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Spirituality and values in the Disney universe – Evangelical Focus

Posted: January 18, 2020 at 10:03 am

Kids and young people in the Western world today are increasingly digital, surrounded by both media gadgets and media stories that play a big part in their lives.[1]

The influence of media on religious ideas and values

The Swedish sociologist Mia Lvheim notes that the media is a more frequent arena than family and church for contacts with religious ideas and values.[2]

Perhaps the cinema outdoes the church in providing todays youth with a number of its religious ideas; after all, both are places of spiritual reflection which present values and stories with an underlying message.[3]

These stories are making an impact on the younger generation and on their worldview formation.

Disney and its global influence

Walter Elias Disney (19011966) was a moviemaker who wished both to deliver a message and make good entertainment.[4] His work creating the Disney universe has gone global, and now it is a fantasy world that both entertains and educates children in [US] and around the world.[5]

The term Disney universe reflects Disney products universality and the concept of a fantasy universe that has a great effect on the young generations worldview today.[6]

One of Disneys own screenwriters, Linda Woolverton, has said: When you take on a Disney animated feature, you know youre going to be affecting entire generations of human minds.[7]

Thus, The Walt Disney Company is very much aware of its influence via messages often hidden under a cover of fantasy and magic.

While Disney plays a major role in the lives of the younger generation, this is not confined to the Western world where the Disney universe was created. The movies and products featuring Disney characters can be found almost everywhere.

Insights for the church

Since Disney through its trademark is globally present, Christians worldwide can utilize the stories from the Disney universe in communication with kids and youth about religion and basic values.

Disney is globally influential, and its stories often mirror values found in or imported from Western society such as individualism.

By familiarizing ourselves with the values that are presented in the Disney universe, the global church can also obtain increased insights into the frame of reference that kids in general are exposed to through other media stories.

Faced with a society that is more and more media engaged, the global church has the challenge of meeting the young ones where they are, in their media-saturated world. To find out what they can be influenced by, positively and negatively, we can study the worldviews represented in their media world.

My analysis of the relatively recent movie Moana shows traces in it of two important aspects of contemporary worldviews: individualism and spirituality. I have also compared my findings with an analysis of older Disney movies by Margunn S. Dahle.[8]

Individualism

Looking at Moana and some classic Disney movies, I found several elements of individualism that strongly reflect Western postmodern society.

The movie about the heroine Moana is very much focused on her need to belong somewhere, as she looks for her place and role in life. This is easy to find in other Disney classics too, such as Hercules, Mulan, and The Lion King:

- Positively, the Disney heroes take on much responsibility and are brave in their journey to find meaning in their lives.

- However, their search for identity is often in conflict with family and community values in the Disney movies.

For the heroine Moana, her peoples traditions are very important. So, living on the island of Motonui, Moana tries to do what is expected of her, like the Chinese heroine Mulan.

However, they both end up going against their familys wishes and expectations when they run away from home and follow their hearts instead.

This element of individualism is found in several Disney movies, in which the story has a central motif of breaking with traditional expectations, and following your own heart instead of accepting decisions made by your parents or larger community.

Spirituality

Several Disney classics, as well as Moana, have inherent elements of spirituality. Moana presents reincarnation as a spiritual reality and presents Moanas forefathers as being present on earth in the nature surrounding her.

Pantheism (spirits in nature) and an opening for folk religiosity are present in many post-1989 Disney classics. For example, The Lion King (1994) presents the African notion of the living dead, while the heroine in Pocahontas (1995) communicates with spirits in accordance with Native American religion.

Positively, this teaches kids and youth about different worldviews and folk religiosity; but to learn from it, they must recognize that these messages go against a Christian worldview.

Many Disney movies mix Judaeo-Christian teaching with other religious elements and spirituality and then put some magic on top as the final solution for making your dreams come true.

In Moana, the magic happens through a pantheistic worldview. The ocean calls Moana, and her forefathers who have been reincarnated (especially her grandmother) to help her to achieve her dream.

The individualism is also found in the focus on Moanas inner spiritualitythe calling she feels from the voice in her heart.

How do we engage?

By examining worldviews that are typical of the Disney universe and also reflect the world we live in, we get to understand the messages our kids and youth are influenced by in their daily lives.

In kids and youth ministry, we can look for ways to confront the me-first spirit of the age and confirm the good values that coincide with Christian faith.[9]

he Disney universe influences the young generation in both positive and negative ways. To present them with a balanced picture, we need to underscore both the points of concordance and discordance between the Christian faith and the Disney universe.

Elements of concordance and discordance

Looking for positive aspects of the Disney universe that may coincide with Christian theology, we can see that within the individualism presented, there are values such as wanting to reach your own goals and being brave and strong.

Additionally, Disney underscores the importance of accepting responsibility and the quest for meaning in life.

Being brave, strong, and taking on responsibility are all Christian values we can embrace in the Disney universe. The existential questions as to where we belong and the meaning of life can also be addressed both in Christian faith and in Disney movies.

These points of contact give material to the youth worker or parent who can communicate with the younger generation about finding their identities and reaching their goals.

Typical elements of discordance between the Christian faith and the Disney universe can also be found in individualism as the heroes/heroines often oppose their parents and follow their own will.

Their pursuit of their meaning in life causes them to put themselves and their ambitions first. This presents opportunities to discuss with youth how a Christian should think about his/her own will and ambitions compared to the interests of others.

In addition, we find pantheism and reincarnation in the Disney universe, elements that contradict Christian faith. The spirituality that focuses on forefathers and spirits in nature and inside of you can be addressed in the dialogue with the young generation to create awareness, as well as reflection on how these elements contradict the biblical message.

Double listening

In relating to the younger generation, we want to offer them fellowship, help them grow in their faith and encourage them to spread the gospel to nonbelievers.[10]

If we listen to and learn from the media world surrounding them, we can convey the message of the gospel through the similarities and differences between Christian faith and their media world.

This approach involves the principle of double listeninglistening to both the Word of God and the world around us in search of concordance and discordance between the two messages.[11]

It means trying to understand and obey Gods word, and at the same time to understand the world in which we live, in order to see how the gospel can relate to and speak to the society.

Church leaders, parents, and youth workers, in fact all Christians, should be encouraged to practice this principle. It helps us scrutinize the messages we receive and encourages the young generation to maintain awareness in their digital life.

We should watch movies with the kids and youth, get to know what their media world contains, and talk about it open-mindedly.

If we as a global church can point to Jesus through the different messages the young generation receive, the process will show us and them the unselfish, loving nature of our Lord who in bravery sacrificed the pursuit of his own happiness to make the dream of mankind come trueto live happily ever after.

Tonje Belibi serves as Assistant Professor at Fjellhaug International University College in Norway, from where she received her MA in Theology and Missions. Her Masters Thesis was entitled, Relevant Faith Education for Tweens in a Media Age: The Disney Movie Moana as a case study.

This article originally appeared in the January 2020 issue of theLausanne Global Analysisand is published here with permission. Learn more about this flagship publication from the Lausanne Movement atwww.lausanne.org/lga.

Endnotes

1. Margunn Serigstad Dahle, Worldview Formation and the Disney Universe: A Case Study on Media Engagement in Youth Ministry, Journal of Youth and Theology 1 (16), 2017: 62.

2. Mia Lvheim, Religious Socialization in a Media Age, Nordic Journal of Religion and Society 2 (25), 2012: 151.

3. Nick Pollard, Philosophical Investigation, Damaris Skole Vgs, 2018, https://damaris-skole-vgs.no/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Philosophical-investigation-Nick-Pollard.pdf.

4. Mark I. Pinsky, The Gospel According to Disney: Faith, Trust, and Pixie Dust (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004), 2. Gunnar Strm, Walt Disney, Store norske leksikon, 2017, http://snl.no/Walt_Disney.

5. Pinsky, The Gospel According to Disney, 3.

6. Janet Wasko, Understanding Disney: The Manufacture of Fantasy (Cambridge, UK: Malden, MA: Polity, 2013), 3.

7. Quoted in Annalee R. Ward, Mouse Morality: The Rhetoric of Disney Animated Film (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2002), 113.

8. Dahle, Worldview Formation and the Disney Universe, 6080.

9. D. Kinnaman, Whats next for Youth Ministry?, in The State of Youth Ministry (The Barna Group, 2016) 85-87.

10. Editors Note: See article by Ben Pierce, entitled, Connecting with the New Global Youth Culture, in March 2019 issue of Lausanne Global Analysis https://www.lausanne.org/content/lga/2019-03/connecting-with-the-new-global-youth-culture.

11. See John Stott, The Contemporary Christian: An Urgent Plea for Double Listening (Leicester: IVP, 1992).

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Tagore and Iqbal – Daily Times

Posted: December 26, 2019 at 8:02 pm

Before I touch this subject, I confess my lack of knowledge of Bengali language, which I believe, has been partly compensated by my study of Tagores best-known work Gitanjali translated into chaste English by Tagore himself. In the case of Iqbal, I have in my view most of his Urdu and Persian works, but more specifically Baal-e-Gibriel which I believe is truly representative of his genius.

It is said that comparisons are odious, especially between two equally gifted personages. Most people have drawn comparisons and contrasts between Tagore and Iqbal to show that one was superior to the other, which I think violates against the best literary traditions. Two equally gifted poets could be different in their outlook about man, nature and God, their subject matter, their form and mode of poetic expression, but not fundamentally as poets.Which one is better than the other is only a matter of ones personal choice which varies from person to person.

The palpable commonalities between the two were that both were great poets and contemporaries and both hailed from the Indian sub-continent. Both were conversant in more than two languages; Tagore, in Bengali and English, while Iqbal in Urdu and Persian.Both were imbued in their local as well as western culture, and had benefited from the philosophic and religious currents of their time.But they were vastly different in their approach to life and treatment of their subject matter.

Tagore wrote in the common language of the Bengali people and raised its status from a dialect to a rich and authentic language by abandoning the ancient form of the Indian (Hindi) language, despite criticism from his own Indian critics and scholars.

Tagores reputation as a writer was spread in the western world more swiftly than that of Iqbal with the publication in 1912 of Gitanjali: Song Offerings, in which Tagore tried to find inner calm and explored the themes of divine and human love. The poems were translated into English by Tagore himself. His cosmic visions owed much to the lyric tradition of Vaishnava Hinduism and its concepts about the relationship between man and God. Gitanjalis introduction was written by the famous English poet William Butler Yeats, who wrote These lyrics -which, in its original Bengali version, are full of subtlety of rhythm, of untranslatable delicacies of colour, of metrical invention, which display in their thought a world I have dreamed of all my life. His poems were praised by great literary icons like Ezra Pound, who drew the attention of the Nobel Prize committee, which awarded Tagore with Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. This was the primary reason why he won the Prize as against his great contemporary Iqbal, whose works were more dynamic, diversified and philosophical in nature, but none of them had been translated in English by that time, which was the only language which the Nobel Prize Committee could understand and appreciate.In one of his reviews, Ezra Pound wrote There is in him(Tagore) the stillness of nature. The poems do not seem to have been produced by storm or by ignition, but seem to show the normal habit of his mind. He is at one with nature, and finds no contradictions and this is in sharp contrast with the Western mode, where man must be shown attempting to master nature if we are to have great drama. Iqbal was such a poet whose works displayed the great drama by attempting to master nature, but unfortunately the western world remained oblivious to his work and art because of the barrier of language which they could not understand or appreciate.

A comparison of the tenor of their work shows that Tagore brought out the romantic in man; Iqbal the heroic. Tagore exulted in feminine beauty; Iqbal in masculine strength. There was music in Tagores poetry; there was fire in Iqbals poetry. Tagore was humble; Iqbal was proud. Tagore was inspired by Hafiz; Iqbal drew his strength from Rumi.

Did Rabindernath Tagore break away from the age-old beliefs and traditions ? No. His conception of life was perfectly in tune with the teachings of the Upanishad. His poetry and songs were saturated with pantheistic thoughts and ideas which he drew from the Upanishad, and the Persian mystic poets like Hafiz and others. He saw the vision of his Beloved in the moon, the stars and flowers and other beauties of Nature and perceived her footfalls in the stormy night behind the clouds; he heard her singing in the birds and whispering in the breeze. He feels constant pangs of separation from her and is ever anxious to meet her. Complete identification with her is the cry of his soul. His imagination ends there and cannot go beyond that. The following extracts from Rabindranath will bear me out:

Let there be no distinction between you and me

So that I may see myself at one with you, both in and out.

I have come to this world only as a pawn of your sports

My own desires will die unto your pleasure and love

And in weal and woe, none shall survive except you.

A comparison of the tenor of their work shows that Tagore brought out the romantic in man; Iqbal the heroic

Rabindranath Tagore is out and out a mystic poet of Pantheism, bordering, at places, on paganism. The burden of all his philosophic poems and songs is separation from, and hankering after complete communion with his consort. Like the Vedantists and the Sufis, he also tries to flee from life and merge himself into the Ultimate Being. Death is the target of his life! The glorification of death and self-effacement thus constitutes his principal message to mankind. In a typical fashion he plays on soft sentiments of love and separation and does not bother about the duties and responsibilities of man towards God and the World.

Against this Idealistic-Pantheistic-Vedantic-Sufistic background of under-estimation of life, Iqbal boldly proclaimed the individuality and immortality of the Soul and its never-ending progress and development in our after-life. He says that this visible world is not a baseless fabric of fantasy; it is also real and meaningful. Man is also real and his Ego or Soul will not be absorbed. Here man has been bracketed with God and given the exalted position of His Viceroy. This proves that there is no intermediary in between God and Man and that man has limitless power and potentiality in him. Indeed man is destined to rule the universe as the representative of God. Evidently, as long as God is, man is. God is no doubt our Creator, but once He has created us, He will not absorb or annihilate us. It is His pleasure that we live eternally with Him. This philosophy, of course, is not his own; it is broad-based on the teachings of the Holy Quran which vouchsafes eternal life not only to the dwellers of Paradise, but also to those of Hell. Iqbal has given a philosophic shape to this eternal veracity of Islam. Herein lies his contribution. I quote below a few lines from Iqbal to corroborate my views:

Life is preserved by purpose;

Because of its goal its caravan-bell tinkles. Life is latent in seeking.

Its origin is hidden in desire.

Desire keeps the Self in perpetual uproar ..

Negation of life is death to the living.

Abandon self and flee to God

Strengthened by God, return to thy self.

It is sweet to be Gods Vicegerent in the world

And exercise sway over the elements.

He gives new values to life and urges upon strengthening of the Soul. He believes that, in the scale of being, the status of every object is determined according to the degree of strength it attains. As God is the perennial source of all power and success, and as mans is not yet a complete personality, it is essential that he should come in close contact with God for borrowing strength from Him. The motivating idea behind this should be not to absorb himself into God, but rather to absorb God into himself. Man has to mouldhis character in accordance with the character and Attributes of Allah. Indeed, the nearer is a person to God, the greater is his personality. A man full of divine qualities is the perfect man. Iqbal calls him Insan-i-Kamil or the Perfect Man, as opposed to Neitzsches Superman. Iqbal pays tribute to the perfect man in these two immortal lines:

Develop thyself, so that before every decree

God Himself will ascertain from thee what is thy will?

In short, while the terminus station of Rabindranaths journey of life is God, that of Iqbal is Eternity. Iqbal is a perpetualtraveller; he does not stop at God, but goes further beyond. Rabindranaths span of life is, therefore, shorter than that of Iqbal, his outlook is also narrow and antiquated and mediaeval in character, having no dynamic appeal to this new age of space-flight and inter-planetary journey. Iqbal is the poet of today and also of to-morrow.

The writer is a former member of the Provincial Civil Service, and an author of Moments in Silence

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The Adventurous Lectionary The First Sunday of Christmas December 29, 2019 – Patheos

Posted: December 18, 2019 at 9:35 pm

The Adventurous Lectionary The First Sunday of Christmas December 29, 2019Isaiah 63:7-9; Psalm 148; Hebrews 2:10-18; Matthew 2:13-23.

Todays readings are both painful and hopeful. They describe the contrast between the fidelity of God and the evil intentions of those in political power. Yet, the evils human plan are penultimate and will not last; Gods vision is present in threat and tragedy, giving us hope for deliverance. Todays scriptures note that the Infinite is also intimate. Gods salvation is global as well as individual.

This vision is at the heart of the incarnation. The world is saved one person one creature at a time. Gods healing initiative is everywhere and joins the healing of nations and planets with the healing of persons. We need a healing environment; our own healing also transforms the environment to support our own and others wellbeing.

The prophet Isaiah proclaims Gods faithfulness. Like a good Parent, God is not distant or abstract, Gods love is immediate and transformative. God is right here: the divine pathos, as Abraham Joshua Heschel asserts, means that God is concerned about the small as well as large details of our lives. God is intimate, moving through the lives of persons and institutions. We are saved by Gods intimate presence. The adventurous pastor may invite the congregation to consider: Where is God present in saving ways? Where do we experience Gods presence in concrete and intimate ways? Isaiah invites us to reflect on our own mystical experiences despite the fact that we seldom experience Gods presence except through the events of our lives. Only occasionally does God present us with a flashing light announcing I am here. (For more on mysticism see Bruce Epperly, The Mystic in You: Discovering a God-filled World, Upper Room.)

Isaiah invites us to be especially attentive to divine movements in ordinary as well as unique events. Isaiah is no deist who places divinity outside of the world to give humankind elbow room for creativity. God already gives us freedom and encourages creativity by working within our lives relationally and non-coercively. God is with us in the maelstrom of daily schedules and political realities. God wants us to grow to be Gods companions in saving the world through our efforts. God is even present in the House of Representatives impeachment vote, occurring in real time as I write this lectionary commentary, and in our quest to balance patriotism, law, justice, and open-mindedness.

Psalm 148 joins cosmology and praise. Astounded by our wonderful world, the Psalmist imagines a world of praise. All things reflect divine wisdom and give praise to their creator. Human praise is part of a larger community of praise that includes the many varieties of plant and animal life. The Psalmist invites us to become mystics who encounter the holy with all our senses. Divine companionship moves through fellow humans, galaxies, and companion animals. Even difficult people and situations mediate the holy, albeit in curious ways. Once again, we need to look beyond appearances and slow down long enough to see the deeper divinely-inspired realities of life. The Psalmist is not advocating pantheism, nor is the Psalmist making an exact correlation between Gods movements and the movements of creatures. When we perceive a world of praise, we see unanticipated signs of Gods handiwork in all things. Knowing God is, then, a matter of intention and perception as well as divine initiative and artistry.

The Psalmist challenges preacher and congregation alike to pause and notice, to set aside our agendas to experience the Beauty of God reflected in our wonderful world.The reading from Hebrews joins majesty and universality with intimacy. The One who creates all things moves through each thing, mirroring and responding to our feelings of joy and pain. God is truly with us, and all creation. God experiences agony and ecstasy, sorrow and joy, and acts redemptively to bring beauty out of tragedy. Dietrich Bonhoeffer once asserted that only a suffering God can save us and the deity envisaged by the author of Hebrews shares our human condition of suffering, limitation, and temptation. Christ saves by empathetic relationship and experience of our human lives.

Then and now, dreams reveal divine wisdom. When we listen to Gods whispering in our lives, we are often led on unexpected pathways of personal growth. Synchronicities emerge, guiding us toward new possibilities of adventure; luring us toward safety in threatening situations. Such messages may come to us all the time, but we are seldom sensitive to their wisdom. Once again, we are encouraged to pause and notice and then respond to the wisdom we receive. (For more on dreams as media of revelation see Bruce Epperly, Angels, Mysteries, and Miracles: A Progressive Vision, Energion Publications.)

The second theme of the Gospel reading involves the realities of immigration. Indeed, the Gospel reading is as current as USA immigration policy and the millions of refugees in our world today. The holy family flees to Egypt, having been warned through a dream that Herod plans to kill the young Jesus. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph are political refugees, dependent on the kindness of strangers. Apart from the welcome of the residents, likely Jewish community, they would not have survived. In the flight of the holy family, we see both grace and initiative Gods grace mediated through dreams is fulfilled in the actions of Joseph and Mary and the hospitality of those who welcomed them in Egypt.

A third theme, and a difficult one to discuss, is Herods slaughter of the innocents. One needs to be careful to about sharing this reading with young children present, although often our young children know more than we think about the evil machinations of political leaders. Herod had a choice. Like all political powers, he can choose life or death. Then again, he was doing what he needed to preserve his throne. Perhaps, Herods court took this persecution as a matter of course, the cost of maintaining the government and their well-being. Their good fortune was based on violence to the marginal and threatening. While recognizing that some forms of potential violence are implicit in maintaining national security, this passage reminds us that the most vulnerable among us must be protected even when we try to protect ourselves and our nation. Sadly, today, we wage war with apparently clean hands and a clear conscience against the toddlers and the infants of the world in a variety of ways: cutting food stamps and Head Start programs, maintaining a minimum wage that is unsustainable for families, failing to provide adequate parenting education and job training for parents, separating children from parents on our borderlands, and refusing to give incarcerated youth flu shots.

Less obvious, and more socially acceptable, is the war against childhood when we promote adult behaviors among children through the media and advertising, and also the neglect of children by parents who place their jobs and personal satisfactions about the well-being of their children. God comes to us as a child. Pause and notice, you are on holy ground whenever you encounter one of Gods little ones.

Salvation is global as well as individual. This vision is at the heart of the incarnation. The world is saved one person one creature and child at a time. Gods healing initiative is everywhere and joins the healing of nations and planets with the healing of persons. We need a healing environment; our own healing also transforms the environment to support our own and others wellbeing.+++Bruce Epperly is a Cape Cod pastor, professor, and author of over fifty books including, Piglets Process Theology: Process Theology for All Gods Children, Become Fire: Spiritual Guideposts for Interspiritual Pilgrims, and Process Theology: Embracing Adventure with God.

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Ross Douthat: What will happen to conservative Catholicism? – The Register-Guard

Posted: November 12, 2019 at 6:43 am

Last month the Vatican and Pope Francis hosted the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region, a meeting to discuss the challenges facing Amazonia and the Catholic Church therein that managed to be extremely wild and extremely predictable at once.

The wild part featured not just the expected debates about married priests and female deacons, but an extended meltdown over whether a wooden statue of a naked, kneeling pregnant woman, used in a ritual on the Vatican grounds, embodied indigenous reverence for the Virgin Mary or indigenous pantheism and nature-worship. Vatican officials seemed determined not to clarify the matter, traditionalist outrage ran wild, and eventually a young traditionalist swiped one of the statues from a Roman church and pitched it into the River Tiber making himself either a successor of Saint Boniface or a racist iconoclast, depending on which faction of Catholic media you believed.

All exciting stuff but also a bit irrelevant to the actual outcome of the synod, which featured little of the conservative resistance that characterized earlier synodal battles over divorce and remarriage, and eventually produced a document backing the major project of the Francis era: the decentralization of doctrine and discipline, with priestly celibacy the latest rule thats likely to soon vary across different Roman Catholic regions, as the interpretation of church teaching on divorce and remarriage already does.

And even the act of traditionalist defiance was part of the predictability of the proceedings. As conservative resistance to Francis has grown more intense, it has also grown more marginal, defined by symbolic gestures rather than practical strategies, burning ever-hotter on the internet even as resistance within the hierarchy has faded with retirements, firings, deaths.

Four years ago I wrote an essay describing the Francis era as a crisis for conservative Catholicism or at least the conservative Catholicism that believed John Paul II had permanently settled debates over celibacy, divorce, intercommunion and female ordination. That crisis is worse now, manifest in furious arguments within the Catholic right as much as in online opposition to the pope himself. And I dont think were any closer to a definite answer to what happens to conservative Catholicism when it no longer seems to have the papacy on its side.

While the synod was going on, I conducted a long interview with one of the popes most prominent conservative critics, Cardinal Raymond Burke. I had never met him before, but he was as I anticipated: at once obdurate and guileless, without the usual church politicians affect, and with a straightforward bullet-biting to his criticism of the pope.

The Burke critique is simple enough. Church teaching on questions like marriages indissolubility is supposed to be unchanging, and thats what hes upholding: "I havent changed. Im still teaching the same things I always taught and theyre not my ideas." What is unchanging certainly cant be altered by an individual pontiff: "The pope is not a revolutionary, elected to change the churchs teaching." And thus if Francis seems to be tacitly encouraging changes, through some sort of decentralizing process, it means "theres a breakdown of the central teaching authority of the Roman pontiff," and that the pope has effectively "refused to exercise [his] office."

This is a position with some precedents in Catholic history. John Henry Newman, the Victorian convert, theologian and cardinal recently sainted by Francis, once suggested that there had been a "temporary suspense" of the churchs magisterium, its teaching authority, during eras in which the papacy failed to teach definitively or exercise discipline on controversial subjects. And the churchs saints from such periods include bishops who stood alone in defense of orthodoxy, sometimes against misguided papal pressure.

But you can also see in my conversation with the cardinal how hard it is to sustain a Catholicism that is orthodox against the pope. For instance, Burke himself brought up a hypothetical scenario where Francis endorses a document that includes what the cardinal considers heresy. "People say if you dont accept that, youll be in schism," Burke said, when "my point would be the document is schismatic. Im not."

But this implies that, in effect, the pope could lead a schism, even though schism by definition involves breaking with the pope. This is an idea that several conservative Catholic theologians have brought up recently; it does not become more persuasive with elaboration. And Burke himself acknowledges as much: It would be a "total contradiction" with no precedent or explanation in church law.

The pull of such ideas, though, explains why you need only take a step beyond Burkes position to end up as a kind of de facto sedevacantist, a believer that the pope is not really the pope or, alternatively, that the church is so corrupted and compromised by modernity that the pope might technically still be pope but his authority doesnt matter anymore. This is the flavor of a lot of very-online traditionalism, and its hard to see how it wouldnt (eventually) lead many of its adherents to a separation from the larger church, joining the traditionalist quasi-exile pioneered after Vatican II by the Society of Saint Pius X.

Are there alternatives to Burkes tenuous position or the schismatic plunge? At the moment there are two: One is a conservative Catholicism that strains more mightily than Burke to interpret all of Francis moves in continuity with his predecessors, while arguing that the popes liberalizing allies and appointees are somehow misinterpreting him. This was the default conservative position early in the Francis pontificate; it has since become more difficult to sustain. But it persists in the hope of a kind of snapping-back moment, when Francis or a successor decides that Catholic bishops in countries like Germany are pushing things too far, at which point there can be a kind of restoration of the John Paul II-era battle lines, with the papacy despite Francis experiments reinterpreted to have always been on the side of orthodoxy.

Another alternative is a conservatism that simply resolves the apparent conflict between tradition and papal power in favor of the latter, submitting its private judgment to papal authority in 19th-century style even if that submission requires accepting shifts on sex, marriage, celibacy and other issues that look awfully like the sort of liberal Protestantism that the 19th-century popes opposed. This would be a conservatism of structure more than doctrine, as suggested by the title of a website that champions its approach: "Where Peter Is." But it would still need, for its long-term coherence, an account of how doctrine can and cannot change beyond just papal fiat. So it, too, awaits clarifications that this papacy has conspicuously not supplied.

The importance of that waiting is the only definite conclusion that I can draw from the whole mess. Where conservative Catholics have the power to resist what seem like false ideas or disastrous innovations they must do so. But they also need to see their relative powerlessness through their own religions lens. That means treating it as a possible purgation, a lesson in the insufficiency of human strategies and wisdom, and a reason to embrace T.S. Eliots poetic admonition: There is yet faith, but the faith and the hope and the love are all in the waiting.

Ross Douthat (@NYTDouthat) writes for The New York Times.

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Liberation theology never went away. It morphed into liberation ecology. – Catholic Citizens of Illinois

Posted: at 6:43 am

From Marx to Gaia

By Dr. Samuel Gregg, Catholic World Report, October 23, 2019

Thirty years ago, the world rejoiced as the crack-up of Communisms grip on Eastern Europe, forever symbolized by the Berlin Wall, began. This, however, created enormous dilemmas for prominent representatives of a theology which had taken Marxism very seriously from the late-1960s onwards throughout Latin America.

Perhaps one reason why some Latin Americans have embraced various evangelical confessions is that many such movements put Christ first, and keep politics firmly in its place. Thats a lesson, however, that some Latin American liberation ecologists and their ecclesial fellow-travelers havent absorbed

What became known as liberation theology was never a monolithic movement. Nevertheless its most influential strands were influenced by Marxist thought, as many liberationists freely acknowledged. Cursory reading of Gustavo Gutirrezs 1971 classic A Theology of Liberation: History, Politics, Salvation soon confirms this. That stimulus was even more apparent in the works of prominent liberationists like Leonardo Boff and Jon Sobrino.

Socialisms collapse in Eastern Europe created significant challenges for those liberationists who relied on Marxist analysis. While many asserted that the Soviet Bloc was a deviation from Marxist ideals, such systems had given expression to key Marxist commitments. Examples included the minimization (if not the effective abolition) of private property, laws formal subordination to Marxist ideology, and hostility to religion.

1989 didnt, however, lead some liberation theologians to question substantially their fundamental assumptions. Many simply transferred their attention to the environment. Among the things we have learned from the Amazon Synod is how far such thinking has burrowed its way into Latin American Catholicism.

Environmental liberation

Of the liberation theologians who transitioned to whats called liberation ecology, Leonardo Boff has gone the furthest in trying to immerse Catholicism in environmentalist concerns and ideology. In Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor (1997), Boff stated that the Church cannot enclose religious persons in dogmas and cultural representations. It must serve as an organized place where people may be initiated, accompanied, and aided [in expressing] the spirit of the age.

That the spirit of the age doesnt always accord with the truth about God isnt a question addressed by Boff. In any case, the spirit of the age, at least for Boff, was environmentalism of the deep Green variety. Boffs 1997 book, for instance, argued that the Earth is not a planet on which life exists . . . the Earth does not contain life. It is life, a living superorganism: Gaia.

The Gaia hypothesis was first articulated by the chemist James Lovelock in the 1970s. It has since made its way into other disciplines, including theology. On several occasions, Boff has acknowledged that The vision of James Lovelock . . . helped us see not only that life exists on Earth, but also that Earth itself is a living organism.

Lovelocks argument was that all living entities (animals, plants, etc.) on Earth effectively cooperate with inorganic compounds (oxygen, metals, etc.). This makes the planet a self-regulating, perhaps even self-directed entity which preserves all the essentials for life, provided humans dont interfere too much with whats going on.

By the late-1990s, the hypothesis began collapsing under the impact of heavy scientific critique. Some scientists pointed out, for example, that Gaia theory couldnt account for the fact that some parts of the natural world had naturally detrimental effects on other parts of the environment. In short, there was considerable disharmony in nature that owed nothing to human action.

Other scientists criticized Gaia theorys non-scientific and teleological aspectsfeatures which Lovelock himself waxed and waned about. Its pseudo-religious connotations emerge when we discover that Gaia is the name of one of the most primordial of Greek goddesses. In Greek mythology, Gaia (who takes the even more revealing name Terra in the equivalent Roman mythos) personified the Earth itself. Ascribing divine status to Gods creation rather than God himself has a name: i.e., pantheism.

Central to Boffs embrace of Gaia theory is his insistence that humans accept that they are not only homo sapiens (man the wise) but also, Boff claims, homo demens (man the deranged): a species whose dementedness is expressed in failure to recognize the natural world as humanitys equal. At the core of Boffs liberation ecology is thus a type of biological egalitarianism. In the forthcoming ecological and social democracy, Boff states, religion will promote the idea that it is not just humans who are citizens but all beings . . . Democracy accordingly issues in a biogracy and cosmoscracy.

How plants, animals, glaciers, fire or metals would exercise their citizenship in Boffs biogracy is unclear. After all, they lack reason and free will. But Boff did outline a distinct political structure for his eco-social democracy. It should coalesce around global bodies, such as the United Nations and its eighteen specialized agencies and fourteen worldwide programs. A highly centralized, top-down approach towards environmental questions and politics more generally was the future. As in his pre-Gaia days, the principle of subsidiarity doesnt appear to have exerted substantive influence upon Boffs thought.

Heaven on Earth

There is another characteristic of liberation ecology which was prefigured in Marxist-influenced liberation theologies. This concerns tendencies to immanentize the eschaton, to use the expression employed by the political scientist Eric Voegelin.

One feature of many pre-1989 liberation theologies was their relative silence about the life which Christianity teaches lies beyond death. It wasnt that they denied it outright. Rather, their focus was almost exclusively upon earthly injustices and overcoming them. Many liberation theologians even portrayed traditional Christian teaching about suffering as potentially redemptive in the same way that Marx presented religion: i.e., a rationalization of unjust status quos which anesthetized people to the structural unfairness surrounding them. Some liberationists subsequently held that removal of all oppressive structures would inaugurate a more natural state of affairs: a world free of alienation and remarkably similar to the earthly utopia which Marx said lay at the end of history.

Similar patterns permeate some liberation ecologists thinking. In a 2016 interview, Boff contended that the intellectual and economic revolutions of the seventeenth and eighteen centuries gave rise to the idea of conquest of people and the Earth. The Earth was no longer viewed as the great Mother, alive and purposeful. Instead, it was reduced to something to be exploited by humans for wealth accumulation. From this standpoint, the pre-Enlightenment, pre-capitalist environment was a placid, almost pristine world which was naturally hospitable to humans.

Such claims are historically questionable. Humans were extensively usingand often abusingthe natural world long before the seventeenth century. That includes pre-Christian indigenous societies. In A God Within (1973), the Pulitzer-prize winning biologist Ren Dubos illustrated how Maya peoples inflicted immense ecological damage throughout southern Mexico and Central America long before the Spanish conquest. These nations had never heard of Isaac Newton, Adam Smith, or market economies.

More generally, liberation ecology has a distinctly romantic edge to it. Its adherents seem reluctant to concede that, with or without humans, the natural world isnt a symphonic paradise. Animals, for instance, are hardly kind to each other. Millions of species have disappeared without any human involvement. Moreover, nature has inflicted enormous harm upon people for millennia through unpredictable events like earthquakes. The claim that the environment is somehow naturally benign and nurturing, save when humans disrupt it, simply isnt true.

To this we should add that neither pre-Enlightenment Judaism nor Christianity invested plants or animals with a status equivalent to humans, let alone that of a divine-like Mother. Indeed, Judaism and Christianity played the pivotal role in de-divinizing the natural world. They thus helped sweep aside the pagan religions of Greece, Rome, Egypt, and Babylon which irrationally ascribed divine qualities to elements like water and activities such as war. Certainly, the Scriptures present the created world as good. But they dont portray the natural world as perfect or claim that nature is somehow intrinsically better than or equal to humans: for therein lie slippery slopes to syncretism and paganism.

No Salvation outside politics

There is, however, another important similarity between yesterdays liberation theologians and todays liberation ecologists. None have succeeded in stemming the drift of Latin Americans away from Catholicism.

Theres many reasons for this decline, but one is surely the way in which many liberation theologians and liberation ecologists locate salvations essence in politics. In remarks written in 1984, Joseph Ratzinger observed that most liberation theologians believed that nothing lay outside politics. Hence, he said, they regarded any theology which wasnt practical, i.e., not essentially political . . . as idealistic and thus lacking in reality, or else is condemned as a vehicle for the oppressors maintenance of power. Judging from their writings, many liberation ecologists embrace this position.

The problem is that politics cant answer those ultimate questions about life, death, good, evil, and humanitys ultimate origins and destiny which haunt everyones imagination. Perhaps one reason why some Latin Americans have embraced various evangelical confessions is that many such movements put Christ first, and keep politics firmly in its place. Thats a lesson, however, that some Latin American liberation ecologists and their ecclesial fellow-travelers havent absorbed. And like liberation theology, the consequent damage inflicted by radical liberation ecology upon Catholicisms abilityeven willingnessto evangelize Latin Americans is likely to be deep and lasting.

Article first appeared HERE.

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Iqbal: The Metaphysics and The Reconstruction- Part I – The News International

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Iqbal: The Metaphysics and The Reconstruction- Part I

The difficulty of research on Iqbals The Development of Metaphysics in Persia -- his doctoral dissertation -- is as great as the paucity of material on it. We are told by some Iqbal biographers that it was praised highly by orientalists such as T.W. Arnold and R. A. Nicholson etc. Such praise may have been incidental to what else was being said about Iqbal in the beginning of the 20th Century, for the work as a whole seems to have gone without much detailed commentary, even by the said orientalists themselves.

In the more than one hundred years since, the situation hasnt changed much. As far as I have been able to see, apart from some valuable and mostly recent contributions of a few pages in some edited volumes on Iqbal, there is very little dedicated entirely to the study of Iqbals dissertation. One reason for this would perhaps be what Iqbal Singh said of this work: It is somewhat unsatisfying. It leaves the reader with the impression of something that he can neither accept as serious work nor reject as something trivial and unworthy of attention. For a research thesis its scope is too wide; and for an original and interpretative study of the subject it seems too sketchy, too descriptive

Some of the points raised by Singh may be relevant to the fact that the Munich examiners were not greatly impressed by Iqbals mastery of Zoroastrian and medieval sources. But they passed it because they felt that it drew sufficiently upon manuscript research and because they trusted the judgment of experts such as Arnold (Rizvi 2015 with reference to Durrani 2003). Arnold, Iqbals teacher in Lahore and London, had put in a good word for Iqbal. The work was treated as a dissertation in oriental philology and not philosophy because the committee was not satisfied with its quality in the latter area (Rizvi 2015).

Singh, like others after him, also finds that the work dates badly. How the work dates is a tricky question. Those who point to this problem fall short of discussing the issue in detail. Singh himself says nothing further. But there is another, personal sense in which the work dates and which may explain the lack of attention that befell this work. Almost immediately after the dissertation appeared (perhaps even at the time Iqbal submitted it) he had started undergoing a change and very soon abandoned the pantheistic outlook that is understood to mark this work.

The Urdu translation of this 1908 work appeared in 1936. In 1927, Iqbal told the translator that he didnt think much of it because his ideas had undergone a revolution and in German separate books had been written on Ghazali, Tusi, etc., leaving very little in the book that could survive criticism. Iqbal did not specify what that German research was, and that poses a few problems, if we take his 1930-34 The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam to be the work where that new research would find mention.

Tusi can be safely put aside because he does not figure much in The Metaphysics and in The Reconstruction appears in a very different context. There does not appear to be a huge difference between the Ghazali of The Metaphysics and the Ghazali of The Reconstruction. In The Metaphysics Ghazali is one of the greatest personalities of Islam who anticipated Descartes and Hume, systematically refuted philosophy and completely annihilated the dread of intellectualism (read reason and philosophy) which had characterized the orthodoxy. He put dogma and metaphysics together into an education system that produced great men of intellect. He examined all the various claimants of "Certain Knowledge" and finally found it in Sufism. ((I do not know if the irony of the comparisons involving Ghazali, Iqbals celebrated destroyer of rationalism, on the one hand, and Descartes, the founder of modern rationalism and Hume the atheist on the other, was truly lost on Iqbal. But such time-less and ahistorical comparisons are Iqbals permanent hallmark visible in The Metaphysics and omnipresent in The Reconstruction).

In The Reconstruction, we are once again reminded of Ghazalis greatness as the precursor of Descartes who despite his skepticism being a rather unsafe basis for religion not wholly justified by the spirit of the Quran and despite going a little too far broke the back of that proud but shallow rationalism in the Muslim world -- much like Kant, the great gift of God to his people, who revealed the limitations of human reason and reduced the whole work of the rationalists to a heap of ruins. There is, Iqbal notes, one important difference. Kant, consistently with his principles, could not affirm the possibility of a knowledge of God. Ghazali, finding no hope in analytic thought, moved to mystic experience, and there found an independent content for religion.

In The Metaphysics, Ghazali harmonizes Sufi pantheism and the Asharite dogma of personality, a reconciliation which makes it difficult to say whether he was a Pantheist, or a Personal Pantheist of the type of Lotze. Ghazali moves towards a conception of the soul which sweeps away all difference between God and the individual soul. Realizing the Pantheistic drift of his inquiry, he preferred silence as to the ultimate nature of the soul. Iqbal does not critically engage with Ghazali here and that is typical of him in The Metaphysics for the most part. This account of Ghazalis mysticism is not rejected or modified in any way in The Reconstruction. The spiritual content of Ghazalis silence over the soul though is replaced by a philosophical account of the problem of thought and intuition, where Iqbal gives his own ideas on how the finite (thought in serial time) and the infinite (intuition) are organically linked. something that, according to Iqbal, both Ghazali and Kant failed to realize and which led to Ghazali drawing a line of cleavage between thought and intuition. Iqbal, it appears, is also trying to break through Ghazalis silence over the nature of God and soul, having restated it in a peculiar way. Iqbals own consistencies, contradictions, successes and failures in doing so, at this point, are not the issue.

We can see here that, to the extent Iqbal reproduces his account of Ghazali and his contribution in the history of thought, there is hardly any difference. The Metaphysics is meant to be a historical account whereas The Reconstruction is an interpretative endeavor -- an allegedly philosophical attempt at reconstructing Muslim thought. What is significant in our context is that Iqbal cites no new research while discussing Ghazali. What then do we make of his reference to the new research on Gazali and Tusi? Not much, I believe, by way of explanation.

(To be continued)

The writer is a student of literature and philosophy at the Forman Christian College.

Email: [emailprotected]

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How to properly use righteous anger about the Amazon Synod – Lifesite

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PETITION: Call on Vatican to keep out all "pagan" symbols from St. Peter's and Vatican Property!Sign the petition here.

November 5, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) A friend and former student of mine sent an email to me recently that will surely resonate with many who have been dismayed, scandalized, and horrified by the paganism, syncretism, and contempt for the Catholic religion on full display during last months Synod in Rome. With his permission, I share below the email and my reply.

Dear Dr. Kwasniewski:

Im relieved. For some reason, Im happy that the evil everyone has suspected all along and warned against is finally rearing its head though it is far nastier than I thought it would be. To me, the disaster of the Amazon Synod has completely and forcefully established the failure of Vatican II, exposed the modernist influence preceding Vatican II, put a floodlight on the abuses of the current and more recent popes, and stripped bare the lukewarm, pathetic, bright-lipstick-wearing-and-hand-sanitizing-before-distributing-communion-in-the-hand kind of Catholicism that has been around since before I was born. Any compromises I was willing to make either with other people or even in myself are totally banished. Here is the polarizing point Ive been longing for. Do you think its appropriate to feel relief along with great sadness?

A different kind of question: Why do you suppose a vague pantheism has gained so much appeal in our times, becoming the most common opponent of Christianity more popular than atheism, agnosticism, or even downright satanism?

The big question: What do we do? Pray, obviously, and shuck any vestiges of non-traditional Catholicism in our lives. But I kind of want to fight. For some reason, I see this Pachamama demon as an antithesis of the Virgin Mary. Mother Earth vs. Mother Mary, or a generic cult of fertility vs. the veneration of the Theotokos. That makes me so angry. It makes me so angry that our pope, our bishops, and our cardinals are disrespecting our Mother so blatantly and viciously. It makes me so angry that I want to take the wooden idols and smash them to pieces before hurling them into the Tiber, this time for good. How can I turn that anger to constructive purposes?

Here was my reply.

You have expressed to perfection the way we are all feeling. It is a worldwide phenomenon, and we can indeed be thankful for the clarity with which the evil of modernism (with all of the other -isms that precede or follow it) is being exposed on the stage of the Vatican. My own polarizing point already occurred long ago, when I studied how the Novus Ordo came into existence and how much the tradition of the Church was despised during and after Vatican II. Everything that is happening now is an extrapolation of this fundamental sin against tradition. Once you reject your identity, you can become anything or nothing.

The reason for pantheisms appeal is not hard to see: it mingles enough truth in with the falsehood to appeal to the human mind, which has an instinctive apprehension of divinity. Atheism, in that sense, is always artificial and forced; it runs against the grain of our conscience and our experience. But Christian theism is much more radical and demanding than pantheism, because one has to profess ones faith in a God utterly transcendent and at the same time fearfully intimate (since His immediate presence to all things is caused by His very transcendence). Pantheism lets a person be cool with religious stuff while keeping the true God at arms length. It adds a religious veneer to an essentially secular lifestyle.

Anger always has to be channeled into thoughtful and focused efforts; otherwise, it disperses itself wastefully and harmfully. I have spoken a little bit here about what laity can do, but it boils down to a few things.

1) Dont give a red cent to any bishop or priest who does not publicly and expressly preach the orthodox Catholic faith and condemn the errors going on in the Church and at the Vatican. Their most basic job, after offering sacrifice, is to preach the truth, in season, out of season, reproving, rebuking, exhorting (cf. 2 Tim. 4:2). If a bishop or priest is not doing this, its like a parent who neglects or abuses his children and who therefore deserves to lose their affection, their support, and their collaboration even if not their prayers for his conversion. If we have any extra money, we should give it to reliable traditional religious orders and apostolates, which are the hope of the future.

2) Pray and fast more seriously. We are doing battle with evil spirits: For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places (Eph. 6:12), and about such demons, Our Lord says: This kind can go out by nothing, but by prayer and fasting (Mk. 9:28). All of us myself included! tend to talk a lot and wring our hands, but when push comes to shove, how often do we sign up for holy hours, or skip meals, or abstain from meat or alcoholic beverages or TV or other creature comforts, or pray 15 decades of the rosary, or get up for an early morning Latin Mass? Like Jesus, of whom Scripture says, He began to do and to teach (cf. Acts 1:1), we have to begin with doing.

3) Keep studying the Faith, and know it very well. Only in this way can we marvel at it, give thanks for it, live it, discuss it with others and debate its opponents, and pass it on to the next generation. This is no small thing: there is so much ignorance, error, and wishful thinking out there that an accurate knowledge of the Faith, and especially of the liturgy, is rarely to be met with. Books like Fr. Jacksons Nothing Superfluous and Mosebachs Heresy of Formlessness and my Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness; books like the Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, the Catechism of Trent, and Ludwig Otts Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma and I would add Bishop Schneiders new book, Christus Vincit these ought to be in front of our eyes for some period of time each day. Extrapolating from this, one could think about starting a book group, or inviting people periodically to ones home or apartment for readings and discussions. It is the age of the laity: we are the ones doing the heavy lifting at this point in terms of evangelization, catechesis, theology, and liturgical renewal.

4) We should pray about joining ourselves more closely to a traditional community, be it as an oblate of a Benedictine monastery, the Confraternity of St. Peter (Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter), the Society of the Sacred Heart (Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest), or some other, in order to share in the spiritual riches of that community and have a more orderly rule of life to follow.

5) This may seem an odd bit of advice, but it is the advice of many saints: practice giving thanks. Thank God each day for making you a Christian and a Catholic. Thank Him for leading you away from ignorance, error, and sin. Thank Him for giving you a hunger for the truth, a desire for the good, eyes and ears for the beautiful. Thank Him for leading you to Catholic tradition, to a good education, and to good friends. Thank Him for exposing evils and stirring up resistance. Thank Him even for your feelings of anger, sadness, dismay, and perplexity, which keep us from being lukewarm and comfortable. The more we acknowledge and rejoice in His gifts to us, the more we are drawn through the hardships of this time to spiritual and eternal goods that will never fade.

I agree with Roberto de Mattei that we must have, or recover, a militant conception of Christian life: we are soldiers fighting for Christ the King, even if all we are doing at the moment is faithfully discharging a desk job. We will not be passive, indifferent, lazy, taking whatever nonsense the hierarchs of the Church decide to dump on us; we will resist, respectfully but firmly, and insist on the true Faith.

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How to properly use righteous anger about the Amazon Synod - Lifesite

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EXCLUSIVE: Catholic priest defends burning Pachamama effigy as within law of God – Lifesite

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MEXICO CITY, Mexico, November 7, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) A Catholic priest in the Archdiocese of Mexico City, whose video posted over the weekend went viral after he burned effigies of the pagan Pachamama statues in atonement for the sin of idolatry at the Amazon Synod, is defending his actions, saying that they fall within the law of God.

Fr. Hugo Valdemar Romero, the former spokesman of the Archdiocese of Mexico City, told LifeSiteNews in an exclusive interview (read full interview below) that he was motivated to lead his congregation in prayers of reparation, burning the effigies of the Pachamama, because of the scandal and the pain caused by the serious acts of idolatry, carried out in the Vatican with Amazonian idols during the Synod of the Amazon.

Many very wounded and angry faithful looked to me, asking us (clergy) to do something to show our repudiation of idolatry and to ask God for forgiveness for so many sacrileges and profanations, so I decided to do these acts of reparation, he said.

When asked if he had received retaliation from members of the hierarchy for burning the Pachamama effigies, Fr. Valdemar Romero replied that so far, he had not, but that he was willing to answer for my actions.

I have not yet received any censorship, and of course I am willing to answer for my actions. These actions, however, are not outside the law of God or canon law. I am not afraid because I feel protected by God and especially by Our Lady of GuadalupeI will always defend Her Honor.

The priest contrasted the idol Pachamama with the Virgin Mary under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who appeared to Juan Diego on Tepeyac Hill in Mexico in 1531.

I spoke to an exorcist from Mexico City who told me that the figure of the Pachamama was a parody of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Fr Valdemar Romero explained.

Our Lady, Santa Maria de Guadalupe appears in Her holy image as a pregnant woman. She came to give birth to Jesus, Light of the World and the only True God, the sole purpose of our life. She came as The Woman of the Apocalypse, clothed with the sun with the moon at Her feet, he said.

This Pachamama, in contrast, is about to give birth to a red creature, demon colored, and that creature is nothing less than a new church. This church was born by the synod that has just ended this so-called church with an Amazonian face that pretends to have orthodox rites, but is promoting (the notion of) female deacons and married priests, all contrary to Catholic doctrine and the tradition of the (Roman) Church.

Fr. Hugo Valdemar Romero provided LifeSite with the prayers (see below) that he used in leading the congregation to make reparation for the worshiping of Pachamama in Rome during the Amazon Synod.

***

LSN: What inspired you to lead your congregation in prayers of reparation, and then burn the effigies of the Pachamama?

Fr. Hugo Valdemar Romero: The scandal and the pain caused by the serious acts of idolatry, carried out in the Vatican with Amazonian idols during the Synod of the Amazon. Many very wounded and angry faithful looked to me, asking us (clergy) to do something to show our repudiation of idolatry and to ask God for forgiveness for so many sacrileges and profanations, so I decided to do these acts of reparation.

Have you spoken with exorcists in Latin America, and do you believe that demonic influence was involved in these rituals?

Yes, I spoke to an exorcist from Mexico City who told me that the figure of the Pachamama was a parody of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Our Lady, Santa Maria de Guadalupe appears in Her holy image as a pregnant woman. She came to give birth to Jesus, Light of the World and the only True God, the sole purpose of our life. She came as The Woman of the Apocalypse, clothed with the sun with the moon at Her feet. This Pachamama, in contrast, is about to give birth to a red creature, demon colored, and that creature is nothing less than a new church. This church was born by the synod that has just ended this so-called church with an Amazonian face that pretends to have orthodox rites, but is promoting (the notion of) female deacons and married priests, all contrary to Catholic doctrine and the tradition of the (Roman) Church.

In your video, we see you speaking about Our Lady of Guadalupe. In S. Maria in Traspontina, the Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was seen, pushed aside by one of the side altarswhere the Pachamamas were placed. Do you believe this is significant?

Of course, it is the great imposture of the satanic goddess Pachamama. It seeks to usurp the place of Our Lady of Guadalupe, to remove from the Catholic faith, She Who is the Mother of the True God to put in Our Ladys place Mother Earth, which in reality is idolatry, pantheism and superstition.

How was Our Ladys apparition at Guadalupe significant to counter paganism in Latin America?

It was fundamental, because as St. John Paul II said it was the perfect model of inculturation. That is to say, Our Lady took elements of the culture of the indigenous world, not in order to create syncretism with paganism, but to purify certain symbols and give them a Christian sense. Meanwhile, with the Pachamama, the intention is not authentic inculturation but a diabolical usurpation to restore idolatry.

There seems to have been a rise of the occult in Mexico, including Santeria. Do you believe the rituals in the Vatican were similar synchronism, and why?

Unfortunately, where Faith is weakened, paganism and superstition return. This is what we see, not only in Mexico but throughout the Western world, which has abandoned Christianity, supplementing it with superstitions, New Age and Satanism.

Critics have said you disrespected indigenous culture by burning the effigies of the Pachamama. Speak to how Latin American history, including in Mexico, supports your acts of reparation and prayer.

Those who demand respect must also respect. No one would have said anything if the Amazonian idols had been exhibited in the Vatican museums or in some exhibition hall, but what they did was a real abomination and sacrilege. We watched, stunned, as the idols were worshipped in front of the Pope himself, in the Vatican gardensand witnessed daily rituals of worship in the church of Santa Maria Traspontina. In addition to being a crime against Divine Law, it was an offense to Catholics who reject idolatry and who do not want to witness the desecration of our churches.

We have seen, in recent months, a Colombian Bishop exorcising his diocese (because of the high-level of drugs, violence and occultism), along with violent pro-abortion feminists trying to burn the Cathedral in Mexico City. News of escalating cartel violence is being reported, from Mexico. Do you think these are related? What is the remedy?

Behind all that destroys human life, such as abortion and the crimes of narcotics, is Satan. He is "the liar and murderer from the beginning," as Jesus calls himand we may say that these two attributes are the demon's preferred practices. We'll always find his influence when we see these.

Many, after seeing your video, are calling for their priests and bishops to stand up and do similar acts of reparation. Still more are concerned that you will receive retaliation by certain members of the hierarchy, and that their clergy are afraid of this. What do you say to all of this?

Unfortunately, the tolerance, dialogue and mercy so often exhorted by this pontificate seems only for those outside (the Church), while for those inside there is censorship, silence and reprisals. Yes, there is a lot of fear, and especially a fear that a schism will result. A de facto schism, unfortunately, is already here. In my case, however, I have not yet received any censorship, and of course I am willing to answer for my actions. These actions, however, are not outside the law of God or canon law. I am not afraid because I feel protected by God and especially by Our Lady of GuadalupeI will always defend Her Honor.

Any other messages?

Only that we must not lose Faith! Faith is what overcomes the world. Do not fail to love Christ with all of your soul. Do not fail to love His Holy Mother and the Church, which is going through a great tribulation but in which, in the end, Christ will triumphhave no doubt about it.

***

Prayers of Reparation

Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, receive from the hands of the Immaculata, Mother of God, Virgin Mary of Guadalupe, from our contrite heart, a sincere act of reparation for the acts of worship of idols and satanic fetishes that occurred in Rome, the Eternal City and the heart of the Catholic world, during the Synod for the Amazon.

Pour into the hearts of cardinals, bishops, priests, and religious men and women your Spirit, Who will expel the darkness of minds, so that they may recognize the impiety of such acts, which offended Your Divine Majesty and offer acts of reparation and relief.

In all the members of the Church, shed the light of the fullness and beauty of the Catholic Faith. Ignite in all the ardent zeal to bring the salvation of Jesus Christ, True God and true man to all men, especially people in the Amazon region, who are still enslaved to the service of idols and superstition, so that all people from that region reach the freedom of the children of God, and have the indescribable happiness of knowing Jesus Christ, and through Him in the life of Your Divine Nature.

Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you, the only True God, outside Whom there is no other god or salvation, have mercy on your Church. Look especially at the tears, the contrite and humble sighs of your faithful and bless and protect the true Christian heroes, who in their zeal for your glory and in their love for Mother Church prophetically threw the idols of the abomination into the water.

Have mercy on us: forgive us, Lord! Have mercy on us: Kyrie eleison!

Deprecatory Prayers

1. Forgive us, Lord, for the sacrilegious act of adoration of the Pachamama and the Amazonian idols in the Vatican gardens

Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy.

2. Forgive us, Lord, for the desecration of the basilica and the tomb of the blessed apostle St. Peter, where they prayed and sang to the Amazonian idols.

Lord, have mercy, Christ, have mercy.

3. Forgive us, Lord, for the procession of the cursed canoe with Amazonian fetishes carried by bishops, religious and lay people to the synodal hall.

Lord, have mercy, Christ, have mercy.

4. Forgive us, Lord, for the desecration of the church dedicated to your Blessed Mother, in her invocation Santa Mara in Traspontina, in Rome, where they housed the diabolical idols of the Pachamama and worshiped her, offending the memory of our Blessed Mother and the holiness of your House.

Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy.

5. Forgive us, Lord, for the desecration of your Holy Via Crucis, the Way of Reconciliation, in Rome, in which they offended your glorious Passion.

Lord, have mercy, Christ, have mercy.

6. Forgive us, Lord, for the prayers to the abominable idol of the Pachamama composed by the Pastoral Agency of the ItalianEpiscopal Conference and prayed in several churches in Italy.

Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy.

7. Forgive us, Lord, for the desecration of the Cathedral of Lima Peru, in which they praised the idol Pachamama, begotten by and deceived through Satan.

Lord, have mercy, Christ, have mercy.

8. Forgive us, Lord, for all the bishops, priests, religious men and women who have offended your holiness as One God, committing the crime of idolatry and defending, spreading and worshiping Satan in the deceit of Pachamama idol.

Lord, have mercy, Christ, have mercy.

9. Forgive us, Lord, for the Catholics who see and yet do not see, and hear and yet do not hear, and defend these demonic and abominable acts of adoration of the Amazonian idols, deceit of Satan. Do not allow their souls to be lost, give them Your Divine Light to become one with You, the only True God.

Lord, have mercy, Christ, have mercy.

10. Forgive us, Lord, for endorsement of integral ecology, contempt for human beings, lack of courage to defend the unborn, abortions and the endless crimes of your children.

Lord have mercy, Christ, have mercy.

Translated in part by Maria Cancel

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EXCLUSIVE: Catholic priest defends burning Pachamama effigy as within law of God - Lifesite

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Ah, to spend some time in the great outdoors – Idaho State Journal

Posted: October 27, 2019 at 3:13 pm

Ive always liked doing it. Among my first memories was being taken up to my grandfathers mining prospect on the face of the Bear River Mountains above Hyrum, Utah. There, during the summer, my father and uncles blasted and dug in the mountainside. Grandfather supervised. It was his prospect. He had named it the Moon Mine.

I was left in sight, after a fashion, on the mountain slope below the mining area. My rules were dont wander over the nearby crestline and watch out for rattlesnakes. Of course, they checked on me, but I had a lot of freedom those summer days to explore and play on the rough patch of the mountainside. It might have been five acres.

The summer days got hot, but I could move out of the sagebrush to under the quaking aspens. I remember the sounds buzzing of the flying grasshoppers, mosquitoes whining, the chatter of the magpies and the feel of a slight breeze. I remember the rush and flutter it made wafting through the aspen.

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Early on, I noticed the daily buildup of dark clouds. That was in the northwest. I learned at some time that direction was Idaho, where we lived most of the year.

Perhaps my strongest non-verbal memories were the smells, especially of the yellow wyethia, which my father called dockweed, and that of the sagebrush.

There was also earthy odor of new rain on the few days when the dark clouds made it all the way to southern Cache Valley.

I came to like the smell of freshly exploded rock and dynamite in the air.

At lunchtime in mining shack, wed eat sandwiches, raw carrots, potato chips and maybe a sweet treat.

I cant remember if it was one summer or two, but those days stand out with a clarity I dont recall with the many more numerous childhood days at home.

Many other strong memories, up to perhaps 7 or 8, were of the outdoors, for example, to my grandfathers other mine, the Amazon, up Logan Canyon and to my great-grandfathers sheep grazing land above Blacksmith Fork Canyon. I absolutely loved Yellowstone National Park. Before long though, interest in Ricks College football and Utah State Aggie sports grew. My father made his career coaching.

I spent a lot of time practicing the shot put and discus throws and playing football as a teenager. My father had been an outstanding athlete in the field events and also football. His knowledge helped me immensely, especial with the discus. Despite the time and interest in sports my most basic desire was to go back to the mountains and explore what was over that crestline and all the rest of them.

I managed to organize my life so I was able to do a lot more in the outdoors than most Americans. Outdoor adventures didnt end when I was in my 20s. They were just beginning.

Some were to see how far or fast I could go, or if I could climb it. Could I find my way? GPS would have horrified me. Then there was the fish and wildlife!

Increasingly, as the years passed I slowed down and increasingly began to contemplate nature, think and feel the deeper meaning of wilderness. Then there was our humanity. Were we out of place in the tree of life given our ravaging of the Earth?

I wasnt alone. If you get to know people who have sought nature, many will tell what we could call a spiritual or mystical experience.

Writing in a sensible way about this kind of experience is difficult because what happens might really be ineffable. Nonetheless, it might go something like this. Suddenly you realize you are part of the universe. That sounds trivial enough obvious, but the thought is filled with emotion. This is different. You are an essential part, at least for now.

In an instant you are gone and are seeing and feeling with the eye and touch of the universe itself. All things are connected to you and with each other. It is right and proper. You are the roots of the adjacent fir tree and the water and soil around them; in the meadow and part of the elk that graze there. Someday soon you will be physically scattered in all places, still part of the universe. Seeing with the universal eye will be permanent because you are part of ultimate nature god. God is everything.

This might be called pantheistic experience. It seems to convey a feeling, an orientation, to love and protect nature, which is not really different than loving yourself and everything people, plants and animals, even the archaea with their incredibly slow life inside the rocks thousands of feet beneath your feet.

If it is actually a theism, pantheism is certainly one without prophets, priests, popes, doctrine or ritual. I might call it a deep orientation, one that prefers the natural.

A premise of pantheism is everything is natural. Supernatural and the unnatural do not exist. God and the universe are entirely natural. God is in the universe, not apart. Even the artificial is natural, too, though it seems to me that a pantheistic orientation nonetheless has a strong aversion to what Ill call screaming artificiality like the hateful sound of two stroke engines. However, its the possibility of artificially intelligent robots that really gives me the creeps, and I dont like the word virtual reality.

As medical science, public health and technology was applied to our lives the average life span greatly increased. It is now stagnating in advanced countries like America. Perhaps deliberate contact with nature can help us.

This is not mere speculation. Experience tells us, and so do many studies, that exposure to natural settings, even briefly, lowers blood pressure and stress. People feel happier and more creative. Medical imaging shows our brains are strongly affected by our movement to a natural setting or even mere perception of sounds like birdsong, burbling water, gentle breezes. Likewise, it is true with photos of natural scenes or certain tastes or smells (think of the smell of springtime).

Real wilderness is not even required just some nature. In fact, the wild might be too rough for some people, but I tend to think the high point of human happiness and the time of our greatest unaided abilities might have been during our long time of a hunting/gathering existence. It was then our brains reached their largest size. Thats also when the entire world was wilderness. Perhaps the worst period came in the ancient empires after agriculture was invented and applied. Populations grew, but elites emerged to commandeer the sudden surplus of food, and, so, starvation and misery haunted all but the few.

I think my life compared to the many billions since the Pleistocene ended has been better than maybe 95 percent of them, and I have to wonder if it is anything but chance that I should live at the time when the failure of humans to organize themselves in a way that conserves the planet will mean the sorry end of our species and most others too.

Dr. Ralph Maughan of Pocatello is a professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He retired after teaching there for 36 years and specializing in elections and public opinion, congressional politics, and the politics of natural resources. He has written three backcountry outdoor guides, including Hiking Idaho with his wife Jackie Johnson Maughan. He has been president or chair of numerous conservation organizations.

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The Big Bang! – Chron.com

Posted: at 3:13 pm

In The Beginning. . . .most people, regardless of religion, are familiar with Adam, Eve, and the ancient creation story. If one takes the time to actually read the account (word-by-word) there is considerable confusion in trying to put the pieces together. One such example is the famous seduction of Eve by the beguiling serpent.

God tells Adam and Eve, You may eat from any tree in the garden but do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you do, you shall die. (Gen. 2:17) What follows is the serpents successful effort to convince Eve to eat from the tree of knowledge. The serpent says to her, You will certainly not die for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. (Gen. 3: 4-5) Eve eats from the tree of Knowledge, even shares an apple with Adam, yet neither die. The serpent was right! In the end, Adam and Eve are expelled from the Garden of Eden. One may simply understand this account to mean Do Not Disobey God! However, Reza Aslan, author and scholar of religions, comments . . .it seems to me that Adam and Eve were punished not for disobeying God, but for trying to become God!

Noted astrophysicist and author, Carl Sagan wrote, At the beginning of the universe there were no galaxies, stars, or planets, no life or civilizations, merely a uniform radiant fireball filling all space. In a more religious context, the radiant fireball is God! Every part of the universe (galaxies, stars, or planets) is intimately connected to the fireball; to God.

Pantheism is a belief that God and the universe are one and the same. When Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge, they became-like the stars, planets, trees, and mountains-a part of Theeternal life force. They became a part of God. As such, God was unable to destroy them, so instead banished them from the perfection of Eden.

Aslan writes, Think of God as a light that passes through a prism, refracting into countless colors. The individual colors seem different from one another but, in reality, they are the same. They have the same essence. They have the same source. In this way, what seems on the surface to be separate and distinct is in fact a single reality, and that reality is what we call God.

One may view the banishment of Adam and Eve as punishment or a natural progression necessary to one day expand the borders of Eden to include an entire world.

Rabbi Howard Siegel

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