Thursday, February 28, 2008

Cause Way Thursday
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you'll never be able to have children
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Our first child, a girl, died at birth. We name her Wendy. She's buried in a small church cemetery in southeastern MI. We'd only been married 14 months and had just buried our first child.

Young married couples can bounce back quickly, if they try. We tried. We bounced back. A year and a half later we were expecting our second child. Five months into the pregnancy and we had lost our second child - another girl - stillborn.

That's when the doctor told us, "You'll never be able to have children." There were some physical issues that precluded being able to carry a baby to term. We sought a second opinion.

The new doctor said that with some surgery, my wife should be able to not only conceive, but carry to full term. Hurray for modern medicine.

She did [had a couple of surgeries]; we did [get her pregnant]; our daughter did [stayed aboard full term] ... and she was the first - just four years into our marriage and we had a strong healthy little girl to raise. Then, after eight years into our marriage and we had a first son to raise; after twelve years into our marriage and we had a second son to raise. [see picture at head of this blog site which includes spouses-in-law and 3 grandchildren]

As young marrieds we didn't have much ... but we had each other, our extended families, and God. God entrusted us with the responsibility of raising future saints for the Kingdom - two whom He called home immediately, and three we were given the opportunity to raise from scratch.

The front end of parenting holds more questions than answers. Surround yourself with faith-filled like-minded people. Keep God in the loop in every decision. Be there for each other, and when you don't agree on what to do next, double your effort to talk it through with your heavenly Father.

Parenthood is a sharing in the life of the Creator - remember that every day.

uncle jim
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thanks to Peggy for the following:
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Many men, women, family members and friends are seeking to make sense of their own or a loved one’s abortion experience. You are not alone.

Abortion Changes You is an invitation for those who have been touched by abortion - men, women, grandparents, siblings, other family members and friends - to know that they are not alone and that healing resources are available. Men and women are able to type in their Zip code and find local resources such as after abortion ministries and counselors. The outreach includes the interactive Web site and the book Changed.

The Abortion Changes You outreach is close to my heart because I’ve been there.

When I became pregnant at 18, I had an abortion.

I was completely unprepared for the emotional fallout. I thought the abortion would erase the pregnancy. I thought I could move on with my life. I was wrong.

I experienced periods of intense anger followed by periods of profound sadness. With counseling and the help of supportive friends, I was able to enter into a healthy grieving process. In addition to grieving the loss of my child, I slowly became aware of how my choice to abort had impacted my family. I was surprised and saddened that my parents, my sister, and even my living children struggled to deal with the loss of a family member through abortion.

Over the years I’ve heard many heartrending stories about abortion. Although each story is unique, a common thread moves through them all—abortion changes you. Although abortion has touched many of us, we rarely share our personal experiences regarding it.

This is what led me to write a book that shares some of the stories I’ve heard. Changed: Making Sense of Your Own or a Loved One’s Abortion Experience is an invitation to begin the healing process through a grief and loss healing model.

There was also a need for a safe space for people to tell their stories, explore the ways abortion has impacted them, and find resources. We created to fill this need.

It is my hope that the Web site and book will assist you as you seek to make sense of your abortion or the abortion of someone close to you.

If you have not been touched by abortion, I hope that the Web site and book will aid you as you seek to sensitively and compassionately communicate with others about abortion.


View the 1-minute video about the outreach here.


Be the first to receive an original edition of Changed.

Tell a Friend

Your financial support helps reach others touched by abortion.
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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

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You've probably already noticed.
My posts have not been every day lately.
It is my intent to post at least 4 times a week...
and more when able.
Life has been overloaded.
I am working through it.
Pray for me.

uncle jim
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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Your Way Tuesday
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how low can I go
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While searching videos for Gregorian Chant I came across artists or groups singing hymns of the Latin Funeral Mass. It brought back memories from grade school days.

Our parish used the parish school 8th grade class to sing at funeral Masses. The organ and choir were positioned in a loft to the rear of the assembly. Our organist & choir director, Mr. Lang, and our teacher, Sister Mary Elmer, SND, taught us our parts during 'music class' starting in 7th grade so we'd be ready when we got to 8th.

Early in my 8th grade year we were called upon to sing for a funeral. We processed to the church and went directly to the small and narrow stairs winding up to the choir loft.

After the first hymn, Sister came to me and said in a very stern voice [you recall Sister Mary Whomever and her stern voice, don't you?], "Mr. Schenkel ... from here on just mouth it, OK - don't sing! Do you understand me?"

There were a couple of us who didn't get to sing anymore. During summer vacation our voices started changing. We were at a time in our life when our sweet voices had become crackling wanna be basses. Sister didn't want us messing up the sweet sound of this wonderful children's choir. We were so proud.

uncle jim

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While I didn't select a version of the Dies Ire to feature here, I did find a version of the Ave Maria with which I was not familiar.
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a rendition of Caccini's Ave Maria
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'CLICK' on the above > and be caught-up in angelic rapture
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the following is from Fr. Schnippel of 'Called by Name'
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Monday, February 25, 2008
Surely, you can't be Sirius!?

I am, (and don't call me Shirley!) (Sorry, bad attempt at humor!)

I will be a guest on Sirius Satellite Radio's The Catholic Channel next Monday, March 3rd at 7:30 AM, Eastern, on Sieze the Day with Gus Lloyd. We'll be talking about vocations, the efforts of the office here in Cincinnati, and the development of our website at

I'm not entirely sure if you can listen in online or not here:

If anyone knows, hit the combox, please.

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the following is from Dawn Eden of 'the Dawn Patrol'
Monday, February 25, 2008
Young artist hangs herself after grief of aborting twins

I see the tragedy of Emma Beck and her unborn children as, in large part, a result of the feminist culture that bullies women into keeping quiet about their post-abortive pain—unless that pain can be placed within the context of an abortion-advocacy message (e.g. "a painful decision" but "the right choice").
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Sunday, February 24, 2008

My Way Sunday
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life is hard - a living death is harder still
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Several years ago, I went to the hospital to visit a late 50's year old woman. It was a combination of pulmonary and heart issues that had her hospitalized again.

She had endured a long hard-lived life of alcohol and cigarettes and a number of former 'husbands'. Her first husband, by whom she bore 5 children, died at an early age in an automobile accident. She worked several low-paying jobs to make ends meet.

I know one of her sons. He greatly admires his mother for the hardships she endured while trying to raise him and his brothers and sisters. He himself has suffered similar problems [alcohol and cigarettes] and has done 'hard time' in a state penitentiary.

Since out of prison, he has a good skilled job, is married, and does have several children born of previous relationships. He tries hard to enjoy the toys of the material life he's working so hard to acquire.

His family had never been 'church' people. In the past 5 years or so, he has asked me to pray for particular needs in his family several times. That's why I visited his mother. At the conclusion of our visit, I asked her if she would mind if I prayed for her.

Within a few days, she was sent home. She was placed on heart medication and had to use a portable oxygen tank. She was instructed to stop smoking and drinking.

A few years earlier she had a cancerous breast removed. Shortly before this hospitalization a lump was discovered in her other breast. She just knew she was going to lose that breast, too - she just knew it. Somehow, this seemed more significant to her than her heart and respiratory problems.

She finally went in to follow-up on the breast lump - it no longer existed. Unexplainable to her and her physician, they ordered another round of exams. They came back with the same results - no lump.

She attributed it to my visit and my prayer that God would heal her. She still had heart and lung problems, but her breast had been healed. My experience is to praise God and not try to explain the rest.

A couple of weeks ago, mom was back in the hospital ... couldn't breathe ... lungs filling up with fluids - and she had been smoking and drinking again. I visited on her second day. Her current 'husband' was there in the room, as was one of her other adult sons who had his 12-year old boy with him to visit grandma.

At the conclusion of the visit, I asked if I could pray with her. She seemed eager. Her husband bowed his head; the son did like-wise, and I heard the grandson say to his dad, "What should I do?" - dad replied to just bow his head and be quiet. When done, I told her I'd be back in a couple of days.

I went back, but the day after my previous visit, her lungs were cleared, and her heart was functioning pretty normally. They kept her an extra day and sent her home.

Medicine, or miracle? I surely do not know, but I know God loves her.

She's on medication, and oxygen, and for now has quit the cigarettes and alcohol. Life is hard - I hope she can stay off both of those, but I will not be surprised to hear she is not.

God meets us where we are. Sometimes we recognize Him and welcome Him and start to listen to Him. I don't know where she is in that part of her experience, but I know God is reaching out to her. He is 'thirsting' for her, as He does for all of us.

uncle jim
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Commentary of the day

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997), foundress of the Missionary Sisters of Charity
Letter to all her community, called her “Spiritual Testament”

"Give me a drink"

Jesus’ words “I thirst” (Jn 19,28), written on the wall of all our chapels, are not something from the past but are alive, here and now; they are spoken for you. Do you believe this? If you do, you will understand and feel his presence. Let him be as intimately within you as he is in me; that is the greatest joy you could give me. I will try and help you to understand this but Jesus himself is the only one who can say to you “I thirst!” Listen to your own name. And not just once. Every day. If you listen with your heart, you will hear, you will understand. Why did Jesus say: “I thirst”? What is its meaning? It is very difficult to explain it in words… Nevertheless, if you could grasp one, single thing from this letter, let it be this: “I thirst” is an even more profound word than if Jesus had simply said “I love you”. So long as you fail to realise, and in a deeply intimate way, that Jesus thirsts for you, you cannot possibly know what it is he wants to be for you, nor what he wants you to be for him. The heart and soul of the Missionaries of Charity consists entirely in this: the thirst of Jesus’ heart, hidden in the poor. This alone is at the origin of all that makes up our life. It sets before us both the goal … and the spirit of our Congregation. To quench the thirst of Jesus living among us is the entire justification for our existence and our exclusive goal. Is there anything more than this we could say about ourselves, namely, that this is our sole motive for living.
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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Any Way Saturday
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on my own
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How many times have I tried tried to wash away my sins with my tears? It is only by God's mercy that forgiveness becomes reality. My repentance opens the door - why do I keep closing it?

Often I question, "Why do I do what I do not want to do?" Often I pray, as Paul, asking that this thorn be removed. Often I despair at my inability to overcome.


uncle jim
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can you take it?
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Saint Andrew of Crete (660-740), monk and Bishop
from the Grand canon of the Orthodox Lenten liturgy, 1st ode

Father, full of compassion, come to me, take me in your mercy. The one whom the robbers attacked (Lk 10,30f.) is myself in the midst of the wandering of my thoughts. They strike me and wound me. But you, O Christ my Saviour, bend down to me and heal me. The priest sees me and turns away. The Levite sees me, naked and in distress, but passes by on the other side. But you, O Jesus born of Mary, You stop to help me. Jesus, I cast myself at your feet; I have sinned against your love. Free me from this burden for it is too heavy for me, and, in your mercy, take me to yourself. Do not enter into judgment with me. Do not uncover my deeds, nor inspect my motives and desires; but in your compassion, All-Powerful one, close your eyes to my sins and save me. Now is the time of repentance. I come to you. Free me from the heavy burden of my sins and, in your gentleness, grant to me tears of repentance.
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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Cause Way Thursday
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oh breath, where is thy zing?
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he following piece is from Miami / Ft. Lauderdale FL television station Channel 7, WSVN. It is a story they aired on February 1, 2008.

hat do you think about such stories?

If you know anyone who claims to have had a near-death, or a certified death and restoration event in their life, please share their story with us.
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Raised From The Dead

Is it a medical mystery or a miracle? A South Florida man pronounced dead from a massive heart attack and then brought back to life. His doctor says the man was raised from the dead by a simple prayer. Seven's Louis Aguirre has the story.

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WSVN -- Dr. Chauncey Crandall isn't your usual doctor. The world-renowned cardiologist is a man of medicine and science, but he's also a man of faith.

Dr. Chauncey Crandall: "If you come in with a problem into our service, we are definitely going to treat you with conventional medicine, but we are going to believe it too. We are going to attack it with conventional medicine, and we are going to attack it with prayer."

He calls himself the Christian physician because he prays with each heart patient he sees at his Palm Beach practice. The difference, he says, is dramatic.

Dr. Chauncey Crandall: "The reason I pray for people is because I found, early in my trained practice, that there were miracles, unexplained healings."

But even his strong faith could not prepare him for what would happen the day Jeff Markin walked into the Palm Beach Gardens emergency room.

Jeff Markin: "I drove to the Garden's Hospital, went in, took out my wallet and fell on the floor with a massive heart attack."

For 40 minutes doctors and nurses in the ER tried to revive him. When they couldn't get his heart started again they called for Dr. Crandall, who was doing rounds in the hospital at the time.

Dr. Chauncey Crandall: "As I entered the ER it was like a war zone. Here was this lifeless body on a stretcher."

The doctor couldn't do anything and could only confirm what everyone already knew, Jeff was dead. He had gone almost an hour without a heartbeat, and his body was starting to decompose.

Dr. Chauncey Crandall: "His face, his arms, his legs were pitch black with death. I said, 'Let's just call the code, let's end it because there's no life left.'"

As Dr. Crandall turned to leave, he says he got another call this time, a call from God to pray.

Dr. Chauncey Crandall: "A voice told me to turn around and pray for that man. I looked down at the body, and I said, 'Lord, what can I pray for this man? He's gone.' All of a sudden these words came out, 'Father, I cry out for this man's soul, if he does not know you, raise him from the dead.'"

Despite protests from doctors and nurses who were preparing Jeff's body for the morgue, doctor Crandall insisted they shock him one more time.

Dr. Chauncey Crandall: "So that doctor came over with those paddles and blasted that man and, all of a sudden, instantly a perfect heartbeat came up on the monitor. The stomach started moving, the chest started moving. This man started breathing on his own, and I said, 'This man has been prayed for, he has been brought back from the dead by prayer in the name of Jesus.'"

Louis Aguirre: "So where was Jeff during all of this? He believes he left his body and crossed over to the after life."

Jeff Markin: "I was actually standing in the back of the funeral home, and I came to realize that this was my funeral."

But, in the middle of sitting alone in darkness, Jeff says a figure suddenly appeared to him.

Jeff Markin: "There was a figure that identified himself as Bob, and he was going to make sure that everything was going to be OK. I'm figuring that was my guardian angel. At that time, a very peaceful feeling and very relaxed feeling came over me, and then he said he had to go and, the next thing I know, I woke up in my daughter's arms."

He woke up to a second chance, one that can't be explained by medicine or science. As Dr. Crandall puts it, the only answer is divine intervention.

Dr. Chauncey Crandall: "You are speaking to a scientist, a cardiologist, someone who loves medicine. I've never, ever seen this. There are always people that do not believe these events, and I will just tell them that it did happen. It was a real story, a real life that was restored."

Jeff wasn't exactly a believer before that day. He didn't regularly attend church or read the Bible, but this experience has made him believe there is a higher purpose for his life.

Jeff Markin: "I feel like maybe I am supposed to be a messenger. I want to get the right message across that miracles do happen."

A miracle that brought him life after death.

Jeff Markin: "I'm so happy I have a second chance."

Louis Aguirre: "Jeff says he is now attending church mainly because he wants to figure out why he was chosen for a second chance at life."
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Reported by:

Louis Aguirre


Angela Caraway


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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Vid Way Tuesday
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pair uh dee, pair uh dumb x 2
get the popcorn and feel good
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'CLICK' on the above > search your heart.
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'CLICK" on the above > and start smelling the testosterone.

Addendum: Do you have any suggestions for other aromas?
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Sunday, February 17, 2008

My Way Sunday
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a parsing parson
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he following article is about an interview with Anglican Bishop N. T. (Tom) Wright. I have been reading some of his Theological tomes for over 15 years now. I have probably 7 or 8 of his books. Some are highly academic; others written for the layman. He is well respected in Biblical studies circles through-out the church, even in Rome. He has 'Catholic' friends in high-places - as well as critics - and his critics are present in Protestant realms, too...they think he is too Catholic. I think he is as good a Pauline scholar as many these days, and better than most.

Note to non-Protestant readers of this blog: The below material is written by a fairly conservative and orthodox Protestant publishing company. Does it differ from your understanding?

uncle jim

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Anglican Bishop Says Resurrection Commonly Misunderstood

The Wired Word for February 17, 2008

In the News

Last week, TIME magazine featured an interview with N.T. "Tom" Wright, the bishop of Durham (England), in which the cleric maintained that the common view of heaven is a distortion of what the Bible actually teaches. He also said that as a result, many people miss the real hope about life after death that the Bible presents.

The article was published under the sensational title "Christians Wrong About Heaven, Says Bishop," but what Wright, who is the fourth most senior cleric in the Church of England, was actually talking about is what the Apostles' Creeds calls "the resurrection of the body."

In the interview, Wright said that the usual view of heaven as an otherworldly place where you go after death if you were good in this life is unsupported in the New Testament in three ways.

The first unsupported view, Wright contends, concerns timing. Many people assume we go to heaven immediately after death, but Wright points out that the apostle Paul said clearly that Christ has been raised from the dead already but that nobody else has yet.

The second view that Wright says is unsupported regards our physical state in the resurrection of the dead. Many people assume we live on after death as a disembodied soul, but Wright says the biblical view is that we receive a resurrected body.

And the third view Wright says is a misunderstanding of Scripture concerns location. He points out that the gospels nowhere say, "Jesus has been raised; therefore we are all going to heaven." Rather it says that Jesus is coming here to join together the heavens and the earth in an act of new creation.

In another interview, this one with the preaching journal Homiletics, Wright explained it this way: "The word 'resurrection' has commonly been used by Christians for many years now to mean effectively, 'life after death.' So that when people read the Easter story they think, 'Isn't that wonderful? Jesus died, then he was raised, then he went to heaven; well, we'll die, we'll go to heaven and that's pretty much the same thing.' And they miss the whole point of the bodily resurrection, which has to do with 'new creation,' because most Christians … don't actually have in their minds a picture of what resurrection really is, which is: a new bodily life after a period of being bodily dead."

Wright went on to say, "resurrection is not life after death, it's life after life after death. We're talking about a two-stage post-mortem reality. A time of being bodily dead, and then -- if you want to talk about going to heaven, then that's what's going on at that point. But then, the new heavens and new earth that were promised will form the theater or stage within which we'll be given new bodies to live within God's new world." (Quoted with permission from Homiletics.)

In the TIME interview, Wright explained that Jesus' resurrection marks the beginning of a restoration that he will complete upon his return, and that part of that event will be the resurrection of all the dead, who will "awake."

Wright said that the common misunderstanding came in part from the translation of Jewish ideas into Greek. The Jewish view was that although the world of space and time had gotten messed up, as God's creation, it was still basically good. Thus, "God will eventually sort it out and put it right again," Wright said. The Greek-speaking Christians who were influenced by Plato, however, "saw our cosmos as shabby and misshapen and full of lies, and the idea was not to make it right, but to escape it and leave behind our material bodies."

Wright said that the Greek view has been very influential, but that at its best, the church has always come back to the Hebrew view.

The bishop also says that what the New Testament actually says is that "God wants you to be a renewed human being helping him to renew his creation, and his resurrection was the opening bell. And when he returns to fulfill the plan, you won't be going up there to him, he'll be coming down here."

The TIME interviewer noted that the scenario Wright laid out sounds like "work," to which Wright responded, referring to the traditional view of heaven. "It's more exciting than hanging around listening to nice music." He went on to say, "In Revelation and Paul's letters we are told that God's people will actually be running the world on God's behalf."

More on this story may be found at this link:,8599,1710844,00.html

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The Big Questions

1. What do you find appealing in the explanation of resurrection Wright offers? What do you find troubling?

2. What implications does the view of bodily resurrection have in terms of how Christian should regard the physical, created world?

3. What is the difference between "the immortality of the soul" and "the resurrection of the body"? Which one is the Christian view?

4. In terms of how you live your life today, does it make any difference whether you understand resurrection as a bodily event or an event of the soul only? Explain your answer.

5. How do theological discussions such as this one affect your personal faith in Christ?

Confronting the News with Scripture

Here are some Bible verses to guide our discussion:

Isaiah 25:7-8

"[the Lord] will swallow up death forever. Then the Lord GOD will wipe away the tears from all faces ." (For context, read 25:6-10a.)

Daniel 12:2

"Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt." (For context, read 12:1-4.)

No matter how Christians understand resurrection, the Bible is clear that in God's ultimate plan, death loses, and everlasting life is the destiny for the righteous.

Question: How do these verses from the Old Testament apply to the understanding of resurrection in the New Testament?

1 Corinthians 15:22-23

"... for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ." (For context, read 15:12-26.)

Bishop Wright is referring to such verses as this one from Paul when he maintains that the New Testament says Christ has been raised but that no one else has yet. Here Paul says quite plainly that there is a divine timing in the order of the resurrection, that the resurrection of "those who belong to Christ" awaits Christ's return.

Questions: Does Paul's statement have to be read as a timetable? If not, how should it be understood? What expectations were present in Paul's day about the timing of Christ's return?

Luke 23:43

"Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise." (For context, read 23:39-43.)

These words are Jesus' response from the cross to the dying thief, who asked Jesus to remember him when he came into his kingdom. In the TIME interview, Wright said that this Bible verse has caused a misunderstanding of the timing of resurrection. He explained that whatever "paradise" is, it has to be an intermediate state because Jesus himself would not be resurrected for three days, and thus paradise cannot equal resurrection.

Questions: Does "today" in this Bible verse have to be understood as meaning "immediately after we die"? How else might it be understood?

1 Corinthians 15:42-44

"So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body." (For context, read 15:35-57.)

Be sure to read the entire context for these verses, for it is the New Testament's primary passage about the resurrection of the body. In popular notions about life after death, the picture is often that our body decays and our soul sort of floats up to God and lives on. This concept is sometimes called "the immortality of the soul," and frankly, that is not what Christianity teaches. This mistaken idea has it that we can be separated into two parts -- a physical part that is mortal and dies, and a spiritual part that is immortal and cannot die. As long as one trusts God and follows Christ there is perhaps no great harm in picturing things that way, but it does miss some important affirmations of Christianity about the sovereignty of God.

Actually Christianity teaches not immortality, but resurrection, and it goes like this: When a person dies, his or her whole being dies, body, mind, soul, spirit -- every aspect of that person dies. But then, for those who have accepted God's grace, God, who gave them life in the first place, gives it to them again. We all go to the grave completely expired, every part of us 100-percent deceased. But then, in God's own time, he raises the faithful, not resuscitating the old body, but giving the person a new resurrected body. That's what Paul is saying in the passage above.

Resurrection is significantly different from immortality. To suggest that the soul is immortal puts it on a par with God. If our souls cannot die, then why do we need God? We'd have the ability to prevent our own extinction. As opposed to this idea of immortality, resurrection says that God comes to the faithful dead with a new gift of life and re-creates us -- not just the soul part of us but all parts of us.

Thus the Apostles' Creed's insistence that we believe in the resurrection of the body, for in biblical thought, we don't just have a body, we are a body. We are not just spiritual beings trapped inside a prison of flesh. Rather, the body is part and parcel of who we are, and resurrection tells us that in eternity, the faithful in Christ will function as full beings -- body, mind, soul, spirit.

In short, Christianity's teaching is that: 1) human beings are a unity of soul and flesh, 2) our earthly life does not exhaust the meaning of whom we are created by God to be, and 3) immortality is not something we inherently possess, but is given to the faithful in the next life as a gift of God.

Question: What images would you use to explain the difference between immortality and resurrection?

Revelation 21:2-3

"And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them .'" (For context, read 21:1-8.)

These verses are among those to which Bishop Wright refers when he talks about the location of heaven. Note that this passage refers the new Jerusalem "coming down out of heaven" and of the home of God being "among mortals," which suggests that it is not some otherworldly place but a remade creation here.

Questions: Are there other ways of interpreting these verses in terms of the location of the kingdom of God fully come? What are they?

Questions for Further Discussion

1. Comment on the following, heard in a sermon: "The doctrine of the resurrection of the body helps us to picture a time when the reoccurring sinfulness that is within us will be removed. If our souls were immortal, it would mean that we would go into eternity with the same character flaws, prejudices, sins, distorted viewpoints and self-centeredness that interferes with our lives in the here and now."

2. One Christian said this about the resurrection of the body: "I find this distinction between immortality and resurrection very comforting. Who wants to be immortal if it merely means wandering around forever as some sort of disembodied ghost with no place to call home? I'd rather have resurrection, which comes with Christ's assurance that even death cannot cut me off from God's love and care. The same God who loved me enough to give me life to begin with loves me enough to give me life again." Do you agree with his perspective?

3. How does 1 Thessalonians 4:15-16 fit into today's discussion? It reads, "For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel's call and with the sound of God's trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first."

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

having an identity crisis?

Any Way Saturday
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A Catholic College Stands Up for the Faith
by Deal W. Hudson in the InsideCatholic e-zine for
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Belmont Abbey College is one of the few Catholic colleges in the southeastern United States, located about ten miles west of Charlotte, North Carolina. Unfortunately, its president and chancellor are currently embroiled in a defense of the college’s Catholic identity against eight faculty members who insist on insurance coverage for voluntary sterilization, abortion, and contraception.

Here's the story.<--- CLICK this link to read the article.
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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Man Describes Heaven After 'Dying' in Car Crash

This is a rush transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," February 13, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Personal Story" segment tonight: we begin a special two- part series about what happens after we die. Is there an afterlife? Obviously, a vital question. And most Americans believe there is.

According to an ABC News poll, 90 percent of us say death is not the end. It certainly wasn't for Don Piper, who was pronounced clinically dead after a car crash back in 1989. Mr. Piper was even put in a body bag.

What happened after that is an amazing tale chronicled in his best-selling book, "90 Minutes in Heaven." I spoke with Mr. Piper a few days ago.


O'REILLY: So, Mr. Piper, you're driving down a narrow lane. You see a tractor-trailer coming dead at you. Pick it up from there.

DON PIPER, DIED FOR 90 MINUTES: Well, I was hit head-on. I had no idea. It was a narrow highway. I had nowhere to go. I'm on a bridge, and he hits me head-on with such impact that the wheels of the driver's side of the truck roll over my car, crush me in it, shove it up against the railing of the bridge, and I'm killed instantly.

O'REILLY: Now you — when you say you were killed, you're sitting here.


O'REILLY: So what is the definition of you being killed?

PIPER: Well, there was a four-car pileup. So as it happened, four sets of EMTs came out to the bridge location to check on everybody. Everybody else was fine except me. So they all focused on me, and they all did all the tests at their disposal. They all concluded the same thing: I was a fatality.

The body was covered up with a waterproof tarp, because it was raining, and they waited for someone to come and take the body away.

O'REILLY: All right. So you were actually covered head to toe, no breathing hole or anything? You're there.


O'REILLY: So you are, according to these medical people, done. Then what happens in your mind? What's going on in your mind?

PIPER: Well, immediately I was standing at some magnificent gates surrounded by people I had known and loved in life. So when I saw them, I knew where I was, because I knew where they were. I knew I was at the Gates of Heaven.

O'REILLY: Now when you saw people that you had known who had passed away before you, were they in human form, body form?

PIPER: In a sense they were. They were all fully recognizable as themselves, so yes, they were tangible. I could see them. And they were all perfect. Many of them I had known in life had died at an elderly age or maybe they'd had a traumatic accident themselves. But when I saw them they were all ageless.

O'REILLY: But you say in your book you didn't see God or Jesus or anybody like that?

PIPER: In the distance as I was approaching the gate — I'm often asked about this, as you might imagine. There really are a lot of magnificent structures inside the gate. And at the pinnacle of a great hill beyond them is a bright light. I have the distinct feeling that that is where God — and I was headed in that direction when suddenly I was returned to earth.

O'REILLY: Now how did that happen? You were returned to earth how? What was the — what do you remember?

PIPER: All I remember is being at the gates and about to enter after a lot of other magnificent things that I saw and heard. As it turns out, 90 minutes after the truck hit me, a man climbed into the car and, because he felt like God, spoke to him, started praying over me, even though he knew I was dead.

Suddenly, I found myself back in the car under the tarp in the dark. He's singing a hymn, and he's making me sing it with him. And I had no idea what had happened to me.

O'REILLY: What about a doctor, a scientist, somebody saying to you, look, you had a head trauma and when you have a head trauma, all things — and you are a believer, you know, from the jump.

PIPER: Right.

O'REILLY: I mean, a very religious man. This was in your mind. Head trauma, hallucinations. It's real to you, but it isn't really real.

PIPER: Well, it's actually the most real thing that's ever happened to me. It now defines my reality here. I know how temporary this is. I mean, we know we all — none of us gets out of this life alive.

O'REILLY: Well, I guess the bottom line is if somebody doesn't believe you and, you know, some people watching right now are not going to, is there anything you can do or say to make them believe?

PIPER: This is a very remarkable, unique situation. I saw things there that I wouldn't have expected to see if I was having a dream. I saw people there that I didn't expect to see. There were a lot of things about my experience that convince me in no uncertain terms that that is reality and this is fleeting. This is passing. I can't wait to go back there. I didn't want to come back here.

O'REILLY: Mr. Piper, thanks very much for talking with us. We appreciate it.

PIPER: Thank you so much.

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Friday, February 15, 2008

...and the winner is...

Heart Way Friday
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Adoro wrote this morning and asked that this be posted for your information. Today at noon nominations are being accepted for the Catholic Blog Awards. If you would like to know more or participate, go here.

Consider writing a nomination ballot for some small blogger you really like ... and tell your friends.
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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Size matters

Vid Way Thursday
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How many pairs of pants have I owned and worn in my lifetime? How many sizes have I worn since High School? or since getting married? or in the past 10 years? Sometimes I use the tradition of Lenten discipline and fasting to change more than just my spiritual appearance. Sometimes my waist line benefits, too.

I'm all for the 'reforming my ways' approach to Lent. However, recent leanings have been more towards doing something extra - something positive. Don't read me wrong, now - I still need to review my past and work at incremental improvement. God knows, I mess up a lot.

This year I've found a nice meditation booklet, copyrighted by the Diocese of Saginaw, MI. It is titled The Little Black Book and is based on the writings of Bishop Ken Untener [1937 - 2004]. It is a collection of 6-minute meditations - one for each day of the Lenten season ... and I love it.
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'CLICK' on the above > and make plans for change.
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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

how and where and when do i spend my money

The Way Wednesday
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I know many really committed Christians who live day-to-day, hand-to-mouth. I know many who live in times of plenty. I sometimes wonder how I justify my own material goods to the Lord, when I look around and see such abject poverty elsewhere. Has the 'prosperity gospel' caused some to revel and others to despair? The old adage of 'follow the money' probably tells tons about me. How and where and when do I spend my money?

I certainly cannot judge others - God will do that. I certainly can look inward and judge myself. Do times of recession really get me down, or do I just work harder and trust the Lord? When my friend has his electricity turned off, how do I respond?
When another cannot stay on medication because of costs, what do I do to help?

Have I failed if, at retirement, I don't have a million dollars in my IRA or 401K or savings? Some financial planners say that is what will be needed to retire and live a 'life worth living'.

Many have nice retirement plans available to them for their later years - others have no plan at all - many have lost them when companies have closed their doors and all the money is gone. What are they to do? Is God's provision enough?
uncle jim
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Recession Spurs Work on Economic Stimulus Package

The Wired Word for February 10, 2008

In the News

The latest data on the economic front, released just this week, revealed a loss of jobs overall in January and the largest monthly decline in service jobs on record. This information, coupled with the meltdown in the housing market and soaring energy prices, increases the likelihood that the United States is in, or will soon fall into, a recession.

Defined variously as "A significant decline in activity spread across the economy, lasting longer than a few months, that is visible in industrial production, employment, real income and wholesale-retail trade" or as "A decline in business activity, with two consecutive quarters with a real fall in gross national production," a recession is economic bad news for the nation in general and working-class people in particular.

Because economists do not agree on a precise definition of "recession," and because different economists watch different economic indicators, some are not ready to declare that the country is actually in a recession yet, but most agree that conditions are right for a recession to occur if current trends continue.

As one response to the economic slowdown, Congress and the White House are working together on an economic stimulus package that would inject some $161 billion (amount from the House version of the bill) or as much as $200 billion (amount from the Senate proposal) into the economy by granting tax breaks to businesses and putting some extra cash in the pockets of Americans who earn less than a specific income level, yet to be agreed upon.

The House recently passed its version of the package, but the Senate has postponed its action on the measure until next week when Senators on the presidential campaign trail can return to Washington to cast their votes. If the Senate version ends up having differences from the House version, the two versions then have to be taken to a conference committee to reconcile them.

Most observers say that economic stimulus works only if people who receive the money actually spend it on new purchases, thus creating a positive ripple effect through the economy. If people use it to pay down debt or simply sock it away, the benefit to the overall economy is less.

More on this story may be found at these links:

The Big Questions

1. Assuming the economic stimulus package is passed by Congress, it is likely to be most effective if individuals actually spend the money it grants them. Christ, however, never blessed the pursuit of possessions. So based on Christian theology and the example of Jesus, what guidelines would you suggest Christians consider when the money arrives in their mailboxes?

2. What would be the effect on the national economy if all Christians actually purchased only the necessities? What would be the effect on their families?

3. In reality, even the most frugal Christians have to be consumers to some degree. How should we balance our consumerism with our charitable giving?

4. What would it mean to our standard of living to reduce our consumption in favor of addressing issues of global poverty, world peace and addressing rampant illness in Third World countries? What would it mean in terms of our standing in God's eyes?

5. In general, what should be a Christian's relationship with money? Why?

Confronting the News with Scripture

Here are some Bible verses to guide our thinking:

Luke 9:58

"Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." (For context, read 9:57-62.)

Jesus wasn't speaking metaphorically when he said that he had nowhere to lay his head; he was essentially a penniless street preacher whose possessions amounted to little more than the clothes on his back. And he told his followers to lay up treasures ... but only in heaven. As a result, Christians ever since have had an uneasy relationship with money and possessions.

Question: To what degree should the financial situation of Jesus of Nazareth guide how we use money?

Matthew 19:21

"If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." (For context, read 19:16-26.)

This is the advice Jesus gave to the rich young man who asked what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. But followers of Jesus have often taken this as an instruction for Christians in general rather than limited to advice for this specific rich man. Members of some religious orders have taken poverty as one of their vows. And we often look askance at religious leaders who make large salaries.

Yet consider what would happen to the world's economy if everyone followed Jesus' advice to this young man. In the 1970s, after realizing how dependent we in the United States were on oil, there was a conscious effort to reduce our oil imports. In the process, we very nearly wrecked the economies of Nigeria and Mexico. By the same token, if we could cut our coffee drinking in half, much of Latin America would suffer.

Question: How do you personally handle this advice from Jesus?

1 Timothy 6:6-8

" Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these." (For context, read 6:2c-10.)

"We will be content with these," Paul wrote to Timothy. But will we really? Paul is saying that having adequate food and clothing are sufficient for contentment, but in fact, isn't our entire consumer-driven economy driven by discontent? We "need" the newest model of this or that because the one we have is so last year! Advertising constantly plays to our feelings of discontent about our appearance, our status, our possessions, our fulfillment and so on.

Question: Is discontent with what we possess or how we look simply a standard part of what it means to be human, or is there something inherently sinful in it? Explain your answer.

1 Kings 17:14

"The jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail until the day that the Lord sends rain on the earth." (For context, read 17:8-16.)

This is God's promise to the widow of Zarephath, who sheltered and fed the prophet Elijah during a time of drought. Though she had only enough food for one more meal, God made it sufficient for all the days until the rain came.

Question: It could be argued, certainly, that this provision was a special case because God was protecting Elijah, who still had a mission to fulfill as God's spokesperson, and therefore it cannot be applied to the situation of Christians today. But insofar as a recession is an economic drought, is there any application of this promise that can be made to people who trust God?

Questions for Further Discussion

1. We know it can't buy happiness, but we also know that a severe lack of it can cause serious problems and pain. Given that, is there anything wrong with wanting to have enough money to live comfortably, but not necessarily fabulously?

2. Is there anything unchristian about being in debt beyond our ability to repay it?

3. Comment on this (heard in a sermon): "We may live in a mobile home, but half the world lives in mud huts and cardboard shacks. We may drive an old car, but nine out of 10 people in the world have no car at all. Our pension may not support the lifestyle we'd like, but many people in the world live from hand to mouth and cannot consider retirement. They will have to scrounge for a living until the day they die."

4. Jim Elliot, a missionary who was killed by a tribe in South America to whom he was trying to take the gospel, once said, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose." What do you think he meant?

5. How is consumerism related to caring for our planet and its nonrenewable resources?

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