"You have to work hard to offend Christians. By nature, Christians are the most forgiving, understanding, and thoughtful group of people I've ever dealt with. They never assume the worst. They appreciate the importance of having different perspectives. They're slow to anger, quick to forgive, and almost never make rash judgments or act in anything less than a spirit of total love . . . No, wait--I'm thinking of Labrador retrievers!" David Learn, 1998

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Shirley Temple sings Japanese children's songs, 1937

Click here

IRreconcilable Differences - 8 Between a rock and a hard place

     Now here is my personal dilemma as regards the Roman church:
     As one who holds that God, through his spoken word (Jesus Christ) and his written word, the Bible, is my ultimate authority, I must submit to Christ's teachings in Matthew 16. Not only are they authoritative because they are in the Bible but if anything they are especially authoritative because they are "words in red"--direct quotes from the mouth of Jesus Christ, my Lord. When Jesus established baptism and the Lord's supper, demonstrating to his disciples and by extension to us, what he wanted us to do and then commanding us to do it, we must obey. (Our small denomination, Grace Brethren, out of Winona Lake, Indiana, even practices foot-washing because Jesus, in John 13, demonstrated and then commanded us to do so. I am not wed to the Brethren or any other denomination. I am wed to Jesus Christ and the written Word of God.)

     In Matthew 16:13-20, whatever the passage means, Jesus Christ is obviously doing something extremely significant. In Greek, Jesus seems to be saying that Peter is a small rock and on this boulder or ledge, He would build His church. In other words, the church was not to be founded on Peter at all--as we Protestants think the Catholic Church claims to do.
     I used to discuss these things with my Roman Catholic friend Carol Bishop, but she followed my first husband to heaven in 2003. I miss her so much. But since then I have had some good, enlightening conversations with her grown daughter Julie.
     When Julie and I studied this passage sometime ago, she did not try to thrust a Catholic interpretation on me. She only pointed out that Jesus' words would have been in Aramaic and that Aramaic, unlike Greek, has only one word for "rock." There is no distinction between the name Peter, which means "rock," and the rock on which Jesus was at that moment building his church. No "rock" (masculine) and "rock" (feminine) distinction. No "little pebble, big foundation stone" distinction.
     I have heard maybe one Protestant sermon preached on this passage although I know from our commentaries that we understand Christ's words, "On this rock, I will build my kingdom" to apply not to Peter himself but to Peter's confession. But get this: according to the Catholic Catechism, THAT IS EXACTLY HOW CATHOLICS ALSO UNDERSTAND THESE WORDS. Christ was building his kingdom on himself, the son of the living God.
     Okay, we have reconciled one difference between us, one misunderstanding.
     But what are the "keys of the kingdom of heaven" and in what unique sense has Christ given them to Peter? We Protestants hold not only that all believers are authorized equally with the Twelve to use whatever keys were given to Peter but that everyone of us has equal authority to "bind and loose on earth whatever has been bound in heaven" (whatever that may mean).
     We do not recognize a hierarchy but here in Matthew 16:19 Jesus seems to be establishing a hierarchy. Frankly, I had hoped the "you" Jesus used in speaking to Peter here was the Greek equivalent of "you all" but it isn't. It's the singular.
     In some sense, Peter is uniquely charged with responsibility over the church. The Roman Catholic magisterium doesn't just say so. THE LIVING WORD OF GOD SAYS SO IN THE WRITTEN WORD OF GOD. The authority I am bound by and must in obedience submit to says so.
     I have to tell you that when this hit me, my first thought was, Oh, NO, I have to come under the authority of Rome! And I could truly identify with C.S. Lewis when he called himself "the most reluctant convert" (to Christianity) in England. I thought, I'll have to take classes and join and attend the Catholic Church, confess my sins to a human being during his office hours, rather than taking them directly to God as soon as He makes me aware of them. According to the Catechism, I would need to do this if, without adequate cause, I missed Mass for even one week.
     I told Carol once that her Catholic faith seemed so rich and fulfilling that for her to convert to Protestantism would be to lose something, to be more impoverished. When my daughter converted to Greek Orthodoxy and I asked why, she said she wanted to worship God not just with her mind, as evangelicals do, but with her whole being, down to her bodily posture and gestures, all the "bells and smells," as some say.
     When Jerry and I were at Oxbridge with the C.S. Lewis Foundation, worshiping in Anglican churches, our experience was rich with meaning. What to those raised in a  higher church tradition might be only formality and rote repetition was expressing our common faith as the saints had expressed down through the centuries.
     Living by the liturgical calendar, meditating on Jesus' life through it and through the stations of the cross, publicly affirming all the truths of our faith every week--I like that! If someone dropped into one of our evangelical services some Sunday, he might learn about tithing or some aspect of the Exodus or the possible interpretations of the word "vessel" in I Thessalonians 4:4 but would he hear God's whole grand scheme from the foundation of the world in the past to its corruption through sin to its ultimate restoration under His eternal reign in the future? Rehearsing our common creeds would do that.
     To be honest, I really want to come under the authority of the true church, the original church, the church  which Jesus Christ planted. The idea of being part of that tradition flowing from Matthew 16 through Peter is very attractive to me. I don't want to be part of a splinter group or a resistance movement, even one that intended only to bring the true church back into alignment with its roots.
     BUT the irreconcilable differences prevent it! I cannot in good faith believe doctrines which are not only not in the Bible (that I could accommodate) but those which are actually contrary to Scripture, those which are heretical. The biggest one of course is the sinlessness of Mary--and the growing minority of Catholic leaders who claim she is co-redemptrix with Christ, that together the two of them save us, is utter anathema, undermining the uniqueness of the blood of Christ as our only remedy for sin.
     So here I stand, wanting to be reunited with Mother Church and prevented by its own truths from doing so.

"Unless I am convinced by Scripture and by plain reason and not by Popes and councils who have so often contradicted themselves, my conscience is captive to the word of God. To go against conscience is neither right nor safe.  Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me." Martin Luther

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Riri Mishima passed away

      Her father sailed around the world with our family on the Phoenix. I met her for the first time in Hiroshima in June. Riri passed away suddenly on Tuesday, cause of death unknown.
     Besides feeling deep sadness at the loss of this particular friend, a sweet, animated, generous woman whom I had hoped to know better, I am left stunned because it is our 8th loss this month.

IRreconcilable Differences - 7

       That's the last of the re-runs. I intended to go into other doctrines which Protestants and Catholics hold in common but it has been too long since I did the research. Now, to be honest, I need to deal with the IRreconcilable differences.
     A big deal breaker is, of course, authority. The leaders of the early, yet unsplit, church, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, determined which books which would become the authoritative canon of Scripture. All Christians agree with that.
     But the significance of making that determination was understood differently by those who became Roman Catholic/Orthodox and those who would eventually become Protestants. If I understand the Roman/Orthodox view correctly, the fact that the church leaders (Magisterium) decided what books constitute the canon shows that they--and the tradition proceeding from this and their other decisions--are of equal authority with the Scriptures and in a practical sense, even greater authority because the Holy Spirit gives right understanding of those books to them alone. The interpretation of the Magisterium trumps any other interpretation a reader of the Scriptures believes is from the Holy Spirit.
     Protestants believe that the fact the church leaders decided what books constitute the canon shows that the Holy Spirit only enabled them to recognize those books which were inspired ("God-breathed") and that by so doing they were acknowledging the authority of the Scriptures over them, that all other authorities are subordinate to, and are to be corrected by, the written word of God.. Leaders and laypeople alike have no authority in themselves to "rightly divide" (interpret) the Scriptures, but, conversely, they have equal access to the Holy Spirit for the true interpretation. 
     This was one of  "five solas" which led to the Protestant Reformation:  
     The Protestant Revolution was an effort on the part of the devout Roman Catholic Martin Luther to draw his beloved church back to the foundations of the faith as given in Scripture. In 1577 he publicly posted  95 Theses, not on his blog or Facebook but on the door of the Wittenburg Church. These were 95 points of opposition to what he saw as unbiblical doctrine and practices--abuses--that had developed in the Church.
     Rather than focusing on his message, the Church responded by excommunicating the messenger. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Reconcilable Differences - 6

Reconcilable Differences - 6: Creator of heaven and earth

Selections from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Paulist Press, 1994 (condensed) which Protestants can say "Amen!" to:

ARTICLE 1, Paragraph 4: The Creator

279 "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Holy Scripture begins with these solemn words. The profession of faith takes them up when it confesses that God the Father almighty is "Creator of heaven and earth" (Apostles' Creed), "of all that is, seen and unseen" (Nicene Creed).

280  Creation is the foundation of "all God's saving plans," the "beginning of the history of salvation" that culminates in Christ. Conversely, the mystery of Christ casts conclusive light on the mystery of creation and reveals the end for which "in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth": from the beginning, God envisaged the glory of the new creation in Christ.

282 Catechesis on creation is of major importance. It concerns the very foundations of human and Christian life: for it makes explicit the response of the Christian faith to the basic question that men of all times have asked themselves: "Where do we come from?" "Where are we going?" "Where does everything that exists come from and where is it going?" The two questions, the first about the origin and second about the end, are inseparable. They are decisive for the meaning and orientation of our life and actions.


290 "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth": three things are affirmed in these first words of Scripture: the eternal God gave a beginning to all that exists outside of himself; he alone is Creator (the verb "create" - Hebrew "bara - always has God for its subject.) The totality of what exists (expressed by the formula "the heavens and the earth") depends on the One who gives it being.

291 "In the beginning was the Word. . . and the Word was God. . . all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made." The New Testament reveals that God created everything by the eternal Word, his beloved Son. In him "all things were created, in heaven and on earth. . . all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." The Church's faith likewise confesses the creative action of the Holy Spirit, the "giver of life," "the Creator Spirit" ("Veni, Creator Spiritus"), the "source of every good."

292 The Old Testament suggests and the New Testament reveals the creative action of the Son and the Spirit, inseparably one with that of the Father. This creative cooperation is clearly affirmed in the Church's rule of faith: "There exists but one God. . . he is the Father, God, the Creator, the author, the giver of order. He made all things by himself, that is, by his Word and by his Wisdom," "by the Son and the Spirit" who, so to speak, are "his hands." Creation is the common work of the Holy Trinity.


293 Scripture and Tradition never cease to teach and celebrate this fundamental truth: "The world was made for the glory of God." St. Bonaventure explains that God created all things "not to increase his glory, but to show it forth and communicate it," for God has no other reason for creating than his love and goodness: "Creatures came into existence when the key of love opened his hand." The First Vatican Council explains:
"This one, true God, of his own goodness and "almighty power," not for increasing his own beatitude, nor for attaining his perfection, but in order to manifest this perfection through the benefits which he bestows on creatures, with absolute freedom of counsel "and from the beginning of time, made out of nothing both orders of creatures, the spiritual and the corporeal. . ."

294 The glory of God consists in the realization of this manifestation and communication of his goodness, for which the world was created. God made us "to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace," for "the glory of God is man fully alive; moreover man's life is the vision of God: if God's revelation through creation has already obtained life for all the beings that dwell on earth, how much more will the Word's manifestation of the Father obtain life for those who see God." The ultimate purpose of creation is that God "who is the creator of all things may at last become "all in all," thus simultaneously assuring his own glory and our beatitude."*

*1721 Christian Beatitude: God put us in the world to know, to love, and to serve him, and so to come to paradise.  Beatitude makes us "partakers of the divine nature" and of eternal life. With beatitude, man enters into the glory of Christ and into the joy of the Trinitarian life.

1722 Such beatitude surpasses the understanding and powers of man.It comes from an entirely free gift of God: whence it is called supernatural, as is the grace that disposes man to enter into the divine joy.

1727 The beatitude of eternal life is a gratuitous gift of God. It is supernatural, as is the grace that leads us there.(Emphasis added.)

Monday, September 26, 2011

100 verse challenge - week 3

For complete post, go to: dianalovestowrite.blogspot.com

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

Only one person has ever been without sin and remained that way, and this verse is the statement of "why" behind our need for Him as Savior.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

Death is what we've earned, but eternal life is the gift God has freely offered in His Son. Morgan reminds us of the word picture many have seen with us in our sin on one side and God and the gift unreachable on the other. He reminds us that only Christ's cross can serve as the bridge between the two.

But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us! Romans 5:8 

Personally I love that this scripture ends in an exclamation point, and as I learn it with my kids this week my intention is to speak it with that force. This is exciting news! Christ died for me! I have said often, "He loved us at our worst first." And too often as believers we get bogged down in our "ought to's and should's" and buy into the lie that if we are falling short, God somehow loves us less. So not so. So not so! 

Reconcilable Differences - 5

Reconcilable Differences - 5: I believe in God

Selections from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Paulist Press, 1994 (condensed) which Protestants can say "Amen!" to:

     Our profession of faith begins with God, for God is the First and the Last, the beginning and the end of everything.

200     The confession of God's oneness, which has its roots in the divine revelation of the Old Covenant, is inseparable from the profession of God's existence and is equally fundamental. God is unique; there is only one God: "The Christian faith confesses that God is one in nature, substance, and essence."

201     To Israel, his chosen, God revealed himself as the only One: "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD; and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might." Through the prophets, God calls Israel and all nations to turn to him, the one and only God: "Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. . . . To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.

 203    God revealed himself to his people Israel by making his name known to them. A name expresses a person's essence and identity and the meaning of this person's life. God has a name; he is not an anonymous force. To disclose one' name is to make oneself known to others; in a way it is to hand oneself over by becoming accessible, capable of being known more intimately and addressed personally.
 204    God revealed himself progressively and under different names to his people, but the revelation that proved to be the fundamental one for both the Old and the New Covenants was the revelation of the divine name to Moses in the theophany of the burning bush. . .

"I Am who I Am"
206     In revealing his mysterious name, YHWH ("I AM WHO IS," I AM WHO AM" or "I AM WHO I AM"), God says who he is and by what name he is to be called. This divine name is mysterious just as God is mystery. It is at once a name revealed and something like the refusal of a name, and hence it better expresses God as what he is--infinitely above everything that we can understand or say: he is the "hidden God," his name is ineffable, and he is the God who makes himself close to men.
207     By revealing his name God at the same time reveals his faithfulness which is from everlasting to everlasting, valid for the past ("I am the God of your fathers"), as for the future ("I will be with you"). God, who reveals his name as "I AM," reveals himself as the God who is always there, present to his people in order to save them.

"A God merciful and gracious" 
211     Despite the faithlessness of men's sin and the punishment it deserves, he keeps "steadfast love for thousands." By going so far as to give up his own Son for us, God reveals that he is "rich in mercy." By giving his life to free us from sin, Jesus reveals that he himself bears the divine name: "When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will realize that 'I Am.'"

God alone IS 
212      He transcends the world and history.
213     God alone IS. God is the fullness of Being and of every perfection, without origin and without end. All creatures receive all that they are and have from him; but he alone is his very being, and he is of himself everything that he is.

God is love
218     In the course of history, Israel was able to discover that God had only one reason to reveal himself to them, a single motive for choosing them from among all peoples as his special possession: his sheer gratuitous love. And thanks to the prophets Israel understood that it was again out of love that God never stopped saving them and pardoning their unfaithfulness and sins.
219     God's love for Israel is compared to a father's love for his son. His love for his people is stronger than a mother's for her children. God loves his people more than a bridegroom his beloved; his love will be victorious over even the worst infidelities and will extend to his most precious gift: "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son."
220     God's love is "everlasting": "For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you." Through Jeremiah, God declares to his people, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you."
221     But St. John goes even further when he affirms that "God is love": God's very being is love. By sending his only Son and the Spirit of Love in the fullness of time, God has revealed his innermost secret: God himself is an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and he has destined us to share in that exchange.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Reconcilable Differences - 4

Reconcilable Differences - 4 (Carol - 2)

      Mike Bishop is a goal-oriented person. When we all went on trips, he made sure the SUV was gassed up, the kids had been to the bathroom and there was plenty of food and a huge cooler of drinks on board. Carol was a process person. She more or less floated through life, enjoying every bit of it but enjoying too reminiscing about the past or about the Lord as she walked or drove, her cup of tea, complete with tea bag, always in hand.
     She was afraid of two things. One was the breast cancer that had taken her mother's life. She was afraid to have mammograms, put off going in for check-ups. While they were still at Creighton and early in their marriage, she and Mike had watched all four of their parents die and later her beloved brother and only sibling would also pre-decease them. When Carol finally got the diagnosis that she had cancer, it wasn't breast cancer after all. It was ovarian cancer. She fought it with radiation and chemo. Her hair fell out and she would greet us at the door bald, still outwardly relaxed and amiable. She was ready to die but she didn't want to leave her family.
     Her second fear was of flying. Yet she overcame that fear to fly with her family to Rome and step down into the waters at Lourdes. She battled cancer for seven years but Rick was diagnosed with cancer after four of those years and beat her to the finish. They prayed their Catholic prayers for healing, we prayed our Protestant prayers for healing--and neither of them was healed in this life.
     During treatments her doctors told her she had to give up, or at least water down, her beloved cups of tea. Tea was her trademark. It didn't surprise me, when I got into figuring out anagrams, that "Carol Elizabeth Bishop" was a "tea czar."

     I was with Carol a lot toward the end. For all her knowledge of theology, she was clinging to the simplicity of the gospel. She would tell me she was just asking Jesus to "take care of His little lamb."
     After she passed into the presence of her Lord--I was at her hospital bedside when she did--there was no reason for Mike and me to socialize anymore. The darkroom became a catch-all for things like Christmas presents which needed to be hidden and wrapped and clean laundry that needed to be folded. Digital photography, which Rick would have disdained, was coming in and we couldn't even sell his view camera or the Beseler/Minolta 45A enlarger with a 4x5 condenser head, the Rodenstock Apo-Rodagon and Schneider Apo-Companon lenses, the Saunders easel or the drymount press.
     But when I started dating Jerry I called Mike and set up a time when the three of us could eat out. Somehow I felt like I needed his approval. It was the first time I had noticed that either of the men had a moustache.
      I started this post to discuss Catholicism but have been wandering down paths of nostalgia, just as Carol would have.
     After Carol left this life, I wanted very much to be a mother figure for Mike and Carol's daughter Julianne. We did get together a couple of times to cook a meal. I cooked one for Jerry while she cooked the same thing to take home for her dad and brother. But Julie rapidly passed me in the cooking department and the absence of her mother was always bittersweet in the background, contributing to our feeling tongue-tied and shy together. Then, too, Jerry and I were busy with our own lives and travels.
     Still, I want to develop that friendship. For one thing, in spite of the fact Julie was adopted, she is very much like her mother. She is bright and articulate, really committed to the Catholic faith, and has considered seminary and a religious vocation. I enjoy our discussions, iron sharpening iron. The last time we parted after meeting for lunch and having an in-depth discussion of Matthew 16:13-20, I think we both headed for our Bible concordances and Greek lexicons when we got home, like the Bereans of Acts 17:11, to "examine the Scriptures and see whether these things were so."

     I hope, whatever our differences in doctrine, Carol and I end up at the same place.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Reconcilable Differences - 3

Reconcilable Differences - 3 (Carol - 1)

     Until Carol's death ten months after my husband's, our best friends were Roman Catholics.
     All four of us, Mike and Carol, Rick and I, shared a love of photography. The men designed, built and stocked a state-of-the-art darkroom to print both black-and-white and Cibachrome. Every Friday night for 25 years or so we would all go out to dinner and then back to the darkroom where over hot tea and diet Cokes, surrounded by a swirl of large dogs and growing kids, we talked and laughed and tried to produce a really good print or two.
     We took photography classes together. We even went on some vacations together, to botanical gardens and national parks to take pictures we could print when we got home. Often Carol composed their pictures and Mike took them. She had a wonderful sense of composition. In addition to photographs, she made every room in their house--and their garden--a thing of beauty. She could arrange a nest of robin's eggs with a pheasant feather or two in front of a photo she and Mike had taken of a path through birch woods inlaid with golden leaves and you felt at once both that you were in an art gallery and that you were totally at home.
     Whenever Mike and Carol went on vacations of their own, she would always find some object of delight to bring me. A butterfly etched on glass to hang in a window. A illustrated book of church cats. A Royal Copenhagen plate picturing an owl on a snow-covered branch under the full moon. Corals: red, white, and blue. And shells. Marvelous shells: a chambered nautilus. A Cloth of Gold Cone, a Pink Conch. And an encyclopedia about shells. (She knew the Latin name for every shell and every plant.) I still keep these things on display around the house and they still remind me of her. Once Mike overruled her and brought me a huge Victorian pitcher and basin painted with blue Chinese figures. But she was wrong for once. I love that, too.   
     Carol was a National Merit finalist and had gone to Catholic school from kindergarten through Creighton University so she had had a top education. She was so well-read and had so many interests, everything from gardening to art to literature to theology--that we had wonderful times together. I think one thing that made me feel comfortable in their home was that, despite the fact she and Mike were committed to the Lord through their Catholic faith, there wasn't one out-and-out Catholic symbol in their house--not one rosary, not a single panel of an emaciated Jesus gazing dolefully upward from the cross.
    She could discuss anything without feeling threatened. In discussing Catholic doctrine, she made such fine distinctions, between venerating Mary and worshiping her, for example, that when she had shared what the church taught I could see that it was much closer to what we Protestants believe than I had thought. I doubt if most Catholic laypeople make such fine distinctions.
     Although she was really, really bright and really articulate she was laid-back and enjoyed discussions. She didn't get het-up by them or defensive about ideas, as I did. (Fortunately we were both pro-life.) I'd pace around, arguing things, getting louder and louder, waving my arms and starting to call the Catholic position on a given subject "stupid" or "insane" (as I write this, I realize that is exactly what my father did, exactly what he would say about anything he didn't agree with). She would sit in an arm chair in their wonderfully appointed living room or den, one foot tucked under her, nursing her ubiquitous cup of hot tea in one hand while stroking the ears of one of their also ubiquitous dogs with the other. When I was ranted out, she would point out something I'd missed or misunderstood--amiably and with a touch of her marvelous humor. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Reconcilable Differences - 2

Reconcilable Differences - 2

     Not long ago Jerry and I watched The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. I couldn't do anything for a long time after it was over but sit and stare, chest and throat tight, as scenes replayed in my mind and I thought about how adults teach children prejudice.
     It reminded me of a conversation I had with our youngest granddaughter when she entered kindergarten last year. Our daughter Becky was chrismated in the Russian Orthodox church just before she married a Roman Catholic man. Now they live in Oklahoma and attend a Catholic church. When the time came, Becky enrolled our 5-year old granddaughter Katherine in a Catholic kindergarten.
     I had spoken of God to Katherine from her infancy. We had had simple sweet moments of fellowship together. I was careful never to say anything to conflict with or criticize the Catholic church. Katherine spontaneously gave herself to God last year and drew me a picture of her doing so for my birthday--one of the best birthday presents I ever received.
     In mid-October Katherine and I were chatting over our Ojo video phones and suddenly she asked, "Grandma, do you go to a Catholic church?"
     "No." I felt exposed.
     "Then you probably aren't a Christian."
     So now it begins. "Yes I am!"
     "You probably don't love Jesus."
     I was saddened. "Yes I do!"
     We left it there but I wondered whether something had been said by one of her teachers. Maybe the line had been drawn between the innies and the outies, between "us" and "them." I wondered what conclusion Katherine had come to about me as a result of our talk. I wondered whether Becky had been within earshot of it and what she thought--about Katherine's questions, about my answers, about my faith.
     A few weeks later Becky commented to me, "Today Katherine said, 'Both my grandmas are sticklers for Jesus, aren't they?'" (Her other Grandma is Catholic.) So maybe Katherine realizes Jesus Christ is the common denominator, that it is the relationship with Him that matters.
     But it makes me sad that something may be trying to drive a wedge between my granddaughter and me in spite of the fact we both know and love the Lord. But many of our Protestant schools and churches do the same thing. It is drilled into us: "Catholics aren't Christians. Catholics aren't saved. Catholics are relying on their own works to get into heaven and therefore can't go there."
     I beg to differ. Some Catholics are Christian. Some Protestants are. And some Orthodox are. In every one of these forms of Christendom there are people who are not only members of their organization but branches drawing life from the True Vine.
     There are Jews who know their Messiah. There are Muslims (I know of several) who may still think of themselves as Muslims but are following the way of Isa, whom they read about in the Koran and whose words in the New Testament they believe and seek to obey, who are personally connected to Him by faith. I am going to boldly assert that these believers are every bit as much Christians as the rest of us. 
     "God has given us eternal life and this life is in his Son;" the apostle John points out in I John 5:11-13, "anyone who has the Son has life, anyone who does not have the Son does not have life. I have written all this to you so that you who believe in the name of the Son of God may be sure that you have eternal life." (This is from a Catholic version of the Bible, by the way, the Jerusalem Bible.)
    These individuals compose the invisible body of Christ on earth. There are undoubtedly believers in every part of the world who attend no church at all but have put faith in Jesus Christ, having heard of him somehow, maybe met Him in dreams, even though they don't know that what they have, what they are, has a label.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


     My granddaughter's recent questions stirred in me a desire to resume a series I began in 2010 on His Scribe called "Reconcilable Differences", studying the beliefs Roman Catholics and Protestants have in common. First I'll re-run the series to date. Then I want to continue it:

Reconcilable Differences - 1
". . . That they may all be one. . . perfected in unity. . .so that the world will know that You sent me." Jesus praying to his Father, Gospel of John, chapter 17.
    Last year (2009) I read a 688-page Catechism of the Catholic Church, published in 1994 by Paulist Press. I wanted to know official Catholic doctrine, as opposed to Catholicism practiced (perhaps inconsistently) by individual members of the Catholic church. I read every word, underlining many passages and filling the margins with thoughts and questions.
     I came away with two strong impressions. The first was that there are irreconcilable differences between those whose ultimate authority is the Roman Catholic Church and those whose ultimate authority is the Bible.
      The second was that there are a surprising number of areas of agreement between the two groups.
      More than that, I came away profoundly moved, my faith deepened by the way the Catholic Catechism presents those areas of agreement. They not only rang true Biblically but evidenced centuries of study and meditation, of honing and polishing rich truths. I learned something about God. I learned something about faith, about the significance/sacredness of communion and baptism, about prayer.
     In a series of posts, I want to share some of these commonalities with you. I do not want you to feel threatened by these passages from the catechism. They are not intended to pry you away from what you believe, only to reinforce and help you appreciate what you already believe in the light of the fact believers in all three major traditions of Christendom--Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant--share these beliefs.
     We all believe, for instance, in the Apostles' Creed (and in the Nicene Creed, which further defines the Apostles' Creed):
     We all believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth, in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
     We all believe he was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.
     We all believe he suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried, that he descended into hell and on the third day rose again.
     We all believe he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father, that he will come again to judge the living and the dead.
     We all believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic (i.e., universal) Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

     We all believe that the Bible, from which these creeds are taken, is the written word of God. We all believe in living by the Ten Commandments. We all believe in praying according to the Lord's prayer. Although beliefs regarding the real or symbolic presence of our Lord in the Eucharist differ radically, we all practice at least two of the sacraments established by Jesus Christ: baptism and partaking of his body and blood.
     We agree that not to believe these truths is not to be a Christian. This is bedrock. This is our common heritage.
     I want to look more closely at some of these non-negotiables with you in future posts.

NOTE: This series is written in gratitude for Paul Cowan (transferred to Glory 7-27-2010), who dedicated his life to drawing together in unity Christ's people in the Roman Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox churches.)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Here it comes

     Our youngest granddaughter, now in 2nd grade, is being primed for her first communion. She is starting to ask me theological questions again:
     Grandma, are you Catholic? 
     Have you been baptized?
     Then you're Catholic.
     What are you? Are you a Jew? 
     I'm a Christian.
     But, like, what are you?
     A Bible-believing Christian.
     We believe in the Bible. Do you believe in the Pope? 
     I respect him. I believe in Jesus Christ.
     The pope is like a little Jesus. 
     Yes, he is. We believe in the Bible. Your church believes in the Bible plus the pope.
     Do you take communion?
     Do you believe it's the real body and blood of Jesus?
     No. Jesus told us to take it to remember Him. [Should I add that at the Last Supper when Jesus held the bread and the cup in His hands, they could not have been elements of His literal body, which was still very much alive and intact or His blood, which was still coursing through it? I don't think he meant to eat Him literally but figuratively, to take Him in and have Him become an intrinsic part of us. "Symbolic cannibalism?" Why not? Jesus says, "If you do not eat my body and drink my blood, you have no part in me!" and the early church seems to have taken the Eucharist literally so I am not opposed to that understanding.]
     Is it real bread and wine?
     In our church, real bread and grape juice. The important thing is to remember Him.
     What is the difference between what we believe and what you believe?
     Well, for one thing, the Bible says Jesus had brothers and sisters.
     No, he didn't! They weren't God!
     No, they weren't. They had the same mother but a different father, Joseph. Your church teaches that they were only nephews and nieces or cousins. But the Bible says "brothers" and "sisters."
     Mary was born without original sin.
     The Bible says she was a sinner.
     She sinned but she did not have original sin. [She knows her catechism! According to Catholicism Mary does need a Savior--but Jesus saved her by cleansing her before she sinned.]
     How do I say that backing the immaculate conception up one generation diminishes the uniqueness of the only sinless One, the only begotten Child of God, the only person in history conceived by the Holy Spirit? How can I communicate to a 7-year old that such a belief is heresy, that it only gets in the way and obscures His glory and that God is a jealous God and does not share His glory with anyone, even His son's mother? How do I point out that nothing in the Bible, nothing about sin or salvation, requires such a doctrine?
     My beloved grandchild is getting agitated. I am feeling nothing but calm as I inwardly ask God for wisdom. I do not want to hurt the faith of this little one. I only want to gently keep pointing her back to Jesus, the enfleshed Word of God, as revealed in the Bible, the written word of God.
     In the background her mother, my daughter, whom we raised evangelical, catches only a few of her daughter's words and says, "Mom, she gets some things mixed up. You can correct her ideas from the Bible." And I think, She doesn't have these things mixed up at all. She's tack on. This is Roman Catholic orthodoxy. Are you sure you are okay with my correcting that? Because if I do, I will be putting her crosswise with what her school teaches her, what her church teaches her and what you teach her. 
     I love my daughter. I love my granddaughter. I consider it an honor to share what Scripture, which both the Roman Catholic tradition and my evangelical tradition hold sacred, speaks to these matters. But Sweetheart, don't think it won't shake her little foundations and cause her anguish, because she loves us both. It will open a chasm between us and she will have to choose whether to cling or jump. I am sorry that's the case because the Lord we both worship wants us all to be one.   

Sunday, September 18, 2011

100 verse challenge - week 2

John 1:14 "The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth." 

John 3:16 "For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life." 

CSB (Holman Christian Standard Version).

Friday, September 16, 2011

BEING THERE: Martin Luther King, Honolulu, 1959

     Fifty-two years ago, it was an honor for me to be chosen, crinolines and all, to welcome Martin Luther King to McKinley High School in Honolulu with a lei and a kiss on the cheek.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

First 2 verses to memorize

     "Today is the day! We have finally arrived at the kickoff! We are going to spend the next year memorizing 100 verses in the Bible! Based on Robert J. Morgan's book "100 Verses Everybody Should Know by Heart." If you haven't joined the challenge, it's not too late. How can you go wrong? If you only learn 10% of the verses on the list, you will have learned 10 of God's scriptures and hidden them in your heart. . ." Here are your first two verses for week one:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. - Genesis 1:1
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. - John 1:1

Read Diana's whole post at  100 verse challenge. It has good stuff about these verses and about Scripture memorization.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Six months since Japan's 3/11


     Soon after March 11, the Japanese government ordered an evacuation of the area within 12 miles of the nuclear power plants damaged by the tsunami, three of which had suffered meltdowns. In spite of the evacuation order, some residents of Iwaki chose not to leave. One church congregation decided to stay put. City and government workers weren't willing to expose themselves to radiation by entering the area to help the people and there is no government financial help for individuals so members of the church are pitching in to help those who remained in the city. 
     The church has formed a group called Global Mission Center and their vision is "a restored city which will be a new community based on the foundation of Christ." They have accepted volunteer relief workers from around Japan and other countries. Here are updates about the center:

"Most of the officials and leaders in this city of 350,000 have fled with whatever they had. Many of the business owners and wealthy have left leaving many of the stores, gas stations, restaurants and businesses abandoned. Unfortunately, about half the pastors fled as well, but those who stayed are burning with passion for this city to know Jesus and are uniting together to serve and fill in where the elite and those in power had abandoned. The church we are staying at is called the 'Global Mission Center.'” The Radiant Church (March 25)
". . . The Global Mission Center is set up in such a way that individuals and groups alike can come, have a place to stay and meals to eat, and serve in whatever area they feel called. . ." Journey with us (May 15) 

"Days 2 and 3 were spent removing debris at a seaweed factory... We had the honor of working alongside the owner of the seaweed factory and his wife. They were such incredibly gracious and grateful people, radiating joy despite their tremendous loss. In Japan the government does not offer any financial assistance to individuals, only to public aid (roads, schools, etc...). The people who lost their homes or businesses are left to try to financially and physically rebuild their lives on their own. So humbling..." Journey with us (Part 2)

". . . The Global Mission Chapel team is providing relief in other ways. For example, church members wash the feet of the evacuation center survivors, using relaxing hot onsen water that helps the victims begin talking and telling their stories. “This is the example we get from Jesus, who washed the feet of his disciples. Once we begin soaking and washing their feet, they begin to open up and talk about their experiences. That is very important for their emotional recovery,” said Pastor Mori. . . ." iwakis-global-mission-chapel-is-helping-the-helpless  (August 29)

"Here are some images from the first day of work at the Global Missions Center at Iwaki Fukushima. They say that pictures are worth a thousand words but I can’t seem to capture the sweat, the filthy, the mold and the ruin that the team experienced today. Nor can pictures capture the gratitude of Mr. Sato. . . " 2011/09/05/day-1-global-missions-center-iwaki/ (Sept. 5)


Residents in Iwaki may be very naive about radiation there. One blog above refers to "radiation overreaction." Another reads, "There has been a lot of talk about radiation here in Japan and many people warned us not to come. It is true, we have encountered more radiation than I have ever encountered in my life… but not the kind you are thinking of. The nuclear radiation levels here (18 miles from nuclear reactor) are reading .38 us/hr (45 us/hr is considered dangerous) on our hand held detectors, so we have a long way to go till that becomes a threat to anyone… The radiation I am talking about is of far greater power and far greater significance. The only real radiation here is the love of Christ burning into this community with a ferocity that can only be explained by the power of the Holy Spirit moving through the people of God." The Radiant Church (March 25)

A Japanese woman who visited us (His Scribbler) last month assured us the government tested the evacuation zone around Fukushima and found "zero radiation." But Japanese residents using their own dosimeters are finding this isn't true:

IWAKI, JAPAN — Kiyoko Okoshi had a simple goal when she spent about $625 for a dosimeter: she missed her daughter and grandsons and wanted them to come home. 
     Local officials kept telling her that their remote village was safe, even though it was less than 20 miles from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. But her daughter remained dubious, especially since no one from the government had taken radiation readings near their home.
      So starting in April, Mrs. Okoshi began using her dosimeter to check nearby forest roads and rice paddies. What she found was startling. Near one sewage ditch, the meter beeped wildly, and the screen read 67 microsieverts per hour, a potentially harmful level. . . (New York Times: Japanese find radiation on their own)

More updates on the worst nuclear disaster in human history:

Reader Supported News: Fukushima-sea-radiation-three-times-higher-than-estimated-and-increasing

Here are two of many articles summarized on FukushimaCatastrophe:

     TEPCO announced August 30, that a man in his 40s who had worked to help contain the radiation crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has died of acute leukemia. The man worked at the Fukushima plant for seven days from early August. His jobs included radiation exposure management, the officials said. A medical checkup prior to his work at the plant showed no problems in his health. Of 10 nuclear power plant workers who have developed cancer, despite radiation exposure below legal limit, and received workers’ compensation in the past, nine had been exposed to less than 100 millisieverts of radiation. According to Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry statistics, of the 10 nuclear power plant workers, six had leukemia, two multiple myeloma and another two lymphatic malignancy. Only one had been exposed to 129.8 millisieverts but the remaining nine were less than 100 millisieverts, including one who had been exposed to about 5 millisieverts.

     The amount of radioactive cesium that has leaked from a tsunami-hit nuclear plant is about equal to 168 of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima at the end of World War II, Japan’s nuclear agency said Friday August 26th. While the remaining radiation from atomic bombs decreases to one-thousandth of the original level after a year,radioactive materials from the nuclear power plant only decrease to one-tenth the original level. That’s like dropping one nuclear weapon a day since the beginning of this disaster and this is what they have been calling safe, no problem, don’t worry about it, go home and go to sleep. The damaged plant has released 15,000 tera becquerels of cesium-137, which lingers for decades and could cause cancer, compared with the 89 tera becquerels released by the U.S. uranium bomb. (Emphasis in original)

Monday, September 12, 2011

50,000 people--not news?

Have you seen ANYTHING in the mainstream media about the Harvest Crusade in Los Angeles Saturday night? Dodger Stadium, capacity 56,000, held 50,000 people. We counted. No, we didn't but we could see the crowd filled the entire stadium except for some sparse bits at the very ends. Many of the people (average age early twenties) were clapping, waving, shouting, hugging each other, and singing their heads off! At Greg Laurie's invitation to confess their sins and receive Jesus Christ as their Savior, 20,000 people streamed onto the field--so many that fire marshals had to stop them. There were 5,934 decisions for Christ.

Fifty thousand people praising God, exchanging anger, hatred, prejudice, lust, shame, pride, addictions and bad habits for forgiveness, unity, and joy, committing to serve God and love one another--50,000 people gathered in one place doing anything--NOT NEWS?

Watch the webcast.

The 9/11 - Hiroshima link

     At 9/11 Ground Zero there is a statue to Sadako Sasaki, the little girl who made paper cranes an international symbol of peace and hope:

From Hiroshima to 9/11, a girl's origami lives on
December 17, 2009|By Wayne Drash, CNN
Sadako Sasaki, a survivor of the Hiroshima atomic bombing, made this red origami crane while dying of leukemia.
When Sadako Sasaki lay in her hospital bed sick with leukemia, she showed her father origami cranes from local school girls. "When you fold 1,000 paper cranes, you will get well," her dad responded.
Sadako was just 12. Hoping to get better, she began folding tiny origami cranes, using paper from get-well gifts and wrappers from medicine. She had survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Yet 10 years later, her fragile body suffered the effects of exposure to radiation.

"Please treasure the life that is given to you," Sadako said before her death on October 25, 1955. "It is my belief that my small paper crane will enable you to understand other people's feelings, as if they are your own."
Sadako's death inspired a memorial in Japan's Hiroshima Peace Park, complete with a statue of her holding a golden crane. Now, one of her last origami cranes resides in a new memorial thousands of miles away, in the country that dropped the bomb.
It was given to the Tribute WTC Visitor Center in New York by her aging brother.
"I thought if Sadako's crane is placed at Ground Zero, it will be very meaningful," says Masahiro Sasaki, in an education program produced by the tribute center and the Japan Society. "Commonly, in Japan, the crane is regarded as a symbol of peace. But for us, in the Sasaki family, it is the embodiment of Sadako's life, and it is filled with her wish and hope."
"I hope by talking about that small wish for peace, the small ripple will become bigger and bigger."
The delicate red crane, smaller than a fingernail, is on display at the center. Hanging near it are origami cranes that were placed on the fence around Ground Zero after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Another 10,000 cranes from families and colleagues of Japanese victims of 9/11 surround Sadako's.
"This little girl believed that the world could be made better if we all worked together," says Lee Ielpi, the co-founder of the center, whose grown son, Jonathan, was killed on September 11.
"It sends that beautiful message: Even in death, we're going to carry on that little girl's wish. ... I'm so tickled we can carry on her wish."
Meriam Lobel, the center's curator, says staffers were speechless when Masahiro Sasaki presented the gift. "He lifted it out with this little, tiny tweezer and there was this beautiful red glistening crane," Lobel says. "It was like a gem, like a little red ruby."
For Tsugio Ito, the symbolism of the crane holds special meaning.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Join us on 9/11: Wake Up Call with Joel Rosenberg

REMEMBERING 9/11: HOW HAVE YOU CHANGED OVER PAST TEN YEARS? Please join us for the "Wake up Call" webcast on Sunday

Posted: September 9, 2011 by joelcrosenberg in Uncategorized
Ten years have passed since the horrific terrorist attacks on America by Radical Islamic terrorists. That was a wake up call for our country. But were we listening?
Are you morally and spiritually better off ten years after 9/11? Is your family? Is your church? God didn’t cause 9/11 to happen. Fanatics devoted to the false teachings of Radical Islam caused 9/11 to happen. But the True and Living God – the God of the Bible – let it happen to shake America. To get our attention. To wake us up. Were we listening? And where do we go from here?
On Sunday night, 9/11, Anne Graham Lotz and I will host a special event to remember that event and to call the Church to fasting, prayer and repentance, to a deeper walk with Christ, more hunger for His Word, and more faithfulness in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Hebrew Prophet Joel wrote: “Wake up and weep, you drunkards!” Why? “For the Day of the Lord is coming; surely it is near.” (Joel 1:5, 2:1)
I hope you will join Anne and me for this “Wake Up Call” special event which begins Sunday night, September 11th at 7pm eastern — you can watch it for free on-line by clicking here and walking through the simple steps. On this site, you can also find out where you could watch the event at one more more than 300 churches Sunday night, or listen on one of more than 500 Christian radios that will be simulcasting the event. Or you can watch on satellite TV in anyone of 200 countries, including Israel. Please also be praying for us and for the event and for those who will be watching and listening. Please pray, too, that the Lord would use this event to wake up more of His people to love Him and serve Him ever more faithfully. And please invite family and friends to participate in this event as well. May it be a blessing to them, and to you as well. Thanks so much, and may God bless you.