June 30, 2009
Before coming to Fordham to teach graduate students full-time, I taught many undergraduate courses over seven years at Boston College and Santa Clara University. During that time, I collected a list of “student bloopers” gathered from their assignments. I did so inspired by the years of laughter provided by the memory of an article I read in the early 1990s by Richard Lederer, then at St. Paul’s School, titled “The World According to Student Bloopers.” (That pre-Web article can now be found everywhere on the Internet.) Early on in my trundle through thousands of undergraduate papers and exams, I realized that student bloopers were not only entertaining, and often wickedly so, but occasionally generative of a pleasantly orthogonal angle on theology that stayed with me long after.By the way, my collection and presentation of student bloopers does not, of course, mean that I myself am not given to error. I am, and constantly—in both “style” and “substance.” But somehow those just aren’t as funny. (Or at least no one has yet collected mine.) So here, with the most minimal of editing, is what I have after my first seven years of teaching theology.On Faith and RelationshipsMy girlfriend is my most coveted possession. Our love is similar to that shared by Adam and Eve during the reading of the creation story. I believe that God gave sex for humans to use in the pretext of marriage.On GodThe question of whether a higher being exists has plagued man since the beginning of civilized society. The question “Who is God?” is one that has been bounced continuously back and forth. Many ask why God acts the way He does, while others ask the question why doesn’t God act the way He does. The dessert ascetics believed in the ascendance of God. I think God’s ways are mysterious, and the meaning is not going to jump out and bite us in the ass. God is a different person to everybody, and to some he may not have a corpulent form at all. Theocratically, God is so far more advanced than mankind. And while there is nothing you can do to impress God enough to give you internal life, universal salvation is a huge turn onOn CatholicismCertain aspects of Catholic belief are founded on realty. The Catholic religion remains strict on their teachings in order to withhold tradition. However, through Vatican II, Christians are now not the only good people in the world. Doris Day started the Catholic Worker.On ScriptureThe closest written text to the period of the Big Bang is the Bible, which is the underlying scripture of the Christian tradition, and one of the earliest and most influential texts available for theologians. In the Bible, God is loving, forgiving, powerful, and a creationist. In the Book of Genius, God created all the living and nonliving, proclaiming his intention ‘good.’ For tempting Adam and Eve, God scalds the serpent. With regard to Adam and Eve, I am so tired of being told that because of two fictitious people I am not dancing around naked with Brittany Spheres. God promised never to erase mankind again but there is no mention that He won’t screw with us. God led the Israelites out of Egypt to the land of cannon, so they could make scarifeces in the woods. God wreaks havoc on the Egyptians in a fairy tale manor. I really like interrupting the scriptures in class.Luke’s gospel tells of shepherds who come to worship a babe. In the Greek language of the Gospel of John, Jesus is described as the “haggis” or Word of God. Mary Magdalene was the first to see the woman Christ. Women were whitenesses of the death of Jesus. Jesus always tells people that he is the sun of God. Jesus amazed people, starting with his emasculate conception. The passion of Christ is a dramatic, griping story. The New Testament ends with the reformation, and allows the writers to see into heaven. The Bible should not be rewritten because it is apart of the Christian Tradition.On SinLearning about the true capabilities of humans is heart retching. But by following the teachings of Jesus Christ, ultimately a person can lead a life of sinfulness. I believe that Christ died for our sins and even today we are atoning for that.On ProtestantismLuther was famous for writing the 95 Indulgences. After reading Martin Luther, I am thinking of becoming protest. Protestant theology teaches “faith alone,” also known as “sola fillet” or “sola feta.” It also teaches “grace alone,” or “sola gracias.” Martin Luther challenged the ideas of the church, starting the Protestant movement, and inadvertently the ideas of Origen. The antibaptists did not believe in baptizing their babies.On TheologiansAfter St. Augustus’ conversation at Milan, he wanted to seek a wife. He was a theological model and also a Hindu. St. Ignatius believes people are created to praise, reverse, and serve God. He taught that the three stages of the mystical journey are purgative, illuminative, and cognitive. The Spiritual Exercises were written for leaders to use on retreatants. There is also Bultmann’s demythologizing retaliation of the New Testament. Juan Luis Segundo writes theology for Latin America, where it will have the most levity. Segundo argues that we must find Jesus’ deeper, perjuring truth.On Theological AnthropologyThe true nature of the human is to be sociable. Human beings are God’s masterpiece which he wanted to survive. Like God and man, the relationship of parent and child expels a love that bears no restraints.Tom Beaudoin, New York City
June 29, 2009
GIVE Richard Dawkins a child for a week’s summer camp and he will try to give you an atheist for life.
The author of The God Delusion is helping to launch Britain’s first summer retreat for non-believers, where children will have lessons in evolution and sing along to John Lennon’s Imagine.
The five-day camp in Somerset (motto: “It’s beyond belief”) is for children aged eight to 17 and will rival traditional faith-based breaks run by the Scouts and church groups.
Budding atheists will be given lessons to arm themselves in the ways of rational scepticism. There will be sessions in moral philosophy and evolutionary biology along with more conventional pursuits such as trekking and tug-of-war. There will also be a £10 prize for the child who can disprove the existence of the mythical unicorn.
Instead of singing Kumbiya and other campfire favourites, they will sit around the embers belting out “Imagine there’s no heaven . . . and no religion too”.
Dawkins, who is subsidising the camp, said it was designed to “encourage children to think for themselves, sceptically and rationally”. All 24 places at the retreat, which runs from July 27-31, have been taken. . . . (continue reading).
June 25, 2009
The patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Ethiopia says he will announce to the world Friday the unveiling of the Ark of the Covenant, perhaps the world's most prized archaeological and spiritual artifact, which he says has been hidden away in a church in his country for millennia, according to the Italian news agency Adnkronos.
Abuna Pauolos, in Italy for a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI this week, told the news agency, "Soon the world will be able to admire the Ark of the Covenant described in the Bible as the container of the tablets of the law that God delivered to Moses and the center of searches and studies for centuries."
The announcement is expected to be made at 2 p.m. Italian time from the Hotel Aldrovandi in Rome. Pauolos will reportedly be accompanied by Prince Aklile Berhan Makonnen Haile Sellassie and Duke Amedeo D'Acosta."The Ark of the Covenant is in Ethiopia for many centuries," said Pauolos. "As a patriarch I have seen it with my own eyes and only few highly qualified persons could do the same, until now."
According to Pauolos, the actual Ark has been kept in one church, but to defend the treasure, a copy was placed in every single church in Ethiopia. . . . (continue reading)
Jul. 4, 2006 (CWNews.com) -
The Catholic bishop whose diocese includes the town of Medjugorje has warned that "something similar to a schism" has arisen at the parish church where apparitions of the Virgin Mary are alleged to take place.
In a homily delivered in Medjugorje on the feast of Corpus Christi, Bishop Ratko Peric of Mostar-Duvno, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, said that both he and his predecessor have expressed severe misgivings about the reported apparitions. He added that both Pope John Paul II (bio - news) and Pope Benedict XVI (bio -news) backed the judgments of the local bishops.
In his homily Bishop Peric explained that-- "while recognizing the Holy Father's right to give a final decision" on the validity of the reported apparitions-- he doubted their validity. He recalled that when he discussed the reports from Medjugorje with Vatican officials, including then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, they shared his incredulity.
"They particularly do not seem to be authentic," the bishop observed, "when it is known before that these so-called 'apparitions' will occur." Bishop Peric cited the schedule that the Medjugorje seers have provided, listing the times and places at which they claim the next visits by the Mother of God will occur. Thousands of messages from Mary are now claimed, and the bishop observed that "the flood of so-called apparitions, messages, secrets, and signs do not strengthen the faith, but rather further convince us that in all of this there is nothing neither authentic nor established as truthful."
The first reported appearances of the Virgin at Medjugorje occurred just over 25 years ago. During the 1980s, thousands of Catholic flocked to the little town, with many reporting profound spiritual experiences. These pilgrimages were eventually slowed by the violent bloodshed that tore through the region in the 1990s and by the increasingly public skepticism of the hierarchy.
Bishop Peric reminded his people of the restrictions that he has imposed on activities in Medjugorje. The parish church is not formally a "shrine," he said, and should not be characterized as such. Pilgrimages to the church are discouraged. Priests there are "not authorized to express their private views contrary to the official position of the Church on the so-called 'apparitions' and 'messages,' during celebrations of the sacraments, nor during other common acts of piety, nor in the Catholic media."
The bishops urged the "seers" of Medjugorje to "demonstrate ecclesiastical obedience and to cease with these public manifestations and messages in this parish."
Some of the Franciscan priests assigned to the Medjugorje parish, he said, have been expelled from their order because of their refusal to accept Church authority. "They have not only been illegally active in these parishes, but they have also administered the sacraments profanely, while others invalidly," he said. As Bishop of Mostar-Duvno, he said, he felt obliged to warn the faithful "who invalidly confess their sins to these priests and participate in sacrilegious liturgies." (source)
June 22, 2009
June 12, 2009
June 11, 2009
Aviation specialist Annie Jacobson writes:
On Wednesday morning, news emerged out of Paris that two Muslim men aboard Air France Flight 447, which crashed into the Atlantic Ocean on June 1, were Islamic radicals listed on France’s terrorist watch list.
French foreign intelligence agents from the DGSE (Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure) released this information to the Paris weeklyL’Express. Immediately, the story became headline news around the globe. And then, just hours later, those same French terrorism investigators recanted.
“No Terrorists in AF447,” read the second L’Express headline posted on Wednesday evening at 5:35 p.m. local time. Translated from the French, the flip-flop was explained as follows:
Failing to have the date of birth of passengers, it was impossible [for DGSE agents] to know if they were real terrorists or homonyms. Refining their “screening,” the investigators said, raised doubts. The theory of the accident, which killed 228 people, remains privileged.
Why did DGSE agents release potentially “doubtful” information ten days into an investigation when they could have waited only a few more hours to verify facts? Before this information was released, terrorism as a cause for the crash was at the bottom of most experts’ guess lists. Investigators had been focusing on mechanical failure, namely faulty speed sensors, as well as lighting strikes. Satellite photographs suggest that the aircraft flew into a violent storm. At first there was no crash site, which only enhanced the mystery. Then the site was found. Headway was being made. Why bring terrorism into the mix so late in the game, only to say excusez-moi, our mistake?
It is implausible to think that French investigators would release theoretical information before they checked the birth dates, unless they wanted that information in the public domain. The exclusive story was generated by agents from the DGSE, not by the French press. By raising inside suspicions of terrorism, French investigators have gained collaborative possibilities from agents abroad. If critical passenger information was not being shared with international agents before, that certainly is no longer the case. Now terrorism investigators from around the globe — from Interpol to DHS — are decoding the backstory of every passenger on that list with new eyes. French investigators wanted to make the story headline news. And they did.
Philippines Airlines Flight 434, a Boeing 747 which nearly crashed into the sea back in 1994, comes to mind. En route from Manila to Tokyo, a small explosion on board the aircraft ripped a hole in the side, killing a 24-year-old engineering student named Haruki Ikegami and nearly causing the airplane to crash. Luckily, there was an island with an emergency landing strip nearby. As author Simon Reeve explains in The New Jackals, it was the quick thinking captain and his “brute force” that was responsible for saving the lives of the passengers on board. As for how the mystery was solved, that involved international collaboration.
Japanese investigators initially believed the cause of the crash was firecrackers snuck onboard. The rationale behind that thin theory was that it was Christmastime and firecrackers are notoriously popular in Asia during that time of year. But a few days later, the Associated Press in Manila got an anonymous call from a man saying the terrorist organization Abu Sayyaf was responsible for the blast. Investigators around the globe were put on notice.
Months later, police investigators in Manila responding to an apartment fire unexpectedly discovered detailed drawings of what looked like a bomb’s timing device. Mindful of the unsolved Philippines Airlines crash, they faxed the drawings to the Japanese explosives expert assigned to the case. The drawings were the necessary missing piece of the puzzle, which in turn solved the crime. The apartment belonged to Ramzi Yousef, one of the FBI’s most wanted terrorists and the mastermind behind the 1993 World Trade Center terrorist attack.
On the Philippine Airlines passenger list, Yousef had used the pseudonym Armaldo Forlani; he didn’t use a “homonym” or even his real name. But he had personally carried the bomb on the airplane, armed it, and hid it under a seat. He wasn’t on the plane when it almost crashed; he’d deplaned on a scheduled stopover in Cebu. Had Japanese investigators neglected to seek international help in solving the case, the truth may never have emerged.
For now, the reason for the crash of Air France Flight 447 remains unsolved. But terrorism as a cause is no longer relegated to the bottom of the theoretical pile. In going on record with L’Express, agents from DGSE tipped the hand of the international community. Were terrorists on board? Time will tell. In the meantime, the French submarine Emeraude, with its state-of-the-art sonar equipment, is searching the bottom of the ocean floor for clues. So are others around the globe. Was Terrorism Behind Air France Crash?
June 10, 2009