Elia Kazan’s “Splendor in the Grass” hit me hard when I was a young teen

 

It’s been several months since posting a review of one of Elia Kazan’s films, so it’s time to get back on track with the director’s fifteenth and last profitable project.

Splendor in the Grass
Directed by Elia Kazan and featuring Natalie Wood, Warren Beatty, Pat Hingle, and Audrey Christie
Warner Bros., 1961, 124 minutes

After the dismal commercial failures of his three previous films (the so-called “Southern Trilogy”), Kazan turned to popular playwright, William Inge, for a box-office-friendly teenage melodrama.

Plot

Arthur “Bud” Stamper (Beatty) and Wilma Dean “Deanie” Loomis (Wood) are king and queen of their high school in 1928 Kansas and madly in love. Bud is from a wealthy family and the top jock on campus (although not a gifted student), while Deanie is from a much more modest background, but is one of the school’s most attractive and popular girls. Together, they’re an ideal couple, but must increasingly battle the temptation to become more intimate. Deanie’s materialistic mother (Christie) counsels her daughter to remain chaste because Bud is the “catch of a lifetime” and he surely wouldn’t marry a “bad girl.” In the meantime, Bud tells his Type-A-on-steroids father, Ace Stamper (Hingle), that he can no longer fight lustful temptations, so he’s determined to marry Deanie immediately after graduation and run the family ranch, but the small town oil baron insists that academically-challenged Bud go to Yale in order prepare himself to take the oil business to the next level. Bud’s scandalously immoral older sister, Ginny (Barbara Loden), has brought shame to the Stamper name and Ace hopes Bud can redeem the family’s reputation.

Recognizing that he can no longer control himself, Bud cools the relationship with “good girl,” Deanie, but lets off some steam with Juanita (Jan Norris), the school “floozy,” thereby humiliating Deanie, and sending her into an emotional breakdown. Somewhat recovered and desperate to win back her boyfriend, she forces herself on Bud, but he rejects her uncharacteristic advances. Deanie becomes so distraught, she attempts suicide. As Deanie teeters on the verge of a complete mental collapse, her doctor advises an anxious Bud to end all contact for her health’s sake.

Bud goes to Yale, but his heart isn’t in it and he’s failing all of his subjects. An Italian waitress, Angelina (Zohra Lampert), befriends him in his lovesick misery. His father visits Yale in an attempt to rally Bud, but ends up jumping from a New York City skyscraper when the stock market crash of 1929 totally destroys his business. In the meantime, Deanie is sent to a sanitarium to recover her mental and emotional stability. There, she befriends a male patient and a lukewarm romance blooms. When Deanie is released after a long, thirty-month stay, she returns home, and immediately asks to see Bud to determine if there’s any spark left in their relationship. She visits Bud on his struggling ranch and learns he’s married to Angelina, with one infant child and another on the way. Disappointed but not broken, Deanie stoically commits to going forward with her life, finding “strength in what remains behind.”

Commentary

“Splendor” resonated with audiences across the country. Inge won an Oscar for his screenplay (Kazan had a large amount of input) while Wood was nominated for her performance. This was Beatty’s film debut, another notable “find” for Kazan. Hingle’s full-throttle performance is quite memorable but skirts with being “over the top.” Most of the movie was shot around New York City.

I first watched “Splendor” when I was in my early teens and was floored by the unorthodox conclusion (the attached video captures the final 3.5 minutes). Kazan stated in later interviews that the last reel was his favorite of all of his films. It certainly wasn’t a stereotypical Hollywood ending. Two characters in love are supposed to live “happily ever after,” but real life is never so orderly, which is why “Splendor” struck a chord. I remember being quite smitten with the lovely and vulnerable Deanie character, probably like many of the film’s teenage male viewers. The startling uniqueness of this film launched my decades-long study of its director.

The two DVD’s of “Splendor in the Grass” released by Warner Brothers unfortunately provide no commentary or remarkable bonus features.

Trivia alert: Screenwriter, Bill Inge, has a small role as a Protestant minister saddened by the spiritual emptiness of his church’s biggest contributor, Ace Stamper.

Additional thoughts from a Christian believer

Kazan was a Marxist atheist who rebelled against religious and societal norms of morality. Perhaps more than any of his previous films, Kazan used “Splendor” to attack “middle-class materialism” and “puritanical morality.” Antagonists Ace Stamper and Mrs. Loomis are presented as the duplicitous enemies of the pure love of their children. Bud and Deanie struggle to adhere to their parents’ hypocritical moral code, ultimately destroying their love.

“Splendor” was somewhat revolutionary in its day for its exploration of teenage sexuality, but by today’s standards it hardly raises an eyebrow. It’s interesting to note that Leftist crusader, Kazan, carried on an affair with Loden throughout the filming of “Splendor,” returning to his wife and children each evening at his comfortable estate in the tony suburb of Newtown, Connecticut. Hypocrisy?

Christians understand we cannot satisfy the ultimate moral code, the Ten Commandments. But God the Father sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty for our sins on the cross. He conquered sin and death and offers eternal life and fellowship with God to all those who accept Him as Savior by faith alone. As Christians, we attempt to follow the Lord in obedience, albeit imperfectly. As a teenager, I struggled with sexual temptation. Those hormones were firing like a well-tuned 350 V-8 engine. It’s a common experience, right? These days, teens are experiencing even greater pressure to give in to temptation at an even earlier age. The Lord gave us guidelines for a reason. To protect our physical and emotional well being and the well being of others. Rampant premarital and extramarital sexuality have led to all kinds of individual and social problems. Perhaps the church would have done better to present sexuality positively, as a natural and wonderful gift of God for married couples, rather than negatively, as something dirty and not to be spoken of. After all, The Song of Solomon is in the Bible. But a person must accept Christ as Savior before they can follow Him in obedience.

Natalie Wood left her then-husband, Robert Wagner, for co-star Beatty during the filming of “Splendor,” much to the delight of Kazan, who sought emotional reality from his actors. Wood would reunite with Wagner in 1972. She died under suspicious circumstances in 1981 while on an excursion on the Wagners’ boat, the ironically-named “Splendour.” William Inge committed suicide in 1973. Beatty would go on to achieve fame mainly as Hollywood’s celebrated #1 Lothario. But now they castigate Harvey Weinstein?

After watching “Splendor,” I can remember scrambling to the library to read William Wordsworth’s “Ode on Intimations of Immortality” (1804), with the famous passage cited in the film:

Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind.

Scholars still debate whether Wordsworth (1770-1850) was a Christian. Most of his earlier poetry glorifies nature as a semi-deific force. Later poems displayed a much more orthodox Christian view. In his “Ode,” the poet admonished his readers to move forward with their lives rather than dwell in the past.

God’s Word has much to say about looking back. Believers are to focus on Christ and Christian service and not look back at the world’s temptations with desire.

“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead” – Philippians 3:13

See here for more Bible verses about looking forward in Christ.

SPLEN

SPLEND
Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood aboard the “Splendour”
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Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 10/14/17

In the ongoing dispute over communion for remarried divorcees, conservative Catholics are now really slinging mud by comparing the doctrine-defying pragmatism of pope Francis to that of Henry VIII.

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) went the way of liberal apostasy around 90 years ago. See this article from Ligonier Ministries on J. Gresham Machen, the faithful theologian, who broke away from mainline Presbyterianism in the 1920s because of the ripe apostasy within the denomination.

This story deserves a separate post. In anticipation of Fulton J. Sheen’s certain canonization, the archdiocese of New York City (where Sheen was auxiliary bishop) and the diocese of Peoria, Illinois (where Sheen was raised) have fought in the U.S. court system for years over custody of his remains. Peoria won the first round, but NYC has appealed. This is the craziest thing but exemplifies Catholicism’s obsession with the material rather than the spiritual. See my post from a year ago here.

When the Hollywood guys are making a horror flick and need a clergy character, they usually use a Catholic priest. The notorious turnaround collar quickly identifies the character for movie audiences. But as I wrote recently, the priests with their false gospel are too be feared more than the stereotypical ghouls.

In the same month that Christians celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, Catholics celebrated the 100th anniversary of the last of the alleged six Marian apparitions at Fatima, Portugal on October 13, 1917. Fatima is considered by many Catholics to be the most important of the Marian apparitions. Following the last supposed appearance of Mary to the three children, it’s alleged that the 70,000 people who had gathered witnessed the miracle of the “dancing of the sun.” Was it a miracle, crowd hysteria, or demonic activity? Defenders of the Catholic version of the event predictably don’t acknowledge that eyewitness accounts are contradictory. See here.

Abuse in the Legionaries of Christ has a long history. It was well known throughout the church that founder, Marcial Maciel, was a serial sexual predator, but he was allowed to continue as head of the organization even though the Vatican had reams of evidence documenting his abusive behavior. For the ABC Nightline 9-minute investigative segment on Maciel, which indicts popes “saint” John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla) and Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger), see here.

In the 1980s and 90s, many evangelicals followed the lead of Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, James Kennedy, Pat Robertson, et al., in mixing faith with conservative national patriotism, as if America was in a covenant relationship with God in the same way as was ancient Israel. Many American evangelicals still tend to think in terms of winning the culture battles in this country rather than spreading the Gospel. Perhaps nothing else has done more to turn young people off to the Gospel than this conflation of faith and conservative patriotism.

The Babylon Bee is always good for a chuckle.

Enjoy your weekend!

Catholic “Divorce Recovery Expert” is a false teacher

This past Wednesday night, I was driving to our church small group’s weekly meeting and I had the car radio tuned to the local Catholic station and a program called, “Catholic Answers Live.” Lisa Duffy (see photo), who bills herself as a Catholic “Divorce Recovery Expert” was the guest for that evening’s show.

A Catholic woman called into the program desperately seeking some advice from Duffy. She related that she and her first husband, also a Catholic, had been divorced. After waiting several years, she remarried civilly, but then sought to backtrack and get her first marriage annulled by the church so that she could have her second marriage convalidated* in order to once again receive the sacraments. Catholicism teaches that members who have divorced and remarried without having their first marriage annulled are living in a state of ongoing adultery and are barred from the sacraments. In Catholic teaching, communion and reconciliation are vital components of the church’s salvation process.

The woman brought her annulment case to her diocese’s tribunal, but the ecclesiastical court would not grant her petition for a “declaration of nullity” (annulment) of her first marriage. Hmm. Her last name must not be “Kennedy.” She then sought the counsel of two priests in regards to receiving communion. The first one said he would gladly allow her to receive communion, while the second one said she was still banned according to the strictures of Canon law, #s 915 & 916. With a tone of deep weariness in here voice, the woman appealed to “Divorce Recovery Expert,” Duffy, for help.

Catholic Answers disseminates very conservative Catholic ideology and features only like-minded guests. Duffy seconded the instructions of the latter priest, saying the woman was definitely still restricted from receiving the sacraments because her annulment petition was not granted. She counseled the woman to pray and to visit a priest about the possibility of appealing the tribunal’s ruling.

My thoughts on this complicated, legalistic gobbledygook? Glad you asked, as ol’ pastor Joe would often say!

According to Catholic theology, only members without the stain of mortal sin on their souls and in a “state of grace” may receive the consecrated communion elements, which the church teaches are the literal body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. But I would counter that the soul of every single Catholic and every single person in this world is stained with “mortal” sin, and the only redemption available to us is by repenting of our sins and trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone. When we accept Christ, His perfect righteousness is imputed to us, we could never become righteous ourselves. Every Catholic who stands in line on Sunday to receive communion, claiming to be without mortal sin, is a liar. Who do these pious Catholics think they are? If I could display all of their secret thoughts and actions over the course of the preceding week on a large screen in front of the entire congregation as they stood in line, they would stumble over each other like panicked rats as they scurried back to their pews or out the door.

“For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7

And what about the celibate priests who sanctimoniously deny communion to remarried divorcees? If the newspaper headlines are any indication, many of them lust after the children and teenagers sitting in the pews during mass. Harsh words? I’m not the one telling remarried divorcees to move to the back of the bus.

“As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” – Romans 3:10 & 23

“For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” – Romans 3:20

“Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” – Galatians 2:16

By barring remarried divorcees from communion, the Catholic church created a group of second-class members. It wasn’t a problem fifty years ago, but with divorce rates so high these days, it’s become a huge issue. Many remarried divorcees leave the church rather than endure the humiliation. Pope Francis attempted to stanch the exodus by guilefully reversing the ban on communion for remarried divorcees via the small print in his 2016 post-synodal apostolic exhortation, “Amoris Laetitia.” But bishops are interpreting the document differently. Liberals are allowing communion for remarried divorcees while conservatives are not. The church is currently embroiled in a major battle, with conservatives claiming that the lifting of the communion ban was a heretical act by Francis.

Sigh.

My heart goes out to the poor caller who is struggling to do the right thing. Yes, God’s Word says divorce is not permitted, except for the reason of marital infidelity or by being abandoned by an unbelieving spouse. But all sin can be forgiven by the Lord Jesus Christ. The woman needs to repent of her sin and accept Christ as Savior. She can’t simply undo her divorce or her remarriage, but she can go forward as a child of God, reborn through the Holy Spirit by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone. She needs to turn from Roman Catholic religious legalism and accept Christ. Only in Him will she find forgiveness, eternal life, and sweet fellowship with Almighty God. Lisa Duffy propagates Rome’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit and religious chains. She is a false teacher.

*Convalidation: In Roman Catholic canon law, the making of a putative marriage valid following the removal of some impediment. A ceremony in which a marriage, such as a civil marriage, is made recognized by the church.

Is remarriage after divorce always adultery?
https://www.gotquestions.org/remarriage-adultery.html

Roman Catholicism: “The facts, ma’am. Just the facts.”

The Facts on Roman Catholicism
By John Ankerberg, John Weldon, and Dillon Burroughs
Harvest House Publishers, 2009, 96 pages

I’ve had an admittedly unusual walk with the Lord over the last thirty-four years. I came out of Roman Catholicism and accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior way back in 1983 at the age of 27. My wife and I then attended a Christian fundamentalist church for 8 years, but I became embittered by the legalism and ended up walking away from the Lord for many years (very dumb!). I returned to the Lord in 2014 and was immediately amazed, after my Rip Van Winkle absence, that so many evangelicals were embracing Catholicism as a Christian entity. Rome still preaches the same false gospel of sacramental grace and merit that it did in 1991, but it’s now considered “ungracious” and “bad form” to point that out. Be that as it may, there are still faithful watchmen on the wall who defend the Gospel of grace and reach out to Roman Catholics with the Good News!

In this short booklet, John Ankerberg and company examine the main differences between Roman Catholicism and Biblical Christianity as they pertain to the following:

  • Authority
  • Salvation and Justification
  • The Bible, the Pope, and Mary

Many evangelicals are now of the opinion that the Catholic church has many quirky practices but fundamentally preaches the Gospel. The authors clearly demonstrate that, despite the misleading familiar terminology, the Catholic “gospel” of sacramental grace and merit is diametrically opposed to the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Catholics talk about “grace,” “faith,” and “salvation in Christ,” but what they mean by those terms is something entirely different than from what evangelicals understand.

This book is an excellent primer for Catholics who want to know more about the genuine Good News! and for evangelicals who aren’t sure what Catholicism is all about in this era of raging ecumenical compromise and betrayal. Those who don’t want to wrestle with a 400-page tome on the topic, like James G. McCarthy’s excellent “The Gospel According to Rome,” will appreciate this succinct resource. Many readers will easily finish this book in one sitting. Order from Amazon here.

Praise the Lord for John Ankerberg and Harvest House Publishers who continue to reach out to Roman Catholics with the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone!

The John Ankerberg Show
https://www.jashow.org/articles/?s=catholicism

Harvest House Publishers
https://www.harvesthousepublishers.com/search/eyJyZXN1bHRfcGFnZSI6InNlYXJjaFwvaW5kZXgiLCJrZXl3b3JkcyI6IkNhdGhvbGljIn0

Twofer Tuesday – Christopher Columbus and Harvey Weinstein?

I usually only have one topic to post about per day, but today is a twofer Tuesday!

Yesterday was Columbus Day, a federal holiday, which meant I was unable to take two books to the post office to be shipped to customers* and I couldn’t go to the bank to deposit a check. Grrr! As you’re all aware, there’s a big controversy brewing about celebrating Columbus Day.

Italian-Americans across the country commemorate their fellow countryman, Cristobal Colon (Christopher Columbus), who hailed from Genoa and accidentally discovered the Americas in 1492. Italian-Americans use this day to celebrate their ethnic heritage in general.

But critics of Columbus Day say the explorer was a brutal tyrant who persecuted the indigenous West Indie natives – enslaving or killing them – and who forced “White man’s religion” down their throats. Supporters say Columbus was a product of his times and should be recognized and honored for his accomplishments, not for his failings according to our 21st-century standards.

What do I think? I’m not inclined to honor any person with statues and national holidays. We’re all sinners in need of the Savior. During the time of Columbus’ four voyages to the New World, the pope of Rome was the notorious Alexander VI – Rodrigo de Borgia – who historians consider to be most corrupt in a long line of corrupt popes. Columbus exported Borgia’s brutal brand of Roman Catholicism to the New World. The priests who accompanied Columbus baptized some of the natives, but only a select few. The church taught that a Catholic could not enslave a fellow (c)hristian and Columbus needed many slaves for his gold mines. The few natives who were initiated into the church via ritual sacramentalization did not know Christ as Savior. Rome did not preach the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone in 1492 and it doesn’t preach it today. A report written in 1502 and discovered in 2006 reveals that Columbus and his three brothers ruled Hispania with iron fists, using torture and mutilation to keep the natives in line.

Politically-conservative American Christians are apt to howl anytime a traditional icon is threatened, but believers should think twice before they lift up anyone for veneration, especially someone who helped propagate a false gospel of spiritual chains.


My second of today’s twofers is thankfully very short.

What’s this? Hollywood mogul, Harvey Weinstein, was recently fired from the film production company he founded amidst multiple accusations of sexual harassment? I thought Hollywood and its quasi-religious humanism were all about respect, inclusion, dignity, and the elevation of people and animals? You mean to tell me one of Hollywood’s best and brightest was a sexual predator and abuser? Oh, the shock of it! All these Hollywood moguls and glamorous Botox-injected stars are lost sheep who need Jesus Christ. Movie audiences crave the fantasies from the Hollywood assembly line like junkies crave heroine because they’re desperately trying to fill the spiritual vacuum in their souls. But it’s all a mirage.


*A couple of years ago, I started selling my gently-read books via Amazon’s 3rd party seller program. I’ve sold about 180 books to date, which I’m pretty happy about. If you have a lot of books, especially narrow audience books, Amazon may be a good option for you. It’s actually pretty easy. Loading all of the books into Amazon’s system takes a little doing, but after that it’s just a matter of waiting for orders, packing up the books in padded envelopes, and taking them to the post office. If your collection is mostly mass market-type books, don’t bother. The big 3rd party sellers are able to severely undercut a small seller’s profit-point pricing.

The Catholic Left speaks!

Papal Sin: Structures of Deceit
By Garry Wills
Doubleday, 2000, 326 pages

About a month ago, I finished a book written by a Catholic traditionalist decrying the 50-year-old apostasy of the church spearheaded by the Second Vatican Council. See here. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve struggled with a book which argues from the opposite end of the Catholic belief spectrum; “Papal Sin,” by church liberal, Garry Wills.

In this book, Wills is critical of several aspects of the historical papacy and the conservative end of the Catholic belief system, including:

  • The church’s attempt at historical revisionism by portraying itself as a victim of the Holocaust rather than the prime agent of anti-Semitism in the West and a sometimes collaborator or neutral observer in regards to Hitler’s genocide.
  • The banning of any and all forms of birth control.
  • The debasement of marriage and sexual relations within marriage
  • A sacrificial priesthood distinct from the laity.
  • The transubstantiation of bread and wine
  • The obligatory celibacy of the clergy
  • The prevalence of pedophilia and homosexuality among priests
  • The rise and popularity of Mariolatry
  • Pope Pius IX’s condemnation of modernism (including freedom of religion and democratic forms of government) in his Syllabus of Errors, and his definitions of the “immaculate conception” of Mary and papal infallibility.

Wills is so critical of so many of the standard doctrines and practices of Catholicism that it’s mystifying why he still chooses to identify as a Catholic.

The author justifies his freedom to critically analyze Catholic history and dogma by presenting two cases involving Augustine (354-430 AD) in which the bishop of Hippo defended truth over ecclesiastical correctness. Firstly, Augustine openly opposed Jerome, who had posited that Peter wasn’t actually in disagreement with Paul regarding his infamous compromising with Judaizers at Antioch, cited in Galatians 2:11-14 , but was only feigning compromise as part of a pre-arranged script. Augustine would have none of it.  Likewise, Augustine opposed Consentius who argued that it was fine to infiltrate heretical groups and lie using mental reservation (i.e., casuistry – a method later made famous by the Jesuits) as means in defending a greater good.

This book had many interesting arguments, but I must admit it was difficult to trudge through. Few books have taken me as long to read. While Wills effectively pooh poohs the legalism and traditionalism of conservative Catholicism, his loosey goosey, wide-is-the-way universalism is no better of a substitute. Sigh. Neither side of the Catholic spectrum proclaims the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

I see that Wills also wrote “The Future of the Catholic Church with Pope Francis” in 2016 in which he further criticized the church and hoped the current pope would institute necessary reforms. I can’t find any recent comments from Wills regarding Francis’ controversial lifting of the ban on communion for remarried divorcees. Perhaps he is no longer able to contribute to debates over these types of issues at the age of 83? For many conservative Catholics, Garry Wills has been the church’s #1 arch-heretic, but Francis is quickly gaining ground.

For those wishing to read more about papal indiscretions and heresies, see “Vicars of Christ: The Dark Side of the Papacy,” by ex-Jesuit priest, Peter De Rosa. See my review here.

Hurricane “dispensation” exemplifies Catholicism’s salvation-by-merit system

After being pounded by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the Southeast portion of the country is feeling the effects of Hurricane Nate this weekend. I see from the latest news reports that Nate has officially been downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm, but it’s still doing damage.

Catholics in the affected area are in a quandary. Their church teaches that members who do not attend mass on Sundays commit grave sin and doom their soul to hell for eternity unless the sin is confessed to as priest.

What to do, what to do?

Catholics in Louisiana can relax because New Orleans archbishop, Gregory Aymond (see photo), issued a formal dispensation on Friday excusing all members impacted by the storm from attending mandatory mass.

Aymond states in his declaration, “Regarding the Sunday obligation for Catholics, if a person cannot get to church for Mass or if traveling causes danger he/she is dispensed from the obligation to celebrate Mass.”

Hmm. Not so fast. It seems to me that this type of declaration is wide open to personal interpretation. How dangerous does travel to church have to be? Must the route be blocked with downed power lines, flooded streets, or fallen tree limbs to be considered dangerous? We must be precise because it’s the difference between Heaven and hell. I anticipate that many unscrupulous Catholics living on the periphery or even outside of the storm’s path will take advantage of the declaration as an excuse to stay home and watch ESPN’s NFL Sunday Countdown this morning. They will all surely pick up a mortal sin and go to hell. But what is the exact dividing line on this? What are the precise dangerous conditions that will allow a Catholic to stay home from church today without committing mortal sin? Catholics need to know!!! There’s even more complications. Aymond’s stay-home declaration applies to the Catholics in his archdiocese, but what about those living outside of his jurisdiction who are impacted by the storm? Must they consult their own bishop? What if their own bishop hasn’t issued a dispensation, but they have been impacted by the storm? What about Catholics who are traveling in and out of impacted areas on Sunday? What is their exact obligation?

Of course, there are no good answers to any of these questions. It’s all legalistic nonsense. But Catholicism is full of such exactingly vague formulas. Accept Christ as your Savior by faith alone. You cannot obey your way into Heaven.

Catholics may skip Mass if Tropical Storm Nate poses threat, archbishop says
http://www.nola.com/hurricane/index.ssf/2017/10/catholics_can_skip_mass_if_tro.html

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 10/7/17

Catholic belief runs the entire gamut, from hyper-traditionalists who still rail against Martin Luther the “heretic,” to Catholic-Hindu syncretists. Pope Francis definitely leans more toward the syncretists than the Catholic fundamentalists.

The bitter fight between Catholic conservatives and liberals over pope Francis’ guileful lifting of the ban on communion for remarried divorcees continues to heat up. In the first article, Dave Armstrong, one Catholicism’s most condescending apologists, who has often boasted that a pope could never lead his beloved church into error, pleads with Francis not to make him a liar.

This is an excellent article on the ecclesiastical politics and arm-twisting that takes place behind the scenes at Medjugorje and at other “miraculous” manifestations. It’s all a sham.

An interesting commentary on the differences in “evangelicalism” from the viewpoint of a United Methodist, mainline unbeliever.

“The faithful Catholic who never picks up his Bible outside the Mass is still a more biblical Christian than his Evangelical friends who know the text inside out.” – from “The Bible’s Not Enough.”

The believing church has done amazingly well without a central authoritarian body like the Vatican, which has formulated many doctrines contrary to the Word of God over the centuries.  All credit and honor to the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit! The Catholic church has always boasted of its magisterium, which was supposedly incapable of leading the church into error, yet the current pope is doing precisely that according to most church conservatives.

Liberal and progressive Catholics, like this writer, celebrate the growing ecumenicity between Catholics and Protestants. There are many Protestants…and even evangelicals…who share this attitude. Doctrine? Specifically HOW a person receives salvation? Ach! Minor details meant only for theologians. “Just love Jesus and do your best,” they say.

Where there’s smoke there’s fire. Francis will move forward on female deacons after the dust from “Amoris Laetitia” settles.

Tom Petty and “Playing Dumb” in the Catholic church

 

Overshadowed by the horrific mass shootings in Las Vegas last Sunday evening was the news of the death of popular rock and roller, Tom Petty, on Monday.

Petty started out as a big fan of The Byrds. His second single, “American Girl,” sounded so Byrds-ish that when it hit the airwaves in 1977, Roger McGuinn, former leader of the Byrds, scratched his head and wondered when HE had recorded the song. Petty would go on to record a total of 16 albums (with the Heartbreakers and solo) that sold over 20 million total copies.

From all that I can tell, Tom Petty was an atheist. But on his 2014 album, “Hypnotic Eye,” he included a song called “Playing Dumb,” a scathing indictment of the Catholic church and it’s “handling” of the pedophile priest scandal and hierarchical cover-up. The video is actually worth a listen and a watch (lyrics and graphics included). If nothing else, it’s a good example of how an atheist views corrupt, institutional (c)hristianity.

Yup, man-made religion will ALWAYS let people down. It’s not the way to salvation. People need to trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior! He will NEVER let you down.

Your walk with the Lord: Daily intentionality vs. fits and starts

Along with all the other stuff I’ve had going on recently – painting the house and getting the repairs to our roof finalized – the lease to my car is coming due at the end of this month. I’m definitely not a car guy. For me, a car is something that gets me to work and brings me back home every day. In the three years I’ve had the Volkswagen Jetta, I’ve never washed the outside and I never cleaned the inside. I certainly wouldn’t say the interior of the car was disgusting, although my wife surely would (and has). Three years of dust had accumulated on the dash along with some dead grass strands and gravel embedded in the carpet and the inevitable stray sesame seeds and French fries from a few Extra Value Meal #1s (don’t tell my doctor) wedged into the gap next to the driver’s seat. Yes, there was also some solidified goo from coffee and Coke spills in the beverage holder. Don’t judge me. It sounds worse than it looked.

With the lease due date and inspection approaching, I knew I had to give the car a thorough cleaning, so I spent half the day last Saturday washing the exterior and cleaning the interior. Armed with rolls of paper towels, carpet cleaner, Formula 409, Windex, and our vacuum cleaner, I worked very hard for about four hours. When I was done, the Jetta looked almost as clean as the day I drove it off the lot. A third-party rep inspected the car yesterday and gave it a thumbs up, so I’ll be going back to the dealership very soon to pick out a new vehicle. In the meantime, I’m really enjoying driving around town in my pristine car. Why did I wait so long to clean it?

As I was driving into work this morning in my like-new car, I thought about how we can also approach our relationship with the Lord far too casually. A sorry analogy? Please hear me out. We neglect prayer. We neglect studying His Word. We neglect applying the Word to our daily lives. We seek other things first before Him. Days, weeks, and months go by and before you know it, our relationship with the Lord is a real mess. It then takes a huge effort to get back into the “spiritual groove” and get right with the Lord again. Been there, done that. Bigtime. But if we walk with the Lord intentionally, every day, every week, we can enjoy the sweet intimacy of being close to Him. Why would we not want that? Don’t get me wrong, walking with the Lord doesn’t mean checking a daily “to do” list, but it does mean being intentional about the relationship.

No, I’ll never be a motorhead, but I plan on keeping my next car a bit cleaner (no eating inside!) so I can enjoy it far more. I agree, keeping a car clean may not be the most “appropriate” analogy in this case. Our walk with the Lord is FAR more valuable than maximizing our driving experience in a silly car. But everyday circumstances sometimes do provide spiritual lessons. The Lord has provided all the necessary means – through prayer, the Word, and the lifechanging power of the indwelling Holy Spirit – so that our walk with Him can be sweet and deeply intimate on a daily basis.

“So as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” – Colossians 1:10

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” – Zephaniah 3:17