A Bible-denying academic searches for comfort in quasi-spirituality

“Why Religion?: A Personal Story”
by Elaine Pagels
ECCO/HarperCollins, 2018, 235 pp.

You may not be familiar with the author of this memoir, religious history professor, Elaine Pagels,* but she made a huge splash in 1979 with her book, “The Gnostic Gospels.” First, a little background:

A farmer by the name of Muhammed al-Samman discovered a collection of 52 ancient manuscripts, mostly Gnostic discourses, near the town of Nag Hammadi in Egypt in 1945. The Gnostics were a first and second century AD heretical sect that propagated the divine potential within each person that could be released through the acquisition of ascending levels of secret knowledge. Sounds quite a lot like the advocates of today’s New Age philosophies. The manuscripts were eventually secured by museums, but not before several were haphazardly destroyed. Scholars began the task of translating and analyzing these Gnostic manuscripts and Pagels’ book brought them to the attention of the general public.

Elaine Pagels (b. 1943) was a bit of a celebrity following the publication of “The Gnostic Gospels.” I was increasingly interested in the Bible and spiritual matters at the time (although it would be a few more years before I accepted Christ), so I attended her guest lecture at the University of Rochester in 1979 or 1980. Pagels claimed that the early-church patriarchy persecuted the Gnostics and repressed their writings as part of a competitive power grab. Although the academic dismissed Christianity as just another set of ancient myths and fables, she somewhat admired the heterodox Gnostic writings because of a few allusions to God being a female. Pagels subsequently wrote several additional books, which continued to rationalize away the early-Christians as just another group of ancient, unsophisticated people attempting to explain the complicated world via religious myth.

Recently, I noticed Pagels’ “Why Religion?: A Personal Story” at the bookstore and discovered our library had a copy. Hmm. A personal story about religion? What’s Pagels up to now? In this memoir, Pagels describes events in her life that took place thirty-years ago. First, the Pagels’ son, Mark, died in 1987 at the age of six after a long illness, leaving the parents devastated. Only one year later, Pagels’ husband, Heinz, was killed in a hiking accident. Pagels attempted to cope with the horrific double-loss via, among other things, psychiatric consultations and long, silent meditation sessions with Trappist monks. She states that she also found comfort in the “divinity within” messages of the Gnostic writings. Pagels alleges that her dead child and her dead husband mystically contacted her to reassure her of their well-being.

So the bottom line to this book is that Pagels now believes in a quasi-spiritual, supernatural dimension, but still dismisses the Bible as ancient folklore. She urges the reader to get their “faith” and comfort, wherever they may find it, except in a personal faith in Jesus Christ and Biblical Christianity. Sounds like Oprah.

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'” – John 14:6

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” – Matthew 7:13-14

“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.'” – 1 Corinthians 1:18-19

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” – Matthew 24:35

*Before starting her academic career, Pagels had briefly “dabbled” in evangelical Christianity as a teenager after attending a Billy Graham crusade in San Francisco in 1958 and claiming to have been born-again.

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Elaine Pagels

 

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Throwback Thursday: “Rome Sweet Home: Our Journey to Catholicism”

For today’s “Throwback Thursday” installment, we’re revisiting a slightly re-edited post that was first published back on August 15th, 2015.

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Rome Sweet Home: Our Journey to Catholicism
by Scott and Kimberly Hahn
Ignatius Press, 1993, 182 pp.

1 Star

This memoir from conservative Catholic apologist, Scott Hahn, and his wife records a spiritual train wreck.

In this book, Hahn describes allegedly accepting Jesus Christ as his Savior as a teen, attending seminary, marrying, and becoming a Presbyterian minister. Although Hahn boasts that he started off fiercely anti-Catholic, both he and his wife admired and shared Rome’s strong stand against all forms of birth control. Hahn then slowly became enamored with formal liturgical worship. While studying the Bible, he became transfixed with “covenant” theology (referenced ad nauseam throughout), leading him to believe that sacraments and obedience to religious law were essential to salvation and remaining in God’s family. Hahn joined the Catholic church and pestered his wife until she did as well.

Hahn’s journey from an alleged “born-again” believer, supposedly trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone, to a works-righteousness Catholic is unfathomable. Did he ever genuinely grasp that salvation is by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone? Obviously not. For Hahn it was just head knowledge; words on paper. Like the emancipated Hebrews in Exodus who wished to return to Egypt, Hahn desired the “security” of legalism, ritualism, and spiritual chains over God’s free gift of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

“I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” – Galatians 2:21

Now Hahn and his family are “happily” attempting to earn their way to heaven. Hahn and his wife revealingly note that they often look around while at Sunday mass and observe the glum faces surrounding them and can’t fathom why their fellow-Catholics aren’t as bubbly as they are about the stultifying legalism of the “one true church.” Catholic research shows that only 20% of Catholics attend obligatory mass every Sunday. The other 80% would rather sleep in and pick up another “mortal” sin every week. After all, pope Francis has said even atheists will go to Heaven if they lead “good” lives, so who needs all of that dreary liturgical rigmarole? But God says there are none who are good and that all must repent of their sin and accept Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone. Only 12% of Catholics go to confession at least once a year which means the other 88% may still somewhat identify as church members, but do not invest personally in their church’s salvation system: A [sacramental grace] + B [merit] might possibly = C [heaven].

Hahn has built quite a career as a Catholic apologist, but I feel sorry for him and his family and anyone who gives heed to Catholicism’s gospel of chains. Reading about Hahn enthusiastically carrying around an alleged “relic” of a Catholic “saint” in his pants pocket every day as a spiritual rabbit’s foot was a disturbingly illustrative passage in a disturbing book.

“They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.” – Romans 1:25

Chameleon Boy sadly sings, 🎵 The Wedding Bell Blues 🎵

Yes, friends, it’s time to once again climb into our fictional time machine and travel to the 30th-Century for another adventure from DC Comics’ Silver Age with the Legion of Super-Heroes in…

“The Execution of Chameleon Boy!”
Adventure Comics #376, January, 1969
Writer and layouts: Jim Shooter, Penciller: Win Mortimer, Cover: Neal Adams

4 Stars

Plot

Previously, in Adventure Comics #375, we learned that a mysterious entity had challenged the mightiest Legionnaire to combat, and the team subsequently used the search for the members of another super-hero-team-temporarily-gone-bad as a tournament to identify their champion, with Bouncing Boy improbably claiming the title. Just when the entity abducts Bouncing Boy via a transporter ray, the real BB appears. Let’s pick up the action…

The ersatz Bouncing Boy is transported to the planet, Nadir, which is ruled by King Artros and his mighty knights. Nadirian society appears to be similar to that of Medieval Europe, but technological advances are hidden beneath a veneer of antiquity.

The Nadirians reveal that an evil and mighty baron, Kodar, is claiming the right to marry Princess Elwinda, and become heir to the throne. They had summoned the Legion’s champion as their only hope in battling Kodar. After defeating the baron, the victorious Legionnaire would take the royal maiden’s hand in marriage, himself.

To their surprise, the Nadirans’ high-tech equipment reveals Bouncing Boy is actually Chameleon Boy in disguise, who had assumed his teammate’s identity in the hopes of winning the aforementioned tournament by stealth. The Nadirians are shocked by CB’s alien appearance and call a council to deliberate on this “disturbing” revelation. In the meantime, CB changes into a bird and leaves his guarded quarters to drop in on Princess Elwinda in her private gardens. Romance quickly ensues, but the council resoundingly decides against the possibility of an “orange-skinned, alien freak” marrying the princess.

The Nadirians opt to battle Kodar and his powerful army themselves, but are quickly subdued. Just when all appears lost, Chameleon Boy enters the fray and, using his unique powers, defeats the evil baron. Grateful for his saving-intervention, King Artros grants that CB may marry his daughter.

⚠️ Warning: Brace yourself for the very awkward ending.

During all the shenanigans on Nadir, the Legion had been desperately scanning a multitude of dimensions in search of Chameleon Boy. They were shocked when they discovered a dimensional portal to Nadir and observed Chameleon Boy with his head on a chopping block with two knights holding raised axes overhead (see cover illustration). Brainiac 5 immediately transported Cham back to Legion headquarters and permanently sealed the portal. A furious Chameleon Boy then explained that the raised axes were part of the traditional Nadirian marriage ceremony. Instead of rescuing CB, the Legion had permanently put an end to his dreams of wedded bliss with Princess Elwinda. Ach. I hate when that happens.

Comments

This was an interesting conclusion to the two-part saga with some entertaining twists and turns, although the abrupt and awkwardly contrived ending was an unfortunate example of ham-fisted, Silver Age writing. I’m guessing Shooter was using the Nadirians’ repugnance with Chameleon Boy’s alien appearance as a subtle commentary on the very strained race relations in 1969 America.

Some good material, some bad material

Roman Catholicism & the Coming World Religion
By Pastor Billy Crone
Get A Life Media, 2019, 349 pp.

3 Stars

I’m always pleased to see new books published that critically examine Roman Catholicism, so I ordered “Roman Catholicism & the Coming World Religion” by Billy Crone as soon as I stumbled across it while browsing at Amazon.com. Billy Crone? He’s the pastor of an independent Baptist church in Las Vegas, NV and he has a slew of self-published book titles, most having to do with end-times eschatology, not my forte. The illustrations of the alien and UFO on the cover of this book had me a little worried because some eschatologists do get carried away.

This was an “interesting” book. It reads exactly like an extemporaneous Sunday School lecture and is chock full of colloquialisms. I strongly suspect Crone’s sermons/talks on various topics are transcribed almost directly into book form with very little editing.

There’s A LOT of really good information in this book for which Crone is to be commended, especially in regards to the evangelical church’s growing ecumenism with Rome. However, the author is also sometimes prone to overstatement, misstatement, exaggeration, and hyperbole. Catholic doctrine is not always presented as precisely as the RCC teaches it, allowing Catholic apologists to dismiss an otherwise decent effort. Some examples:

  • In regards to the dogma of papal infallibility, Crone writes, “They (Catholics) would have you believe their popes are always right 100% of the time” (p.190). The Roman church actually teaches its pope are infallible only when they declare a doctrine ex cathedra, i.e., from the chair of Peter, with the full authority of their alleged papal office. Catholic theologians are often at odds as to which papal declarations are actually infallible, but that’s another topic.
  • Crone chides pope Francis for criticizing president Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border. He states that Vatican City has a wall around it, so Francis is a hypocrite for reprimanding Trump (p. 262). Well, the Vatican’s walls were erected in the ninth-century to protect it from the Saracen pirates, but the ancient walls are certainly not what they used to be. Of the six entrances into Vatican City, three are wide open to the public.
  • In the section on Purgatory, Crone states, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, that the RCC kept Mother Teresa (d. 1997) waiting in Purgatory for nineteen years until they finally got around to canonizing her in 2016 (p. 301). A Catholic apologist would reply that canonization doesn’t send anyone to Heaven, it’s only a supposed confirmation that they’re already there.
  • Crone errs most egregiously by including and referencing the bogus “Jesuit Extreme Oath of Induction” (p.96-97). The alleged “secret oath” was first published in 1689 by Protestant, Robert Ware, in his book, “Foxes and Firebrands,” and has been repeated by careless Protestant polemicists and conspiracy theorists (e.g., Jack Chick Publications, Tony Alamo, etc.) for four centuries.

There are many other similar exaggerations and careless errors in this book. Catholicism has more than enough problems to answer for with its verifiable history and its doctrines as it presents them. Critics don’t need to exaggerate or misstate the facts to show the anti-Biblical teachings and history of Catholicism.

There are many more reliable rebuttals of Roman Catholicism available. One of the best is James G. McCarthy’s, “The Gospel According to Rome,” which I re-reviewed only yesterday. See here.

Postscript: Pastor Crone thankfully does not mention aliens or UFOs within the text.

Throwback Thursday: “The Gospel According to Rome: Comparing Catholic Tradition and the Word of God”

For today’s “Throwback Thursday” installment, we’re revisiting a slightly re-edited post that was first published back on August 13th, 2015.

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The Gospel According to Rome: Comparing Catholic Tradition and the Word of God
by James G. McCarthy
Harvest House, 1995, 408 pp.

5 Stars

The Gospel According to Rome is a well-researched and well-written comparison of Catholic theology with Scripture. McCarthy, an evangelical Christian and ex-Catholic, uses Catholicism’s own source material including its official 1995 catechism to present the church’s position on various doctrinal issues and then responds with counter-arguments using relevant passages from the Bible.

Of course, the main disagreement between Catholics and evangelicals is in regards to the issue of justification and McCarthy expounds upon that disagreement thoroughly. Is a person saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone, as the Bible teaches and evangelicals believe, or does salvation come from the Catholic church through the dispensation of its sacraments and by merit? A Christian rests securely in Christ’s imputed perfect righteousness while a Catholic believes their salvation will ultimately depend on how well THEY “cooperate with (sacramental) grace” and obey their church’s rules and the Ten Commandments. Is that “Good News”? A person who adheres to a religious legal system like Catholicism could never possibly justify their standing before a Holy God according to how well they obeyed His commandments. The law teaches us we are all sinners (Galatians 3:24) and that we all need a Savior; justification doesn’t come from trying to obey the law. Christ came to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15-17) NOT the self-righteous. Jesus Christ has made complete and final atonement for us, but we need to repent of our sin and accept Him as our Savior by faith alone. Pride in their religious system and its traditions and their false confidence in their ability to ultimately merit their salvation prevent Catholics from trusting in Christ by faith alone.

McCarthy examines the errors of many other Catholic doctrines including the sacerdotal priesthood, the sacrifice of the mass and transubstantiation, Mariolatry, the papacy, purgatory, sacred tradition, and baptismal regeneration. I’ve read many books which critically examine Catholicism and “The Gospel According to Rome” is easily one of the best. McCarthy’s tone is charitable yet uncompromising in his examinations of the Roman church’s fallacies. Order from Amazon here.

The following books were also written by McCarthy and published by Harvest House. They’re all available through Amazon.com:

*Roman Catholicism: What You Need to Know (Quick Reference Guides) (1995)
*What Every Catholic Should Ask (1999)
*Letters Between a Catholic and an Evangelical (2003)
*Talking with Catholic Friends and Family (2005)

Huh?!?! Bouncing Boy the mightiest Legionnaire?!?!

It’s time to once again climb into our fictional time machine and travel to the 30th-Century for another adventure from DC Comics’ Silver Age with the Legion of Super-Heroes in…

“King of the Legion!”
Adventure Comics #375, December, 1968
Writer and layouts: Jim Shooter, Penciller: Win Mortimer, Cover: Neal Adams

4 Stars

Plot

We open this story on a distant asteroid with a contingent of Legionnaires slowly approaching an unidentified group as if for combat. Naw, the Legion is only meeting another group of super-heroes, the Wanderers, who hail from a remote region of the Universe. Following the formalities, the Wanderers are returning home when their ship is engulfed by radiation from a strange space cloud. Hold that thought.

Back on Earth, the Legionnaires are occupied with routine tasks when Superboy encounters a strange gauntlet, which inscribes a giant message on an armor plate, challenging the mightiest Legionnaire to combat, which evokes a “Shades of Belshazzar!” from the startled Boy of Steel.

The Legionnaires subsequently bicker among themselves as to who should be their champion, but when the new Science Police Chief informs them that the space cloud incident has temporarily transformed the Wanderers into criminals, Element Lad suggests they turn the dragnet into a tournament to decide the mightiest member.

In the preliminaries, Bouncing Boy, Element Lad, and Mon-El hunt Dartalg, with Bouncing Boy improbably nabbing the fugitive. Chameleon Boy, Chemical King, and Saturn Girl track down Ornitho with Cham eventually making the arrest. Karate Kid, Sun Boy, and Ultra Boy search for Quantum Queen* with Karate Kid claiming victory. Brainiac 5, Superboy, and Timber Wolf locate Immorto and it’s Superboy who apprehends the Wanderer.

In the semi-finals, Karate Kid and Superboy hunt Elvo, with the Boy of Steel claiming the prize. Chameleon Boy, accompanied by his shape-changing pet, Proty, and Bouncing Boy vie to capture Psyche, with Bouncing Boy once again the improbable winner (or is he?).

In the final match, Superboy and Bouncing Boy square off to capture Celebrand, but the leader of the Wanderers unexpectedly surrenders to Bouncing Boy!

Back at Legion headquarters, the members humbly submit to Bouncing Boy as the mightiest in their ranks, when he is suddenly transported away by the same mysterious challenger who was behind the gauntlet message. The next moment, the REAL Bouncing Boy stumbles into the room. So who did the mystery entity actually transport? Stay tuned for part two of the story in Adventure 376!

Comments

This was an entertaining tale with the Wanderers temporarily turning into villains, Superboy encountering a challenge based on an occurrence in the Book of Daniel, the tournament to determine who was the mightiest Legionnaire with Bouncing Boy as the (laughable) winner, and the mysterious ending. The scene where the vanquished Legionnaires cower beneath the victorious Bouncing Boy and rip off their uniform emblems as an act of submission (p.23 and cover) is the kind of over-the-top melodrama that occasionally leaked into Silver Age plots.

*Trivia alert: In “The Adult Legion,” Adventure Comics #354, March 1967, Shooter featured Quantum Queen as one of the future doomed Legionnaires.

Throwback Thursday: Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment

For today’s “Throwback Thursday” installment, we’re going to take a look back at this post, which was first published on August 19, 2015 and has been only slightly revised.

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Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment
by Gregg R. Allison
Crossway, 2014, 496 pages

5 Stars

At a time when some evangelical pastors and para-church leaders are ignoring doctrinal distinctives in the interest of “Christian” unity, noted evangelical theologian, Gregg R. Allison, gives us “Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment,” a clinical examination of the many differences between Bible Christianity and Roman Catholicism.

Allison begins by outlining Rome’s two major theological constructs: the nature-grace interconnection which posits the concrete conferring of grace through nature (e.g., priests, sacraments, sacramentals, shrines, relics, etc.) and the Christ-Church interconnection, whereby the Catholic church presents itself as the prolongation of the incarnation of Christ. Allison then examines Rome’s catechism, reviewing each major doctrine in light of the aforementioned constructs and how they compare to God’s Word and evangelical theology. The author notes that Catholicism and evangelicalism agree on some doctrinal issues, but disagree on a myriad of others. Most importantly, Catholicism teaches salvation by sacramental grace and merit while evangelicals profess Biblical salvation by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone. There is no bridge over this theological chasm despite the best efforts of some accommodating, doctrine-light evangelicals.

This new book is a VERY welcome addition to the evangelical-Catholic debate. Every evangelical pastor who works with Catholics and ex-Catholics should own a copy. Many of the Protestant books about Catholicism written in the past were uncharitable and did not present Rome’s doctrines accurately. Allison’s tone leans toward the irenic almost to a fault, but he’s also firm in his critique of Catholicism’s un-Biblical and anti-Biblical doctrines.

Unfortunately, Allison ends this book on a bit of a disappointing note. After spending the first 450 pages carefully analyzing Rome’s errors, he avoids drawing any overall conclusions. Does he believe Rome is at its foundation a Christian church that happens to teach many doctrines not found in the Bible (see Norman Geisler) or does he believe Catholicism is an apostate church that turned from the Gospel of Jesus Christ to legalism and ritualism and that no person can be saved by adhering to its standard theology? After reading the first 450 pages the reader will definitely assume Allison’s position is the latter, but, unfortunately, for reasons only he knows, he’s not willing to commit himself in a forthright summation and conclusion. Instead, the six-page final chapter offers evangelicals advice on how to share the Gospel with Catholics. That criticism aside, this book is a timely and intelligent clarification of Catholic teaching for evangelicals, some of whom are disturbingly too eager to embrace a “church” they actually know very little about.

Available from Amazon here. Please note: This book is definitely on the academic side and wouldn’t appeal to a number of readers. For an excellent book on Roman Catholicism that will appeal to the general reader, tune in to next week’s installment of Throwback Thursday!

Gang warfare in the 30th Century?

It’s time once again to climb aboard our fictional time machine and travel to the 30th-Century for another adventure from DC Comics’ Silver Age with the Legion of Super-Heroes in…

“Mission: Diabolical!”
Adventure Comics #374, November, 1968
Writer and layouts: Jim Shooter; Penciller: Win Mortimer, Cover: Curt Swan

4 Stars

Plot

We open the story with various groups of Legionnaires scattered across the galaxy consumed in various leisure and crime-fighting activities. One by one, each contingent is abducted by some unseen enemy.

Back at the Legion’s headquarters in Metropolis, Earth, five of the team’s heroes – Ultra Boy, Dream Girl, Element Lad, Matter-Eater Lad, and Supergirl – are contacted by an entity who represents SCORPIUS, a powerful criminal space gang. The being informs the quintet that SCORPIUS is holding their teammates hostage and that they must eliminate five super-outlaws – Rogarth, Black Mace, Mystelor, Shagreck, and Qunto – who are working for a rival gang, TAURUS. Realizing the crooks have them “over a barrel,” the five heroes disguise themselves to avoid identification by the Science Police and engage the TAURUS super-outlaws, but the melee is broken up by the Legion of Substitute Heroes who aren’t privy to the extortion plot. The quintet retreats, but Polar Boy of the substitutes manages to recognize a couple of the disguised heroes. Polar Boy’s observation will lead the substitutes to launch an investigation that will ultimately pay dividends at the story’s end.

In the meantime, the five heroes contemplate how to infiltrate the top echelon of TAURUS. When Dream Girl ascertains the circumstances of the next attack by the five super-outlaws, Ultra Boy concocts a scheme to disguise himself as Black Mace in order to infiltrate TAURUS. The scheme backfires when Ultra Boy is knocked unconscious in the tussle, but Dream Girl is able to subdue Mystelor and, using a quick disguise, takes her place among the outlaws.

Aboard the super-outlaws’ spaceship, Dream Girl, as Mystelor, is able to stoke resentment against TAURUS’s leadership and the crooks decide to travel to TAURUS headquarters to demand proper compensation. However, they’re not aware that Dream Girl has secretly signaled her four Legion co-conspirators to follow along. At the rival gang’s headquarters, the leader of TAURUS is revealed to be R.J. Brande, the Legion’s billionaire benefactor! But is it really Brande? The Legionnaires come out of hiding and arrest “Brande” with no interference from the super-outlaws who are on strike for higher wages. The Legionnaires quickly determine the leader of TAURUS is not actually Brande, but is Chief of the Science Police, Zoltourus, who had kidnapped Brande and secretly used the billionaire’s vast funds to finance TAURUS’s operations.

The five super-heroes are suddenly transported back to SCORPIUS headquarters where they are joined by their released Legion comrades. Thinking the ordeal is over, the heroes quickly realize they’ve been double-crossed by the SCORPIUS gang, which intends to kill them all. Just as the Legionnaires’ doom seems certain, Polar Boy and the Legion of Substitute Heroes attack SCORPIUS headquarters and subdue the criminal gang.

Commentary

This tale was a bit convoluted and wasn’t among Shooter’s best efforts. The thought should occur to the inquisitive reader that if SCORPIUS is powerful enough to kidnap 21 Legionnaires, it should also be powerful enough to neutralize the five super-outlaws by itself. However, it was always interesting whenever the substitute heroes played a role in a story. I remember feeling sad for these Legion “rejects” whose powers obviously far exceeded those of regular Legion members, Matter-Eater Lad, Bouncing Boy, and Duo Damsel. Speaking of Matter-Eater Lad, I’m guessing that Shooter purposely chose him as well as Dream Girl, Element Lad, and Supergirl as four of the five main protagonists in this story in an attempt to compensate for their infrequent appearances relative to other Legionnaires.

Postscript #1: Whenever enthusiasts compile a list of the most ridiculous comic super-heroes of all time, Matter-Eater Lad is inevitably included.

Postscript #2: DC Comics discontinued its Legion of Super-Heroes series in 2013 because of low readership. However, over the last couple of years DC has been teasing Legion fans with hints of a series relaunch. Recently, I learned that DC will be reintroducing the Legion in LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES: MILLENNIUM #1 due out at comic shops on Wednesday, September 4. This is the first of a two-part prelude that will be followed by a monthly, ongoing series from writer, Brian Michael Bendis, and artist, Ryan Sook.

 

Throwback Thursday: Nuns Gone Wild!

For today’s “Throwback Thursday” installment, we’re revisiting a slightly re-edited post that was first published back on August 30th, 2015.

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The Nuns of Sant’Ambrogio: The True Story of a Convent in Scandal
By Hubert Wolf
Knopf, 2015, 496 pp.

5 Stars

Protestant literature of the 19th and early-20th centuries abounded with “convent escape narratives,” first-hand accounts of abuse and debauchery in Roman Catholic convents as reported by ex-nuns. Naturally, the veracity of those reports was attacked by Catholic spokespersons who dismissed the books as “Protestant pornography.”

Now we have “The Nuns of Sant’Ambrogio: The True Story of a Convent in Scandal” by award-winning German historian, Hubert Wolf. From the archives of the Office of the Holy Inquisition, opened for the first time to scholars only as recently as 1998, Wolf gives us this tale of fraudulent mysticism, struggle for power, lesbianism, fornication, and murder all within the walls of this single Roman convent in the 1850s.

The story centers around German Princess, Katharina von Hohenzollern–Sigmaringen, who entered the Sant’Ambrogio convent as a middle-aged novice and quickly became a victim of the diabolic intrigues of the mother vicaress, Sister Maria Luisa. Katarina barely escaped the convent and certain death only because of her connections to powerful nobility. A subsequent church investigation uncovered more filth than a boardinghouse cesspool.

It’s ironic that the sheer vileness of what transpired within this convent as recorded in the pages of once-secret, official Catholic sources far eclipses those Victorian-age, blushingly restrained and inexplicit Protestant accounts. Perhaps even more interesting than the nuns’ tawdry behavior is how the scandal was used as a pawn by competing factions within the Catholic church at the time; Dominicans vs. Jesuits, Modernists vs. New Scholastics. A few reviewers gave this book low grades complaining it was too dry. Perhaps from the title they were hoping for something a bit more salacious? Quite the contrary, I found “The Nuns of Sant’Ambrogio” to be an extremely well-written, well-researched history. Very rare is a history book that presents such a complex subject in such a readable, illuminating fashion.

Devout Catholic readers will be nonplussed by the revelations of what transpired behind the convent walls of Sant’Ambrogio and by the subsequent political machinations both inside and outside of the Vatican. There’s no doubt that similar diabolical debaucheries took place in countless other Catholic convents and rectories (and bishops’ palaces and at the Vatican) throughout the ages fueled by the church’s unnatural rule of celibacy for its clergy. Reports of pedophile priests abusing children have been in the headlines for the last twenty years as we well know.

After Christianity was adopted as the state religion by the Roman Empire, the church quickly became institutionalized and “faith” for most of its members meant adherence to religious ritualism and legalism. In general, Catholics are taught salvation is through the administration of the seven sacraments, all tightly controlled by the clergy, and by obeying the Ten Commandments and church rules. Asceticism became the rule for many of the religious orders leading to expressions of fanatical mysticism of the type exhibited by the nuns of Sant’Ambrogio. In contrast, God’s Word tells us salvation is only by the grace of God through simple faith in Jesus Christ alone.

No Más: Tapping Out

Darwin Devolves: The New Science About DNA That Challenges Evolution
By Michael J. Behe
Harper One, 2019, 342 pages

I’ve enjoyed our sister’s postings at Biblical Beginnings (see here) regarding the Evolution vs. Creation debate, so as I was strolling through our local Barnes and Noble recently and spotted “Darwin Devolves” in the “Christianity” section, I made a mental note and, sure enough, our library system had a copy.

Author, Michael Behe’s premise is that DNA research creates major problems for evolutionists’ claims. Research supports “speciation,” DNA mutations resulting in variations within a species and even variations resulting in new genera, but never into new families of organisms. DNA mutations could never account for the development of complex biological organisms like the human eye, therefore intelligent design is the only possible explanation.

This post is really a non-review. I began this book with high hopes, but quickly found it was way over my head. The deeper I got into the book and its scientific jargon, the more my eyes glazed over. I’m very anal when it comes to reading. Once I start a book, I am committed to reading it to the end, no matter how bad or difficult it is. But at page 186, I simply could not take the scientific academese any longer. I admitted defeat and closed the book for good. No más! No más!

This book is strictly for those with a very strong science background and especially a strong biology background. It’s definitely not for the general public.

For more information on the Evolution vs. Creation debate (including books geared towards the general public), visit the websites below:

The Institute for Creation Research
https://www.icr.org/homepage/

Answers in Genesis
https://answersingenesis.org/

Phew! Now where did I put that book that I’ll actually enjoy reading? Ah, yes! Back on track!