How Much Freedom of Religion Do You Have?

Monday, February 01, 2010 1:26 PM Comments (6)

This is a chart showing the fifty largest countries by population and the religious freedom they offer.

The chart was prepared by the Pew Forum, and it measures religious freedom along two axes. The first—the horizontal axis—is the amount of freedom allowed by law, with the most freedom on the left and the least freedom on the right.

The second—the vertical axis—is the amount of freedom allowed culturally (i.e., how much social hostility you are likely to meet apart from the law), with the most freedom at the bottom and the least freedom at the top.

The size of the circles represents the number of people living in the country.

When I first saw this, several questions occurred to...READ MORE

Filed under freedom of religion

STUNNER! Pope Practiced Self-Mortification.

Friday, January 29, 2010 1:19 AM Comments (13)

So various circles have been atwitter about news reports that Pope John Paul II practiced certain forms of self-mortification or, in the immortal words of the Associated Press, “John Paul II used belt to whip himself.”

It is not surprising that our pleasure-obsessed culture would find this unusual, nor is it surprising that latent anti-Catholic tendencies in the culture would cause people to read it in a negative light—as something shocking or repulsive.

So what can we say to those who have this kind of reaction?

Let’s start with what we can say to fellow Christians (Catholic or not) who find themselves thinking this way: While not every person is called to the kind of...READ MORE

Filed under john paul ii, mortification, spirituality

Pro-Life Super Bowl Advertising

Wednesday, January 27, 2010 2:00 PM Comments (22)

People who know me know that I know next to nothing about sports. I just never got the sports bug. (Except for rodeo.)

But even a person as sports-benighted as myself is aware that Super Bowl ads are the pinnacle of television advertising, that they can cost millions of dollars, and that they can create notable ripples in the culture.

Let’s hope this one does:

Focus on the Family will broadcast the first Super Bowl ad in its history February 7 during CBS Sports’ coverage of the game at Dolphin Stadium in South Florida.

The 30-second spot from the international family-help organization will feature college football star Tim Tebow and his mother, Pam. They will share a personal story...READ MORE

Filed under abortion, advertising, pro-life, sports, television

"My Sisters and Brothers . . . "

Monday, January 25, 2010 1:00 PM Comments (22)

My parish has been having visiting priests recently, and two of them have had the unfortunate habit of addressing the congregation by saying, “My sisters and brothers . . . “

To my mind, this is just sad.

It comes off something like a parent being overly chummy with the young ‘uns by trying (and failing) to use the latest teen-lingo and sounding out of touch instead.

Let’s talk about the alternatives.

1) “Brethren” – This has been the standard way of addressing mix-gender religious congregations in English for the last several million years.

It sounds formal, but natural—which is what you want. Something elevated in tone in keeping with the religious nature of the...READ MORE

Filed under gender, language, liturgy, political correctness

Agca: Lord, Liar, or . . . Lunatic?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010 6:01 PM Comments (5)

Would-be papal assassin Mehmet Ali Agca has been released from prison in Turkey. (Note to World: Bad idea.)

He’s got big plans. He wants several million dollars to tell his story. He wants to visit John Paul II’s tomb. He’d like to write a book with Dan Brown. He may help hunt down Osama bin Laden. Oh, and he says he’s Christ.

According to news reports:

As Agca made his way through a media throng to check into a five star hotel after his release, the 52-year-old declared: “I proclaim the end of the world.”

“All the world will be destroyed in this century. Every human being will die in this century.

“I am not God and I am not the son of God. I am the Christ Eternal.” [SOURCE.]

And he...READ MORE

Filed under fatima, john paul ii, mehmet ali agca

"Hey, Your Worship. I'm Only Trying To Help" (Part II)

Monday, January 18, 2010 8:00 AM Comments (0)

In a previous post, I discussed how the word “worship” can cause confusion regarding whether Catholics worship saints, angels, etc.
The term “worship” originally just meant worthiness or honor, and in the old sense anytime you honored or signaled the worthiness of someone (or something), it was an act of worship.
But in contemporary English, the term “worship” has come to mean the honor due to God alone, and if you try using it any other way (without a lot of set-up), you’re going to get confusion.
So people should not get hung up about old uses of the word that they find in old books or—now—on web pages quoting old books. The term has changed its everyday meaning, and we...READ MORE

Filed under adoration, dulia, latria, mary, saints, veneration, worship

"Hey, Your Worship. I'm Only Trying To Help."

Friday, January 15, 2010 8:00 AM Comments (5)

A correspondent writes:

“I always thought it was clear Catholic Church teaching that worship is reserved for God. But now I’m having the terms latria, dulia, etc., thrown in my face and being told: ‘Hah! You Catholics worship Mary and not only that, you worship saints, too, you awful, terrible people, and you are all going to hell . . . yadda, yadda, yadda.’

I found that the original Catholic Encyclopedia states that we do worship Mary and the saints and also goes on to imply that we worship icons, statues, etc.

Could you please help me and others who are in desperate need of a method to explain Church teaching about these things?”

The basic problem is that the term “worship” has...READ MORE

Filed under dulia, latria, star wars, worship

Non-News Is Good News?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010 9:00 AM Comments (1)

Previously in Hello World, I discussed Pope Benedict’s homily in which he pointed out that the last 200 years has seen a great deal of theological and biblical scholarship that, while it has uncovered interesting things, fundamentally misses the point.

Much of this scholarship has been devoted to a skeptical reading of the Scriptures with an intent to discredit them—for example, by arguing that they were written long after the events they record and therefore are unreliable.

Both the books of the Old Testament and the New Testament were assigned late dates to facilitate this claim, but discoveries in the last century have pushed the dates earlier than the skeptics proposed, back...READ MORE

Filed under archaeology, bible, israel, news, old testament

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About Jimmy Akin

Jimmy Akin
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Jimmy was born in Texas, grew up nominally Protestant, but at age 20 experienced a profound conversion to Christ. Planning on becoming a Protestant pastor or seminary professor, he started an intensive study of the Bible. But the more he immersed himself in Scripture the more he found to support the Catholic faith. Eventually, he entered the Catholic Church. His conversion story, "A Triumph and a Tragedy," is published in Surprised by Truth. Besides being an author, Jimmy is a Senior Apologist at Catholic Answers, a contributing editor to This Rock magazine, and a weekly guest on "Catholic Answers Live."