Luring ‘Consenting’ Children into Sex: 1st Amendment Right ?

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Facebook (29) | Richard D. Ackerman.

Amazon.com has apparently gotten in their minds that the chasing of profits includes the ready availability of books on how to lure children into sexual relationships !!!  Instead of distancing themselves from this perversion, Amazon.com thinks it takes the high road by protecting the right of any consumer to fill his/her mind with the idea of sexualizing a child.  Best yet, as long as there is a profit to be made in the interest of free consumerism, all is well in the minds of the PR team at Amazon.com.

Call me conservative, but this is a no-brainer.  There is no duty to have a private book company protect the First Amendment rights of those who seek to normalize sex with children.  There is absolutely no historical analyses which would support the conclusion that our Founders contemplated that a private commercial enterprise would find itself compelled to protect this sickness.

Protecting from prosecution against seditious libel is a far cry from creating an intellectual playground for anyone tempted by or engaging in pedophilia.  Only a state actor can violate one’s civil rights.  There is no violation where purely private conduct is afoot. (42 U.S.C. 1983 – Civil Rights Actions).  Amazon.com need not worry about being liable for refusing to do business with anyone.  I also do not think that they are ‘discriminating’ against anyone, in the sense of the law, because being a pedophile is hardly a protected status under the law like race, sex, gender, ethnicity, sexual preference, or religion (recognized classes of persons protected from unlawful discrimination in commercial contexts — often referred to as the Title VII classes of persons). When pedophiles become a protected class of persons for purposes of affirmative action, it will certainly be time to check out from ‘Hotel Satan.’

While there is a national uproar about the Amazon.com issue now, this is one that has been simmering for some time (See, Forbes.com article).  These folks need to be shut down sooner than later.  This is just completely unacceptable.

As stated above, I do not believe that our Founders thought that the First Amendment would cover this, notwithstanding the fact that no private business is under a compunction to sell pedophile advocacy books.  Unfortunately, if this were a public library, they’d at least have an argument with the help of the American Library Association or the ACLU.  These two organizations are quite adept at protecting pornography, true sedition, and other forms of distorted writings and thinking. But, even these folks would likely stay clear of somehow requiring Amazon.com to sell pedophile books if Amazon.com doesn’t want to.

Should someone be inclined to argue that the author of the challenged book really doesn’t mean to traffic in how to do this with children, see his attributed comments at:  http://community.babycenter.com/post/a25054937/amazon_sells_pedophile_how-to_book..?cpg=13&csi=2240265672&pd=12 .

This is an issue that we tried to address in 2002.  It looked like we had made some progress at the time.  Apparently not.  Amazon.com took it off the shelves for a while and apparently decided to quietly restock with a variety of these books.  Worse yet, they say that they have no interest in supporting illegal activity, but that they feel like they cannot prevent others from promoting whatever they want to.  Freedom without responsibility is simply not a good policy. No one is ‘forced’ to profit from things that are not right, even by the loosest moral standards of the adult population.  See, http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.vie w&pageId=15333 and http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=20484

Please write or e-mail them at ir@amazon.com and let them know this is unacceptable.

PLEASE DO NOT ALLOW THINGS TO GET WORSE THAN THEY ALREADY ARE. THERE IS AN OUNCE OF TRUTH IN WHAT THE AUTHOR HAS TO SAY ABOUT HIS CRITICS AND SOCIETY IN GENERAL.  IF CHILDREN KNOW ABOUT SEX, ARE NOT AFRAID OF IT, AND CAN HAVE THE FREEDOM TO CONSENT, THEN ONE OUGHT TO WONDER ABOUT WHAT IS WRONG WITH OUR SOCIETY MORE THAN IT OUGHT TO EVEN PERHAPS WORRY ABOUT SOMEONE LIKE THIS.  THE ARGUMENTS OF THE AUTHOR AND AMAZON.COM’s PR TEAM ARE NO DIFFERENT THAN MANY OF THE SAME TYPES OF ARGUMENTS MADE BY PLANNED PARENTHOOD IN ITS LECTURES ABOUT ‘SAFE SEX,’ ‘CHOICE,’ and FREEDOM TO ASSOCIATE WITH OTHERS (including those much older).  FYI – THE PLANNED PARENTHOOD PROGRAM IS KNOWN AS THE “UNEQUAL PARTNERS” PROGRAM FOR USE IN SCHOOLS FOR CHILDREN 10 AND ABOVE.

See more of our efforts at www.ProFamilyLegalCenter.com .  Thank you for taking a few minutes to read about these issues.  They are difficult and I can understand why anyone would want to avoid them altogether.  However, ignorance leads to complacency and, in turn, complacency leads to defeat of our most basic principles as a society.

Let My Faith Be a Work of God

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Boticelli

Make no mistake about it, your works do matter to your salvation. Read the ‘red letters’ in your Bible. The works required of us are neither difficult, nor for public glory, nor for any other purpose than the fulfillment of your Divine Destiny as someone asking for the Eternal Grace of God. Empty faith alone will not suffice to meet the needs of your purpose in life. Faith, however, is the only thing that will sanctify your works as being His, and Grace alone will suffice to overcome your inadequacies as a flawed human. The Ultimate Price was paid so that this Grace might be extended to all of us.

Those who teach others to be complacent in the accomplishment of these necessary works, or requiring others to do the work required of us alone, will not do well in the kingdom of heaven. There are many mainline evangelical churches teaching that the only thing that matters to one’s salvation is that one do an altar-call and simply believe. The whole of the synoptic Gospels simply cannot be read this way. While it is true that several areas point out to the necessity of faith, the overall picture paints an image of responsibility to do or avoid certain human acts. I directly challenge any reader of this article – Prove to me otherwise by the Words of Christ Himself.

Indeed, many Evangelicals, Mainline Protestants, Catholics and other Christian denominational faiths begin just about any theological debate with a view toward determining whether the opposition truly believes in salvation by grace alone, salvation by works, or some hybrid theory. As with all theological debates about what it means to be a “Christian,” it seems that we all ought to take a look at the actual Words of Christ as a starting point. This particular piece focuses on the ‘red letters’ as found in the Book of Matthew. I cannot help but find that faith alone, without daily living proof of that faith (i.e., acts of and through Faith), will not suffice. Contrary to the position of a good number of mainline preachers, this is simply not “working your way to salvation.” Demonstrating and affirming one’s faith on a daily basis is the Opus Dei. Simply resting on one’s laurels is not what was preached by Christ, the very center of what it means to be Christian. If He thought that we didn’t need to do anything other than believe in him, why would he have spent so much time talking about what he wanted us to do on a daily basis? Is it not true that even Satan believes in the power of Christ and the salvation story? Why would Evil be so afraid of the Message unless there was an acknowledgment of the power of Christ?

I believe this article is timely given the 2009 death of the Kansas late-term abortionist, George Tiller. Many of us pro-lifers, whether we want to admit it or not, felt a refreshing sense of relief that he is no longer able to tear apart babies who would have otherwise survived outside of the womb, but for his act of dismembering them or vacuuming out their brains. By his own account, he may have taken as may as 60,000 infants’ lives.

Of course, for the Christian, the question becomes, “What if Dr. Tiller gave his life over to Christ in the last 30 seconds of life?” Moreover, there exists a serious theological question as to whether the murderer of Tiller blasphemed the Holy Spirit by taking the life of Tiller in a church. If Tiller’s potential plea for last-minute salvation failed, he went straight to Hell. Even if Tiller’s shooter, Scott Roeder, was a holy person till that moment, if blasphemy unto the Holy Spirit occurred, he’s done as well. The ‘red letters’ actually don’t leave much room for debate on these points. Obviously, if one thinks that the Words are just a form of philosophy, good advice, or just simply one view among many, there is no sense in even attempting to understand the clear choices put before us. The Good News is that we don’t need to personally worry about Tiller’s and Roeder’s issues since we have plenty to do ourselves to act upon our own Faith.

With these points in mind, a step-by-step analysis of Matthew reveals some interesting answers about whether we are required to engage in certain works before we may avoid the fires of Hell. Again, this is not a matter of “working for salvation,” but it is a matter of living up to our end of the New Covenant insomuch as we claim to believe and have faith. What exactly does it mean to “believe” or have “faith”? It certainly can’t be the existence of an idle faith. For me, the question is readily answered by even a cursory review of Jesus’ words. The Great Story of the Book of St. Matthew is set forth as follows.

First of all, we are told that we cannot live by material means alone. It is written that we must live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4, KJV). In this same vein, it also naturally follows that we should not participate in the temptation of God with the help of the Enemy (4:7). These commands are then concluded with the thought that we are to commit ourselves unto God through our service and worship to Him alone. (4:10). Oddly, the Scripture does not say that we are to make this commitment only by worship or belief alone. This can only be reasonably construed to mean that my faith is not sufficient for salvation, but that faith with works is. Our faith, however small, can grow into the greatest of works (even so much as moving a mountain) and we will need the Grace of God to be fully sanctified. (17:20; 19:23-24, 26; 21:21-22).

After Matthew recounts the time Christ spent in the desert with Satan, we are given a not so subtle description of why all of this matter. It is summed up by saying “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. […] Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (4:17, 19).

Well, what could “follow me” possibly mean? Using the words literally, as I expect most conservatives would want me to, one can only get the conclusion that “follow me” requires acts coupled with faith.

Moreover, what does it mean to “repent”? Fundamentally, it means you must do something. It can only mean that you carry out your life as though you were in acknowledgment of your sins. We all know that true repentance can only be shown by how we live our lives. The “why” of how we live our lives is not something we can ever answer sufficiently. When life is over, we will only find out why we lived our lives the way we did. We will then know what our Divine Purpose was. As we are later told in the Gospels, there will be plenty of folks knocking on the door, claiming His Name, and the door is simply not going to be answered. I think we are supposed to live by and through His Name and not merely stake a claim to it.

Nevertheless, Matthew leads us to the first big sermon in Chapters 5 through 7. Interestingly enough, these Chapters are not a big sermon on altar calls and faith standing alone. Moreover, it certainly is not a call to idle faith. The Words focus almost exclusively on the omissions and commissions to/of acts which lead to our place in Heaven, or, where in disregard of His Word, we end up with weeping, gnashing of teeth, or the fires of Hell. It is also interesting that these words are being directed at people who obviously came to listen to Jesus, already believed in what he was doing, and he had to have already known that he was going to Calvary. If he knew that he was going to Calvary to wash the entire slate for anyone who believed in him, he certainly spent a whole lot of arguably unnecessary time talking about what needed to be done by the believers and what they needed to avoid. If the words were only suggestions, I sincerely doubt that he would have followed up commands or prohibitions with words stating that either Heaven or Hell would follow, not purely by the decision to believe in Him, but by how these things were done.

This said, the followers were told that the “blessed” are those who are poor in spirit, meek, who mourn, who hunger and thirst after righteousness, who are pure in heart, who are merciful, who are peacemakers, who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, and when one is reviled for His sake. (5:3-11). The result of which is made very clear. It is said , “Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad: for great is your reward in heaven […]” (5:12). What could this possibly mean? If I do the things commanded, I will find great reward in Heaven. Each and every single one of the things mentioned requires that I do something. There is no way to be any of these things without a work of the conscience, often coupled with an overt act toward another human being. What makes a “saint” is not whether the person simply believed – it is founded in how he/she lived her life as a Christian.

By way of our contemporary reference point, there are cogent arguments to be made that neither Tiller, nor his killer, demonstrated any of these characteristics as they completed their final works in life. Whether or not their lives were an Opus Dei is not for us to decide per se. We can only use their examples as a way to define or redefine our own daily existence.

After giving a description of those who will be blessed and given comfort, Christ goes on to tell the multitudes that they need to be a “light of the world” and that we are to “[l]et your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works. [emphasis added].” (5:16). Now, obviously, given His prior words, our works cannot be done or committed in such a way that we are prideful, vain, or arrogant. Our works need to flow forth from a heartfelt desire to allow our lives to become the ultimate act of service unto our Maker and those that he created to live with and amongst us. If one sits idly in a silent faith, one certainly cannot be a light unto the world!

Well, maybe you still have John 3:16 in mind (i.e., the penultimate “altar call” verse cited so often by contemporary Christians), and just don’t think that following the commands set forth in Chapter 5 are mandatory for entrance to heaven. I must ask you then, why does Matthew 5:19 go onto say that the failure to abide in “these” commandments will result in being called “the least in the kingdom of heaven”?

Maybe that’s not enough for you. It goes on to say, “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. [emphasis added]. ” (5:20). I’m not the brightest guy in the world, but this does certainly seem unequivocal. Moreover, the “righteousness” being referred to follows directly from the beatitudes given to the crowd as instructions on what it means to follow Him. Nary a word is said about simply doing an altar-call and being relieved of further duty to actually do works that one is capable of within one’s own calling in life or given environment.

Now, how these acts are carried out by each of us can only depend on where we are in life. For example, a lawyer may be able to share his/her light in the courthouses. An invalid may only be able to share his/her light in a convalescent home. A mother may only be in a position to share her light with her husband and family. A mentally disabled person may share the light through something as simple as a smile. I don’t think that He said that our works must occur in any certain place. These works just must simply occur with the precedence of a pure, humble and willing heart. Again, the failure to abide by the commandments to fulfill his Law and Word, results in being called the least in heaven. The good news, at this early juncture in Matthew, is that one can conceivably still end up in heaven. However, as will be seen later in the Book, there are several things one can do to make sure that you have no chance at the proverbial entrance ticket.

After given the admonition that the failure to abide in specific commandments will lead us to becoming the least in heaven, Jesus goes on to give some specific instructions about what will actually get us near or into the fires of Hell. (5:22). The first one of these instructions being that simply calling a brother a fool is good enough to put us “in danger of hell fire.” This is followed by the command that we not come before God to place our gifts before His altar until and unless we have forgiven others of whatever perceived transgressions they may have committed against us. To the extent that we are called to lay our entire lives before the altar as a testimony unto Him and our fellow man, it does not seem to matter if we have not forgiven others. I think it is all too easy to say that one has done an altar-call, placed their lives at the altar, but yet completely forget to forgive others in that process. All too many of us do the altar-call, but don’t engage in the conscious act/work of forgiveness.

All too many of us forget that forgiveness is an act or work. Any “act” or “work” by a human requires that we direct our conscious will toward a given outcome and take the steps necessary to fulfill the intended outcome. Forgiving is not an idle act or just a belief. If I want to forgive someone, then I must first will it so and then commit myself to the act of completing the forgiveness by consciously letting go any desire to seek revenge, to carry the baggage of the other’s sin, or to otherwise ‘hold it against the person’ until they have somehow repented in my view. In fact, if there is any one consistent theme in the New Testament, it is that we are to engage in the work of forgiving others and in the work of accepting His Grace so that our works might be sanctified and our negligent omissions overlooked. (22:37-40). By the way, it is so often said that “it isn’t easy to forgive.” Actually, it is supposed to be easier than anything Christ did. (9:3-6).

Along these same lines, with regard to what it means to commit an “act,” Christ further admonishes His listeners to make sure that they not only avoid murder, adultery and other offenses, but that we avoid even the very intentional thoughts of these things. With respect to those thoughts that occur to us without apparent reason, we are instructed to remove them immediately and take an immediate view toward the end goal. In fact, we are specifically warned that if we do not commit the act of removing sinful thoughts and doings from our existence, that the whole “body should be cast into hell.” (5:27-32).

As though we didn’t have enough to do after actually listening to His words in Chapter 5: 3-32, Christ goes on to speak about what our words shall be unto others. We are told that we are to keep our words simple and that we are not to swear by anyone, anything, or even by our own veracity. (5:33-37).

Now as for Tiller’s murderer, Verses 38-44 are particularly compelling. This is where we are specifically told that the “eye for an eye” system of morality is done. We are now to “turn the other cheek.” In fact, we are even told to “love your enemies.” We are “bless them that curse you.” We are to “do good to them that hate you.” We are to “pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” (5:39-47). In fact Verse 46 clearly suggests that there may be no “reward” for the failure to do these things that are commanded. Where in Verses 38-44 does it say anything to the effect that we are just to have faith and that we not fully commit to doing these things as Christians? Is prayer something other than an act of faith (i.e., a work)?

Chapter 5 ends by saying, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. [emphasis added].” (5:48). How would one be “perfect” unless one acted in a way which presented itself as a standard by which God will judge whether or not we have achieved what his Son commands? Obviously, what we do matters just as much as what we claim we believe. The strength or existence of any belief in Christ can only be ascertained by our conduct since it is the conduct that defines the concept of what it means to have “faith.” If one is not doing the acts which suggest the existence of actual faith, one cannot claim to have the faith.

Naturally, one would expect that this is all fine and dandy in theory. However, one is left to wonder about how it is that one is supposed to commit all of these acts unto our Maker, without violating the requirement that we not do them for our own glory, but unto the Glory of our Maker alone. This is answered in Chapter 6. We are told not to do our alms before Man, we are not to pray openly only for the purpose of being seen by others, we are not to make a big show out of our faith and sacrifices, and we are not to engage in vain repetition of prayers. (6:1-8, 16-17). None of this suggests that we cannot rejoice with each other in our salvation, our reasons for acting the way we do, or in the consolation that we have a good reason for doing good unto others. We can be a light unto the world without being blinding to others.

We are commanded, however, to pray in a way in a way that is in acknowledgment of the power of God, which respect His will for all of us (here and in heaven), that we receive the basic provisions of life, that we be forgiven as we forgive others, that we be given the help to avoid the sinful thoughts and actions that come, and that all glory be properly placed with Him and not us. (6:9-14). This is immediately followed up with the statement that, “But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (6:15). Again, this sounds very unequivocal to me. If you don’t do this (i.e., forgive others), you will not be saved of your sins. How many Christians believe in Christ or the Story of Salvation, but do not forgive others? Do they deny the Truth of His words on forgiveness and the exchange of our forgiveness of others for our own forgiveness from the Father?

It is not enough that you simply have faith that so long as you believe in forgiveness, you will be forgiven. You must actually do it in order to receive your reward !!! As we engage in a life of forgiveness and service, we earn our due treasures. (12:35-37). Our eyes must constantly be focused on this purpose and be focused in such a way as to where others have no doubt as to what we are looking at. (6:20-23). Along these same lines, you probably should not spend to much time thinking about what those who are already acting a in a Christian way are doing. (9:13). Our Master will see to it that the requisite number of workers are put into the field of life without us doing anything other than what is required of us whilst we act through and by a Christian heart and soul. (9:37-38). If you attempt to have an influence on someone through your humble service, or words of preaching, and they want no part of it, don’t worry about it. (10:5-15). It is expected that you will be persecuted for doing what is right and you better be prepared to face your prosecutors with a glad and humble heart !!! (10:16-28).

While we are busy doing all of the things required of us, so that we might avoid the fires of hell, we are also commanded not to worry. (10:25-31). Well, how am I not going to worry? Obviously, we must, again, take a conscious direction toward ignoring worry, and act in a way that testifies to our full faith in Him alone. That is, we must actively pursue the conscious act of destroying all worry. This is no easy task. We must trust that He will take care of all of our needs and that he will pave the way for His glorification and that He will take of evil on His own. (6:24-34; 10:32-33).

Our ultimate trust in Him is, and must be, founded upon our spiritual and mental acts of conscience, purpose, and servitude. How easily we forget that we have control over our attitudes, philosophies, theology, and mindset. Freewill is not a matter of controlling external circumstances, which we cannot. Freewill is premised only in the notion that we can only change our attitude toward our circumstances, and, generally speaking, our circumstances will naturally change as our spiritual attitude does. (6:33-34).

Well, now the difficult part comes. Chapter 7 speaks to us on the topics of judgment of others, judgment of ourselves, hypocrisy, evilness, false prophecy, corruption, and the intent of our works. (7:1-23). In no way is it suggested that our works alone will save us. (7:16-23). Our works must be, as stated before, with a view toward glorification unto our Maker. They must be committed with a view toward spiritual, mental, and physical servitude unto something higher than ourselves. The works we commit may be good unto themselves and, in fact, may be very pleasing or admirable to others. However, this is completely irrelevant to the Christian. The Christian can have but one purpose in fulfilling his or her Divine Destiny. We must know why we do what we do before it can be given any credit worthy of Him. (7:22-23). Commit yourself to the act of building your house on a rock !!! (7:24-27).

It should also be noted that so many of us think in linear terms. We often think that our purpose is to serve God, family, friends, and business (in respective order). This is simply not true. You cannot put your family before your faith. That’s a serious work. (10:37).

We’ve got a lot of hard, but gladful, work before us. (10:34-42). “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Where is the “rest” coming from then? Does salvation remove the yoke from our necks? Easing the burden of life comes from the peace of acting through and in Him. Nowhere is it suggested that our works don’t matter or aren’t necessary. They will be made easy by our faith in Him, through Him and with Him. What makes life burdensome is when we falsely define what work is required and how it ought to be performed. It really isn’t that hard to feed the poor, to be merciful, to forgive, to make peace, or to preach the truth, when all is done from a humble heart directed at a Divine Purpose. Our purpose ought to emanate a natural and warm light unto the world. Our lives cannot be defined by our material possessions, even if we worked hard to get them. (19:29).

So aside from acting or failing to act, what can get us in real spiritual trouble? The answers are given in a fairly straightforward manner. Even a “believer” can get himself or herself to Hell. Remember, even Satan believes in the power of God – that’s why he fears God so much. It is said, “Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And, whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. [bold emphasis added].” (12:25-37). This is, again, an unequivocal statement that there are acts of speech which will be completely unforgiven, regardless of Calvary nor the reasons for Calvary. Not only do your physical acts need to be conducted in conformity with your faith, your speech must also be as well. These are matters of works/acts, and not simply matters of perceived “faith.” (12:35-37).

At this point, it is also probably worth noting that the common denominator amongst all of the parables in Matthew is that they all involve forms of hard work (i.e., building, sowing seeds, buying and selling, toiling in a field, repayment of debts, working the vineyard, preparing for a wedding, grinding at the mill, serving the man of the house, spending our money/goods wisely). Moreover, the parables seem to end with the result that someone is rewarded for doing the right thing, or, in the alternative, ends up burning, weeping, gnashing their teeth, and/or being cast out into the darkness. (13:3-9, 18-23, 25-43, 44-50; 18:23-35; 20:1-16; 21:27-40; 22:2-14; 24:40-41; 24:43-51; 25:1-30).

In Matthew 15 we are again reminded that it is our words that can defile us. (15:8-11, 18-20). The problem with words is that they are most often outright intentional or certainly a byproduct of the will of the heart. When we engage in unholy speech-acts, we defile ourselves, regardless of whatever we may somehow believe. It is not the beliefs that we hold which most see or hear, it is the words and actions that accompany our day-to-day interactions with others. Our words are works of Faith.

Following the above sayings, instructions, and admonitions, Jesus then, after being asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”, responds with a rather lengthy discourse in Chapter 18 on what it means to be a believer. (18:1-2). The analysis is deep and again speaks to the conduct which will separate the sheep from the goats. (18:3-35). Indeed, we are reminded that our faith should be as that of a child – innocent, pure, and unaffected. Again, we are also given a dire description of what happens to those who mislead his “little ones.”

In fact, misleading a child results in the notion that one would be better off being drowned in the sea than to have interfered with the faith of a child. (18:3-7). Well, how does one mislead a child? Obviously, one can only mislead another through setting a bad example through conduct or speech or by directly doing wrong unto the “little one” (i.e., through our works). It is even stated that his “little ones” have direct representatives before the “face of my Father.” (18:10). For me, anyway, there is plenty to think about with respect to our contemporary culture of consistently misleading children by direct interference with their innocence and pure faith. Are not many children being misled from the Truth by parents who proclaim the Truth of Christ? Indeed, many church organizations are ostensibly dedicated to destroying the faith of children and supplanting it with secular values or no values at all.

With respect to disputes between Christians, Matthew 18:15-17 gives us a form of conduct by which they are to be resolved. We are to work it out amongst ourselves. If that does not work, then we are to work it out as a private situation within the Church. In the event this does not work, we are simply to separate ourselves from the problem. Each one of these steps takes work and has very little to do with inactive faith. In fact, with respect to forgiveness, we are immediately told that our forgiveness must not be once, or seven times, but seventy times seven. (18:21-23). That’s some serious work for anyone.

As to the conduct of our sexual lives, the call to certain conduct continues again in Matthew 19, where we are reminded that man and woman are made for each other and it was so from the beginning. We are reminded that we have the responsibility to cleave to our wives and to become one with them. The Scripture, in this area, is very clear and unequivocal. A direct command not to interfere with the relationship is also made and divorce is viewed as a form of direct judgment. Remarrying is adultery, save the cause of fornication by the wife. The new husband of the cheater is, by his conduct, deemed an adulterer as well in this instance. How does he become an adulterer, you ask? — By his works. (19:4-9).

Interestingly, it is accepted by Jesus that not all will marry and, since being in the womb, were not meant to be married. (19:12). To some extent, Christ was aware of the arguments that might be made against those who don’t marry (i.e., accusations, gossip, questions as to their sexuality). He did not condemn these people, but reminded us of the purpose given to them by Him and not us. (Id.).

Next, comes the Greatest Commandments, which are:

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. [emphasis added].” (22:37-40).

This is the summa theologica. Who amongst us thinks that love is simply a matter of faith? I don’t know about any of you, but I know that love requires hard work, intentional and humble sacrifice of self, and an undying need to acknowledge that we cannot control the object of our love nor the source of the Greatest Love. While my faith has helped me love when I thought I had none left, I have always had to meet God halfway with my private dedication, servitude, and willingness to will my mind, soul and body to do the right things to strengthen my love of others and even of self.

After setting forth the Great Commandments, Christ then goes on to point out that we should not merely expect others to do the works required of us. Rather, we must do honor to the value of works of servitude by serving others ourselves. Moreover, we are again our works cannot be for show or for the purpose of building more impressive churches. (23:2-39). As though one could be surprised, we again find a very negative result for those who do not pay heed to these admonishments. Indeed, should we abide in our institutionalized and personal religious hypocrisy, our house shall be left unto us “desolate.” (23:38).

Even in the face of persecution, deliverance of our bodies for earthly punishment, hatred, deception, and iniquity, we “shall endure unto the end.” (24:4-13). Well, what does “endure” mean? It can only mean that, along with faith, we do what is required to get to the end of what life means for us in even a hostile culture. We are to act toward the end of being a faithful “servant.” (24:43-51).

After reminding us of the end game, the pragmatic lessons of Matthew essentially wraps up with the following summation:

And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:

And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. (25:31-46).

And so it is that the Great Story told in Matthew ends with a clear how-to guide as to what acts will show our faith and those omissions which place ourselves in jeopardy of eternal damnation. Where in this final admonition does it say that our mere faith, our mere knocking on the door, our mere religious affiliation, or our mere belief in God, gets us into Heaven? It simply doesn’t. What we are left with is a clear command that we must do certain things and the failure to do them will result in something eternally bad.

Unless someone is going to claim that these Words cannot be taken at face value, they are unequivocal. Our works matter and they are essential to the goal of reaching the end as a good and faithful servant. Do not be so blind as to lead another to complacency by asking them to buy off on the idea of ‘salvation by faith alone’ with nary a living proof that the faith has a foundation in daily life. To do so would be to mislead one of His “little ones.”

For those of us who already know these truths, we are further instructed to teach all others to likewise abide, by our conduct, in observing His commandments. (28:20). As for me and my house, permissum meus fides exsisto a Opus Dei. That is, may my faith be an acceptable work of God unto Him.

Permissum Meus Fides Exsisto a Opus Dei

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OpusDei [Downloadable .pdf version for easier reading].

Make no mistake about it, your works do matter to your salvation. Read the ‘red letters’ in your Bible. The works required of you are neither difficult, nor for public glory, nor for any other purpose than the fulfillment of your Divine Destiny as someone asking for the Eternal Grace of God. Empty faith alone will not suffice to meet the needs of your purpose in life. Faith, however, is the only thing that will sanctify your works and Grace alone will suffice to overcome your inadequacies as a flawed human. The Ultimate Price was paid so that this Grace might be extended to all of us.

Those who teach others to be complacent in the accomplishment of these necessary works, or requiring others to do the work required of us alone, will not do well in the kingdom of heaven. I directly challenge any reader of this article – Prove to me otherwise by the Words of Christ Himself.

Many Evangelicals, Mainline Protestants, Catholics and other Christian denominational faiths begin just about any theological debate with a view toward determining whether the opposition truly believes in salvation by grace alone, salvation by works, or some hybrid theory. As with all theological debates about what it means to be a “Christian,” it seems that we all ought to take a look at the actual Words of Christ as a starting point. This particular piece focuses on the ‘red letters’ as found in the Book of Matthew. I cannot help but find that faith alone, without daily living proof of that faith, will not suffice.

I believe this article is timely given the death of the Kansas late-term abortionist, George Tiller. Many of us pro-lifers, whether we want to admit it or not, felt a refreshing sense of relief that he is no longer able to tear apart babies who would have otherwise survived outside of the womb, but for his act of dismembering them or vacuuming out their brains. By his own account, he may have taken as may as 60,000 infants’ lives.

Of course, for the Christian, the question becomes, “What if Dr. Tiller gave his life over to Christ in the last 30 seconds of life?” Moreover, there exists a serious theological question as to whether the murderer of Tiller blasphemed the Holy Spirit by taking the life of Tiller in a church. If Tiller’s potential plea for last-minute salvation failed, he went straight to Hell. Even if Tiller’s shooter, Scott Roeder, was a holy person till that moment, if blasphemy unto the Holy Spirit occurred, he’s done as well. The ‘red letters’ actually don’t leave much room for debate on these points. Obviously, if one thinks that the Words are just a form of philosophy, good advice, or just simply one view among many, there is no sense in even attempting to understand the clear choices put before us. The Good News is that we don’t need to personally worry about Tiller’s and Roeder’s issues since we have plenty to do ourselves to act upon our own Faith.

With these points in mind, a step-by-step analysis of Matthew reveals some interesting answers about whether we are required to engage in certain works before we may avoid the fires of Hell. For me, the question is readily answered by even a cursory review of Jesus’ words. The Great Story of the Book of St. Matthew is set forth as follows.

First of all, we are told that we cannot live by material means alone. It is written that we must live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4, KJV). In this same vein, it also naturally follows that we should not participate in the temptation of God with the help of the Enemy (4:7). These commands are then concluded with the thought that we are to commit ourselves unto God through our service and worship to Him alone. (4:10). Oddly, the Scripture does not say that we are to make this commitment only by worship or belief alone. This can only be reasonably construed to mean that my faith is not sufficient for salvation, but that faith with works is. Our faith, however small, can grow into the greatest of works (even so much as moving a mountain) and we will need the Grace of God to be fully sanctified. (17:20; 19:23-24, 26; 21:21-22).

After Matthew recounts the time Christ spent in the desert with Satan, we are given a not so subtle description of why all of this matter. It is summed up by saying “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. […] Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (4:17, 19).

Well, what could “follow me” possibly mean? Using the words literally, as I expect most conservatives would want me to, one can only get the conclusion that “follow me” requires acts coupled with faith.

Moreover, what does it mean to “repent”? It can only mean that you live life as though you were in acknowledgment of your sins. We all know that true repentance can only be shown by how we live our lives. The “why” of how we live our lives is not something we can ever answer sufficiently. When life is over, we will only find out why we lived our lives the way we did. As we are later told, there will be plenty of folks knocking on the door, claiming His Name, and the door is simply not going to be answered.

Nevertheless, Matthew leads us to the first big sermon in Chapters 5 through 7. Interestingly enough, these Chapters are not a big sermon on altar calls and faith standing alone. They focus almost exclusively on the omissions and commissions to/of acts which lead to our place in Heaven, or, where in disregard of His Word, we end up with weeping, gnashing of teeth, or the fires of Hell. It is also interesting that these words are being directed at people who obviously came to listen to Jesus, already believed in what he was doing, and he had to have already known that he was going to Calvary. If he knew that he was going to Calvary to wash the entire slate for anyone who believed in him, he certainly spent a whole lot of arguably unnecessary time talking about what needed to be done by the believers and what they needed to avoid. If the words were only suggestions, I sincerely doubt that he would have followed up commands or prohibitions with words stating that either Heaven or Hell would follow, not purely by the decision to believe in Him, but by how these things were done.

This said, the followers were told that the “blessed” are those who are poor in spirit, meek, who mourn, who hunger and thirst after righteousness, who are pure in heart, who are merciful, who are peacemakers, who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, and when one is reviled for His sake. (5:3-11). The result of which is made very clear. It is said , “Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad: for great is your reward in heaven […]” (5:12). What could this possibly mean? If I do the things commanded, I will find great reward in Heaven. Each and every single one of the things mentioned requires that I do something. There is no way to be any of these things without a work of the conscience, often coupled with an overt act toward another human being. By way of our contemporary reference point, there are cogent arguments to be made that neither Tiller, nor his killer, demonstrated any of these characteristics as they completed their final works in life. Whether or not their lives were an Opus Dei is not for us to decide per se. We can only use their examples as a way to define or redefine our own daily existence.

After giving a description of those who will be blessed and given comfort, Christ goes on to tell the multitudes that they need to be a “light of the world” and that we are to “[l]et your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works. [emphasis added].” (5:16). Now, obviously, given His prior words, our works cannot be done or committed in such a way that we are prideful, vain, or arrogant. Our works need to flow forth from a heartfelt desire to allow our lives to become the ultimate act of service unto our Maker and those that he created to live with and amongst us.

Well, maybe you still have John 3:16 in mind (i.e., the penultimate “altar call” verse cited so often by contemporary Christians), and just don’t think that following the commands set forth in Chapter 5 are mandatory for entrance to heaven. I must ask you then, why does Matthew 5:19 go onto say that the failure to abide in “these” commandments will result in being called “the least in the kingdom of heaven”? Maybe that’s not enough for you. It goes on to say, “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. [emphasis added]. ” (5:20). I’m not the brightest guy in the world, but this does certainly seem unequivocal. Moreover, the “righteousness” being referred to follows directly from the beatitudes given to the crowd as instructions on what it means to follow Him. Nary a word is said about simply doing an altar-call and being relieved of further duty to actually do works that one is capable of within one’s own calling in life or given environment.

Now, how these acts are carried out by each of us can only depend on where we are in life. For example, a lawyer may be able to share his/her light in the courthouses. An invalid may only be able to share his/her light in a convalescent home. A mother may only be in a position to share her light with her husband and family. I don’t think that He said that our works must occur in any certain place. These works just must simply occur with the precedence of a pure, humble and willing heart. Again, the failure to abide by the commandments to fulfill his Law and Word, results in being called the least in heaven. The good news, at this early juncture in Matthew, is that one can conceivably still end up in heaven. However, as will be seen later in the Book, there are several things one can do to make sure that you have no chance at the proverbial entrance ticket.

After given the admonition that the failure to abide in specific commandments will lead us to becoming the least in heaven, Jesus goes on to give some specific instructions about what will actually get us near or into the fires of Hell. (5:22). The first one of these instructions being that simply calling a brother a fool is good enough to put us “in danger of hell fire.” This is followed by the command that we not come before God to place our gifts before His altar until and unless we have forgiven others of whatever perceived transgressions they may have committed against us. To the extent that we are called to lay our entire lives before the altar as a testimony unto Him and our fellow man, it does not seem to matter if we have not forgiven others. I think it is all too easy to say that one has done an altar-call, placed their lives at the altar, but yet completely forget to forgive others in that process. All too many of us do the altar-call, but don’t engage in the conscious act/work of forgiveness.

All too many of us forget that forgiveness is an act or work. Any “act” or “work” by a human requires that we direct our conscious will toward a given outcome and take the steps necessary to fulfill the intended outcome. If, for example, I want to forgive someone, then I must first will it so and then commit myself to the act of completing the forgiveness by consciously letting go any desire to seek revenge, to carry the baggage of the other’s sin, or to otherwise ‘hold it against the person’ until they have somehow repented in my view. In fact, if there is any one consistent theme in the New Testament, it is that we are to engage in the work of forgiving others and in the work of accepting His Grace so that our works might be sanctified and our negligent omissions overlooked. (22:37-40). By the way, it is so often said that “it isn’t easy to forgive.” Actually, it is supposed to be easier than anything Christ did. (9:3-6).

Along these same lines, with regard to what it means to commit an “act,” Christ further admonishes His listeners to make sure that they not only avoid murder, adultery and other offenses, but that we avoid even the very intentional thoughts of these things. With respect to those thoughts that occur to us without apparent reason, we are instructed to remove them immediately and take an immediate view toward the end goal. In fact, we are specifically warned that if we do not commit the act of removing sinful thoughts and doings from our existence, that the whole “body should be cast into hell.” (5:27-32).

As though we didn’t have enough to do after actually listening to His words in Chapter 5: 3-32, Christ goes on to speak about what our words shall be unto others. We are told that we are to keep our words simple and that we are not to swear by anyone, anything, or even by our own veracity. (5:33-37).

Now as for Tiller’s murderer, Verses 38-44 are particularly compelling. This is where we are specifically told that the “eye for an eye” system of morality is done. We are now to “turn the other cheek.” In fact, we are even told to “love your enemies.” We are “bless them that curse you.” We are to “do good to them that hate you.” We are to “pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” (5:39-47). In fact Verse 46 clearly suggests that there may be no “reward” for the failure to do these things that are commanded. Where in Verses 38-44 does it say anything to the effect that we are just to have faith and that we not fully commit to doing these things as Christians? Is prayer something other than an act of faith (i.e., a work)?

Chapter 5 ends by saying, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. [emphasis added].” (5:48). How would one be “perfect” unless one acted in a way which presented itself as a standard by which God will judge whether or not we have achieved what his Son commands? Obviously, what we do matters just as much as what we claim we believe. The strength or existence of any belief in Christ can only be ascertained by our conduct since it is the conduct that defines the concept of what it means to have “faith.” If one is not doing the acts which suggest the existence of actual faith, one cannot claim to have the faith.

Naturally, one would expect that this is all fine and dandy in theory. However, one is left to wonder about how it is that one is supposed to commit all of these acts unto our Maker, without violating the requirement that we not do them for our own glory, but unto the Glory of our Maker alone. This is answered in Chapter 6. We are told not to do our alms before Man, we are not to pray openly only for the purpose of being seen by others, we are not to make a big show out of our faith and sacrifices, and we are not to engage in vain repetition of prayers. (6:1-8, 16-17). None of this suggests that we cannot rejoice with each other in our salvation, our reasons for acting the way we do, or in the consolation that we have a good reason for doing good unto others. We can be a light unto the world without being blinding to others.

We are commanded, however, to pray in a way in a way that is in acknowledgment of the power of God, which respect His will for all of us (here and in heaven), that we receive the basic provisions of life, that we be forgiven as we forgive others, that we be given the help to avoid the sinful thoughts and actions that come, and that all glory be properly placed with Him and not us. (6:9-14). This is immediately followed up with the statement that, “But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (6:15). Again, this sounds very unequivocal to me. If you don’t do this (i.e., forgive others), you will not be saved of your sins.

It is not enough that you simply have faith that so long as you believe in forgiveness, you will be forgiven. You must actually do it in order to receive your reward !!! As we engage in a life of forgiveness and service, we earn our due treasures. (12:35-37). Our eyes must constantly be focused on this purpose and be focused in such a way as to where others have no doubt as to what we are looking at. (6:20-23). Along these same lines, you probably should not spend to much time thinking about what those who are already acting a in a Christian way are doing. (9:13). Our Master will see to it that the requisite number of workers are put into the field of life without us doing anything other than what is required of us whilst we act through and by a Christian heart and soul. (9:37-38). If you attempt to have an influence on someone through your humble service, or words of preaching, and they want no part of it, don’t worry about it. (10:5-15). It is expected that you will be persecuted for doing what is right and you better be prepared to face your prosecutors with a glad and humble heart !!! (10:16-28).

While we are busy doing all of the things required of us, so that we might avoid the fires of hell, we are also commanded not to worry. (10:25-31). Well, how am I not going to worry? Obviously, we must, again, take a conscious direction toward ignoring worry, and act in a way that testifies to our full faith in Him alone. That is, we must actively pursue the conscious act of destroying all worry. This is no easy task. We must trust that He will take care of all of our needs and that he will pave the way for His glorification and that He will take care of evil on His own. (6:24-34; 10:32-33).

Our ultimate trust in Him is, and must be, founded upon our spiritual and mental acts of conscience, purpose, and servitude. How easily we forget that we have control over our attitudes, philosophies, theology, and mindset. Freewill is not a matter of controlling external circumstances, which we cannot. Freewill is premised only in the notion that we can only change our attitude toward our circumstances, and, generally speaking, our circumstances will naturally change as our spiritual attitude does. (6:33-34).

Well, now the difficult part comes. Chapter 7 speaks to us on the topics of judgment of others, judgment of ourselves, hypocrisy, evilness, false prophecy, corruption, and the intent of our works. (7:1-23). In no way is it suggested that our works alone will save us. (7:16-23). Our works must be, as stated before, with a view toward glorification unto our Maker. They must be committed with a view toward spiritual, mental, and physical servitude unto something higher than ourselves. The works we commit may be good unto themselves and, in fact, may be very pleasing or admirable to others. However, this is completely irrelevant to the Christian. The Christian can have but one purpose in fulfilling his or her Divine Destiny. We must know why we do what we do before it can be given any credit worthy of Him. (7:22-23). Commit yourself to the act of building your house on a rock !!! (7:24-27).

It should also be noted that so many of us think in linear terms. We often think that our purpose is to serve God, family, friends, and business (in respective order). This is simply not true. You cannot put your family before your faith. That’s a serious work. (10:37).

We’ve got a lot of hard, but gladful, work before us. (10:34-42). “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Where is the “rest” coming from then? It comes from the peace of acting through and in him. Nowhere is it suggested that our works don’t matter or aren’t necessary. They will be made easy by our faith in Him, through Him and with Him. What makes life burdensome is when we falsely define what work is required and how it ought to be performed. It really isn’t that hard to feed the poor, to be merciful, to forgive, to make peace, or to preach the truth, when all is done from a humble heart directed at a Divine Purpose. Our purpose ought to emanate a natural and warm light unto the world. Our lives cannot be defined by our material possessions, even if we worked hard to get them. (19:29).

So aside from acting or failing to act, what can get us in real spiritual trouble? The answers are given in a fairly straightforward manner. Even a “believer” can get himself or herself to Hell. Remember, even Satan believes in the power of God – that’s why he fears God so much. It is said, “Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And, whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. [bold emphasis added].” (12:25-37). This is, again, an unequivocal statement that there are acts of speech which will be completely unforgiven, regardless of Calvary nor the reasons for Calvary. Not only do your physical acts need to be conducted in conformity with your faith, your speech must also be as well. These are matters of works/acts, and not simply matters of perceived “faith.” (12:35-37).

At this point, it is also probably worth noting that the common denominator amongst all of the parables in Matthew is that they all involve forms of hard work (i.e., building, sowing seeds, buying and selling, toiling in a field, repayment of debts, working the vineyard, preparing for a wedding, grinding at the mill, serving the man of the house, spending our money/goods wisely). Moreover, the parables seem to end with the result that someone is rewarded for doing the right thing, or, in the alternative, ends up burning, weeping, gnashing their teeth, and/or being cast out into the darkness. (13:3-9, 18-23, 25-43, 44-50; 18:23-35; 20:1-16; 21:27-40; 22:2-14; 24:40-41; 24:43-51; 25:1-30).

In Matthew 15 we are again reminded that it is our words that can defile us. (15:8-11, 18-20). The problem with words is that they are most often outright intentional or certainly a byproduct of the will of the heart. When we engage in unholy speech-acts, we defile ourselves, regardless of whatever we may somehow believe. It is not the beliefs that we hold which most see or hear, it is the words and actions that accompany our day-to-day interactions with others. Our words are works of faith.

Following the above sayings, instructions, and admonitions, Jesus then, after being asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”, responds with a rather lengthy discourse in Chapter 18 on what it means to be a believer. (18:1-2). The analysis is deep and again speaks to the conduct which will separate the sheep from the goats. (18:3-35). Indeed, we are reminded that our faith should be as that of a child – innocent, pure, and unaffected. Again, we are also given a dire description of what happens to those who mislead his “little ones.”

In fact, misleading a child results in the notion that one would be better off being drowned in the sea than to have interfered with the faith of a child. (18:3-7). Well, how does one mislead a child? Obviously, one can only mislead another through setting a bad example through conduct or speech or by directly doing wrong unto the “little one” (i.e., through our works). It is even stated that his “little ones” have direct representatives before the “face of my Father.” (18:10). For me, anyway, there is plenty to think about with respect to our contemporary culture of consistently misleading children by direct interference with their innocence and pure faith. Indeed, many an organization is fully dedicated to destroying the faith of children and supplanting it with secular values or no values at all.

With respect to disputes between Christians, Matthew 18:15-17 gives us a form of conduct by which they are to be resolved. We are to work it out amongst ourselves. If that does not work, then we are to work it out as a private situation within the Church. In the event this does not work, we are simply to separate ourselves from the problem. Each one of these steps takes work and has very little to do with inactive faith. In fact, with respect to forgiveness, we are immediately told that our forgiveness must not be once, or seven times, but seventy times seven. (18:21-23). That’s some serious work for anyone.

As to the conduct of our sexual lives, the call to certain conduct continues again in Matthew 19, where we are reminded that man and woman are made for each other and it was so from the beginning. We are reminded that we have the responsibility to cleave to our wives and to become one with them. The Scripture, in this area, is very clear and unequivocal. A direct command not to interfere with the relationship is also made and divorce is viewed as a form of direct judgment. Remarrying is adultery, save the cause of fornication by the wife. The new husband of the cheater is, by his conduct, deemed an adulterer as well in this instance. How does he become an adulterer, you ask? By his works. (19:4-9).

Interestingly, it is accepted by Jesus that not all will marry and, since being in the womb, were not meant to be married. (19:12). To some extent, Christ was aware of the arguments that might be made against those who don’t marry (i.e., accusations, gossip, questions as to their sexuality). He did not condemn these people, but reminded us of the purpose given to them by Him and not us. (Id.).

Next, comes the Greatest Commandments, which are:

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. [emphasis added].” (22:37-40).

This is the summa theologica. Who amongst us thinks that love is simply a matter of faith? I don’t know about any of you, but I know that love requires hard work, intentional and humble sacrifice of self, and an undying need to acknowledge that we cannot control the object of our love nor the source of the Greatest Love. While my faith has helped me love when I thought I had none left, I have always had to meet God halfway with my private dedication, servitude, and willingness to will my mind, soul and body to do the right things to strengthen my love of others and even of self.

After setting forth the Great Commandments, Christ then goes on to point out that we should not merely expect others to do the works required of us. Rather, we must do honor to the value of works of servitude by serving others ourselves. Moreover, we are again our works cannot be for show or for the purpose of building more impressive churches. (23:2-39). As though one could be surprised, we again find a very negative result for those who do not pay heed to these admonishments. Indeed, should we abide in our institutionalized and personal religious hypocrisy, our house shall be left unto us “desolate.” (23:38).

Even in the face of persecution, deliverance of our bodies for earthly punishment, hatred, deception, and iniquity, we “shall endure unto the end.” (24:4-13). Well, what does “endure” mean? It can only mean that, along with faith, we do what is required to get to the end of what life means for us in even a hostile culture. We are to act toward the end of being a faithful “servant.” (24:43-51).

After reminding us of the end game, the pragmatic lessons of Matthew essentially wraps up with the following summation:

And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:

And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. (25:31-46).

And so it is that the Great Story told in Matthew ends with a clear how-to guide as to what acts will show our faith and those omissions which place ourselves in jeopardy of eternal damnation. Where in this final admonition does it say that our mere faith, our mere knocking on the door, our mere religious affiliation, or our mere belief in God, gets us into Heaven? It simply doesn’t. What we are left with is a clear command that we must do certain things and the failure to do them will result in something eternally bad.

Unless someone is going to claim that these Words cannot be taken at face value, they are unequivocal. Our works matter and they are essential to the goal of reaching the end as a good and faithful servant. Do not be so blind as to lead another to complacency by asking them to buy off on the idea of ‘salvation by faith alone’ with nary a living proof that the faith has a foundation in daily life. To do so would be to mislead one of His “little ones.”

For those of us who already know these truths, we are further instructed to teach all others to likewise abide, by our conduct, in observing His commandments. (28:20). As for me and my house, permissum meus fides exsisto a Opus Dei. That is, may my faith be an acceptable work of God unto Him.

On the Ontology of Love

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Is there a thing called `love’? Is it an identifiable object in reality?.

There is but one real need of Man. It is the need to be loved and to be capable of loving others. Moreover, it is even more important that Man become cognizant of the agapic love extended to us by our Maker. Seemingly, Man has lost any conception of the experiential differences between filial, agapic, erotic, materialistic, and other forms of “love.” For this reason, the concept of “love” is one that is in need of a definition that can operate in a manner which makes divorce impossible, hatred a thing of the past, and in a way that brings an immersive sense of reality to the experiences that are said to be of “love.”

Indeed, when the term “love” is commonly used, it performs various functions and can be conveniently used in public settings. From an ontological perspective of sorts, this multifarious usage and function may very well lend itself to a coherent and objective meaning to this oft used term.

It will be accepted, for purposes of this piece, that so long as we can create statements about `love’ for usage, place the statement into public usage, and have it effectively understood by a listener or other communicatee, then the statement carries meaning and which has a truth value that can be understood by reference to corresponding experiences in the `real world’.

Simply, the term `love’ may rightfully be used as a substitute for a given set of experiences.

In fact, one might be found to say any of the following statements involving `love’:

A.) `I love my wife’ or `I love you’; B.) `I love my cat’;

C.) `I love Mozart’s Requiem‘;

D.) `I’d love to go to the park this afternoon;

E.) `I’d love to send every criminal to a labor camp’; F.) `I am in love’, or;

G.) `My love of “X” is unyielding and strong’.

Interestingly, “love”‘s usage, as elucidated above, can find its genesis in the following: a.) relations between two human lovers; b.) between a conscious human and an animal; c.) between a human and an experience; d.) between the subject and a nonmaterial desire or idea of the subject, or; e.) can be presented as an independent object or entity per se’.

In each of the above uses, the term `love’ is used in an understandable and normative way. There is also some identifiable `object’ of love in some of the propositions, whether it be an animate object as in Propositions “A” and “B” or, as an idea or experience as expressed in Propositions “C” though “E.”

However, in Proposition “F,” the term takes on an inclusive nature and quasi spatio-temporal quality in that the statement can be compared to a statement like `I am in this room’. The quasi spatio-temporal nature of the use of the term “in” seemingly lends credence to the idea that one might become `encompassed by’ or `surrounded by’ love in the same objectively real way that we might say, in spatial terms, of being “in” a forest. As well, the use of the term “am” in the phrase `I am in love’ ostensibly carries with it the temporal notion that there was a prior time that the declarant was not `in love’ (i.e., thus placing love `in’ time). With this in mind, the claim that a statement like `I am in love’ is less capable of a truth value than a proposition like `I am in a forest’ is unpersuasive. This position is more fully set forth below.

Nevertheless, in Proposition “G,” love is specifically used as an independent object and is described by adjectives. It is the uses found in Propositions “F” and “G” that are the subject of this chapter. The other examples will assist in the analysis of Propositions “F” and “G.”

The thoughts expressed herein serve to investigate the possibility that there is a corresponding object in reality to the term “love” even though we often speak of love as though it were a purely abstract or ethereal object or subjective state of mind.

If it were that `love’ carried with it only an abstract meaning, one might fall into the trap of having to always subjectively define it and would, upon mere employment of the term, fall into the realm of logical fallacy. However, common sense dictates that the common place beloved would hardly be found to be accusing his lover of equivocation, ambiguity or amphibologies when faced with the declaration that `I love you’.

In fact, it seems that the term `love’ does not have a perfect synonym and, being so, does not carry with it the possibility of being associated with anything else but that which it is understood to stand for in the ordinary course of usage as a word in language. As shown below, we come to `bump into’ manifestations of love much in the same way that we might come to experience a distinct piece of music. We only come to say that we are `in love’ when we are in the midst of those physical experiences which make for love. This notion is discussed below.

It must be acknowledged that we often use the term `love’ as though it were associated with a specifically identifiable object or set of objects in reality. Necessarily, we must examine the reasons for our usage of `love’ in this quite ordinary and understandable sense. It does not necessarily make sense to say that the word `love’ is philosophically clumsy in the same way that we might say the term `predetermined’ is. Simply stated, the term `love’ is not ordinarily used as a abstract term of art, highly technical term, or in some otherwise arcane sense.

`Love’, when used as noun in a statement, is a term very much like `freedom’, `opinion’, `falsehood’ or `success’. Each of these terms is capable of carrying with their common usage a corresponding set of observable events in reality. For example, if we were using the term `freedom’, we might very well associate this term with observable events such as a person be released from jail or a POW camp. As well, associations related to the uncaging of a bird or animal might be appropriate or we might even use it to take the place of a description of the conduct that citizens of the United States are permitted to engage in under the Constitution.

Where the difficulty arises is when we compare a statement like `Love exists’ to a statement like `God exists’. By virtue of the syntactical nature of these propositions, we might readily have to conclude that: A.) God and Love are existents; B.) Love and God are entities, and; C.) God and Love have a `quality’ of being or existence.

However, it might be claimed that this is not that same as saying that, “My cat named Nietzsche is an existent entity and has being.” Without much challenge, it can be readily said that the characteristics of the idea of a cat might be much more verifiable and correspondent to external reality. Yet, by the same token, it seems easier to say that `love’ exists much in the same way that a cat does for the reason that we seem to accept the notion that we can specifically identify instances of love. For purposes of this chapter, I shall not extend the same graciousness for the concept of `God’.

Nevertheless, I shall heretofore analyze the usage of the term `love’ and make some cursory attempts to identify its corresponding and observable characteristics in reality such to say that `love’ is a self-sufficient entity in reality and thus has the status of `being’.

As stated above, the term `love’ is often used as though it were referring, in some quasi-ontological way, to an object (i.e., My love of/for “X” or I have [a] love for “Y”). Upon introspection we find that speaking of `love’ might seem like talking about `God’, `virtue’, or the `devil’. Such terms manifest themselves as objects in our language in terms of how we speak about such ideas. Simply stated, one would not reasonably expect to touch or physically sense a `virtue’, `God’ or `devil’. Nevertheless, it does somehow make immediate sense to say that we might physically experience a thing called `love’ in the world around us.

In some sense, `love’ maybe an object in the sense that a piece of music maybe considered to be. Certainly, the proponent of a proposition like, `Mozart’s Requiem is a musical composition’ would not be expected to visually point out a thing identifiable in reality as the Requiem. Rather, he would be asked to play a recording of the musical piece or might be asked to attend a concert where it is being played. At some point in time, there would presumably be played or sung an identifiable series of musical notes or choruses which correspond to the listener’s idea of what it is to hear the Requiem and so make it publicly identifiable as such and give the term `Mozart’s Requiem‘ a function in communicative discourse.

The series and sequence of particular notes and choruses become the necessary and agreed upon conditions for the identification of particular piece of music as a unique object in reality. As well, the temporal occurrence or recordation of this particular sequence and series seemingly allows for a readily identifiable object in reality which corresponds with the idea of `Mozart’s Requiem‘ and linguistic propositions about it.

Alternatively, love, as an identifiable object, might also very well be like a university with satellite locations. One might not be able to point to any one given location or building to identify `the’ university, but would not deny the existence of `the university’ as a thing in the real world (Space & Time). Nor would it be necessarily said that the person had not `seen the university’ or that they did not `know what the university was’.

It is by coming to know the conglomerate of certain observable characteristics or identifiers, existing in space and time, that we come to know of things like Mozart’s Requiem or a university and come to accept them as uniquely identifiable things in the world. It is by this acceptance of coming to know things like a musical composition and universities that we do not deny that such things exist. With this notion in mind, some consideration should be given to what might be possible identifiers for an object known as `love’.

In terms of lexicologic definitions of the term love, one is left with word associations such as “passion,” “personal attachment,” “warmth,” “deep affection,” “concern,” “strong predilection,” “benevolent affection,” “reverent affection,” “pleasure,” “enamored,””sexualintercourse,””adore,” “worship” and other various words.

The accepted singular presence of any one of these states of mind or conditions does not allow one free rein for the use the term `love’. If the presence of any one of these states were sufficient for the use of the term `love’, then one would be left to ask why it is that one would not simply use a base term like “passion.” Rather, we seem to want to observe other public things or conduct before we are willing to say that `love can be found’ or that `they are in love’.

By way of analogy, it would not make sense to refer to the Requiem by mere reference to the words “Mors stupebit et natura . . . ,” introits or kyries, or E and G notes on a musical scale. It is only by understanding the particular series and sequence of words, choruses, rhythms, and musical notes that Mozart’s Requiem stands in place of.

Analogously, the singular use of a term like `adore’ doesn’t have the primae facie quality of being functionally synonymous to `love’ in terms of its usage: Nor do haphazard conglomerates of such terms allow for a primae facie justification for using the term `love’.

Perhaps paradoxically, it does not seem that one would be justified in saying something like, `Well, love is all of these things’. This position allows for the claim that if any one of the base terms is missing, then the term `love’ cannot be used. For whenever the element of, for example, “passion,” were missing from the event described as `love’, one would be left to come up with an alternative term since the `whole of love’ would be lacking. However, by way of former analogy, it would nonsensical to claim that Mozart’s Requiem had not been played by an orchestra and chorale merely because they had missed one note or did not sing its verses.

Word associations, even if taken together as parts of a whole, would not result in a workable and consistent use of `love’ nor could one construct a strict and consistent rule allowing for such use. It does not make sense to say that `love’ is somehow the sum of its constituents or parts. We want to say that love has its own distinct identity and has a general substance known to those who have experienced it. Certainly, propositions about one’s `love’ of an idea or desire cannot be said to be associated with “sexual intercourse” or be considered as part of what it is to be a “sweet heart.”

Further, it doesn’t seem that `love’ could be put to meaningful use unless there were some criteria or rules for such usage (i.e., `expectations’ regarding appropriate public identifiers for usage of the term). I personally accept it that: The truth of a proposition like “I love you” is dependent upon the necessary and agreed upon conditions for usage of the term `love’. If one is able to identify these conditions for proper usage, then perhaps a rule can be `discovered’ which allows for an understanding of a corresponding object to the term/idea.

In order to construct a workable rule that would allow for the consistent usage of the term `love’, one needs to consider the oft claimed notion that `love’ is subjectively defined.

In the context of interpersonal `love’ of another human being, one’s concept[ion] of `love’ may be dependent on and defined by one’s expectations about `intimate’ relationships. The usage of the term may differ in various cultures, groups, localities or religions. As well, one’s background could be rightly expected to color their usage of the term “love.” But, what are these `expectations’? They can only be the occurrence of physical manifestations of a public thing which can be mutually identified just as the Requiem might be.

One person’s usage of the phrase “love for another” depends on the ability to have honest and open communications with another which eventually result in a `comfort level’ allowing for physical contact. It may be enough that they are engaged in sexual activities in order to allow for such use. Or, it may be that a combination of the above criteria would be appropriate for one to initiate usage of the term “love.” As well, one human being merely being designated by another as `family’ is sufficient to allow for `love’s usage. (I.e., status-based bestowal).

The person who believes that earmark of love is the ability to `openly communicate’ with another would necessarily be expecting something entirely different when juxtaposed to the person who bases their conception of love on sexual intimacy. The person whose usage depends on a designation of `family’ would necessarily expect something quite different.

For the `communications person’, a length of time may be needed before the usage of the term “love” may be applied. For another, mere biological activity (sexual stimulus and response) would be a sufficient criterion for such usage. One is expecting a comfort level in communication; The other merely expects physical sensation. Yet, the person requiring a designation of `family membership’ may only expect the birth or adoption of another.

In terms of each human’s usage, it must be recognized that there exists a definable series of physical events and observable items in the external world which are used as identifiers for a situation in which the term `love’ might find appropriate usage.

It is of no import that, two persons might have their own agreed upon conditions for its usage. The mere fact that both parties can find something within the scope of public discourse, which acts as an identifier of something deemed `love’, gives credence to the notion that there is a thing called `love’ in the public world.

Certainly, the mere fact that another person and I could come up with a new `code word’ for identifying and conveying a sense of the mutual experience of hearing the Requiem, would not change the fact that a given series of musical notes, choruses, and related events had existed in the public world and rendered itself capable of our recognition and having the ability to be made a part of that which is public. Moreover, it is only by the experience of hearing the Requiem that we come to know `what it truly is’. In this spirit, I claim that we can only come to know `what love is’ by experiencing whatever it is that we come to talk about as `love’. Fulfilling our God-given destiny requires that we actually develop an attitude toward love that will bring us to it

A Personal Testimony

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Philosophy begins with the experience of human existence. Seemingly, the best impetus for philosophy comes from the horror of human existence and the victories that come from defeating the horror. The ‘good life’ comes from learning how to avoid the horrors and just accepting that life is for living.

I was born on May 15, 1969. From what I can tell, life didn’t start off all that well for me. According to my parents’ divorce papers, I was left to lie in my own human waste often enough to cause any social worker at least some real concern. Of course, my mother cannot be much to blame in this matter since she suffered from retinitis pigmentosa, and has suffered from a host of mental problems all of her life.

Her own mother apparently committed suicide on a Christmas Eve, and her father died in an alcoholic stupor some years later. In fact, I suspect that it was an uprising of my mother’s mental disabilities that crushed the marriage of my parents. For better or worse, I was only a few months old when all of this occurred. As an aside, my father was a disabled World War II veteran and suffered from various emotional and physical disabilities as well. At his core, though, he was a very decent human being.

From speaking with my mother, I know I was born into the Catholic Faith and was baptized as such. Much of my childhood memory up to the age of six or seven is clouded at best and probably not relevant to any conversion that I may now tell you of.

What I know for sure is that I did attend Catholic school for first grade and went through the sacramental process offered through one’s First Communion. Although I do remember having severe pneumonia at the time, I was aware of the importance of my First Communion and the idea that Christ could be offered to man and child — so long as they stood willing to confess of their sins and at least make a good faith attempt to come before God in as pure a state as humanity could ever offer. Religion, for many, is a passive experience brought about by adherence to culture and tradition. Rarely is thought given to the idea that Man is capable of a direct and intimate connection with his Maker.

This said, about the same year as my First Communion, I distinctly recall having had a profound conversion experience. Specifically, I remember dreaming, in the grossest of detail, that I had been condemned to hell. The intense flames arose all around me and I could feel the heat as strongly and clearly as I can hear my own voice. The self awareness of my dire and decrepit human state was overwhelming. I woke up in a profuse sweat and immediately was compelled to bring myself to my knees and pray harder than I had ever prayed even to date.

As I prepare this testimony, I still wish that I could find the desire to pray with as much intensity as the child that I once was. Sincere prayer is hard to come by even though answers and blessings from God abound in our existence. As the great revivalist, Charles Finney, suggested, many people don’t remember what they prayedfor five minutes later. This may be, in part, why there is such a lack of gratitude amongst humanity’s members. If we actually remembered our prayers, we would be all too aware of the answers that come pouring out of the Divine Grace and Providence of our Maker.

In any event, I remained faithful to my commitment to the Church and was happy to be an altar boy and regularly served at the early morning mass on weekdays before school. Oddly enough, I was even ready and willing to serve at Mass during vacations and other off-times. As I recall, during my years in elementary school, I had formulated the belief that I would become a priest when I grew up. I sincerely had hoped that I would be groomed for St. Michael’s Seminary in Trabuco Canyon, California. However, this never came to fruition because of the many problems that would surface later.

As a pre-adolescent child and aside from a few incidents of extreme violence against me by my mother, I remained fairly free of her mental problems and related iniquities. We survived on welfare income of about $700-800 a month as I recall. My mother, much to her credit, was able to somehow purchase a 900-square-foot or so three-bedroom house in Santa Ana and managed to provide for my brother and me until I was about 13 years old. She had no family here in California. I was lucky enough to have my father. My brother was not so fortunate as to have a father figure in his life.

In any event, I am often taken aback by many of my past students’ and clients’ complaints about how they can’t do certain things. Call it a chip on my shoulder, but it does seem odd that a delusional and blind woman could manage to purchase a house by herself, raise two children and somehow manage a household. All the while, we see so many able-bodied humans complaining about what they supposedly can’t do. ‘Can’ and ‘cannot’ are matters of attitude toward life. If Man has free will, it exists only at this level of being able to change our attitude toward what we cannot change. As indicated in the Prologue, it seems to me that our purpose in life is to fulfill a God-given destiny and the only thing that matters is our attitude toward meeting the charge of Divine Predestination.

In any event, my brother is three years younger than me. Once I turned about 12 or 13, things became extremely bad. As for myself, I had begun a pattern of drinking during the summer between eighth and ninth grades. I even managed to overdose from alcohol before I reached the ninth grade. Other than a two-week restriction, the overdose incident didn’t get a whole lot of mention and I doubt that my parents ever talked to each other about the event.

My parents maintained a hostile relationship for so long as I can remember. It’s odd that they should have spent so much time berating each other when I was busy boozing it up and enjoying my entry into the world of drugs. I supposed that what happened a decade before between them was much more important than the reality that their 12-year-old son was becoming a drug addict and alcoholic.

The whole drug thing began shortly after becoming a high school freshman. One of the guys in the neighborhood introduced me to “Al,” who worked at the local Jack-in-the-Box. Al introduced me to pot for my first time and I can’t remember it being all that great in and of itself. I think that the violation of my parents’ ostensible trust and my moral upbringing was much more of a high than the drug itself. That said, I ended up dropping out of high school by the time I reached the halfway point in my first year. My attendance, even up to that point, was sporadic at best. I did join in the Academic Decathlon Team, water polo team and swim team, though. That was about the only appearance of normalcy at that time.

By the time spring semester of my freshman year rolled around, I was already tattooed. I paid my girlfriend’s brother a joint for a tattoo of a skull over a cross. By this time, I had already had sex with his 12 or 13-year-old sister and I had managed to get myself well into a strong pattern of drug and alcohol abuse. I would later have a tattoo artist add flames to the skull and cross to further demonstrate my hatred for all that represented my Christian upbringing.

I can only imagine that my youthful hatred for Christianity arose from the fact that many of my mother’s acute episodes with mental illness revolved around religious themes. She would regularly engage in violence, swear, and commit crimes in the name of God and justify her own abuse of my brother and me by claiming that God told her to ‘beat’ us as an act of love. As her mental illness took on even darker tones, she would literally attempt to cast out evil spirits from various household items including the washing machine and my father’s car. Her claimed stigmata was no less disturbing.

As a child, one can well imagine that the surfacing of a mother’s severe mental problems is not an easy burden to carry. My brother was too young to understand what was going on and probably too innocent to understand the harm that was being caused to the family. It therefore became my responsibility to call 911 and to have my mother committed to a mental facility on occasion.

I can assure you that it is no easy task to call the police and emergency services knowing that they will come out with a gurney and forcefully strap your mother down before your own eyes. You cannot even imagine the fear that was struck in myself and in my brother’s eyes as this all went down time and again.
While the police and others left my brother and me to the care of neighbors or others on occasion, we both eventually ended up being placed in what was known as the Orangewood home for abused children. Can’t say I lasted long. I chose to escape and ended up at a friend’s house. My brother, abandoned by me and the system, ended up in a foster home and eventually was returned to my mother somehow.

It is probably noteworthy to this story that I was arrested some three or four times between the ages of 14 and 16. The charges ranged from possession of narcotics, grand theft, burglary, trespass and other various violations of law. I ended up serving only about two or three months in juvenile hall. In terms of the burglary, I should probably mention that it was my own father that I robbed. Indeed, I encouraged my friends to rob him as well. Needless to say, moral aptitude was not an adolescent specialty of mine.

In terms of my drug use, I regularly used cocaine, marijuana, LSD, and crystal methedrine. I also partook of PCP, mescaline, belladonna, and other drugs as they would be offered through the course of my youth. I even shot up once. I didn’t particularly like the experience of shooting up only because the high came much too quickly. Otherwise, I suppose I could have easily ended up strung out on heroin.

During this time, I enjoyed going to punk shows, hanging out with friends and their drugged out parents, I sported a bleached white mohawk haircut, lived with bikers, got into many fights and just generally looked for trouble wherever we might find each other. I even managed to get shot at during this time and had narrowly escaped a severe jail sentence after being involved in a rather large drug bust in Santa Ana.

On other battle fronts, a friend’s mom died of a heroin overdose and a good friend of mine died of the same cause at age 16 or 17. Fortunately, all of the survivors are doing okay now and are Brothers and Sisters in Faith.

In terms of spiritual events, I attempted to attend church two or three times during this intense period of strife. Once, I thought I was saved at a church in Costa Mesa. Didn’t last long. At another time, I attempted to attend a Catholic service in Garden Grove, but some person passed out in the entryway and the church members were concerned about getting her out of the way so services could begin on time. I suppose praying for one’s soul and health is secondary to punctuality in certain minds of the time. For me, this was but one more turn-off to the whole of Christianity. In fact, this little event managed to keep me away from any church until I was in my mid-twenties.

Once I turned almost 16, I was placed at the Wallace Community Day School in Santa Ana. This was a school designed for children like myself who simply couldn’t handle the normalcy of a regular high school. Here we were allowed to work at our own pace. I excelled in this setting and decided that I would take the California High School Proficiency Exam. I took the test at about age 16 and began attending Santa Ana College later. I received decent grades in most of my classes. Even so, I continued in my self-created courses in drug addiction and alcoholism.

I did well as a philosophy major and had plenty of opportunity to think about theology, ethics and philosophy in general. I was particularly caught up in the debate about determinism. If God knew everything, then it had to be that I had, so to speak, a sticker on my back that says “heaven” or “hell” and I just can’t see it — but, God can see the label and wills it so.

More important to my concerns, if all is predetermined, I can’t be responsible for all of the horrible things I’ve done in life since it was, in theory, already known that I would do them. Under this analysis, accountability and mercy make absolutely no sense. Nevertheless, its 15 years later and I still haven’t got all the answers to the ‘question of determinism.’ Glimpses of what appears to be truth are but a nanosecond flash in the darkest caverns of my intellect.

Before completing my studies at the college, I finally stopped smoking pot. It made me feel stupid and out of control so I gave it up ‘cold-turkey’ one day. I may have revisited pot once or twice thereafter. However, I still enjoyed speed and cocaine for a short while thereafter. I quit these substances cold-turkey one day as well. I can see no self-caused reason for my sudden inclinations to quit drugs. Divine Mercy and Intervention are the only possible explanations for my decision to turn away from drugs.

I now know that my futile attempts at human mercy and compassion pale before God’s ultimate understanding and mercy in my own life. Such are the beginnings of a philosophy on life. I am happily married with four children and just trying to take life one day and one person at a time. Life is for living.