Tag: Sin

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In the movie “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou,” George Clooney, who use to be much better looking, is driving away from the scene of a river baptism with his two fellow escaped convicts in the car with him. One of them had taken the plunge himself and was singing with joy about his new found […]

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I don’t know why the BBC hosts such pieces without seeming to ever host a response to them, but here it goes (again) with an opinion piece posted as historic analysis (along with others about American police brutality this week). It rehashes every stage of historic racial grievances with little recognition that anything has changed […]

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Sin, Ancient and Modern

 

Cain killing Abel, marble relief on the facade of the Milan Cathedral, Duomo di Santa Maria Nascente. (Shutterstock.com)

When Cain becomes sullen and angry because his offering of the “fruits of the soil” is not as well received by God as his brother Abel’s offering of the “fat portions” of his sheep, God tells Cain that “sin is crouching at your door. It desires to have you, but you must master it.”

Well, we know how that turned out.

The Fifth Sunday of Lent: Saint Mary of Egypt

 

What is repentance? Can one truly repent if one has sinned greatly? Repentance is a turning back to God, and so long as we draw breath, no matter how low we may have sunk, we can turn back. But that turning back may be arduous and painful. On the final Sunday of Great Lent, we are reminded that, so long as we choose to repent, the door is open.

On the final Sunday of Great Lent, we commemorate Saint Mary of Egypt. The account of Saint Mary comes to us through Saint Sophronius of Jerusalem (himself an interesting figure in his own right), which he transcribed as it has been verbally passed down for perhaps a hundred years at that point. Mary was from Alexandria and had lived as a prostitute for 17 years, from the age of 12. Moreover, she claimed that she lived that way as much for pleasure as for the money.  Yet in a moment she changed.

She encountered a group of men about to sail for the Holy Land, so as to be in Jerusalem on the day of the Exaltation of the Cross. She had no money to pay for the journey but prostituted herself for the passage. Yet upon reaching Jerusalem, when she tried to enter the Holy Sepulchre with the others, she was barred from doing so, though not by any visible guards.  

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“As soon as a man comes to life,” wrote Martin Heidegger, “he is at once old enough to die.” That’s not exactly a new insight, but it does have the virtue of clarity, which wasn’t Heidegger’s long suit. Being and Time is so incoherent that it makes Hegel look breezy in comparison. Still, statements like Heidegger’s do […]

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There is something going on among the Catholic faithful that, from a worldly perspective, seems exceedingly odd given the wide-ranging lay response to the recent Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report on child sexual abuse and the cover-up by the Church hierarchy. The Catholic laity is appalled, furious, and unyielding in demanding that each and every bishop […]

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I am reading (rereading a book last read thirty years ago, actually) the book Plague of Plagues by Ralph Venning (1669). He discusses the myriad ways sin has impacted mankind.  In talking about how it affects us in this life, he first talks about how it affects us in a natural sense, and then in […]

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Is Addiction a Sin or a Disease?

 

I had another conversation that went like this. A man from church tells me of his daughter who got clean in AA. He admires the twelve steps but says that he has a disagreement. AA thinks that alcoholism (or the many other 12-step ailments) is a disease that needs to be managed through meetings and program for the rest of her life. The church thinks it is a sin that needs to be repented of towards a deeper cure in Christ.

I’ve also heard the conversation the other way. Someone in the rooms talks about his addictive disease. He rejects the moralistic teaching of the church and the idea of sin. He has come to believe that the god of his understanding doesn’t judge and pretty much accepts him the way he is.

When the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous spoke of addiction as a disease they were attempting to describe what was not understood in the 1930’s. The popular assumptions of the day were that if someone was a drunk, they were weak and were morally deficient. But this flew in the face of people who were strong and moral in every aspect of their life except in this one area. In their addiction, they were fighting on an unfair playing field.

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It is said that time heals all wounds.  Most who have lived long enough realize this is a lie – there are some wounds of the soul that time will not bind, which no earthly power can heal.  And it was for this reason that God gave the world His only son, Jesus Christ, who […]

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Today, December 8, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the solemn dogma declared infallibly by Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1854, in his Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus, that Mary was conceived without the stain of original sin. We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, […]

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This is to summarize my series of posts on the Ten Commandments.  The point of this exercise was to begin an exploration of the boundaries of orthodox Christianity.  So far we have established that all Christians who consider themselves “orthodox” are in agreement about teachings on the Ten Commandments.  That is a lot of agreement.  […]

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Simple Life

 

wedding ringsI am a monogamous married man.  I am not a romantic person, but I do love my wife dearly.  I enjoy a simple life with her.

I do not have an ex.  No ex-wife, no ex-in-laws, no alimony, no child support, no lawyer.  My wife is the mother of my children, which also simplifies their lives.  Our kids never had to keep a personal scheduler to know which home to go to after school.  They never had to do that blended family thing.

I don’t have any former friends who are now friends of an ex.  I never changed church because it was too uncomfortable to attend the church of my ex.

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Certain Difficulties Felt by Anglicans in Catholic Teaching, Volume 1, Lecture 8. The Social State of Catholic Countries No Prejudice to the Sanctity of the Church This, then, is the point I insist upon, in answer to the objection which you have today urged against me. The Church aims, not at making a show, but […]

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A Separation of Church and Scouts

 
pro deo et patria

An old-style “God & Country” scouting pin.

My congregation will not renew the Charter for the Cub Scout Pack that we have hosted for many years. This is a decision that took us over two years to reach. It makes me sad and angry to see this relationship come to an end. G-d does not like broken relationships. It was sin that caused the broken relationship between G-d and Adam, and our relationships with Him are broken by sin. In His mercy, He gave up His own Son to die so that a way was made possible to restore the broken relationship. And, though our hope rests in the restoration we look forward to, we still must live in a world that is corrupted by sin. We live in a tangle of broken relationships.

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”There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb and he almost deserved it.” This is the first line of C. S. Lewis’ classic children’s novel “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” (the 3rd book Lewis wrote in the Narnia series and the 5th if one reads them chronologically.) Preview Open

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Reformation Day is coming up at the end of October–like it does every year.  Like a good Protestant, I ought to be reading Martin Luther books or something.  Perhaps in this respect I am a lousy Protestant; I haven’t even touched Calvin’s Institutes in years, and I sure ain’t gonna finish it by this Reformation Day.  But I have begun early […]

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The Exorcist, The Demon, and The One Who Is Not There

 

imageIt’s nearly Halloween, which means a cornucopia of horror movies on TV. Most of them are just awful, with a few masterpieces occasionally making the grade. Last night some cable channel featured Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, and a couple of zombie features I’d never heard of. Frankly, the horror movie genre is in a slump. It’s zombies, zombies, zombies, all the way down and I’ve never understood their appeal. I have a pretty strong stomach — I always have anchovies on my pizza — but I demur when it comes to people eating people. I just don’t understand how they can be the luckiest people in the world.

For just over 40 years, The Exorcist has been the magnum opus of horror films. I’ve never completely understood how such a frankly religious movie has been transformed into a Halloween staple. Yes, it’s terrifying and — for whatever reason — people love to be terrified. But what makes it a perennial favorite, I think, is the gut deep fear that demonic possession may be possible. Nobody’s going to turn into a zombie or be resurrected as a member of the fraternity of the undead. But at a visceral level, most people believe fallen angels are more than superstition who literally, in the words of the Prayer to St. Michael, “prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.”

Satan is out of style, nowadays, which is a very bad thing. Archbishop Fulton Sheen pushed the idea of the devil with a great deal of fervor. Satan’s untimely death in the psyche of present day man is, he said, his greatest triumph. Modern man may be numbed to evil given the terrors of the present age. But when beheadings are all the rage in ISIS land, it might be wise to re-think our dangerous conceit that evil lives only in the hearts of men. Evil is personal. It may be ISIS policy to chop off heads, but individuals carry out the orders. And it could well be that a person — one of unfathomable power — and who is supernaturally skilled in the art of deception, tempts us to break free from the “superstition.”