Today’s Gospel

Today’s Gospel reading in the Mass was Matthew 19:16-22. In this reading, Jesus is asked by a rich young man what he must to be achieve his reward in Heaven. Jesus replies: ‘You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; honor your father and your mother’; and ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.'”

There’s more to the story, but I want to focus on this. Some Catholic will tell you that only Catholics can go to Heaven. (This is not the teaching of the Church, and so they’re committing a heresy when they say that, just for the record.) Note that none of these commandments Jesus specifies as requirements for Heaven have anything to do with worshipping God; rather, they deal with how we treat others. I don’t want to get in a whole “Faith vs. Works’ discussion because I’ve never really understood that whole debate, but it seems clear that our works have something to do with it.

The Catholic position on who shall be saved is essentially this: if you attempt to discover and live the truth to the best of your abilities and your situtation, God will save you. If you don’t worship the one true God ebcause you’ve never been exposed to him, that’s not your fault. God has, however, written what Catholics call the “natural law” on all of our hearts. So, while we cannot discern certain Christian doctrines solely from our knowledge of nature, science and our experiences, we can discern certain moral truths: murder is wrong, stealing is wrong, etc. (Essentially what Jesus discusses in the quote above.) It’s how we live according to the the natural law written on our hearts and the truth of God we are exposed to in our lives that will determine if we reach Heaven after our deaths.

So, anyone can reach Heaven if they do their best acoording the Truth to which they have been exposed. Since God knows all, He knows how sincerely we are trying and “grades” on that. (And in my case, I thank the Lord for His Mercy.)

History Lesson

During his press conference today, the President said “I may be the only person–the only presidential candidate who never carried the state in which he was born.”

Best of the Web Today did the research, and here’s the list of all major party Presidential candidates who lost the state they were born in:

Thomas Pinckney (F) 1804, 1808 South Carolina
James K. Polk (D) 1844 North Carolina
Zachary Taylor (W) 1848 Virginia
Winfield Scott (W) 1852 Virginia
John Frémont (R) 1856 Georgia
Abraham Lincoln (R) 1860, 1864 Kentucky
Stephen Douglas (D) 1860 Vermont
George McClellan (D) 1864

Pennsylvania

Horace Greeley (D) 1872 New Hampshire
Winfield Hancock (D) 1880 Pennsylvania
William J. Bryan (D)  1896, 1900, 1908  Illinois
Alton Parker (D) 1904 New York
Charles E. Hughes (R) 1916 New York
James Cox (D) 1920 Ohio
John Davis (D) 1924 West Virginia
Al Smith (D) 1928 New York
Alf Landon (R) 1936 Pennsylvania
Adlai Stevenson (D) 1952, 1956 California
Hubert Humphrey (D) 1968 South Dakota
George McGovern (D) 1972 South Dakota
George H.W. Bush (R) 1988, 1992 Massachusetts
George W. Bush (R) 2000, 2004 Connecticut
John Kerry (D) 2004

Colorado

No point to this, just interesting.

Quote-a-palooza

“My greatest dream in life would be to go and argue that the Christian worldview is true and nothing else is—a case that I believe I could prove to the satisfaction of any objective court, if you can find one today. There is only one worldview that is rational and that makes sense, and it is the biblical worldview. All others are false, and I can prove they are.” —Chuck Colson

“Today, it is considered politically incorrect to mention the obvious contribution of motherhood. Feminism taught us to believe that motherhood is for ninnies, and that no self-respecting educated woman should be caught dead changing diapers. Public policies to encourage women to have more children are considered unacceptable infringements on women’s freedom… Well, I am one woman who is ready to say that raising children is a good and socially constructive thing to do. Having more than one or two children can be a lot of fun. And it is for certain that raising a large family to productive adulthood will use all the gifts of even the most gifted woman. Having a family is a worthy life endeavor, deserving the educated woman’s most serious consideration.” —Jennifer Roback Morse

“The most geriatric jurisdiction on the planet, Nippon’s rising sun has now passed into the next phase of its long sunset: net population loss. 2005 was the first year since records began with more deaths than births. The world’s other elderly societies have complicating factors: In Europe, the successor population is already in place—Islam—and the only question is how bloody the transfer of real estate will be. But Japan offers the chance to observe the demographic death spiral in its purest form. It’s a country with no immigration, no significant minorities and no desire for any: just the Japanese, aging and dwindling.” —Mark Steyn

“While America’s military strength is important, let me add here that I’ve always maintained that the struggle now going on for the world will never be decided by bombs or rockets, by armies or military might. The real crisis we face today is a spiritual one; at root, it is a test of moral will and faith.” —Ronald Reagan

“Many people who complain about the corrupting influence of money never seem to apply that to government money. If high government officials were serious about wanting to know the facts, they could set up an independent statistical agency, along the lines of the General Accounting Office, to do studies of the effects of the policies of the operating agencies. That would mean that the fox would no longer be in charge of the hen house, whether the fox was the Labor Department, the Commerce Department, or any of the other departments and agencies. It would also mean that various bright ideas originating in Congress or the White House would now be exposed to the risk of being shown to be costly failures or even counterproductive. Whole careers could be ruined among both elected officials and bureaucrats. Don’t hold your breath waiting for it to happen. But do keep that in mind when someone says ‘studies prove…”’ —Thomas Sowell

“Place yourself in the position of an employer and ask: If a worker costs me, say, $7 in wages, plus mandated fringes such as Social Security, unemployment compensation, sick and vacation leave, making the true hourly cost of hiring a worker $9 an hour, does it pay me to hire a worker who’s so unfortunate to have skills that enable him to produce only $5 or $6 worth of value per hour? Most employers would conclude that doing so would be a losing economic proposition… There’s another villain—the customer. If the employer retained workers whose wages exceeded their productivity, to cover his costs he would have to charge you and me higher product or service prices. I don’t know about you, but I prefer lower prices to higher prices, and I’d switch my patronage to those firms who adjusted to the higher labor cost. Congress can easily mandate higher wages, but they cannot mandate higher worker productivity or that employers hire a particular worker in the first place. Those of us who truly care about the welfare of low-skilled workers should focus our energies on helping them to become more productive, and a good start would be to do something about the rotten education that many receive.” —Walter Williams

2006 Tropical Storm Season Now Below Normal

Weather Street: 2006 Atlantic Tropical Storm Season Below Normal (August 21)

Part of the reason for the slow season is that tropical western Atlantic sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are running about normal, if not slightly below normal (see graphic below, which shows SST departures from normal).

The cooler SSTs in the Atlantic are not an isolated anomaly. In a research paper being published next month in Geophysical Research Letters, scientists will show that between 2003 and 2005, globally averaged temperatures in the upper ocean cooled rather dramatically, effectively erasing 20% of the warming that occurred over the previous 48 years.

The slow hurricane season and the cooling sea surface temperatures might be somewhat surprising to the public. Media reports over the last year have suggested that, since global warming will only get worse, and last year’s hurricane activity was supposedly due to global warming, this season might well be as bad as last season. But it appears that Mother Nature might have other plans.

And I think that’s the point. We humans, especially those who don’t believe in God, like to think we’re the center of the Universe and are responsible for all things. I find it much easier to believe that we’re relatively inconsequential in the natural order of things. All we can do with hurricanes is run, why should we believe that we can affect the entire planet’s temperature and weather? As something I read once put it, “Mother Nature’s a b*itch” (or bitca, for you hardcore Buffy fans) and I doubt we can do too much to her.