Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Yesterday was my birthday!

Yesterday was my birthday. We didn't do something special to celebrate but work. My wife worked at the Day Care Center until late at night and I had to sit with her until the work was over. I had been preparing my lectures for next week class. I think it is a good idea to have some kind of PowerPoint presentation. I will be teaching in English and somebody will interpret for me in Burmese. I don't really like using PowerPoint but there were times that it is extremely helpful. And a lecture that needs to be translated is one of those cases.

Over at Levellers, Michael share some information about two great men who share their birthday with me.
19 June 1623 was the birthday of Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), the French mathematician, physicist, and Christian philosopher. Pascal was an apologist for Christianity to the skeptical French “philosophes.

19 June 1834 was the birthday of Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892), the most famous British preacher of the 19th C. and one of the greatest Baptist preachers of all time.
Another great man who share the same birthday was Jose Rizal. He is the national hero of the Philippines and pride of the Malayan race, was born on June 19, 1861, in the town of Calamba, Laguna. He was the seventh child in a family of 11 children (2 boys and 9 girls). Both his parents were educated and belonged to distinguished families. He was a Catholic but many historians believe that he had some kind of conversion experience.

The changed could have been the result of contemporary contact, companionship, observation, research and the possession of an independent spirit.Being a critical observer, a profound thinker and a zealous reformer, Rizal did not agree with the prevailing Christian propagation of the Faith by fire and sword. This is shown in his Annotation of Morga’s Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas.

Rizal did not believe in the Catholic dogma that salvation was only for Catholics and that outside Christianity, salvation was not possible even if Catholics composed only a small minority of the world’s religious groups. Nor did he believe in the Catholic observation of fasting as a sacrifice, nor in the sale of such religious items as the cross, medals, rosaries and the like in order to propagate the Faith and raise church funds. He also lambasted the superstitious beliefs propagated by the priests in the church and in the schools. All of these and a lot more are evidences of Rizal’s religious philosophy. In one of his letters about the church, he said that:
Priests offer themselves as our so-called "spiritual fathers" as if the spirit or soul had any father other than God. You know that the will of God is different from that of the priest; that religiousness does not consist of long periods spent on your knees , nor in endless prayers, big rosaries, and grimy scapulars, but in a spotless conduct, firm intentions and upright judgment.

Saintliness does not consist in abjectness, nor is the successor of Christ to be recognized by the fact that he gives his hand to be kissed. Christ did not give the kiss of peace to the Pharisees and never gave His hand to be kissed. He did not cater to the rich and vain; He did not mention scapulars, nor did he make rosaries, or solicit offerings for the sacrifice of the mass or exact payments for his prayers.

Saint John did not demand a fee on the River Jordan, nor did Christ teached for gain. Why, then, do the priests now refuse to stir a foot unless paid in advance? And, as if they were starving, they sell scapulars, rosaries, belts, and other things which are nothing but schemes for making money and a detriment to the soul; because even if all the rags on earth were converted into scapulars and all the trees in the forest into rosaries, and if the skins of all the beasts were made into belts, and if all the priests of the earth mumbled prayers over all this and sprinkled oceans of holy water over it, this would not purify a rogue or condone sin where there is no repentance.

Ignorance has ever been ignorance, and never prudence and honor. God, the primal source of all wisdom, does not demand that man, created in his image and likeness, allow himself to be deceived and hoodwinked , but wants us to use and let shine the light of reason with which he has so mercifully endowed us. He may be compared to the father who gave each of his sons a torch to light their way in the darkness, bidding them keep its light bright and take care of it, and not put it out and trust to the light of the others, but to help and advice each other to find the right path. They would be madmen were they to follow the light of another, only to come to a fall and the father could scold them severely and say to them : "Did I not give each of you his own torch?"; but he could not answer if the fall were due to the light of the torch of him that fell, as the light might have been dim and the road very bad.

Prudence does not consist in blindly obeying any whim of the little tin god, but in obeying only that which is reasonable and just, because blind obedience is itself the cause and origin of those whims, and those guilty of it are really to be blamed. The priest can no longer assert that they alone are responsible for their unjust orders, because God gave each individual reason and a will of his or her own to distinguish the just from the unjust.

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