DeGrasse Tyson pushes Matrix-like theory of reality, still mocks Christians

Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Your friendly neighborhood blogger is always perusing the internet for science-related news. Given that fact, it did not go unnoticed that two stories pushing the idea that reality is all an illusion gained widespread media attention over the past month.

The first piece came when Neil DeGrasse Tyson said it was “very likely” humans are living in a simulation. The second story involved Princeton University scientists who think free will may just be a trick the brain plays to rewrite history. None of this would be very fascinating if it weren’t for the fact that Morepheus DeGrasse Tyson and his atheist followers take pot shots at Christians on a regular basis.

Extreme Tech reported April 22:

“At the most recent Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate, recently held at New York’s Hayden Planetarium, scientists gathered to address the question for the year: Is the universe a computer simulation? It’s an older question that you might imagine, and if we interpret it a bit more broadly then it’s really one of the oldest questions imaginable: How do we know that reality is reality? And, if our universe were a big, elaborate lie, could we ever devise some test to prove that fact? At the debate, host and celebrity astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson argued that the probability is that we [‘very likely’] live in a computer simulation.”

The U.K. Independent reported Sunday:

Free will might be an illusion created by our brains, scientists might have proved.

Humans are convinced that they make conscious choices as they live their lives. But instead it may be that the brain just convinces itself that it made a free choice from the available options after the decision is made.

The idea was tested out by tricking subjects into believing that they had made a choice before the consequences of that choice could actually be seen. In the test, people were made to believe that they had taken a decision using free will – even though that was impossible. …

In one of the studies undertaken by Adam Bear and Paul Bloom, of Princeton University, the test subjects were shown five white circles on a computer monitor. They were told to choose one of the circles before one of them lit up red.

The participants were then asked to describe whether they’d picked the correct circle, another one, or if they hadn’t had time to actually pick one.

Statistically, people should have picked the right circle about one out of every five times. But they reported getting it right much more than 20 per cent of the time, going over 30 per cent if the circle turned red very quickly.

The scientists suggest that the findings show that the test subjects’ minds were swapping around the order of events, so that it appeared that they had chosen the right circle – even if they hadn’t actually had time to do so.

Is it more likely scientists “proved” free will is an illusion, or that they reestablished people are capable of lying?

Is it more likely scientists “proved” free will is an illusion, or that they reestablished the human brain is a beautiful box of paradoxes?

The human brain is incredibly sturdy, yet fragile. It is awe-inspiring in its complexity, yet ultimately a sponge-like mass of neurons, blood vessels, and tissue. It can turn science fiction into reality, yet it often falls for “tricks” played by researchers in white lab coats. The list goes on and on.

Matrix

Imagine what the world would look like if billions of people simultaneously listened to Morepheus DeGrasse Tyson and researchers at the University of Free Will Is Just an Illusion. Tyson likes to lump “crazy” Christianity in with Scientology, but my guess is that he would soon yearn for a world solely populated by “cracker”-eating Catholics if 7 billion people concluded a.) they were living in a glorified video game, and b.) they did not need to take responsibility for their actions.

Regardless, men of faith should smile. DeGrasse Tyson’s acknowledgment that humans “very likely” have a Creator will prompt some of his supporters down a spiritual path in the years ahead.

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G.K. Chesterton’s ‘Everlasting Man’ — perfect Easter reading

Easter is here — that wonderful day when Christians rejoice and atheists shake their head and ask, “Why the heck are we still talking about that guy Jesus after 2,000 years?!” That is a fair question, which is why today seems like an ideal opportunity to revisit G.K. Chesterton’s “The Everlasting Man.”

“If Christ was simply a human character, he really was a highly complex and contradictory human character. For he combined exactly the two things that lie at the two extremes of human variation. He was exactly what the man with a delusion never is; he was wise; he was a good judge. What he said was always unexpected; but it was always unexpectedly magnanimous and often unexpectedly moderate.

Take a thing like the point of the parable of the tares and the wheat. It has the quality that united sanity and subtlety. It has not the simplicity of a madman. It has not even the simplicity of a fanatic. It might be uttered by a philosopher a hundred years old, at the end of a century of Utopias. Nothing could be less like this quality of seeing beyond and all round obvious things, than the condition of an egomaniac with the one sensitive spot in his brain. I really do not see how these two characters could be convincingly combined, except in the astonishing way in which the creed combines them.” — G.K. Chesterton.

Every year countless YouTube videos pop up by wannabe Joe Rogans, who blast the so-called “fairy tale” known as Christianity. They go apoplectic over said “fairy tale” and its longevity. Generation after generation after generation picks up the Bible, studies it, and then billions of people conclude that Christ was exactly who he claimed to be.

The reason for this, as Chesterton points out, is that Christ spoke with authority while simultaneously being “exactly what the man with a delusion never is; he was wise; he was a good judge.”

The Jesus of the New Testament seems to me to have in great many ways the note of something superhuman; that is of something human and more than human. But there is another quality running through all his teachings which seems to me neglected in most modern talk about them as teachings; and that is the persistent suggestion that he has not really come to teach.

If there is one incident in the record which affects me personally as grandly and gloriously human, it is the incident of giving wine for the wedding-feast. That is really human in the sense in which a whole crowd of prigs, having the appearance of human beings, can hardly be described as human.

It rises superior to all superior persons. It is as human as Herrick and as democratic as Dickens. But even in that story there is something else that has the note of things not fully explained; and in a way there very relevant. I mean the first hesitation, not on any ground touching the nature of the miracle, but on that of the propriety of working any miracles at all, at least at that stage; ‘my time is not yet come.’

What did that mean? At least it certainly meant a general plan or purpose in the mind, with which certain things did or did not fit in. And if we leave out that solitary strategic plan, we not only leave out the point of the story, but the story.

The imitation Joe Rogans often preface their derision of Christianity with lines like, “I went to Catholic school” — as if they weren’t like every other high-school kid who slept through classes, wrote notes to girlfriends, and generally just goofed around with buddies for four years. The same people who cannot understand basic economics in their 40s would have us believe they fully understood Christianity by age 16, but I digress.

The more one studies the Bible, the more obvious it becomes that Christ was unlike any man who walked the earth up until that time — and that He maintains that distinction to this very day. All the “flying spaghetti monster” jokes in the world cannot diminish the genius and goodness dispensed by Christ in ways, as Chesterton says, “more than human.”

Christ was born. His primary purpose in life was to die a horrible death — and then rise again. He did.

Chesterton states:

“I willingly and warmly agree that it is, in itself, a suggestion at which we might expect even the brain of the believer to reel, when he realized his own belief. But the brain of the believer does not reel; it is the brains of the unbelievers that reel. …

I care not if the skeptic says it is a tall story; I cannot see how so toppling a tower could stand so long without foundation. Still less can I see how it could become, as it has become, the home of man. 

Had it merely appeared and disappeared, it might possibly have been remembered or explained as the last leap of the rage of illusion, the ultimate myth of the ultimate mood, in which the mind struck the sky and broke. But the mind did not break. It is the one mind that remains unbroken in the break-up of the world.

If it were an error, it seems as if the error could hardly have lasted a day. If it were a mere ecstasy, it would seem that such an ecstasy could not endure for an hour. It has endured for nearly two thousand years; and the world within it has been more lucid, more level-headed, more reasonable in its hopes, more healthy in its instincts, more humorous and cheerful in the face of fate and death, than all the world outside.

Happy Easter, everyone. I am grateful for all of you who regularly give me precious time out of your day and I pray for your regularly.

Best,

Doug

Disney, Marvel throw tantrum over Georgia’s religious liberty bill

Winter Soldier v Captain America

Imagine that I, a Catholic, walked into a Muslim bakery and asked the man behind the counter to make a wedding cake for me that said, “Jesus is Lord.” Does the Muslim man have the right to deny me service? It’s a good bet that countless Disney and Marvel employees would say yes.

Imagine that I, a Catholic, owned a bakery and a Muslim man walked in and asked for a cake that said, “Allahu Akbar! Happy Birthday. I’m glad you’re not kafir!” Do I have a right to deny him service? It’s a good bet that many, many Disney and Marvel employees would say yes.

Imagine some jerk knowingly walked into a gay man’s bakery and asked for a cake that referenced Romans 1:27 — “Men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.” Would the gay man have the right to deny the jerk service? The answer should be self-evident.

Why then is it so hard for Disney and Marvel to understand that a religious man has every right to deny a gay man a wedding cake if it conflicts with his spiritual convictions?

Fortune magazine reported earlier today:

Walt Disney, along with subsidiary Marvel Studios, announced plans on Wednesday to boycott filming future movie projects in the state of Georgia should Governor Nathan Deal sign the bill. Opponents of the bill, which passed Georgia’s state legislature last week after facing significant opposition from a faction of lawmakers, claim it would allow a range of faith-based organizations to openly discriminate against the LGBT community.

In a statement provided to the press, a Disney spokesperson said: “Disney and Marvel are inclusive companies, and although we have had great experiences filming in Georgia, we will plan to take our business elsewhere should any legislation allowing discriminatory practices be signed into state law.”

I have said on this very blog that I would make cakes for anyone if I owned “Dough Ernst’s Bakery” — even a wedding cake for a gay couple. I would not, however, hold it against the baker across town if he said doing so would be a violation of his faith. It seems downright bizarre that Disney and Marvel are doing their own part to further chip away at religious freedom in the United States.

Georgia’s Gov. Nathan Deal has until May 3 to decide whether or not he will sign the Free Exercise Protection Act, which was passed by the state legislature this week. In the meantime, millions of men like Marvel writer Dan Slott — whose understanding of most public policy issues boils down to “Me like: Good. Me no like: Bad.” — will be putting pressure on him to not sign the bill.

DS religious liberty tweet

One should note that Dan Slott merely re-tweeted Variety’s article on the issue instead of telling Christians to go to “Christ-Land” like he did in 2014 after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling he didn’t like. Bravo! Perhaps he knows that yours truly would be ready to expose his own bigotry (inadvertent or not, you be the judge) once again.

Dan Slott Christians

Here is what I said July 1, 2014:

Question for Dan Slott: If I just had a beef with a few Jews over a religious issue with political implications, and I told them to go to “Jew-land,” then how would you respond? How would my employer respond? That’s right — you’d go ballistic. And then my employer would fire me. But you get to tell a bunch of Christians to go to “Christ-land” without consequences. Hypocrite.

Do women have the right to form organizations that only cater to women? Do men have the right to form organizations that only cater to men? Do gay people have the right to form organizations that only cater to gay people? Do Christian organizations have the right to form organizations that only cater to Christians?

The answer is yes — even if the questions are re-worded in terms of the right of every group mentioned to discriminate against individuals outside the group.

A free society respects the fact that people in the private sector have the right to assemble as they see fit. An Orwellian nightmare is a place where law enforcement officials use limited time and resources to force bakers to make cakes against their will.

 

Scupoli’s ‘Spiritual Combat’: Advice from 1589 for modern men seeking virtue

Spiritual Combat

It has always been my belief that the vast majority of men, if not all men, have seriously wondered at some point how they would fare on the field of battle. War, for all of its wretchedness, offers men a clear picture of their inner virtue — or lack thereof. These “What if?” games are unnecessary, however, as Dom L. Scupoli Apulia’s The Spiritual Combat and a Treatise on Peace of Soul demonstrates.

The Italian author pointed out in 1589 what many men in 2016 fail to realize — bombs are already dropping all around us. Spiritual warfare rages in all directions. A man not only can be a war hero, but he must — his very soul depends upon it.

What men often fail to realize is that they are stuck in a no-man’s land reminiscent of World War I. This is a bad place to be. Man’s rational faculty is called from both sides in the only war that matters: “God moving it by His grace, and the flesh by its appetites.”

Being “neutral” in this war is not an option, and since tomorrow is never guaranteed it is best to pick a side now.

Fully mastering patience, humility, obedience and numerous other virtues is a difficult task. Scupoli details a few of the stumbling blocks we experience:

There are some who are so overwhelmed by their sins that they never even consider the possibility of breaking their chains. Others want to free themselves from this slavery, but they do nothing to accomplish this. Some think they are secure, and for that very reason are very far from being so. Others, after attaining a high degree of virtue, fall all the more heavily.

When the devil has enmeshed the soul in sin, he uses every means at his disposal to distract its attention from anything that would enable it to recognize the terrible condition into which it has fallen.

The devil is not content to stifle every inspiration from Heaven, and to suggest evil thoughts in their place. He endeavors to plunge it into new faults, either of the same or a more vicious nature by supplying dangerous opportunities to sin.

Thus the soul, deprived of Heavenly guidance, heaps sin upon sin, and hardens itself in its evil ways. Floundering in the mire, it rushes from darkness to darkness, from one pit to another, always moving father from the path of salvation and multiplying sin upon sin, unless strengthened by an extraordinary grace from Heaven.” (Scuplio, Dom. The Spiritual Combat and a Treatise on Peace of Soul. Tan Classics, 2010. 89-93)

In many ways the soul is the beacon which directs a man towards virtue. If a man is not careful, a sinful calcification can take place around the soul. It soon becomes difficult, if not impossible, to hear or see the beacon and before long the captain of the ship “rushes from darkness to darkness.”

If you seek to become a virtuous man or woman, then The Spiritual Combat and a Treatise on Peace of Soul is a must-read. If you are a Christian who has ever wondered, “Why do bad things happen to good people? Why does God foist trials and tribulations upon me?” then Scupoli’s work is for you. I would rank it with Francis De Sales’ Introduction to the Devout Life and Saint Augustine’s Confessions as an essential addition to your library.

Editor’s Note: I will send a copy of “The Spiritual Combat and a Treatise on Peace of Soul” to the first regular reader who asks.

Media’s next goal: Sell public on non-monogamous marriages

It was just this past summer that NY Mag contributor “Michael Sonomore” attempted to make the case for “open marriages.” Tech Insider has now jumped on a new study by Journal of Marriage and Family to basically say, “Hey, did you and your spouse ever think of becoming a swinger? Maybe you should.”

First the goal of popular culture was to divorce the definition of marriage from Christianity. Then the goal was to strip people of the idea that the union between one man and one woman is so integral to building a healthy civil society that it should be cherished with its own institution. Sometimes sociologists describe marriage without ever using the world “love,” and now it’s essentially “marriage means whatever we say it means,” (i.e., it means nothing).

“Marital Monogamy as Ideal and Practice: The Detraditionalization Thesis in Contemporary Marriages” includes the results of surveying 90 Canadians who were questioned on monogamy and marriage. Researchers spoke with 26 heterosexual females, 21 heterosexual males, 21 gay males, and 22 lesbians. Most of the couples were relatively young.

Tech Insider reported Wednesday:

“Research published in the Journal of Marriage and Family suggests that another big change is happening in how people think about marriage: Some no longer consider monogamy an absolute essential. …

The first questions the couples answered revealed that people are becoming more open to the idea of non-monogamous marriages. Less than half of all the heterosexual female respondents, about one-third of the heterosexual male respondents, and “relatively few” homosexual couples felt that marriage and monogamy were inseparable, the researchers concluded.

Most people interviewed thought that monogamy isn’t something that a marriage necessarily requires. As one participant explained:

‘I’ll say that it’s different for everyone … and you have to find what works for you … [maybe] you’re committed to each other and you’re married but then you guys decide every Friday night we’re going to swinger parties and that’s what we want to do, and that excitement is what brings us together, then awesome. But is it going to be for me? No. Am I going to say, you can’t do it? No.'”

Where is this idea coming from? We know the New York Times has been exploring it since at least 2011:

Although best known for his It Gets Better project, an archive of hopeful videos aimed at troubled gay youth, [Gay-rights activist Dan] Savage has for 20 years been saying monogamy is harder than we admit and articulating a sexual ethic that he thinks honors the reality, rather than the romantic ideal, of marriage. In Savage Love, his weekly column, he inveighs against the American obsession with strict fidelity. In its place he proposes a sensibility that we might call American Gay Male, after that community’s tolerance for pornography, fetishes and a variety of partnered arrangements, from strict monogamy to wide openness.

What does it say about a culture when a growing number of couples see nothing wrong with taking other human beings, objectifying them, and then using them as nothing more than masturbatory devices?

Popular culture does not promote loving relationships — it promotes lusting relationships.

The spiritual fulfillment that comes when two adults have a proper understanding of marriage — and then they put in the effort to realize its potential — is unmatched. It takes patience, perseverance, humility, selfless sacrifice and a whole host of other virtues to arrive at the final destination, which is why “pornography, fetishes and a variety of partnered arrangements” are peddled to the public instead.

Is it easier to act like an animal or act like an angel? The answer is self-evident.

Yes, it may bring “excitement” to act like a beast on occasion, but marriage was never meant to bring two beasts together. Marriage unites human souls, which is why perverting marriage’s proper definition and function is a travesty.

Here is what the modern American male is up against: On every level — physical, mental, and spiritual — there are forces at work to turn him into glorified cattle.

On the physical level he is encouraged to embrace sloth and gluttony; on the mental level he is encouraged to become a servant of the state; and on the spiritual level he is encouraged to become a libidinous pig who drags his wife into the muck.

True happiness can be found, but the path does not begin by taking directions from the purveyors of moral relativism.

‘The Imitation of Christ’: Antidote for Media-addicted America

Politicians and pundits use every election cycle to talk about the need for “new” ideas. Increasingly secular yet tech-savvy societies are always looking for the next “new” idea, and yet they wonder why the same old problems persist. The more I read, the more I think that many “old” ideas should be dusted off and embraced.

Take Thomas à Kempis’ “The Imitation of Christ,” written in 1418, for example. Just like our good friend Saint Augustine, it’s been a while since he walked the earth. Regardless, Kempis’ devotional book is one that would be beneficial to Christians and non-Christians alike. Even if one were to weirdly strip out all references to Christ, much of the wisdom regarding the right way to live would still remain.

Atheists say that Christ was not the Son of God, but if you asked them if the man — from a purely historical point of view — lived a life worth imitating, then the vast majority of them would probably say yes.

Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Snapchap. CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, MSNBC and FOX. Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo. Warner Bros, Sony, Disney, Universal and Netflix. NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and UFC. Amazon, Ebay, Microsoft, Apple and more, more, more always vie for our attention — and we give it to them.

Addiction to the temporal is a horrible thing, but it is hard to recognize because it sneaks up on a man. It slowly slithers around the psyche. Its initially brings warmth and joy, but in the end it’s all a ruse. When it has completely enveloped the whole of a man’s being it constricts like a python and suffocates his soul while he sleeps.

In the addicted man’s waking state he is, on many levels, unaware that the most important part of him is in peril.

He is sad. He is lost. He does not know why he is never complete, and so he turns to the very thing that fills him with venom while he dreams.

Enter Thomas à Kempis, who breaks down the blueprint for a happy life into four parts: 1. Useful Admonitions for a Spiritual Life. 2. Admonitions Concerning Interior Things. 3. Internal Consolation. 4. The Blessed Sacrament.

Ask yourself if there is a reason why politicians never mention “The Imitation of Christ” as one of their favorite books.

“Who is so wise as to be able fully to know all things? Therefore, trust not too much to thine own thoughts, but be willing also to hear the sentiments of others. Although thine opinion be good, yet if for God’s sake thou leave it to follow that of another, it will be more profitable to thee.

For I have often heard, that it is more safe to hear and to take counsel than to give it.

It may also happen that each one’s thought may be good, but to refuse to yield to others when reason or a just cause requires it is a sign of pride and willfulness,” (Book 1, Chapter 9).

Interesting, isn’t it?

“Don’t listen to those ‘old’ ideas, kind voter. Listen to me, [Insert Politician’s Name Here], because I’m never wrong and my ‘new’ ideas will fix all your problems.”

Kempis continues:

“How happy and prudent is he who strives to be such now in this life as he desires to be found at his death.

For it will give a man a great confidence of dying happily if he has a perfect contempt of the world, a fervent desire of advancing in virtue, a love for discipline, the spirit of penance, a ready obedience, self-denial, and patience in bearing all adversities for the love of Christ,” (Book 1, Chapter 23).

It takes just two sentences for the author to give readers seeds that will bear a harvest of joy for all the years of their lives. As a Catholic, I would implore readers not to take Christ out of the sentence, but I will concede that doing so does not negate the rest of the advice embedded in the text.

America faces many challenges in the years ahead. If you are interested in giving yourself mental and spiritual tools for the task, then I highly suggest reading “The Imitation of Christ.”

Editor’s Note: I will send a copy of the book to the first regular reader who asks.

Dylann Roof forgiven by victims’ Christian families during bond hearing; world gets glimpse of God

Dylann Roof forgivenIn a recent blog post I mentioned that God had the power to bring a greater good out of any act of evil. The world is seeing that play out just two days after a massacre that killed nine Christians at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina. Dylann Roof allegedly said he wanted to start a “race war” by slaughtering the innocents inside, but his actions only gave the world a taste of true Christianity: Family members of the victims have already forgiven him.

CNN reported June 19:

Dylann Roof heard words of forgiveness from families of some of the nine people he’s accused of killing.

His response: A blank expression.

Wearing a striped inmate jumpsuit, the 21-year-old appeared Friday afternoon by video feed at a bond hearing in Charleston, South Carolina. He stood motionless while listening to the anguished words of relatives of victims he allegedly gunned down Wednesday night at a Bible study at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

“I will never be able to hold her again, but I forgive you,” a daughter of Ethel Lance said. “And have mercy on your soul. You hurt me. You hurt a lot of people but God forgives you, and I forgive you.”

Watching the reaction of casual observers on social media indicates that many members of the Twitter mob have never really been introduced to true Christianity. If they were familiar with the religion, then they would know that Christians literally have no other choice but to forgive — our very souls depend on it.

Rev. T.G. Morrow talks about this very fact in his book Overcoming Sinful Anger. He says on page 25:

“In the Our Father, Jesus tied our being forgiven to the forgiveness of others ( Matt.6:9-13). And this is the only part of the Our Father that he elaborates on, saying “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your father forgive your trespasses (Matt. 6:14-15).

Forgiveness is one of the most fundamental things we are called to practice as Christians. Unforgiveness is an indication that we are not truly in touch with our faith. Must we forgive immediately? No, but we shouldn’t delay too long to begin the process. It may take time, but in the end, we must do it.”

A national audience of tens-of-millions of people will now be exposed to an awesome power that allows men and women to forgive cold-blooded killers in the blink of an eye. Millions of people whose only introduction to Christianity has been the jabs of light night comedians or the mockery seen on many sitcoms will now step back and seriously ask, “What’s going on here?”

Think of all the rotten behavior you’ve engaged in over the years. Think of every mean thing you have ever said to someone. Think of every act of malice you’ve committed, no matter how small. Think of all the lies and all the deceit that you have contributed to the world. Add all of it up and imagine it as a giant pool with size and shape.

Now consider this: all of it was seen by your Creator, but He is actually willing to forgive you for all of it — if you only walk towards Him with a contrite heart.

Dylann Roof may have wanted to start a “race war,” but at this rate it looks like his plan is going to spectacularly fail. One can only hope that he uses his time behind bars to revisit the faith that allowed his victims’ families to literally forgive him overnight.

The power of prayer: A blueprint for realizing faith’s potential

It is incredibly tough to get those who do not believe in prayer to understand how it works. Even those who do believe in God often pray in strange ways and then get frustrated by the results. Since prayer recently helped me regain my work-related Twitter account after it was unjustly suspended, I will try to use that story to explain how it works.

First, a recap:

  • After I wrote a story on Iran for work, an apologist for the regime Tweeted “I will find you and kill you … death to America.”
  • Twitter said it “could not determine” if that violated its terms of service. When I publicly questioned that decision, my account was suspended. Countless appeals were ignored over the course of one month.
  • The company’s press account ignored my emails and the emails of my co-workers.
  • A Washington, D.C. spokesman for Twitter ignored an inquiry by my employer.
  • Public pressure from countless Twitter followers and a story by WND did nothing to forward the process along.
  • My attempts to get certain conservative media outlets and personalities to take up my cause fell on deaf ears.
  • Well-connected people said they were at a loss as to how to help me. They essentially said my cause was hopeless.

During this whole ordeal I had a conversation with a friend about well-known personalities who did nothing to help me. I told my friend that it didn’t bother me because if God ultimately wanted to use them to help me, then He would. I prayed for an entire month, and last night I prayed throughout most of the night when an idea came to me: I would email Twitter’s CEO. I would make the case that he needed to intervene on my behalf. Then the words came to mind. When work started I didn’t know his email, but I took a chance on what I thought it might be — and I was right. Within 30 minutes of emailing him, my suspension was lifted and I received an apology from Twitter. A friend of mine said that what I did was something straight out of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I must admit, I did feel like the “The Sausage King of Chicago: Abe Froman.”

I nearly broke down into tears, knowing that my prayers had been answered. For someone who writes news for a living, Twitter is indispensable. Six-years worth of contacts and personalized news lists were restored.

Twitter apologyThis is just one story of many that I can tell where prayer has worked miracles in my life. If you’re interested in understanding how I pray and prepare for prayer, then here is the general blueprint:

  • A man’s heart must first be open to the possibility that God exists and that He and His angels hear our prayers.
  • We all have a lot to be grateful for, no matter what situation we find ourselves in. Prayer should take place after acknowledging those blessings. I often try to think about all the things that I am grateful for — to the point where I almost become overwhelmed with emotion.
  • Pray for the ability to discern God’s will and strength carry it out. If you are doing God’s will, then success is guaranteed.
  • Realize that what you may perceive as setbacks or failures on God’s part are never such things. If a man with night-vision was guiding you through a dark path and you occasionally slipped, would it make sense to get angry at him? How foolish would you feel if the path was suddenly illuminated and you realized that without the man’s help you would have fallen into a giant crevasse? In my story with Twitter, what would have happened if I shook my fist in anger and gave up when at least 10 different so-called media allies turned down my requests for help? Answer: I would not have come to a point where I would successfully email an insanely-busy CEO with a net worth of roughly $450 million.
  • Believe that the crosses that you carry are the burdens you must bear. There are very good reasons why hardship exists. With each obstacle we overcome, there are lessons to be learned. You should find a way to be grateful — even for those things in your life that cause pain or, at a cursory level, seem unwanted. Pray for the ability to understand the lessons God is trying to teach you.
  • Work hard. Prepare. Know your God-given talents and then hone them to perfection. Take my situation with Twitter. Imagine that I prayed, “God, if it is your will, please assist me in regaining my Twitter account,” and then sat on my butt waiting for a miracle that seemed to be denied. Now imagine me asking God why he denied my prayer and His response: “I made you a talented writer, but instead of writing to Twitter’s CEO and trusting in me, you took that talent for granted and expected some sort of dazzling light show. That was kind of a weird move on your part, don’t you think?”

I can probably add to this list, but that is a good start. I’m confident that someone who takes this advice will see amazing results over time. It is a humbling experience to see just how prayers can be perfectly answered. Often I reflect on how seamlessly some of them have been answered and cannot help but well up. A passing glimpse at perfection — true perfection — is a thing of beauty, but at the same time it can be emotionally crippling. Perhaps others have had a different experience, but my own brief tastes of infinite knowledge and infinite love can only be dwelt in for mere moments. It is a paralyzing epiphany to realize that on many levels we are comically insignificant beings, yet infinitely loved by our Creator.

If you believe in God, then I hope my prayer blueprint can be of use to you. If you do not believe in God, then hopefully I have given you some worthwhile insight into a Catholic mind that’s been around since 1979. In either case, thanks for reading and know that there’s a good chance that on random nights I am praying for you, too.

Memories Pizza attacked because Islamic State fights back, gay killings hard to forget

Islamic State gay executionIndiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act is front page news across the nation. With one swift stroke the of the pen, Governor Mike Pence guaranteed that Republicans from now until election day 2016 will get bizarre questions about whether or not pizzerias should cater gay weddings. A big reason for that is because it’s much easier to bludgeon small town Christian business owners than it is to confront the Islamic State group, which throws gay men off tall buildings and litters the concrete with their corpses like pizza toppings. For those who haven’t been following America’s transformation into a politically correct police state, a local ABC affiliate went around Indiana looking for small businesses that would refuse services for gay wedding ceremonies. The station reported March 31:

A small-town pizza shop is saying they agree with Governor Pence and the signing of the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The O’Connor family, who owns Memories Pizza, says they have a right to believe in their religion and protect those ideals. “If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no,” says Crystal O’Connor of Memories Pizza. She and her family are standing firm in their beliefs. The O’Connors have owned Memories Pizza in Walkerton for 9 years. … The O’Connor family told ABC 57 news that if a gay couple or a couple belonging to another religion came in to the restaurant to eat, they would never deny them service. The O’Connors say they just don’t agree with gay marriages and wouldn’t cater them if asked to.

The story was picked up by various media outlets, which then resulted in a barrage of negative reviews and nasty images on the company’s Yelp page. The reaction to this small town business begs the question: Did the local ABC affiliate go to any mosques in Indiana to get comment on the law? Did they find any Islamic wedding photographers or florists? Were there no black barbershops in Indiana where a local ABC reporter could ask a few questions about gay marriage? Objective people know the answer to that question: not likely. In the U.S., all efforts must be made to sell white Christians as bigoted and hateful souls, even if the only evidence is that a small business wouldn’t take part in a gay wedding ceremony. Memories PizzaThere are no reporters trying to track down American Muslims who react to Vice News articles on Islamic State’s gay executions with an indifferent shrug. If they did that, then the politically correct narrative would fall apart. If they did that, then Americans would have to engage in some uncomfortable conversations about immigration, foreign policy, the huge differences between Christianity and Islam, etc. It’s much easier to find rural Americans who can be drowned in lawsuits and social media shaming until they scream “uncle” or go out of business. Here is what I said in January 2014 in regards to a baker in Oregon who did not want to render services for a gay wedding:

If I owned a bakery and I had a competitor who didn’t like gay people, minorities, Muslims, Asians, white peopleany group that has a population of cake eaters among its ranks — I would make a lot of cash. I would serve all of those groups tasty cakes like they’ve never tasted before and they would return to ‘Dough Ernst’s’ for all their confectionery needs. And then I would say: “God bless the free market!”

If my wife and I walked into a bakery and the owner said, “Sorry, we don’t serve interracial couples,” I’d say, “Awesome. Thanks, jerk.” I’d walk out the door, find another bakery, and then I’d spread the word that ‘Bakery X’ doesn’t take kindly to our willingness to “dilute” our races (or whatever it is that a bigot baker would say).

The mature thing to do when you disagree with a business is to go elsewhere. The immature thing to do is to go on Yelp to post pictures of gay porn, transvestites, and Hitler in an attempt to lash out with (ironically) as much hate and invective as possible. Christians like the O’Connor family turn the other cheek. Members of Islamic State chop off heads. Deep down, online bullies know this, which is why their bravery ends when they run up against individuals who might be an editor of the Islamic State group’s U.S. kill list.

Francis De Sales’ ‘Introduction to the Devout Life’: 1609’s must-read still amazing in 2015

Francis De Sales Intro Devout LifeIt is a rare occurrence to read a book and come to the conclusion that the writer’s initial inspiration was perfectly realized upon its completion. Saint Francis De Sales’ “Introduction to the Devout Life” may have been published in 1609, but its stunning insight into the human condition makes it a must-read in 2015. In another 400 years, it will still be leaving readers in awe.

While De Sales wrote for a Christian audience, the blueprint for a healthy civil society he presents is one that men and women of all faiths (or no faith) would be hard-pressed to criticize. The virtues he seeks to cultivate in his readers may be motivated by a desire to instill a love of God in  as many hearts as possible, but at the end of the day he is still talking about honesty, humility, patience, charity, fortitude, prudence, etc.

Even more impressive is how De Sales addresses the reader (“Philothea”) directly, yet with a delivery that feels like a kind and gentle father imparting time-tested wisdom to a child. De Sales (who must have consulted countless men and women from all walks of life) has such an exquisite grasp of humanity’s trials and tribulations that it is hard not to feel as though he already knows everything about you — yet still offers unconditional love.

De Sale somehow manages to write for the YouTube-Instagram-Facebook culture of 2015 while living in 1609:

“We apply the term vainglory to whatever we assign to ourselves, whether something that is not actually in us or something in us but not of us, or something in us and of us but not such that we can glory in it. Noble ancestry, patronage of great men, and popular honor are things that are not in us but either in our ancestors or in the esteem of other men. Some men become proud and overbearing because they ride a fine horse, wear a feather in their hat, or are dressed in a splendid suit of clothes. Is anyone blind to the folly of all this? If there is any glory in such things it belongs to the horse, the bird, and the tailor. It is a mean heart that borrows honor from a horse, a bird, a feather, or some passing fashion.

Others value and pride themselves because of a fine mustache, well-trimmed beard, carefully curled hair, soft hands, ability to dance, play cards well, or sing. Such light-minded men seek to increase their reputation by frivolous things. Others would like to be honored and respected by men because of a little learning, as if everyone should go to school to them and take them as their teachers. They are called pedants for this reason.

Other men have handsome bodies and therefore strut about and think that everybody dotes on them. All this is extremely vain, objectionable, and foolish and the glory based on such weak foundations is called vain, foolish, and frivolous.

We recognize genuine goodness as we do genuine balm. If balm sinks down and stays at the bottom when dropped into water, it is rated the best and most valuable. So also in order to know whether a man is truly wise, learned, generous, and noble, we must observe whether his abilities tend to humility, modesty, and obedience for in that case they will be truly good. If they float on the surface and seek to show themselves, they are so much less genuine in so far as they are more showy. Pearls conceived and nourished by wind or thunder claps are mere crusts, devoid of substance. So also men’s virtues and fine qualities conceived and nurtured by pride, show, and vanity have the mere appearance of good, without juice, marrow, solidity.” Francis De Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life (New York: Image, 2014), 121–122

The depth and breadth of De Sales’ understanding of humanity is a marvel to behold. If for no other reason, “Introduction to the Devout Life” shines a giant spotlight on just how far we’ve fallen as a culture. The book was written for the likes of carpenters, soldiers, sailors, and tailors — not academics — and yet the man on the street in 2015 would likely have a hard time digesting much of De Sales’ intellectual discourse.

If you have ever sat alone in your bed at night and tried to plumb the depths of your soul to root out what is rotten and realize what is wholly good, then I cannot recommend Francis De Sales’ “Introduction to the Devout Life” enough. If it is read with an open mind and seriously meditated upon, then I have no doubt that it will truly change your life for the better.