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Kresta in the Afternoon – April 15, 2015

Talking about the “Things That Matter Most” on April 15, 2015

 

4:00 – Marriage and the New Evangelization

Scott Hahn is our guest as we discuss what marriage means for the New Evangelization.

4:40 – Marriage Reality

Support for the redefinition of marriage is increasing throughout the country. All evidence suggests that the Supreme Court will allow for redefinition of marriage throughout the country. Is the battle lost? Bill May of Catholics of the Common Good joins us with his plan for taking back marriage.

5:00 – Changing the Terms of the Debate at the UN

5:20 – The Family on a Mission: Lessons from the Early Church

What lessons can we learn from the early Church fathers? How can we continue their mission? What would the Church fathers be doing to promote the New Evangelization? Mike Aquilina, an expert on the history of the early Church, is here to talk about how we can learn from and be inspired by the Church’s earliest members.

 

English Church Wants To Make Priest Who Died On Titanic A Saint

by Antonia Blumberg via HuffingtonPost.com

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Catholics in Essex, England, are working to give sainthood to a priest who died in the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, recalling his humility and sacrifice aboard the fated vessel.

Father Thomas Byles was among the 1,500 passengers who went down with the ship that April morning.

“He’s an extraordinary man who gave his life for others,” Father Graham Smith, the priest of St Helen’s Church in Essex, where Byles served as rector, told BBC. “We need, in very old parlance, to raise him to the altar, which means that the Vatican will recognize him as a martyr of the church. We are hoping and praying that he will be recognized as one of the saints within our canon.”

Multiple sources report that according to survivors’ accounts, Byles refused several opportunities to escape into a lifeboat as the ship was going down, preferring to stay on board to take confessions, pray with passengers and help others into lifeboats.

The website of the Ongar & Doddinghurst parish, where St Helen’s Church is located, states:

“When the Titanic struck the priest was on the upper deck walking backwards and forwards reading his office, the daily prayers which form part of the duties of every Roman Catholic priest. After the real danger was apparent, Father Byles went among the passengers, hearing confessions of some and giving absolution. At the last he was the centre of a group on the deck where the steerage passengers had been crowded, and was leading in the recitation of the rosary.”

Born Roussel Davids Byles on Feb. 26, 1870, to a Protestant family in Yorkshire, England, Byles assumed the name Thomas when he was baptized in the Catholic Church on May 23, 1894. He served as rector at St Helen’s for eight years before boarding the Titanic to attend his younger brother William’s wedding in New York,according to the St Edmund’s College & Prep School’s Edmundian Association.

Several months after the ship sank, William and his new bride traveled to Rome where they had a private audience with Pope Pius X, who praised Byles’ actions anddeclared him a martyr, the Edmundian Association reports.

The path to sainthood can be a long one, noted Jesuit priest James Martin, requiring that two miracles be attributed to the deceased person.

“The process begins at the local level, and then continues with a Vatican investigation into a person’s life,” Martin told The Huffington Post. “But surely giving your life for others, or providing spiritual comfort in the face of certain death, should qualify a person to be, at the very least, considered for canonization.”

Smith told BBC he encourages believers to pray to Byles so the required miracles can occur.

“We hope people around the world will pray to him if they are in need,” he said, “and, if a miracle occurs, then beatification and then canonization can go forward.”

Did Catholic Traditionalists Save Patricia Jannuzzi’s Job?

by Mark Stricherz via Aleteia.org

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Did Catholic traditionalists save the job of an embattled theology teacher?

The question comes after Immaculata High School in Somerville, New Jersey announced Friday it reinstated Patricia Jannuzzi, who had been suspended for making controversial comments on her Facebook page about gays and traditional marriage.

According to mycentralJersey.com, the head of an orthodox Catholic organization implied that he had doubted Jannuzzi would return to work:

Michael Hichborn, president of Lepanto Institute, the conservative Catholic group that paid for the radio ads, said Friday he was surprised by the news.

“That’s excellent. It was a great injustice and thank God that the right outcome came about,” he said. “If they changed their mind I hope it is for a matter of justice and not for a matter of looking to see which way the wind is blowing.”

Orthodox Christian blogger Rod Dreher too doubted that Jannuzzi would win reinstatement. “(T)his is a surprising outcome. One is not used to the orthodox side in these disputes winning,” Dreher wrote.

Last month, Dreher brought attention to Jannuzzi’s plight after he wrote a blog post in which he said that if Jannuzzi were to be fired, the dismissal would mark a turning point in the history of the Catholic Church in America. Hichborn’s organization ran radio ads during commercial breaks of conservative talk show hosts in the New York City media market that urged listeners to tell the school that Jannuzzi should be allowed to return to work.

Dreher’s and Hirchborn’s doubts stemmed from the school’s suspension of Jannuzzi and the local bishop’s comment that her Facebook post was “disturbing.” Cultural progressives said Jannuzzi’s Facebook post showed intolerance toward gays and was a form of hate speech.  They launched a campaign on Change.org against Jannuzzi.

Whatever the role of Catholic traditionalists and cultural progressives, Jannuzzi’s employer said her suspension was an administrative rather than philosophical matter. Jannuzzi returned to Immaculata High School in Somerville, New Jersey Friday,according to NewJersey.com. The school’s pastor sent a note to parents Friday:
Immaculata High School has reached an understanding with Mrs. Patricia Jannuzzi. It is the School’s position that a Catholic school teacher must always communicate the faith in a way that is positive and never hurtful. Tone and choice of words matter and I trust Mrs. Jannuzzi’s stated promise to strive always to teach in a spirit of truth and charity.

Given Mrs. Jannuzzi’s otherwise good reputation as an educator over her 30 years at Immaculata, Principal Jean Kline and I have made the decision to reinstate her as a teacher as of today.

From the beginning this was a personnel and not a theological issue. We are now and always have been united in our understanding and commitment to the teachings of the Catholic Church. By agreement with all parties involved, there will be no further comment on the issue.

At issue in the dispute over Jannuzzi was whether she would return to work at a Catholic high school. Although gay-rights advocates have extended their reach over the country’s institutions, their reach in Catholic secondary schools proved more limited.

5 Things Fulton Sheen Teaches Us About Social Media

by Dominicans of the Province of St. Joseph via WordonFire.org

Sheen

 

“Jesus loves you.” #JN3:16 #Easter #risn

“Pray. Hope. Don’t worry.” #faith #believe

“Preach the Gospel at all times” #Francis #peace #prayalways

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest and countless other platforms are filled with almost empty Christian one-liners and other messages.  Oftentimes trite sayings are re-tweeted or shared along with some kind of exhortation to “spread the word.”  Since you’re a Christian, you can feel guilted into supporting this sort of thing, to do your share of evangelization.  Believe me, I’m committed to building up a Christian culture, but sometimes I can be downright ashamed of that content.  In the most extreme cases it can feel like not sharing whatever image or quote “because you’re a Christian” is a denial of Jesus himself.

So what about social media evangelization?  Is tweeting 140 characters going to convince someone of the Gospel?  The Church refuses to be absent from the conversation—that alone tells us something important.  Pope Francis (@Pontifex) has some 5.87 million followers on the English language account (over 15 million if all the eight language groups are added together).  The Church is called to be leaven for the world, and that means continuing to share the light and hope of the Gospel message, even on the web.  Msgr. Paul Tighe puts it this way, “If we withdraw, then we’re leaving those areas to the trolls. We’re leaving it to the bullies.”

While few people may think that the Church should absent herself from the “new media,” many might wonder what good it all does.  Will seeing a Scripture passage in someone’s Facebook news feed actually help infuse a soul with an abundance of actual graces, even the grace of justification? It seems unwise to just close that door.  The workings of Providence are mysterious, and the Creator loves using instrumental causes to achieve his aims.  Far be it from this theologian to declare the internet an option banned from God’s playbook.

The Holy Father offers one helpful way to define our Catholic web presence in light of the following goal: building a culture of encounter.  “The great challenge,” says Pope Francis, “the great challenge facing us today is to learn once again how to talk to one another, not simply how to generate and consume information.”  Genuine evangelical encounters demand authentic relationships and true exchanges.  This is our aim, then, to use the web to nourish these encounters, which prompted and directed by God’s grace, may bear fruit in countless lives.

But who can we look to as an example for how to do this?  The innovations of the “new media” are by definition without precedent.  Nonetheless, I think we ought to appeal to the life and teaching of Fulton Sheen.  By mining the example of his life and teaching, we can deduce some principles to guide our e-preaching.

1. Relationships

By the time his show stopped airing in 1957, Archbishop Sheen had a viewing audience of some thirty million people.  People loved his presentation of the Gospel because it felt like he was talking to them.  Sheen never used a teleprompter or idiot cards.  He was a professor, so he did what he loved doing—he taught.  He taught the audience, and they responded as his students.  Sheen managed to build, across the barriers of microphones and screens, personal connections to his audience, the very real relationship of a teacher and his students.  On social media, we too have to find a way to bring people into our little “broadcasts”—our likes, posts, and shares—and build real relationships with our friends and followers.  Sheen didn’t use his shows to proselytize; he left it to his audience to conclude that his words should draw them to Someone Else whom they needed in their lives.  In Sheen’s own words, “There is a need to take hold of tortured souls like Peter, agnostics like Thomas and mystics like John and lead them to tears, to their knees or to resting on [Christ’s] Sacred Heart.”

2. Panache

Whatever might be said about Fulton Sheen, it can’t be said that he lacked style.  The whole world knows his cassock and episcopal cape (called a ferriola).  Sheen appeared on television wearing the garb of the tradition.  His vesture sent a clear message: my job is real and so are my words.  But the show was also strikingly simple.  His only props were a piece of chalk and a chalkboard.  This combination of noble simplicity should guide the aesthetic choices of the e-Gospel, which can send such a strong message without even offering words.  Our websites should be handsome and easily navigable.  The pictures we share should be striking and beautiful. Our designs should be clearly inspired by our traditions, and we should eschew art forms and depictions that are discontiguous or incompatible with our work.  The Church—even on the web—should feel like the Church.

3. Substance

The English novelist Dorothy Sayers writes, “It is hopeless to offer Christianity as a vaguely idealistic aspiration of a simple and consoling kind; it is, on the contrary, a hard, tough, exacting, and complex doctrine, steeped in a drastic and uncompromising realism. And it is fatal to imagine that everybody knows quite well what Christianity is and needs only a little encouragement to practice it.”  Archbishop Sheen was a philosophy professor.  He was a man steeped in Aristotle and Plato, indeed the product of years of study at the prestigious Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium.  His teaching and preaching took the best of Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, and he used their wisdom to compose a straightforward presentation of the Gospel.  As he says, “Preaching and lecturing are impossible without much studying and reading.  This perhaps is one of the weaknesses of the modern pulpit…”  The archbishop didn’t mince words, but he worked tirelessly to show the fullness of Catholic teaching.  In a society that hardly knows what meaning to assign the word “Christian,” we have to undertake a full-bodied explanation of the faith.  The new paganism requires us to teach the timeless truths of the faith as if they were totally new.  Fulton Sheen didn’t undermine or hide the tradition; he exposed its genius.

4. Originality

George Orwell believes the first cure to remedy the fallen state of the English language is to “never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.”  The same point is true for our social media presence.  I should think very few people are actually interested in the sight of “John 3:16″ on a poster—they think they know what it means.  And (to them) it’s boring.  Sheen was a creative genius.  He loved to use stories, metaphors and examples.  They made his teaching what it was, and captured the hearts of millions.  Of course not every disciple is a creative genius, but everyone can filter what they share.  If you think some content banal or dreary, why would you offer it to someone else?

5. Christocentric

Archbishop Sheen prepared all of his sermons in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. In his words, “A lover always works better when the Beloved is with him.”  The most brilliant ideas come from meeting God face to face, because preaching work is God’s own work.  We alone are not going to build a twenty-first-century Christian culture by the arthritis earned from fevered typing or the coffee consumed from late-night study.  Christ draws men and women to himself, and we participate in His work.  God’s grace fueled and enlivened the preaching of Archbishop Sheen, taking his natural talents and molding them to bear supernatural fruit.  The mystery of our Baptism, the mystery of our Christian vocation, is that God will do the same for us too… even via the internet.

 

This article was written by Br. Patrick Mary Briscoe, O.P. who entered the Order of Preachers in 2010. He hails from Fort Wayne, IN. He attended Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, where he studied philosophy and French literature. Jazz music, manly fiction, and exploring D.C. are among his recreational interests.

Kresta in the Afternoon – April 14, 2015

Talking about the “Things That Matter Most” on April 14, 2015

 

4:00 – The End of Comfortable Catholicism

It’s no longer “easy” to be a faithful Catholic in America. The upside to this is that more faithful, committed Catholics will start to rise up and evangelize. We discuss this new phase of Catholicism with Anne Hendershott.
 

4:40 – Kresta Comments: How Pope Francis Awakened the Faith of  a CNN Anchor

 

5:00 – The Role of the Family and Race in the New Evangelization

Dacon Harold Burke-Sivers is our guest as we discuss the role of the traditional family in fighting new cultural norms and promoting the New Evangelization.

Can we delete death? Transhumanism’s lofty goal meets a Catholic response

What used to be science fiction is now bona fide research projects involving big money, multinational corporations and technocratic genius. I write about in Dangers to the Faith, chapters 12 & 13, “Evolutionism” and “Myth of Humanity 3.0: Human Enhancement Through Technology”. I thought this piece was worth sharing with you. – AK
by Adelaide Mena and Mary Rezac via CatholicNewsAgency.com
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.- It sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie – being able to “upload” our minds to computers to live on after we die, to freeze our bodies only to bring them back in the future, or to pop pills to enhance our mood and intelligence.

While these may seem like impossible notions, these are the kinds of things the transhumanism and posthumanism movements are hoping for and working toward.

However, as with most technological advancements, these proposals have bioethicists and theologians questioning: just because we can, does that mean we should?

Transhumanism is a loosely-defined cultural, intellectual and technical movement that describes itself as seeking to “to overcome fundamental human limitations” including death, aging, and natural physical, mental and psychological limitations, says humanity+, a transhumanist online community.

The movement overlaps greatly with posthumanism, which posits that a new, biologically superior race is on the horizon, and could replace the human race as we know it. Posthumanists support technologies such as cryogenic freezing, mood-and-intelligence-enhancing drugs, genetic engineering, nanotechnology, bionics and “uploading” a mind to an artificial intelligence.

These movements stem from the idea that human limitations are just “technical problems” that need to be overcome, said history professor Yuval Noah Harari in a March 4 interview in “Edge,” a non-profit website devoted to the advancement of technology.

“Once you really solve a problem like direct brain-computer interface … when brains and computers can interact directly, to take just one example, that’s it, that’s the end of history, that’s the end of biology as we know it,” he said. “Nobody has a clue what will happen once you solve this.”

But is human nature a problem to be solved? Will treading into this territory completely change the way man relates to God, to their own bodies, and to one another? These are the questions many bioethicists are grappling with as they consider the morality of such technologies.

For Catholics, escaping suffering and trials by escaping human nature itself is a morally unacceptable option, according to Fr. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, Ph.D., Director of Education for the National Catholic Bioethics Center.

“Catholics cannot accept a vision of man which presupposes an outright ‘unacceptability’ of his basic human nature, nor a vision that labors to replace it with an alternate bodily structure that is engineered to be ‘post-human,’” Fr. Pacholczyk told CNA.

Instead, the “integral vision of man” accepts that man is incarnate – that humans have a body –and that “we are meant to embrace and grow through the limitations of our human nature,” he said.

“Even if our nature were to be radically re-engineered and modified,” he elaborated, “our innermost self would retain fundamental shards of incompleteness.”

The human experience is a struggle between a longing for the infinite, and learning to accept and embrace human’s finite nature, Fr. Pacholczyk explained. This longing would still exist even if technology were to significantly advance man’s material reality, because the longing for the infinite transcends the material world, he added.

Christ’s life provides the road map to transcendence – rather than transhumanism – for man’s life, “achieved through repentance, discipleship, self-denial, committed love, and generous self-giving,” said Fr. Pacholczyk. The infinite that man longs for “is effected from above through grace, rather than through the mere machinations of human cleverness or willfulness.”

Only by accepting their nature can humans re-orient themselves to “the only authentic source of redemption compatible with his essence,” which is Jesus, he added.

Peter Lawler, a bioethicist and government professor at Berry College, said while he did not think transhumanism is possible, the movement’s ideology alone can impact society.

The mindset of detaching humanity from biology contributes to a “paranoia about existence” which sees the natural world as the enemy of man, and views the body as a mere machine rather than as an integral part of a person, Lawler said.

“We’re living longer than ever,” he said. Improvements in healthcare, life expectancy and other technologies have changed the way people think about many things such as sexual morality, desired family size, and the integration of elderly people into society.

Charles Rubin, a professor of political science at Dusquenes University and author on the transhumanist movement, also takes issue with the transhumanist or posthumanist ideology. The idea of “a superior version” of human beings implies that humans are poorly-designed “creatures of evolutionary chance,” Rubin said.

“They have the very ‘thin’ understanding of what it means to be human that is in many ways characteristic of our contemporary thin ideas about self-hood,” he said. The movement also makes the assumption that “material circumstances can solve all our problems.”

“Building as they do on a thin sense of self, they risk encouraging those tendencies of contemporary thought that treat human beings instrumentally or that otherwise diminish human dignity.”

But it’s not all necessarily bad.

Some technologies that improve and even extend human life can be beneficial, so long as they don’t violate morality, Lawler noted.

“The consistent pro-life position is that we are for life,” he said, referencing Pope Benedict XVI’s 2009 encyclical, “Caritas in Veritate” (Charity in Truth).

“Technology is highly attractive because it draws us out of our physical limitations and broadens our horizon,” the Pope wrote.

Still, he cautioned, technological advancements can never trump the good of the human person – they must always be done in an ethically responsible way.

“Human freedom is authentic only when it responds to the fascination of technology with decisions that are the fruit of moral responsibility,” Pope Benedict XVI wrote.

While extending life can be acceptable, the promises of transhumanism should be critiqued, Rubin said.

What should be combated, he continued, is those who “dogmatically assert the benefits of a longer life without having ever having asked seriously the question of what constitutes a good human life.”

Pope Francis Uses ‘Genocide’ To Describe Armenian Killing, Turkey Reacts

Some critics claim the Pope excluded the Turkish persecution of other Muslims. But he is, first of all, a Catholic Bishop, a Shepherd to his flock. Armenia was the first nation to call itself Christian way back is 300 AD. – AK

 

by Desmond Butler and Ayse Wieting via HuffingtonPost.com

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VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis on Sunday called the slaughter of Armenians by Ottoman Turks “the first genocide of the 20th century” and urged the international community to recognize it as such, sparking a diplomatic rift with Turkey.

Turkey, which has long denied a genocide took place, immediately summoned the Vatican ambassador to complain and promised a fuller official response.

“The pope’s statement which is far from historic and legal truths is unacceptable,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu tweeted. “Religious positions are not places where unfounded claims are made and hatred is stirred.”

Francis, who has close ties to the Armenian community from his days in Argentina, defended his pronouncement by saying it was his duty to honor the memory of the innocent men, women and children who were “senselessly” murdered by Ottoman Turks 100 years ago this month.

“Concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it,” he said at the start of a Mass in the Armenian Catholic rite in St. Peter’s Basilica honoring the centenary.

In a subsequent message directed to all Armenians, Francis called on all heads of state and international organizations to recognize the truth of what transpired and oppose such crimes “without ceding to ambiguity or compromise.”

Historians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I, an event widely viewed by scholars as the first genocide of the 20th century.

Turkey, however, has insisted that the toll has been inflated, and that those killed were victims of civil war and unrest, not genocide. It has fiercely lobbied to prevent countries, including the Holy See, from officially recognizing the Armenian massacre as genocide.

Turkey’s embassy to the Holy See canceled a planned news conference for Sunday, presumably after learning that the pope would utter the word “genocide” over its objections. Instead, the Foreign Ministry in Ankara issued a statement conveying its “great disappointment and sadness.” It said the pope’s words signaled a loss in trust, contradicted the pope’s message of peace and was discriminatory because Francis only mentioned the pain of Christians, not Muslims or other religious groups.

Reaction to the pope’s declaration on the streets in Istanbul was mixed. Some said they supported it, but others did not agree.

“I don’t support the word genocide being used by a great religious figure who has many followers,” said Mucahit Yucedal, 25. “Genocide is a serious allegation.”

Francis’ words had immediate effect in St. Peters, where the head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Aram I thanked Francis for his clear condemnation and recalled that “genocide” is a crime against humanity that requires reparation.

“International law spells out clearly that condemnation, recognition and reparation of a genocide are closely interconnected,” Aram said in English at the end of the Mass to applause from the pews, where many wept.

Speaking as if he were at a political rally, Aram said the Armenian cause is a cause of justice, and that justice is a gift of God. “Therefore, the violation of justice is a sin against God,” he said.

Several European countries recognize the massacres as genocide, though Italy and the United States, for example, have avoided using the term officially given the importance they place on Turkey as an ally.

The Holy See, too, places great importance in its relationship with the moderate Muslim nation, especially as it demands Muslim leaders to condemn the slaughter of Christians by Muslim extremists in neighboring Iraq and Syria.

But Francis’ willingness to rile Ankara with his words showed once again that he has few qualms about taking diplomatic risks for issues close to his heart. He took a similar risk by inviting the Israeli and Palestinian presidents to pray together for peace at the Vatican — a summit that was followed by the outbreak of fighting in the Gaza Strip.

Francis is not the first pope to call the massacre a genocide. In his remarks, Francis cited a 2001 declaration signed by St. John Paul II and the Armenian church leader, Karenkin II, which said the deaths were considered “the first genocide of the 20th century.”

But the context of Francis’ pronunciation was different and significant: He uttered the words during an Armenian rite Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica marking the 100th anniversary of the slaughter, alongside the Armenian Catholic patriarch, Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni, Armenian Christian church leaders and Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, who sat in a place of honor in the basilica.

The definition of genocide has long been contentious. The United Nations in 1948 defined genocide as killing and other acts intended to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, but many dispute which mass killings should be called genocide.

In his remarks Sunday, Francis said the Armenian slaughter was the first of three “massive and unprecedented” genocides last century that was followed by the Holocaust and Stalinism. He said other mass killings had followed, including in Cambodia, Rwanda, Burundi and Bosnia.
___

AP writers Desmond Butler and Ayse Wieting in Istanbul and Suzan Fraser in Ankara contributed to this report.

Why Tsarnaev deserves the mercy of a life sentence

Let’s work to make penitentiaries do what they were created for; doing penance up repentance. Don’t make him a martyr. let his stew with the memories of those whose lives he destroyed. – AK

 

by the Monitor’s Editorial Board via CSMonitor.com

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The same 12 jurors who convicted Dzhokhar Tsarnaev for the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing last week will soon be asked to impose one of two punishments on him: the death penalty or life in prison with no chance of parole. They will hear testimony from a string of witnesses and listen to arguments from both sides. A decision is expected in May.

This choice, of course, is theirs alone to make. The 12 men and women from the Boston area were selected in this high-profile federal trial in part because they expressed no qualms about capital punishment, which is allowed under federal law. Yet to impose the death penalty, they must do so with unanimous consent. One juror can let Mr. Tsarnaev survive.

This bar is set high because government is rightly concerned about violating the sanctity of life in executing someone. It needs to set a standard far higher than that set by Tsarnaev and his now-dead brother in their brutal killing of innocent people.

The rest of us can only hope the jury makes the right choice, one that will help prevent a similar attack. Deterrence of crime is the centerpiece of justice, more so than retribution and the strong emotions of vengeance and hatred that drive it. Tsarnaev was convicted for his criminal actions, not for what he believes, his motives, or his past. Law enforcement is focused on specific crimes and the prevention of them. The same lens of justice needs to apply to the penalty for Tsarnaev and must deal with this question: Which punishment will influence the actions of other potential terrorists?

His defense attorneys are expected to argue that Tsarnaev deserves a life sentence because he admits the crime, that he was 19 years old at the time, and that he was under the influence of his older brother and perhaps even influenced by his alleged drug use. These points are all debatable but they at least hint at the main reason for imposing a life sentence. A degree of mercy might open the possibility over time that Tsarnaev will renounce his crime and plea for others not to kill in the name of misguided jihad, as he did.

If Tsarnaev does repent and reform, it will not be because he expects to be set free. His life sentence will come with no parole. Any repentance could only be from the heart, and thus all the more effective in potentially persuading others not to follow his example.

The mercy of imposing a life sentence in this case might eventually be seen by Tsarnaev as an expression of grace, which is a powerful antidote to sin. “Go and sin no more,” said Jesus to the adulteress after not condemning her and persuading others not to condemn her and to stone her to death.

Mercy itself has an aspect of the divine to it, as Shakespeare expressed in the “The Merchant of Venice”:

[Mercy] is an attribute to God himself;

 And earthly power doth then show likest God’s

When mercy seasons justice.

Those who wish to impose the death penalty in this case may see that irreversible penalty as the better deterrence. But a far more effective deterrence would be the persuasive power of a convict who someday decides not to die as a martyr and who, after reflecting on his actions and the grace shown to him, lives instead as a model to others. That possibility deserves a voice in the jury room.

Kresta in the Afternoon – April 13, 2015

Talking about the “Things That Matter Most” on April 13, 2015

 

4:00 – Kresta Comments: Does “Gay Conversion Therapy” Work? Is it Harmful? 

4:20 – Kresta Comments: 100 Years since the Armenian Genocide

4:40 –  A Tour of Scripture’s 24 Parables 

Fr. George Rutler is your guide on a journey through Jesus’ parables. From the Prodigal Son to the Good Samaritan to the Sower, he will give a unique insight to the deeper meanings and symbolism of Christ’s most famous teachings.

5:00 – Kresta Comments: Should Catholic Schools be Forced to Employ Actively Gay Teachers? 

5:20 – The Devil’s Attack on the Church Starts with the Family 

Everywhere we look we see the breakdown of the family and family values. Pope Francis has said this is an integral part of the devil’s plan because the family is the foundation for faith. Aaron Kheriaty joins us.  

Horus Manure: Debunking the Jesus/Horus Connection

by Jon Sorensen via StrangeNotions.com

Jesus-Horus

Many atheists, neo-pagans, and other disbelievers of Christianity claim the story of Jesus Christ was borrowed from earlier mythologies. In recent years, a claim has been making the rounds that Jesus is based on the Egyptian god, Horus.

Who was Horus?
Horus is one of the oldest recorded deities in the ancient Egyptian religion. Often depicted as a falcon or a man with a falcon head, Horus was believed to be the god of the sun and of war. Initially he appeared as a local god, but over time the ancient Egyptians came to believe the reigning pharaoh was a manifestation of Horus (cf. Encyclopedia Britannica, “Horus”).

What about Jesus?
The skeptical claims being made about Jesus are not always the same. In some versions he was a persuasive teacher whose followers later attempted to deify him by adopting aspects of earlier god-figures, while in others he is merely an amalgamation of myths and never really existed at all. Both versions attempt to provide evidence that the Gospel accounts of the life of Christ are rip-offs.

In the 2008 documentary film Religulous (whose name is a combination of religion andridiculous), erstwhile comedian and political commentator Bill Maher confronts an unprepared Christian with this claim. Here is part of their interaction.

Bill Maher: But the Jesus story wasn’t original.

Christian man: How so?

Maher: Written in 1280 B.C., the Book of the Dead describes a God, Horus. Horus is the son of the god Osiris, born to a virgin mother. He was baptized in a river by Anup the Baptizer who was later beheaded. Like Jesus, Horus was tempted while alone in the desert, healed the sick, the blind, cast out demons, and walked on water. He raised Asar from the dead. “Asar” translates to “Lazarus.” Oh, yeah, he also had twelve disciples. Yes, Horus was crucified first, and after three days, two women announced Horus, the savior of humanity, had been resurrected.

Bill MaherMaher is only repeating things that are and believed by many people today. Similar claims are made in movies such as Zeitgeist and Religulous and in pseudo-academic books such as Christ in Egypt: The Jesus-Horus Connection andPagan Origins of the Christ Myth.

Often Christians are not prepared for this type of encounter, and some are even swayed by this line of argumentation.  Maher’s tirade provides a good summary of the claims, so let’s deconstruct it, one line at a time.

Written in 1280 BC, the Book of the Dead describes a God, Horus.
In fact, there are many “books of the dead.” But there is no single, official Book of the Dead. The books are collections of ancient Egyptian spells that were believed to help the deceased on their journey to the afterlife. The title Book of the Dead comes from an Arabic label referring to the fact that the books were mostly found with mummies (cf. The Oxford Essential Guide to Egyptian Mythology, “Funerary Literature”). Some of these texts contain vignettes depicting the god Horus, but they don’t tell us much about him.

Our information about Horus comes from a variety of archaeological sources. What we do know from the most recent scholarship on the subject is that there were many variations of the story, each of them popularized at different times and places throughout the 5,000-year span of ancient Egyptian history. Egyptologists recognize the possibility that these differences may have been understood as aspects or facets of the same divine persona, but they nevertheless refer to them as distinct Horus-gods (cf. The Oxford Essential Guide to Egyptian Mythology, “Horus”).

Part of the problem with the “Jesus is Horus” claim is that in order to find items that even partially fit the life story of Jesus, advocates of the view must cherry-pick bits of myth from different epochs of Egyptian history. This is possible today because modern archaeology has given us extensive knowledge of Egypt’s religious beliefs and how they changed over time, making it possible to cite one detail from this version of a story and another from that.

But the early Christians, even if they had wanted to base the Gospels on the Horus myths, would have had no way to do so. They might have known what was believed about Horus in the Egypt of their day, but they would have had no access to the endless variations of the stories that laid buried in the sands until archaeologists started digging them up in the 1800s.

Another part of the problem is that the claimed parallels between Jesus and Horus contain half-truths, distortions, and flat-out falsehoods. For example…

Horus is the son of the god Osiris, born to a virgin mother.
The mother of Horus was believed to be the goddess Isis. Her husband, the god Osiris, was killed by his enemy Seth, the god of the desert, and later dismembered. Isis managed to retrieve all of Osiris’s body parts except for his phallus, which was thrown into the Nile and eaten by catfish. (I’m not making this up). Isis used her goddess powers to temporarily resurrect Osiris and fashion a golden phallus. She was then impregnated, and Horus was conceived. However this story may be classified, it is not a virgin birth.

He was baptized in a river by Anup the Baptizer, who was later beheaded.
There is no character named Anup the Baptizer in ancient Egyptian mythology. This is the concoction of a 19th-century English poet and amateur Egyptologist by the name of Gerald Massey (see sidebar 2 below). Massey is the author of several books on the subject of Egyptology; however, professional Egyptologists have largely ignored his work. In fact, his writing is held in such low regard in archaeological circles that it is difficult to find references to him in reputable modern publications.

In the book Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection (Stellar House Publishing, 2009), author D. M. Murdoch, drawing heavily from Gerald Massey, identifies “Anup the Baptizer” as the Egyptian god Anubis. Murdoch then attempts to illustrate parallels between Anubis and John the Baptist.

Some evidence exists in Egyptian tomb paintings and sculptures to support the idea that a ritual washing was done during the coronation of Pharaohs, but it is always depicted as having been done by the gods. This indicates that it may have been understood as a spiritual event that likely never happened in reality (cf. Alan Gardiner, “The Baptism of Pharaoh,” The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, vol. 36). This happened only to kings (if it happened to them at all), and one searches in vain to find depictions of Horus being ritually washed by Anubis.

Like Jesus, Horus was tempted while alone in the desert.
The companion guide to the film Zeitgeist outlines the basis for this claim by explaining, “As does Satan with Jesus, Set (aka Seth) attempts to kill Horus. Set is the ‘god of the desert’ who battles Horus, while Jesus is tempted in the desert by Satan” (p. 23).

Doing battle with the “god of the desert” is not the same as being tempted while alone in the desert; and according to the Gospel accounts, Satan did not attempt to kill Jesus there (cf. Matt. 4, Mark 1:12-13, Luke 4:1-13).

The relationship between Horus and Seth in the ancient Egyptian religion was quite different than the relationship between Jesus and Satan. While Seth and Horus were often at odds with each other, it was believed that their reconciliation was what allowed the pharaohs to rule over a unified country. It was believed that the pharaoh was a “Horus reconciled to Seth, or a gentleman in whom the spirit of disorder had been integrated” (The Oxford Guide to Egyptian Mythology, “Seth”). In stark contrast, there is never any reconciliation between Jesus and Satan in Scripture.

Healed the sick, the blind, cast out demons, and walked on water.
The Metternich Stella, a monument from the 4th century B.C., tells a story in which Horus is poisoned by Seth and brought back to life by the god Thoth at the request of his mother, Isis. The ancient Egyptians used the spell described on this monument to cure people. It was believed that the spirit of Horus would dwell within the sick, and they would be cured the same way he was. This spiritual indwelling is a far cry from the physical healing ministry of Christ. Horus did not travel the countryside laying his hands on sick people and restoring them to health.

He raised Asar from the dead. “Asar” translates to “Lazarus.”
The name Osirus is a Greek transliteration of the Egyptian name Asar. As I mentioned earlier, Osirus is the father of Horus, and, according to the myth, he was killed by Seth and briefly brought back to life by Isis in order to conceive Horus.  It was not Horus who raised “Asar” from the dead. It was his mother.

The name Lazarus is actually derived from the Hebrew word Eleazar meaning “God has helped.” This name was common among the Jews of Jesus’ time. In fact, two figures in the New Testament bear this name (cf. John 11, Luke 16:19-31).

Oh, yeah, he also had twelve disciples.
Again, this claim finds its origin in the work of Gerald Massey (Ancient Egypt: The Light of the Worldbook 12), which points to a mural depicting “the twelve who reap the harvest.” But Horus does not appear in the mural.

In the various Horus myths, there are indications of the four “Sons of Horus,” or six semi-gods, who followed him, and at times there were various numbers of human followers, but they never add up to twelve. Only Massey arrives at this number, and he does so only by referencing the mural with no Horus on it.

Yes, Horus was crucified first.
In many of the books and on the websites that attempt to make this connection, it is often pointed out that there are several ancient depictions of Horus standing with his arms spread in cruciform.  One can only answer this with a heartfelt “So what?” A depiction of a person standing with his arms spread is not unusual, nor is it evidence that the story of a crucified savior predates that of Jesus Christ.

We do have extensive evidence from extra-biblical sources that the Romans around the time of Christ practiced crucifixion as a form of capital punishment. Not only that, but we have in the Bible actual eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ crucifixion. On the other hand, there is no historical evidence at all to suggest that the ancient Egyptians made use of this type of punishment.

And after three days, two women announced Horus, the savior of humanity, had been resurrected.
As I explained before, the story of the child Horus dying and being brought back to life is described on the Metternich Stella, which in no way resembles the sacrificial death of Jesus. Christ did not die as a child, only to be brought back to life because his grieving mother went to the animal-headed god of magic.

The mythology surrounding Horus is closely tied with the pharaohs, because they were believed to be Horus in life and Osirus in death. With the succession of pharaohs over the centuries came new variations on the myth. Sometimes Horus was believed to be the god of the sky, and at other times he was believed to be the god of war, at other times both; but he was never described as a “savior of humanity.”

Combating the never-ending list of parallels
If you do an Internet search on this subject, you will come across lists of supposed parallels between Jesus and Horus that are much longer than Bill Maher’s filmic litany. What they all have in common is that they do not cite their sources.

Should you encounter people who try to challenge you with these claims, ask them to explain where it is they got their information. Many times you will find that they originate with Gerald Massey or one of his contemporaries. Sometimes they have been repeated and expanded on by others. But these claims have little or no connection to the facts.

You should challenge the person making the claim to produce a primary source or a statement from a scholarly secondary source that has a footnote that can be checked. Then make sure the sources being quoted come from scholars with a Ph.D. in a relevant field, such as a person who teaches Egyptology at the university level.

Due to the mass of misinformation on the Internet and in print on this subject, it is important to respond to these claims using credible sources. Fortunately, there are many good books on Egypt and Egyptology in print. But there are also bad ones, so make sure to verify the author’s credentials before purchasing them.

The study of ancient Egypt has come a long way since its beginning in the 1800s, and new discoveries are being made even today that improve upon our understanding of the subject. It’s safe to say they will do nothing to bolster the alleged Jesus-Horus connection.

The Horus mythology developed over a period of 5,000 years, and as a result it can be a complex subject to tackle. But you don’t have to be an Egyptologist to answer all of these claims. You just need to know where to look for the answers—and to be aware of the claims’ flawed sources.


Appendix 1:
A brief history of modern Egyptology

Rosetta StoneModern Egyptology really begins with the French campaign in Egypt and Syria initiated by Napoleon Bonaparte around 1798. Among other things, the French established a scientific exploration of the region.

In 1799, a soldier named Pierre-Francois Bouchard discovered the Rosetta Stone, which contained a bilingual text that eventually led to the translation of Egyptian hieroglyphs. Prior to this, our knowledge of ancient Egypt’s 5,000-year history was limited to what was known through the writings of pre-Christian Greek historians such as Herodotus and Strabo.

The discovery of the Rosetta Stone led to a renewed interest by the Europeans in all things ancient Egypt, commonly referred to now as “Egyptomania.”  It was not until nearly a century later that Egyptology as an academic discipline began to come into its own. Since that time, we have a much better understanding of ancient Egyptian history and culture.

Appendix 2:
Massey scholarship

Gerald MasseyWhen researching the supposed Egyptian influences on Christianity, inevitably one comes across the name Gerald Massey. Massey was an English poet and amateur Egyptologist who lived from 1828 to 1907. He is the author of three books on the subject: The Book of the BeginningsThe Natural Genesis, and Ancient Egypt: The Light of the World. Because his books represent some of the earliest attempts to draw comparisons between the Christian and Egyptian religions, other writers attempting to draw these comparisons frequently cite them.

One recent example is the book Christ in Egypt; The Horus-Jesus Connection by D.M. Murdoch. In it the author states: “This present analysis of the claims regarding the correspondences between the Egyptian and Christian religions is not dependent on Massey’s work for the most part,” yet she devotes an entire chapter of the book to defending the authenticity of Massey’s scholarship (something she does not feel called to do for anyone else she quotes in her book) and thereafter adopting many of the same comparisons.

Critics of Massey’s work often point out that he had no formal education in the area of Egyptology. While this is a valid criticism, I think it is also important to point out that the study of ancient Egyptian religion has advanced far beyond what was known in the 19th century. Not only is much of Massey’s scholarship built on wild speculation, it is also the product of an academic discipline still in its infancy.

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