Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Desecration and Distraction

I am hearing from devout Catholics who are upset about this story ...

An Oklahoma City satanist says he plans to protest the Catholic Church’s beliefs about Jesus’s birth by pouring costume blood over a statue of the Virgin Mary outside of St. Joseph Old Cathedral on Christmas Eve.

Adam Daniels says he hopes his display, titled the “Virgin Birth is a Lie,” will expose the “lies” of the Catholic Church, reports The Oklahoman. The satanist states the virgin birth of Jesus is a fraud.
“The purpose of the blood is to add another layer of corruption to Mary, which is an emblem of the Catholic Church,” he said. He also plans to cover the statue “in sulfur powder and ash.”
Daniels obtained a permit for his “display,” set-up for which is permitted to begin at 4:30 p.m. and must be removed by 6:15 p.m. His protest will be restricted to the sidewalk outside the cathedral, and he is not allowed to block any of the church’s entrances. The permit also requires that he clean up the entire display and ensure no materials are left on the sidewalk.
According to the news report, Daniels is protesting the Catholic Church on Christmas Eve due to the archdiocese of Oklahoma City’s recent demonstrations against his group’s “black mass,” the unveiling of a Baphomet statue, and Daniels’ own book-signing event.
Throughout the past year, the Satanic Temple of Detroit has worked to promote abortion and same-sex marriage.
The archdiocese of Oklahoma City did not immediately return Breitbart News’ request for comment.

Here are my reactions.

First, it's very telling that Satanists are promoting abortion and same sex marriage.

Second, what the Oklahoma Satanist does not understand is how he's inadvertently witnessing for Christ.  Compare Caiaphas, who when he remarked in the Sanhedrin that it was expedient that one man should be put to death for the sake of many, did not realize how deeply his selfish Machiavellian purely-political words resonated and revealed the deeper and more solemn providence of God (see John 11:51).

Because, you see, Mary has already been covered with blood.  At the moment of her immaculate conception, she was redeemed and conceived in purity because of the Blood of Christ - which was yet to be shed (historically speaking), but by the virtues of this Blood alone are Mary and all of us made pure.

And, finally, as far as desecrations go, this is more diversion than desecration.  The Satanists are using it for PR fodder, and some Catholic organizations are using it for fundraising fodder - fanning the flames of indignation over an admittedly horrific event, but one that pales in comparison to the more serious and less visible desecrations going on all around us.  At every Sunday suburban Mass, you have poorly catechized Catholics, Catholics who use porn, Catholics who use contraception, divorced and remarried Catholics, Catholics who cheat the poor, Catholics whose sins stain the Body of Christ more darkly than any quantity of theater blood, Catholics who blithely receive the Eucharist, perhaps not knowing what they do, perhaps knowing what they do.  That is desecration.  The theatrics in Oklahoma is diversion.

For sins are more serious than symbols - and we dishonor Mary and Jesus by what pours out of our hearts more than by what pours out of a prop bag.

Having said that, it is our job to love these Satanists - our enemies - for as St. Paul says ...

If thine enemy hunger, feed him. And if he thirst, give him drink. For in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head.  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.  (Rom. 12:20-21)

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Escape from Utopia

“Karen, I was right!  Someone escaped!  She says they are a cult!” I said to my wife, exuberant.

It was Monday, Labor Day.  We were at the Lake of the Ozarks, in mid-Missouri, and Karen, my wife, noticed a group of people standing near the overlook on the hill above the lake’s dam.  A man about my age was about to take a picture of a group of teenagers with the lake in the background.  All of them were well groomed, well behaved and wearing polo shirts and caps that said “Shepherdsfield” on them.  Karen offered to take the picture for this man, so he could be in it as well.  He was very grateful.

“What’s Shepherdsfield?” I asked after the photo had clicked.

“We’re a Christian community near Fulton, Missouri,” the man answered.  “We’re on our Reward Trip.  These young people have been working very hard all summer, and we’re taking them on a Reward Trip before school starts again.”  My eyes locked with one of the young people.  They were certainly well behaved … but a “Christian community”?  Creepy.

Karen and I got in the car.  I began to talk in my quiet, slow cult-leader voice.  “Welcome to Shepherdsfield,” I said.  “You’ll be very happy here.  As long as you do what we tell you.  There’s no need to fuss.  You’ll be loved and you won’t want to leave.  In fact, you won’t be able to leave.  Now just do what we say and everything will be fine.”

“Kevin!” Karen shouted.  “Stop that!  You’re so judgmental!  Those were nice people!  What makes you say they’re a cult?!”

I got out my phone and Googled them.  One of the first things that comes up is the blog Cult Girl Speaks Out.  It’s written by Tabitha Casey, and it details how she grew up in Shepherdsfield and how she “escaped” and how she’s trying to process all of it now.  It’s a fascinating blog, and even Karen became interested as I read many of Tabitha’s posts to her on our way to ice cream after dinner at the Lake.

Tabitha Casey
Of course, my only knowledge of Shepherdsfield is what I’ve been reading on Tabitha’s blog, and it’s possible that the place is not as dark as she paints it - though, she actually seems quite fair and gives credit where credit is due on more than one occasion.  But human history has many examples of utopias gone bad - and, if what Tabitha says is true, Shepherdsfield is one of them.  

For one thing, according to Tabitha, the Reward Trip rewards children from the ages of about 10 on up who are required to work all summer long from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm daily mulching, weeding, repairing, and sweating in the hot and humid Missouri summers, the “reward” of which is a trip to someplace like the dam overlooking the Lake of the Ozarks.  Plus mini-golf.  But it’s worse for adults.  Able bodied males supply the commune with money by power washing, painting and building decks in Columbia, Jefferson City, and other towns nearby.  The income they generate goes to the Shepherdsfield “church”, which allots them back a small amount.  In the case of Tabitha and her family of eight, they were given no more than $130 per month back from the money her husband earned power washing.  Of course, the “church” provides all needs - housing, car, telephone, utilities, food - but the “church” also controls all needs.  And if and when a member “escapes” with his or her family, they must leave with absolutely nothing.  There is no private ownership.  Christian Communism meets Christian Capitalism - the Company Town owns everything and the members owe their souls to the company store, so to speak, even though the power washing business seems to be entrepreneurial and thriving.  

Tabitha explains how there is no incentive to work hard, since slackers receive the same share as hard workers.  This was the story of New Harmony, Indiana and elsewhere.  Human nature must be either ignored or brutalized for utopias to have any chance of working.

For example, Tabitha describes

… a peer of mine who, at age nine, because of stealing some quarters from a communal change drawer to buy a gift for a girl, was subjected to the most severe punishment we had devised. He was made to undergo what we termed "coventry". This coventry involved rejection from every member of the community. He would eat alone during all our common meals (lunch and dinner for five of the seven days); no one would talk to him except to give direction ... he would not play or interact in any fun way with any of his friends during this time. This lasted several weeks and crushed this child.  To this day, the mention of Shepherdsfield evokes only pain.

… the fear of such strong punishment was so great that those youth who had pullings toward stealing, lying, cheating, interest in the opposite sex, etc. became masterful at doing what they were already inclined towards and masterful at disguising it. It created an environment of facades. If someone had a problem, or an issue, covering up, putting on a brave face and always looking joyful - "as a good Christian should" - were the ways that were approved of to deal with it.

This is one of many painful and fascinating tales of Tabitha’s life as a Christian Communist.  She analyzes her experiences growing up in Shepherdsville well, and reaches the two most obviously correct conclusions

This is my story - this is the life I lived and this is mine to tell. I did not just observe and am reporting on what I observed - I ate, drank, slept, talked and walked this life - this is my story and this is what I want to do with what I have lived. I want to warn people about the dangers of these two things mostly:

1.) spiritual abuse and
2.) putting men on pedestals or allowing them to climb there themselves.

Such misplaced idealism which created the environment for spiritual abuse and for trusting in men rather than God, and for giving men way too much power and authority over private lives and over other people’s families led to what became an intolerable atmosphere.  There is more than one suicide in Tabitha’s story.

Her husband, however, gets closer to a third lesson learned that should be emphasized …

It was a great place to be a kid - but there was never a transition point in how one was treated. We were never given the chance to make decisions and choose wisely - all those decisions were made for us.  If we started to try to think an issue through and - Heaven forbid - question or disagree, we were challenged on our spirit of divisiveness.

My friends, I see this in Devout Catholic circles every day.  It is the prime characteristic not of the Church, but of an ideology.  Ideologies are Closed Systems, Unrealities that are man-made fictions and that can only exist by forcefully suppressing human nature and by carefully keeping out anything that might topple the house of cards or pop the carefully guarded bubble.

The true Church, by contrast, and true philosophies, and indeed common sense and sanity are marked by an openness, by a seeking, by humility.  “Thy Kingdom come” (our daily prayer) means that we will never have the perfect community on earth, though we are always desiring it and seeking it.  The “eschaton” is not “immanent”.  There is a fundamental tension that exists between “The Divine Ground” of our existence and our longing for it.  Even we Christians who know Christ and love Christ still seek Him - or at least seek to imitate Him - in various ways.  We try to remain open to Him, and in doing so we renounce the kind of control and fear that keeps His Spirit out, we renounce the contraceptive mentality that protects the precious bubble at all costs, that keeps it from ever being pierced, and that keeps life from ever being natural, joyful, fertile.

There is an idealism behind Shepherdsfiled, and “Cult Girl” Tabitha readily admits that and refuses to condemn it.  She knows that that love, that longing, that desire to embody what we long for is at the heart of our existence.  But there was an idealism to all sorts of Communism, not just the Christian “Acts 2” kind.  There was an idealism to the Bolshevist Communism that brutalized half the world for most of the 20th century.  Even the Nazis were idealists.  But all such ideals, all such utopias, all such Closed Systems and Unrealities start with a frightening premise: We men are enough.  We can build, on our own efforts, God’s Kingdom on earth - if we’re just emphatic enough and repressive enough.  And if we have to, we’ll tear down and remake man himself to do it.

In C. S. Lewis’ phrase, “The Abolition of Man” is the final project of man.  Indeed, at one point, Tabitha quotes C. S. Lewis …

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their conscience.

Monday night, Labor Day, after meeting the Reward Trip kids and reading Tabitha’s blog posts, Karen and I arrived at the ice cream stand off of Highway 54 at the Lake of the Ozarks.  There were about eight old men surrounding us as we stood in line to get ice cream, and, to my surprise, they were dirty old men.  One old guy got a sundae with a cherry on top.  He turned to his octogenarian companion.  “I guess I can’t give you my cherry!” he leered.  Two other old guys got their sundaes.  One of them, stooped over, wearing shorts with street shoes and black socks pulled up to his ankles, said to the old guy next to him who got a smaller size sundae, “I guess mine’s bigger than yours!”  I’m not sure his companion heard him.

They all finished their treats, climbed (slowly) into a mini-van with Missouri plates and pulled away, almost backing into another car in the process.

“Wow!  Those old guys were something else!” I exclaimed.

“Do you know who those guys are?” asked Karen.

“Who are they?” I replied.

“They’re the elders from Shepherdsfield,” she answered.  

It was the best laugh I’d had all weekend.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Is Sasquatch the Antichrist? - or - The Temptation to Believe Nonsense

NOTE - On April 29, 2106, Charlie Johnston responded to this post with outright lies, doing his best to libel me in the process. I go into detail about that here - Charlie Johnston Lies about Me - and I Admire Him for It! Charlie is one of the most outrageous frauds in the Catholic Church. He actually fascinates me - in a sad way. Read on ...


I don’t want to write about this, but I think I have to.  I’d rather not write anything more on this blog (most of my articles are now on Catholic Exchange and the Ink Desk), and I’m closing this post to comments.  But what I have to say has to be said.

Living the Christian Faith is not sexy.  It is not lurid.  It is not particularly exciting on a day to day basis.  It doesn’t have the flair of a Jerry Springer episode.  Types of antichrists are all around us, but Sasquatch is not one of them and if there is such a thing as a “rapture” it’s not a mass UFO abduction.

But we’re not satisfied with that.  We want celebrities.  We want false prophets.  We want National Enquirer headlines about the apocalypse.

Charlie Johnston


Charlie Johnston is from Belleville, Illinois, across the river from me.  He is becoming viral, sweeping the attention of conservative Catholics from coast to coast.  I’m hearing about him from all corners.  This is, sadly, due to a video of him posted on Vimeo, in which he talks to a group of serious Catholics, including Fr. Mitch Pacwa from EWTN.  Fr. Mitch’s presence in the audience of Charlie’s talk has made a huge difference to people’s perceptions of Charlie Johnston and Charlie’s “authority”.

If Fr Mitch Pacwa came to see Charlie. That spoke volumes to me! I Hold Fr Pacwa in very HIGH esteem. And Bishop Garcia is onboard as well, tells me to pay attention to Charlie. The Bishop is NO liberal for sure!!!

I found the video one of Hope for sure…

In the video, Charlie begins by saying some good things, such as how God works through the ordinary and how all we need to do as believers is to take the next right step.  Sound advice, and many others have said that.  But when the Q&A comes, Charlie expounds on his “visions”, delivered to him by an angel, he claims, of the coming “Storm”.  Charlie’s vision includes the following:

  • A world wide financial collapse.
  • The collapse of all order in society.
  • The conversion of President Obama, who will not finish his term in office.
  • The suspension of the 2016 elections.
  • The appearance of the Virgin Mary sometime in 2017, to be noticed by all people.
  • A utopia following the Storm, in which the Church is reunified and true believers live in harmony.  Our society will go from Ferguson to Mayberry, so to speak.

Charlie, however, also claimed that Christmas of 2013 would be our last normal Christmas.  When people point out to him that Christmas of 2014 was quite normal, he responds (in so many words), “Well, the government is now regulating Christmas lights and soon you won’t be allowed to decorate in front of your home and have a Christmas tree and we’re ceding territory to radical Islam and there’s Obamacare and you call that normal???  Oh, and nobody listened to Winston Churchill either.”  I’m paraphrasing, but read Charlie’s defense of this failed prophecy for yourself.

Note that when other Christians or Christian sects have made specific predictions about the End Times, and when the predictions are inevitably proven wrong, such false prophets typically respond, “I know we said the rapture was to take place at 12:01 am on September 2, 2015 - and everybody is still here - but it was a spiritual rapture and if you didn’t notice it, that’s your problem, not mine.  You’re not as spiritually sensitive as we are.  Oh, and we’re moving the date up to September of next year.  Be prepared!”

Now, worldwide economic collapse, of course, is quite possible, and even inevitable because of the nature of usury, but predicting when the economic shell game will end is just a guessing game.  And so when most ordinary people hear, “Last normal Christmas, Obama will convert, the Virgin Mary will appear”, they laugh, roll their eyes, and go about their business.  

But many Devout Catholics have apparently lost this quality, this virtue of common sense.

Charlie also says the summer of 2015 will be our “summer of discontent”.  As I write this, it’s almost Labor Day of 2015.  I’m still waiting for the beginning of the Storm, but I’m sure Charlie will tell me I missed it.

But there’s more.  

If you need more evidence of Charlie’s dubious status as a prophet, well, there’s this.  He claims to have walked across America.  He claims to have walked 3200 miles wearing a 70 pound backpack, even though he has nerve damage.  He claims to have slept outside, often fearing for his life in groves of trees in inner city ghettos.  He claims to have run into cougars.  He claims this experience changed him spiritually.  

Charlie Johnston is a former newspaper editor, radio talk show host and political consultant. From Feb. 11, 2011 to Aug. 21, 2012, he walked 3,200 miles across the country, sleeping in the woods, meeting people and praying as he went.

But if you look at Charlie’s own Facebook page, which he started for the purpose of chronicling this journey, here’s what you find …

  • Charlie departs from Alabama on Feb. 11, 2011.
  • He appears to be on foot all the way to Houston, where he posts on Facebook on July 4, 2011, covering over 400 miles in about five months.
  • He then posts from San Antonio, then Austin (a strange detour to the northeast), then from somewhere in New Mexico by Oct. 11, covering perhaps 600 miles in three months.
  • He then gets on a plane and flies to Chicago on Oct. 18.  He has pictures of this.
  • He stays in Chicago until Nov. 24, when he flies to San Diego.  He posts pictures from the plane window.  One of his Facebook friends doesn’t seem to realize that Charlie’s “walk across the U.S.” includes more than one plane ride and says, “So you have made it all the way to San Diego??? That’s truly incredible Charlie!!! God bless you.”  Charlie replies, “Ha! Most of the rest of the journey will involve going up and down mountains. Glad I had almost a year to train for that - because it is this second leg that, at least physically, is truly incredible.”  What’s truly incredible is the gullibility of Charlie’s Facebook friends.
  • After the first of the year, in 2012, Charlie is posting from his hometown of Belleville, Illinois - 2,000 miles to the east of San Diego by foot.
  • From his Facebook posts, Charlie appears to remain in Southern Illinois for several months.  He even alludes to this at one point, writing, “Funny thing...after a few months of living indoors, I am really no stronger than ever I was...I still have to conserve my strength and rest frequently because of my neurological damage. If you took any group of outdoorsmen, I would be among the last people [you] would think is the guy who has hiked 2000 miles across the country and has another 1200 or 1500 to go through the desert.”  At this point, he has walked perhaps 1200 miles, if that many, has not walked at all for almost six months, and is certainly not about to walk through the desert - especially from Southern Illinois, which is nowhere near the desert.  In fact, his remaining posts demonstrate that he came nowhere close to the desert on foot - and the only mountain climbing he did was in state parks, abetted by some car rides when he got tired.
  • By April, Charlie is posting pictures from the California coast.
  • By May of 2012, he’s freely admitting that people are driving him pretty much everywhere he’s going.
  • On April 25, he admits he rode in a car from California to Kansas.  After that, he says he rode into Colorado.
  • He seems to be on foot part of the time and hitch hiking most of the time through the High Plains of Colorado through the spring of 2012.
  • He spends the final two months of his “walk” living in Loveland, Colorado.
  • He claims he climbs Mt. Meeker, where he plans to build a shrine that will probably cost (from the look of the design) upwards of $50 million to construct.  Mt. Meeker is the end of Charlie’s “walk across America” - a walk that included at least two airplane rides and that featured very little walking at all or that saw him riding in cars for the bulk of the final nine months of his journey.  And this is all documented on Facebook!

First of all, if Charlie is lying about his “walk across America”, or at least stretching the truth, why would anybody believe him when he relates his “visions” and prophecies?

Secondly, if the economy is going to collapse and money will be worthless, why is Charlie soliciting donations for his $50 million shrine?  How can my cash be useful to him when it won’t be useful to me?  And where is the accounting for the money Charlie is apparently being given by people?  Does anybody know where such possible donations are really going?

Finally, Abraham told the Rich Man, “They have Moses and the Prophets, let them listen to them … If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”  Well, we have both Moses and the Prophets AND someone who has risen from the dead.  Let us listen to them.  Why would we waste our time with the nonsense coming from the mouth of someone whose three verifiable claims - 2013 was the last normal Christmas, 2015 is our “summer of disconent” and “I walked 3200 miles across America” - are either subjective and vague or demonstrably false?

But, as I said at the outset, the day to day living of our Faith is apparently not sexy enough for us.  Even many of the Catholics I know who are skeptical about Charlie Johnston still want to believe him and are disappointed when I point out Charlie’s unreliability.

And that’s the core of the sin - wanting to believe him.  It’s a kind of morbid curiosity, a kind of morose delectation, a desire for more than what we have, which (as Catholics) is the presence of Jesus Christ Himself and His Spirit and access to His Father as adopted children.  What more can we want?

Why do we desire to augment that fullness … with this?  With titillating tales of the lurid and grotesque?  With claims that can be proven to be false by spending an hour on Facebook or Google?


Fellow Catholics, we must strive for “maturity in Christ”.  We can’t get there if we don’t simply grow up.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Journey of St. Paul


Here I am as St. Paul performing at the Militia of the Immaculata conference in Lenexa, Kansas on Aug. 8, 2015.

For more information or to book my traveling one-man St. Paul show, click here.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Cure for Spiritual ADD

I have always hated the word “Detachment” and suspected that this virtue is misunderstood in Catholic circles ... (read more in my article for Catholic Exchange)

Monday, August 10, 2015

Murder Mystery Express

Here's a fun article from the Duluth News Tribune about the murder mystery shows that I've been performing on board the North Shore Scenic Railroad in Duluth, Minnesota since 2000 (though the article says 2002).  The article even quotes one of our biggest fans - Dale Ahlquist, President of the American Chesterton Society!

The above photo is of me as Dr. Watson an Joel Friend as Sherlock Holmes in one of my many murder mystery productions.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Parable: In a Pickle

Here's my latest at the Ink Desk.


I tried to lecture the Dirt Eater. "It's a disgusting habit," I said. "Eating dirt - which has no nutritional value, and some of the dirt you eat - straight from the manure pile! No wonder so many of you Dirt Eaters are malnourished and pick up various intestinal infections."

"People who eat what you call real food get sick, too," the Dirt Eater responded. "You may die from eating a mushroom, but I will never die from eating the dirt around it."

Read More

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

What Good is It to Use NFP but to Remain Selfish?

Here's a post from many years ago that may help elucidate some of this controversy ...


Is the YOUCAT, the Youth Catechism, a work tantamount to heresy, as some on the internet are suggesting, or is it an effective tool of catechesis that talks to young people at their level?

One answer to this question brings up one of the most profound analogies between Acting and the Faith.

But first, let me take a moment to agree with one thing the YOUCAT recall website says. The writer of this page quotes the YOUCAT as stating that the Church rejects "all artificial means of contraception". This is a common but flawed assertion, and it is one that is loosely and wrongly used by proponents of Natural Family Planning (NFP). For a long time this drove me crazy, as I couldn't understand why the Church would object to artificial contraception (such as the pill or condoms) and not "natural contraception" such as NFP. Are we Christian Scientists? I would ask myself. Or worse - are we New Age Pagans, who hate what is artificial and love what is "natural"?

I really was stuck on this teaching because it made no logical sense to me, and this was the biggest logjam I faced after becoming Catholic. Then I realized it: the Church prohibits contraception, period. Natural Family Planning is not contraception at all. It is simply periodic continence, or not having sex if there's a good reason for a wife not to get pregnant. When during the month the wife is fertile, if you don't want babies, don't have sex. This is not wilfully frustrating the procreative aspect of the marital act, which is what contraception is. The "natural" and "artificial" labels are not only misnomers, they cloud the coherence of the argument.

So that point is a good one - but I'm not so sure of the rest of the critique of the YOUCAT, and I don't really want to address that, since I haven't read the YOUCAT (though I have read the Catechsim cover-to-cover) and I'm not really here to talk about the YOUCAT itself, but instead the issue it raises that leads back to Acting and the Faith

So let's stop talking about sex and talk about something interesting instead.

At the Catholic Answers Forum, a commenter named Manualman makes an excellent point; and while I don't know if this applies to the YOUCAT debate, it certainly applies to the Torture Debate, the Super-Disciples Debate, and the Lying Debate.

Manualman writes:

... God is not arbitrary. Sin IS indeed sin. But what sin IS is something that by its nature damages our ability to give and receive love (both human and divine). Not just the commission of an act 'on the list.'

You technically cannot make a list of mortal sins in catholic theology. Even murder might not be a mortal sin if the killer is mentally incompetent. Look it up: mortal sin requires three elements: grave matter, knowledge that the matter is evil and consent.

What Youcat is trying to do here (IMO) is avoid the mistakes of previous generations. Masturbation is grave matter precisely because it twists the blessed gift of human sexuality that was meant to be re-gifted to one's spouse into a narcisstic experience. Youcat explains that to my satisfaction. It's not about 'demonizing' the temptation a person experiences, but helping him understand what is appealing about it and why giving into it is not just a violation of a rule, but a genuine harm.

Another later poster here fails to recognize that he makes my point better than his own: simply attempting to make people be good via following the rules never works. [my emphasis] They always find a loophole. The way to help people to do good and avoid evil is to explain to them what evil IS and how much damage it does. Again, Youcat passes the deeper test. The last thing teens need is a list of rules that appear to be arbitrary to them, have no clear explanation and seem disconnected to their own experience of reality. Youcat avoids that pitfall and speaks to people where they are at.

If you're looking for a rigid, rules based religion that doesn't require you to comprehend, [my emphasis] but only obey a fixed list of rules, then I agree Youcat isn't for you. But perhaps catholicism isn't either.

Yeah, I know, we were supposed to stop talking about sex, and this is all about YOUCAT's teaching on masturbation, the act being both grave matter for sin and also a habit that young men in particular can find almost impossible to break. Apparently, the YOUCAT is trying to acknowledge this by putting the teaching in context (so that it does not seem arbitrary) and by acknowledging the fact that someone addicted to this sin should not heap self-abuse upon self-abuse (as it were) and feel demonized by something they often can not control.

As I say, that's what the argument seems to be about, and whether the YOUCAT should have worded this section differently (see footnote below) I will not address. But what does interest me is the argument Manualman is making.

The argument is really this: Think with the Mind of the Church, which is no less than the Mind of Christ.

Or in other words: GET IN CHARACTER.

Every actor knows the feeling: you struggle with a role over and over again in rehearsal and even in performance and it never seems to click. Then, all of a sudden, a word or a gesture makes the whole character come together for you, and every line you speak in the play makes sense. You become engaged in the role, you discover the part, you get in character, and the organic unity takes care of itself. Suddenly you stop struggling over lines here or there that don't work for you, or looking to motivate certain moments that seem to stick out - for suddenly it all comes together and everything in the play works the way it obviously should, but the way you just couldn't imagine it working earlier in the creative process. Actors know this, and actors pray that this happens for them - at least before closing night!

The Faith is like that. That's why words like "artificial" or "natural" can cloud an issue, as can words like "demonize" when applied to certain sins. The Faith is a whole, the teachings are all one thing. The Church's view on sex, for instance, is rooted in love, marriage and mutual self-sacrifice. Once you see that whole, then you know instantly how wrong something like masturbation is. Outside of that whole, beyond that organic understanding, Church teaching may indeed seem like unrelated arbitrary bits and pieces - which it never is, for it is the Way of Christ, the most whole and complete Way in the world. It is a living teaching.

Thus St. Paul tells us "I will pray with the spirit, I will pray also with the understanding; I will sing with the spirit, I will sing also with the understanding." (1 Cor. 14:15)

Our job as Christians and as Good Actors is to understand, not to follow or mimic from without, but to be transformed from within, so that the whole makes sense, and that with the understanding we will have "the mind of Christ" (1 Cor 2:16)

Footnote - from the YOUCAT:

Question 409 (Page 222)

Is Masturbation an offense against love?

Masturbation is an offense against love, because it makes the excitement of sexual pleasure an end in itself and uncouples it from the holistic unfolding of love between a man and a women. That is why “sex with yourself” is a contradiction in terms.

The Church does not demonize masturbation, but she warns against trivializing it. In fact many young people and adults are in danger of becoming isolated in their consumption of lewd pictures, films, and Internet services instead of finding love in a personal relationship. Loneliness can lead to a blind alley in which masturbation becomes an addiction. Living by the motto ‘“For sex I do not need anyone; i will have it myself, however and whenever I need it” makes nobody happy.

Interview with Mark Shea

Here's a link to the podcast of my interview last week on Real Life Radio with Mark Shea.

Gandhi on Contraception and Selfishness

Since everybody on Facebook now hates me for daring to suggest that it is wrong to use NFP for selfish or trivial reasons; in fact, many are angry at me for daring to suggest that it is even possible to abuse NFP in this way, as NFP seems, to most of my Facebook friends, to be a gift from God, I am reposting this.

At any rate, it's the contraceptive mentality that is killing us.

A selfish couple using NFP rather than contraception is not a victory for Our Lord and Our Lady.  "I don't use contraception but I'm still selfish!" is hardly something to brag about.  And any tool can be abused, including even the "sacramental" called NFP.  Just because Natural Family Planning is not contraception does not mean that it cannot be used as a de facto substitute for it, and used without serious reasons, but merely for trivial and selfish reasons: not used to protect the health of the mother or the sanity of the family or because of looming poverty, but for mere comfort and bourgeois self-indulgence.  I am told by my Super Catholic friends that this never happens.  But I am told by young Super Catholic friends that these sorts of reasons are indeed why many of them are using NFP.

The problem is the underlying selfishness, which obviously a neutral tool like NFP cannot address.  Only God's grace, His cross and resurrection, can address the underlying selfishness in each of us.

With that in mind, here's a reprint of a post from 2013 ...


 Salon, of all places, has re-published a 1939 article by Mahatma Gandhi about the evils of contraception and of "wasting seed".

Here it is.  The boldface is me highlighting Ghandi's words; the red is my commentary.


It is the fashion in some quarters nowadays for the young to discredit whatever may be said by old people. I am not prepared to say that there is absolutely no justification for this belief. But I warn the youth of all the countries against always discounting whatever old men or women may say for the mere fact that it is said by such persons.
Even as wisdom often comes from the mouths of babes, so does it often come from the mouths of old people. The golden rule is to test everything in the light of reason and experience, no matter from whom it comes.
I want to discuss the subject of birth control by contraceptives. It is dinned into one’s ears that gratification of the sex urge is a solemn obligations, like the obligation of discharging debts lawfully incurred, and that not to do so would involve the penalty of intellectual decay. This sex urge has been isolated from the desire for progeny, and it is said by protagonists of the use of contraceptives that conception is an accident to be prevented except when the parties desire to have children.
I venture to suggest that this is a most dangerous doctrine to preach anywhere, much more so in a country like India, where the middle-class male population has become imbecile through abuse of the creative function.  This is an old fashioned way of saying that if you spend all your time on self-indulgent non-productive activities like contraceptive sex or masturbation, the character it breeds in you will be nothing short of mentally deficient.  No, it won't "make you go blind" except morally and spiritually blind.
If satisfaction of the sex urge is a duty, unnatural vice would be commendable. This follows as the night the day.  Perversion becomes not only acceptable, it becomes obligatory - enforced, a duty.  "Gay marriage" then becomes imposed on your society and your church, whether you want it or not. Even persons of note have been known to approve of what is commonly known as sexual perversion. The reader may be shocked at that statement. But if it somehow or other gains the stamp of respectability, it will be the rage among boys and girls to satisfy their urge among members of their own sex.  I am told that the peculiar phrase pan-sexual is all the rage among the pierced and spiked who work at Subway (i.e., the kids of your wealthy suburban neighbors), and for twenty years now, a young woman just ain't with it if she hasn't had a Lesbian encounter or two in high school or college.
To me the use of contraceptives is not far removed from the means to which persons have hitherto resorted for the gratification of their sexual desire with the results that very few know. And I betray no confidence when I inform the reader that there are unmarried girls of impressionable age in schools and colleges who study birth-control literature and magazines with avidity and even possess contraceptives.
It is impossible to confine their use to married women.  Apparently this was the argument being used for contraception.  Compare the arguments, "Abortion will be used only for hard cases" or "Divorce if there's no other alternative" or "Let's get a cell phone and only use it for emergencies."
Marriage loses its sanctity when its purpose and highest use is conceived to be the satisfaction of the animal passion without contemplating the natural result of such satisfaction. I have no doubt that those learned men and women who are carrying on propaganda with missionary zeal in favor of their use of contraceptives are doing irreparable harm to the youth of the world under the false belief that they will be thereby the poor women who may be obliged to bear children against their will. Those who need not limit their children will not be easily reached by them.
Our poor Indian women have not the knowledge or training that the women of the West have. Surely the propaganda is not being carried on in behalf of the middle-class women, for they do not need the knowledge, at any rate, so much as the poorer classes do.
The greatest harm, however, done by the propaganda lies in its rejection of the old ideal and substitution in its place of one which, if carried out, must spell the moral and physical extinction of the race.  "The moral and physical extinction of the race" - see the demographic crisis that threatens Russia, China and the West and the moral crisis that gnaws even deeper.
The horror with which ancient literature has regarded the fruitless use of the vital fluid was not a superstition born of ignorance. What shall we say of a husbandman who will sow the finest seed in his possession on a stony ground, or of the owner of a field who will receive in his field rich with fine soil good seed under conditions that will make it impossible for it to grow?  In the Culture of Sterility, we say, "Well done, good and faithful servant, to waste your potential and destroy our future."  
God has blessed man with seed that has the highest potency and women with a field richer than the richest earth to be found anywhere on this globe. Surely it is criminal folly for man to allow his most precious possession to run to waste. And so is a woman guilty of criminal folly who will receive the seed in her life-producing field with the deliberate intention of letting it run to waste. Both he and she will be judged guilty of misuse of the talents given to them and they will be dispossessed of what they have been given.
Sex urge is a fine and noble thing. There is nothing to be ashamed of in it. But it is meant only for the act of creation. Any other use of it is a sin against God and humanity.  
It was reserved for our generation to glorify vice by calling it virtue. "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" (Is. 5:20).  The greatest disservice protagonists of contraceptives are rendering to the youth of today is to fill their minds with what appears to me to be wrong ideology.
Let the young men and women who hold their destiny in their hands beware of this false god and guard the treasure with which God has blessed them and use it, if they wish, for the only purpose for which it is intended.