Sunday, August 26, 2012

Goodbye Blog

Well, this is the last post I'll be writing for this blog.  We had a good couple of years. 

This blog will still exist, so you can go back and read and re-read your favorite posts!

My new blog is The Christian Event.  I will be using this new site primarily as a teaching tool.  I get a ton of great questions from teens (and adults) and can use this blog to benefit myself (by cataloging answers) and everyone else (so you can see the answers I provide!).  Keep sending questions my way!

Additionally, we are launching a new site by teens and for teens - Training in Devotion.  My fellow comrade on Core Team - Annie Mitchell - will be organizing posts from our team of teen bloggers. These posts will be on living out the faith - at home, at school and with friends.  Enjoy! 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Letter from God-not-God

I recently read an article on CNN about the Aurora shootings and the New Atheism.  The article is pretty can read it here.  There are some heart-wrenching stories of atheists who have been hurt by people of faith, which may provide a lot of insight into their position (and perhaps the war on religion - which is often fueled my more pathos than reason - note the "Reason Rally")

But for now, I want to provide a quick brainstorm to this post on reddit, which apparently attracted quite a few comments:

"Dear Christians:

God here. I thought I would take the time to personally explain my absence in the Aurora shootings. While I was at it, I thought I would also explain my absence during every murder, massacre and crime that has ever taken place in world history, and in every war, in every famine, drought and flood.

You see, I do not exist. I never have. Did it really make sense to you that I would create an entire universe with billions of billions of planets and wait about 13,700,000,000 years just so I could focus on a few Jews from Palestine about 2,000 years ago while ignoring the rest of the 200,000,000 people on the planet at the time? Did I make those few Jews or did those few Jews make me?"

Obviously laden with satire, this smug (not-to-mention absurd) post does little to advance any position, as can be illustrated with a similar response:

Then again, why waste time trading barbs, when distinctions can be made and common ground sought.

First, I would argue that God is not absent at any point - never ever.  This can be put forward from philosophical (especially metaphysical) and theological foundation (salvation history).

That the murders happened shows that God respects our free will - a human being performed the act, not God's absence.  Human free will and corrupt human nature killed Jesus by hanging Him on a cross, not God's absence.  Perhaps these (killings, floods, famines) are also permitted because they serve to remind humanity of its weak nature and fundamental dependence.  We could also note that precisely because evil exists, God exists.  How do you know what darkness is if it weren't for light.  Or, cold if it weren't for hot.  I have an answer to evil.  I can only wonder what the atheist has to it (especially because most people have experienced some sort of transcendent good).

I'm confused by the second half of the letter from God-not-God.  First of all, an example.  Does it really make sense that a man would buy an extravagant 8000+ sq. ft. mansion for his wife and kid?  Isn't that a little excessive, and, well, stupid?  Or, does it reveal something about this man and His intentions?  Does it reveal something about his power?  The extent to which he would go to care for His family?  If human beings are excessive at times, yet with a distinct purpose or intention, could God, the God of the universe, not be the same? 

The second question deals with exegesis.  God revealed himself to His people more than 2,000 years ago.  Not sure if this guy is starting things off with Jesus or what.  And, any serious biblical study realizes that the Jews were called to be holy, different and set apart - for the sake of the population of the rest of the world.  The whole problem of the OT was that they didn't want to differ from the rest of the world.  Sweet story to make up about your God and your heritage of messing up, getting fixed, then messing up again.  Maybe the Jews did make God up, and this would obviously explain why they fought, died, were exiled, persecuted, and watched their city burn in 70AD - all because of a tall tale that got them real far here on earth...

Same could be said about the Church nowadays.  

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

After another day of mission work, we had Mass and an awesome chicken dinner. Then, we spent some time on a one hundred foot slip-n-slide and engaging in some shaving cream whiffle ball.

This evening, Dcn. Russ gave an awesome talk on why we need Jesus (in order to live out the greatest commandment). He then launched into the awesome story about St. Lawrence and the way he saw the poor and the lame in the city of Rome as the true riches of the Church. He had the eyes of Christ.

He then challenged us that if our eyes our not changed in how we see others by the end of this week, we have missed something. So the question that lingers is, how were your eyes changed today?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Today was our first day at our mission sites. It sounds like the groups all had a healthy combination of challenges/sufferings and joy. One thing is certain, God is here and He is working!

This evening, we had an outing to Washington Park (just across the street from Music Hall). It is a beautiful park and there were tons of people hanging out, playing sports and enjoying the fountains. I've got some pictures below.

Later this evening, we heard a talk from a missionary priest from Uganda - Fr. Ruffino of the Comboni Missionaries. He talked about Moses and God's calling him to reach out to Israel - because of God's desire to be merciful. He reminded us that the world is also thirsting and hurting right now, and that it is up to us to share God's love with the world, along with hope in Christ. Amongst many other wise things, he shared stories of meeting JPII and Mother Teresa, and called us to live a missionary life this week that is rooted in prayer.

After Father's talk, we heard some testimonies from the teens. Many stories related seemingly small and insignificant experiences that had tremendous impact when seen with the eyes of God. Stories like holding hands with kids in OTR, watching a woman bring her newborn baby into Pregnancy Center East, speaking to people who were mute with any means possible, and even picking up sticks and pulling weeds.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Opening Day

God in Cinci 2.0 is off to a great start. This morning our small groups for the week had some competition (friendly, of course) before an afternoon of serious reflection about why it is that we are here for mission. This has allowed us to focus on the fact that we are called to love God and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Next we looked intensely at the works of mercy, before ending the afternoon with a session on humility (are we working for our own glory, or for God's?).

Now we gear up for the evening session...

Here are a few pics from the new fad - nine-square.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Group Pics

Check them out! Don't miss out on if you want to recall some of what you heard last weekend, or if you want to know more about what we did in Steubenville.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

More Quotables

You are not better at sinning than God is at forgiving, so get over yourselves. - Brian Kissinger

If the Church comes from God and is our source of truth, then in holding any dissenting position, you are going against who? - Sean Forrest

I want God on my own terms. I create God in my own image, setting Jesus up as a false idol. This is my Jesus, what he looks like and what he says. But, we want the authentic Jesus...not an idea or philosophy or a pat on the back, but life in the full, flowing to us from God's grace flowing through the Church. - summary of thoughts from Fr. Dave and Sean

How would we know about Jesus if it wasn't for the Church. - Kissinger