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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Tommy Takes a Look at Liberal Land

Discussions held with proponents of liberalism can leave one wondering 'what on earth are these people are thinking?' A simple, common sense statement like 'we cannot go on spending money we do not have' is utterly lost upon them. We have had a wealth of practical experience allowing liberal ideology to be implemented into public policy, with disastrous results. And yet, not in the least bit deterred, they cry out to us all:

"Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more, Or close the wall up with our English dead!"

That might be the perfect phrase if you are laying siege to a fortressed city, not so good if you are tossing limited resources into the bottomless money pit that is our Federal government.

Thomas Sowell is not pre-disposed to such tomfoolery. Growing up in Harlem, his optimistic notions of the benefits of government interventions were rudely shattered when he spent a year working as an economist with the Department of Labor. It is with this eye of experience that he views statements of our Treasury Secretary:
Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner says, "We're facing a very consequential debate about some fundamental choices as a country." People talk that way in Liberal Land. Moreover, such statements pass muster with those who simply take in the words, decide whether they sound nice to them, and then move on.

But, if you take words seriously, the more fundamental question is whether individuals are to remain free to make their own choices, as distinguished from having collectivized choices, "as a country" — which is to say, having choices made by government officials and imposed on the rest of us.

The history of the 20th century is a painful lesson on what happens when collective choices replace individual choices. Even leaving aside the chilling history of totalitarianism in the 20th century, the history of economic central planning shows it to have been such a widely recognized disaster that even communist and socialist governments were abandoning it as the century ended.
And still we hear our problems will all be solved if we just spend ... more. A trillion dollars were spent to 'stimulate' the economy, and the result is unemployment near 10%, 20% if you count all those who gave up looking. Despite this the solution tossed our way is to blow another 500 billion... 500 billion that we do not have.
The world of reality is not nearly as lovely as the world of Liberal Land. No wonder so many people want to go there.
Yes, but you and I get to live here, in reality.

50 comments:

  1. Is this so hard to understand? And yet both parties keep plumping up government.

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  2. "Is this so hard to understand?"

    Yes... yes, apparently it is.

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  3. Completely off topic--and for that I apologize--but I need to get some perspective from other people, specifically practicing Roman Catholics
    (and I believe we have a few here). What do you think about the new Roman Missal they introduced today? I find the changes totally unnecessary--change for the sake of change at the expense of clarity. Why? I can't find a single change that makes any sense. Yes, I know that the Church is not a democracy and I am usually one to point that out, but am I the only Catholic that wants to stop this before it goes any further? Where we had--
    "Lord I am not worthy to receive You
    But only say the word and I shall be healed"


    We now have--

    Lord, I am not worthy
    that you should enter under my roof,
    but only say the word
    and my soul shall be healed


    Is that clearer? Better? More profound? Better able to bring us to salvation?

    Or is it just me?

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  4. I am no theologian, but I recall the prayer to be:

    "Lord I am not worthy to receive You,
    But only say the word and my soul shall be healed"


    I always took it to mean "receive you into my body", referring to receiving the Holy Eucharist and the idea of Christ living in you, and that the phrase came from the centurion who asked the Lord to heal his servant. Perhaps the new version makes a clearer tie to the story of the centurion.

    I've always admired that centurion, his confidence that the Lord could do what He said He would do, and could do so with a command, the assuredness, the lack of doubt that Jesus was who He said He was, and capable to command such things. But as to whether the change makes things clearer or better, I cannot say.

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  5. When was the last time you went to Mass, James?

    There have been some minor changes since Vatican II allowed for the recitation of the Mass in the local language, but what they have done now makes no sense. {And yes, one of those changes was "...I shall be healed."] I don't think there is any doubt about welcoming the Body of Christ into our bodies when we said "Lord, I am not worthy to receive You." Do you? And "I shall be healed" always implied mind, soul, body, spirit and strength didn't it--the belief that Jesus was God and by welcoming Him in we would be healed--saved.

    After some thirty-eight years, I have the Mass memorized as do a lot of others, I'm sure. If I had to, if I ever found myself somewhere away from the Mass, I could always recite it all word for word if only for my benefit. Why change for the sake of change?

    Here's a few other examples--

    Old text: He was born of the Virgin Mary
    New text: ... was incarnate of the Virgin Mary


    Old text: begotten, not made, one in being with the Father...
    New text: begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;

    Really?

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  6. Does this mean I'll have to toss my John Michael Talbot albums? (and, mind you, I am assuredly not a RC).

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  7. Really, Ilion? You just had to add "assuredly"?

    But do as you like with your music. I'm sure it isn't a matter of Faith and Morals.

    I can see why if you were born a snake handler, you'd wish to die as one. ;-) You'll get no judgement from me.

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  8. Yes, I just had to.

    But, I distinctly recall JMT singing/praying: "Lord, I am not worthy to receive You; (but) only say the word and I shall be healed" If that's now on the outs... well ...


    I was born a pagan, and worse, an enemy of God ... you know, just as you were.

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  9. I have not been to mass in some time, and haven't been to church at all lately. I like some of John Michael Talbot's music, a tad on the contemplative side, though I loved his album on the mass, which seems hard to find these days.

    "Begotten, not made, one in being with the Father."

    That's beautiful, and very clear in its meaning.

    "...consubstantial with the Father."

    I thought you said at Vatican II they decided to stop doing the mass in Latin?

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  10. "I can see why if you were born a snake handler, you'd wish to die as one. ;-)"

    By the way, I'm told that snakes are at least alive. 8o

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  11. Ilion, yes I was. Luckily I was saved by the infusion of grace into my soul, which took place during my baptism--when I was a few days old. And since then, I have followed the religion taught by Christ.

    James, I agree. I see where The Rev. John Baldwin, a professor of liturgy at Boston College, described the 1973 version as having the "poetic flare of a wet potato chip." To me, the new Missal has the poetic flare of a soggy fried potato slice. I hope The Rev. Baldwin has a flair for reversing mistakes quickly.

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  12. Ilion, I wasn't concerned about the snakes, although now you got me wondering. . .

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  13. Just in case everybody was starting to settle down... ;)

    With the exception of "consubstantial," it seemed to me that the changes were reversals, mostly phrases I remember from when I was little, including the "come under my roof." (I don't remember about "incarnate.") I especially like that we've gone back to "I believe," rather than "We believe."

    My dad's reaction today was disgust at "change for the sake of change" (although he described it as humans being incapable of seeing a knob without turning it) -- but my understanding was that these revisions were intended to go back, not just to original phrases more accurately translated, but to original meanings that have gotten muddled. I have to admit, I haven't done any of the reading I was sure six months ago I'd have done by now, but I may be able to find the reference material I was referred to at the time. Might be a good Advent project...

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  14. Darrell,
    You were saved against (for lack of better term) your will? without your permission? without your knowledge? without your conscious desire-and-decision to renounce your sinfulness?

    Is that even possible?

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  15. I started as an altar boy when the Mass was still in Latin, and there were Missals available even then that had an English translation. I used those on my own to help learn what the Latin words meant (you were just supposed to memorize the Latin and shut up, but that didn't sit well with me.) Yes, there are parts of the new Third Missal that are the same as the old translations. So what? Those translations were clumsy to ears and brains speaking English then and they still are. I'd rather welcome Jesus into me than to join me for a quick one "under my roof." Hey, I meant a "potent potable!" The people that put together the Second Missal actually did a wonderful job, staying away from 60s/70s slang and such and the beginnings of political correctness. I always knew what a chalice was, but ditto for a cup. And I'm pretty sure that Jesus didn't use either. But cup gets the point across pretty well. If exact translations were a good thing, then those computerized translators would have the market cornered, right? But anyone that has used a computer translator knows that often they produce clumsy garbage. The literal is not what the foreigner meant and you have to do a bit more searching to find out what was meant by that exact combination of words. That's what the people behind the Second Edition did. Ninety-something percent of the words were put there by human beings anyway, hundreds of years after Christ (yes I know it is 100% if you're considering English). "This is MY Body. This is MY Blood. Do this in memory of Me" excepted (among a few others). The people that know the old translations by heart are gone or soon will be. What the point of going back? And they really didn't go back all the way, either. That "mea culpa" used to be a separate audience responsorial. Now they threw it in to the middle of The Confiteor. Why?

    Stop the madness now! Do I really want to pick up that missalette knowing how many people sneezed on it in the last thirty days? No. And I haven't had to do that for 38 years. Why not go back to "thee, thou, and thy" too? Or have the priest have his back to the congregation? The past is dead and buried. Best leave it there.

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  16. For Ilion.

    Yes. Yes, it was. With grace then and the Grace of God I received in the coming years through the Sacraments I received, it was done. And of course I have renewed my Baptismal vows every year since--at least. Christ's Church is very thorough.

    Any more flak and I will give you Fr. John J. Burke's whole A Short Way to Truth. from The Catholic Prayer Book for Marines, circa WWII. That is the most precise and concise explanation I have ever encountered.
    Totally as an aside, here's a sample of his work in the form of a short prayer to Mary.

    Most Blessed Virgin, in your life of glory, remember the sorrows of earth.

    Look with kindness on those who suffer, who struggle against difficulties, who drink unceasingly the bitterness of this life.

    Have pity on those who love each other and are separated.

    Have pity on the lonely heart.

    Have pity on the weakness of our faith.

    Have pity on the objects of our affection.

    Have pity on those who weep, those who pray, those who fear. . .Obtain for all, hope and peace.


    I love the "objects of our affection" one. That was a man for whom I would certainly buy a drink.

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  17. So, Hitler is saved? Not because (against all reasonable expectation) he repented before he died of his mass-murders of human beings and his obstinate hatred of God, but because someone sprinkled holy water on him when he was an infant?

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  18. Yes, Ilion, that is exactly what I said. If you ignore my words.

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  19. To make it clear, that Grace was the start. My life is, and will be, the measure of the rest.
    His Church is, was, and will be my guide.

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  20. Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe the idea of baptizing infants comes from the idea of original sin, that man is born into sin, and without the Lord there is no hope of salvation. What then are we to say of the infants that die, and in days gone by there were a great many infants that died. If God asks us to be baptized as a sign or symbol of our desire to be born again and anew in Him, should we not as parents take this first step for our innocent newborns as a stand in, and allow them to confirm this commitment at a later date when they are old enough to stand on their own? I believe it is a beginning, but the bottom line is that each must choose for himself. There is a comfort to baptizing well loved newborns. For these difficult questions, such as if Man is born into sin and cannot be saved except through Jesus, then what would a just and loving God have to say for babies that die at term, I do not know the answer, but then it is someone else's salvation we are speaking of, and it is best to work out your own salvation with respect of God's grace to you, and not ponder too much things that are for God and God alone to answer.

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  21. "Oy vey!"

    Are you part Jewish, too? What a small world.

    'Course, I think my Jewish ancestors were Sephardim, rather than Ashkenazim.

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  22. Darrell,
    How have I ignored your words? It seems to me that what I have done is simple draw out the logical implication of your words. In other words, it seems to me that it is *you* who are ignnoring your own words.

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  23. "There is a comfort to baptizing well loved newborns."

    Indeed. But, the question is, does that act -- by their parents -- save them? Does God have grandchildren, after all?

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  24. Yes you are right, James. We were all (except Jesus and Mary) born with Original sin. And leaving aside that matter of dying early, don't we always push for an early start at doing what's good for us? And shouldn't we avoid sin as soon as we know what sin is and can be held accountable for our actions? Should we wait 36.4 years (the average age for Anabaptist baptism) before we start doing the right thing? As I said, all Catholics are asked to renew their Baptismal vows at least once per year. And of course we are responsible for learning our religion and following its teachings, and seeking forgiveness for our sins--continuously.
    Making an issue of this just sounds forced, contrieved. If Hitler had been baptized before he got into the bunker for the last time, would that have done the trick? If Baptists want him, they can have him. I do not know his mind or what he did at the end and all of this is up to God anyway.

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  25. As I understand it, the act of parent's baptizing their infants does not save them, nor does dedicating them to God as many protestant churches do, but I don't think an infant that dies is condemned to hell either, and I cannot resolve how if salvation depends upon my choosing Christ, then how could an infant's life be saved if they never choose, but then again I am not God. I will tell you this much for certain, and that is that my limited understanding of God and His ways in no way limits Him.

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  26. According to the teachings of the Church, the only way to be saved is to receive an infusion of grace into the soul, which takes place at baptism. THAT IS THE START OF THE LIFELONG PROCESS. Since babies and infants are blameless, but carry Original sin, the concept of Limbo was created by Church thinkers to accomodate those souls, in a place separate from Heaven, Hell, or Purgatory. A position that the Church eventually pulled back from. Of the remaining options, Heaven seems to be the most likely destination. One cannot choose if never given a chance.

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  27. Are they changes, such as the Church of England constantly inflicts upon its texts, in the interests of modernity, or are they reversions, enacted in the exactly opposite spirit?

    Needless to say I don't know much about this, but I do like the current Pope very much and one of the things I liked most was that I thought he was very much opposed to wantonly changing things, and engaged in putting them back the way they were?
    Apologies if my terminology is too theologically sophisticated.

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  28. Well the problem is, the way "they were" was in Latin, not English. The literal English translation was not allowed to be used. The Second Missal relied on what is known as dynamic equivalents to the Latin words, not always on word-for-word equivalents. It is apparent to me now that they did a remarkable job with that. Sure there were judgement calls made--that "cup" for "chalice" case, for example. But the emphasis was on clarity and meaning, for English-speaking people of this time. Nothing has changed in that regard in the last forty years. I think my analogy of a human translator versus computer software is an apt one. This may represent "going back" technically. But in this case, I don't think it's a good thing. I can't find a single case where the changes produce greater clarity or understanding. In fact the opposite is often true. When the priest says, for example, "The Lord be with you," {they omitted the "may" at the front, but no matter.}we are to respond "And with your spirit," instead of "And also with you." Is the new version closer to the Latin? Yes. [Et cum spiritu tuo.] But does it add to clarity? Not to me. I can't ever recall addresing another person's spirit in everyday conversation. But that's me.

    Btw, the changes are on Pope John Paul II from a decision he made in 2000, with an implementation date of 2011. Personally, I still think the Jesuits were behind it. Given his health at the time....I better not. Conspiracy theories won't help my case.

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  29. Darrell: "Making an issue of this just sounds forced, contrieved. If Hitler had been baptized before he got into the bunker for the last time, would that have done the trick? If Baptists want him, they can have him. I do not know his mind or what he did at the end and all of this is up to God anyway."

    Darrell,
    You're playing stupid. You do that sometimes, and it's no more appealing when you do it than when some random atheist does it.

    Hitler *was* baptized (well, at any rate, holy water was tossed at him) ... as an infant, according to the odd rites of Catholicism. According to what you are saying, Hitler *is* saved, by virtue of that odd rite, of which he himself took no decision to undertake.

    Nevertheless, should I henceforth hold my tongue when some God-hating fool tries to use Hitler and Nazism to discredit Catholicism?

    Your belief on this matter may well be correct Catholic dogma, but it is nonetheless incoherent, as I am drawing out.

    OK, so you don't want to think about Hitler. What about me? I didn't get baptized until I was about 21, I *declined* to get baptized previous to that ... so, even though I *thought* I was a Christian from the age of 6 or 7, I wasn't, really? Had I died of the appendicitis that almost got me at about age 14 or 15, I'd be lost? Or, is it that I'm still lost? For, after all, no one "in communion" with The One True Bureaucracy ever sprinkled holy water on me; no, I was dunked in a pond by yet another very "low-church" Protestant (those people of the particular sect who baptized me, are so "low-church" that they make us alleged snake-handlers look like bells-and-smells Anglicans and Catholics).

    "According to the teachings of the Church, the only way to be saved is to receive an infusion of grace into the soul, which takes place at baptism. THAT IS THE START OF THE LIFELONG PROCESS."

    As I'd expect you to grasp about me by now, I'm not too concerned with what anyone, including The One True Bureaucracy, teaches ... unless it happes to be true. And, if what one teaches is incoherent, it cannot be true.

    So, one is sort-of saved at baptism? What is it, 50%, 10%? And one poentially becomes more saved as one continues to "grow in the faith", as we put it? I hope it starts with the head; it'd be a real shame, and a right nuisance, for one's feet to land in Heaven and head in Hell.

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  30. Darrell: "Since babies and infants are blameless, but carry Original sin, the concept of Limbo was created by Church thinkers to accomodate those souls, in a place separate from Heaven, Hell, or Purgatory. A position that the Church eventually pulled back from. Of the remaining options, Heaven seems to be the most likely destination."

    In other words, it's the same old, familiar story: humans trying to tame God, or at least limit his freedom; humans insisting upon having answers that they just don’t have; humans refusing to trust God’s goodness, and so trying to bind him with their regulations and bureaucracies.

    Where do you get that infants are blameless? They are sinners, how can they be blameless?

    Everyone, except Christ -- and including Mary -- was born in enmity to God; we all were born headed to Hell, which is Death.

    Darrell: "One cannot choose if never given a chance."

    God is not only Justice, he also is Mercy. God can resolve what for us is an absolute conflict between justice and mercy. God is good: he will resolve it.

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  31. Nicholas: "For these difficult questions, such as if Man is born into sin and cannot be saved except through Jesus, then what would a just and loving God have to say for babies that die at term, I do not know the answer, but then it is someone else's salvation we are speaking of, and it is best to work out your own salvation with respect of God's grace to you, and not ponder too much things that are for God and God alone to answer.

    Or, as I’d put it: we must trust in God’s goodness and love … and stop trying to bind him with our “laws”.


    Nicholas: "For these difficult questions, such as if Man is born into sin and cannot be saved except through Jesus, then what would a just and loving God have to say for babies that die at term …

    We are all sinners, from our conception: we are all radically separated from God, from our conception; we are all “on the road to Hell”, from our conception; we are all infected with Death, from our conception.

    We are not sinners because we commit sins: we commit sins because we are sinners. Sin and Death are inseparable, two sides of the same coin: we do the things which are killing us because we are infected with Death.

    Nicholas: "… if Man is born into sin and cannot be saved except through Jesus, then what would a just and loving God have to say for babies that die at term …

    It is not that God is “loving” which saves us, but that he is Mercy itself. Certainly, his loving kindness motivates his mercy, but it is the mercy, not the love, which saves us.

    God is Justice Itself – and Justice demands that we die, for we are (from conception) his enemies; that he loves us cannot, of itself, save us.

    Consider -- if you had a son, whom you loved more than your own life, and he murdered someone, and “legally” got away with it, and then boasted of it (thus, you know without doubt that he murdered, that it wasn’t an accident), would you not, out of your duty to justice, try execute him yourself? I would -- if you say that you could not, then I can at least understand the weakness and not condemn you for it; but, if you say that you would not, then I must judge you to be wicked.

    Fortunnately for us, while God is Justice Itself – and Justice demand that he give us over to the Death which infects us – he is also Mercy Itself: and Mercy has found a way to rescue us from Death.

    We do not, not a single one of us, deserve to be redeemed from Death; what we deserve is Death.

    Our salvation is two-fold:
    1) we don’t get what we do deserve;
    2) we do get what we don’t deserve.
    (those are not two ways of saying the same thing)

    It is totally unfair that any of us escape Death – so, even *if* he were to turn his back on those who die as infants or before they are offered a clear choice, what of it? I mean, from the perspective of justice, what of it … they got what they deserved. Now, God isn’t going to do that, but even if he did, no one has any standing to fault him for it, for justice is justice.

    [continued]

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  32. [continued]

    Nicholas: "For these difficult questions, such as if Man is born into sin and cannot be saved except through Jesus …

    That salvation comes only through Christ is a very different matter from being a Christian. There are multitudes among the Redeemed who never heard the Gospel (and I don’t mean simply faithful Israelites from 1000 BC); there are even some among the Redeemed who thought they were atheists.

    Nicholas: "If God asks us to be baptized as a sign or symbol of our desire to be born again and anew in Him, should we not as parents take this first step for our innocent newborns as a stand in, and allow them to confirm this commitment at a later date when they are old enough to stand on their own? …

    Is it the symbol which saves, or is it he to whom the symbol points who saves?

    Nicholas:… I believe it is a beginning, but the bottom line is that each must choose for himself.

    How can infant baptism be a beginning of salvation? One has not chosen, one has not renounced one’s innate sinfulness.

    That my parents raised me in a Christian home surely pointed me toward the road of salvation, but I wasn’t saved until I stepped onto the road and began my own journey.

    As we alleged snake-handlers sometimes say: God has no grand-children: the piety of one’s “sainted mother” cannot wash away any of one’s sinfulness.

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  33. I beg to differ Ilion. You are the one playing stupid. You are the one selectively choosing which of my words you consider and which you ignore. I assume you are doing it intentionally because you do it so often. It doesn't make you right. It doesn't make you a superior intellect.

    There is no record of Hitler ever leading a religious life. His mother who was a practicing Catholic had him baptized and probably dragged him to Mass. After grammar school age he apparently stopped doing that, if you can believe what he wrote in Mein Kampf. How many times do I have to say that baptism is the necessary FIRST step? Learning the Catholic Faith and following it's laws, rules, and directives-- learning what constitutes sin then relecting upon those sins and asking God for forgiveness after confessing your sins to a priest and promising not to repeat those sins--and living the life that God wants you to live are all necessary parts of finding salvation. Did Hitler do that? Are you that stupid? Or that devious? You sound like one of those Lefties yourself, constructing strawmen and burning them down.

    I structured my responses as to not intrude on your beliefs and prosthelytize mine. In other words, I did it as a kindness to you. But don't mistake kindness for impotence. To assume that a short answer that clearly indicates that there is more (by clues, such as "first step" or
    "lifelong process")is the whole answer or everything that I can say on the subject is a mistake--on the order of trying to grab the pot when a single card has been placed on the table. For the others reading this, I did not make a mistake when I said that Mary was born without Original Sin. That is a belief of the Catholic Church and why Mary is The Immaculate Conception. That particular Feast Day is December 8th--and I thank Ilion for giving me a chance to mention it. Ilion is just saying what his particular Protestant sect belives. A sect which can be traced to a man. The Catholic Church is the Church founded by Jesus Christ.

    As a human, feel free to do what humans do and speculate as to why Ilion and the people at his particular sect can't accept that Mary was bestowed this great honor. Or the reasons they wait until their forties or later to receive the Grace of God in baptism. Are they trying to give themselves forty years of living the sinful life, of sowing the wild oats, of decadence and wine, women, and song? God knows.
    Maybe we shouldn't try and tame Ilion by thinking about it.

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  34. Yes, well, getting back to the topic of the post... just because President Obama calls something a "Jobs Bill" in no way means that the bill will in fact create jobs. My experience is that a bill's effects are almost exactly opposite of what the bill's title would suggest. Thus, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care act opens patients up to the dangers of bureaucrats refusing life saving surgeries, and costs for the privilege of that care is sure to go through the roof. Likewise, President Obama's "Jobs Bill" is a bonafide jobs killer, and right now our economy is so fragile I doubt we could survive it.

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  35. What if he'd been baptised before he called it a "Jobs Bill"?

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  36. That's a tough question, Bedes. We'd first have to determine the age of reason for a Marxist. And to my knowledge, that hasn't been done.

    He'd probably fall back on the "It was a tribute to Steve Jobs" defense anyway. It always comes back to the Apple and the serpent.

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  37. The 'Jobs Bill' he keeps going on and on about is in reality a tribute to Steve Jobs?!

    What the... ?!

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  38. And when you factor in the "D.O.A." aspect, it's a tough defense to counter.

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  39. "I am asking congress to: Pass this Jobs Bill. PASS this jobs bill. Pass this JOBS bill. Pass THIS jobs bill."

    The guy can really make a compelling case. What an orator!

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  40. Can't you just see the oratory soaring?

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  41. Fun fact: He wrote the 1-877-Kars For Kids ad, too.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mFA59OtWh5c

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  42. "Likewise, President Obama's "Jobs Bill" is a bonafide jobs killer, and right now our economy is so fragile I doubt we could survive it."

    Even if the bill *did* "create or save jobs", there are at least two problems with such an approach:
    1) since when is any government, at any level, competent to "create or save jobs"?
    2) what any functioning society with long-term prospects needs is not to "create or save jobs", but to generate wealth. If "jobs" were all we needed, why don't we just pay half the population to dig holes and the other half to fill them in?
    Then, with the concatenation of the two, what we get is:
    3) any "jobs" "created of saved" by government are going to be wealth-destroying patronage aand/or rent-seeking.

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  43. "I beg to differ Ilion. You are the one playing stupid. You are the one selectively choosing which of my words you consider and which you ignore."

    Darrell, this isn't the case.

    "I assume you are doing it intentionally because you do it so often. It doesn't make you right. It doesn't make you a superior intellect."

    But I have never claimed such superiority. I claim simply that I reason more carefully -- ploddingly -- than most people have the patience to do.

    "There is no record of Hitler ever leading a religious life. His mother who was a practicing Catholic had him baptized and probably dragged him to Mass. ... Did Hitler do that? Are you that stupid? Or that devious? You sound like one of those Lefties yourself, constructing strawmen and burning them down."

    I never said that he "led a religious life"; I said that he was baptized by the odd rites of Catholicism.

    You know, one of the things I find odd, or annoying, about life is how frequently others say I'm wrong while saying that I'm right.

    Darrell, on Nov 28: "How many times do I have to say that baptism is the necessary FIRST step? ..."

    So, there are degrees to salvation? One person can be "more saved" than another? A person who hears the Gospel, believes it, repents his sin ... and then dies without bapism is not among the redeemed, having never undertaken the "necessary FIRST step"?

    Darrell, on Nov 27: "Luckily I was saved by the infusion of grace into my soul, which took place during my baptism--when I was a few days old. "

    So, in your case, the "necessary FIRST step" -- which was something done to you, without your knowledge or permission, much less your understanding -- also completed the "process"?

    And that concludes anything in Darrell's post worthwhile to comment upon. Or, to look at it slightly differently, out of charity, I ignore (and will presently forget) the rest of what he has posted.

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  44. None is required, really; I'm sure observing this disagreement is painful, even to someone who isn't a Christian.

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  45. Ah, there is at least one more thing in Darrell's post that can be addressed with charity ---

    "For the others reading this, I did not make a mistake when I said that Mary was born without Original Sin. That is a belief of the Catholic Church and why Mary is The Immaculate Conception. ... Ilion is just saying what his particular Protestant sect belives. A sect which can be traced to a man. The Catholic Church is the Church founded by Jesus Christ."

    And Darrell is just repeating what the Bureaucrats in Rome assert ... which includes the claim, generally unspoken these days, but rarely far from the surface, that *I* cannot be among the redeemed for the simple reason that I reject the imperial claims of The One True Bureaucracy.

    The Roman Catholic Church is as much a human institution and invention as the Church of England is. The RCC is a late Roman Empire bureaucracy that managed to perpetuate itself after the death of the Roman Empire. And, there has never been a time when all Christians in the world submitted to, or agreed with, the claim by the bishop of Rome to be "Christ's Vicar on Earth".

    If God logically could take away Mary's sinfulness without her knowledge, without her repentence, without her desire to be cleansed of it, then:
    1) Mary was not a sinner (*);
    1a) she could not have needed to be redeemed by the sacrifice of the life of the Second Person of the Godhead, for if Mary's conception was, indeed, 'immaculate' in that technical sense, then she was not a sinner (*) -- yet, the RCC *also* teaches that she did so need; which is to say, that she was a sinner, after all;
    2) what is the whole point of dragging the rest of us through this misery? Why not do likewise for the rest of us?

    (*) we are not sinners because we commit sins, we commit sins because we are sinners; we are "infected" with sin, which is death.

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  46. Just followed the link and I'm not sure what I'm expected to make of it, though I certainly don't think this is the place to go into it: by all means continue at my place if you want to. (Just pick a likely post from the subject menu...)

    I was expressing a degree of mournful exasperation - as much English as atheist (see Roger Scruton on English Christianity) - that the slightly different beliefs of your fellow Christians are enough to cause you such distress.
    My feeling is that Christianity is pretty much the world's only hope, and it breaks my poor English heart to see a purple Christian arguing with an orange Christian about whether Christ delivered the Sermon on the Mount with his sandals on or off, when the enemies of Christ are massing all around as never (or almost never) before.

    What your link leads me to, by contrast, is a piece about atheism, in which you ask whether any atheist reader will admit that your logical reasoning is undeniable, or merely fulfil your lower expectations and call you either wrong, stupid or a liar.
    Not a happy offer, couched as it is in terms so preemptively contemptuous. Of course, I understand that these are the tactics of the militant atheist lobby, the idiot Dawkins worshippers that I loathe fully as much as you do, so I suppose a little spleen is understandable.
    But I am not of their number, and not an atheist through any pretence of certainty: it's just the horse I happen to feel is most sensible to bet on. I base this in part on the wealth of evidence - both philosophical and empirical - of Darwinism, which I expect you have never been inclined to truly explore.

    Nonetheless, my answer is and can only be: of course you are not stupid; of course you are not lying. You are mistaken.
    You write:

    GIVEN the reality of the natural/physical/material world, IF atheism were indeed the truth about the nature of reality, THEN everything which exists and/or transpires must be wholely reducible, without remainder, to purely physical/material states and causes. [edit: But, since there exist entities and events in the world which are not wholly reducible, without remainder, to purely physical/material states and causes, then it is seen that the denial that 'God is' is a false proposition.]

    This seems to me fallacious reasoning. I welcome any argument that shows, let alone proves, that everything in the natural world is not reducible to physical states and causes. My feeling is that everything can be, including the human mind, or any other mind.
    It doesn't bother me in the least if you or anyone does not choose to believe this, but I am not sure when or how it was proven.

    I must admit I do feel a little sad about people who are so committed to a theistic world model that they deny themselves the truly fascinating perspectives of evolutionary psychology and Darwinism, but then, atheists who spit bile at Christians annoy me far more, so I try as much as possible now to sit it out (and root for the Christians).
    But if you simply don't realise, through non-acquaintance with the source materials, that evolutionary psychology does account for consciousness in material terms, both mechanical and causal, please be aware that it does.
    You don't have to believe it, just know that it is there.

    Anyway, as I said, James's splendid blog is not the place for this unless at his invitation.
    So from a Christian Atheist to some of my favourite Christians - Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

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