Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Traditional English versus Common English

The Holy Bible in Traditional English

My wife and I home educate our children. Today, I just gave them their first lesson in Traditional English, or what some people call "King James English" (that's not a proper term but whatever). Traditional English is proper English, wherein the second person pronoun is expressed very particularly, and this is absolutely NECESSARY when translating the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures into English. It's also necessary when translating Latin Church documents into English as well. Modern Common English does not have these second-person pronoun equivalents, which makes Common English translations of the Bible inferior to Traditional English, and yes, this stuff really does matter.

Now I should make it clear here, when I say Traditional English, that doesn't mean the language is somehow "more holy" than Common English. It's not. Nor does it mean that one version of English is better than another. It just means that one form of English (Traditional English) is specifically geared toward dealing with the ancient languages from which our religion comes (primarily Hebrew and Greek and secondarily Aramaic and Latin). I should also point out here, this is not a Protestant "King James Only" website. There are multiple Bible versions that use Traditional English, and this author does not limit himself to just one. Nor do I believe modern Common English translations are somehow diabolical. That's just silly. Granted, some Bible translations are better than others, but that's how it's always been, throughout English history, and in multiple different languages. Personally, I find myself partial to both the King James Bible and the Douay–Rheims Bible for study purposes. For casual reading however, I prefer the Revised Standard Version -- Catholic Edition.

Traditional English translations of the Bible include the following...
  1. Great Bible (1539)
  2. Geneva Bible (1557-1560)
  3. Bishops Bible (1568, revised in 1572 and 1602)
  4. King James Bible (1604-1611, revised in 1769)
  5. Douay–Rheims Bible (1582-1610, revised in 1750)
In addition, Traditional English is used in various editions of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, as well as the recently released Catholic Book of Divine Worship. (The Book of Divine Worship is currently under revision as of the date of this essay. The revised Mass and Occasional Services have already been released.) These, along with the above translations of the Bible, are standards of Traditional English in the Christian world.

Every English speaking child should be schooled in Traditional English. It's not hard. There are only a few rules, and not only will this give them a better appreciation of religious literature, but it will also improve their appreciation of Shakespeare and the English classics.

This short essay is by no means intended to be a comprehensive review of Traditional English, but rather a short overview of how the rules of the language work. First of all, we call it Traditional English because this is the form of English that was commonly used in the translation of the Greek and Hebrew Scriptures, as well as the Latin documents of the Church. This particular form of English was adopted specifically for this purpose, because Common English (the language spoken by the common everyday Englishman) did not have the proper second person pronouns to translate the Greek and Hebrew Scriptures properly. The same goes for Latin translations of the Scriptures, as well as Latin documents of the Church. Thus a specific set of rules was adopted for this purpose. When you understand them, the Scriptures come alive with very specific meaning that is often missed with modern Common English translations of the Bible.

With the rise of Traditional English came a golden age of English poetry, plays, songs and literary classics. In truth, nobody ever really spoke in the "thees and thous" of Traditional English exactly as it's written in the older English translations of the Bible. To be sure, people did use some of that in common speech, here and there, but for the most part, it never really was exactly as we read in ancient literature. There is the issue of accent too. Around the time of Shakespeare, Englishmen spoke with an accent that would sound very Scottish to us today in the modern world. As a result of this, much of Shakespeare's plays actually rhymed, and were filled with colourful plays on words that are often lost on modern audiences.

For a brief time in English history, there was a class war between the usage of Common English and Traditional English, Common English eventually prevailing because it was seen as more aristocratic than Traditional English. This is the exact opposite of what one would think today, but as I often say, the truth is stranger than fiction, and when it comes to history (especially English history) you just can't make this stuff up.

So today, Traditional English has fallen into disuse and neglect, probably for two reasons. The first is that ridiculous class war they had in England some centuries back, wherein Englishmen got it in their heads that the word "you" sounds so much more sophisticated than the word "thou". The second is probably because of general laziness. It's easy to move a language in a downward trend, with less rules to follow and more ambiguity, while as it's harder to move a language in an upward trend, with a few more rules and greater clarity. Sadly, as a result of this, many modern English speakers are intimidated by Traditional English. The "thees and thous" seem too confusing, and as a result, they avoid it entirely. Who suffers as a result? We all do, and most especially our language suffers. Shakespeare and the English classics fall into neglect, unappreciated for the masterful works they are. The older Traditional English translations of the Bible sit forgotten on the shelves, collecting dust, while our newer Common English translations may give us a cursory understanding of the Greek and Hebrew Scriptures, but they often leave us in the dark concerning their specific meaning in many cases. Sometimes those cases are very important. More than a few doctrinal errors (outright heresies) are the product of Common English translations. So it behoves us to learn a little Traditional English, and teach it too our children, both for their good and ours. It is, after all, part of our English language and heritage.

Let's begin with the basics. It all starts with a little thing called a pronoun. A pronoun is a word that substitutes a noun. It usually applies when talking about people, but it can apply to an animal or object too. We're all familiar with pronouns. I use them all the time. I bet you do too...

First Person Singular Pronouns
  • I          (subjective, usually at the beginning of a sentence)
  • Me      (objective, usually at the end of a sentence)
  • My      (possessive, subjective)
  • Mine    (possessive, objective)
First Person Plural Pronouns
  • We     (subjective, usually at the beginning of a sentence)
  • Us      (objective, usually at the end of a sentence)
  • Our    (possessive, subjective)
  • Ours   (possessive, objective)
That's simple enough. These first person, singular and plural pronouns have carried over between Common English and Traditional English very well. There is virtually no difference between them. The same is true for third person pronouns...

Third Person Singular Pronouns
  • He/She/It     (subjective, usually at the beginning of a sentence)
  • Him/Her/It   (objective, usually at the end of a sentence)
  • His/Hers/Its  (possessive)
Third Person Plural Pronouns
  • They      (subjective, usually at the beginning of a sentence)
  • Them     (objective, usually at the end of a sentence)
  • Theirs    (possessive)
Once again, the transition between Common English and Traditional English is almost flawless. There is virtually no difference at all.

Now, where Common English and Traditional English really deviate is over second person pronouns. This is where Common English really falls short in comparison to the ancient languages of Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek and Latin. All of these languages had very specific pronouns for the second person singular, which differentiated between the second person plural. For example; when saying "you", these ancient languages would have a very specific pronoun for the singular version of you, as in "just you" (one person), and the plural version of you, as in "you all" (more than one person). But in Common English we just say "you" and there is no way to know, especially in writing, if you're talking to just one person, or to a group of people. People in the southern American states (otherwise known as the Deep South or Bible Belt), they have tried to correct this Common English deficit by creating the word y'all which is just a contraction of the two words "you all". Many people in the northern American states look down on this vernacular as backward or uneducated, but in reality, what southern Americans have done is really quite intelligent. They've recognised a significant deficit in Common English and have supplemented it with a short, grammatically accurate, and gender-neutral contraction. That's pretty darn smart if you ask me, and it's a lot better than what their supposedly more sophisticated northern American counterparts do when they say "you guys", whether the intended audience is male, female or a mixture of the two. I don't know about you, but if I were a woman, in a group of women, and somebody called us using the words "you guys", I would feel a little awkward about that. I would much rather be called with the contracted pronoun y'all. As a man, it doesn't bother me quite as much, except when someone calls "you guys" in reference to my family: wife, son, daughter and myself. I could care less for my son and I, but for my wife and daughter, I do feel a little annoyed. I would much rather people use the more courteous, gender-neutral, and much more sophisticated contraction y'all. It may not sound all that sophisticated to the northern or western American ear, but at least it respects the gender of my wife and daughter.

This is where Common English and Traditional English really part ways. Let's examine the problem in Common English a little more closely...

Common English Second Person Singular Pronouns
  • You      (subjective, usually at the beginning of a sentence)
  • You      (objective, usually at the end of a sentance)
  • Your     (possessive, subjective)
  • Yours    (possessive, objective)  
Common English Second Person Plural Pronouns
  • You      (subjective, usually at the beginning of a sentence)
  • You      (objective, usually at the end of a sentence)
  • Your     (possessive, subjective)
  • Yours    (possessive, objective)  
Did you notice anything? There is no difference at all in Common English between Second Person SINGULAR Pronouns and Second Person PLURAL pronouns. This is a HUGE deficit in Common English. We encounter it in every day speech, but we're so used to it, we almost never notice it. However, the creation of the southern American y'all and the northern American "you guys" is a tacit recognition that there is a problem in Common English. Now let's take a look at the second person pronouns in Traditional English...

Traditional English Second Person Singular Pronouns
  • Thou      (subjective, usually at the beginning of a sentence)
  • Thee      (objective, usually at the end of a sentence)
  • Thy        (possessive, subjective)
  • Thine      (possessive, objective)
Traditional English Second Person Plural Pronouns
  • Ye        (subjective, usually at the beginning of a sentence)
  • You      (objective, usually at the end of a sentence)
  • Your     (possessive, subjective)
  • Yours    (possessive, objective)  
Wow! See the difference? What we have here is absolute clarity in the second person pronoun, especially between singular and plural usage. Singular second person pronouns start with a T, while as plural second person pronouns start with a Y.

What you'll immediately notice is the second person singular rhyming with the first person singular: me and thee, my and thy, mine and thine. This accounts for the explosion of poetry, music and theatre after the adoption of these terms for Traditional English. Linguistic artists and performers love this stuff.

Now try something just for fun. Try using these second person pronouns in regular Common English speech. It takes some practice, but not a whole lot. Once you get use to the proper objective and subjective case, it will get much easier. However, you'll start to notice something. The verbs don't sound quite right. The Common English verbs tend to clash with the Traditional English pronouns, and there is a reason for that. So what the authors of Traditional English did was dress up the verbs a little more carefully...

Common English Verbs
Present Tense Third Person
Past Tense

Traditional English Verbs
VerbPresent Tense Second PersonPresent Tense Third PersonPast Tense

Now granted, this can be a little more complicated, which is why it was almost never used in common everyday speech. However, when translating from Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek and Latin into English, it is essential. This is how we know in the Scriptures who is giving and to whom. Remove these from the translation, and the text becomes more ambiguous. Again, a number of new doctrinal errors (heresies) can be attributed to Common English translations which don't pick up on this.

The following is an example of why this is all so important from a religious perspective. Below we have a popular passage from the New Testament which is constantly misinterpreted due to Common English translation...
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” -- Matthew 16:17-19 NIV (emphasis mine)
I've highlighted the word "you" in this passage to illustrate a point. In Common English, you cannot tell if the "you" is singular or plural. Now the context should seem pretty clear. Jesus is talking to Peter. But when I was an Evangelical Protestant, this interpretation was unacceptable, because it seemed that Jesus was vesting too much authority into one man, and that might lend to the Catholic understanding of the Petrine office of the papacy. So this is what was commonly done. Our pastor, or group leader, would say that when the word "you" is used in the highlighted portions above, Jesus was really speaking to all of the apostles, and he was telling them that they all had this authority. This in turn means the passage applies to all Christians in total, and Jesus is speaking in a broad and general sense. When we bind spiritual forces on earth, they are bound in heaven, and if we loose them on earth they will be loosed in heaven. Thus, you'll sometimes hear Evangelicals in prayer says such things as: "I bind this spirit of depression in the name of Jesus, and loose the healing of God." I've even heard some Evangelicals invoke the "keys" when doing this. This is actually a fairly common Evangelical misinterpretation of the passage.

Now let's look at that passage again in Traditional English from the King James Bible...
And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. -- Matthew 16:17-19 KJV (emphasis mine)
You can clearly see here from the second person singular pronouns "thee" and "thou" that Jesus can only be speaking to one person -- Peter -- and he cannot be speaking to anyone else. This eliminates all misinterpretation of the passage. Only Peter is given the "keys" to "bind" and "loose", nobody else. So when properly interpreted, using a form of English designed to interpret the case of Greek pronouns, we get an interpretation of the passage that strongly supports the Petrine office of the papacy.

Then we have another example with this verse, when Jesus said to Peter...
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat,  but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” -- Luke 22:31-32 ESV (emphasis mine)
Now the Common English translation of the original Greek here does not specify exactly who Jesus is talking about when he says "you". The impression one gets when reading this particular Common English translation is that Peter is the sole object when Jesus says the pronouns "you" and "your". Thus the typical Protestant interpretation is that Jesus is prophesying that Peter would fall, denying him three times after Christ's arrest, and then be restored later. That's it. There is nothing really significant in this passage, other than the fact that Jesus is telling Peter he knows the future. But there's a problem here. Jesus is so much more specific with Peter in the following verse, where he specifically tells Peter that he will deny him three times. Why such a vague reference in the previous verse then? Is Jesus just repeating himself? The answer is in this Traditional English translation from the Douay–Rheims Bible...
And the Lord said: Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren. -- Luke 22:31-32 DRV (emphasis mine)
Whoa! What just happened here? Jesus just switched pronouns in the middle of a passage. He went from second person plural to second person singular. This is something that is easily rendered in Greek, but Common English misses it entirely. Thankfully Traditional English picks up on it. Remember from above, the pronouns "ye" and "you" are always second person PLURAL. While the pronouns "thee", "thy" and "thou" are always second person SINGULAR. Jesus is talking about two different people here. The first "you" is Peter plus the group of apostles. The second "thee" and "thou" is Simon Peter himself.

Allow me to illustrate using my own personal translation into Common English...
And the Lord said: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have all you disciples, that he might sift all of you like wheat,  but I have prayed for you personally that your faith may not fail. And when you personally have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” -- Luke 22:31-32 SEV (Schaetzel English Version)
Then Peter goes on to say he will never deny him, and Jesus responds with that famous passage that assuredly Peter would deny him three times before the rooster crows. So what are we to make of this? Jesus just told Peter he prayed for him. Then he told him he would fall. Are we to assume God the Father did not answer Jesus' prayer? Are we to assume Jesus' prayer was a fail? No. It's quite the opposite really. The clarity comes in the Traditional English rendering of the plural followed by the singular pronouns. The last sentence is the give away. The prayer of Jesus didn't apply to before Peter's fall. It applied to after he had been restored. Jesus knew Peter's faith would fail, but he prayed that after he was restored, it would never fail again. He didn't do this for the other apostles, just Simon Peter. So from this passage of Scripture we know that Peter really would be the one apostle most qualified to strengthen (confirm) his brethren, because by supernatural grace, granted by the prayer of Jesus Christ, his faith could not fail again. So here we have yet another Biblical passage strongly supporting the Petrine office of the papacy. Peter, and by extension his successors, would be protected by a special divine grace that would make it impossible for him to lose faith, or officially teach anything contrary to the faith. Jesus didn't ask this for any of the other apostles, and their successors. So they, or their successors, could have their faith fail, and even teach something contrary to the faith. Not so for Peter and his successors. Peter, and his successors, exercising the Petrine ministry, would be protected by this prayer of Jesus, and therefore able to strengthen (confirm) the others. Such an interpretation of this passage would be virtually impossible using a simple Common English translation without adding words that aren't there in the original Greek, because it completely misses the Greek pronoun case. However, Traditional English picks up on this Greek pronoun case and gives us a greater degree of clarity.

My entire religious life has been about the search for clarity. By that I mean clarity in Christian doctrine, practice and Scripture. Common English is fine for speaking around the house and out in public. In fact, it's one of the most versatile languages in the world. It's also the third most widely spoken language in the world, behind (1) Mandarin Chinese and (2) Spanish. It's actually a great language, with a lot of history, a nearly perfect mixture of German and Latin. Yet if we want to understand it fully, we need to understand this aspect of it. Traditional English is what made our understanding of ancient languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek and Latin) more precise, and it's what gave birth to our golden age of music, poetry and theatre. For the next few years I'll be working with my children on Traditional English, so that by the time they get into high school grade levels, they'll be able to read Shakespeare and the English classics with understanding and appreciation. They'll also be able to decipher the Traditional English bibles and liturgy with ease.



Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'FullyChristian.Com -- The random musings of a Catholic in the Ozarks.'

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Pope and Illegal Immigration

 Caltrans warning sign for immigrants potentially entering and crossing the freeway.

I lived in Southern California for the first 23 years of my life. I am very familiar with the problem of illegal immigration. I personally met and knew some of these people. I went to school with them. I worked with them. My neighbours hired them. They were all around me, and that was back in the 1980s! I have also seen the above road sign more times than I can count. I remember specifically driving to visit my grandmother who lived in San Diego for a number of years. These signs were everywhere. Illegal aliens would regularly run across the freeways, knowing that border patrol would not pursue them across, for fear of causing a traffic pileup. This is the reality of the situation in Southern California. It's been this way for a VERY LONG TIME.

Now we've finally reached a point in this nation when Americans are at their wits' end. They've had enough of this problem, and they're eager to see it finished. Our healthcare system is taxed to the brink of collapse. Our schools are overcrowded. Our legal system is overwhelmed. Indeed, a solution is long since past due.

To be clear, the popes have been fairly consistent about this sort of thing. On the one hand, they've always said that we must be open and willing to help the foreigners among us, showing true Christian compassion and mercy, as is consistent with a Christian people. On the other hand, the popes have asserted that nations do have a right to regulate their borders, and are not called to allow themselves to be engulfed by migrants to the point of overwhelming their resources and losing their identity. It's a delicate balancing act, which the popes have maintained for decades.

I'm not going to address the current immigration and refugee problem in Europe. That is a completely different matter that involves totally different dynamics. What I am going to address here is America's illegal immigration problem, and what I have to say, as somebody who's lived through it in Southern California, will be both sensible to some and irritating to others.

First we must look at the causes of illegal immigration from Latin American countries (particularly Mexico) into the United States...

  1. America does not police its southern border in any kind of reasonable way. This is by design. Our politicians have been bought and paid for by big business that benefits from illegal immigration in order to keep wages low. Our federal government also benefits from this in the form of payroll taxes (which big businesses must still pay) when illegal immigrants are hired. So one of the roots of the problem is corruption in the American political system, which benefits big business and big government at the expense of a certain class of people.
  2. America has a fertility problem. Americans don't make enough babies any more, and our fertility rate has dropped below the lowest sustainable rate of 2.1 children per household. That is not only the result of abortion-on-demand in this country, but also the result of artificial contraception, which easily prevents 5 times more lives than abortion murders. This means America's domestic population is in decline. No economy has ever been built that can grow under these conditions. No government has ever been able to support a social security safety net under these conditions. So our government must allow millions of immigrants into the country annually to make up for this fertility gap. If it doesn't the American economy will go into endless recession, and the social security safety net will collapse. Americans will not make more babies on their own, nor will they tolerate millions of new legal immigrants every year. So the government simply bypasses the will of the American people by keeping the southern border porous, allowing the much-needed warm bodies to come in illegally. 
  3. Mexico is as corrupt as it can be. I'm not going to mince words here. Mexico is a failed narco-state. It's primary export is illegal drugs. The drugs coming from, and through, Mexico are incalculable. Therefore, the primary political force in Mexico is not the government. It is the drug traffickers. The Mexican Mafia is just as much in control of Mexico as the government is. Where are those drugs being exported to? That would be the United States of America, which is the primary consumer of those drugs. The porous border policy of the United States, which is needed to keep the American population from collapsing, is what also makes this Mexican drug trafficking so successful and lucrative. 
  4. Mexico is a failed economy, this is primarily because of its narco-state status, but there are other reasons too, the chief of which is the prohibition of any long-term foreign investment into the nation. As a result, more than half of Mexico's gross domestic product comes from money sent back by relatives in the United States. If that income supply were cut off, by building a border wall for example, the entire Mexican economy would completely collapse. This would throw the country into anarchy and civil war, worsening the situation both for Mexico and America.
  5. Both Mexico and America share a similar problem. Both countries are militantly Secularist. Contrary to popular belief in America, Mexico is NOT a Catholic nation. A lot of Catholics live there, just like a lot of Protestants live in America, but the Mexican government is actually militantly Secular. In fact, at one time (during the 1920s) it was even Anti-Catholic. Look up the Christero War for more information on that. Thus Christianity does not play a major role in official Mexican government policy. America has likewise become a militantly Secular nation over the last half century, even though many Protestants live in America, it is not a Protestant nation. It is Secularist. This is something America and Mexico now share in common. Both countries are governed by Secular interests, at the expense of human lives and traditional family values as defined by Christianity, and this plays a major role in the illegal immigration crisis between the two nations.
When you understand the big picture, as I've outlined in the five points above, things start to make more sense. Mexicans come to America because they have to. They have only two choices in front of them. They can either (1) go to America and make some money to send back home, or (2) get involved in the Mexican Mafia and make money off drug trafficking. To be sure, some Mexicans pick option one and two together, living in America and making money off the drug trafficking at the same time. The situation is the way it is because both Mexico and America allow it to continue, and they allow it to continue because it benefits the people at the top in both societies. 

Recently, presidential candidate Donald J. Trump criticised the pope for being "too political" and getting involved in our American border policy. This of course stoked the old flames of anti-Catholicism in our American culture. Internet blogs and radio talk-show hosts echoed with a chorus of anti-papal and anti-Catholic rhetoric. However, it's not the pope's job to define political policies for both America and Mexico. The pope's job is to call attention to the anti-Christian situation that our Secular policies create at the border, and to venerate the victims that have fallen there as a result of it. So Mr. Trump is wrong to criticise the pope in this way. He should apologise for it, but I won't hold my breath waiting.

Many Republicans think the solution to the problem is simple. Just close the border! They want to erect a border wall that will prevent any further illegal migration to the United States. Admittedly, they know this will not stop it completely, as people can still be shipped in by trucks, planes and boats. If the states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California are shut off by a border wall, the illegal immigration problem will simply shift to the California coast, the Texas coast, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. A border wall will simply redirect traffic. It won't stop it. That doesn't mean we shouldn't build it. But at the same time, we should be realistic about its likely effect. Instead of dying of thirst and heatstroke in the southwestern deserts of the United States, illegal immigrants will drown in the waters of the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico. Then there is always the issue of tunnels. Mexican drug lords have used them for years to smuggle narcotics into the United States. A border wall cannot stop this, and there is no reason why those tunnels could not be used to smuggle people in as well. The border wall solution is not a solution in and of itself. It could potentially help in some areas, but if the root causes of illegal immigration are not addressed, the problem will only be redirected into other areas and could potentially get worse. 

Many Democrats think the solution is amnesty. Just wave the magical legislative wand, making all illegal immigrants legal, and set them on the path to citizenship. While that will address the fertility problem America has, and stop big-business from profiteering off the low wages of illegal workers, it does nothing to address the ongoing illegal immigration problem itself, nor does it stop the flow of migration from Mexico northward. We've tried amnesty before, but it only resulted in more illegals coming in.

Furthermore, amnesty exacerbates the problems of an Anglo American culture that is already in demographic retreat thanks to the fertility gap. Some Americans have attempted to address this problem with English-Only laws, that will mandate the English language in all public and official business, including public schools. This would go a long way toward at least addressing some of the cultural issues, but many Democrats feel this is discriminatory. Latinos are the people saving America from a demographic crisis. Therefore, in their minds, it only makes sense that America should become a Latino nation. Anglo America is in decline. So let it fade away. Those who protest, must be racist. At least, that's the mantra of many Democrats today.

To be sure, there are some racists in the world, and I would be remiss to ignore that. However, its unfair to characterise everyone who loves Anglo American culture as "racist". Most people who demand English-Only, and want cultural assimilation of immigrants, are not racists. They could care less what colour somebody is. They just want them to speak English and understand things that are important to Americans! I have known many Hispanic people in my life, and those that surround me now in the Ozarks of Southern Missouri usually speak perfect English with a hillbilly twang. Quite often I forget they're Hispanic, and isn't that the way it's supposed to be? Americans have just as much right to revere their Anglo heritage (Anglophone language, English Common Law, Angloceltic culture, etc.) as Mexicans have a right to revere their Latino heritage (Spanish language, Spanish Law, Spanish and Indigenous culture, etc.). I think the English-Only law proposals are simply a reflection of the frustration many Americans feel toward those who would replace Anglo culture with Latino culture. For example; most Americans like myself had ancestors who migrated here from other non-British nations. My own ancestry, though significantly British and Irish, is predominately Swedish and German. My Swedish and German ancestors came to America with the complete understanding that while they could still hang on to some of their most cherished cultural traditions, they would have to become fully American by adopting the English language and much of the Anglo American culture. This they did willingly and enthusiastically. Today, nobody in my immediate family speaks Swedish or German as a primary language. Our family has fully assimilated into the American melting pot. Unfortunately, this just isn't the case for many Mexicans who have taken up residence in the United States in recent decades, and it's almost never the case for illegal aliens. This is a problem. It's made many European and Asian American feel slighted. "How come our families had to assimilate, and theirs didn't? It's not fair!" Indeed, if Mexicans can come to America and never learn English, then there is no reason why Americans with German ancestry can't start speaking German again, and forget about English. In fact, if that were the case, there is no reason why I can't move up to Minnesota with my Swedish relatives and start speaking Swedish again, abandoning English entirely. After all, Swedish is an easier language to learn anyway, especially for English speakers. I have no doubt my family could pick it up within a year, and with enough similar-minded people, we could take the Swedish City of Lindström and turn it into a linguistic colony. Within a generation, half the state would be ours, and all the street signs would be bilingual. Does that sound like a good way to go? Should we make "Another Sweden" out of State of Minnesota? Most of the people up take pride in their Scandinavian ancestry already. They only need a little push to take it to the next step. Is that the way we should go? Should the whole country do this; Swedes, Germans, Italians, etc.? I don't think so. Multiculturalism has proved to be an absolute failure in Europe. It will fail here too. One culture will always dominate over the others. Americans must choose which culture that will be. Shall we carve the nation up into ethnic-linguistic regions, or shall we be one nation with one common language and culture again?

The American model of immigration has always worked because of the way we went about it in the past. We opened the flood gates for a few decades, allowing millions of new foreigners to arrive, then we closed them for a few decades, giving these new arrivals time to assimilate into the larger Anglo American culture. The latter hasn't happened in a long time, and that's largely because we've kept our borders open for decades without any real checks and balances. 

So what's the solution?

I am by no means an expert. I understand the problem, but that doesn't mean I know how to fix it. There are some things that do make logical sense to me though. So I'll share them with you here...
  1. The first thing we need to do is acknowledge that even though are governments may not be Christian, our people are, and we should act accordingly. That means our national policies and actions should be directed toward improving the overall human condition in both countries (America and Mexico) and that includes uplifting the traditional family.
  2. A border wall (or fence) could be erected, to curb the illegal flow of migrants and drugs. It won't stop them, but it would redirect them. This buys us a window of opportunity to address the root problems. It's a short window to be sure, so we must act quickly, otherwise that border wall will become a huge waste of time and money. It may even cause more problems than it solves.
  3. Mexico needs relief. A border wall would curb and redirect narco-traffic into the United States. That's going to crush the Mexican economy. So we have got to come up with a migrant-worker system that is fast, effective, and reasonable. Once the drug flow is obstructed, Mexicans will need to send more workers into America, or their economy will totally collapse. We have to be ready for that, and we have to process these people as quickly as possible. Making them legal documented workers will force big business to pay them fairly, and that will do two things. (1) It will put them on equal footing with American workers, eliminating the unfair hiring practices of big business. (2) It will allow fewer Mexican workers to send back more American dollars to their relatives in Mexico. Instead of a father and son crossing the border to work for $5/hour each, just the father could cross the border and work for $10/hour, making the same amount of money at only half the travel expense. Thus he would be able to send more money back home to Mexico while the older son could watch over the family until papa returns. There is no need to put any of these migrant workers on the path to citizenship. If the worker programs are fair and effective, they won't need to become Americans. They can send the money back home until things improve in Mexico enough to go back home.
  4. Building on #3, and this won't work without #3, we put a moratorium on all further legal immigration for 30 years. Foreigners can come here to work, but they can't become citizens. Those already in line for legal citizenship will be grandfathered in. Those who haven't applied yet, won't get another chance for 30 years. Those here illegally will have 6 months to apply for worker visas or be deported, and application for citizenship will not be permitted for those here illegally. This allows the great American melting pot to do its job of assimilation of legal immigrants already here.
  5. Repeal the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and replace it with a common sense American citizenship amendment. The 14th Amendment is an obsolete relic of the Civil War, that has already served its purpose and is long overdue for repeal. This is what creates "anchor babies", and it puts Mexican families with pregnant mothers at extreme risk crossing the border.  
  6. The American and Mexican military are going to have to work together to stop the drug trafficking. A border wall will help in this regard, but it won't stop it. There must be the proverbial "boots on the ground". The Mexican government needs help regaining control of the country from the Mexican Mafia. This is going to have to become an American priority. Instead of "nation-building" on the other side of the world, among people who will always hate us, why not redirect those efforts toward our neighbour next door, among people who will probably appreciate it in the long run. 
  7. On the same note as #6, American politicians are going to have to lean on Mexican politicians to allow some real foreign investment in Mexico. If Mexico doesn't cooperate in this area, they're only shooting themselves in the foot.
  8. Americans need to start going back to church again. A culture with no religion is no culture at all. The root word for culture is the Latin word cultus, which means religion. Culture, in its most basic form, is the way religion interacts with various ethnicities in various regions. If you don't have religion, you have no culture. Anglo culture is built on religion, just like Latino culture is. That religion is Christianity, and Anglo American culture is just as much Catholic as it is Protestant. Anglo American culture has absorbed French Catholics, Mexican Catholics, German Catholics, Irish Catholics and Italian Catholics. Catholicism is as American as apple pie. So remember that!
  9. Finally, Americans need to start having babies again. The culture of death, combined with the contraception mentality, is causing Anglo American culture to go into retreat. The ideal American family size should be three to four children, not zero to one. Since we cannot count on our governments to do anything about it, the churches are going to have to step up to the plate on this one. If they fail, it's on their heads.
  10. We should unashamedly love Anglo American culture. Building on #8 and #9, we need to be a culture in advance not decline. There are many positive things our Anglo American culture and heritage can give to the world. We can export that to other countries in a respectful way, if they're open to it. If not, it's their loss. That's how we need to think again. Mexico could benefit from some of our values and way of life. Granted, they need to preserve their own culture too, and I respect that. At the same time however, just as we Americans have benefited from Latino culture, so they too could benefit from Anglo culture. This is something for future generations to work out.
This is just how I look at things. The pope will not tell you this, because he's not an American, and he's not as deep into politics as people say he is. The pope cares about people, and if people are dying at the American southern border, than it's his job to acknowledge that and call for us to do something about it. What we do is not as important as how we do it. Whatever solution we employ, both in Mexico and America, it must be one that draws upon our common Christian values. That's what the pope is calling us toward.



Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'FullyChristian.Com -- The random musings of a Catholic in the Ozarks.'

Catholicism for Protestants

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Why Do Catholics Use Graven Images?

The Interior of Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem
Notice the Temple is filled with "Graven Images"
Image Source: Bible Architecture 

QUESTION: Why do Catholics have statues of Mary and other Saints?
ANSWER: Statues, sculptures and paintings of various figures from the Bible, and various persons throughout history, are called icons, and they serve as visual reminders of these persons and the virtues they represent. They are used as visual aids in the same way a Bible serves as a written aid. When one enters a private home it is common to see pictures of family members on the walls, both living and deceased. In the same way, when one enters a Catholic Church, the images of loved ones in the Church are commonplace. (Catechism 1159 - 1162)

QUESTION: Doesn't the Bible forbid the use of statues and "graven images?"
ANSWER: I certainly hope not, since a photograph of any kind would qualify as a "graven image" even if it is only graven with ink. You better toss those family photos if that is the case! The Biblical passage most commonly used to support the notion that graven images are forbidden by God is Exodus 20:4-5.  However, just five chapters later (Exodus 25:18-19) the very same God that supposedly forbade all graven images then commanded Moses to make graven images. So which is it? Are we to have graven images or not? Was God effectively saying; "Make no graven images, except this one?" Then in Numbers 21:8-9, God again commanded Moses to make a graven image. Then in 1st Kings 6:23-29 and 1st Kings 7:25-45, we see that God actually blessed Solomon's Temple (depicted above), made in God's honour, which was covered with graven images inside and out!  Clearly, God does not have a problem with graven images; not statues, nor icons, nor paintings.

If we take a closer look at the context of the prohibition against graven images in Exodus 20, we can see that what God was really forbidding was the making of graven images dedicated to false gods. What God actually forbade was the worship of false gods, and any image that represented such false divinity. He was not prohibiting the creation and display of graven images in general. Nor did he forbid their use in places of worship dedicated to him. What God forbade was the creation of images that represent a deity (god or goddess) other than himself.  For God is not only a jealous God, but he does not contradict himself either.  It is illogical to say that God prohibits all graven images, but then commands and blesses the use of graven images.  When reading the Bible, remember the Rule of Context, which is "context rules!" To say that God prohibits all graven images because of one particular verse, and then just leave it at that, is a gross violation of the rule of context. God does not prohibit all graven images! What he prohibits is graven images of false gods. There is a difference.

We need to stop and think about this. Many Christians go around condemning Catholics for having "graven images", but then quite hypocritically put up nativity scenes at Christmas time. How is this any different? Those same Christians might have a painting or two of Jesus around the house, and they might even have a statue of Jesus, or some symbol of him, such as a lion or a lamb, in their churches. If God truly did forbid all graven images, of any kind, than Christian churches would have to look like Islamic mosques to be compliant with the commandment. All paintings, sculptures and photographs would have to be destroyed, not only in churches, but in people's homes, museums and in the public square as well. If God truly did forbid all graven images, than every photograph of our loved ones would have to be burned, and the Internet (filled with all sorts of images) would have to be avoided entirely. It's ridiculous isn't it? It's absurd! Obviously that can't be what God meant. Again, it's all about context. When God forbade graven images, he was talking about false gods (Pagan divinities).

Catholics don't use images of false gods (Pagan divinities). We use statues of real people instead, such as; Jesus, Mary, Joseph and all the Saints and Angels. This cannot be a sin, as I cited above that God even commanded the use of graven images in his own Temple during the Old Testament period.

More information on this topic can be found in my book Catholicism for Protestants.

More answers to questions on Catholic Christianity can be found on the Apologetics Page.


Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'FullyChristian.Com -- The random musings of a Catholic in the Ozarks.'

Catholicism for Protestants

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Do Catholics Worship Mary?

Catholic Children Pray to the Blessed Virgin Mary
Photo Credit: Fr. Christopher Phillips
Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church, San Antonio Texas
QUESTION: Do Catholics worship Mary?
ANSWER: No, Catholics do not worship (adore) Mary, nor do we worship anyone or anything other than the Trinitarian God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Catholic Church condemns the worship of anyone or anything else as idolatry (Catechism 2112 - 2114) and such idolatry could be punishable by excommunication, if such an idolater does not repent.

QUESTION: If Catholics do not worship Mary, why then do Catholics pray to Mary?
ANSWER: Catholics pray to Mary, other Saints and the holy angels, because we do not believe prayer, in and of itself, is worship (adoration). Catholics understand worship in the Biblical sense, which usually involves the presentation of an actual flesh and blood sacrifice (Genesis 4:4; Genesis 8:20; Exodus 22:20; 1st Samuel 15:22; Romans 5:10; 1st Corinthians 5:7; 1st Peter 2:5). This, coupled with the act of adoration (full submission of the mind, body, soul and will) is how Catholics understand worship in the usual Biblical sense. In the act of Holy Communion we unite ourselves with Christ's perfect sacrifice thus participating in real Biblical worship. (Catechism 2099 - 2100) The mere act of prayer is simply to offer requests and does not, in and of itself, constitute worship in the full Biblical sense.

QUESTION: Why pray to Mary and the Saints at all when you can take your prayers directly to God?
ANSWER: As Catholics we do take our prayers directly to God all the time. We do so publicly during the Divine Liturgy (Holy Mass) and also during the Divine Office (Liturgy of the Hours), as well as during the administration of all the sacraments. We also take our prayers directly to God during private devotion and prayers as well. In addition to this, we also pray to Mary, the Saints and the holy angels, because we view them as "prayer partners" in our devotion to God. (Catechism 2683 - 2684) They assist us in our prayers in the sense that they pray with us to God. Just as we ask friends and neighbours in this world to pray for us, so we also ask friends in the next world to pray for us as well. The Bible itself gives us indications that this is a wholesome and acceptable practise (Tobit 12:12; Mark 12:26-27; Mark 9:4; Hebrews 12:1; Revelation 5:8; Revelation 8:4).

QUESTION: How is praying to the Saints not necromancy or witchcraft which is forbidden in the Bible?
ANSWER: There is absolutely nothing in the Bible that forbids praying to the Saints. Jesus himself did it in Mark 9:4. While Jesus is divine and able to communicate with the dead freely, he was also a Jewish man under the Law of Moses when he did this.  If he broke the Law of Moses he could not be God nor a perfect sacrifice for our sins. Thus simple communication with the dead, through the Holy Spirit, cannot be a violation of God's law.  If it's good enough for the Son of God, than it's good enough for us.

The Scripture passage that is commonly used here, in an attempt to equate prayer to Saints with necromancy or witchcraft, is Deuteronomy 18:10 in which God strictly forbids witchcraft. This is then combined with the Scripture that recalls King Saul's encounter with the witch at Endor (1st Samuel 28). Because the witch engaged in conjuring up the dead (a medium), it is mistakenly interpreted that any attempted contact with the dead is a form of witchcraft.

First of all, when Catholics pray to a deceased person, we do not expect that person to answer us in a way we can hear, as is typically expected when one visits a medium. Second, when we pray to a deceased person, we do so through the Holy Spirit, and it is the Holy Spirit who makes that communication possible. We make no attempt to circumvent (get around) God and talk to the dead ourselves, expecting some kind of reply apart from God.  That really would be witchcraft and necromancy. The very definition of witchcraft is to attempt to do spiritual things apart from God.  We Catholics have no desire for this and such things are forbidden by the Church anyway.

As I said, there is no Scriptural prohibition against praying to the Saints and I defy anyone to present me with one.  You see, Catholic Christians believe that death is truly conquered in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We do not believe people in Heaven are really dead.  We believe they are living, and they are just as connected to the Holy Spirit as we are, if not more so. They are more finely attuned to what is happening in the Body of Christ than we are. Therefore, we can communicate with them. We can send messages to them, through the Holy Spirit in prayer, and we most certainly can ask them to pray for us, which is what we do. The real question here is to ask; why do some Christians not pray to Saints?  Has not the power of death truly been conquered in the resurrection of Jesus Christ?  Why do some Christians assert that the dead are truly dead and helpless when the Bible says they are not? (Hebrews 12:1; Revelation 5:8)  Perhaps the answer can be found in their refusal to pray to angels as well.  They mistake prayer for worship.

More information on this topic can be found in my book Catholicism for Protestants.

More answers to questions on Catholic Christianity can be found on the Apologetics Page.



Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books, and columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'FullyChristian.Com -- The random musings of a Catholic in the Ozarks.'

Catholicism for Protestants

Please share this story. Social media links provided below for your convenience...