A correspondent from New York City, whose name we will withhold out of charity, sent us a booklet called Freemasonry: Antichrist Among Us. His accompanying note said, "It is highly recommended that you stop what you are doing immediately and read the enclosed thoroughly. You may never be the same again. Please let me know what you think when you have finished."
Gladly. We think this booklet is bunk. It purports to be an expose of Freemasonry. We're certainly against that movement--it has been condemned repeatedly by the popes, and no Catholic may join a Masonic lodge, one of the chief reasons being that Freemasonry is a naturalistic religion incompatible with Christianity. But the booklet is more than a look at Freemasonry. It's really an anti-Semitic screed. A few sentences will demonstrate the point:
"And we observe that those who dare not say anything against the Jews forget that Jesus Christ himself called them vipers and children of the devil." (Actually, Jesus was referring to some of the Pharisees; he wasn't referring to all the Jews of his time, certainly not to all Jews throughout history.)
"First, the word Jew is used in defining religionists of the devil....It is at once obvious that the word Jew is used to speak of those people whose god is the devil." (Say, wouldn't the prophets have been interested in knowing that!)
"In his book Jewish Ritual Murder the learned Englishman, Arnold Leese, states that `Several important witnesses gave expert opinion that the Jews use Christian blood to mix with the unleavened bread at certain feasts.'" (Give us a break!)
It will come as no surprise when we note that the booklet reproduces the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and argues that they are the authentic game plan of a Jewish conspiracy. (The elders are supposedly 300 Jewish financiers and politicians who run Europe and most of the rest of the world.) In fact, the Protocols were concocted by some anti-Semitic propagandist. They are entirely false and belong in the same league as the famed Knights of Columbus Oath, which supposedly instructs members of that fraternal order to slit the throats of Protestants when the Pope gives the cue.
At the end of the booklet is a section titled "Roman Catholicism Masonic???" To answer that question a top authority is brought out: "Alberto Rivera, a converted ex-Jesuit priest, has told his story and the truth about Catholicism"--blah blah blah. So here we have it, and we're not in the least surprised: anti-Semitism married to anti- Catholicism.
We might be misreading the headline in Al-Burhaan, which is subtitled The Voice of Islamic Propagation Centre International: AHMED DEEDAT MEETS FIRST MUSLIM IN SPACE. Question: How did Deedat, a chief spokesman for Islam, get into space at his advanced age--and who was the "first Muslim" whom he met there? Whatever the headline may really mean, an article in Al-Burhaan discusses a Da'wah (or missionary training) class conducted in the Philippines. "Many Muslims are eager to attend the said class, and they are enquiring now when to start it. This eagerness is probably a result of the more intense work of Christian missionaries, which Muslims here would like to counteract.
"From reliable sources I learned that these missionaries are penetrating Islamic cities in the Philippines. And they are trained to speak the native dialects. And they have already translated their Bible into two dialects, the Merando and the Maguindanao.
"If they have done damage to the Muslims in Pakistan and Nigeria, which are Islamic states, you can just imagine the possible effects of these to many of our Muslim brothers there in Mindanao in the South of the Philippines."
The Christian missionaries probably aren't Catholics. Usually it's Protestants who translate the Bible into obscure languages. Whether Catholic or Protestant, we applaud their willingness to evangelize in Muslim territory. So often Christians think Muslims are off limits--you can evangelize other Christians or former Christians or people of no faith, but not Muslims (or Hindus or Buddhists or animists or whatever). In a way, such an attitude is an insult to these folks: "You're not worth evangelizing--there's something wrong with you." Not a charitable attitude, is it?
Time heals all wounds and wounds all heels, it is said. Maybe so, maybe not. (A lot of heels seem to get along just fine, thank you, and some wounds never seem to go away.) One thing seems sure: Time will solve a lot of the problems with our religious orders.
People complain particularly about women religious, many of whom seem to have abandoned religion for politics or for a bizarre New Age concoction. "When will it end?" folks ask. The answer: It will end in about twenty years. Here's why.
The orders which consider themselves avant-garde have members whose average age is now about 65. These orders are getting almost no new members, and what few they get are usually in their late thirties or forties.
At the moment representatives of these orders make the headlines. They control positions of power within the larger associations of religious communities. They hold conferences, lots of conferences. They have the ear of the USCC and occupy top positions in chanceries and schools. But that's going to change, and no one will be able to do anything about it.
Why? Because time won't stop. In twenty years, even allowing for a small number of younger recruits, these orders will have members whose average age will be about 80. How many 80-year-old nuns are going to want to do the politicking these orders do today? How many will be able to fill the power centers? To ask such questions is to answer them.
What's the alternative? Well, other orders--ones that don't catch headlines, don't hold (yet) many conferences, don't have "ins" with Church bureaucrats. We have in mind such groups as Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity, the Daughters of St. Paul, some of the Carmelites. The list is actually quite extensive. These orders are rapidly growing, and their membership is young. Average age? Often in the mid-thirties. In twenty years? Perhaps even younger. Their houses of formation are stuffed.
The most delightful thing--and not in the least surprising--is the evident happiness of their members. These are women well aware of the problems in the world (who knows better the suffering of the poor, for example, than the Missionaries of Charity?), but they aren't bitter or cantankerous or grouchy.This lack of bitterness is an attractive quality – it's attracting lots of new recruits and will continue to do so.
Reading Between the Lines Dept.: HARDCOVER BOOKS AT PRICES BELOW WHOLESALE . That's what the headline in Jimmy Swaggart's magazine, The Evangelist (which is down to sixteen pages), says. "To reduce inventory, we have marked down these best-selling books down to below-wholesale prices." Well, maybe once they were best sellers, but not now. No publisher marks down a book that is selling well. You sell books below wholesale only when they aren't moving. We're not unhappy to report that one of the books is Swaggart's own Catholicism and Christianity. It's now down to $2.95, which is low for a hardback. Such a price means no one is buying and that the publisher overestimated anti-Catholic sentiment.
If you're interested in becoming a member of American Atheists, we have a copy of the application form for you. The organization wants to know how an applicant would describe himself, what label he'd choose.
Possibilities include: "atheist," "freethinker," "humanist," "rationalist," "objectivist," "ethical culturalist," "unitarian," "secularist," "agnostic," "realist," and our favorite: "I/we evade any reply to a query."
Once your application is accepted, "you will receive a handsome gold embossed membership card, a membership certificate personally signed by Jon G. Murray [Madalyn's son], president of American Atheists, Inc., our special monthly Insider's Newsletter to keep you informed of the activities of American Atheists, and your initial copy of the American Atheist."
If you want to go whole hog, you may become a life member and receive "a specially embossed pen and pencil set" (apparently not signed by Jon G. Murray). If you want to be just a sustaining member, you get a commemorative pen.
The business card of the San Diego chapter carried no person's name, just the name and slogan of the organization: "American Atheists, the Rational Alternative." In one corner is the number of the local office, in the other the number for Dial-an-Atheist. Numerologists will be happy to learn that the last four digits of Dial-an-Atheist are 6663.
The Mormons have modified their temple rituals. No longer does a woman have to vow to obey her husband. Now she pledges to obey God and to listen to her husband. Other features have been changed: a dramatization suggesting that Satan beguiles Christian clergymen to teach falsely and the requirement that Mormons make throat-slitting and disemboweling gestures as signs that they'll keep the ceremonies secret on pain of death. Not dropped have been a secret handshake and a lengthy password.
Church officials have been reluctant to talk about the changes, which are the most far-reaching since 1978, when blacks were allowed into the priesthood. "We are a church that believes in modern and continuous revelation [Christian churches believe public or general revelation ended with the apostles] and that changes that were recently made in our temple ceremony are reflective of that process," said an official statement.
Ex-Mormons Chuck and Dolly Sackett of Thousand Oaks, California said the dropping of the vow is particularly appreciated by single women. They "will be somewhat relieved of the extreme pressure to marry." What's more, "the wife will no longer be reminded with each temple visit that her only channel to her god is through her husband and that his faithfulness determines her eternity."
Tony Alamo has still another new tract--and a lengthy one at that. It's titled Guilt by Association. The cover panel features photographs of twelve people: Nikita Khrushchev, Ronald Reagan, William Sessions (head of the F.B.I.), Mikhail Gorbachev, Adolf Hitler, Jim Jones ("Catholic cult leader"), George Bush ("another one-worlder preaching '`Peace, peace' for Rome"), Pope John Paul II, Karl Marx, Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud, and Elizabeth Dole (Secretary of Labor).
They are all guilty of everything, says Alamo. For one thing, they put the kibosh on a good business deal. "Mike Tyson, Don King and I were about to sign a contract regarding a clothing deal that we were going into together. The Catholic F.B.I. terrorists found out about our business deal and told Charles Lomax (King and Tyson's Chicago attorney) never to do business with me...or else!" End of deal.
What's worse, "The Vatican's F.B.I. terrorists have for years instructed the news media, 'Don't say or print anything good about the Alamos...or else!' Since then, those stations and newspapers never have said anything good about my church or me." (Now if the Vatican's agents can just get those stations and newspapers to say something nice about the Vatican!)
"The Osmond Brothers were to appear at our Christian restaurant workshop in Alma, Arkansas. The Osmonds were exchanging a couple of their shows in return for some of my designs (custom-made suits, shirts, etc.). The Catholic F.B.I. and hundreds of their terrorists began calling the Osmonds with death threats. I immediately let them out of our contract because it was obvious that they were thoroughly terrorized. I sang at the engagement myself and we all had a good time." (As an upcoming article in This Rock will explain, Alamo's restaurant has been closed down quite a while--maybe the Osmonds don't sing where the doors are padlocked?)
The final indignity: "The F.B.I. also went to all the radio stations and told them not to play Tony Alamo recordings anymore...or else! Jean Morton, President of the American Disc Jockey Association, told them that [giving an award to Alamo] was a corporate decision, and that everyone on the Board of Directors felt that Tony Alamo was the best singer for easy listening music, better than Sinatra, Como, Andy Williams, or any of them. The F.B.I. told her that they shouldn't give Tony Alamo any more awards...or else!"
Herewith some snippets from the Jehovah's Witnesses' 1990 Prayerbook:
"Wednesday, November 21: Most reprehensible is modern Babylon's bloodthirstiness. She has sponsored bloodthirsty dictators of modern times, and her disgusting history of bloodletting stretches back through the centuries, through the religious wars, the Inquisitions, the Crusades, yes, back to the martyrdom of some of the apostles and the slaying of God's own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and beyond. Add to all of this the killings of Jehovah's Witnesses in more recent years by firing squad, hanging, the ax, the guillotine, the sword, and inhuman treatment in prisons and concentration camps." (By the guillotine and sword? The Witnesses began only in 1879.)
"Friday, June 8: A terrible bloodguilt rests on the Vatican! As a leading part of Babylon the Great, it helped significantly in putting Hitler into power and in giving him `moral' support. The Vatican went further in tacitly consenting to Hitler's atrocities. During the long decade of Nazi terror, the Roman pontiff kept quiet while hundreds of thousands of Catholic soldiers were fighting and dying for the glory of the Nazi regime and while millions of other unfortunates were being liquidated in Hitler's gas chambers. If there had been no love affair between the Vatican and the Nazis, the world might have been spared the agony of having scores of millions of soldiers and civilians killed in the war."
"Sunday, June 10: From what source would such an unscriptural doctrine as the worship of Mary come? The underlying source has to be God's Adversary, Satan the Devil. Why would he promote such a teaching? To belittle and downgrade the Sovereign Lord Jehovah. It diverts people from true worship and causes them to look instead to creatures for salvation."
Don't let any Witness tell you his religion is not anti-Catholic. This is the spiritual meal he gets from his official prayerbook. Is it any wonder he has unkind thoughts about our faith?
The Protestant Truth Society of London just celebrated its centenary year. It publishes a bimonthly called The Churchman's Magazine. The back cover offers for sale "a Protestant poster for the 1990s," which reads: "No priest but Christ; no sacrifice but Calvary; no confessional but the Throne of God; no authority but the Word of God." Guess which church this is aimed at.
Imagine the scene some years hence. There is a new heir to the British throne--maybe Prince Charles, maybe by then his son William. And let's pretend the heir, shortly before his ascension, has done something really radical. Let's pretend he's become a Catholic. Can he then become king?
Theoretically, no. The British monarch is not just the head of state; he's also the head of the Church of England. In a declaration made before the coronation oath is taken, the new monarch professes Protestantism.
The declaration has appeared in several forms. Until 1910 it read this way:
"I do solemnly, and in the presence of God, profess, testify, and declare that I do believe that in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper there is not any transubstantiation of the elements of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, at or after the consecration thereof by any person whatsoever, and this invocation or adoration of the Virgin Mary or any other saint, and the sacrifice of the Mass, as they are now used in the Church of Rome, are superstitious and idolatrous."
Since 1910 there has been a somewhat improved version of the declaration. It has read this way:
"I do solemnly, and in the presence of God, profess, testify, and declare that I am a faithful Protestant, and that I will, according to the true intent of the enactments which secure the Protestant succession to the throne of my realm, uphold and maintain the said enactments to the best of my powers, according to law."
No Catholic could take such an oath, and an heir to the throne who became a Catholic while still "in waiting" would exclude himself from the lineup. He'd be skipped over for the next in line.
But what about a monarch who converts after taking the throne? Could he remain both Catholic and king? Commentators are split.
The situation certainly would provoke a constitutional crisis, and possibly there would be a move to disestablish the Church of England--that is, making the Archbishop of Canterbury, instead of the monarch, its head. That would allow a Catholic to remain king.
It's likely an opposition faction would arise in Parliament. What would its position be called? Nothing other than every sixth grader's favorite Big Word: antidisestablishmentarianism.
Mea culpa: Remember the story told of Mark Twain? A newspaper ran his obituary, and he replied that "the reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated." We've mirrored that goof. Last issue we said there isn't any bishop named Nick D'Antonio. But there is. Our apologies to the vicar for the Spanish-speaking of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.