Abortion and Other Evils

That Time JK! Studios Decided to Mock Catholicism

Yes… I am doing this. Believe it or not, I used to like these people—back when they were actually funny… once upon a time. 

Studio C is an American sketch comedy television show created by Matt Meese and Jared Shores, produced by Brigham Young University Television or BYU TV, and it was good, in my opinion, for the most part—although with later seasons as the budget apparently got better the sketches became less funny and more terrifying in my opinion and more alike to a horror movie. It was a Latter-day Saint family production and therefore tried harder than most to actually keep clean and appropriate comedy. Most notably they did not even do things that are allowed in children’s programs nowadays, such as propagate taking the Lord’s name in vain or fake marriage and whatnot. Now between 2012 and 2019, there were roughly ten major actors. Then, however, the old actors left, being replaced by new ones, and they founded JK Studios and alleges itself to also be “family”. I did not love it as much. Some of their longer episodes felt too dry and pointless, and I don’t think sketch comedy works well in longer form without something more serious to balance it out, but I still enjoyed a few I found rather comical, notably one entitled Who Is Undercover? There are others, nevertheless, which I did not particularly like or made me uncomfortable, notably Angels Designing Humans. I do not know the precise Latter-day Saint view on the subject, but it seemed to be making a joke about the alleged uselessness of aspects of the body, making it seem to me rather irreverent when one considers that God’s design was wise, and I rather imagine many Latter-day Saints would agree with me on his subject.

And then they made “Emma Stone Tinder Match”…

Please do not click on this… I would hate to give it more views.

It has the same problem with being too dry that I have with most episodes of JK! Studios, and that most of the jokes not landing as well as the jokes in Studio C did. More importantly, this sketch also speaks borderline blasphemy.

The sketch begins with three people, Matt, Natalie, and Stacey sitting in a room together. Matt is on his phone, and Natalie remarks that he is on Tinder which surprises her because she thought he was dating someone called Jessica. Matt responds that she “dumped” him, so he is “rebound swiping” (no, I have no idea what that means). Then suddenly Matt is shocked because he just matched with Emma Stone (another person with whom I am not familiar, but I think she is some actress or something). Stacey and Natalie both seem skeptical, however, and Stacey remarks that it is a fake profile. Then Stacey reads Stone’s Twitter and sees that she just tweeted “I just matched with a guy who looks like Captain America before he takes the serum” and everyone is shocked because that could only mean Matt. The recurring joke that Matt is extremely weak definitely gets old for me, especially here when it feels more like roasting, but… we will move on because it has yet to get horrible. Then everyone freaks out and jumps around while drums are playing because they think it is impossible and the mail-lady climbs in to say she is living beneath her potential and should be dating someone called “Shakeil O’Neil” or someone (I have no idea if that is spelled correctly), if Matt (who apparently orders “male Spanx”) can land a date with Emma Stone which made little sense to me. Yes, it is improbable in general that someone could get a date with a celebrity, but the whole thing seemed to me just like they were bullying Matt for allegedly being lame. A lot of comedy writers seem assume that friends being mean to each other is automatically funny, when it is not.  The jokes about Matt being lame were in Studio C, but typically they gave reasons why the character he was playing was incompetent and it did not feel like a shade on the actor as it does here. More often, there were just jokes about him being physically weak, which as far as I know, may be true without saying anything bad about his character. Matt’s father then shows up (whom Matt hasn’t seen in ten years) and he says he is proud to call him his son. Matt sends him away. I have no idea how he got in in the first place because they are still in a house already and he does not even have the decency to come through the window as the first lady did. I know it is a sketch comedy, but seeing as no one comments on it and the sketch never makes it clear that it is aware of this, I can only call it a gaping plot hole. Stacey then remarks that he is gay but if he were to match with Emma Stone, he could not say no. To this, Matt remarks “You’re gay?”, but Stacey exclaims that this is not about him. I have problems with this exchange, to which I will get in a moment. Matt’s alleged “friends” then start questioning whether Emma Stone is ill in some way (once again, people bullying a so-called friend is not necessarily funny). Then Matt exclaims that Stone sent a message that says “hi” and people start screaming again (also, the mail-lady is there again because why not?) The mail-lady remarks that the tabloids are going to eat up that “Emma Stone dates average man”, to which Natalie corrects her to “below average”. Again, this is not fun. I am just confused why everyone is bullying Matt. Matt doesn’t have a chance to respond because a priest comes to the door, saying he was sent by the Vatican on account of an alleged miracle. When the priest learns that Matt matched with Emma Stone on Tinder with “a face like that”, he decides it has proved God’s existence (other than the extreme lack of realism here… no one has remarked how people have been getting into their house). Matt gets concerned and decides he has to call off the date (rather than remarking either on the now three random intrusions into his house or that all his friends are awful), and everyone freaks out and tries to take his phone away. The priest just reaches out his hand as if he is trying to Force-pull it out of his hand (for goodness sake, Catholics are not Jedi!), and Matt’s father pops in through the window to grab the phone as well (so now he has to use the window to get in), but Matt manages to click “not interested”. Once again, I am not laughing. I just feel sorry for him to have such terrible friends who used reverse psychology, willingly or not, to get him to do this.

Then… this is when it happens—the most terrible, horrible, disgusting, abhorrent, abominable thing happens, perhaps in all the history of Studio C and JK! Studios combined. The priest announces that he matched with Emma Stone on Tinder, in spite of the fact that he does not have Tinder somehow. Then he immediately tears off his collar, kneels down, and says “Thank you” as the room brightens and heavenly music plays. One might think he is talking to God, but considering the context, I am inclined to believe the priest is speaking to the Enemy.

Before I should address the elephant in the room, I should probably mention the line about being gay. Stacey Harkey, the actor in the sketch comedy, is actually gay. He revealed this in a 2018 facebook post, about a year before this sketch I find so blasphemous came out. And that is fair. In his post, he said that he was doing this to encourage others with same-sex attraction because “many people are living quiet lives afraid and unsure of themselves and I’m coming out for them”. Apparently, LGBT teens have the highest suicide rate in Utah of any state and I do not mean to undervalue their suffering. We are all broken, and yes, it is hard, I imagine, to have same-sex attraction, such as I will probably never fully understand. However… that said, although in some ways I cannot fully disapprove of his motives in posting this, I still cannot help but think that Mr. Harkey is shying away from the idea that this is a problem and not how it is meant to be. The one paragraph in his Facebook post that made me very uncomfortable was this one:

“A little while back I found myself at an ultimate low, praying and begging God for answers, pleading for direction and guidance. In that moment I felt so much peace and love. I instantly felt like this part of myself that I’ve grown to demonize is an integral part of who I am. This part of myself that I’ve spent my whole life fighting isn’t my enemy. This part of myself that I’ve shoved into a dark dungeon deserves light. It was the sweetest feeling and it taught me that God expects me to be who he made me to be and expects me to develop myself and magnify who I am.”

Now, I understand the feeling, when dealing with temptation, of sometimes feeling overwhelmed and begging God for answers. Nevertheless, where I disagree is calling same-sex attraction “an integral part of who I am” and I suspect an orthodox Latter-day Saint would probably agree with me. It is a disorder. No, disorders do not necessarily make you a bad person. I used to have a friend with Down syndrome. He has a disorder. He is slower than the average person, intellectually speaking, but he is no less a beloved child of God. Still, the line God expects me to be who he made me implies that God intended him to be gay rather than seeing it as an unfortunate side-effect of the downfall of man.

Now, I do not mean to get too far into the personal side of Mr. Harkey’s life as I am sure it was difficult for him to admit he had same-sex attraction in the first place. Also, as far as I know, he is unmarried, so perhaps, at least for the present, he is living a chaste life.

However, I do mean to address the line, “I’m gay, but if Emma Stone asked me out, I couldn’t say no!” First of all, I do not think this should be placed in a family program, at least in the modern era where homosexuality is being normalized. Yes, it is fair to tell people that you have struggled with the same things that others have in order to give encouragement. However, I am doubtful whether it is fair to throw it into a family-friendly sketch comedy so carelessly. Also, the word “gay” often implies a willingness to act upon the same-sex desires rather than seeing it as a mental illness which is not as people are supposed to be (although, like with any other mental illness, those who have it must have our compassion). 

But believe it or not, that is not the part that offended me the most. Obviously, the part of the priest—of all things, did you have to insult priestly celibacy? I know and I understand the understanding of marriage is different among Latter-day Saints (if a Latter-day Saint would consider these people orthodox), but why just casually mock the way of life among priests. They have 1 Corinthians 7:8, “To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain single as I do.” Again, various people who accept the Bible have different interpretations than I. Priests, brothers, and nuns do not marry because for several reasons, one being that in that way they can concern themselves more with God. But they do not believe it, and that is all well and good or at least, do not allow me to get in the way of it. I will not mock things considered sacred by the Latter-day Saints such as temple garments and the like, even if I disagree with them. All I ask is that they do me the same favor and not mock the things that we as Catholics find sacred, among these holy celibacy.

Bonum Certamen Certemus
I am the Chivalric Apologist

Abortion and Other Evils On Catholics

Celebrate the Month!

Hello! It is June, which, according to the Catholic liturgical calendar, is the month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which symbolizes our Blessed Lord’s love for humanity. As we know, Jesus Christ has a human heart by virtue of becoming man. The Sacred Heart of Jesus denotes the entire mystery of Christ Jesus, as the Son of God and the cause of our salvation.

Our Lord gave these twelve promises to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque to those who devote themselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus:

  1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
  2. I will establish peace in their families.
  3. I will console them in all their troubles.
  4. They shall find in My Heart an assured refuge during life and especially at the hour of their death.
  5. I will pour abundant blessings on all their undertakings.
  6. Sinners shall find in My Heart the source of an infinite ocean of mercy.
  7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.
  8. Fervent souls shall speedily rise to great perfection.
  9. I will bless the homes where an image of My Heart shall be exposed and honored.
  10. I will give to priests the power of touching the most hardened hearts.
  11. Those who propagate this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart, never to be effaced.
  12. The all-powerful love of My Heart will grant to all those who shall receive Communion on the First Friday of nine consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they shall not die under my displeasure, nor without receiving their Sacraments; My heart shall be their assured refuge at that last hour.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
Have mercy on us!

P.S.: Why—were you expecting something else?

On Debating

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by ignorance and stupidity.

A variant of a quote by Robert J. Hanlon.

This is an issue I have wanted to discuss for a long time. I have seen it used all the time in apologetics circles. Obviously, among the worst instances I have experienced has been from atheists—but also theists, Christians, and even Catholics have at times acted in ways antithetical to Christianity. However, there are other issues, I might note, for which people do it, including trivialities such as fandoms, I have noted, because the internet appears to be a place for people who are guilty of this to congregate unfortunately (and do and say worse things). 

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the sin of rash judgment is when one “even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor.” (CCC 2477) This is why I am entirely against, on religious grounds, accusing people without reasonable proof of intellectual dishonesty. What I mean by this is that very often when I say, “I think this miracle seems very convincing, enough so that it appears to me that the supernatural must exist for this reason alone”, I often receive, rather than an actual intellectual rebuttal, the response of something to the effect of “Actually, no, you are lying because you want God to exist.”  Now, obviously, if I were just being intellectually dishonest in order to prop up a false belief that God is real, that would be wrong of me, and if that fact were known, I ought to be condemned. However, on this very account, what my interlocutor is doing is harming me by assuming evil of me without evidence, as, seeing that even if I were wrong, it could easily be explained by me just not knowing a lot or being severely intellectually impaired (I do not think I am, but that would be the more charitable interpretation). So if someone says something that seems ridiculous to you, still respond with kindness and try to understand your interlocutor’s views. Typically, in my experience, if your interlocutor’s views seem absolutely ridiculous, chances are the reason for this is that you do not actually understand those views.

Further, even if one disregards the moral perspective, even from a rhetorical perspective, it is a fallacy which C. S. Lewis calls bulverism, which is basically a combination of circular reasoning, the genetic fallacy, and presumption. Other than that it proves nothing because anyone who does this is already presuming that he or she is right, which does nothing for productive discourse, in my mind it actually discredits the one who is making the argument.  Think about it this way: if your opponent’s arguments really made as little sense as you say, why can you not rationally debunk them? By committing the fallacy of bulverism, you are rather revealing your own incompetence in that area.

I think it is used as much as it is because, although logically and rhetorically, it is ineffective and useless, from a human and emotional perspective, it is incredibly effective. If a debater is unaware what the technique is, he may be confused and not know how to respond. Further, those who struggle with the sin of pride (a thing with which I think we have all struggled to some degree as it is the primordial vice), it may offend us, making it harder for us to argue rationally. To put it another way, it evades the question while, if applied carefully, making the opponent look like an idiot rather than doing it to one’s self.

If you are arguing with someone who implements the fallacy of bulverism, I suggest you say something akin to, “Well, if what I am saying is as ridiculous as you claim, then you shall have no trouble explaining to me why I am wrong.” If you find yourself guilty of it, try to avoid it in the future.

Bonum Certamen Certemus
I am the Chivalric Apologist

On Non-Christians

Does Science Say God Does Not Exist?

According to Science, God Does Not Exist—this is likely one of the most bold and, dare I say it, rather foolhardy things I have ever read, and I simply felt I had to respond. I see a fundamental problem with the very title, but I let the article I am debunking first speak. The article is written by someone called Austin Cline, which I found on It is an old article, written on June 25, 2019, but I think it deserves a response because I find that this line of reasoning embodies what is wrong with a lot of atheistic apologetics. Let us begin.

In the debate over whether God exists, we have theists on the one side, atheists on the other, and, in the middle, science. Atheists claim there is scientific proof that God is not real. Theists, on the other hand, insist that science, in fact, has been unable to prove that God does not exist. According to atheists, however, this position depends upon a mistaken understanding of the nature of science and how science operates. Therefore, it is possible to say that, scientifically, God does not exist—just as science discounts the existence of a myriad of other alleged beings.

As noted above, there is so much wrong with the very basis of this line of reasoning. Yes, science does not prove and never will prove that God does not exist. This, I think, is not only because God does, in fact, exist, but also, more importantly, because Mr. Cline does not understand the nature of the question, “Does God exist?” The God-debate is not, and never has been, a question pertaining primarily to natural science in the first place, nor should we expect it to do so. Rather, the question is philosophical. The reason for this is that God is not part of the physical or natural universe. On the contrary, He created the laws of physics to begin with. Therefore, He should not be expected to be subject to being proved or disproved by natural science in the first place. Yes, it is true that God can interfere with the natural sciences through miracles. However, that is not the way we ought to expect our main source of evidence for God, as that is philosophical, not scientific. This problem will emerge again throughout the article.

To understand why “God does not exist” is a legitimate scientific statement, it’s important to understand what the statement means in the context of science. When scientist say, “God does not exist,” they mean something similar to when they say “aether does not exist,” “psychic powers do not exist,” or “life does on the moon does not exist.”

All such statements are shorthand for a more elaborate and technical explanation, which is that this alleged entity (or God) has no place in any scientific equations, plays no role in any scientific explanations, cannot be used to predict any events, does not describe anything or force that has yet been detected, and there are no models of the universe in which its presence is either required, productive, or useful.

What should be most obvious about the more technically accurate statement is that it isn’t absolute. It does not deny for all time any possible existence of the entity or force in question; instead, it’s a provisional statement denying the existence of any relevance or reality to the entity or force based on what we currently know. Religious theists may be quick to seize upon this and insist that it demonstrates that science cannot “prove” that God does not exist, but that requires far too strict of a standard for what it means to “prove” something scientifically.

Statements such as “psychic powers do not exist,” or “life does on the moon does not exist”, though perhaps perfectly legitimate as scientific statements, do not hold up to philosophy. Philosophers almost always would say something more to the effect of “I do not know if there is life on the moon”, unless there is proof to the contrary. But be that as it may, with the same stroke I could say “love does not exist” or “honor does not exist” or even, (dare I say it) “the laws of logic do not exist”. And before anyone tries to argue that the universe seems to follow the laws of logic, I challenge you to prove it without appealing to the laws of logic, which would render your reasoning cyclical.

Anyway, science cannot prove these things either because, unlike aether or life on the moon, God is not a scientific concept because He invented science, rendering this reasoning irrelevant.

In “God: The Failed Hypothesis—How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist,” Victor J. Stenger offers this scientific argument against the existence of God:

In the upcoming argument, pretty much every premise has a problem with it, so I will have to deal with them one at a time. This will be fun.

1. Hypothesize a God who plays an important role in the universe.

God does play an important role in the universe. He made it in the first place, and He is constantly working in our souls. He did other things as well, such as inserting Himself into our history, dying, and rising again. However, apart from miracles, many of God’s actions are not actually scientific or deal with the laws of physics, because, as I said, God invented physics in the first place. Therefore, we should not expect any repeated consistencies in any even miraculous actions God does, as His main concern is with our spiritual wellbeing. Nor indeed do I think it is fair to God to do so. So yes, I agree with the first premise, but I am not sure I agree with what was probably intended by it.

2. Assume that God has specific attributes that should provide objective evidence for his existence.

As there are—for instance, His Omnibenevolence as is shown by the fact that we live in a moral universe where human beings are naturally disposed to praise good and punish evil or His Omnipotence, as is shown by the splendor of the universe, or His Oneness and Simplicity, as is shown by the general unity and fine-tuning of the universe. But, I assume, these people are not going to go with any of these.

3. Look for such evidence with an open mind.

That is good, and I applaud these people. However, if Mr. Stenger is looking by the method of the natural sciences for a being who is not part of the natural sciences or subject to them (He invented them), I think he is very much limiting his resources.

4. If such evidence is found, conclude that God may exist.

Very well. That is fair enough.

5. If such objective evidence is not found, conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that a God with these properties does not exist.

That is also fair enough. I agree with more of this than I expected. However, I am still somewhat afraid what they mean is “scientific evidence”, which is narrowing a field of study. But let us continue.

This is basically how science would disprove the existence of any alleged entity. If God existed, there should be concrete evidence of His existence—not faith, but tangible, measurable, consistent evidence that can be predicted and tested using the scientific method. If we fail to find that evidence, then God cannot exist as defined.

“Not faith”—I have heard atheists cling to that a lot and put an insane amount of emphasis on the words “faith” and “believe” as if to claim that we have no evidence because we use that term. Seriously, I beg of you, write to me if you wish: give me a single example of one situation, outside of religion, where anyone would use the word “believe” to mean “accept a claim without any evidence to back it up”. I doubt it will be easy to find such a circumstance.

Now, as for tangible and measurable evidence, why should I expect that when trying to consider an intangible and immeasurable Being? Yes, we do have evidence based on His actions in the universe—we are evidence based on His actions in the universe. However, I have the feeling these people are looking for something else. But seriously, I would like to see Mr. Cline’s tangible scientific evidence for the validity of the laws of logic, or his tangible scientific evidence for the validity of the laws of arithmetic, or even his tangible scientific evidence for the statement, “If God existed, there should be […] tangible, measurable, consistent evidence that can be predicted and tested using the scientific method.” None of these can be substantiated tangibly.

Of course, nothing in science is proven or disproven beyond a shadow of any possible doubt. In science, everything is provisional. Being provisional is not a weakness or a sign that a conclusion is weak. Being provisional is a smart, pragmatic tactic because we can never be sure what we’ll come across when we round the next corner. This lack of absolute certainty is a window through which many religious theists try to slip their god, but that’s not a valid move.

That is true, and I can respect that, because scientists are always dealing with only a limited supply of data, for which reason science always has to change as new evidence presented itself. However, with equal truth, I would argue that God, quite wisely, for this very reason, did not concern Himself with making Himself scientifically verifiable according to rules that were not put forward until the Seventeenth Century. Instead, He went for a method that could be used just as effectively by Aristotle as it could by Mr. Cline if he got his epistemology right. Philosophy does not have this same doubt that natural science does. Not everyone can understand the theory of general relativity, but they can understand the theory of the Prime Mover or that effects come from causes, thus leading to one necessary Uncaused Cause. That is a thing that is not contingent on scientific development. Now one can disagree with the choices of evidence God decided to give us, but in that case, all you are doing is disagreeing with your Creator. You are free to accept the evidence that you are given or not, but I do not think it is wise to refuse evidence before you just because it cannot be illustrated by fancy equations on whiteboards.

 In theory, it may be possible that someday we will come across new information that will lead us to further explore the God hypothesis. If the evidence described in the above argument were found, for example, that would justify a rational belief in the existence of the sort of god under consideration. It wouldn’t prove the existence of such a god beyond all doubt, though, because belief would still have to be provisional.

See my point above. Also, I would note Mr. Cline did not actually even address a single philosophical argument for God’s existence.

It may also be possible that the same could be true of an infinite number of other hypothetical beings and supernatural forces. Zeus or Odin, Christian or Hindu—every possibility of a God or gods is up for exploration.

But then again, most arguments for classical theism actually preclude the existence of Zeus or Odin, both of whom had causes of their own—the former having the Sky and Earth of his grandparents and the latter having a cow for his grandmother. Therefore, neither of them work in the theory of the “Prime Mover” or “Uncaused Cause”. 

Finally, for such a proposition as “God exists” to have meaning to science, we need to define what “existence” in this case means. When it comes to God or a series of gods, their existence is dependent on evidence that they have had or continue to have an impact on the universe. In order to prove impact on the universe, there must be measurable and testable events that could best or only be explained by whatever this “God” is we are hypothesizing. Believers must be able to present a model of the universe in which some god is “either required, productive, or useful.”

God might explain why we see a chain of causes and effects throughout the universe in a better way than an infinite string of causes would. God might also explain the reason the universe is finely tuned. I could elaborate on these reasons, but I see no reason why I should when Mr. Cline seems unwilling to bring them up.

This is obviously not the case. Many believers work hard trying to find a way to introduce their god into scientific explanations, but none have succeeded. No believer has been able to demonstrate, or even strongly suggest, that there are any events in the universe that require a supernatural being to explain.

Instead, these constantly failing attempts end up reinforcing the impression that there is no “there” there—nothing for “gods” to do, no role for them to play, and no reason to give them a second thought.

The fact that you feel that way is noted. Feel free to explain if you wish. You say we “constantly fail”—in other words, we do put forth evidence, albeit evidence you do not find conclusive. Therefore, you are aware that we have evidence but rather than addressing any of it, you just go ahead and argue that science proves God does not exist from the assumption that we have no evidence. If I thought there was no evidence for God’s existence, I would be an atheist. Prove to me that my evidence is wrong, and even if you cannot prove to me that God does not exist per se, I will cease to believe. I eagerly await for you to address any of it.

 So far, everyone who has tried to scientifically prove that God exists has failed. While it’s technically true that this doesn’t mean that no one ever will succeed, it is also true that in every other situation where such failures are so consistent, we don’t acknowledge rational or even serious reasons to bother believing.

And here the word “scientifically” is brought up again. The only way I could scientifically prove God exists is by pointing to various historical miracles. Although I find some rather convincing, I do not think they are necessary to show God exists. Nor indeed has Mr. Cline proven that a supernatural Being should be subject to the natural scientific method.

Bonum Certamen Certemus
I am the Catholic of Honor

Abortion and Other Evils

I Take a “What is Your Gender Identity?” Quiz

What is Your Gender Identity? Some might enquire why I am even doing this because I am a Catholic who does not find new gender ideologies to be consistent with Catholic anthropology. Although I agree with that, nevertheless, I want to examine what other people are saying and hopefully highlight the problems with this ideology. This might not be too serious, but I would still like to try it and see how it goes. I found a quiz, posted by an individual who writes under BroadwayManatee who says he made it because he has “questioned my gender and sexuality for a long time, and now I want to help other people who are questioning! I hope that this quiz can at least give you a few identities to look into and explore.:)”. Now, obviously, we should have compassion for anyone who is ashamed of his or her body, as it is the way God made it, but I have always wondered what it is to question one’s gender. I have heard some claim that transgenderism is a health problem that can be somewhat solved by making someone look like the opposite sex. However, I have wondered how one can know that that person is a man or a woman in the opposite body. I imagine it is not just by examining stereotypes, because I imagine many feminists would be quite irate about the implication that they are men because they prefer to wear pants rather than skirts. Besides, behavior can change. Perhaps a biological girl who is younger might mostly enjoy toy trains in her youth, contrary to stereotypes, but when she gets older, she takes an interest in romance novels, as well as nylons and lipstick and invitations (and congratulations to anyone who got that reference). So, surely she should not get a phalloplasty or metoidioplasty (a surgery made to simulate a masculine genital) only to find she is a woman and try to reverse it. And before someone says they do not typically do bottom surgery to minors, maybe this lady is twenty and still enjoys cars, trains, and sports but develops a love of good-looking clothes and fantasy romance novels in her late forties. And before anyone says that it is just about one’s internal sense of self and people can do whatever they want with their bodies, should we really encourage self-mutilation for people just because they do not feel comfortable with their bodies? Certainly, genitalia are important organs, and therefore cutting them off is self-mutilation. Or would you do the same if someone were to identify as a cyclops or even just feels self conscious about one eye if that person were just to have it removed? That seems to me similar to removing one’s genitalia. But let me talk no more. I will examine the quiz and find out what my gender identity is.

1. How do you feel about your assigned sex at birth?

A. It feels partially right, but doesn’t capture my whole gender.
B. I feel comfortable with it and that it fits me well.
C. Sometimes it feels right, but at other times, it feels wrong.
D. It feels wrong. I feel like I’m the OPPOSITE of it.
E. It feels wrong, but so does the other binary gender.

First of all, I would like to know what is meant by my “whole gender”. A common problem I have found in dialogues on the issue is that sides do not always define terms properly. It is clear that gender, in this context, is something entirely different from biological sex. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, gender identity is defined as “a person’s internal sense of being male, female, some combination of male and female, or neither male nor female”. I do not know exactly what that is because I have no internal sense of being either as far as I know. I am a man. I do not apologize for being a man (or a boy, depending on your perspective, considering that I am still a high school student), and I have never questioned my masculinity. If one were to ask me how I know I am a man, I would say, delicately, that I have body parts and organs that are designed for impregnation. From now on, however, I will assume that my “gender”, more or less, relates to how well I feel my biological sex fits into societal expectations or whatever is typical of men in general.

So, as for an answer to the question, I usually feel comfortable with liking the things I do as a male. I may not be quite so tough, stone-faced, and emotionless as I would like to be. Also, I like fantasy and creative writing, which appears to be a stereotypical feminine thing. So, in conclusion, I will go with A. Anyway, the societal expectations of my sex typically feel fine but at times it does not capture my whole personality. I recognize that God gave me my biological sex and I am not one to dispute it, but I am also aware that some aspects of my personality are not always expected from men.

2. How do you feel about the gender binary?

A. I might fit with a binary gender, but not just one.Or I feel like I am part binary gender and part non-binary.
B. I fit inside of it, but not as my assigned sex at birth.
C. I feel like I fit inside of it.
D. I don’t feel like I fit inside of it. The words “male” and “female” just don’t fit me.
E. Sometimes I fit inside of it, but at other times, I don’t.

Once again, let us keep in mind that by “gender”, we are not using the Christian understanding of sex signed at birth but rather some aspect of one’s personality. This is actually my problem with critical gender theory. In regard to biology, almost everyone perfectly fits into the binary. In regard to personality, however, no one perfectly fits the binary. As there are varied personalities among men and varied personality among women, anyone is going to have some personality characteristics more typical of the opposite sex, though not others.

In other words, s the average woman more likely to care about a love triangle than a man is? Yes, that is obvious. Whether the reason is biological or societal, anyone who has spoken to obsessive fans of love triangles will know which sex they are more likely to be. However, if a man is obsessed with a love triangle, that makes him no less a man. I may not understand anyone’s interest in it, but just because he likes love triangles for some reason does not mean I will argue with his masculinity.

I definitely am not into love triangles, but I am a nerd and have no interest in sports, which are typically considered more masculine. Many of my interests, such as fantasy, mythology, and creative writing, seem more common among men than women. With this in mind, I have to go with E—sometimes I fit inside of it, but at other times, I don’t. I have the feeling most people would have a similar response. 

3. Have you ever thought about using pronouns besides the ones associated with your assigned sex at birth (ASAB)? 

A. The pronouns that feel right to me change. Sometimes I like one set; at other times I like another.
B. No, the ones with my ASAB feel right.
C. Yes. The ones with my ASAB feel wrong. I like the ones for the other binary gender.
D. I think I would like a mix of pronouns like she/they, or something that represents multiple genders.
E. Yes. I like they/them, or neopronouns.

The short answer: no, I have not considered changing my pronouns. I am a man, so I will not dispute being called “he”. Still, I cannot help but wonder how I do decide what pronoun is best for me. Are pronouns just whatever rolls off the tongue best for me? Surely, my own is easy to pronounce, but perhaps “His Most Venerable and Exulted One” would be more complimentary toward me, albeit rather defeating the point of pronouns because of its length. However, I like he/him/his, so I will go with B, the ones with my ASAB feel right.

4. Is your gender identity only one thing, or multiple? 

A. I feel that I only have one gender, but it’s neither male nor female.
B. I feel that I only have one gender.
C. I feel as though my gender is only one thing at a time, but that it changes from time to time.
D. I feel that I only have one gender, but that it’s the opposite of my ASAB.
E. I feel that I have multiple genders

This is another difficult question. Once again, I am assuming “gender identity” means roughly the same as “what is generally expected or typical of the average man or woman”. However, I doubt anyone fits perfectly into two groups in regard to personality, so if that were true, I think everyone would be non-binary or gender-fluid. Still, as my personality (unlike my body) does not fit neatly into one of two categories, I must go with C—I feel as though my gender is only one thing at a time, but that it changes from time to time.

5. How do you like to present yourself? 

A. The way I like to present myself varies based on how my gender feels.
B. I like to present myself in an androgynous or gender neutral way.
C. I like to present myself in a way that corresponds with multiple genders. (Example: If you wanted to look masculine and feminine at the same time).
D. I like to present myself in a way that corresponds with the other binary gender (not my ASAB).
E. I like to present myself in a way that corresponds with my ASAB.

I do not think a lot about this, especially because nowadays I often get the feeling that anything men can wear, women can wear, but what women can wear, men cannot wear—probably because masculine clothing is more practical (not to mention modest nowadays) anyway. However, I would never wear a dress for understandable reasons, so I will go with E—I like to present myself in a way that corresponds with my ASAB.

6. Do you experience body dysphoria – i.e., discomfort with your body? 

A. I wish that my body were more androgynous.
B. I sometimes experience discomfort with my body, but at other times, I feel comfortable in it.
C. I feel comfortable in my body.
D. I wish my body had more characteristics of the opposite sex.
E. I wish that my body had characteristics of multiple genders

I have never really felt discomfort with looking masculine, but I would be lying if I said I never felt discomfort with my body. I am not sure how feeling discomfort with one’s body signifies that the body is wrong rather than that God is just giving one something to offer up by designing the body in this way (and I would note that God invented bodies and therefore should know better than I what is best for it), but I have to go with B—I sometimes experience discomfort with my body, but at other times, I feel comfortable in it. This has nothing to do with me being a man, but this quiz did not specify.

7. How do you feel when you’re referred to in a gender neutral way? 

A. I don’t really care, but I would rather be referred to as my ASAB.
B. Sometimes it feels right, but at other times, it doesn’t.
C. I don’t really care, but I would rather be referred to as the opposite of my ASAB.
D. It feels partially correct, but not fully.
E. It feels right. I like to be referred to in this way.

I would think it odd if someone were to call me “they” or “it” when I am obviously a man. However, I would not be greatly offended, so I would go with A—I don’t really care, but I would rather be referred to as my ASAB.

8. How do you feel about your name? 

A. It is binary, but it fits my gender.
B. I wish it were more androgynous/it’s androgynous and I like it that way.
C. Sometimes it fits my gender, but at other times, it doesn’t.
D. It doesn’t fit my gender. It feels too feminine/masculine.
E. Other.

My name is… fine. I mean, masculine names are sometimes given to women. I once met a girl named Rory, for instance, and Rory is definitely traditionally a masculine name. Evelyn, on the other hand, was initially a male but now is almost entirely female. As for myself, I have a masculine name and have no problem with that, but I do not see how that relates to a “deep-seated internal gender”. Still, I will say that I have no problem with my name and therefore must go with A—It is binary, but it fits my gender.

9. When you have to choose between the men’s and women’s bathrooms, which would you rather go in?

A. Neither feels right! I wouldn’t want to go into either.
B. I was AFAB and would rather go into the mens’/I was AMAB, and would rather go into women’s.
C. The one that corresponds to my ASAB is fine.
D. My preference changes based on the gender I feel like at any given time.
E. Both are fine/I feel partly non-binary, but I’m fine with one of the binary ones.

Assuming AFAB is “assigned feminine at birth” and AMAB is “assigned masculine at birth”, I would definitely pick B—I will go at my sex assigned with birth. That relates more to my sense of propriety, however, rather than my internal sense of self, so I do not see how that is relevant.

10. In your heart of hearts, which of these genders do you think you might be? 

A. I think I’m cisgender.
B. I think I’m binary trans.
C. I think I’m genderfluid, genderflux, or something else that shifts.
D. I think I’m non-binary, genderqueer, agender, or something else that isn’t male or female.
E. I think I have multiple genders.

I think I am cisgender, but only because I do not think any of these other things are real. Otherwise, I think everyone would be genderfluid. So I will go with A.

And let us see what my gender is…

Apparently, I actually am 50% cisgender. At a point, I thought I probably would get genderfluid, but apparently I am 30% genderfluid, “might have a gender that fluctuates, changes, or shifts”. So in other words, there is a 30% chance it might be better for me to get surgery to look more androgynous—I, a Catholic man who has never thought of myself as anything but that. Make of that what you will.

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I am the Chivalric Apologist

On Non-Christians

The Catechism On Muslims

This is an issue I have wanted to write about for a while now, but for some reason have never gotten around to it. I once ran into this passage some time ago and I was confused myself. The issue is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about Muslims. Although I do not argue with what is meant by this passage, I do contend it was needlessly vague and probably ought to be revised. So let us jump into it. What does the Catechism say on Muslims? 

The quote says the following:

The Church’s relationship with the Muslims. “The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.”

CCC 841

One common objection I have heard to this quote is the idea that “they adore the one, merciful God”, being in some way heretical because they do not acknowledge the trinity or else people read it as a claim that Muslim worship is equal to Christian worship or something. First of all, the Jews do not believe in the Trinity either and I have trouble supposing that Moses, Elijah, and Abraham were idolaters. To quote the Catechism of St. Pious the Tenth about infidels “though admitting one true God, they do not believe in the Messiah, neither as already come in the Person of Jesus Christ, nor as to come; for instance, Mohammedans and the like.” (Those Outside the Communion of Saints, Q. 3, Emphasis added) So yes, Muslims do worship God. They have a number of extremely erroneous beliefs about God and many worship God in very heinous ways such as beheading the followers of Christ, but they still worship God. They are better off being numbered as heretics rather than idolaters. You can disagree with this statement, but all you are doing is disagreeing with the Magisterium.

Nevertheless, on first glance, I do see why someone might be confused by this paragraph. In the first place, how is “the plan of salvation” extended to Muslims who do not acknowledge the divinity of Christ? The Church teaches, of course, that she is the sole means of salvation (Lateran IV, Const. 1). Second, some might object to saying they are in the “first place” when we owe salvation first to the Jews. So, how can this be reconciled? 

This is actually a quote from the dogmatic constitution, Lumen Gentium, promulgated in the Second Vatican Council. Here is a lengthier quote from the document:

In the first place we must recall the people to whom the testament and the promises were given and from whom Christ was born according to the flesh. On account of their fathers this people remains most dear to God, for God does not repent of the gifts He makes nor of the calls He issues. But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day. Nor is God far distant from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, for it is He who gives to all men life and breath and all things, and as Saviour wills that all men be saved. Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience.

Lumen Gentium ¶16

This deserves some unpacking. In the first place, the line “we must recall the people to whom the testament and the promises were given and from whom Christ was born according to the flesh” is clearly talking about the Jews and they are mentioned before the Muslims, so I suppose the group of “those who acknowledge the Creator” is not including religions that were founded by the Creator. This is actually covered in the Catechism of the Catholic Church as well, so see paragraph 839 for more details.

The second problem, however, is likely greater. In what sense does the plan for salvation include Muslims? Does the Second Vatican Council deny the doctrine that the Church is the sole means of salvation? The short answer is no, it does not. This is shown just two paragraphs before, the same dogmatic constitution states: “Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved” (Lumen Gentium ¶14), so the document therefore clearly did not attack the doctrines of the Catholic Faith in that area.

What Lumen Gentium is doing, however, is reaffirming the doctrine on invincible ignorance. This is not a new doctrine. As early as 1863 by Pope Blessed Pius IX, who stated:

There are, of course, those who are struggling with invincible ignorance about our most holy religion. Sincerely observing the natural law and its precepts inscribed by God on all hearts and ready to obey God, they live honest lives and are able to attain eternal life by the efficacious virtue of divine light and grace.

Quanto Conficiamur Moerore 7

So is there salvation outside of the Church? No, there is not, but some people can be part of the Church implicitly without realizing it. To quote the Catechism of the Catholic Church again, “Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.” (¶1260) However, if one is aware that Christ formed the Catholic Church to save us all but then refuses to be part of it, I think it is fair to say such a person is going to hell.

So let us look again at the quote about Muslims. So, in what sense are they included in “the plan of salvation”? They are in the sense that everyone who tries to act justly is. Turning back to the paragraph in Lumen Gentium, it can be noted that that section of the document does not talk solely about Muslims. Let me quote this at length:

¶14. This Sacred Council wishes to turn its attention firstly to the Catholic faithful. Basing itself upon Sacred Scripture and Tradition, it teaches that the Church, now sojourning on earth as an exile, is necessary for salvation. Christ, present to us in His Body, which is the Church, is the one Mediator and the unique way of salvation. In explicit terms He Himself affirmed the necessity of faith and baptism and thereby affirmed also the necessity of the Church, for through baptism as through a door men enter the Church. Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved.

They are fully incorporated in the society of the Church who, possessing the Spirit of Christ accept her entire system and all the means of salvation given to her, and are united with her as part of her visible bodily structure and through her with Christ, who rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops. The bonds which bind men to the Church in a visible way are profession of faith, the sacraments, and ecclesiastical government and communion. He is not saved, however, who, though part of the body of the Church, does not persevere in charity. He remains indeed in the bosom of the Church, but, as it were, only in a “bodily” manner and not “in his heart.” All the Church’s children should remember that their exalted status is to be attributed not to their own merits but to the special grace of Christ. If they fail moreover to respond to that grace in thought, word and deed, not only shall they not be saved but they will be the more severely judged.

Catechumens who, moved by the Holy Spirit, seek with explicit intention to be incorporated into the Church are by that very intention joined with her. With love and solicitude Mother Church already embraces them as her own.

¶15. The Church recognizes that in many ways she is linked with those who, being baptized, are honored with the name of Christian, though they do not profess the faith in its entirety or do not preserve unity of communion with the successor of Peter. For there are many who honor Sacred Scripture, taking it as a norm of belief and a pattern of life, and who show a sincere zeal. They lovingly believe in God the Father Almighty and in Christ, the Son of God and Saviour. They are consecrated by baptism, in which they are united with Christ. They also recognize and accept other sacraments within their own Churches or ecclesiastical communities. Many of them rejoice in the episcopate, celebrate the Holy Eucharist and cultivate devotion toward the Virgin Mother of God. They also share with us in prayer and other spiritual benefits. Likewise we can say that in some real way they are joined with us in the Holy Spirit, for to them too He gives His gifts and graces whereby He is operative among them with His sanctifying power. Some indeed He has strengthened to the extent of the shedding of their blood. In all of Christ’s disciples the Spirit arouses the desire to be peacefully united, in the manner determined by Christ, as one flock under one shepherd, and He prompts them to pursue this end. Mother Church never ceases to pray, hope and work that this may come about. She exhorts her children to purification and renewal so that the sign of Christ may shine more brightly over the face of the earth.¶16. Finally, those who have not yet received the Gospel are related in various ways to the people of God. In the first place we must recall the people to whom the testament and the promises were given and from whom Christ was born according to the flesh. On account of their fathers this people remains most dear to God, for God does not repent of the gifts He makes nor of the calls He issues. But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place amongst these there are the Muslims, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind. Nor is God far distant from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, for it is He who gives to all men life and breath and all things, and as Saviour wills that all men be saved. Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience. Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life. Whatever good or truth is found amongst them is looked upon by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel. She knows that it is given by Him who enlightens all men so that they may finally have life. But often men, deceived by the Evil One, have become vain in their reasonings and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, serving the creature rather than the Creator. Or some there are who, living and dying in this world without God, are exposed to final despair. Wherefore to promote the glory of God and procure the salvation of all of these, and mindful of the command of the Lord, “Preach the Gospel to every creature”, the Church fosters the missions with care and attention. (Emphasis Added)

So let me break this down. First, the document reaffirms the teaching that the Catholic Church is the sole means of salvation but then explains, first of all, that Catechumens are already part of the Church, in a way, through desire. Then the document recognizes non-Catholic Christians such as Protestants and Orthodox and all the good things within their doctrine that they have taken from the True Faith, followed by a call for Christian unity. Finally, it brings up non-Christians. The document commends the Jews for being the first to receive Divine Revelation, even before we did, and the Muslims for maintaining many Christian ideas. Then, it speaks of those who are not particularly religious, saying that they can still be saved, if they are nonreligious through no fault of their own.

Then finally and most importantly, the document says “Wherefore to promote the glory of God and procure the salvation of all of these, and mindful of the command of the Lord, “Preach the Gospel to every creature”, the Church fosters the missions with care and attention.” In other words, Lumen Gentium is saying that we do still mean to bring them to the Catholic Church. However, the Church still recognizes the good things in those religions that we share and also recognizes that individual members of that faith may be part of that faith through no fault of their own, wherefore they are included in the “plan of salvation”.

Now once again, I grant that if someone just reads the short quotation in the Catechism, he might not understand this, and I think there is a fair argument that that paragraph should be revised to explain the context. Nevertheless, to say this is contrary to the idea that the Church is the sole path to Salvation is inaccurate. 

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I am the Chivalric Apologist

On Protestants

Someone Misused a Citation of Mine So…

Well this is not what I expected to be writing about this week. “Pagan Origins of the Days of the Week Summary”. Yes, the names of the days of the week are based on pagan gods for the most part. I did not expect it to be considered worthy of writing a whole article on it and how it is a sign of the Church being influenced by the world on that account. Anyway, this is written by a fellow who calls himself Reverend Bruce, who is apparently involved in something called “Life Path Ministries”. The main reason I am responding to it is because I am cited in it and in my mind, misused. Let us dive into it.

The World vs the Word

Take any day of the week and look at where its name originated. See how paganism has influenced it over time. Look at your weekly and monthly calendar. It’s an array of homages to pagan gods from mythology. If we’re truly honest about it, the Roman Empire still has its influence on modern day culture and society through its mythological gods and the names of days and months as well as planetary and celestial names.

That is mostly true in English. However, in other languages, that is not always the case. For instance, in Spanish, Galician, Portuguese, and Mirandese, the word for “Saturday” is literally sabado, which is derived from the Hebrew name “Sabbath”. The modern Spanish word for Sunday, domingo, literally means “day of the Lord” as Sunday is the day our Lord rose from the Dead. Also, I would note that not all of these things are Roman as Reverend Bruce seems to say. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday are all from Germanic gods, namely Tiu, Woden, Thor, and Frigu. The only language which clearly comes from a Greek god is Saturday, which is derived from Saturn. Sunday and Monday’s names may be related to pagan feasts, but all their names reference is “sun” and “moon”. These are only natural, as English is a Germanic language with many Latin derivatives. However, any religious or pagan aspects to these names are now all but forgotten by modern culture so it does not bother me much.

Out of all of these days of the week, Saturday and Sunday seem to be linked to the Word. This is not by their names by any means. This is due to the significance of the days. Saturday is connected to the sabbath and the day of rest, while Sunday is the celebration of Christ risen. Albeit very loose connections, the two days are still linked to the Word in some form of reverence for the people of God.

For those unaware, “the Word” is the name of Jesus Christ used in the first chapter of John’s Gospel. I would note that Friday also has a very important significance to many Christians, as that is the day upon which our Lord died on the cross, for which reason at least among Catholics it is traditionally a day of penance. Also, I am unclear why these connections are “very loose”. The Hebrews celebrated the Sabbath as the final day of the week in Old Testament times and the Jews do now. Meanwhile almost all those who call themselves Christians consider Sunday to be the Day of Rest because Christ rose again on a Sunday (see Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:2, Luke 24:1, John 20:1), so regardless of the English name, it is still the day of our Lord’s resurrection. Also, in Catholic tradition, every day has some Christian significance. Monday is the day of the Most Holy Trinity. Tuesday celebrates the Holy Angels. Wednesday is the day of St. Joseph. Thursday is for the Holy Eucharist (because Jesus instituted the Eucharist on Thursday). Friday is the day of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Saturday is the day of the Virgin Mary. None of these have any bearing on the pagan origin of the names in English, but the seven-day week is older than the English language anyway. If I were in charge of changing all the names of the week, however, I would probably call them Christday (Christ-day), Thrinesday (Trinity-day), Engleday (Angel-day), Joesday (St. Joseph’s day), Husleday (Eucharist’s day), Throwungday (Passion-day), and Mariday (Mary’s day). But unfortunately, I am not the emperor of Earth, so for better or worse, we will have to live with the pagan-origin names.

Sadly, when we step back and see the big picture, the world seems to dominate this realm of daily life. The world has made its decree and dictated how these names have remained in place for ages.

Our educational systems have served to support it. In my own upbringing, I was taught both English and Spanish in Southern California. We learned the days of the week and the months of the year in both languages. Our educational system solidifies the continual practice of keeping these names from generation to generation. Imagine what business and other institutions are upholding and affirming day by day without any consideration of its spiritual impact on others.

This is true, and I agree. In this society, we are allowed to kill babies on the altar of convenience in many places (or on the altar of Moloch, depending on your point of view), and we are not allowed to call men men and women women. I am not sure the names of the days of the week have much to do with it since days like “Wednesday” and “Thursday” are just words now and I do not think they will lead anyone to worship Woden and Thor. Also, as I said, since he says he learned the days of the week in Spanish, the word domingo, “Sunday”, comes from the Latin word dominus, meaning “Lord”, so the Spaniards call Sunday “day of the Lord”.

The church as a whole has been complicit. We’ve seen how Constantine, the Council of Nicaea and even the papal authority have all played a role in maintaining the infusion of paganism into Christian conversion. The intent was to influence the world by the Word, but what really happened was that the world’s ways influenced how the church handled some things.

This is where he misuses something I said, but I will get to that in a moment. Reverend Bruce claims that Constantine, the Council of Nicaea, and the Popes have played a role in maintaining the infusion of paganism into Christianity. The reverend links an article called Constantine Converted to Christianity . . . Didn’t He?, written by someone called Steve Ruis, an atheist who fairly openly mocks Christianity and Scripture on his blog. Nowhere in this article, however, does Mr. Ruis mention Constantine infusing paganism into Christianity but only calls into question Constantine’s deathbed baptism (for reasons wholly unconvincing to me). Likewise, to back up the claim that the Council of Nicaea played a role in maintaining paganism (in spite of the fact that it also declared Christ’s divinity as dogma for the first time) is written by someone who in the same article claims St. Paul invented Christianity, which, considering he quotes Ephesians later on in this article, is probably a claim Reverend Bruce would reject. The argument about Paul is actually the main point of that article, so if Reverend Bruce trusts this article’s word on Nicaea, he should also trust it on Paul—and I really hope he does not.

However, as for Nicaea, the only dogmatic statement it made is the following:

“We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten of his Father, of the substance of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten (γεννηθέντα), not made, being of one substance (ὁμοούσιον, consubstantialem) with the Father. By whom all things were made, both which be in heaven and in earth. Who for us men and for our salvation came down [from heaven] and was incarnate and was made man. He suffered and the third day he rose again, and ascended into heaven. And he shall come again to judge both the quick and the dead. And [we believe] in the Holy Ghost. And whosoever shall say that there was a time when the Son of God was not (ἤν ποτε ὅτε οὐκ ἦν), or that before he was begotten he was not, or that he was made of things that were not, or that he is of a different substance or essence [from the Father] or that he is a creature, or subject to change or conversion [τρεπτὸν in Greek; convertibilem in Latin] — all that so say, the Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematizes them.”

So, most Protestants would agree with everything here, so I imagine Reverend Bruce does as well.

Reverend Bruce gives no citation as to how the Popes are responsible, but in the phrase “Christian conversion” (which I suppose is probably supposed to back up the claim that Constantine infused Christianity with paganism), he links an article called A Brief Look at the First ‘Christian’ Emperor by David Ettinger where Ettinger questions whether Constantine was actually a Christian or “saved” as he calls it. I am unclear what point Reverend Bruce is making by citing it, however. Maybe Constantine was not a good person. He is long dead and therefore in my mind that is between him and God. Ettinger actually admits good things came out of Constantine’s reign in his article, saying, “Constantine’s Christianizing of the Roman Empire took a big step forward when in 313 he published an “edict of toleration,” which extended freedom to all religious cults. It also mandated the return of all Christian property which had been confiscated during the recent persecution, and gave Christians access to public office.”

And as for the final citation… that is where the thing I wrote comes in. Reverend Bruce claims that the world’s ways influenced how the church handled some things and cites my article, Is Easter Pagan? The point I was making there was that it was not pagan. Granted, it is about as pagan as Wednesday is, and I admitted in the article that the English word Easter (not reflected in most other languages) comes from the name Ēostre, who appears to have been a localized goddess of the Spring about which barely anything is actually known. I also admitted that eggs and rabbits may or may not have had vaguely pagan origins (not that those have much to do with the point of Easter). However, the feast of Easter, as I argued there, is not pagan, and in most languages, the name is some variant of the word Pasch, as in the Hebrew word “Passover”. According to Bede, who, as I mentioned in the article, is the main source of all we know about Easter, the name was simply chosen because Ēostre’s time of celebration was around the same time as Easter, and so as the Anglo-Saxons converted, they kept the same name. Besides the word Easter, ultimately comes from the Anglo-Saxon ēast, meaning east, and there is nothing pagan about that. After all, Christ rose in the East.

Therefore my people go into exile
for lack of knowledge;
their honored men go hungry,
and their multitude is parched with thirst.
Isaiah 5:13 (ESV)

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge;
because you have rejected knowledge,
I reject you from being a priest to me.
 And since you have forgotten the law of your God,
I also will forget your children.
Hosea 4:6

The results have never been good for God’s people when they turn away from the knowledge of God. It’s never turned out that well for anyone in the biblical canon who turned away from the Word and what it can provide. That doesn’t even work well for us today. Destruction and doom are the inevitable end to such folks in the text.

This doesn’t have to be the case.

I agree with everything said here, but I think there are more important things to worry about than words descended distantly from the names of pagan gods in the English vocabulary when most people do not associate them anymore anyway.

With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused.
Ephesians 4:17 (NLT)

Note my point earlier that Reverend Bruce probably does not think St. Paul founded Christianity.

Cut out the confusion. Cut through all of the complications that man has added to your faith. Come to know God through His Word. Daily devote time to spend in communion with Him as search His Holy Word.

Once again, I agree. However, I would also contend that more people nowadays associate Sunday with worshipping our Lord than with worshipping the Sun.

but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
Psalm 1:2-3 (ESV)

Modern day Christians have to remain rooted in the source of their strength and supply. Stay in your Word. Seek the truth. Test everything by the Spirit of Truth.

And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
John 8:32 (NLT)

Yes, but I am once again confused how that relates to English words distantly descended from pagan gods. When I reference Tuesday, I rarely think of a god who sacrificed his hand to a gigantic wolf. On Saturday, I am more likely to think of the Mother of God or even of the Jewish Sabbath than of a Titan who swallowed his children whole lest they challenge his reign (as if that were not a recipe to be challenged) and apparently could not tell the difference between a child and a rock.

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I am the Chivalric Apologist

On Protestants

Is Easter Pagan?

Happy Easter, everyone! Last Christmas, I debunked the view that Christmas was a pagan holiday and argued that Christ was actually born on December 25. I will not argue that Christ resurrected on April 9 (because He likely rose on March 27, but that is another issue). Now I would like to address the idea that Easter is a pagan holiday. Some Christians are afraid to celebrate Easter because of this fear. I contend that it is not.

The basic argument is as follows: Easter comes from the name of the Germanic goddess Ēostre, the Germanic name for the Babylonian goddess, Ishtar. Ishtar was the goddess of love, beauty, war, and fertility. The symbols of eggs and rabbits reflect her role as goddess of fertility (which has absolutely nothing to do with Christ’s resurrection and as far as I know, the Assyrians and Babylonians did not associate Ishtar with rabbits either, but let us continue). Once Constantine legalized Christianity, he “baptized” the holiday to represent the resurrection of Christ. Come to think about it, Constantine is frequently blamed for all the Christian holidays.

There are, however, a few problems with this. First, barely anything is even known about  Ēostre, save for one description St. Bede gives us:

Eosturmonath has a name which is now translated “Paschal month”, and which was once called after a goddess of theirs named Ēostre, in whose honour feasts were celebrated in that month. Now they designate that Paschal season by her name, calling the joys of the new rite by the time-honoured name of the old observance.

The Reckoning of Time, 725 AD

Other than that, there is practically nothing. She does not appear in the lore of surrounding mythologies and it is likely that Ēostre was a localized goddess worshipped by the Anglo-Saxons in what is now Southeastern England. But this leads to another question: why would the Catholic Church replace some random backwater holiday with the most important day for Christians in the entire year? Even more strange: why would Constantine know or care enough about this holiday to do so? That would be as if Joe Biden, when he wanted to create a new national holiday, appropriated some backwater holiday only celebrated in a small town in Alaska and use it to celebrate something entirely different. Why would Constantine not use Ceres, Goddess of the Harvest, known in Greek as Demeter? She was one of the Twelve Olympians. Or why not Persephone, her daughter? Ēostre is one of the most random, insignificant gods in the Roman Empire.

Besides, I would note that in most other languages, “Easter”. In most other languages, it is some variation of Pasch, from Passover, the Jewish feast. For instance, in French, the holiday is Pâques; in Italian, it is Pasqua; in Spanish, it is Pascua; in Swahili, it is Pasaka; and in Latin, it is Pascha. So what I find far more likely is that anglophones appropriated the name, Ēostre, because they already called that season such.

But aside from this fact, it should be noted that there is absolutely no evidence that Ēostre is Ishtar. The name Ēostre appears to have been a goddess of the dawn, not of fertility. Probably, Ēostre was an unrelated deity. Obviously, worshipping her would still be bad (although, as explained above, no one who does not speak English would even associate the two—unless we are going to say Wednesdays are pagan because by calling them such we are worshipping Woden), but the fact that she is a deity about whom we know practically nothing much weakens the probability of this argument.

Now do eggs or rabbits have pagan origins? Perhaps, and any Christian is free not to involve them in Easter celebrations if he so chooses—the same could be said of the Christmas Tree. However, eggs and rabbits are made by God and are not pagan in origin so I think they could easily be baptized. If eggs symbolized rebirth for the pagans, for instance, whether in the case of spring or dawn, eggs for us may be taken to symbolize the rebirth which took place when the Son arose at dawn, thus allowing Mankind to be born again as sons of God. 

So no, Easter is not a pagan holiday. It is a Christian holiday, and the most important one of the year.

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I am the Chivalric Apologist

On Protestants

Is Reincarnation Biblical?

Reincarnation, the belief that the soul can be reborn in a new body once the old body dies, is largely frowned upon and for good reason. My own Catholic Church teaches that everyone dies once, is sent to be judged before our Lord, and is either borne to heaven (frequently through the refining fires of purgatory) or else condemned straight to hell. However, there are some Christians who do believe in reincarnation. Thus, I thought it was reasonable to address it. Let us begin.

Did the Jews believe in reincarnation?

Some people argue for reincarnation by appealing to Matthew 16:13-14, which states:

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 

This, they say, suggests that the Jews of the time believe in reincarnation. I see why someone by reading this verse might think this. However, the evidence suggests that they believed this was a case of resurrection, not reincarnation. This is what Herod the Tetrarch, at any rate, believed, as shown by Matthew 14:2, where he says of Jesus, “This is John the Baptist, he has been raised from the dead; that is why these powers are at work in him.”

Remember that many of the Jews, aside from the Sadducees, believed in the resurrection of the dead (Matthew 22:23). The parallel passage in Luke 9:19 makes it clearer: “John the Baptist; but others say, Elijah; and others, that one of the old prophets has risen.”

And before anyone claims that Jesus was the reincarnated version of John the Baptist who in turn was reincarnated from Elijah, first of all, Jesus was born only six months after John, and they were contemporaries, so Jesus must have somehow baptized Himself in the Jordan. Second, the apostles make it clear that this is what other people believe and then Peter reveals the true belief and is praised for it, namely, that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (see Matthew 16:16, Luke 9:20)

In conclusion, I see no great evidence for reincarnation here.

John the Baptist

Another verse commonly used to defend reincarnation is Matthew 17:12-13, “‘I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not know him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of man will suffer at their hands.’ Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.”

This, it is argued, suggests that our Lord was saying St. John the Baptist was a reincarnate form of Elijah the prophet.

There are a few problems with this interpretation. First, Elijah was not dead. As told in 2 Kings 2:9-18, Elijah did not die, but rather was taken up bodily into heaven. In other words, Elijah still had his old body and did not need a new one.

Besides, Matthew 17:1-8 tells the story of the transfiguration where Moses and Elijah appear to our Lord. Seeing that this is after John the Baptist had been beheaded, why could not Jesus see Moses and John?

So it stands to reason that Christ is talking about something else when He calls John Elijah. So what does he mean? The answer is found in Luke 1:16-17, which states, “[John] will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” [Emphasis added]

Note that Gabriel focuses on John’s future ministry. In other words, John, by going in the “spirit” of Elijah, is figuratively called “Elijah” by Jesus insofar as he fulfilled Elijah’s prophetic ministry.

So what does the Bible say?

Reincarnation is incompatible with Sacred Scripture and Christian Tradition. One example where the teachings of Jesus Christ. The clearest example is the parable of the Rich man and Lazarus, as found inLuke 16:19-31. Now, the reason why this is important is that Luke 16:22-23, we are told that “[t]he poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried; and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus in his bosom.” Thus, neither of them were reincarnated, but rather Lazarus went to eternal reward and the rich man went to eternal punishment.

This idea is corroborated by Hebrews 9:27, which states, “And just as it is appointed for men to die once, and after that comes judgment.” Were they to reincarnate, they would not die only once.

The Fathers

We may subvert their doctrine as to transmigration from body to body by this fact, that souls remember nothing whatever of the events which took place in their previous states of existence. For if they were sent forth with this object, that they should have experience of every kind of action, they must of necessity retain a remembrance of those things which have been previously accomplished, that they might fill up those in which they were still deficient, and not by always hovering, without intermission, round the same pursuits, spend their labour wretchedly in vain (for the mere union of a body [with a soul] could not altogether extinguish the memory and contemplation of those things which had formerly been experienced ), and especially as they came [into the world] for this very purpose. 

St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies 2:33:1 (A.D. 189)

But is their opinion preferable, who say that our souls, when they have passed out of these bodies, migrate into the bodies of beasts, or of various other living creatures? Philosophers, indeed, themselves are wont to argue that these are ridiculous fancies of poets, such as might be produced by draughts of the drugs of Circe; and they say that not so much they who are represented to have undergone such things, as the senses of those who have invented such tales are changed into the forms of various beasts as it were by Circe’s cup. For what is so like a marvel as to believe that men could have been changed into the forms of beasts? How much greater a marvel, however, would it be that the soul which rules man should take on itself the nature of a beast so opposed to that of man, and being capable of reason should be able to pass over to an irrational animal, than that the form of the body should have been changed? You yourselves, who teach these things, destroy what you teach. For you have given up the production of these portentous conversions by means of magic incantations.

St. Ambrose of Milan, On the Death of Satyrus II:127 (A.D. 380)

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I am the Chivalric Apologist

All Scripture verses are from the Revised Standard Version

On Orthodox & Mormons

Questions Answered About Latter-day Saints—A Fruitful Exchange With Idealist At Large (Part III)

This is the third part of an ecumenical exchange with Idealist At Large.

To see part one, click here.

To see part two, click here.

To see Idealist’s own website, click here. Once again, by posting this, I am not saying I agree with everything but simply find this a good way to understand our Latter-day Saint brothers and sisters lest we start repeating myths or lies about their beliefs which, unfortunately, is far too common, just as we as Catholics would prefer if others did not believe we thought we could merit salvation by our own power. For this reason, I will not try to argue against all these points here, but I imagine apologetical arguments can be found elsewhere. Without further ado, I would like to thank Idealist At Large and let us begin.


So, Joseph Smith was revealed [had revealed to him] several holy books as a prophet. May I ask what sign he gave (or what you think the strongest one is), leading to the conclusion that he was a true prophet? In other words, how do you know the Book of Mormon is inspired when, say, the Quran or the Book of Urantia is not?

There’s quite an easy way – easy in a sense; it requires personal effort and a sometimes difficult-to-reach humility and openness/genuineness – to know that the Book of Mormon is true; an actual record of ancient peoples, inspired by God and restored by Him in these days. It is to read it, genuinely, and pray to know that. Anyone who does this, sincerely, will receive their answer. 

Again, the basic and most foundational way to know this, as with anything about the Gospel and the Church, is to pray and to study and learn it through the inspiration and confirmation of the Holy Spirit. This is how we, as church members, know anything. Each person will come to know it through a variety of ways, and some elements will be more convincing to one person than another. 

One thing which helps point to the fact that Joseph Smith really did translate the The Book of Mormon from this ancient record, through heavenly power, is the speed at which he did it, added to the circumstances in which it was done, both immediate and in the lives of Joseph and his family. 

Things which you might call signs that he was a prophet of God:

The translation of the Book of Mormon, as mentioned. When read with sincerity and intent to act upon the truths revealed there, it’s clearly inspired, and not the work of Joseph Smith (this is also attested to/supported by a variety of research, with more coming to light all the time).

This is probably the single greatest ‘sign’ of his prophetic calling. Here are some reasons why:

(This is a link to an address given at a previous General Conference of the Church – it can be read or watched. The speaker explains some of the miraculous factors surrounding the translation).

Another excellent talk, about the evidence of Joseph’s own life and choices, and what he and his brother did – sacrificing their lives, in the end – for the cause of the Restoration – is this one:

(I recommend watching this, because talks from this speaker – Elder Holland, of the Quorom of the Twelve Apostles – are a joy to watch: profound, heartfelt, and very engaging. He’s one of my favourite speakers, and is a favourite of many Church members. But reading it works, too). 

Other revealed and translated scripture. Joseph Smith brought forth more scripture, both direct and through translation or inspiration, than any other prophet. Reading it gives a clear sense of his calling. For example, I love reading the book of Moses, which is a kind of re-translation or additional scripture for the first few chapters of Genesis. Ongoing research reveals that it’s very consistent with other ancient records about these things. 

The clarity and extent of the doctrine that Joseph Smith conveyed. This includes the complete idea of the Plan of Salvation and the kingdoms of glory, who God is, baptism, priesthood organisation and authority, the principle of ongoing revelation, understanding dispensations of the Gospel in the world, the restoration of saving ordinances administered through covenants, including eternal marriage, and what the sealing power is for.

Reading the sorts of things he said gives a clear sense that Joseph Smith knew things, and had seen things, that were far beyond what he could easily convey, and was always trying to lead the members of the Church, and people in general, to something so different, something better and broader and more elevated than they yet understood. A large part of my own belief in the Gospel as taught in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the combined elevation and practicality of its principles. The wonder and beauty it shows and gives glimpses of, the usefulness and correctness of what it teaches, as applied to real life, and the sense that I have of truth and deep connectedness with what I know, in my spirit, is real. This, to me, is the greatest evidence that Joseph Smith was a true prophet, and that the prophets who have come since in this Gospel dispensation are also true prophets. If what was revealed through him is this, then he cannot have been other than a true prophet, and the principles revealed through him other than from God. 

As to the inspired nature of The Book of Mormon (the last part of your question), when I read it, it reveals things which make sense and are enlightening and uplifting, and which, when I apply the principles in its pages, work. I discover this as I go through life even more, and see the application of those principles. And, of course, the Holy Spirit tells me it is correct.

John Taylor, the third President of the Church, said this about Joseph Smith:

Who was Joseph Smith? The Book of Mormon tells us he was of the seed of Joseph that was sold into Egypt, and hence he was selected as Abraham was to fulfill a work upon the earth. God chose this young man. He was ignorant of letters as the world has it, but the most profoundly learned and intelligent man that I ever met in my life, and I have traveled hundreds of thousands of miles, been on different continents and mingled among all classes and creeds of people, yet I never met a man so intelligent as he was. And where did he get his intelligence from? Not from books, not from the logic or science or philosophy of the day, but he obtained it through the revelation of God made known to him through the medium of the everlasting gospel.

Here’s something you/readers might find interesting, which someone produced about Biblical signs of a prophet, and how they relate to Joseph Smith:

Biblical Keys for Discerning True and False Prophets/Tests – FAIR

Biblical Keys for Discerning True and False Prophets/Considering Joseph Smith/Preliminary test – FAIR

A useful place for learning about evidences for The Book of Mormon as an ancient text is this: