The Presidential Debate You’ve Been Waiting For…

…is here!

third-party-debate-2

 

No interruptions!  No artful dodges!  No expected references to “bad hombres” or “that Mexican thing!”  No alliteration practiced a hundred times in front of a mirror! (say it five times fast- “Trumped-up Trickle Down…”)

This TUESDAY, OCTOBER 25 at 8PM Eastern, Yours Truly will be moderating a debate between two Catholic gentlemen who are running for President of the United States of America.  You could write them in, but you may find them on your ballots, depending upon where you live.

Mike Maturen (American Solidarity Party) and Joe Schriner (Independent) will be joining me for a series of questions related to everything from national security to the economy to education to the common good- and you’re invited to watch along, and even add your questions.

The event will be broadcast LIVE via my YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/mattswaim, so be watching at 8PM Eastern on Tuesday, October 25, and spread the word!

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When Captain America Communicates Everything You Feel About Politics And Theology Right Now In A Single Quote

pablo-4

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Two Voices, One Stage, All The Important Issues- Tonight is Appointment Television, and Here’s Why:

screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-11-52-30-amOF COURSE, I’m referring to tonight’s encore episode of The Journey Home with Marcus Grodi and his guest, former America’s Next Top Model contestant Leah Darrow.  Where else on the dial will you hear two people admitting they were wrong about the way they used to view the world, who will let each other finish sentences, who will ask- and answer- questions without the use of scripts, who will look genuinely happy to be in one another’s company?

If you’ve never joined us for a live tweet of The Journey Home, it’s loads of fun- just share your reactions to the episode as they occur to you, and use the tag #JHprogram.   The show starts at 8PM Eastern on EWTN, and you can stream it as-it-happens online at ewtn.com.

OR you could watch truth be mangled, manipulated and maligned on a presidential debate stage while you weep for the soul of your nation and ask God how much longer he’s going to restrain his wrath.  But I’ll leave that up to you, the discerning consumer!

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Five Ways To Avoid Talking to your Protestant Friends About Mary

 

Over at The Coming Home Network this week, I’ve written a post about five Catholic devotional titles for the Virgin Mary that protestants can safely use, because they apply to beliefs about Mary that pretty much all Christians can affirm. For example:

Seat of Wisdom

Some concepts get confused because they are taken too literally.  In the case of Mary’s recognition as the Seat of Wisdom, it gets confused because it’s not taken literally enough.  In local government, for instance, a “county seat” means an administrative center, where a courthouse containing a repository of official archives are stored.  It is the source and center of civic life.  But even that idea comes from a more literal interpretation of the word “seat,” denoting the place where the administrator of the local government officially “sits.”

In the case of Mary, the icon of her as Seat of Wisdom features-  guess what- the child Jesus on her lap.  Jesus Christ is the true personification of Wisdom, who as a child sat on his mother’s knee just as any child might.  Again, the “seat” in this case receives her importance from the One who is seated upon her.

Read the rest here.

mother-of-god-453514_960_720Here at the Fairyland Business Journal, I’ve decided to make a complementary list that I hope can be similarly helpful when it comes to discussing Mary with your protestant friends.  Only this time around, I’ve decided to list five ways of referring to the Blessed Mother that are pretty much guaranteed to freak out your Evangelical buddies and make them think you’re engaged in some form of idolatry.  Here you go:

Coredemptrix

If you’re used to talking about Mary’s cooperation with God’s plan in poetic and effusive terms, this is not a big deal.  If you’re of the persuasion that Catholics worship Mary, this title sounds like a dead giveaway that Papists revere Jesus’ Mom as some sort of She-God
in a four person Trinity.

Here’s the thing.  I work for JonMarc Grodi at The Coming Home Network.  He is the Director; I am merely the Communications Coordinator.  We are coworkers, but he’s the boss.  Mary cooperates in our redemption, yes, but Jesus accomplishes it.  When protestants hear co-, they don’t hear “co-operator with Jesus.” They hear “co-equal with Jesus.”  You know what you mean by referring to Mary as Coredemptrix, but it’s best not to lead with that title in your next ecumenical dialogue.

Queen of Heaven

Catholic Answers has practically made a cottage industry out of explaining this title.  It’s from the Jewish tradition of the Queen Mother, whose son was the sitting King. Because of her relationship to him, she was afforded special respect.  Kinda like Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess in Downton Abbey.  She doesn’t make the rules, or execute the decisions, but you want to take her opinions into consideration, however salty they might be.  Mary’s like a much holier version of that.

What your protestant friend thinks when they hear “Queen of Heaven” is based on their knowledge of both medieval monarchy and the modern egalitarian concept of marriage.  Again, if you understand the Jewish tradition, this is a perfectly reasonable title for Mary.  If you don’t, you might have the opinion that Catholics see the Blessed Mother as Elizabeth II and Jesus as Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.  And now you know the name of Queen Elizabeth’s husband.  You’re welcome.

Mediatrix of All Graces

Jesus is the source of all graces.  He was born of a woman.  He mediated himself to us through her womb.  Theologically, it’s a pretty simply explained concept.  However, this is another title that just sounds huge.  Say “Mediatrix” out loud and try not to sound ominous.  Matter of fact, just avoid any theological terminology containing the suffix “-trix.”  They were all ruined in the lead-up to the French Revolution.

Immaculate Conception

I know I’m going to take some heat for this, but I think there are a lot of handier and clearer ways to refer to Mary when explaining her to your protestant friends.  The Immaculate Conception isn’t explicitly referred to in Scripture,  even though the description of Mary as “full of grace” at the Annunciation implies way more than her just being a good person in that moment, as any Church Father would tell you.  The average internet-trained fundamentalist will immediately accuse the Church of inventing the concept in 1854, and suddenly your conversation ends up going down a rabbit hole where you’re having to explain sensus fidelium and Papal Infallibility, and the point you meant to make at the beginning about Mary being a pure vessel for the incarnation gets lost in the shuffle.  It’s happened to me before.  Maybe you’ve had better luck than I have in this area, but I’m just warning you from my personal experience.

And finally, unless the protestant you’re talking to has expressed a significant sympathy toward the Catholic understanding of Our Lady, it’s definitely best to be careful about introducing them to…

St. Louis-Marie Grignon de Montfort’s Total Consecration to Jesus Through Mary

Even most Catholics are intimidated by the concept.  Unnecessarily, I might add.  It’s a challenge, but it’s certainly doable.  Nevertheless, there are several reasons that people can be scared off by this devotion.  First, its main proponent is a guy with a really ostentatious French name, which makes it sound complicated right off the bat.  Second, the words “total consecration” are not for the faint of heart.  No one wakes up one morning and on a whim decides they’re going to totally consecrate themselves to something.
Actually, there’s probably a hagiography out there about someone who has, but it’s not common.

Basically, unless they’re on board with a bunch of other theological concepts about Mary, your average protestant is going to think that involving her in this consecration is a distraction.  Of course, if they were to read de Montfort, a great many of their fears would be assuaged.  But if your protestant coworker who attends Bethel Harvest Community Fellowship Chapel of the Redeemer asks you about Mary, and you just hand them this book, you may not get a very positive reaction.

*****

Of course, with any of the above titles, you never know- sometimes God works in mysterious ways, and Our Lady has been known to break through to hearts in remarkable fashion (Guadalupe, anybody?).  That being said, it’s always good to know your audience, and where their points of hesitation might be before you bash them over the head with some of the more intimidating-at least on the surface- Marian concepts.

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The Feast of the Assumption and Marian Theological Hurdles

statue-1465250_960_720Over at The Coming Home Network this week, our latest weekly community question has to do with the feast that kicks off this week; namely, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, body and soul into heaven.  And if you’re a protestant, you probably just coughed something incredulous and unrepeatable into your elbow.

I get it, really, I do; I always like to share my personal story of visiting the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption on an art appreciation field trip when I was in college, and, smart aleck that I was, remarking that it was an awfully big building to erect based on an assumption.  Bible verses or it didn’t happen.

Of course, years later, the wheels began to turn, and I thought to myself- if Enoch and Elijah were assumed into heaven, couldn’t Jesus’ mom have been, too?  And hey, if Christians were obsessed with keeping the bodily relics of even the martyrs who’d been torn to pieces by wild beasts in the arena, forgetting to keep any bodily remains of the one woman on the planet with biological ties to Jesus was a pretty glaring oversight, don’t you think?

At any rate, all of the Catholic theological stuff about Mary makes perfect sense to me, even if some of the devotional stuff out there- especially the French devotional stuff about her- I find a little off-putting.  But the devotional stuff isn’t necessary for salvation.  The dogmatic stuff is, and on that, I’m all in.

That being said, I invite you to weigh in on the latest CHNetwork community question:

As you began to study Catholicism, what uniquely Catholic teaching about Mary was the first to make sense to you?

I’m sure my fellow Conspirators will have a thought or two- share either in the comments on this post or the one at the link, and I’ll try to include them in the roundup article that comes out this Friday !

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The Massive Event in Washington This Weekend That You Probably Didn’t Know Pope Francis Had Invited You To

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 2.07.40 PMNews about Together 2016 has been circulating in Evangelical circles for some time, but got a bit of play in Catholic media (a VERY little bit of play, that is) when it was announced a few weeks back that Pope Francis would be addressing the event.  He won’t be there, of course; he’s only recorded a video invitation.  More on that in a moment.

July 16, 2016 has been reserved at the National Mall in Washington, DC for  a large ecumenical party, the aim of which is to invite all Christians of good will to push the “reset button” and put Jesus at the center of our mission ahead of politics, personalities, and anything else that might divide us.  Some of the names that will be part of the event: Michael W. Smith, Kirk Franklin, Ravi Zacharias, Josh McDowell, Lecrae, David Crowder, Hillsong United- basically an impressive list of people that you might not know that much about, but who are huge rock stars to your megachurch-going friends.  For you Catholics who own one praise and worship CD, the answer is yes, Matt Maher will be there too.

Obviously, there are challenges to unity, even at an event as general and inclusive as this one.  Questions of authority, of justification, of history, of the meaning of the human person and all those other questions that go back and forth on message boards and Facebook pages will still be in play after the sun sets on Saturday.  This event doesn’t even pretend to try and solve all of that, even if it still holds out hope that something that big might happen.  Catholics are usually a footnote to these sorts of things, if not all but excluded.  The mere fact that an Evangelical gathering would include in its vision of ecumenism an olive branch to us Romish types should be enough for us to acknowledge the gesture warmly.

At any rate, this blogger is going to be in attendance, even credentialed for the event.  I’m hoping that the stated goal of this gathering comes to fruition; that for at least one Saturday in the heart of the most divided city in this nation, a bunch of us who love Jesus can come together and use Him as the starting point for our conversations; that charity will bring clarity, and that we can move toward the unity that Jesus prayed for in the hours leading up to his crucifixion.  I’ll let you know how it turns out.

And about that Pope Francis thing- here’s the invitation he recorded for Together 2016:

Video and screen capture courtesy of www.reset2016.com

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Protestants and Catholics: Christians Separated By A Common Language

grammar-389907_960_720Dealing with ecumenical matters as I do on a daily basis, I frequently find myself in the position of being a protocol droid, having to be fluent in six million forms of religious communication.  That’s part of the greatness of The Coming Home Network– just when you think you’ve heard an interesting backstory, another comes along and reminds you just how exciting- and varied- the path to conversion can be.

At any rate, to illustrate some of the challenges, and to assist those in difficulty, I recently posted over at EpicPew some terms that can cause confusion in protestant-Catholic dialogue.  For instance, there are those terms which mean different things to Protestants than they do to Catholics:

Religious

Protestant: Being devout, pious or showing reverence to God. Sometimes this term is used derogatorily to criticize those who seem to favor adherence to rules over a personal relationship with Jesus.

Catholic: While it can mean the same as above, it can also refer to someone who has taken a vow with an order as a sister, brother, monk, nun or friar. Someone who has committed to these vocations is referred to as having answered the call to “religious life.”

And then there are those things that are called one thing by protestants and another by Catholics:

Protestant: “Unspoken Prayer Request”
Catholic: “Special Intention”

This usually means that someone wants to lift up in prayer either a personal struggle, an illness or tragedy, or some other matter to prayer, without revealing specifics. This is primarily done to protect the confidentiality of the party being lifted up in prayer.

At any rate, head on over to EpicPew to see a few more terms that fit into the above two categories.  There’s also a lively discussion on the same topic taking place in our CHNetwork Community Forums.  If you haven’t checked those out before, stop by and say hello!

Image credit: Pixabay

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Everything Wrong With The SCOTUS Decision, A Throwaway Culture/Culture Of Death, “Progressive” Misogyny, And 2nd Generation Advocacy Journalism Trying To Pass Itself Off As Comedy, In A Single Tweet!

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St. Thomas More on Going Along to Get Along

oil-painting-74028_960_720Well, it’s not actually a quote from St. Thomas More.  It’s a scene from A Man for All Seasons.  But I can’t help thinking of this same conversation being had in delegate assemblies where people are trying to get each other to rally around some candidate or other that not everyone can in good conscience support.

The Duke of Norfolk: Oh confound all this. I’m not a scholar, I don’t know whether the marriage was lawful or not but dammit, Thomas, look at these names! Why can’t you do as I did and come with us, for fellowship!

Sir Thomas More: And when we die, and you are sent to heaven for doing your conscience, and I am sent to hell for not doing mine, will you come with me, for fellowship?

Happy feast of Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher!  Fisher, of course, was the only bishop in England who wouldn’t sign off on Henry VIII’s divorce.  Why is it that so many questions of religious liberty seem to have to do with the state changing the meaning of marriage to suit its own purposes?

UPDATE: After writing this post, I stumbled on Donald Trump’s newly announced Evangelical Advisory Board.  On the list: James Dobson, David Jeremiah, Kenneth Copeland, Bishop Harry Jackson, Richard Land…  mark my words: the death of American Evangelicalism will be traceable to June 21, 2016.

Image credit: Pixabay

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Over at the Coming Home Network, We’re Di$cu$$ing Tithing..

pile-money-3686326… and would love some Fairyland and TCC input.  The conversation starter goes as follows:

“It doesn’t take the commissioning of any sort of study to know that when it comes to the passing of the plates on a given Sunday, protestant Christians vastly outgive their Catholic brothers and sisters.  Granted, Catholics have a lot more charities outside of the parish community to support, from religious orders to pregnancy centers and more, but it brings up an interesting question for our convert readers: What was the shared understanding of the meaning of tithing in the Christian communities you were part of before becoming Catholic?

Maybe it was a straight 10%, of your income, but was that 10% supposed to be calculated before or after taxes?  Were you perhaps part of one of those rare communities where you had to report your income to the community because of what happened to Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5? “

Read more.

Of course, there’s the perennial joke that I’ve heard from pulpits from my youth through to the present day: “Obama (Bush, Clinton) wants 25 (35, 40) percent, but God’s only asking you for 10…”

Also, if you have a strategy for instilling tithing principles in kids, I’d welcome that input as well…

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