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Is There Really a Universal Moral Law???

The basics of any morality is “do good, avoid evil”. But, if we change the definition of “good”, then we can’t help but act in a way which isn’t truly good. So, the problems we see are really found in a morality which comes from an individuals’ faulty …

10 Defective Images of God

When I was a child, I had a very child-like image of God, which came with both positives and negatives.

I remember thinking of God as a wise old man, with a long white beard. He sat on clouds and looked quite sour most of the time. He was a judge who saw everything I did and waited for me to do wrong. When I sinned, He would get me back – one way or another. It was like a childhood idea of karma tha I had projected upon God.

On the other hand, God also forgave anything I asked Him to. He had all the answers and was all-powerful. This gave me some peace and comfort.

Once I took on an adult faith, I had to deal with other defective images of God I had taken on through the years. These faulty images have implications in how I act, how I see others, how I view the world, etc.

The great Christian writer, C.S. Lewis once wrote:

“There are three images in my mind which I must continually forsake and replace by better ones: the false image of God, the false image of my neighbours, and the false image of myself.”

All of us must deal, at some point or another, with our disordered views of God. Below are a few of the most common and the problems they may present.

10 Defective Images of God
1 – The Multiple Personality God - God is the same for all religions and beliefs. He/She/It takes on different forms, but is the same. So, it really doesn’t matter if you are a Hindu, a Buddhist, a Pagan, an atheist, or a Christian. We all worship the same God, just in different ways and all of them are equally valid.
2 – The Divine Yet Disconnected Watchmaker. This view of God is Deistic (God is creator of the universe, but not involved in it personally anymore), but it is more common than you might think. Less than 50% of Catholics believe in a “personal God”! If God does not care about each of us individually, then the implications are enormous – What does faith matter? How ought I act? Who am I?
3 – The All-Powerful Cop. This understanding of God tends to see Him as a cop, hiding behind a cloud, waiting to pull us over and give us a ticket for our bad behavior. It is the same understanding I had as a child – that God merely cared about what we did wrong. If God loves us, we are more than our sins! This image of God is based in guilt, not mercy. Many folks who struggle with self-image and guilt will have to overcome this idea of God.

4 – The Non-Judgmental Drinking Buddy. If we see God as someone who really doesn’t care how we act, then our actions don’t matter at all. He is then reduced to a drinking buddy, who doesn’t really want what is best for us or care to challenge us to live a great life – rather He just wants us to “feel” good about everything (even sinful & unhealthy ones) we do and ultimately he is an enabler, not God. This God is irrelevant in our daily lives.

5 – The Teddy Bear God. Sometimes we limit God to a nice easy list of concepts we can understand and therefore deal with. It may be that God is powerful – but not ALL-powerful. God might be merciful – but not mercy itself! This comforts many people, because then God is “safer” for them to deal with. These limitations on God are actually limitations on our understanding of God, not on the nature of God Himself. This would make God powerless to change us and one who never “judges” us.
6 – The Me, Myself, and I God. We project God into an image of what we want him to be. In other words, instead of humanity being made in the “image and likeness” of God, we make God into our own image and likeness. This means we can make a God who thinks, acts, and lives just like we would like him to. This kind of God is neutered, even if personal in som way.
7 – The Uncle Joe God. This kind of God is handed down to us from ages past. We follow him because our parents, grandparents, and anscestors did. Far from being a God who we know personally, He is like our long-lost Uncle Joe who is disconnected from the present, but we have fond memories of from our childhood.
8 – The Puppeteer God. This image of God is one who controls the actions of everything and makes no sense in how he orchestrates things. He lets natural disasters happen, lets kids die, gives us cancer, etc. Yet we are never able to figure out the reasons for it all. This God is cruel and doesn’t relate to our human suffering.
9 – The Party-Pooper God. God is merely out to suck fun out of your life. You can’t do what you want, you can’t have fun, you can’t… Rather, you have to just follow a strict list of rules. If you don’t, then God is goingo to see you singing, having fun, etc and come take away all your goodies – just like the Grinch did to Whoville.
10 – The Cosmic Vending Machine In The Sky. Many people believe God is merely there to serve their needs. As long as the put in their good deeds, prayers, etc. they can “pay” God to do their bidding. This isn’t the way a relationship works. If we see prayer and our relationship with God as a mere service in exchange for a payment, we have a vending machine (or a butler) in the sky – not a living God who may not answer our prayers just as we want. Furthermore, we aren’t able to do enough to save ourselves. It is only through God’s grace that we attain salvation.

These are only 10 of the many ways we can misunderstand God’s nature. The way we fix these problems (and others) is by continued conversion in faith, that is, we constantly seek to allow God to reveal Himself to us, through:

  • Sacred Scripture
  • prayer
  • The Sacraments
  • other people
  • nature
  • etc.

To be attentive to how God speaks to us and reveals Himself to us, we have to make ourselves available to Him and once we receive such grace, we must allow our minds and hearts to be transformed. Thus, we have to choose to act on His grace. In this, our hearts can be attuned to understand Him more deeply. Which is why the discovery of God’s nature is a never-ending task, even in heaven.

Yet, these revelations of God to our hearts can transform us deeply, just as when God revealed Himself to St. Augustine:

“Belatedly I loved thee, O Beauty so ancient and so new, belatedly I loved thee. For see, thou wast within and I was without, and I sought thee out there. Unlovely, I rushed heedlessly among the lovely things thou hast made. Thou wast with me, but I was not with thee. These things kept me far from thee; even though they were not at all unless they were in thee. Thou didst call and cry aloud, and didst force open my deafness. Thou didst gleam and shine, and didst chase away my blindness. Thou didst breathe fragrant odors and I drew in my breath; and now I pant for thee. I tasted, and now I hunger and thirst. Thou didst touch me, and I burned for thy peace.” -St. Augustine

3 Myths About Catholics and The Bible

Many non-Catholic Christians still hold the common misconception that Catholics are discouraged from reading the Bible. Below is some background and more.

3 Myths About Catholics and The Bible

The first thing we need to do is shed ourselves of our preconceived ideas. We take for granted now that anyone can have a Bible if they want one. Yet not only has this not been the case through most of Christian history, but it isn’t the case in many parts of the world still today (North Korea, Middle Eastern countries, etc). Remember that a majority of people during Christian history couldn’t read well, if at all. Most didn’t have access until books, even after the printing press, because of the high costs.

With all of this background, we can see that throughout most of the 2,000 years of history of Christianity, Bibles were not an everyday possession of most common people. So, the way they learned about the Bible was through other means – Mass, fine art (think stained glass windows, murals, paintings, music, etc), stories, and oral tradition. With this being said there are a number of “myths” surrounding the Catholic Church and the Bible. Here are 3 of them:

1 - The Catholic Church chained Bibles to keep the from the people.
-more accurately, they were chained because they were so valuable and a church might have only one copy. For most of the Church’s history the Bible was transcribed by hand (many by monks) and they were very expensive. This was not to keep Bibles from the people but rather to keep them from being stolen.

2 - The Catholic Church discourages personal Bible reading because they know that if you read the Bible for yourself you will find the truth behind their lies.
-This one sounds silly, but many believe it to be true. The problem is that the Catholic Church has always maintained that Scripture is indispensable to a Christian. In fact, the Church even compiled the canon of the Bible.

3 - The Catholic Church banned early translations of the Bible because they didn’t want common people to read it and know the truth.
-Rather, the Church banned early translations because they were done “unofficially” and without proper Church oversight. Most contained errors and the Church banned them because they were bad translations – just as the Jehovah’s Witnesses have a bad translation today, filled with many errors, some of the deliberate (if only we were protected from some of the bad translations we have today).

There are many more myths, but what happened is that they worked there way into the consciousness of many people, even today.

Another factor in perpetuating the myth is the confusion that ensued after Vatican II in the 60′s. If you want to read about some of that, you can in previous posts I have made here and here. Suffice it to say that many problems in the Church were amplified after Vatican II, including Biblical teaching.

So, are Catholics discouraged from reading the Bible? ABSOLUTELY NOT!
In fact, here are a few pertinent quotes from through the ages about the Bible:

“Flee to the Church, and be brought up in her bosom, and be nourished with the Lord’s Scriptures.”
-Irenaeus, 2nd Cent.

“Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ”
-St. Jerome, 5th Cent.

“The church of believers is great, and its bosom most ample; it embraces the fullness of the two Testaments.”
-Ephraem, 4th Cent.

“If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.”
-St. Augustine, 4th Cent.

“Holy Scripture is a stream in which the elephant may swim and the lamb may wade.”
-Pope St. Gregory, 6th Cent.

“Easy access to Sacred Scripture should be provided for all the Christian faithful.”
-Vatican II, Dei Verbum, 20th Cent.

Burying A Treasure: Entitlement

Reading the parable of talents, I was hit between the eyes with this sentence:”But the man who received one (talent) went off and dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money.”A talent is a coin worth about 17 years worth of wages. In today’s…

35 Saints’ Names Rarely Picked for Confirmation

I want video of the Bishop saying these names as they Confirm someone.NOTE: In making this list, I do not intend to ridicule the Saints or those they intercede for. Rather, the list is made in fun. We Christians need to be able to laugh at ourselves. A…

10 Reasons The Catholic Church Should NOT Sell Her “Riches” And Give Money To The Poor

There are many who ask – why doesn’t the Catholic Church sell all her paintings, buildings, expensive decorations, etc. and give them to the poor (and it is a good question to ask). The answers below.10 Reasons The Catholic Church Should NOT Sell Her “…

10 Reasons Why Being Catholic Rocks

10 Reasons Why Being Catholic RocksCivil disobedience.  In refusing to obey laws that are unjust, we show the world that there are more important things in life than just getting along. When necessary we march, picket, and if it comes to it, …

Were Early Christians Socialists?

“All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need.” (Acts 2:44-45)

Is this passage proof that early Christians were socialists? Many believe that is the case. What we can see from this passage, and from others (as well as historical evidence), that many (though not all) Christians lived in a form of society where belongings are shared with others in their group. But, one thing we must be very careful not to do is to translate the Bible into a political statement. Socialism is a form of governmental policy, not a statement on how Christians should support one another. Notice there was no government enforcing this form of society, it was purely voluntary. So, I would be careful to call it “socialism” at all – which is state-ownership of property and means of production.

The Church has never said that one form of government or economic system is the only one we should support. In fact, it warns against the evils that threaten the common good present in all governmental systems. What it does do is proclaim the truths that all governments and economic systems should adhere to. But, any form of government which is compatible with the common good is allowable.

“Human society can be neither well-ordered nor prosperous unless it has some people invested with legitimate authority to preserve its institutions and to devote themselves as far as is necessary to work and care for the good of all. . . . Every human community needs an authority to govern it. . . . Its role is to ensure as far as is possible the common good of the society.” -CCC 1897-1898

The only form of government / economic system the Church has said is incompatible with Christianity is Communism. This is because it does not seek the common good and denies the basic rights of human persons; because Communism is an officially atheistic, totalitarian government, and by definition cannot seek what is good for the human person, who has as the greatest good, the search for God. Pope John Paul II wrote:

“the class struggle in the Marxist sense and militarism have the same root, namely, atheism and contempt for the human person, which place the principle of force above that of reason and law.” -Centisimus Annus, 14

The Catechism states:

“Regimes whose nature is contrary to the natural law, to the public order, and to the fundamental rights of persons cannot achieve the common good of the nations on which they have been imposed.” -CCC 1901


“The Church has rejected the totalitarian and atheistic ideologies associated in modem times with “communism” or “socialism.” She has likewise refused to accept, in the practice of “capitalism,” individualism and the absolute primacy of the law of the marketplace over human labor. Regulating the economy solely by centralized planning perverts the basis of social bonds; regulating it solely by the law of the marketplace fails social justice, for “there are many human needs which cannot be satisfied by the market.”Reasonable regulation of the marketplace and economic initiatives, in keeping with a just hierarchy of values and a view to the common good, is to be commended.” -CCC 2425

While some forms of socialism, republic, and democracy are valid forms of government, they need to guard against seeing man as a mere means of production or as an end to a means.

One Catholic social justice principle, that is almost unknown by most Catholics, that I think can shed some light on this subject is call subsidiarity. That is, the lower-level organizations should not have their power usurped by higher-level ones. For instance, the family is the original place of education and that authority of the parents to educate their children should not be taken away by a local school district, state, or federal government. Those higher-level organizations need to support and help the lower-level ones, but not supersede their authority.

In the same way we are to support one another and the federal government needs to allow us (and support our efforts to do so) and then if it has to, be a safety net for those that “fall through the cracks”.

Therefore, we cannot see the Bible passage above as promoting socialism. But, it does promote generosity and helping others in whatever ways we need to accomplish that. One way is what is put forward in the passage – giving all we have to be shared with others.

Does Your Life Make Sense?

“You should live your life in such a way that it would make no sense unless God exists.”- Cardinal Souhard

Never be afraid to ask yourself the big questions:

  • Is there truth?
  • Can truth be known?
  • Is truth universal to all?
  • Does God exist?
  • Is the Bible reliable?
  • Is God active in the world?
  • Aren’t all religions the same?
  • Who am I?
  • What was I created for?
  • What is the meaning of life?
  • What is my purpose?
  • How am I to live?
  • What kind of life (vocation) and I called to?
  • Why is there death?
  • Why is there suffering?
  • Why do bad things happen to good people?
  • Why do good things happen?
  • Why is there something rather than nothing?
  • What is love?
  • What happens after someone dies?
  • How do we determine right from wrong?
  • How do I go to heaven?
  • Does God answer prayer?

Are you satisfied with your answers; and maybe even more important a question: are you satisfied with your life or is there something missing? Regardless, don’t be afraid of asking big questions, but always be ready for God to provide a big answer.

Never be afraid of the answer to big questions. You were made to ask them, and even more so, you were made to find the answer in a relationship with Jesus.

Fr. Barron hits a home run with this video, while he touches on some of these big questions.
It is a bit philosophical, but worth watching and reflecting on.

20 Steps To A Great Marriage

20 Steps To A Great MarriageDon’t Have Premarital Sex - The statistics show that it means a much higher chance of a successful marriage if you don’t ever have premarital sex.Don’t Cohabitate - If you do cohabitate, it doubles your chance…

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