Catholicism in the Car

Friday, July 30, 2021

The Sexual Abuse Scandals in the Catholic Church

 The below post is an answer I gave to a question asked of me on the site "Quora." I have republished it here. You can find the original answer at: https://www.quora.com/profile/Parker-Zurbuch/answers  


Original Question: Are you ashamed to admit that you are Catholic over the scandals of covering up cases of pedophilia by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church? Especially homosexual pedophilia when, on the one hand, they condemn normal gays, but tolerate molesters?

This is a great question! On the one hand, yes, I am extremely ashamed that those in my Church (The Catholic Church) have made such despicable choices that have caused so much scandal to the world. I wish it would have never happened, especially for the sake of the victims of these perpetrators. There is no defending these horrific crimes and sins, so often caused by leaders in the Church.

But, notice that I described my shame as being towards those in my Church. I did not describe my shame as being in the Catholic Church itself — and therefore, I am not ashamed in my identifying as a Catholic despite the Church’s scandalous members.

See, the thing about being Catholic, is that we believe that the Church is an entity larger than the members that make it up. The Catholic Church is, as Saint Paul says (in Romans 12:5,1; Corinthians 12:12–27; Ephesians 3:6, 4:15–16 and 5:23; Colossians 1:18 and 1:24; etc.), “The Body of Christ.” The Body is made of many members, but no individual member makes up the whole body.

We are also told by Jesus, in Scripture, that the Church (Christ’s Body) is like a vine:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” (John 15:1–2, RSV).

This means that those members of the Catholic Church, who are desperately trying to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, must allow (and even encourage) this “pruning” of the fruitless branches (members). The fruitless branches include those individuals referenced in the original question above, as well as many others. The pruning itself is done in many fashions, but the bad branches — also identified in scripture as chaff — are doomed for eternal punishment, if they do not repent:

“His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” (Matthew 3:12, RSV).

This brings up another, very important point: I should not be ashamed of being Catholic, but I certainly should feel shame about those within my Church who do shameful and despicable things. HOWEVER, I will always hope and pray for these shameful members of the Church to convert, ask for forgiveness, and repent. This hope, though, does not expect the sinner to get off without reparation to be completed.

If I break my neighbor’s window, he can forgive me if I ask his forgiveness, but I must still repay my neighbor for the damages and/or fix the window myself. This is what we call “Penance.”

So, even if Cardinal McCarrick publicly asked forgiveness for his crimes, and even went to each victim (where possible) and asked their personal forgiveness, he would still need to give reparation to those he directly harmed and scandalized through his actions. This might involve financial compensation to victims (out of his own pocket), or even other forms of reparation. It would also involve some sort of reparation to the greater society, and the Church herself, for his scandalous actions.

One of the main beauties of the Christian message is that, “God always forgives. His mercy is endless.” But, we must not assume that, because of His mercy, that God is not also just. He forgives the sinner, but also requires repayment (reparation) for the sin committed. This is the basis for the Catholic idea of Purgatory. Purgatory is a state, after death, for those who have sought genuine forgiveness of their sins, and have thus been forgiven (and are therefore guaranteed Heaven). But these persons lack sufficient reparation for said sins. This lack of reparation is an imperfection within the person. They have not totally “fixed the broken window” caused by their wrongdoing. As the book of Revelation says, “…nothing unclean shall enter [Heaven], nor any one who practices abomination or falsehood…” (Revelation 21:27, RSV), one cannot enter Heaven (even though one has been fully forgiven, and has repented) until these reparations have been completed.

This does not mean that Jesus’ sacrifice has been for nothing, or that we (in any way) are “meriting” salvation. Jesus died that we might be forgiven of our sins. He died to take away our punishment (Hell), and give us the opportunity for eternal life (Heaven). Jesus’ sacrifice has healed (and will heal) those that accept him through baptism, and who persevere to eternal life. However, Jesus’ sacrifice does not enable us to presumption of His forgiveness, and the reward of Heaven. It does not give us license to sin, and then simply ask forgiveness from God, without there being any need for us to fix the wrong we have caused by said sin.

This issue matters so much to the aforesaid question. We all know that the perpetrators of sexual abuse (especially those within the Catholic Church) may end up repenting of their grievous sins. Without this view of the necessity of reparation, it seems unjust to us that the persons who have caused such suffering could get off so easily (just by saying “I’m sorry” to God alone, before their deaths). The necessity of reparation is one salve that can heal our wounds in this crisis. Knowing that these men, who have committed such atrocities, cannot get off so easily. Sure, they can repent, ask forgiveness, be forgiven, and thus eventually end up in Heaven—BUT, they will need to go through much purgation before being allowed to enter the Heavenly bliss. They will need to make reparations to all those they have hurt, either in this life, or on the other side of the veil in Purgatory. They will not be able to enter Heaven if they do not repent, do not ask forgiveness, are not thus forgiven, and do not repair the damage that their sins have caused.

This is the beauty and majesty of the Catholic understanding of sin. In an odd way, I think that God will use these horrible crimes done by these horrible men to strengthen the Church for the future. In a paradoxical way, I think that these men will show both the judgment and (if they repent) the mercy of God. I do hope that all of those who have committed these crimes will eventually repent, ask forgiveness, be forgiven, and make full reparations to those they have wronged. I do not, and cannot, wish Hell on anyone. They can choose Hell by their actions, but I will not wish it on them.

This was a long answer to a short question, but I think that people deserve a thorough explanation of why I am not ashamed to be a Catholic, despite the actions of these terrible men. I do not claim that this answer has been written perfectly, or that it will be satisfactory to anyone. I will never defend what those men did, but I do hope that I will see them in Heaven. We must always keep in mind that each of us is one choice away from being as horrible as sexual abusers. We can judge actions as right or wrong, but we can never judge the state of a person’s soul.

Please ask questions for clarity. I am trying my best here.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

What are some questions that should be asked more often?

 The below post is an answer I gave to a question asked of me on the site "Quora." I have republished it here. You can find the original answer at: https://www.quora.com/profile/Parker-Zurbuch/answers 

Original Question: What are some questions that should be asked more often?

What is the nature of reality? What is being? Why do things exist? How do things exist? Does being itself exist? Does truth exist? Can the truth be found? For that matter, does any concept exist? How do we know that we know anything at all? If existing things are made up of other existing things, can anything not exist? Does existence have a beginning or end, or is it simply eternal? If it does have a beginning or end, what was before everything existed, and what will be afterwards? Being itself? Can being itself exist? Would it be that nothing exists before and after what currently exists? If it was nothing, how can nothing exist, if it is nothing? Or would it be some other concept or reality? Can we know the answers to any of these questions directly, or is our best bet to believe answers that most fit with our perceived reality?

These may seem like unanswerable questions, but they are very important for human life, and must be answered by each individual. Without an answer to these basic questions, one has no basis for any sort of morality, amorality, or really any sort of social, physical, psychological, or spiritual conjectures whatsoever. Without thinking about and answering these questions for himself, man cannot begin acting in a rational way.

Does everyone experience the glory of God eventually?

 The below post is an answer I gave to a question asked of me on the site "Quora." I have republished it here. You can find the original answer at: https://www.quora.com/profile/Parker-Zurbuch/answers 

Original Question: Does everyone experience the glory of God eventually?


In Catholic theology, everyone does eventually experience the glory of God. It would either be in Heaven (where the glory of God is experienced in an accepting nature, and is thus pleasing to the individual rationally, spiritually—and after the Second Coming—physically.
In Hell, however, the glory of God would still be experienced, but it will not be pleasant because the individual vehemently hates the glory of God and does not wish to accept it.

This is similar to how when one invites the embrace of another person, the embrace is accepted with pleasure, but when one does not wish to be embraced—even though the embrace is good—it is experienced as pain.

In Catholic theology, man does not get “sent” to Heaven or Hell—man chooses Heaven or Hell by his actions and interior volition. This choice is an eternal choice based upon the nature of man’s soul, the nature of God, and the idea that if that final choice was not an eternal one, then Heaven of Hell would not be eternal—being that Heaven is an eternal state of beholding the glory and goodness of God, and Hell is the eternal state of attempting to not behold that divine glory and goodness.

One’s actions in this, non-eternal life, do have eternal consequences in the next. If one lives consistently denying the goodness of God in his life all the way to the brink of death without repentance, he will inevitably deny the goodness of God in eternal life. If one lives consistently accepting the goodness of God in his life all the way to the brink of death without denial, he will graciously accept the goodness of God in eternal life.

Purgatory is another matter, and can be explained more deeply in a different question, if desired. But basically, Purgatory is not an eternal state, and will end at the Second Coming of Christ. Everyone in Purgatory will be in Heaven eventually—they just need a bit of “cleaning up” before they can do so. They will eventually experience the glory of God in Heaven.

How do you explain the idea that the reality we experience is the reality we create? What, then, is "real"?

 The below post is an answer I gave to a question asked of me on the site "Quora." I have republished it here. You can find the original answer at: https://www.quora.com/profile/Parker-Zurbuch/answers 


Original Question: How do you explain the idea that the reality we experience is the reality we create? What, then, is "real"?

Reality is, by definition that which is real. That which is real, exists. And that which exists, does not, not exist. So what then does not, not exist? Well, everything that is. Everything that is has being. Something cannot exist unless it is, and therefore that which is not, does not exist.

How then can reality, what is real, be that which we create? What is real—what exists, exists whether we think it exists or not. It thus can be concluded that our perception does not create reality. What we consider perception is either true or not true. Some may have true perceptions and others may have false ones. One person can have both true and false perceptions of various forms of reality, but in regard to the question of reality itself, one can either believe that reality is true or that it is false. Both cannot be true. Either reality is true or it is false. Something is either real or it is not. It cannot be both.

If you are looking for a “rational” explanation, I do not think one can argue that reality is what we create. Relativism (the idea that truth is created by the truth-seeker, or that truth simply does not exist) is a very old philosophy, but it is inherently flawed. For example, If I create my own truth, is that statement true, or is it false? If truth does not exist, how can that be true if truth does not exist? This line of thinking is very attractive, for it often seeks to not hurt or offend people with the truth—and for this reason, along with others, is very popular in much of modern Western Culture—but it is not a “rational” philosophy. Such ideas are, by definition, the opposite of Philosophy. Philosophy is not just “thinking” or “communicating ideas”—for I can think of many things that do not exist—but, it is truly the “study of wisdom/truth.” One cannot make a philosophy based upon truth being non-existent or determined by the individual. This would be a contradiction and in the realm of the imagination, not Philosophy.

Why does a good God have the ability to think of evil?

 The below post is an answer I gave to a question asked of me on the site "Quora." I have republished it here. You can find the original answer at: https://www.quora.com/profile/Parker-Zurbuch/answers 

Original Question: Why does a good God have the ability to think of evil?

If God is pure and utter Goodness, how can He think of evil? How can evil even exist, if God is pure and utter goodness? These are amazing questions!

If evil is simply the absence of goodness, then God most certainly can “think” about evil. I will explain:

God, as I am assuming you define Him, is pure and utter Goodness. Your problem may be in defining evil. If you wish to have a logically coherent answer to this question, then evil cannot be anything in and of itself. Evil must then, be simply the absence of goodness. If God is pure Goodness, and God created everything, how can anything exist that is the complete opposite of Goodness?: Evil? Well, one great answer to this question is that evil is just the absence of Goodness—that there is no such thing as absolute Evil. This rational is based upon the assumption that everything that exists is good. Even Satan (or whatever you call him) and demons. Even the worst, most vile people in the history of mankind were good—there actions were not good, but they in and of themselves are good, because they were made by Goodness itself: God.

This brings a completely different perspective to the “problem of evil”. The question, “If a good God exists, how can there be evil” often assumes that evil is some opposing force to a good God, but if evil is just a lack of goodness, then there certainly can be evil in the universe.

Another helpful aspect to answering this question is the definition of free will and love. If God is love, and if He created all things out of love and to become perfected in love, then all things participate in the love of God. Now, in order for there to be love, there must be choice (If one is forced to love, then it is not love—it is compulsion. In order for there to be choice, there must be things to choose between). In relation to this question, those things you can choose between are a “greater” good, and a “lesser” good. Ideally, man would always choose the “greater” or even the “greatest” good, but as we know so well, this often does not happen. Man often chooses the “lesser good”, and even sometimes man chooses goods that are almost totally void of goodness, but this is necessary if there is to be real love in the universe.

So, in short, the reason a good God has the ability to think of the “lesser” or even the “least” good things, is because of love. Without God being able to think of these things, choice would not exist, and this love would not exist. If God is love, then God would not exist. So, basically, God has to be able to think of “evil” (in the way I have defined it above), or else God himself would not exist.

Now, God can think of evil, but cannot do it. I can explain why this is in another question, if you would like, but I think this is sufficient for the present

What can I do to change my life?

The below post is an answer I gave to a question asked of me on the site "Quora." I have republished it here. You can find the original answer at: https://www.quora.com/profile/Parker-Zurbuch/answers  


Original Question: What can I do to change my life?

By making different, and “Virtuous” choices. (I will explain)

Now, the above request can be hard to fulfill, especially if one is stuck in habitual or addictive routines. In order to break out of those undesired routines, one must then build up enough self-control (by resisting the urge of those bad habits/routines) to actually make a determined choice.

A big problem that we have as humans is that, the more we solely follow our desires, the less free we become. Self-restraint is a necessary condition for choice, because if one cannot restrain their desires, they will be a slave to them—and slaves are not free to make choices.

This does not mean that our desires are bad. It just means that they are often not in accord with truth and reality. Why do I eat lots of chocolate cake when I know that it is not healthy for me? Because I have become a slave to my desire for chocolate cake. Is my desire for chocolate cake bad? No. But, my unrestrained desire for chocolate cake is bad.

Why is it bad? Because if I gorge myself on chocolate cake consistently, I will develop many problems which can lead to—eventually—my death. Why is death bad? Because we know that our present existence is good. Why is our present existence good? Because we know that existence itself is good, and goodness is precisely something that is existing to its full capacity. So why is death viewed as bad? Because we often view it as the end of our existence. But despite whether it is the end of our existence or not, it is universally excepted as bad to die from a clearly preventable disorder—like having eaten way too much chocolate cake. Why is this cause of death universally accepted as not good? Because we know that when a person has become a slave to their desires, that they are not existing to their full capacity. What is the full capacity of human existence? To be able to know and choose that which is best at all times: aka. Virtue.

I converted from [being a] Catholic to [being a] Born Again Christian. Is it still okay to wear the cross necklace I was given at confirmation?

The below post is an answer I gave to a question asked of me on the site "Quora." I have republished it here. You can find the original answer at: https://www.quora.com/profile/Parker-Zurbuch/answers  


Original Question: I converted from [being a] Catholic to [being a] Born Again Christian. Is it still okay to wear the cross necklace I was given at confirmation?

Yes, of course. According to the Catholic Church, you are still a Catholic unless you formally renounce the faith to your local bishop (which you could do via email). But even then, I would encourage you to still wear the cross given to you in your confirmation.

Also, I would encourage you to make a deep study of both Catholicism and Born-Again theology. Be sure you are making the right choice in leaving the Catholic Church. Do not leave for emotional reasons. Only leave if you are absolutely convinced that it is not the true Church started by Jesus Christ, and carrying his message unbroken down to today.

Ask yourself questions like:

Who decided that the books of the Bible be in the canon? Who decided that those books were inspired by God? How does one determine what is the truth if everyone can interpret the Bible for themselves? Is it by vote? Then if a majority of people vote that Jesus is not God, what will that mean? Is it by a small group of leaders? Who put them in charge? Did Jesus say in the Bible that they were in charge? Is it one pastor? Well, then they have made the pastor a “Pope".

How do you know that any other Church is started by Jesus Christ? Only the Catholic Church (and possibly some Orthodox churches) can historically trace their roots to the time of the Apostles. No protestant church can make that claim.

Can you really leave the Eucharist? Maybe you were never taught the profound teachings of the Church on the Eucharist. She believes it is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ. If you have formed a relationship with Jesus in the Eucharist, can you really leave and go to a church which will never be able to give you the opportunity to be one with Jesus in your Body, Blood, and Soul?

Were you taught the profound theology of the Mass? That it is truley Jesus' sacrifice on Calvary being re-presented (not represented or “happening for a second time”, but that you are really there, spiritually at Calvary in 33 AD--God is outside time). This is what Jesus meant by “Do this in memory of me.”

There are many more reasons. Many, many more.

I offer these questions as food for thought. I do not know you or your situation. I do know, however, that you are loved, and I ask you to take deep concern about leaving the catholic church. To me, it s the only religion that makes logical and historical sense. Do not make a world-view change unless you have good evidence and good reasoning for doing so. Do not change churches because the people or leaders are hypocrites. As soon as you join a new, “perfect" church, it will be imperfect, because we are all hypocrites in one way or another.

Only seek the truth. Nothing less. Do not seek the easy way out. Only the narrow way leads to life-eternal.

God bless you in this time of seeking. If you need resources, do not be afraid to ask around. I would love to help in anyway that I can.

Catholic Answers (Catholic Answers Website) is a great place to learn more and ask good questions.

How do you know you won't eventually be somebody else after death?

 The below post is an answer I gave to a question asked of me on the site "Quora." I have republished it here. You can find the original answer at: https://www.quora.com/profile/Parker-Zurbuch/answers 


Original Question: How do you know you won't eventually be somebody else after death?

You don’t know with 100% certainty. You cannot know anything with 100% certainty; BUT, you can gather up the most rational evidence, and make a “most logical conclusion” from said evidence.

As for becoming someone else after death, the only rational way I think you could deduce such a claim as being “most logical” would be to look at evidence of those who have claimed positively for the reality of reincarnation.

This is similar to the question “Do angels exist?.” You cannot know 100% either way, but you can look at all the evidence — however, with the question of angels (as with reincarnation), the evidence for these things depend on other premises. You cannot have angels unless there is a spiritual dimension to reality. If there is a spiritual dimension to reality, are concepts (such as truth, goodness, beauty) parts of reality instead of just parts of man’s imagination? So on and so forth.

Likewise, you cannot have reincarnation unless there is a spiritual dimension to reality: some sort of consciousness that can “jump” from one body to another between death and life.

Reincarnation has some other ideas going against it which must be considered, such as, “If you are reincarnated, why don’t you remember your previous life (lives)?” or, “If you claim to remember your previous lives, and claim to be reincarnated…how can you prove this?”

One should never believe something just because someone says so. This leads to disaster. To live a fulfilled life, one must have a basis for one’s beliefs. Some sort of solid rationale. But one must always beware of creating a logical system based on false premises. A system can be logical, but if based at a false starting point, it cannot be rational and cannot be reality. I am not assuming the questioner has such faulty assumptions, but am rather cautioning against them because they are easy to fall prey to for anyone, myself included.

I do not see how one could have a logical system for reincarnation based on valid premises; unless there was some sort of spiritual or religious system which fit reincarnation into the wider view of reality. Such a spiritual or religious system would need to also be non-contradictory in its claims. Its followers wouldn’t need to adhere to the religious system perfectly, but the system itself would need to be logically coherent, and have valid premises for reincarnation to be considered a feasible aspect of reality.

EDIT: When I say a “religious system” I do not mean that in the strict sense, but more as a “larger system in which the concept of reincarnation could fit.” To me, it seems that the concept of reincarnation cannot hold itself up by its own bootstraps — it needs other ideas for it to be based on. This is what I mean by a “religious” or “rational” system.

How do you know if you are a good person?

The below post is an answer I gave to a question asked of me on the site "Quora." I have republished it here. You can find the original answer at: https://www.quora.com/profile/Parker-Zurbuch/answers 


Original Question: How do you know if you are a good person?

You cannot determine whether you are a good person solely on your own. There are too many variables in life to consider such a claim for oneself. “What is goodness?”; “Who/what determines goodness in someone?”; “Do you determine your own goodness, or is it determined by others perception of you?”; “Is goodness a moral claim, an ontological claim, both of these, or more than these?” There are probably infinitely more questions you could ask, and never reach an answer.

It is impossible to determine your own goodness, or the goodness of another for that matter (the same questions above apply to us seeing goodness in another). You cannot do it on your own.

The only way you could do it is with some sort of a rational system that answers these questions for you in a logical way. “What is Goodness?” it seems to me, can only be answered by a concept, not an action. There are too many variables in actions.

To me, Goodness can only be defined as “Being.” — and likewise, “Being” can only be defined as “Goodness.” From this premise, all of life begins to make sense. If Being is Goodness and Goodness is Being, then if I “am”, then I am good (if I “be” then I am also “good” because I “be”). Therefore, Goodness cannot be prescribed to a person as a Moral Claim (based on actions — because there are too many variables), but only as an Ontological Claim (“ontological” means, according to the being or essence of a thing). If this is true, then yes I can certainly know that I am good, in an “Ontological sense” (I am good in my very self, because “I exist”).

If I am good in my very existence, because I exist, then all things that exist (all things that “are”) are also good. If all things are good, then why is there evil and suffering in the world? Well, just because all things are ontologically good, doesn't mean that all things are morally good (meaning, good in their actions and choices). This is the key distinction to be made about “goodness.”

If you want to be a good person, morally, this is a further question — and a more difficult one. I would say that a morally good person is one that “acts as they are”, meaning that “since you are good in your being, you must act good in your choices.”

The question of “what constitutes good choices?” I think, can be answered by asking, “What is the most good being?”, and I will therefore try to act as the “most good being” acts. Well, if Goodness is Being, and Being is Goodness, then the most good being must be “Being Itself.”

What is “Being Itself?” Well, it is the most simple reality. It is the source of all being. If goodness exists, then Being itself must be good. If love exists, then Being itself must be loving. But what is evil exists? Can Being itself be evil? Well, you would need to define evil. If you consider evil as “something done by the action of someone”, then evil is subjective. Evil therefore cannot be a part of Being Itself, because Being Itself cannot deliberate between two choices. Being itself just is. Being itself cannot do good or do evil, it is Good. But is Being Itself Evil? Well, by the earlier definition, No. This is because Evil, if defined as “something done by the action of someone”, is precisely an action. And Being itself cannot Act — it can just BE. Being itself, therefore cannot be moral — because it is unable to act. But, even though it cannot be moral, it can be ontologically good. So, if Being itself is Goodness (and therefore “Love”, as a type of Goodness), and is unable to act; it must also be “Action” itself. It must be pure Action, Goodness, and Love. Since it is Being Itself, it must also have all the attributes of all that “is” (of all that “exists”) — except, as stated earlier, evil itself — because evil is an action, not something that exists ontologically. Humans are conscious, personal, relational, etc. Therefore, Being Itself must have all these properties (if the beings that emanate from Being Itself also have these properties). Being Itself must be conscious, personal, relational, and rational. Therefore, man (to be “moral” in their actions — meaning, making their actions proportional to their ontological goodness) must be conscious, personal, relational, and rational.

Being itself, also being Goodness itself, would need to be specifically relational within itself. Relationships consist of a Lover, a Beloved, and the Love that is between them. This means that Being itself must also consist of a Lover, a Beloved, and the Love that is between them. All of human morality must imitate this attribute of Being Itself. If it does not, man does not live in harmony with his ontological goodness, and cannot be moral. Loving relationship is what morality consists of. That is, always making the other more in harmony with their ontological goodness. More in harmony with what and who they are. Thus, also, more in harmony with Being Itself.

This is my understanding of reality. Take it or leave it. That is up to you.

Also, feel free to fire holes in my logic :)

A Lonely, Silent Night - A Short Story

It was a lonely, silent night. The sun just having set its rays behind the plains of flowing wheat. One night it was. A relative quiet fille...