Sunday, December 20, 2009

God Exists for Purpose

I heard an interesting argument about the existence of God on Catholic Radio the other day. (Catholic Answers Live--the same people who do; really great site) They were talking about faith and reason and how they work together--one cannot exist without the other.

An atheist called in and said he was trying to understand their point about faith being necessary to understand science. He thought they were trying to say that science could not explain everything and faith was necessary to sort of fill in the gaps. On the contrary, the radio guest responded, faith does not serve to simply "fill in the gaps", it is necessary to answer the question "Why?" In other words, it gives a purpose for why things are the way they are, why we are different from animals, why life must continue on, etc. Without faith, science is merely a collection of facts that mean nothing.

The caller responded by saying that he didn't necessarily believe that there had to be a great Purpose for everything. We just are. He said that humans are really just animals with bigger brains, and they don't necessarily need religion. He himself was a perfectly moral, kind human being without being religious at all. We are kind and loving towards one another because we care about the continuation of our species. We don't want to harm those of our kind. Religion itself is a concoction of our more developed brains that merely gives us a set of rules to help us to be greater than the other animals. To sum it up: the reason we are capable of morality, loving and caring for one another, is because we understand that it makes us more powerful than the animals and therefore better able to keep our species thriving.

It was the response of the host of Catholic Answers Live that struck me. He said, "Sir, let me ask you this. Why is the survival of our species important?"

Ah, now that is the question. Why is it important that our existence, as a human race, continue? If we so dare believe that there is no God, and therefore, this life is all we have, then why wouldn't we believe that all that matters is my own individual life and having the most pleasures possible? After all, life is short--shouldn't I make the best of it? Why would it matter what I pass on to those who would come after me? Besides, there is so much suffering and sadness in this world, why would I want others to experience it? So what if the human race became extinct? Life has no purpose anyway, so why wish anyone else the chance to live? They would never know the difference.

I'm sure no one actually feels that way. No one in their right mind thinks that selfishly. We all want to pass on a beautiful world and happy life to our children. But why? It's because we know, deep down, no matter if we believe in God yet or not, that there is a purpose to this life. It is always better to have lived then to not live at all. Even through all the suffering and pain, we live for the relationships and company of one another, the joy of being together, of being loved. Why do we feel that way? Because we are created in the image and likeness of God. We care about the continuation of our race because we believe in the value and beauty of each human life, and we couldn't stand to see that end. We love each other because we know we are incredibly valuable. We are valuable because we are created by someone who loves us more than we could ever love ourselves. Science doesn't understand love. But God does.

Even the animals have a purpose. They are created. They carry on their existence because God has breathed life in them for us. For us. (Gen 2:18-19) Though they do not know their purpose, they have a beautiful place in creation. They too, are valuable.

Without faith, without God, we have no value because we have no purpose. Money is valuable because of its purpose as currency. Heirlooms are valuable because they have meaning. Gold is valuable because it is beautiful and pure. We are beautiful because we are created in the image of our Creator, who is God.

So any time someone tries to tell you there is no God and science has all the answers, ask him or her if science can tell you why we should continue to live. If there is no God, then what are we living for?

I live for Love. God is Love.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Immaculate Conception

Okay, so I know I said I would write about this subject last Thursday, but time got away from me and I got really busy, so I apologize. Well, I guess I’ll dive right in.

There are a lot of people who probably don’t really know what the Immaculate Conception is all about. Many of them think it is about Jesus’ conception and not Mary’s. Perhaps that is because the Gospel reading on this feast day tells the story of the Angel Gabriel announcing to Mary that the Holy Spirit will overshadow her and she will become pregnant with the Son of God. Or perhaps it is because many of us don’t like to talk about the fact that Mary was without sin. She was, by the power of God, saved from sin at her conception. But we don’t want to talk about that with out Protestant brothers and sisters—they disagree with us. That’s understandable. Or is it?

Well, I say we take a look at the first reading.

One might wonder why we have the first reading from Genesis, chapter 3, on this feast day. It’s the one where God confronts Adam about eating fruit from the forbidden tree. Adam explains that Eve gave it to him and Eve, in turn, says the serpent tricked her. God, angry with the serpent, declares, “Because you have done this, you shall be banned from all the animals… I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.” (Gen 3:14,15)

So what does this have to do with Mary?

Well, I think there is a hidden message here. First let’s ask some questions. Who is “the woman” in verse 15? Who is the offspring? First off, what does enmity mean? says enmity is “a feeling or condition of hostility; hatred; ill will; animosity; antagonism.” So if there is enmity between two persons, it would be safe to say that they are enemies. The serpent we know is the devil, and therefore the enemy of the serpent and his offspring is Christ. So the offspring of the woman is Jesus Christ. If Jesus is her offspring, then the woman must, of course, be Mary. Okay, so we get that.

So if “the woman” is Mary, and there is enmity between the serpent (the devil) and Mary, then they are divided, enemies of one another. Mary’s offspring is Jesus Christ, so what is the offspring of the devil? Sin and death. All sin comes from the devil, the serpent, the tempter. (Sin is not from God.) Since Mary is “the woman” there is enmity between her and the devil. She is separate from the devil; she is not of the offspring of the devil, therefore she is not of sin. The devil is the father of all sin and death and she is the Mother of our Redemption—Jesus Christ. She cannot logically be of the offspring of the devil and yet still be the mother of that which fights the offspring of the devil. So she must have no sin (since all sin comes from the devil).

Another way to look at it is this: we are sinners because we are born with Original Sin which gives us a fondness for sin. Or fallen nature causes us to want to sin because it gives us immediate pleasure. We have a tendency to sin. If we grow closer to God then we learn to dislike sin, even to hate it. We get rid of our fondness for sin. In Genesis, God said that there would be enmity, or utter hatred, between the devil and “the woman”—Mary. This hatred of Mary toward the devil and sin demonstrates her complete lack of a fondness for sin. There is enmity between her and sin. She has no desire to sin. Absolutely no desire to sin = no Original Sin.

I’m not saying that Mary has any power of her own. God chose her for a special purpose and therefore saved her “ahead of the game”. It is only through the virtue and merits of Jesus Christ that Mary was conceived immaculately. But all the same, she was conceived without sin. She wasn’t the first woman God created without sin—weren’t we just talking about Eve?

One last thing. Some might argue that saying that Mary had no sin removes her free will. This is most certainly not true. Eve was created without sin and yet she allowed herself to give in to temptation from the serpent. I’m sure Mary was tempted many times in her life, but she remained full of grace and followed God’s will wholeheartedly. She was not without suffering either. She watched them crucify her only Son whom she loved more dearly than we ever could, and her Immaculate Heart was pierced a thousand times. Thank God we have such a strong woman to be our Mother.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Novel Introduction

Today is the feast of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. Beautiful feast day. I just got out of Mass about an hour ago. I have a lot to say about it, but it is late and I am tired and I am afraid I will ramble on making little sense, so I think I will save that for tomorrow.

Instead, I am going to give you an excerpt from the novel I am currently writing. I haven't thought of a name for it yet, but it is a fantasy novel with Christian influences. It is about a fallen world in which three women hold the powers of the body, soul, and mind of all creation. In the world's brokenness, the women are cast to all the ends of the earth and their powers are forgotten, until one evil one sees their vulnerability and tries to capture the women to channel their powers and become an all-destructive god. A man named Marion sees the danger and makes it his personal duty to save the world.

So, here is a blurb from the first draft:

The arrow split the air in two, ripping it apart like a blade cutting paper, separating the winds like Moses parting the sea. It scattered the atoms, soaring through the gases dead on its path—a zip line whipping through the sky. Leaves shivered with its passing, branches waggled as it missed them by millimeters. Dead on it soared, never slowing, never wavering, until finally its journey halted as its tip eased itself into flesh—just behind the shoulder of a buck. Fellow arrows followed, and together their slender straight bodies and fine pointed tips took the massive buck to the ground.

Marion grinned at his marksmanship. His hunt had not failed after all. He would be eating richly tonight. He stood from his crouched position on the ground and started forward, brushing the branches aside as he headed toward the fallen buck. It had been a long time since he had tasted venison. The past week had left him with little more than a couple of rabbits, a bird, and some wild fruit. He needed to head back to his path by the river. That was where the larger animals would roam. But he hated the river. It was too fertile, too full of life. There he crossed the paths of too many other humans. Marion preferred to be alone. He hated the questioning looks of those who found his long, dark, tangled hair unappealing, or his wild fur attire that covered little more than necessary disturbing. His angular jaw was too hairy, his brown eyes too dark, his broad chest too tan. Worse, his social skills were far beneath the rest of those in the nearby town. But that was how he chose to live his life. This life of wandering the wilderness was the life for him. The deep woods was his home—the tree tops his ceiling, the trunks his walls, the ground his bed. And tonight, here, at home, he would feast.