Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on June 21, 2016 and has been slightly revised.
Growing Up Catholic: The Pursuit of Truth – From Tradition to Satisfaction By Tim Lott Abundant Publishing, 2007, 192 pages
This book is an interesting testimony from ex-Catholic, Tim Lott. Lott grew up in the Catholic religion, receiving the sacraments, and attempting to merit his way into Heaven by trying to obey the Ten Commandments, as his church taught. He married an evangelical Christian and began attending his wife’s church, although still identifying as a Roman Catholic. But when Lott began reading the Bible for the first time in his life, he discovered there were many differences between God’s Word and Catholicism. Over time, he was convicted of his sin by the Holy Spirit through Scripture and received Jesus Christ as his Savior by faith alone. Lott briefly examines some of the un-biblical beliefs of Catholicism including purgatory, confession of sins to a priest, praying to saints, worshiping (aka venerating) Mary, eucharistic transubstantiation, and the sacrifice of the mass.
I enjoyed the author’s testimony. Lott is not a trained scholar so there are other books that do a much better job of critiquing Catholic theology, but I praise the Lord that he came out of religious error and accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior by faith alone. Especially interesting was his struggle regarding baptism. Most Catholics are baptized as infants. Catholicism teaches the sacramental waters actually wash away original sin and incorporate the infant candidate into the church. Lott’s evangelical church taught that baptism is not a sacrament that imparts any grace, but that it’s a public profession of faith in Christ by an adult or a child old enough to fully understand the Gospel. Lott had been baptized as an infant, like most Catholics, and wrestled quite a bit with being baptized again after accepting Christ. I personally had a hard time relating to his struggle and all of the drama. After I accepted Christ, I knew my infant Catholic baptism counted for nothing, so I got genuinely baptized as a professing believer. No drama. But each believer’s journey is different.
Used copies of “Growing Up Catholic” can be ordered from Amazon here. For those who desire to read a thorough critique of Roman Catholicism in comparison to God’s Word, order “The Gospel According to Rome” by James G. McCarthy from Amazon.com. See here. For a list of over 360 books (with hyper-links to over 120 of my reviews) which compare Catholicism to God’s Word, see my Books tab here.
As promised, today we begin our weekly series counting down the Byrds’ Top 25 Songs (in my humble opinion).
“Gunga Din” (3:03) Written by Gene Parsons Produced by Terry Melcher From “Ballad of Easy Rider,” Columbia, November 10, 1969
After the poor showing of their previous album, “Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde” (March 1969), the Byrds got a boost by having three songs included on the soundtrack of the popular counter-culture film, “Easy Rider.” Roger McGuinn, guitar, and his three hired hands – Clarence White, guitar, John York, bass, and Gene Parsons, drums – shamelessly exploited their connection to the movie by naming their next album, “Ballad of Easy Rider.” The band’s original producer, Terry Melcher, was enlisted in hopes of repeating some of that “Mr. Tambourine Man”/”Turn! Turn! Turn!” success. Columbia’s advertising execs hailed the album as the band’s rebirth, but it was largely a collection of cover tunes and unremarkable musicstry.
Most fans would follow the undiscerning crowd and select “Ballad of Easy Rider” or “Jesus is Just Alright,” the two singles, as the album’s best songs, but I’m partial to the deep cut, “Gunga Din,” written by Parsons and arguably the finest composition of his career. The song has a nice melody paced by multi-instrumentalist Parsons’ rollicking acoustic guitar fingerpicking, York’s lilting bass-line, and a catchy chorus. Parsons isn’t the greatest vocalist in the world (notice the enhanced double-track), but his plaintive singing style fits this tune perfectly. The lyrics have Parsons recalling the band’s disappointing tour stop in rainy New York City while traveling back to sunny L.A. aboard a DC-8. Parsons refers to two incidents: 1) a concert in Central Park in which another act, Chuck Berry, “Mr. Rock ‘n’ Roll,” failed to show, which infuriated the crowd, and 2) bassist, John York’s foiled attempt to have breakfast with his mother at the Gramercy Park Hotel where the Byrds regularly stayed when in town. The dining room maître d’ refused York a table because of his scandalous black leather jacket attire. After the disappointing tour stop, the listener can’t wait to get back, with Parsons, to sunny L.A.
Amateur Byrds fans continue to perpetuate the mistaken notion over the internet that “Gunga Din” was Parsons’ nickname for York, however, Parsons has stated that he “threw in the nonsensical ‘Gunga Din’ part to make up the rhyme.”* Legendary keyboardist, Glen D. Hardin, plays organ on the cut although his contribution is somewhat buried in the mix.
*Byrds: Requiem for the Timeless, Volume 1, p. 528.
Last month, at the conclusion of Legion #3, we witnessed what I thought were the Ranzzes landing on the planet Avalon and spotting Darkseid. Silly me. It was only a statue of Darkseid.
Legion of Super-Heroes #4: That Which Is Purest Among You Writer: Paul Levitz, Pencillers: Yildiray Cinar and Francis Portela DC Comics, October 2010
Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, and Lightning Lass arrive on the planet, Avalon, in desperate search of the Ranzz’s twin sons. They encounter a religious cult dedicated to Darkseid. But what do the fanatics want with the twins?
Meanwhile in Metropolis, Earthman attends a clandestine meeting of Earth-firsters, but rejects their invitation to lead them. At Legion headquarters, current-leader, Cosmic Boy, announces the upcoming election of a new leader to assembled members, including Brainiac 5, Colossal Boy, Quislet, Sensor Girl, Shadow Lass, Sun Boy, and Timber Wolf.*
On Naltor, Dream Girl, accompanied by Dawnstar and Gates, convinces Beren Kah to allow thousands of Titan refugees to settle on the planet.
Back on Avalon, the three Legionnaires are in a life and death struggle with the Servant of Darkness and his right-hand-creature, Zeemith.
On Oa, Dyogene admits to failure because Earth Man rejected the Green Lantern ring, but Sodam Yat prods him to find a new candidate.
Returning back to Avalon, Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, and Lightning Lass defeat the Servant of Darkness and recover the twins.
At Legion headquarters, the team conjectures about the unpredictable Earth Man and his possible connection to the “xenos.”
With all of the jumping back and forth between planets, as well as the kidnapping of the Ranzz twins storyline ending with a resounding thud, this issue rates only three stars. I had fully expected an epic battle with Darkseid. Some dangling plotlines include the destiny of Earth Man in relation to the Earth-firsters, the Durlan conspiracy (referred to in #3), the election of the Legion’s next leader, and Dyogene’s search for the next Green Lantern candidate.
*At the meeting, Cosmic Boy mentions the Legion roster is comprised of 26 members. From the first four issues, I’ve culled the list of 23 heroes below. Who are the 3 Legionnaires who have yet to make an appearance?
Postscript: Hmm. There’s semi-credible rumors floating around out there that DC may be bringing back the LSH. See here.
The Notre Dame (“Our Lady”) cathedral in Paris, France caught fire back on April 15, 2019 and suffered major damage. Efforts are already underway to rebuild the structure and it’s scheduled to partially reopen in 2024, the same year that Paris hosts the Olympics. The full restoration will take more than a decade and cost over $1 billion dollars. In its entire 850-year history, the genuine Gospel was never once preached within the walls of Notre Dame.
The wafer wars continue as conservative Catholic clerics attempt to block pro-abortion Catholic politicians like Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi from receiving the Jesus wafer while pope Francis and his progressive allies strongly oppose the wafer police.
While many Catholic churches throughout the Rust Belt are permanently closing their doors due to lack of attendance, this new church being built in Visalia, California will be the largest Catholic church in the country with a seating capacity of 3200. Why so big? The region has a growing Catholic Latino population, but few priests. None of the attendees of the new church, scheduled to open in 2022, will hear the genuine Good News! of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.
Catholics believe their priests turn bread wafers into the actual body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. They genuflect and bow down in reverent worship to the Jesus wafer. Catholics are distraught beyond measure in a case such as this where Jesus wafers were stolen out of an altar tabernacle. For Catholics, it is an unthinkable act of desecration. As God’s Word states, Jesus Christ is currently seated at the right hand of God the Father (Hebrews 10:11-13). There’s no one who can steal Jesus!
Pope Francis had major surgery back in July to remove a 13-inch segment of his large intestine. While visiting Slovakia this month, the 84-year-old Francis quipped to fellow Jesuits that some conservative Catholic prelates and priests were hoping the progressive pope didn’t make it out of surgery. In his talk, Francis also took swipes at the EWTN Catholic media conglomerate that frequently criticizes the pope. We live in unusual times when many conservative Catholic clerics consider the pope to be a near or outright heretic.
Evangelical pastor, theologian, and expert on Roman Catholicism, Leonardo De Chirico, examines the writings of a conservative Catholic who hopes the next pope is NOTHING like Francis. Whether he’s progressive or liberal, the next pope won’t be preaching the genuine Gospel.
I’m all for everyone getting vaccinated, but I thought it was sadly comical when I heard N.Y. Governor, Kathy Hochul, cite the pope in her argument against religious exemptions. “I’m not aware of a sanctioned religious exemption from any organized religion, in fact, they are encouraging the opposite,” Hochul said. “Everybody from the pope on down is encouraging people to get vaccinated.” From the pope on down? Sheesh!
Today, we continue our series examining and responding to Catholic apologist and philosopher, Peter Kreeft’s book, “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic” (2018). Thanks for joining me.
Claim #9: I am a Catholic because the Catholic church is not Christ’s organization but his organism, his body
In this short chapter, Kreeft argues that the Roman Catholic church is the Body of Jesus Christ. He claims that Jesus Christ gave His body, not just on the cross, but also “in the Eucharist and in the Church” (p. 33). For Kreeft and Catholics, salvation is not obtained solely by faith, in just a spiritual sense, but by physically consuming the consecrated Jesus wafer as a member of the institutional Roman Catholic church (and following the prescribed tenets). He cites Hinduism and Buddhism as inferior religions that rely only on mysticism and Kreeft also criticizes Protestantism for its allegedly deficient doctrine of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. He states that God would not have left us with a purely mystical religion, but meets us two-dimensional creatures with a two-dimensional, sensory/tangible religion comprised of the eucharist and the institutional RC church.
The New Testament refers to the “church” (Greek: ekklesia, “called out assembly”) as a group of people in a particular city or region who have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone and gather together as a local fellowship. “Church” is also used in the New Testament in the universal sense of all those the world over who have accepted Christ as Savior by faith alone.
Nowhere in the New Testament do we find “church” referring to the RC institutional monstrosity that rivals many secular governments with layer upon layer of hierarchy and bureaucracy. The early Christian church gradually devolved into religious institutionalism. Genuine spirituality described in the New Testament was replaced by ritualism and formalism controlled by the increasingly powerful clergy. Membership in the institutional RC church ipso facto became THE THING, rather than trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone, followed by discipleship in a Gospel-preaching local church. The Holy Spirit had/has no part in the Catholic institutional system.
“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” – John 3:8
“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” – John 6:63
We’ve already examined how the RCC grievously misinterprets the Bread of Life discourse in John 6 and the Last Supper accounts in the four gospels to support the eating of the Jesus wafer as the “source and summit of Christian spirituality” (CCC 1324). See here.
In his book, ‘Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment” (2014), Dr. Gregg Allison does an excellent job of examining Catholicism’s Christ-Church interconnection, whereby the RCC presents itself as the prolongation of the incarnation of Christ. See here.
Without God’s Word and the elucidation of the Holy Spirit, Roman Catholics cannot comprehend a non-institutional church like evangelical Protestantism.
Postscript: While the Roman Catholic church teaches that it alone is the authorized, two-dimensional, institutional Body of Christ, it incongruously grants that all religionists and even atheists may also merit Heaven if they sincerely follow their conscience.
Next week: Claim #10: I am a Catholic because only the Catholic church can save human civilization from spiritual and material destruction
Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on June 22nd, 2016 and has been revised.
My Life in the Convent By Margaret Lisle Shepherd Book and Bible House, 1946, 258 pages
Protestant books examining alleged abuse in Roman Catholic convents proliferated in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Many of these books were written by ex-nuns. Catholic spokespersons naturally categorized these books as “Puritan pornography” meant to appeal to prurient interests and accused the authors of fraud.
An example of the genre is “My Life in the Convent” written by Margaret Lisle Shepherd (aka Sister Magdalene Adelaide), first published in 1892. As an English girl living in India, Shepherd learns from her dying mother that her deceased father was a Catholic priest. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, so years later, after she has returned to England, Shepherd herself succumbs to the advances of a determined priest. Father Egan abandons his vocation and the two enter into a common-law marriage, which produces a baby girl. Egan eventually regrets his decision and abandons his family to resume his religious calling. With no means of support, Shepherd turns to thievery. She is apprehended, but it’s too late for the baby who dies from the effects of malnutrition. After a few detours, Shepherd ends up at the penitential Convent of St. Arno’s Court in Bristol, England. It’s already a difficult existence for the contrite nuns, but Shepherd describes how priests “ministering” at the convent occasionally take advantage of their charges. After two years at the convent, Shepherd discovers a Protestant Bible and is shocked to discover the many differences between Scripture and Catholicism and decides to leave. She is given sanctuary by Salvation Army ministers and accepts Jesus Christ as her Savior. She journeys to Canada and the United States, giving her testimony on the Protestant lecture circuit and assisting Christian charitable organizations.
The book’s epilogue circumspectly alludes to the Loyal Women of American Liberty, which Shepherd founded in Boston in 1888. The LWAL was a semi-secret patriotic society which promoted nativism and Protestantism. An internet search of Shepherd and the LWAL revealed Chicago newspaper articles of the period alleging Shepherd’s “deceit and immorality” regarding her account of her previous years, leading to her resignation from the organization in 1891. She wrote this book as an answer to her growing number of Catholic and Catholic-friendly critics. Shepherd continued on the lecture circuit, but faced mounting opposition from Catholic groups. She was arrested in Columbus, Ohio in 1902 on charges of selling “lewd and obscene” books, disorderly conduct, and inciting to riot. All charges were dropped when she agreed to leave the city. Shepherd subsequently traveled to Australia where she continued her lectures on Romanism, but soon found herself sick with cancer. Returning to the U.S., she died alone and penniless in a Detroit hospital in 1903 at the age of 43.
Reprints of “My Life in the Convent” were made available for many years. My 1946 edition was published by Book and Bible House owned by L. J. King, a passionate Protestant nativist. This book may have been slightly scandalous, “adults only,” reading in 1892, but it’s certainly tamer than what we read in newspapers today about pedophile priests.
With the number of Catholic nuns rapidly declining since the 1960s, convents are becoming increasingly few and far between. But were some nuns scandalously abused and mistreated over the centuries as this book and many others claimed? There’s no doubt. The church’s mandatory celibacy discipline for its priests and nuns couldn’t erase their sexuality. Refer to the excellent “The Nuns of Sant’Ambrogio: The True Story of a Convent in Scandal” by prize-winning, German historian, Hubert Wolf. Wolf used documentation from the vaults of the Vatican’s very own Office of the Holy Inquisition (the name was changed to the much more PR-friendly “Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office”) for his research. See here for my review. For other verifiable examples of clerical turpitude one need only recall the headlines over the last thirty years dealing with predatory pedophile priests and the subsequent cover-up by the church hierarchy.
At my Catholic grammar school, I was taught by members of the Sisters of Mercy who lived in a convent adjacent to the school. I was very curious about those women who wore stiff, uncomfortable medieval habits and lived together in a strict community with hardly any connection to family. They wore wedding rings as a sign that they were virginal brides of Christ. People point to peculiarities of extreme religious sects, but is there anything more cultish than a convent full of nuns? These women were attempting to merit their salvation through great personal sacrifice and pious religious devotion. But in nine years of schooling, the sisters never once mentioned to us the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone as taught in God’s Word. Instead, they taught us the Catholic formula of salvation through the sacraments administered by the priests followed by obedience to the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules. It was all about ritual, formalism, and religious legalism.
The nuns were not happy women. We students saw a side of them that our parents and adult parishioners were not privy to. There is no peace in religious striving. No one can possibly obey the Ten Commandments. The Law only condemns us as the sinners we are. Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone. He paid the penalty for your sins and He’s waiting for you to receive Him as Savior.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” – Revelation 3:20
Note from 2021: Emboldened by the #MeToo Movement, many nuns have come forward to report being abused by priests. Watch a 10-minute PBS video on the topic here.
Rock music connoisseur, Hans, over at slicethelife is currently presenting a Beatles’ Top 100 Songs countdown. That prompted me to think about doing a Byrds’ Top 25 Songs countdown. The Byrds were obviously not nearly as successful and popular as the quartet from Liverpool, but they did carve out a significant niche for themselves as perhaps the most influential American rock band of the 1960s. Most folks over a certain age remember the Byrds only for their two iconic singles from 1965, “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Turn! Turn! Turn,” but their output actually spanned from 1965 to 1973 and they influenced an entire generation of songwriters and musicians (including the Beatles and Dylan). Over the course of those eight years, the Byrds recorded twelve studio albums, which included 130 songs as well as a small number of singles-only 45s. Along the way, they pioneered such genres as folk-rock, jazz-rock, raga-rock, psychedelic rock, and country-rock.
I initially thought it would be difficult choosing my favorite 25 Byrds songs and ranking them, but the process actually went very quickly. My choices admittedly don’t reflect the beaten path consensus – only 9 of my selections were included as part of the 22 songs collected in the The Byrds’ Greatest Hits Vol. 1 & 2 albums. The designation of songs selected for those albums as “Hits,” especially those songs in Vol. 2, was a misnomer. The last time a Byrds tune made it to the AM Top 40 was in March 1967. The band’s roster changed significantly over the years and by 1969 Roger McGuinn was the only founding member still involved. The quality of the music declined significantly at that point, which will be noticeable by the songs that were chosen; only 7 of the 25 songs selected were recorded after the Summer of 1968.
Enough with the wordy introductions. Next Wednesday we’ll begin our The Byrds’ Top 25 Songs series with song #25 and count it down each week to song #1.
Postcript: For the index to my reviews of the Byrds’ twelve albums, see here.
Catholic Republic: Why America Will Perish Without Rome By Timothy Gordon Crisis Publications, 2019, 288 pp.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
The vast majority of adult Americans are familiar with the above words penned by Thomas Jefferson as part of the Declaration of Independence of 1776. However, most Americans are not aware of the historical context; that America’s founders were strongly influenced by the philosophers of the Enlightenment including John Locke, Charles Montesquieu, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In “Catholic Republic: Why America Will Perish Without Rome,” fundamentalist Catholic philosopher, Timothy Gordon, argues that Enlightenment thinkers plagerized many of their ideas from Catholic Natural Law, a syncretic “christianization” of Aristotelian philosophy, most notably by Italian Catholic friar, Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274).
A Catholic source defines Natural Law as “a system of principles that guides human life in accordance with our nature and our good, insofar as those can be known by natural reason. It thereby promotes life the way it evidently ought to be, based on what we are and how the world is, from the standpoint of an intelligent, thoughtful, and well-intentioned person. It’s much the same, at least in basic concept, as what classical Western thinkers called life in accordance with nature and reason…We might think of it as a system that aims at moral and social health and well-being—which, like physical health, can at least in principle be largely understood apart from revelation.”
America’s Enlightenment-influenced founders were largely deists, not evangelical Christians. As Gordon points out, the concept that God endows men with the unalienable (i.e., impossible to take away or give up) “rights” of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (Gordon states this third right should actually be property ownership) is contrary to Protestant understanding of Biblical teaching. Neither Luther, Calvin, or Zwingli would have endorsed Jefferson’s statement on the “unalienable rights” of men. The Reformers correctly declared that men are morally depraved because of sin and that all of nature is in a fallen state due to sin. The Catholic church, in contrast, teaches men are only “spiritually wounded” and are able to achieve great personal and community virtue with the assistance of the “hospital” Roman Catholic church.
Gordon argues that the American republic is declining because it is based on the founders’ bastardized, crypto-Catholic, “Prot-Enlight” (Protestant-Enlightenment) version of Natural Law and that for the nation to survive its citizens must turn to the Roman Catholic church and its sacraments.
I selected this book because as I was searching through our library’s website the ridiculously audacious cover illustration (a statue of Mary atop the U.S. Capitol Building) and title caught my attention. The author’s main argument, that America must turn to the Roman Catholic church in order to survive as a republic, is wacko Catholic fundamentalism, a specialty of Crisis Publications. The American Catholic bishops can’t convince the majority of the U.S.’s 70 million Catholics to attend mandatory Sunday mass let alone “convert” the nation. That said, the author’s argument that Jefferson’s declaration on the unalienable rights of men is contrary to Gospel Christianity is cogent and well-taken. American Christian Nationalist believers must incongruously juggle both Jefferson’s highly-revered, but un-Biblical declaration on unalienable rights and citizen virtue and the Bible’s teaching that no one is “endowed” with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (or ownership of property) as God-given “rights.”
What Gordon guilefully neglects to mention is that the Roman Catholic church was largely opposed to the concept of republican government well into the 20th Century. In his 1899 encyclical, Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae, Pope Leo XIII condemned the heresy of Americanism, specifically the concepts of separation of church and state and freedom of religion (aka freedom of conscience). The Roman Catholic church historically preferred sympathetic monarchies and dictatorships that guaranteed the Catholic church’s privileges and prerogatives.