Feeds:
Posts
Comments

So…the research blog for the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University has posted a blog entry on its research that purports to show that interest in Catholicism is dramatically down.   The author comes to this conclusion by virtue of CARA’s research which shows that Google searches for the word “Catholic” are down not only domestically, but internationally.  The headline, “Is Interest in Catholicism Falling Online?” sounds alarming and I’m sure it is meant to be.  It certainly rattled me when I saw it linked over at NewAdvent.  I can only conclude that our reaction is supposed to be

Oh, woe is us!  The sky is falling on our New Evangelization! 

to which I can only respond

Poppycock

You heard me.  The Henny Penny headline is only part of the problem I have with the article.  I looked over this “research” and no one should be drawing ANY conclusions from it…except to say that people aren’t looking up the word “Catholic” on Google.  Big deal. That hardly means a lack on interest in Catholic things on the internet.

I know this both intellectually and personally.  Intellectually, the gaps between this “research” and the author’s  “conclusion” are very wide, so wide that we can dismiss his conclusion.  In other words, I am saying that the data–while it does not negate the author’s conclusion — by no means answers the author’s question, posed in his sensationalized headline, “Is Interest in Catholicism falling online?”, a question which the author answers affirmatively.  The author, Mark Gray writes, “the data shown… indicates that people may be less likely to be looking for Catholic content now than in the past.”  Hmmm. 

In his assertions, Mr. Gray is guilty of several reasoning errors known as Fallacious Generalizations:

Overgeneralization / Sweeping generalization –  The author takes the research of Google and concludes that fewer people are using Google to look up the word “Catholic” therefore interest in Catholicism has waned.  However, even a person with a most rudimentary exposure to research techniques can immediately notice the limited nature of the underlying research.  Google, while the most popular search engine, is by no means the only search engine.  Furthermore, there are thousands and thousands of searches that can involve Catholic doctrine, theology, history, worship, prayer, culture, teachings, arts and news that do not use the word “Catholic”.  Examples?

  • “Pro-life resources”
  • “Pope in Croatia”
  • “Theology of the Body”
  • “Saints and martyrs”
  • “How to say the Rosary”
  • “What is the Assumption”
  • “Refute sola scriptura”
  • “counter Reformation”
  • “beatification of John Paul”

Argumentum a silentio “You do not Google, therefore you are not.”    It did not show up in the limited research, therefore, it must not be.

Fallacy of Division – “Since “Catholic” is a less popular search term today, the trend shows people are not interested in Catholic things.” (Substituting a part for a whole).  See examples listed above.

Finally, I can see absolutely from personal experience that folks out reading Catholic websites, blogs and resources are most likely NOT ‘googling’ them to get there and certainly not by typing in “Catholic” in the search bar.  I get almost no visitors using the term “Catholic”.  One of my top posts of all times is the one I did on the myth of unlimited Vatican wealth.  How do those folks find it?  by typing in

How wealthy is the Vatican?”

I kid you not.  I get 20 visitors a month from that search alone.   Seems people really, really want to know how wealthy the Vatican is and that search does not show up in the CARA data.   Nor does “how to pray the Rosary”, “Christian persecution”, and “little popes” all of which send me handfuls of visitors every month.  Searches on “beauty”, “late have I loved thee”, and “kneeling in church” also send me a significant amount of traffic.  I could go on, but you get my point.

I don’t Google “Catholic Vatican website”, do you?  I’d search Vatican website (on Yahoo! btw)– if I didn’t already know that the site is vatican.va.  If I want to know about a particular topic, I will most likely go straight to NewAdvent.org, USSCB.org, or Catholic Answers.  My browser knows to bring up First Things, The National Catholic Register, Zenit, and the Catholic News Agency.  I don’t ever Google those and I doubt you do.  That is why we have Favorites on our browsers, not to mention Feeds.

In other words, the use of the Internet is an ever-changing, dynamic thing and our society gets more sophisticated in its use all the time.  So fewer people are googling the “Catholic” word now than in years past.  That is a trend for Google to ponder, not necessarily one for Catholics in the new media to obsess over.   Plus heck, some of us think that Google is evilEvil like Disney

In conclusion, dear Reader, (and not a fallacious conclusion either)…however you got here to my webblog, I appreciate your taking the time to read this.  I hope you have taken a big breath and sighed a sigh of relief and remember:  the sky is not falling.  You can google it.

(on a side note, a big “Boo” to NewAdvent for posting the ad hominem research piece under the even more Henny Penny-ish title, “When you crunch the numbers, there’s no escaping it: Interest in Catholicism is falling online“.  Sheesh, people get a hold of yourselves.)

Advertisements

On June 7th, Muslims in Nigeria destroyed the Catholic Cathedral of St. Patrick in the northern capital city of Maiduguri.  Recently, as many as 16 Nigerians have died in the most recent daily attacks.  Furthermore, estimates are that nearly 500 people have been killed since the April election of that countries first Christian president.  There have been other churches bombed, and an estimated 40,000 people have fled from the northern, mostly Muslim north.  The Islamic group claiming responsibility have even killed an Islamic leader who opposed the ongoing attacks.

I know I repeat myself, but we need to educate ourselves.  Christians are the most persecuted group on earth.  That’s not just a saying, it is a statistic and a fact.  According to the Zenit article below, a Christian is killed every five minutes in the world, not accidentally, but solely because he or she is a Christian.  And those numbers are in large part children.  This ongoing persecution is happening in Egypt, Pakistan, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria…and on and on.  With the exception of Communist countries China and North Korea, the rest of the top 10 most dangerous countries for Christians are Muslim.   

The sociologist in the article below comes very close to speaking the plain truth at a conference on Christian-Jewish-Muslim interfaith dialogue, he tells the participants that unless something is done about the approximately 100,000 Christians killed every year, “interfaith dialogue” is meaningless.  To that I say, “Amen.”   

ROME, JUNE 3, 2011 (Zenit.org).- A sociologist representing a European security organization says that the number of Christians killed each year for their faith is so high that it calculates to one martyr’s life being taken every five minutes.

Massimo Introvigne of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) reported this data at a conference on Christian-Jewish-Muslim interfaith dialogue, which concluded today in Hungary. The conference was sponsored by the Hungarian presidency of the Council of the European Union, and included a variety of high-level representatives from the three monotheistic religions, as well as political and social leaders.

Introvigne reported that Christians killed every year for their faith number 105,000, and that number includes only those put to death simply because they are Christians. It does not count the victims of civil or international wars.

If these numbers are not cried out to the world, if this slaughter is not stopped, if it is not acknowledged that the persecution of Christians is the first worldwide emergency in the matter of violence and religious discrimination, the dialogue between religions will only produce beautiful conferences but no concrete results,” he stated.

Egyptian diplomat Aly Mahmoud said that in his country laws have been passed that will protect Christian minorities, for example, prosecuting those who give speeches that incite hatred and banning hostile crowds outside churches.

“However, the danger is that many Christian communities in the Middle East will die from emigration, because all Christians, feeling threatened, will flee,” he said.

The diplomat suggested Europe prepare for “a new wave of emigration, this time from Christians fleeing the persecutions.”

For his part, Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, chairman for the Russian Orthodox patriarchate’s Department of External Church Relations, reminded that “at least 1 million” Christian victims of persecutions are children.

Emphasis mine.

ZENIT – Sociologist: Every 5 Minutes a Christian Is Martyred.

From Fides Service:

AFRICA/COTE D’IVOIRE-“It is urgent to find accommodation for 27,000 displaced persons welcomed in the parish of Duékoué”: the concern of the Bishop of Man

Duékoué (Agenzia Fides) – The plague of the displaced persons welcomed in the parish of Duékoué, in western Côte d’Ivoire continues. In late March, following the conquest of the city by the Republican Forces in Côte d’Ivoire (RFCI) faithful to the current president Alassane Ouattara, about 27,000 people, mostly gueré ethnic group(supporters of President Gbagbo) have taken refuge in the small Catholic mission in the city.
“The situation gets more and more dramatic: 27,000 people living within the space of a small parish. Each of them live in just a square meter. The sanitary and health conditions are so poor, “says Bishop Gaspard Beby Gnéba, Bishop of Man to Fides, and Duékoué is part of this territory.
The UNMCI (United Nations Mission in Côte d’Ivoire) ensures the safety of these people while Caritas provides meals and health service. The presence of UN soldiers, however, is not sufficient to reassure the refugees and bring them back home. “The uncertainty is still very strong. But the real problem is that these people have no home to go back to because their homes have been ransacked, destroyed and burned, “said Mgr. Gnéba. “It is urgent to find another place for these people, as well as guaranteeing security to those who still have a home and want to return. You then need to rebuild destroyed homes, ” concluded the Bishop of Man (LM) (Agenzia Fides 31/05/2011)

h/t Catholic Culture

see also my previous article:  Ivory Coast still in need of prayers, assistance.

Maybe you already saw this article linked over at The Drudge Report.  I am posting it here because of my own personal experience.   You see, I wish that when I was mired in sin and depressed and hopeless, some good Christian doctor had just said, “Get thee to a rectory! find a priest and dig yourself out of this dung heap of sin!”

Well, I eventually found that curative on my own, without the help of the medical community.  Still it is good to know that there are medical professionals that understand that God made us to be corporeal and spiritual, and the one affects the other.  In England, a young man described as being “in a rut and in need of help” was lucky enough to find a doctor who was willing to see him as the whole person that God made him.  After a lengthy consultation the doctor suggested that the young man return to the practice of his faith from youth.  Fox News NY reports:

Richard Scott, a doctor for 28 years, is under investigation by the General Medical Council (GMC) and faces disciplinary action after he suggested to a 24-year-old man that he might find solace in Christianity.

Scott, who practices at a medical center in Margate, east of London, well known for having Christian doctors, insists he only raised his spiritual beliefs after carrying out a thorough and lengthy consultation, during which medical checks and referrals for further care were arranged.

When the man’s mother inquired of the consultation, however, her son apparently replied, “He just said I need Jesus.” This prompted his mother to refer Scott to the GMC, claiming that he had not offered medical advice during the consultation but instead talked about Jesus.

…He has continued to seek treatment from the practice despite the complaint filed by his mother.

The doctor, who has an unblemished record “has decided to fight the allegations and stand up to what he believes is a politically correct trend in Britain to persecute Christians for expressing their faith in the workplace.”

Scott fears that if he accepts the warning, and discusses his Christian beliefs with other patients, he could be struck off.

He maintains he acted professionally and says the complaint was made against him in the knowledge that professional bodies are nervous about claims of a religious nature.

Scott said, “I only discussed my faith at the end of a lengthy medical consultation after exploring the various interventions that the patient had previously tried, and after promising to follow up the patient’s request for an appointment with other medical professionals.

“I only discussed mutual faith after obtaining the patient’s permission. In our conversation, I said that, personally, I had found having faith in Jesus helped me and could help the patient. At no time did the patient indicate that they were offended, or that they wanted to stop the discussion. If that had been the case, I would have immediately ended the conversation.

“This complaint was brought to the GMC not by the patient, who has continued to be a patient in this practice, but by the patient’s mother.”

Scott is a partner at the Bethesda medical center in Margate, Kent. The six partners at the practice are all Christians and it has taken a biblical name. Practice leaflets and message boards publicize the doctors’ religion and invite patients to raise Christian beliefs with them.

Scott is being advised by the Christian Legal Center. Paul Diamond, the leading human rights barrister, has been instructed in the case.

Did you catch that?  The practice is made up of Christian practitioners.  Their leaflets and boards publicize their Christian beliefs and the nature of their practice.  So my question is, did this mother take her son there knowing full well the nature of their practice?  Was this some sort of set up?  We know from experience that atheists and humanists are not content to simply keep religion out of government.  They want it out of everyone’s lives and will not be happy until this is achieved.  Their number one target, in fact their only target, is Christianity. 

Pray for this doctor and his legal defense team.  May we never be silent in proclaiming the truth.  And for what it’s worth, I think the doctor is probably spot on.  We all can think of examples where getting right by God ‘cured’ someone of pain, despair, depression, anxiety or other so-called mental illnesses.

It did for me.

An evangelical worship leader visits his brother, the seminarian and writes of what he found at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary.  Read it here:  A Visit to Heaven.

Interestingly, Mount St. Mary’s undergraduate college was recently the topic of on of Msg. Pope‘s articles in the ADW blog, which I commented on when it was posted.

Just a reminder to pray for vocations, for our priests, seminarians and religious.  Also, pray for Christian unity.

Well, so you’ve probably heard that the largest body of Presbyterians in the U.S. have voted to allow gay clergy.    I’m not actually going to delve into that here because it is clear to me that mainline Protestantism is busy destroying itself from within.   The situation reminds me of the book of Judges which tells us what happens to the people when they have no king, and each man decides for himself:

In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what he thought best.  Judges 21:25

Now, the really funny thing about this quote and why it matches the situation with the Presbyterians so well is that it comes immediately after, and by way of explaining, the previous chapters concerning the tribe of Benjamin.  If you haven’t read it before, I won’t ruin it for you.  Suffice it to say that the chapters concern homosexuality, licentiousness, abuse, rape, murder, more murder, lies, cover-ups, chaos, mayhem and evil. 

In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what he thought best.

So…this is what the great reformation has wrought.  Everyone, every denomination doing what he thinks is best, and moral relativism’s grip gets tighter.

Oh, but I said I wasn’t going to discuss the Presbyterian Church situation, per se.  Right.  Okay, back to the point of this post.  What I want to talk about is the response to the Presbyterian Church situation, at least insofar as other more orthodox Protestants view it.  Which brings me to today’s article in Christianity Today, the magazine of Evangelical Christians.  In an article entitled, The Road to Gay Ordination in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), a Reformed Presbyterian theologian by the name of Dr. S. Donald Fortson III addresses the voted change to that denomination’s constitution.  Dr. Fortson is a Professor of Church History and Practical Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary—Charlotte. He is an ordained minister in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, which (I learned from reading his article) broke away from the main body of the Presbyterian Church in anticipation that it was only a matter of time until the main body fell to “a pro-gay agenda relentlessly pressed until at length Presbyterians officially landed in the gay ordination camp”.   

The article itself is brilliant in its linguistic and theological acrobatics to say how wrong this decision by the PC(USA) is, how unbiblical and outside of tradition…without of course, admitting that the entire Protestant Reformation was…<ahem>…unbiblical and outside of tradition.  And of course, to make his point, this Reformed Presbyterian relies on the Church Fathers of the Catholic Church to make his case.  It’s a brilliant use of equivocation.**  Really, it’s brilliant

Here are some examples of Dr. Fortson’s theological heroics:

And church history is crystal clear: Homosexual practice has been affirmed nowhere, never, by no one in the history of Christianity. The church fathers insisted that doctrine and practice must be tested by Holy Scripture. In addition to careful exegesis, another test was catholicity, that is, what has been the universally accepted scriptural interpretation passed down in the church. (emphasis mine)

To what church is he referring?  the Presbyterian Church?  Or that other one

I kinda think he means this one

He continues–

When novel teachings were shown to fail both the careful scrutiny of Scripture and the consensus of the orthodox Fathers, heretical ideas were doubly condemned.

Um, gosh, could the ‘novel teachings’ he refers to be something like, I dunno…sola fidesola scriptura?  If you remember your history, they both failed the careful scrutiny of Scripture and the consensus of orthodox Fathers, not a one of whom supported either.  The reformers were the ones who championed these novel teachings.

He goes on to quote SAINT Vincent of Lerins (without “Saint” naturally) —

… if anyone wishes, to detect the deceits of heretics that arise and to avoid their snares and to keep healthy and sound in a healthy faith, we ought, with the Lord’s help, to fortify our faith in a twofold manner, firstly that is, by the authority of God’s Law [Scripture], then by the tradition of the Catholic [universal] Church. …[W]e take the greatest care to hold that which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all.'”

Um, Dr. Fortson, I know you are a scholar and like a teacher of kids as well as an actual historian so I’m sure you realize that (this is embarrassing) but uh, you do realize that you misquoted a church father, right?  I am sure that you did not mean to suggest that St. Vincent, the Catholic monk said, “the univeral church” because of course, he didn’t.  He said, the Catholic Church.  Changing the name of the church would seem sorta like you are hiding or obfuscating facts and of course as a Professor of Reformed Theology…I know you wouldn’t do that.  I mean, it’s not like he was just some presbyter schmoo.  He was a monk.  So I’ll just correct it for you.  Here, let me correct your mistake.

‘… if anyone wishes, to detect the deceits of heretics that arise and to avoid their snares and to keep healthy and sound in a healthy faith, we ought, with the Lord’s help, to fortify our faith in a twofold manner, firstly that is, by the authority of God’s Law [Scripture], then by the tradition of the Catholic Church. …[W]e take the greatest care to hold that which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all.'”

Yes, yes!  ‘the greatest care to hold that which has been believed everywhere’…yes, the Presbyterian Church has been taking great care to hold onto that which has been believed since the time…er…well, since the time that it formed itself in defiance of that which was believed everywhere, always, and by all.  But I will take your word for it that since the time of their rejection of the universal beliefs of the universal church, they have been really really good at holding onto that which has been believed everywhere.  (So that is, what?  1541 or so?)

Dr. Fortson, now on a roll, heads toward his conclusion–

Christianity is a tradition; it is a faith with a particular ethos, set of beliefs and practices handed on from generation to generation. The Christian tradition may be understood as the history of what God’s people have believed and how they have lived based upon the Word of God. This tradition is not only a collection of accepted doctrines but also a set of lifestyle expectations for a follower of Christ. One of the primary things handed down in the Christian church over the centuries is a consistent set of …

I’m sorry!  I need to take a break.  Laughing too hard.  BRB!

kk, sorry, where were we?  oh yes…haha, we were talking about the Christian tradition, some of us more seriously than others.   Dr. Fortson now makes his dramatic and unintentionally Catholic and/or seriously hilarious conclusion regarding the matter at hand–

Revisionist biblical interpretations that purport to support homosexual practice are typically rooted in novel hermeneutical principles applied to Scripture, which produce bizarre interpretations of the Bible held nowhere, never, by no one. (emphasis mine)

So there you have it.  Typical Reformed Protestant absconds with Patristic Fathers, rewrites what they say to make them agree with his Protestant theology, and equivocates his way into agreeing completely with the position of the Holy Mother Church circa 1520 all the while still assuring himself and his wayward, defiant Protestant flock that while it is meet and right to condemn homosexuality via the tradition of the Holy Catholic Church, because, well, you know, those Papists got it right on that one, but hey, don’t come waving your authority in my face!

Hahahahahaha.   I wish I had an nth of the intellect and scholarship of someone like Dr. Michael Barber who I know would see layers here that I do not.  Nevertheless, I  find this whole article ripe for satire and abuse.  I wonder if these earnest Sophists ever realize how absurd and hilarious they are!  God bless ’em. ***

**a quick lookup of the word “equivocation” reveals that its synonyms are misrepresentation, deceit and doublespeak.  To be charitable to Dr. Fortson, we are only using the definition of equivocation in the philosophical use, meaning a fallacy.

***and my original response via the comment section may not have been as charitable.  Mea culpa.

One of the most popular posts from the last few months is the one I did outlining the crisis in the Ivory Coast.  I thought I should update everyone.

As of two days ago, the former president, Laurent Gbagbo is reportedly still alive and under house arrest.  The country has just resumed cocoa bean production and export, but situation in the Ivory Coast is far from better.

New graves are discovered weekly and 30,000 displaced persons are still living in the mission outside of Duekoue, which I mentioned in the Original Post.  If you remember from the OP, that was a little mission, hardly equipped to handle that number of refugees.  When encouraged to go home, the refugees express fear that the attackers will return and kill them, so they remain on the grounds of the mission, the Salesian parish of St. Teresa of the Child Jesus.

But many doubt reconciliation can be achieved and entire villages in the west, close to the border with Liberia, remain devastated by abuses from both sides.

A UN human rights team has begun probing killings in Abidjan’s Yopougon district after UN workers on Friday found 68 bodies in 10 graves.

International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said meanwhile he intends to investigate massacres by both sides in a conflict which raised fears of a Rwanda-style genocide.

Nearly 30,000 displaced people are sheltering in a Catholic mission at Duekoue in the west while more than 100,000 have taken refuge in neighbouring Liberia.

“They told us to go back to our homes but those who killed our brothers — are they not going to come back?” said one frightened resident at the mission.

The Salesians have set up an emergency appeal, mostly aimed at humanitarian relief agencies.  However, perhaps you can help as well.  Donate here.  (the site is in Spanish)

And as always, our number one obligation as Christians is to lift up our prayers to Almighty God, who is our help and our shield.

Read more about the situation in Cote d’Ivoire here.