reply to it. It’s not deliberately Christian, however.)

For something a little more mystical, try Charles Williams, a friend of Lewis (though not much liked by Tolkein, a very pious and old-fashioned Catholic, for his occultist leanings). I found his Descent of the Dove to be inspiring in college - I’m not sure how good its shelf-life is however! His novel Descent Into Hell is a really good psychological novel, and you watch a man literally, slowly put himself into a hell - it’s horrifically riveting. His other six novels are rather sketchy things, IMHO, just as novels.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church is available online at the Vatican website. That’s a good place to go for specific questions about Catholic beliefs, but it’s written for Catholics - it’s not an apologetic work.

Erasmus some time ago sort of pushed me to buy a recent book of Benedict’s writing and speeches over the years: The Essential Pope Benedict XVI. Harper One, in paperback, $15.95. That might be good if you’re prone to Benedict-bashing, but it’s got a lot of ‘internal’ church issues in it. It might be good if you think of churches as gothic black-boxes, with no clear idea of what people do in an organized religion.

Are you looking for ‘apologetic’ works, ‘inspirational’ works, books about issues ‘internal’ to Christianity, basic ‘what we believe’ books?

This list is pretty scrappy. My recent reading has been all technical, secular philosophy works - and it made my after-school reading plummet like a stone - so give me a little time to riffle through my library and ask a couple of fellow Christian cafe-flies.

Thanks, both for any suggestions and for the bravery of the thread. I am hopeful the community will treat the idea seriously and respectfully even as I am sure you will got lots of strong challenges to what you say.

Thanks for the encouragement. I joined this forum for not very clear reasons - mostly because some few years ago I’d been burned heavily and unjustly by a grad-school professor, and wanted to wash the bad taste of mean-spirited atheist out of my mouth. Then I decided to just keep sitting in the secular pew and say a little here and there until I knew more. It seemed good to make myself available, as some return for my membership.

Kirk

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Posted: 20 March 2008 07:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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George - 19 March 2008 10:10 PM

How can X (you) be so smart and still believe B? Just kidding.  grin Why are you a Catholic, Kirk? (I must confess that were I to pick a religion—if I really really had to—I would choose Roman Catholicism. I love their churches, the music and I absolutely adore Latin. I am not sure what it would take to not see all the monstrocities commited in the name of the church, but again if god decided to show up one day, it would be a Catholic church I would sprint toward.) What has attracted you to the Catholic church?

You can be a Catholic - or a freethinker - and still ‘see’ the bad things done in the name of a church or reason. Dont’ forget that some of the atrocities are atrocities to some and not to Catholics - like the Pope’s moral teaching. Several people here find it ‘monstrous’, but I don’t. (for another day, another day!) But any real atrocities we would agree was committed by the Church or its members, one shouldn’t ignore or become blind to.

Why I’m a Catholic - the ‘good reasons’ - is distinct from what ‘attracted’ me to Catholicism. Truth in advertising - don’t go a typical american ‘anglo’ catholic church thinking you’re gonna hear all that lovely music. They have a lot of pretty crappy music right now as a matter of fact - IMHO!

Epistemically, and speaking too generally, I’m a Catholic still because it’s proven itself to me as i’ve lived out its consequences, and its beliefs seem to stand up to pressure. I switched from the Lutherans not out of any great dissatisfaction with them, but because I thought i saw something even more in the Catholic Church. (Surely it wasn’t for the quality of the mass-music; Lutherans do it better, frankly!)

I became Christian for very mercenary causes: my parents for unknown reasons put me in a Lutheran school, and the teacher when taking attendance on Mondays also asked if you’d been to Sunday school. You got a star in the grade-book for that (no grade), and I was a very self-competitive little kindergardener. So my parents tell me that I dragged them to church. And they kept going for some reason, perhaps for me and my sisters’ religious sakes (neither were from very religious backgrounds - one was from stay-at-home methodists and the other grew up also not attending the state Reformed Church of her German province.)

Somehow, i know that my Redeemer lives. That’s the best ‘short’ answer to your question. Of course it’s only a start.

Kirk

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Posted: 20 March 2008 08:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Krik,
Thanks for the recommendations. I’m a big fan of Tolkien, so I’m very familiar with the essay/story you mention. And as a medieval/renaissance lit major I’ve studied Dante, though I don’t believe that particular translation. I’m just always looking for good reads, and I don’t necessarily want to limit myself to ideologically compatible stuff. I’ll give Chesterton and Williams a try.

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Posted: 20 March 2008 08:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Is the Bible the Word of God?

If so, isn’t it important to get the translation correct?

I never heard of SHEOL in 13 years of Catholic education.

The Old Testament is in Hebrew and Aramaic, the New Testament is Greek, with a tiny bit of Aramaic I hear.

The words which are translated as HELL are SHEOL, HADES and GEHENNA. The translations are wrong. SHEOL means “dwelling place of spirits” or “abode of the dead.” HADES is from Greek mythology and the Greeks didn’t have a heaven, everybody went to Hades. It is curious that HELL is mostly portrayed as underground with fire and brimstone.  Does that sound like an idea coming from people that lived near volcanoes.  There are volcanoes in Italy where Roman civilization originated.

Is the Roman Catholic Church is trying to terrorize everyone into being good Catholics with Roman superstitions?

Don’t blame it on God.  What is that business about in the 2nd Commandment?  Using God’s name in vain.  Is that the definition of organized religion?

Check HELL in Cruden’s Concordance.

http://www.bibletopics.com/BibleStudy/149.htm

http://what-the-hell-is-hell.com/HellStudy/HellCharts.htm

Sheol
  In ancient Jewish beliefs, the dwelling place of the dead: “the land of gloom and deep darkness” (Job 10:21). It was generally believed that the good and the wicked alike dwell in Sheol. The apocryphal First Book of Enoch, however, describes Sheol as being divide into different regions, where the dead are rewarded or punished according to the lives they led.
  (“If This Goes On—”, Starship Troopers)

http://heinleinsociety.org/concordance/real/s_real.htm

psik

[ Edited: 20 March 2008 08:56 AM by psikeyhackr ]
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Posted: 20 March 2008 09:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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psikeyhackr - 20 March 2008 08:44 AM

Is the Bible the Word of God?

If so, isn’t it important to get the translation correct?

(...)

Check HELL in Cruden’s Concordance.

http://www.bibletopics.com/BibleStudy/149.htm

I think the RCC still uses the Douay-Rheims, not the NIV (apparently the “New American Bible” is a translation preferred for English-speakers by the RCC).

Bible translation isn’t the critical issue for Catholics that it is for Protestants.  I expect Kirk will deal with that point eventually.

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Posted: 20 March 2008 11:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Bible translation isn’t the critical issue for Catholics that it is for Protestants.

Actually they are supposed to trust the clergy to explain everything to them in Latin.

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Posted: 20 March 2008 11:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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the PC apeman - 20 March 2008 05:51 AM

Thanks, Kyu.  I guess I should have made it clear I was responding to Kirk’s invitation to ask a Christian.  But maybe you can answer it anyway.  What was your experience of becoming a believer?  Can you remember being a non-believer prior to that?

Sorry ... me no Christian smile

Me atheist ... I was born and brought up and Catholic, educated in Catholic schools, went to church each Sunday, was confirmed, became an altar boy ‘n all that sh**

I started questioning it around the age of 13, ditched the bitch about 15.

Kyu

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(Insanity, the only answer in a world insane!)

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