Take a pilgrimage with Steve and Janet Ray!

Renaissance Madrigal of Psalm 150 sung gloriously in Latin – sit back and enjoy!

Find a quiet moment, relax, read Psalm 150 below and then listen to this glorious rendition composed by William Byrd (c. 1540-1623), an English convert from Anglicanism to the Catholic Church.

1 Praise the Lord!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens! 

2 Praise him for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his excellent greatness! 

3 Praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with lute and harp! 

4 Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe! 

5 Praise him with sounding cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals! 

6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord! 

(English Standard Version Catholic Edition (n.p.: Augustine Institute, 2019), Ps 150:1–6.) For more of their music, click here.

Thanks to Aleteia

Responding to an Atheist

A friend wrote me this morning:

Steve:
I’m not often stuck with an atheist, but I am today. I posited that without a God there is no objective morality, everything is relative, just your opinion or that of society/culture or that of Government. This leads to things like the Wannsee Conference and worse.
His response was, ” Really? So you must think slavery is okay, and that people should stone disobedient children, and that women should be treated as second-class citizens, for instance”
 
If you could give me a pointer or two I would very much appreciate it. Thanks  David

So, I responded before rushing out the door:

Set the Bible aside for the time being. Discussing the civil law of Israel 3,000 years ago has nothing to do with your current discussion on the existence of God unless, of course, he wants to be held accountable as an “atheist” for the cruel, inhumane, and immoral conduct of the atheistic Soviet Union and Communist China — which he must then embrace as an atheist. He will never agree to that and I don’t blame him..

     You don’t need to answer his responding question.  His response is a red herring — something to get you off the topic — and dodged your question. Keep the ball in his court! Ask your question and make him answer it. He has no answer to your question which is why he dodged it. He wants to judge a Christian’s practice with his ideal, but we can just as easily judge his practice by our ideal (an example later with abortion).

     If you stomped on his toe, he would object and say that was wrong to do. But, why is it wrong? If I can do it, why is it wrong? What makes stomping wrong and not-stomping right? God has written the moral law on our hearts and he has it too and practices it a thousand times a day, but won’t admit it or acknowledge it.
     I am the kind of guy that would actually do that. When we were at an amusement park with a half-hour line to the roller coaster I saw a man with a T-shirt ahead of us that said “No Rules”. I said to my kids, “I will be right back!”
     I walked through the line and I pushed “Mr. T-shirt” back and I took cuts right in front of him. He was furious and asked what I was doing. I said, “The line is long so I am cutting in front of you.” He objected loudly. I told him to read his shirt. After he objected further I queried him whether the slogan applied only to him and not to me.  And was it just a stupid T-shirt that he never considered the implications before he put it on.
     I went back and had a great conversation with my kids about objective morality and the fact that everybody believes that there is a right and wrong but they have no idea where that concept came from and how it is built into them, or why.
     I would suggest you get C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity right away and read the first 1/3 of it which shows your atheist acquaintance to be a fool. He writes,
The moment you say that one set of moral ideas can be better than another, you are, in fact, measuring them both by a standard, saying that one of them conforms to that standard more nearly than the other. But the standard that measures two things is something different from either.
You are, in fact, comparing them both with some Real Morality, admitting that there is such a thing as a real Right, independent of what people think, and that some people’s ideas get nearer to that real Right than others. Or put it this way. If your moral ideas can be truer, and those of the Nazis less true, there must be something—some Real Morality—for them to be true about. (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: HarperOne, 2001), 13.)
     When your friend objects to Israel’s civil law — which he fails to realize was not unjust under the primitive circumstances of this ancient culture, and far more civilized than the nations around them — what then is his philosophical or moral basis for saying it is wrong? At the time, the majority of people thought it was a good system and just.
     Is he saying he has another criterion that is superior? Where did he get that, what object basis does he have for that? In his universe, in Germany 51% could say that Nazis were correct and the 49% weak and therefore incorrect and demolished. Without a Higher Morality, democracy can be the most abusive governmental system. In his world, “might is right” unless he has some overarching Moral Law which can only come from a higher power outside of himself.
     He may object to taking the life of intransigents 3000 years ago, but is he, therefore, pro-life today and crusading to save the millions of innocent children killed in his mother’s womb. At best your friend is a miserable hypocrite.
     At one of my conferences, a young Catholic lady came to talk to me with her atheist fiancé. After a long discussion, I asked him what his basis was for right and wrong. Admitting there was no objective higher law or morality, he said that his basis was ultimately what made him feel good and happy. So I made him repeat it — his whole basis for morality and conduct was ultimately what made him feel good and happy. He said yes. I asked the girl if she was sure she wanted to marry a guy who had that as his philosophy of life. She stepped back and told him she would need to give this marriage some more thought.
     Realize too, that some people are just dishonest or fools and it is more profitable to speak to a telephone pole than to them. Jesus said of some, leave them and shake the dust off your feet. Remember too, that a lot of these so-called atheists have a deeper problem than philosophy. Find out what it is.
     Some have been hurt, lost a loved one, or feel unjustly treated by the world so they blame God. It is not that they don’t really believe in Him, rather, they are angry at Him and therefore try to ignore Him or act as though He doesn’t exist. Just as often they have “daddy issues” and have a hard time perceiving God as loving or forgiving and view him through the lens of their earthly and abusive, neglective father.

     Dig into his past and you will likely find the real reasons….

“Are You Saved?” – Questions I Answered on Catholic Answers Live

Always a blast being the guest on Catholic Answers Live. This time the topic was “Are You Saved?” Some good questions and a fun show. Enjoy!

I got asked the first question by the host Cy Kellett. He asked me, “Are you saved, Steve?” I answered. Then I briefly explained my view as a Baptist and what has changed.

Here are the questions I answered…

  • 05:11 – In Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus talks about being saved and doing the will of his father in heaven. What does the will of the father mean in relation to entering the kingdom of heaven? 
  • 13:38 – When Jesus tells the disciples to eat the bread and drink the wine, he’s just talking directly to them. Where in the bible does it say those items are supposed to be distributed to the people? 
  • 17:24 – What does God mean when he says we need to pick up our cross? 
  • 23:45 – I have a friend who claims she went to hell and while there, she was tormented by demons. What does the Catholic church say about life after death experiences? 
  • 35:43 – Will my mom still be saved if she used to be Catholic but she’s now protestant? 
  • 46:03 – Is water baptism necessary for salvation? 
  • 51:15 – The bible says that when Jesus died on the cross, people were risen into heaven. Were any of the people that died before Jesus taken into heaven? 

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