“The Keepers” on Netflix: Recommended with sadness

I finally finished watching Netflix’s seven-part-series, “The Keepers,” about the unsolved murder of a young nun in 1969. Sister Cathy Cesnik taught at an all-girls’ Catholic high school in Baltimore, Maryland. She disappeared in November, 1969 and her decomposed body was found the following January. The murder was never solved but two retired alumni of the high school and former students of the nun have relentlessly attempted to identify the killer/s.

The facts show that Father Joseph Maskell, a chaplain at the high school, had sexually abused a large number of the students. One of the victims had confided in Sister Cesnik who took initial steps to expose Maskell but then disappeared. There’s little doubt that priest Maskell orchestrated Cesnik’s death even if he was not the murderer himself.

This is gut-wrenching stuff. The sexual abuse of multiple girls at Archbishop Keough High School by Maskell and another priest sickens the soul. Then there was the murder. And finally there was the cover-up of Maskell’s abuse by the Baltimore Archdiocese and its subsequent legal battles with the victims.

My heart breaks for the victims of Father Maskell and for all the other victims of abuse within the Catholic church. The church definitely perpetuated the abuse through its clerical celibacy rule and by moving known predators from one parish to the next. I’m also very saddened that the Catholic church deceives its members with a false gospel of sacramental grace and merit rather than teaching them the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

I highly recommend this series although it’s difficult to watch. But the truths it reveals are so important.

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A new Netflix docu-series, “The Keepers,” premiers tomorrow, Friday, May 19th and it looks like something Christians may want to watch. I certainly will be.

The seven-part series focuses on the unsolved murder of a Catholic nun, Sister Catherine Cesnik, inKeep Baltimore, Maryland in 1969. One of the suspects was a priest, Father Joseph Maskell, a known sexual predator, who was shuffled from parish to parish by the church hierarchy. The documentary alleges that Maskell was abusing girls at the high school where Cesnik taught and she was attempting to expose him prior to her death.

It’s one thing to hear general information about the scandal of pedophilic and abusive priests and the subsequent cover-up by the church hierarchy. That’s bad enough. But it’s another thing to examine the personal aftermath of the abuse and cover-up in the lives of actual human beings with names and faces and in the lives of their families.

Catholicism…

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The death of one nun was just the tip of the iceberg

 

A new Netflix docu-series, “The Keepers,” premiers tomorrow, Friday, May 19th and it looks like something Christians may want to watch. I certainly will be.

The seven-part series focuses on the unsolved murder of a Catholic nun, Sister Catherine Cesnik, inKeep Baltimore, Maryland in 1969. One of the suspects was a priest, Father Joseph Maskell, a known sexual predator, who was shuffled from parish to parish by the church hierarchy. The documentary alleges that Maskell was abusing girls at the high school where Cesnik taught and she was attempting to expose him prior to her death.

It’s one thing to hear general information about the scandal of pedophilic and abusive priests and the subsequent cover-up by the church hierarchy. That’s bad enough. But it’s another thing to examine the personal aftermath of the abuse and cover-up in the lives of actual human beings with names and faces and in the lives of their families.

Catholicism has much to answer for, in regards to this scandal as well as for misleading its members with its false gospel. Not only were children, nuns, and young seminarians victimized by “celibate” sexual predators, but Catholics in general were and are being misled into believing they must merit their way into Heaven.

One-hundred-years ago, church spokespersons offhandedly dismissed accusations of abuse in Catholic schools, seminaries, convents, and rectories as “Protestant porn.” Now they’re keeping their mouths shut and wishing it would all just go away.


In Netflix’s “The Keepers,” a nun’s unsolved murder, a sexual abuse coverup and crumbling Vatican II hope
http://www.americamagazine.org/arts-culture/2017/05/17/netflixs-keepers-nuns-unsolved-murder-sexual-abuse-coverup-and-crumbling

Ben Seewald reaches out to Catholics again!

After a very long prodigal “season,” I returned to the Lord in 2014. That same year, our oldest son hooked us up with Netflix. I can’t say I watch a lot of Netflix but I did make it a point to watch the “19 Kids and Counting” show featuring the Duggar family. I watched the first four and a half-seasons until The Learning Channel yanked the show from Netflix.

The Duggars didn’t talk a lot about their religious affiliation directly, but if a viewer paid attention they could gather that they were independent fundamental Baptists who adhered to Bill Gothard’s and Doug Phillips’ ultra-conservative Christian Dominionist/Reconstructionism. Coming from an IFB background myself (although much less hardcore than the Duggars’), I was fascinated by the show. Among many other IFB distinctives, the girls weren’t allowed to have short hairdoos or wear pants. I could argue secondary doctrinal issues with the Duggars but at least they uphold the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ ALONE.

The series premiered in 2009 and ran until May 2015 when news headlines revealed oldest son, Josh Duggar, was involved in several scandalous transgressions. A spinoff show, “Counting On,” carries on the Duggar saga, focusing mainly on married daughters, Jill and Jessa.

I recently saw that Jessa’s husband, Ben Seewald (see photo), is making headlines once again with remarks about Catholicism. Back in 2014, Seewald posted some comments critical of Roman Catholicism on his Facebook account, which caused a firestorm among 19 Kids and Counting’s Catholic fans. I see in the recent article below from a virtual gossip rag that Ben has posted on Facebook and Instagram that he’s currently reading James White’s excellent “The Roman Catholic Controversy: Catholics and Protestants – Do the Differences Still Matter?” (see my review here) to further educate himself regarding Catholicism’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit and Catholic fans are up in arms once again.

Up until about fifty years ago, most evangelicals were very aware that Catholicism’s gospel of sacramental grace and merit was a false gospel. But because of the ecumenical push by Rome and some Judas evangelicals, the differences between Catholicism’s false gospel and the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ ALONE have been blurred in the minds of many. It’s now considered unkind, unloving, and intolerant to warn Catholics that they are on the wide way to destruction. I admire young Ben Seewald for upholding the Gospel of grace despite undoubtedly enormous pressure from network executives and family to keep his mouth shut.

Persevere in the Lord, Ben Seewald! There’s already way too much cooperation, compromise, and betrayal within evangelicalism.


Ben Seewald: Duggar Husband Studies To Refute Catholicism While Jill and Derick Evangelize to Catholics
http://www.inquisitr.com/4166855/ben-seewald-duggar-husband-studies-to-refute-catholicism-while-jill-and-derick-evangelize-to-catholics/

“Don’t trust the Bible but you can trust us.”

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This morning before church, my wife and I were drinking our coffee in the kitchen and watching CNN as is our habit. The CNN hosts started plugging the second season of “Finding Jesus,” which begins tonight. I definitely won’t be watching. I sat through a single episode of this series last season and it’s basically a group of modernist unbelievers trying to explain away God and the Bible.

Anyway, they said tonight’s opening episode will be focusing on Pontius Pilate among other things. They mentioned the Pilate Stone, which was excavated at Caesarea By The Sea in 1961. My blogosphere friend, Wally, who’s currently touring Israel, and I were discussing this stone just the other day! A fantastic archaeological find, the stone has Pilate’s name inscribed on it. Yes, there was a historical Pontius Pilate and there was and is a Jesus Christ.

The CNN morning hosts then interviewed a Catholic priest (sorry, didn’t catch the name) to get a “religious expert’s” take on Pilate. The priest said the writer of the Gospel of John (I always thought the apostle John was the writer?) purposely portrayed Pilate as weak and indecisive because he was trying to give the impression that the Jews were largely responsible for Christ’s crucifixion, not the Roman Gentiles. The priest went on to say the Gospel of John was written following the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 AD, afterwhich the Jewish nation was in complete disarray, so the author was catering to a Gentile audience and its prejudices rather than to a Jewish one.

How to respond? This Catholic priest is unabashedly stating that he does not believe the Bible is God’s Word and that the writers of the New Testament were attempting to manipulate their readers. And people trust this priest and his ecclesiastical associates with their souls?

Final thoughts on “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath”

Almost a month ago, I posted that I had begun watching “Leah Remini: Scientology and the lrs Aftermath” on the A&E cable channel on Tuesday nights (see here). Well, I caught the seventh and final episode of the series last night via on-demand.

This was an absolutely fascinating documentary/exposé of Scientology. Remini was a member of the “church” for 30 years and is now on a personal crusade to reveal the cult’s homemade “theology” and abusive practices. The bulk of the episodes consist of Remini and Mike Rinder, a former senior executive of the church, visiting other former members whose lives and families were torn apart by the church. If you have any interest in cults and how they control and abuse their membership, I highly recommend this series.

After leaving Scientology, Remini returned to the church she was baptized into as an infant; Roman Catholicism. Here’s a couple of my observations with regards to the series:

  • Not once throughout the entire series does Remini mention Jesus Christ. She left Scientology and re-embraced Catholicism, but in seven one-hour episodes she does not name the name of Jesus Christ even once. If I came out of a false religion and found salvation in Christ, I would be SINGING about Jesus! And I do! 🙂 I suspect Ms. Remini is like the overwhelming majority of Catholics who take some comfort in the institutional rituals and trappings of Catholicism but have never accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. But how could they? Their church does not preach the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through Jesus Christ alone. Remini never does name Jesus, however, episode after episode she repeatedly uses more expletives than a drunken sailor on the first night in port.
  • In the final episode, Remini and Rinder travel to New York City to meet with lawyers about possible litigation against Scientology. Prior to the meeting, Remini enters St. Patrick’s Cathedral on 51st Street, saying she wants to light a candle “for luck.” For luck? The viewer then sees Remini lighting a votive candle inside the cathedral and pausing as if in prayer. Next we see Remini kneeling in a pew and gazing ahead solemnly at what is presumed to be the altar at St. Patrick’s. Unfortunately, it appears that Ms. Remini has exchanged one system of religious shackles for another, although Catholicism no longer controls peoples lives to the degree Scientology does. But remember back just fifty years ago when there were many convents throughout America crowded with virginal Catholic women who were cut off from their families and were attempting to merit their salvation though self-deprivation and complete obedience to their superiors?

“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first…” – Matthew 12:43-45

Escape to chains

Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermathlr
A&E Channel, Tuesdays at 10/9c

I was a big fan of the “King of Queens” television show (1998-2007), which featured Leah Remini (pictured) as Doug Heffernan’s no-nonsense wife, Carrie. It wasn’t a stretch to assume actress Remini shared many of the same tough-as-nails characteristics as her TV persona. Following “King of Queens,” Remini began to pop up in the media now and then regarding her very public split from the “church” of Scientology in 2013 and she now hosts this exposé on A&E.

I did a fair amount of research on religious cults way back in the day (especially on Mormonism) and I found Scientology to be one of the strangest. When I heard that Remini had a new show on the A&E cable channel that examined some of the less-flattering aspects of Scientology I was very interested and yesterday I watched the first two episodes via on-demand.

Scientology was dreamed up by science fiction writer, L. Ron Hubbard, and claims to assist its members in achieving increasingly higher levels of self-knowledge and spiritual fulfillment. There is absolutely no trace of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the teachings of Scientology.

In the first couple of episodes of the TV show, Remini shares some of her own experiences within the church and then focuses on the harrowing testimonies of other ex-members. It’s one heartbreak after another. The Scientology hierarchy demands unwavering obedience from its members and controls their lives right down to personal details. Ex-members are shunned (referred to as “disconnection”), even by family members, and public criticism of the church brings harassment and worse. This is riveting television, folks, although the frequency of bleeped curse words out of Remini’s mouth would embarrass a sailor.

In other media, Remini has stated that she has re-joined the Catholic church where she was baptized as an infant. “Nobody is asking me for money. Nobody is demanding that I come,” she explained about her current association with Catholicism to a popular magazine. Well, the Catholic church does appeal for money and it does demand that its members show up for weekly mass upon pain of eternal damnation, but the legalism of Catholicism must appear as great freedom compared to Scientology. However, the history of the Catholic church is filled with examples of cruel and heartless authoritarianism of a kind that would make Scientology leader, David Miscavige, feel pretty good about his organization. Unfortunately, there have also been examples of Christian evangelical/fundamentalist churches that sought to control the lives of their members. The Catholic church does teach several biblical doctrines but it has many other teachings that are either un-biblical or anti-biblical.  Most importantly, Catholicism teaches salvation is by sacramental grace and merit in contrast to the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

A popular analogy floats around evangelicalism about a government treasury agent who studies only real currency in order to be able to spot the counterfeit. The message is that it’s much more valuable to study God’s Word than to “waste time” studying false religions. But if that’s the case then why do so many evangelicals embrace Roman Catholicism with its false gospel? Yes, we should diligently study God’s Word but we should also be somewhat aware of false religions, especially those that use Christian terminology like “faith,” “grace,” “Jesus the Savior,” etc. Satan’s most effective counterfeits aren’t those “wacko” outfits like Scientology but those that fool even the saints.

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” – 1 John 4:1

There’s a lot of junk on television but “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath” is definitely worth a watch. I feel a certain bond with Remini after coming out of a false church myself and sensing an obligation to warn those who remain behind and those who might be attracted to it. But it’s sadly ironic that Remini returned to the false church I left.

Searching for “truth” and “fulfillment”

Good morning, everyone! How do your stomachs feel? Yesterday, most Americans satbeatty around the dinner table with family and friends and gorged on a traditional turkey dinner. I hope yours was as delicious as ours. Many gave thanks to the Lord God for the blessings in their lives while more than a few gave thanks to a non-existent entity taught by their religion or to some vague “cosmic force” because they don’t know the true Lord. Some didn’t thank God at all because they either doubt or deny His existence.

How does a person make sense of life without the Lord? What do they really have without God? They chase from one pleasure to the next trying to fill that void in their soul that only He can fill. Over the holiday season, many people will flock to movies theaters. It’s a tradition for many families. Hollywood keeps cranking out “product,” bringing short-lived happiness and fulfillment to people, many who are generally unhappy with their personal circumstances and are looking to temporarily escape from their doldrums for a couple of hours.

These days, I’m not much of a movie or television fan but in my younger years I also chased after the fleeting sensation of connection and fulfillment a good movie could provide. I don’t remember the exact year, but when I was a young teenager I watched a movie on television titled, Splendor in the Grass, which featured Warren Beatty and Natalie Wood. Bud and Deanie were high school sweethearts and the most popular couple on campus but life intervened and took them in separate directions. In the final reel, Deanie visits Bud who she hasn’t seen in quite awhile, hoping a spark of romance remains in their relationship, but Bud has a wife and children at that point and Deanie’s hopes are dashed. What? I mean, WHAT??? Movies aren’t supposed to end that way! I took it for granted that Hollywood provided pleasant fantasy rather than tragic realism. Because the film had a ring of truth and authenticity about it that was rare to encounter, I became curious about the director, Elia Kazan (in center of photo with Beatty and Wood), which began a lifelong interest. What a character!

In the months ahead, I’ll be reviewing all of Kazan’s 19 films from a Christian perspective. Kazan was an atheist who tried to make sense of a world without God. It’s a sad story but there’s plenty of lessons for the non-believer and believer.