Throwback Thursday: Lent is no match for Super Rodent!

Welcome to this week’s Throwback Thursday installment! A few weeks ago we had a kickoff to Lent; that old chestnut, “Is it OK to eat Chicken in a Biskit crackers on Fridays during Lent?” Today, we have another Lenten staple here at excatholic4christ that was first published on February 25, 2018 and has been slightly revised.


Most of the topics I write about on this blog are serious matters involving spiritual life and death, but there are occasions when I come across something that can only be categorized as sadly comical. Case in point:

This year (2022), the Roman Catholic church’s Lenten season runs from Wednesday, March 2nd to Thursday, April 14th, and Catholics are strictly forbidden from eating meat on all six of the Fridays during that span, under the church’s edict that consuming meat will doom them to hell. But getting down to the nuts and bolts of what actually constitutes “meat” can get a little tricky as I alluded to in the infamous Chicken in a Biskit post (see here.)

Well, now we have another very strange twist to this rule regarding compulsory abstention from meat during Lent.

Several years ago, I was listening to the 2/21/18 podcast of the “Called to Communion” Catholic talk radio show. Moderator, Thom Price, and host, David Anders, were discussing Lenten abstinence restrictions and Anders unflinchingly mentioned that Venezuelan Catholics are allowed to eat the meat of a capybara on Lenten Fridays. Huh? Capybara? What’s that? Well, it turns out that capybara (photos above and below) are the largest living rodent in the world, ranging anywhere from 80 to 150 pounds full grown and they like to hang out near or in the water. They are a dietary staple of Central America and some say they taste like pork with a slightly fishy accent. As the tale goes, priest-composer, Pedro Ramón Palacios y Sojo aka “Padre Sojo,” Venezuela’s most influential Catholic cleric at the time, traveled to Rome in 1794 and petitioned pope Leo XII to allow his countrymen to eat the meat of the capybara during Lent because, he argued, the animal spent so much time in the water that it was more like a fish than a warm-blooded mammal. Remember, fish are okay to eat on Fridays during Lent, but not the meat from mammals or birds. Sojo’s absurd argument evidently made an impression on the credulous pope because Leo granted his request and actually issued a Papal Bull decreeing that Venezuelans were free to eat capybara on Lenten Fridays (and other Fridays back when meat abstention was required on Fridays year round) without incurring a mortal sin.

So Venezuelan Catholics can gorge themselves on capybara burgers on Lenten Fridays with an absolutely clear conscience, but if an American Catholic takes even one bite of a Big Mac on Lenten Fridays, they are doomed to Hell forever!

But this sinner who was freed from the chains of Catholicism and is saved by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone has a hypothetical question for my Catholic friends. Current political problems aside, let’s suppose an American Catholic travels down to Venezuela on business during Lent. He’s walking the streets of Caracas on a Friday at noon and smells the wonderful aroma of barbecue in the air. After a few minutes, he discovers the source of the olfactory bliss; a sidewalk food vendor who beckons him over to try some of his smokey barbecued capybara. The American, mouth watering, declines with noticeable regret, saying in broken Spanish that he is prohibited from eating meat on Friday during Lent. But the vendor reassures him that the pope himself declared it was permissible to eat capybara in Venezuela during Lent. Another native walking by confirms the papal dispensation. The American then hungrily orders a double-portion of barbecued capybara and eats his fill. The next day, the American begins his journey back to the U.S., but his plane crashes and all aboard perish. Which now brings us to our question: Did the American Catholic go to hell for eating capybara on a Lenten Friday because he was still under the jurisdiction of his American bishop or did Leo XII’s 1794 papal bull cover all of the bases?

Catholic friend, if you ever tire of spinning in Catholicism’s legalistic hamster (another rodent) wheel, turn to Jesus Christ. Repent of your sinful rebellion against God and ask Jesus Christ to save you through faith in Him alone.

Is Catholicism a false religion? Are Catholics saved?

Postscript A: Some may object to my interjection of humor in this discussion, but folks, seriously, I couldn’t have come up with this “capybara dispensation” in my wildest dreams.

Postscript B: The capybara dispensation in Venezuela isn’t the only regional Lenten dispensation. Another example can be found in Michigan in the Archdiocese of Detroit where area Catholics are allowed to eat muskrat, yes MUSKRAT (another water-loving rodent), on Lenten Fridays. See here. Catholics in Quebec are allowed to eat beaver.


Dog meets Capybara. Wow! That’s a big rat!

Books for Byrds Nyrds

Last week, we finished counting down the Byrds’ Top 25 Songs, but we’re not completely done with this series. A couple of more Byrds-related posts came to mind, including this listing of books about the Byrds below. Most people play a music album (via streaming, CD, or vinyl) and just listen and enjoy. But some people, such as Byrds nyrds like myself, have to turn it into rocket science. Below are some print resources for serious Byrds aficionados.

Byrds: Requiem for the Timeless, Vol. 1
By Johnny Rogan
Rogan House, 2011, 1216 pp.

5 Stars

Nope, that’s not a typo folks. This formidable tome actually contains 1216 pages. British music writer extraordinaire, Johnny Rogan, covers the entire history of the Byrds, from the origins of the band in 1964 to its dissolution in 1973, and the subsequent exploits of the eleven former members until 2011. The book is full of information and data culled from personal interviews with the primaries and the secondaries. Byrds: Requiem for the Timeless, Vol. 1 is an essential for every serious Byrds fan.

Byrds: Requiem for the Timeless, Vol. 2
By Johnny Rogan
Rogan House, 2017, 1248 pp.

4 Stars

Rogan got the notion of following up his excellent general history of the Byrds (Byrds: Requiem for the Timeless, Vol. 1) with this same-sized complementary tome in which he scrupulously examines the lives of all of the deceased former band members: Clarence White (d. 1973), Gram Parsons (1973), Gene Clark (1991), Michael Clarke (1993), Kevin Kelley (2002), and Skip Battin (2003). This book is strictly for the extremely serious Byrds nyrd. I’m assuming that Rogan also had in mind a third volume, detailing the lives of the surviving members – Roger McGuinn, David Crosby, Chris Hillman, Gene Parsons, and John York – but ran out of time. Rogan died in 2021 at the age of 67.

So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star: The Byrds Day-by-Day, 1965-1973
By Christopher Hjort
Jawbone Press, 2008, 336 pp.

5 Stars

If you thought the first two offerings might be tedious reading, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. In dry-as-a-bone encyclopedic fashion, British author, Chris Hjort examines every Byrds recording session and concert from 1965 to 1973 (along with preliminary information from 1960-1964). This is definitely a “must have” for serious Byrds fans, but a casual fan wouldn’t make it past the first chapter. Besides being a rock historian, Hjort is a graphic designer and this is a handsomely constructed volume with plenty of graphics. It’s puzzling that Hjort put such great care into designing this book, but opted for an annoyingly small font size.

Mr. Tambourine Man: The Life and Legacy of The Byrds’ Gene Clark
By John Einarson
Backbeat, 2005, 352 pp.

5 Stars

This book tells the fascinatingly sad story of Gene Clark, one of the founding members of the Byrds and the band’s most prolific early-songwriter. Clark quit the group in early-1966, but never achieved the solo success people expected. Most of his career (and personal) problems stemmed from mental health issues and drug and alcohol abuse.

Time Between: My Life as a Byrd, Burrito Brother, and Beyond
By Chris Hillman
BMG, 2021, 238 pp.

4 Stars

I enjoyed bassist Chris Hillman’s recent autobiography, but he’s so guarded about what he’s willing to divulge that he brings very little new information about the Byrds to the table. Somewhat vapid. A missed opportunity. Read Rogan’s “Byrds: Requiem for the Timeless, Vol. 1” instead.

In the Wings: My Life with Roger McGuinn and The Byrds
By Ianthe McGuinn
New Haven Publishing, 2017, 236 pp.

3 Stars

Ianthe and Roger McGuinn met in 1964, before the Byrds achieved success with “Mr. Tambourine Man.” They were married from 1966 until their divorce in 1971. Ianthe seeks to capitalize on that relationship with this tell-all book. There’s some interesting insights into McGuinn and the band not found elsewhere, but the author also resorts to a few salacious tales. We read that McGuinn was so wrapped up in the hedonistic rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle that he predictably had little energy left for being a husband or a father. Following their 1971 divorce, alimony and child-support weren’t forthcoming as McGuinn’s career steadily declined following the breakup of the Byrds. Ianthe is clearly still bitter after all of these years. The most interesting passage in the book describes how Ianthe confronted Roger about why he voluntarily subordinated his signature 12-string Rickenbacker to Clarence White and his B-bender Telecaster after the latter was hired into the band in 1968.

The Byrds: The Ultimate Music Guide
John Robinson, Editor
NME Networks, February 2022, 146 pp.

5 Stars

A well-designed special-edition magazine commemorating the Byrds via NME archived articles and new material. Great graphics and 100 photos.

The Byrds
By Bud Scoppa
Scholastic Book Services, 1971, 175 pp.

2 Stars

This book was written in 1971, but is still available via Kindle. It was written for middle school and high school rock ‘n’ roll enthusiasts, so the information is very basic. Not recommended. Strictly for Byrds completists.

David Crosby provided only scant information about his tenure in the Byrds in his 1988 pseudo-autobiography, “Long Time Gone.” He was still coming to terms with being fired by McGuinn and Hillman 20-years after the fact. Most of the material in this book was culled word-for-word from interviews with Crosby’s former and then-current associates rather than being written by himself.

Byrds fans would love to see an autobiography from Roger McGuinn. One was once in the works, alternately titled “So You Want To Be A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star” and “A Byrd’s Eye View,” but McGuinn regrettably gave up on it.

Watch for a coffee table photo book, “The Byrds: 1964-1967,” scheduled to be released by BMG Publishing in October.

Hurrah! My posts showing up in followers’ reader feeds once again!

Last week, one of my blog follower-friends, David, alerted me to the fact that he was not receiving my published posts in his reader feed. Hmm. Then Crissy wrote to say the same. Then Bruce. Then Cathy. Well, this was a disconcerting pickle. I’d been regularly posting articles on my blog every day except for Sundays, but many follower-friends were not receiving them. I dug into some of the behind-the-scenes data and discovered many of my followers had not seen any of my new posts in their feeds for the last 12 days, just as Bruce had mentioned. How did that happen? I hadn’t changed anything in my settings.

I contacted WordPress Help yesterday and a rep suggested I clear the cache and cookies from my Chromebook. That didn’t make any sense to me because my Chromebook is only a few months old, but I did it anyway. Bruce also suggested that I switch my general setting from “Public” to “Private” and back again to jolt/reset the software, in accordance with the first rule of repairing malfunctioning electronic gizmos, “Turn it off and then turn it back on.” I also did that.

So, this morning I published my usual Tuesday “Truth from Arkansas! Sunday Sermon Series” post with bated breath and, what do you know, it actually fed to my follower-friends! I know that because yesterday I became a follower of my own blog in order to test if I would receive the next new post in my reader feed. As the above graphic shows, instead of indicating that my blog was last-updated 12-days ago, it now shows as minutes ago.


Thanks to David, Crissy, Bruce, and Cathy for alerting me to the problem and thanks to the WordPress rep and to Bruce for the suggested fixes. I don’t know which option corrected the problem, but “it” worked.

Thank you, God!

Truth from Arkansas! Sunday Sermon Series, #129

Today, in our ongoing “Truth from Arkansas” series, we’re featuring two new sermons from the brethren down under.

First, we have Pastor Roger Copeland of Northern Hills Baptist Church in Texarkana, preaching from Luke 23:50-24:12 on “First Skeptics of the Resurrection.”

Next, we have Pastor Cody Andrews of Holly Springs Missionary Baptist Church in Star City preaching from Deuteronomy 33:29 on “How To Be Happy.”

Both of these sermons were delivered on Sunday, March 13th.

Pastor Roger Copeland – First Skeptics of the Resurrection – Sermon begins at the 19:30 mark

Pastor Cody Andrews – How To Be Happy

Spiritual Lessons from Spring Clean-up!

Above photo: Gracie and I are hard at work in the backyard

Followers of this blog know that every Fall, I whine on and on about my arduous Leaf Collection Campaign. Every November and the first couple of weeks of December, much of my spare time is consumed with collecting all of the leaves that fall from the oak trees in our yard and from those in neighbors’ yards bordering our property (Argh!). This last campaign, I hauled 70 tarpfulls of leaves to the curb. Nope, that’s not a typo. 7-0 tarpfulls.

Anyway, I had 3 months to convalesce and now I’m in the middle of the Spring Clean-up Campaign. That entails:

  1. Collecting all of the large branches and twigs that fell throughout the Winter.
  2. Picking up all of our dog’s droppings from the last 3 months.
  3. Raking the lawn thoroughly with a metal rake to remove small twigs, acorns, dead grass, “snow mold,” and all leaves leftover from the Fall.
  4. Using a metal rake to carefully remove all of the leaves that accumulated in the ivy and pachysandra patches in the yard.

I’ve completed steps #1 and #2 and I’m methodically still working on #3 and #4. Our lawn is about 1/2 acre and raking the entire area is a lot of work for a senior citizen. I’ve brought 11 very full paper lawn bags to the curb so far. The large amount of leaves in the ivy and pachysandra will require hauling tarpfulls to the curb.

The good thing about Spring Clean-up is I get to be outside and breath lots of fresh air after being cooped up inside for three months. I also get to listen to good sermons via my iPhone and earbuds while I’m working.

A spiritual lesson often comes to mind when I’m raking in the Spring. As I drag the metal rake over the grass, it removes unwanted objects, but it’s also stressful on the grass. I’m not one who credits plants with having feelings, but if they did those grass blades would be letting out a big “Ouch!” every time I dragged that metal rake over them. While the raking is stressful to the grass, in the big picture it’s very helpful as I’m removing dead grass (dethatching) and exposing more of the soil to air and moisture for a healthier lawn.

The Bible says that God has us go through difficulties and trials to refine us to be more like Jesus Christ. We often accumulate bad habits and temptations in our lives that need a good cleaning out. When the negative attachments are removed, our spiritual walk with the Lord becomes sweeter and healthier.

The Lord’s discipline may be uncomfortable and even painful in the short term, but in the big picture we will praise the Lord for His wise and perfect care.

In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
    nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
    and chastises every son whom he receives.”

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. – Hebrews 12:4-11

Postscript: No raking today! A thin blanket of snow is covering all of the lawns here in Rochester.

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 3/26/22

The above article provides some interesting background on the apostate Russian Orthodox church’s alliance with mass murderer and ROC member-in-good-standing, Vladimir Putin.

Yesterday, at 6:30PM Rome time (1:30PM, EST) pope Francis formally “consecrated” Ukraine and Russia to the “immaculate heart of Mary” in concert with all of the Catholic bishops in the world. I was listening to Catholic talk radio while returning home from the grocery on Thursday and host “Mother Miriam” aka Rosalind Moss was excitedly anticipating the event, saying it would be the first time any Roman pontiff specifically consecrated Russia to the “immaculate heart of Mary” in compliance with the instructions allegedly voiced by the Marian apparition at Fatima, Portugal on July 13, 1917. All of this is demonic deception.

Earlier in the week, Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, spoke to pope Francis by phone and said he would welcome a Vatican mediation to bring about an end to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Putin has yet to express any interest in such an option.

Catholic women are unhappy that their church’s clergy is restricted to men – pope, cardinals, bishops, priests, and deacons – and pope Francis is attempting to partially mollify them by altering the Vatican curia‘s constitution and allowing women to head Vatican departments.

St. Patrick’s Day, with its traditional meal of corned beef and cabbage, fell on Thursday, March 17th this year. “Savvy” San Antonio archbishop, Gustavo Garcia-Siller, understood that some Catholics would be celebrating St. Patty’s Day on the more-convenient Friday, so for all of the members of the San Antonio diocese, he conveniently lifted the ban on meat that would have been in effect on Lenten Friday, March 18th. Question: If a Catholic from the next-door diocese of Austin traveled to San Antonio on business on Friday, March 18th and ate a Reuben sandwich for lunch because he was aware of the dispensation, did the Austin Catholic commit a mortal sin because he was still under the auspices of his Austin bishop who had not granted a dispensation? You may remember that American bishops almost en masse allowed U.S. Catholics to eat meat on a Lenten Friday in 2017 without incurring mortal sin because St. Patty’s Day happened to fall on Friday that year (see here).

Both the Church of England and Roman Catholicism are apostate, but some conservative COE clerics note the radical liberalism of their denomination and seek refuge in the relatively more conservative RCC. This is like changing deck chairs on the Titanic. There’s no genuine Gospel in either the COE or the RCC.

Conservative Catholics are horrified by the reforms being discussed by Germany’s current Synodal Path (2019-2023), including married priests, female deacons, recognition of practicing L***ers as full-fledged members, and Catholic-(nominal) Protestant intercommunion.

The New York State Child Victims Act of 2019 temporarily lifted the statute of limitations and allowed adult survivors of priest sexual abuse to file civil suits against the priest predators and/or their diocese or religious order. The Catholic dioceses of Rochester (2019) and Buffalo (2020) both declared bankruptcy to minimize payouts. The justice system already moves slowly, but has been further impeded by diocesan lawyers. The victims are still waiting for their settlements.

Brian Houston and his Hillsong health and wealth prosperity empire are both as phony as three-dollar bills. Shame on all mega-church music directors (aka worship leaders) and compliant pastors who expose their congregations to the Hillsong quagmire via the music.

Forty Answers to “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic”: #34

Thanks for joining me today as we continue our series examining and responding to Catholic apologist and philosopher, Peter Kreeft’s book, “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic” (2018).


Claim #34: I am a Catholic because I don’t want to live in a one-parent supernatural family

In this chapter, Kreeft once again makes the case for Mary’s status as the mediating Mother of all Christians. States Kreeft, “I need a Mother in Heaven as well as a Father. Jesus had a divine Father as well as a human mother; a Heavenly Father as well as an earthly mother. I need the same. The Christian is to be a ‘little Christ’: therefore a Christian needs a divine Father as well as a human spiritual mother: Mary” (p. 111). Kreeft goes on to write about how human mothers lovingly care for their children in a unique way and this divinely created model necessarily continues into the spiritual realm and afterlife with Mary as Eternal Mother. Mothers are all about relationships, and Mary, writes Kreeft, “includes all possible relationships with God, with all three divine Persons, perfectly: daughter to the Father, mother to the Son, and spouse to the Spirit.” He argues that praying to Mary, seeking her intercession, does not detract from worship of Christ, but always leads to worship of Christ.


Here we go again. Kreeft previously cited Mary as one of his causes for being Catholic in chapter 17 and he puzzlingly repeats the same argument with this chapter.

The Old Testament testifies of God as the One and Only Divine Being. “Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me” – Isaiah 46:9. The pagan Canaanites worshiped Asherah, their fertility/mother goddess and the Israelites were drawn into that idolatry, which God condemned through His prophets. The Trinity was implied in the Old Testament and is explicit in the New Testament. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are the Three Persons of the Divine Godhead. There is no mention of Mary as the semi-Divine Heavenly Mother in the New Testament. On the contrary, Jesus specifically precluded any devotion to or worship of His earthly mother:

“As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, ‘Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!’ But he said, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!’” – Luke 11:27-28.

“While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, ‘Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.’ He replied to him, ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’ Pointing to his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.’” – Matthew 12:46-50

The last time we read of Mary in the New Testament is Acts 1:14. If Mary is essential to salvation as Catholicism claims (“Mary, the Channel of all Graces”), why isn’t she mentioned in any of the 13 Pauline epistles or the 8 epistles that follow? Catholics cannot find anything in Scripture directly supporting Mary worship (aka veneration), so they must extrapolate their extensive Mariolatry from a few misinterpreted passages (e.g., John 19:26-27).

How did Mariolatry get its start? Epiphanius of Salamis recorded (c. 376 AD) that the Collyridians of 4th century Arabia adapted pagan mother goddess worship by substituting Mary. The idolatry quickly spread and eventually became dogmatic “sacred tradition.” See “The Virgin: Mary’s Cult and the Re-emergence of the Goddess” (1976) by distinguished British historian, Geoffrey Ashe. Catholics claim they don’t actually worship Mary, but only accord her the high veneration (“hyperdulia”) she deserves. Even a child can see through this Jesuitical sophistry. Actions speak louder than words and Catholics worship Mary as they do Jesus Christ and God the Father, perhaps more so (with the caveat that Catholicism’s worship of Jesus and the Father is totally heretical, with such errors as transubstantiation/Jesus wafers, the sacrifice of the mass, alter Christus priests, auricular confession, purgatory, etc., etc.).

Kreeft argues that the familiar father-mother-children family model must also apply to the spiritual and Heavenly. But our earthly ways do not apply to God. Catholicism accords Mary deific powers (omniscience, omnipresence) as the alleged “spouse” of the Holy Spirit. All of this is un-Scriptural and anti-Scriptural blasphemy. Mary was a humble and faithful servant of the Lord, but she also was a sinner like everyone else (“My soul rejoices in God my Savior” – Luke 1:47). She was saved by accepting Christ as her Savior by faith alone, like every other Christian, and is now in Heaven praising her Lord and Savior. She has no divine powers. She does not hear prayers. Mary would be grieved to know billions of Catholics over the centuries worshiped her and attempted to merit their salvation with her help that was not forthcoming.

Catholics pray to and worship Mary. That’s bad enough, but the reason they pray to Mary is for assistance to help them merit their salvation. Mariolatry is an integral part of Catholicism’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit. The genuine Good News! Gospel teaches salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Praying to Mary and works-righteousness do not save.

Next week: Claim #35: I am a Catholic because I need Purgatory

Throwback Thursday: Would somebody PLEASE excommunicate me?!?!

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on August 18, 2016 and has been revised.


In the past, I’ve written about some of the circumstances surrounding my “departure” from the Roman Catholic church, but today I’d like to go into a little more detail.

I was baptized into the church as an infant and our family attended mass every Sunday and holy day of obligation. My five older sisters and I were all sent to Catholic grammar school and high school. I received the sacraments of first penance and first communion when I was seven years old and was confirmed at the age of ten. I served as an altar boy from fifth through eighth grade and even desired to eventually enter the priesthood. But along with adolescence came the usual distractions and I lost interest in the church and religion.

After my wife and I married, had our two sons, and moved into our first house, the responsibility of fatherhood weighed upon me and I set about to raise our two boys in the Catholic “faith” (actually, non-faith since Catholicism is works-based). I began attending mass on Sunday at the local church and even arranged for the parish co-pastor priest, Roy Kiggins, to come over and bless our new house. As part of my return to “the faith,” I also went out and bought a Catholic Bible and began reading the New Testament voraciously. In twelve years of Catholic education, we had never read the Bible. I was amazed and dismayed that the Bible contradicted many of the teachings of the Catholic church. I was so distraught that I finally stopped attending mass.

Through God’s Word and the witness of some Christians and Christian materials, I was convicted of my sinfulness by the Holy Spirit and I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior by faith alone in 1983. Hallelujah! What joy! What peace! In all those years of religious indoctrination, I had never known Jesus as my Savior. My Catholic family, friends, and classmates didn’t know Christ, either. Catholicism is all about obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules and trying to merit Heaven. There were lots of ritual and formality, but no personal, saving relationship with Jesus Christ.

Roman Catholicism is a religion of ritual and ceremonial legalism, which includes extensive record keeping. In parish archives there’s records of baptisms, confirmations, weddings, funerals, etc. As someone who was genuinely born-again in Christ and had come out of Catholicism, I wasn’t sure what to do next. Does one who leaves the church request an excommunication? My mother-in-law, who had divorced and remarried in the 1950s, had been formally excommunicated from the church (she had received a letter from the diocese) and I desired the same. I wrote a letter to the parish, explaining my new status in Christ and asked to be excommunicated. Co-pastor priest, Ed Palumbos, wrote back saying the Holy Spirit blows where He will and wished me well. Hmph! No excommunication? No anathemas condemning me to the depths of Hell? My, things had certainly changed!

In centuries past, people such as myself who left the RC church and aligned with evangelical Protestantism were condemned as apostates and heretics. What about today? Does the Roman church teach I can still “merit” Heaven since I left the “one, true church” of my own accord? It depends on who you ask, but according to the conservative Catholic source below, if a person abandons the faith “through their own fault” as I did, they will “bear the eternal consequence of doing so.”

But let’s reason this out. Since the church’s salvation doctrine has “evolved” to the point where the current pope teaches that even “good” atheists are able to merit Heaven, it can’t very well arbitrarily condemn all those who left the ranks as it did in the past. A 2015 Pew Research study found that 52% of all U.S. adults who were raised Catholic have left the church. Excommunication letters for remarried divorcees like my mother-in-law were discontinued at some point in the 1970s. Make no mistake, the Catholic church still has its excommunication canons in its Code of Canon Law, but if it had served excommunication papers on everyone who divorced and remarried or who stopped attending obligatory mass, there wouldn’t have been time or resources for anything else.

Thank you, Lord God, for drawing me out of legalistic religion and opening my eyes to your “Good News” and saving me. Baptism, sacraments, and church membership don’t save. Only accepting Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone leads to salvation.

The Byrds’ Top 25 Songs: #1, “Eight Miles High”

The Byrds recorded many outstanding tunes in their nine-year history (1965-1973) as we’ve witnessed each week in our countdown of the Byrd’s Top 25 Songs, but only one song sits atop them all at #1, and that song is…


“Eight Miles High” (3:34)
Written by Gene Clark, Jim McGuinn, and David Crosby
Produced by Allen Stanton
From “Fifth Dimension,” Columbia Records, July 18, 1966. Previously released as a single on March 14, 1966.

Following the great success of their debut #1 single, “Mr. Tambourine Man,” and the same-titled follow-up LP, the Byrds embarked on a tour of England, August 2-19, 1965. Promoters fueled unreasonable expectations by touting the band as “the American Beatles.” Skeptical British audiences were taken aback by the Byrds’ standoffishly-cool stage persona and unpolished performances and they responded coldly in turn. The British music press reviews were downright scathing.

Back in the States several months later, the Byrds opened for the Rolling Stones on a few tour dates in November, 1965. Hanging out with Brian Jones in a Pittsburgh hotel room between gigs, Gene Clark recalled the Byrds’ disastrous trip to England and wrote the basic structure of “Eight Miles High.” The tune takes some veiled shots at the unappreciative Brits, although a listener would have to know the backstory to decipher the cryptic lyrics.

I mentioned in my review of song #11, “What’s Happening?!?!” (see here), that David Crosby was at that time inundating his fellow Byrds with the music of John Coltrane and Ravi Shankar as the band traveled cross-country as part of Dick Clark’s Caravan of Stars. Lead guitarist, Jim (later Roger) McGuinn, took Clark’s very basic acoustic draft and added electric guitar riffs that uncannily mimicked Coltrane’s frenetic saxophone notes and Shankar’s sitar drones. McGuinn even “borrowed” the four-note signature bridge from “India” from Coltrane’s “Impressions” album. The result: an otherworldly gumbo of jazz-rock and raga-rock. What sounds like backward guitar (a popular studio technique later used by many bands) is actually McGuinn’s heavily-compressed Rickenbacker 12-string.

“Eight Miles High” was released as a single on March 14, 1966, and from Chris Hillman’s ominous opening bassline (borrowed from Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme”) to the ending, AM radio audiences were stunned. Even fellow rock musicians were flabbergasted. No one had ever heard a rock ‘n’ roll song like THAT before (the Beatles’ avante garde “Revolver” LP was still five months away). The song quickly climbed to #14 on the Billboard Hot 100, but fell just as quickly after a radio industry watchdog accused the song of promoting drug use. It was subsequently banned by many AM stations. The Byrds denied the accusations, but the word “high” in the title and lyrics was problematic. The ban was a crippling blow to the Byrds’ status in the competitive recording industry. The band never again had a single that reached the Top 20.

“Eight Miles High” is credited as being the very first psychedelic song, but McGuinn insists to this day that the song was not a drug tune and that the “eight miles high” referred only to the band’s transatlantic journey to London aboard a jetliner. Clark had originally penned the lyrics as “six miles high,” the standard altitude of commercial transcontinental flying routes, but eventually changed it to “eight” because of its more phonetically-appealing sound.

It’s my pleasure to present song #1 in our Byrds’ Top 25 Songs countdown, “Eight Miles High.”

Wow! Time is fleeting. We began this Byrds’ Top 25 Songs countdown way back in September. Thanks for reading, listening, and for commenting over the last six months! I’ll be following-up the next couple of Wednesdays with some final Byrds-related posts.

Truth from Arkansas! Sunday Sermon Series, #128

Today, in our ongoing “Truth from Arkansas” series, we’re featuring a new sermon from the brethren down under.

We have Pastor Cody Andrews of Holly Springs Missionary Baptist Church in Star City preaching from Luke 9:18-27 on “Who Jesus Is and What it Means for Us.” This sermon was delivered on Sunday, March 6.

The sermon from Pastor Roger Copeland of Northern Hills Baptist Church in Texarkana is not available due to technical problems.

Pastor Cody Andrews – Who Jesus Is and What it Means for Us.