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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Catholic Furs' LiveJournal:

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Thursday, July 7th, 2011
2:38 pm
Sometimes I have trouble deciding which medium I love more: film or video games. On one hand, I get more hours of enjoyment from a mediocre game than from several great movies combined, and I’m less likely to be bored by games or wish I hadn’t bothered renting them. On the other hand, even decidedly classic games usually have pulpy (if any) writing. The medium may get more respect now than ever before, but it shows less overall maturity than modern Hollywood, and that’s saying something.

With that in mind, it’s not surprising that cinema has done a better job of conveying Christianity. I can think of several devoutly made movies, some of them highly esteemed to this day, but so far the only indisputably Christian game I’ve encountered is Gospel Champions, which I bought largely to support a monastery. It succeeded in getting me to pray more often, and perhaps it is good for teaching children NT stories; but it sure wouldn’t have gotten any contemporary awards for graphics, music, or gameplay mechanics.

By contrast, when mainstream games give any hint of religion, it tends to be either paganism -- with magic as evidence for its truth -- or a mockery of Christianity. This is understandable, since my preferred genres thrive on fantasy or sci-fi premises, typically to the point that the setting can’t be Earth, and other genres (e.g., sports, military) seldom lend themselves to anything religious. Personally, I won’t begrudge Hyrule its multiple gods or Arcadia its moon worship; they may add to the fun of world building. But with the exception of the nameless yet helpful abbeys in the Shining Force series, fake religions made to resemble Christianity, especially the flashy Catholicism, are almost always corrupt and/or based on lies.

It’s especially troubling how many examples are among my favorite games. ”Spoilers”Collapse )

Strictly speaking, this pattern isn’t of concern only to Christians. A Jewish friend of mine has complained about a whole trend of games in which the final boss is effectively God. Presumably, not all of them mean to preach a contrary creed, even if most Japanese makers subscribe to one. They may have a thing for dripping irony, but their likeliest reason is the excitement of the extreme underdog. Said friend bitterly reminds us that WWII’s underdog was not the good side.

Maybe this will change with time. As more gamers grow up, we can expect a greater variety of themes. Overt Christianity may never be fashionable, but hopefully its values won’t stay relegated to lamer titles. In the meantime, I'll content myself with religious movies.
Thursday, February 10th, 2011
7:55 am
Confession by iPhone
In the age of the Internet, one long-standing joke among Catholics is that we might someday be able to go to confession online. Now it seems closer to a reality than any of us suspected. A New Scientist article, Forgiveness via iPhone: Church approves confession app, discusses a new application, Confession: A Roman Catholic App now available from iTunes for $1.99. The article goes on to mention other apps available for churchgoers but this is the first to be sanctioned by the church.

Not surprisingly, the application is only intended as an aid and not as a substitute for going to confession, or as it is properly called, receiving the sacrament of reconciliation. I don't think the church will ever allow any of the sacraments to be administered by anything other than a real live person.

Current Mood: amused
Thursday, January 20th, 2011
2:49 pm
I may be wrong, but I think just found a subtle example of media bias against the RCC.

D.C.'s free Express, as you may have guessed from the name, specializes in short articles. One of today's stories, "Vatican Clarifies Sex Abuse Letter," abbreviates an AP article in an unfavorable way. The resulting blurb consists of five paragraphs, each being a single long sentence, plus a box titled "Smoking Gun" that contains two long sentences. Despite what you might expect from the main title, only the first and last paragraphs of the running text give even the briefest glimpse of the Vatican's response to allegations, with no direct quotes. The second paragraph summarizes the controversial content of the letter by way of a partial direct quote. The third paragraph says flatly that the letter "has undermined persistent Vatican claims," and the rest is about opponents' responses to the letter.

OK, I have to qualify my "no direct quotes" claim. There is a single word in both the article subtitle and the first paragraph that appears in quotation marks. Unfortunately, there is no good reason to have it so:

Church: '97 message sent to Irish bishops was 'misunderstood'

Vatican -- The Vatican launched a new round of damage control Wednesday over priestly sex abuse, insisting that a 1997 letter warning Irish bishops against reporting abuse to police had been "misunderstood."

In both contexts, we already get that this is a given party's claim, and the one word isn't especially distinctive, so why bother treating it as a direct quote? The original AP article, I found, had a more justifiable "deeply misunderstood." But in the context of abbreviation, I suspect that an editor wanted to make the claim seem extra questionable with redundant punctuation.

Again, maybe I'm just a little paranoid, but I sure would've covered the story more kindly.
Friday, November 19th, 2010
11:28 am
Monday, October 18th, 2010
9:15 pm
Wait, what?
Maybe it's been too long since I last watched "The Simpsons," but I'm stupefied.
Friday, June 25th, 2010
5:35 pm
In the last few weeks, my faith has taken a big hit. I still go through the motions of worship, but with more hope than trust in God.

What brought on this hit? Probably a theological debate in which I was barely a participant. Debates on the literalness of early Genesis -- be it Creation, the Fall, or the Flood -- always threaten to bring me down, with the literalist position backfiring: If I can't believe both scripture and science, I'll choose science. Debates on issues of free will and divine justice don't help either; they often seem internally contradictory.

At some point, I admitted to myself that while Christianity may be plausible, it raises more questions than it answers. I was getting dog tired of waiting until Kingdom Come for those answers (and there's no biblical guarantee we'll understand it all even then). For those who crave resolution over paradox, no faith is more satisfying than atheism. I expressed this on the same mostly Christian forum that featured the above debates, and the immediate response was to try to get me to appreciate mystery. No avail. Pascal's Wager? Worse.

One moral issue that has been largely avoided in my circles bears mentioning here: What happens to murdered babies? Frankly, I can think of no good Christian solution. If they all go to Hell, then God never gave them a chance. If they all go to Heaven, then why shouldn't we kill all the babies? It may put our own souls on the line because of the rules, but God appreciates altruistic intentions, right? If some go to Heaven and some to Hell, there must be an awfully fine, seemingly arbitrary line for determination. There may yet be a good solution that requires more intellect than mine to devise or comprehend -- possibly the mind of an archangel -- but authoritative vagueness on the matter doesn't help.

Part of my temptation to atheism, I suppose, is embarrassment in the eyes of nonbelievers. You may think it silly to value their approval over others', but it seems to me that Christians can all have a fair idea of where atheists are coming from. When I step back from pure theism, especially in its ritualized form, I have to wonder whether I ever really believed it or have been willfully ignoring Occam's Razor. Maybe the realization late in life that Christianity could be true was enough to get me drunk on the idea, much as I once got drunk on the Baha'i Faith before letting myself notice how far-fetched it was.

Perhaps the funniest thing about my doubts lately is my reluctance to pray. I've prayed every night for years now, but at the nadir of my willingness to believe, I could barely spit the words out in a whisper. What was I afraid of? If nobody's listening, who cares if I lie? Later I found myself praying for a reinforcement of faith, "but only if You really do exist." Like that addendum makes a practical difference. I guess my thinking was that my previous occasions of boosted faith after prayer might have been self-induced by the power of suggestion, so the proviso would make it less likely to happen that way.

If atheism is incorrect, then I hope to come out of this phase better than ever, in a different sect if necessary. But again, if it's just a pipe dream, I'd rather hold to a moderately dreary reality. Please help me decide.

Current Mood: sad
Monday, May 17th, 2010
4:56 pm
You may have heard recently that a Boston Catholic school expelled a third-grader for being raised by a lesbian couple. The Archdiocese of Boston takes a different attitude, stating the student's welcome and looking for a replacement school. The Catholic Schools Foundation likewise refuses to lend support to the contrary school. Nevertheless, the Archdiocese of Denver ruled differently on a similar case last winter.

Now, even if homosexual intercourse is a considerable sin, and even if same-sex couples as a rule do not make good role models, I do not see the wisdom in expelling their kids. Catholic schools have been known to accept non-Christians. Catholic dogma does not call for children to suffer for the sins of their parents. And why not accept the students most in danger of falling into sin?

My mom forwarded me an email from the Human Rights Campaign asking that we sign an email to Cardinal Francis George, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, urging him to standardize the tolerant response. Unfortunately, the HRC did not leave any way to personalize the wording of the email, nor did they provide the address of its destination. I don't quite see eye to eye with the HRC, so I'd hate to send their words as my own.

Anyone know where to find that email address, or should I resort to snail mail?
Wednesday, April 21st, 2010
7:30 pm
Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010
10:34 am
Boy. I was aware of a few Christian holidays getting secularized (which I suppose is fair game, considering that some of them had their dates set to replace pagan festivals) while others were relatively obscure, but I had no idea that Groundhog Day had Christian origins. It's Candlemas, a.k.a. the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, a.k.a. the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin, a.k.a the Meeting of the Lord. Under Mosaic law, mothers would be deemed purified 40 days after giving birth. As one of the alternate holiday names implies, the final day involved taking the newborn to a temple for a redemptive ritual.

Only in the mid-19th century do we get any written reference to groundhogs in connection with Candlemas. Apparently, we have the Pennsylvania Deutsch to thank for it.
Monday, December 14th, 2009
8:41 pm
Prayers for Darkwolfie
Please offer prayers for my friends Darkwolfie who is suffering from a long running illness and has been in the hospital for at least two months now.

He and his wife Tashabear are in desperate need of them.

Dominus vobiscum
Wednesday, October 21st, 2009
11:26 am
From the Associated Press
Vatican Reaches Out to AnglicansCollapse )

I'm inclined to see this as a good move. What do you think?
Tuesday, October 6th, 2009
4:05 pm
Shrouded in Controversy
Scientists have reproduced the Shroud of Turin -- revered as a cloth that covered Jesus in the tomb -- and say the experiment proves the relic was man-made, a group of Italian debunkers claimed Monday. The shroud bears the figure of a crucified man, and believers say Christ's image was recorded on the linen fibers at the time of his resurrection. Scientists reproduced the shroud using 14th-century materials and methods. The group said it was evidence the shroud was a piece of medieval forgery.

I don't like the use of "proves" there, but this is something to consider in case you were planning to make a pilgrimage.
Friday, August 21st, 2009
12:50 am
I'm the new Guy
Hello There,

My name is Brutus and I just learned of this community today so I figured I would join. I was born and raised Catholic and am experiencing a bit of a "Renaissance of Faith" and have restarted attending Church after 12 years out of it due to personal reasons. I am looking to meet new people and make some friends.

Thanks for Listening

Current Mood: chipper
Wednesday, May 13th, 2009
5:48 pm
Book review: Will I See My Dog in Heaven?
I heard about this book a couple of weeks ago and decided to order a copy and give it a good perusing. It arrived and proved to be a relatively quick read, and quite an inspiring and enjoyable one as well.

Will I See My Dog in Heaven? by Jack Wintz
(c) 2009, Paraclete Press, ISBN 978-1-55725-568-6

The title is a question every child asks, and no small number of adults. It's not just about dogs, of course, and in the book he rephrases it as, 'Does God intend the whole created world to somehow be saved?' By the end of the book he concludes that the answer to this question is an emphatic 'Yes'.

Wintz is Franciscan Friar, and readers who are not Catholics should be alerted that the book has a fair bit of overtones of and some references to Roman Catholicism in it. However, I believe that the majority of this book is consistent with most if not all major Christian faiths and should appeal equally well to non-Catholic Christians.

Six of the ten chapters are based primarily on scripture to present their case. God created the Garden of Eden as a virtual paradise, full of plants and creatures living in harmony, as his place for Adam and Eve, and saw that it was Good. If this is God's version of paradise, why would one expect these things to be missing from the paradise that's Heaven? In the story of Noah's Ark, we again see where God includes the animals in his plan to flood the earth and give it a new beginning. Elsewhere he notes in such passages as Psalm 148, and the song of the three young men from the book of Daniel, how all creation, not just mankind, praises God. In the book of Jonah, when the city of Nineveh repented after being preached to, even the animals took part in the repentance. At the end of Mark's Gospel, Jesus tells us to go out and proclaim his word, not to every human being, but to all creation. Isaiah tells us more than once, such as in chapter 11, of creatures coexisting side by side in the new creation, and this is reinforced in the book of Revelation. Time and again the Bible tells us that all creation, not just mankind, will have a place in heaven and the new creation that is to come.

Also featured prominently in this book is St. Francis of Assisi. Even some non-Catholic faiths who seldom recognize sainthood in anyone past the New Testament era hold him in the highest regard. Perhaps his best known writing, commonly known nowadays as The Canticle of the Sun, is a song of praise for all creation, including Brother Sun, Sister Moon, and continuing with references to many more things as Brother and Sister. Stories abound of his kinship with animals. He freed a trapped rabbit and warned it to be more careful not to be trapped again, and it took some doing for him to convince the rabbit to leave him and return to the wild. He confronted a wolf who was terrorizing the town of Gubbio, Italy, and brokered a peace between him and the residents of the village. And after struggling with whether to continue preaching, and being told emphatically by two of his closest friends that yes, he should, his first act of preaching was not to humans, but to a flock of birds, who would not leave until he told them they were free to go. Truly he was one with animals and nature like few others have ever been.

Even aside from the title question, there's another overall impression I received from the work, and I'm not even sure if it was the author's intent, but it helped bolster me as a Christian furry. How many Christian furs have felt that their interest in furry fandom was something of a guilty pleasure that to a significant degree didn't mesh well with their beliefs and practices as Christians? Many of us are furry fans out of a love for animals, the environment, or both, and some of us feel a special kinship or spiritual connection with animals. This book underscores the idea that animals and the environment are all part of God's creation, and that to love and respect them as such, to be stewards of them, is well within God's plan.
Thursday, March 19th, 2009
9:07 am
France, Germany, UN Oppose Pope
Specifically, they refute his claim that the distribution of condoms increases the spread of HIV/AIDS.

I think I detect a miscommunication here. It must be true that sex with a (previously unused) condom is less likely to spread HIV/AIDS than sex without one. But Benedict XVI wasn't contradicting that. He doesn't endorse unprotected sex except for the purpose of reproduction. What he favors is abstinence, and what he fears is that condoms will give too much confidence to people who would otherwise be abstinent.

That said, I'm not sure whether the statistics back him up. What really happens to the rate of HIV/AIDS incidence in areas where condoms are distributed?

Remember, the Pope may be an authority on ethics, but his science is officially fallible.
Wednesday, March 11th, 2009
3:52 pm
As a convert, I'm not always sure whether an action counts as a sin and calls for penance. I hope one of you knows so I don't have to bother a priest.

In this case, it's gallows humor. My parents just came back from a vacation in Mexico, and when they said it was fun, I asked, "Nobody got beheaded?" They laughed a bit, which is what I had in mind, but I couldn't help feeling that it was un-Christian.

Incidentally, later that same evening, we caught a clip of "Family Guy" in which a woman screams that her baby just got killed. None of us laughed at that. In retrospect, it called my attention to my own questionable taste. Perhaps that was God's intent.
Friday, January 23rd, 2009
12:06 pm
The Pope talks about social networking sites like Facebook.

That's one subject I just never expect to hear from a Pope, somehow.
Thursday, January 15th, 2009
5:35 pm
Two pieces of Vatican news today
1. Vatican: Gay 'behavior' in seminaries declining

Good news, but I'm sure that many will object to the Vatican framing the common clergy sex scandals as a gay thing rather than a pedophile thing. Still, that's exactly how www.catholic.com argues it.

2. According to today's Express paper, the Vatican's "tribunal of conscience" has let the public into its palazzo to see its workings for the first time in 830 years. This highly secrecy-shrouded tribunal is for confession to sins so grave that only the Pope can absolve those sinners.

I sure have a lot to learn about our Church.
Sunday, January 4th, 2009
4:57 am
A Bill we Need to Fight
There is a Bill in Commitee Right now Known as The Freedom Of Choice Act (H.R. 1964/S. 1173) That We really need to Fight. This Act will not only Violate the 1rst, 9th, & 10th Amendments but it will force Catholic Hospitals to perform abortions. Therefore there is only one obvious course of action that we can take. Mail your local congressmen and start petitions, Tell every Christian you can to help us. For if we fail in this they have placed in a clause that is practically a guilty plea stating that even if one part of the bill is declared unconstitutional the rest of it will not be.
Here's a link to the Bill http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d108:S2020:

I hope that with the Lord on our side that we will be able to prevail against this great evil.
Wednesday, December 24th, 2008
1:46 pm
Here's the most interesting Vatican news I've heard in months:

Galileo Galilei is going from heretic to hero. The Vatican is recasting the most famous victim of its Inquisition as a man of faith, just in time for the 400th anniversary of Galileo's telescope and the U.N.-designated International Year of Astronomy next year. Pope Benedict XVI paid tribute to the Italian astronomer on Sunday.
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