Words Are Powerful, But Not Enough

Depending on your position and the topic at hand, the beauty, or the weakness of words is that even the very most offensive arrangements of them are still just sounds upon our ears or abstractions on a page. With the exception of horrible, unexpected news about a loved one, it is not likely that words alone could make someone physically recoil, or become ill.

It is with words that we create labels to provide a “shorthand” if you will, to stand in for more complex concepts and positions. Some of these labels have deceptively attractive names, such as “pro-choice”.  After all, who could be against having a choices available to them? But we all know what pro-choice is meant to connote in our society today.  Those who subscribe to this position go to great lengths to rationalize it: “It’s not actually a person”…. “It’s just a zygote”…. “It’s just a blob of tissue”, all of these are “just words”.

Part of me understands these mental gyrations:  they must rationalize their position this way, because the absolute horror of the reality is an evil, so wicked at its core, so black in its essence, that one can scarcely imagine proclaiming support for it and not losing their humanity in some way.

At the end of this post is a link to a video. It is a private video that I became aware of through a pro-life resource.  For my pro-life friends, I implore you… do not watch it. I wish that I could “un-see” it. For my “pro-choice” friends, on the other side of this link is reality..not just “words”.

The video shows a fetus at 10 weeks gestation. It is moving its arms and legs. They are not spastic movements, like you might expect from a spider you’ve semi-smashed on the basement floor.  No, this baby’s legs and arms are moving in the same motions that you’d expect from a newborn infant.

Unfortunately, the video is not from an ultrasound or from a microscopic camera within the womb. Rather, the baby is partially enclosed in a blob of blood-red jelly, sitting on the palm of a latex glove-covered hand.

You’ve read these words…you’ve maybe even steeled your nerves a bit for what’s to come, but you’ve not yet seen the shocking evil. To continue to call it “not a person” is to know you’re a liar. To admit that it is a person is to admit you’re a killer.

You may feel revulsion toward me for being so uncouth as to post something like this. You may feel hatred toward me for causing you to face what it is that you say you believe. You may damn me for breaking some sort of social contract that says we don’t actually contemplate too deeply what abortion really is.

You’ve depended on the pro-life movement sticking to the realm of “words”, a realm where black letters on a white background fail to shock the senses, a realm where words like “choice”, “safe” and “legal” imply a sort of intellectual superiority. You’ve needed us to stick to this realm in our disagreement with you because it is there that we fight with one arm, reality, voluntarily tied behind our backs. I will not help you escape the reality of your position any longer. Do not be angry at me for these images. They’re what you believe in. They’re what you advocate. They’re what you call “safe and legal”. Who is it that is abhorrent; me, for merely showing the reality you advocate, or you for advocating it?

My pro-life comrades in arms, take off the shackles. Do not limit yourself to words. They fail to adequately communicate the horrific reality of abortion. If you have images, use them. Pro-choicers, don’t recoil and don’t hide from these images. Embrace them. Defend them. Laud them. This is the reality you want. Here it is. What now is your complaint?

black

Book Review: Rome Sweet Home

Wow! Talk about a page turner! I couldn’t put this book down.

Rome Sweet Home by Scott and Kimberly Hahn chronicles the couple’s journey from Presbyterianism to Roman Catholicism. Not readily apparent is that though married, the couple did not make this journey together.

Rome Sweet Home is essentially two books in one: Scott’s journey to the Catholic faith followed by Kimberly’s. The thread that binds the two parts together is the story of the deep pain, division and resentment experienced by Kimberly as Scott pulls ever closer and finally into the Catholic Church.

I most enjoyed reading about Scott’s journey to the faith. I cannot imagine a more powerful testimony to Protestants to get them to come to the Catholic Church. The lengths to which Scott goes in order to research the faith is nothing short of staggering. Not days, weeks or months, but years of intense research, every step along the revealing even more that the Catholic Church is the church started by Jesus Christ.

In all honesty, there are points in the book where I kept wishing it were a movie to view the humorous parts. You see, Hahn was vigorously anti-Catholic, but as strong as those convictions were, even stronger was his intellectual honesty and relentless pursuit of truth.

If you can, imagine poor Scott’s horror when at every turn, every connecting of the dots, every new discovery, the case for the Catholic Church becomes stronger and his own anti-Catholic biases take a beating. Funnier still are when in desperation to save himself from his findings he shares his research with various colleagues or contemporaries of his, only to persuade them of the truth of the Catholic Church. This only drives him deeper into despair and makes him more frantic.

If there was one aspect of the book that “annoyed” me it was Kimberly Hahn’s attitude during Scott’s journey of discovery. As Scott drew closer to the Catholic faith, so too did he grow further from Kimberly. By this time in the story, Kimberly had already earned a master’s degree in theology; she was an educated woman.  Yet….she comes off as extremely immature. She clings to anti-Catholic slogans never seeming to care if there was even a shred of validity to them. Her husband is widely acknowledged as a brilliant biblical scholar and wants to share various discoveries with her, but she refuses to even look at them. Time and again her behavior is positively childish.

Fortunately, that hard exterior gives way and the two are reunited in their new faith.

 

 

 

 

 

The Magic Word

About twenty-five years ago, I recall a sudden surge in the use of the word “pedantic”. It was as if half the people I knew were all secretly using the same vocabulary builder system on nights and weekends. Interestingly,  and more than a little bit humorously, simply using the word “pedantic” has the effect of making the one speaking it appear pedantic. Really. Look it up.

Entertaining you with examples of vocabulary backfires was not my pupose in sharing that recollection. Rather, it was to serve as an example of something I’ve sure you’ve seen yourself: the use of a word in a particular situation for the purpose of elevating the speaker and reducing their audience.

If pedantic’s appearance out of nowhere all those years ago was best described as a “surge”, then the rise of “science” over the past few years is nothing short of a “tsunami”.

The mere fact that you are reading this blog means that you have probably been the target of a “science” or two yourself.

You know the drill:

You:  “I agree the world is getting warmer, in fact, I have no choice but to believe it. The numbers show it. I just don’t know that it can be demonstrated with certainty that human beings are the cause.”

Them:  “Hey, denier! Have you ever heard of…SCIENCE!?”

Ah yes…the “S-word”.  The word that cuts short all discussion; the magical incantation that renders its utterers geniuses at least in their own eyes. The word that means “them:  intellectual,   you: voodoo man”.

At no time will this word be hurled at you more than during any discussion in which “God” enters the conversation.  Of course what those hurling the insults never comprehend is the Christian who says “what makes you think I am dismissive of science?”

Science: An In-depth Examination

This is the first of what will surely be many posts in which I’ll examine “science”. I’ll be looking at science from many different angles.  I’ll examine what scientists say that science is, what non-scientists think science is, the history of scientific theory, the history of peer review and at some rather prominent scientific theories that were later undone by….science.

Most prominently I’ll be researching and writing about the phenomena of science as a religion, albeit unknowingly, by those who surprisingly enough are doing so in their assault on the commonly accepted definition religion or faith.

If you’re of the same mind as me and have suggestions I may use, please post a comment or if you prefer, send an email to me at joe.meirow@gmail.com.

 

Administrative Note

In my last post, The Body of Scientific Knowledge Is Not Static, I admit I let frustration take over. The intended audience of that post was everyone I’ve ever encountered who believes that science is the ultimate proof and arbiter of everything.

I’m taking a different approach from this point forward on this blog. The intended audience is going to be Catholics who are looking to start or step up their apologetics game. Non-Catholic Christians are certainly welcome as well, even encouraged! Certainly when the discussion is atheism vs. Christianity, my writings will be equally appealing to Catholics and Protestants alike.

However, much of my writing will be in defending and promoting the Catholic perspective. By writing to like-minded people instead of directly to atheists and Protestants, I feel the tone will be collegial by necessity. Of course, it almost needs to be this way because you can’t really do apologetics very well via a blog because the immediacy of the interactions just isn’t there.

The Body of Scientific Knowledge Is Not Static

NOTE: This post is not directed to any specific person.

I Love Science (it’s a fact!)

Because I know what I am about to say will be taken out of context any number of ways, let me start by saying:  Science is wonderful! Science is fantastic!  I love science!

I will stop short of the popular meme: “I <expletive> Love Science!” smugly worn as a badge of intellectual honor on the likes of Facebook.

What is science? I Googled around a bit and while there were any number of sources I could have used, I quite liked the explanation on NASA’s website, some of which appears at the top of this post.

I acknowledge that I am forever indebted to science for the vaccines which have spared me from horrendous illness, for the clean drinking water that flows from taps because of the existence of water treatment facilities and for a million other marvels. Every day, all day, I am surrounded by the fruits of science and they make all our lives better. Hopefully I do not need write a “War and Peace” length treatise to demonstrate that I really do get “science” and that “it is good”.

As much as I appreciate science, I am also aware of its limitations. Referring back to our definition we’ll find the words “observing and recording”.  Based on this we must concede that “observing and recording” requires an intellect, which can only mean a human is involved. Though we may be at the top of the totem-pole among all the creatures of the earth, human beings are still fallible and that includes scientists.

Ruh-Roh! Trouble In Paradise

To illustrate that scientists and their work are indeed fallible, take a look at this list of what were once accepted scientific theories but later superseded by better science. This does not even include the thousands of proclamations that never rise to the level of “accepted theory” but that you’ve no doubt heard or read about. You may have even adjusted your life because of them only to be told later “Oops! Sorry guys….”   Example:

Wait! Now they’re saying drinking two cups of coffee a day is bad for you? Two years ago it was bad for you too, but last year they reversed that and said it was good for you. Now they’ve changed their mind again!?”

Because humans are fallible, scientists are a smart enough lot to leverage that old adage “two heads are better than one” or “there’s strength in numbers” and thus a couple of centuries ago the “peer review” was born. The crib-notes version of it goes like this:   

Hey guys, I’ve had this thought for a while now….  I then formulated a hypothesis and I’ve conducted some experiments. The results seem to support my hypothesis. Here’s my hypothesis and the data. Since you’re all scientists in the same field of study as me…what do you think?

No doubt this improved things, but not everything…. as several of the disproved theories on the list referenced above were accepted as scientific theories since the age of peer review.

Today’s Theory is in Tomorrow’s Trash Heap

You would think as time marches on, scientific rigor would always be on the increase and that the vast majority of those things finally declared to be scientific theory would stand the test of time, but…you would be wrong about that.

In 2013, the U.K’s “The Guardian” ran a piece entitled Not breaking news: many scientific studies are ultimately proved wrong! 

The subtitle of the piece was “Most theories are eventually consigned to the rubbish heap, but this is scientific business as usual”

The article’s author was Dr. Sylvia McLain. She runs a biophysics lab at a school named Oxford. You may have heard of it. In the piece, Dr. McLain asserts:

That most scientific studies are ultimately wrong is normal for science. There are more theories in the graveyard of science than theories that stand the test of time. Why? Because new data is always emerging and theories have to be adjusted. Theories are only as good as theories are, until new data comes along and ruins them.

This leads to my main point. Science is not static, it is not final and it certainly is not ever “settled”. By its very nature science can never be irrevocably settled.

Science has not yet revealed all of reality

Even among the scientific theories that have stood the test of time, a mere glance at the timeline of scientific discoveries demonstrates very clearly that every scientific discovery is nothing more than marking the beginning of mankind’s awareness of that which was already there.  I don’t mean to dismiss the substantial education, training and intellect required to make these discoveries, but it doesn’t change the fact that what was discovered was already there.

With the understanding then, that science is simply the gradual awareness of what already exists, can’t we say that there are most likely all sorts of realities that surround us that science simply hasn’t “revealed” to us yet?

The Really Big Stuff

All of this then brings us to the question of God, of creation vs. evolution…and all that stuff, that really BIG stuff.

I did not write this post to prove to you that there is a God, or that mankind was divinely created. I cannot prove that and I admit it.

I took this time to demonstrate that not only are you misinformed, but embarrassingly so. You chant “science!” with righteous smugness, with the assuredness of one who holds but a single card, convinced it is the trump card. All the while, you don’t even understand the limitations of your argument. Don’t take it out on me when you realize the card you hold is the joker.

Science cannot, and will not ever be able to prove that God does not exist. It can only show that he has not been proven to exist,  yet.  This is not because of the greatness of God, though He is great, it is because of the limitations of science. Saying that “science has limitations” doesn’t make me a hater, a denier or a religious zealot; it means that I am aware of how scientific theories rise and then collapse when faced with new information. Similarly, I am aware that scientific discovery is merely mankind’s newfound awareness of what was already there. It is the essence and nature of science itself.  Hopefully this has been made abundantly clear by now.

With this background in place, I was about to start on the whole Darwin’s Theory thing, but it’s taken two hours just to get this far, so I’m going to leave that until the next post.  Peace, out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In God’s Time

One of the things we’re always told is that God answers prayers in His time, not ours.

When I was fourteen years old, my parents divorced. I took it very hard. Though I wasn’t particularly religious (I had stopped going to church a few years before), I remember praying every night for months, “Please God, let my parents get back together.”

Not only did my parents not get back together, but they both remarried. The marriage of my mother and step-father lasted only about seven years. Truth be told, I did not care for the man in the least.

When my father first married my step-mother I would visit them occasionally on weekends. I remember my new step-mom, Linda, and the efforts she made to be kind to me. I didn’t rebuke her, but I didn’t have the appreciation for her kindness that I should have. I was only sixteen and still very wounded.

Time heals all wounds, no matter the scar tissue left behind and I did come to love Linda very much. I loved her as much as any child could love a step-mom.  My mom and Linda had even become friends and used to talk at length over dinner on holidays.

Thirty three years passed.  Then one day, Linda passed away, suddenly, unexpectedly. It was the first time in my adult life that someone very close to me had passed away. And it hurt. Badly.

About a year after Linda’s passing, of all the unexpected things in the world, my parents got back together. I confess at first, it felt very weird. It felt to me as if Linda was being slighted in some way. Eventually that feeling passed, passing more easily as I reflected that my parents were married for nearly fifteen years before my dad and Linda married. It was right that they were together.

Now it is four years later. Tomorrow, my wife and two daughters and my sister, her daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren will leave on vacation together, with our parents, our Mom and Dad. I’ve not been a vacation with my parents since my early teens. I am ecstatic. It would be easy to mourn the lost years, but I’ll not waste my time. I’m overjoyed. My prayers have been answered…in God’s time.

 

 

 

 

Types of Catholics – A Lexicon

Programs, programs, get your program right here! You can’t know the players without a program!

 

Cafeteria Catholic: “I’ll have a double-order of  ‘sex is holy’, hold the ‘no contraception’, please.”

Convert:  Comes to Catholicism via another faith, or none at all

Extrovert: The one person in your parish who actually greets visitors.

Introvert:  Everyone but the extrovert. (See Extrovert)

Revert: Born and raised Catholic, has left the faith but then returns. Thought – technically, couldn’t a convert become a revert?

Threevert: Obvious, no?

Father:  Describes a man in our parish years ago. Sixty-something, gray beard, always wearing black trousers and a black short-sleeve shirt. I swear he’d have worn the collar if he thought he could get away with it.  Father’s favorite seat in the pews wasn’t a seat at all – it was a chunk of real estate behind the last row of pews in the middle of the center aisle. He’d alternate between standing and kneeling. I don’t know if I ever actually saw him actually go prostrate during the Mass or if it is just something that time has falsely planted in my memory, but he certainly seemed to have been desirous of Holy Orders. Do you have a “Father” at your parish?

Indignant Visitor: Loves to follow up their first Mass at your parish with complaints to the priest about everything that was wrong with the liturgy, the parishioners, the parking lot, the plumbing, etc .

Infallible Idiot: Complains about liturgical abuse, violation of tradition, lack of compliance with archdiocesan instructions, etc., convinced that they are correct, except that they’re not.

Season Ticket Holder:  Their most sacred tradition is where they sit during Mass.

“The air conditioning is too cold!”
“There’s a vent right below you. If you move over there, or there, or there you’ll be fine.”
“But this is my seat!”

Statue: You come into the sanctuary and they’re kneeling at a pew, praying. During the Mass they never move. It’s as if the Mass is not occurring. You leave and they’re still there, not moving. You think to yourself: “Does housekeeping dust them on Saturdays?”

Walking Dead: Described me for the better part of twenty-five years and I suspect it describes a lot of others as well. A Walking Dead is a would-be revert who just never got around to leaving.

Committed Catholic: All kidding aside, most Catholics I know are committed Catholics. We rejoice at our membership in the Church started by Jesus Christ. We revel in the fullness and richness of our Catholic heritage and traditions. We are members of a world-wide family. Any Mass, in any country, we may not know the language, but we know exactly what is going on.

Do you have any humorous categories to add? Send them to me!  Please register (see Register on the left navigation bar) and post them as a comment.