Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

My Opposition to the Death Penalty in Contemporary America

Sunday, August 12th, 2018

I was recently offered a polite challenge to my opposition to the death penalty, and on the spot I did not spell it out well. My current thinking is based on three considerations

Social. In a former age, the criminal guilty of a capital crime was, in my opinion, more guilty of his outrageous behavior. Within my lifetime, however, the educational, judicial, and political systems have become more complicit in these crimes. The legal system has expelled religion and religious morality from the public school system in which the vast majority of American youth are educated. To paraphrase Romans 10:14ff, how can we expect people to believe and to do what is right if we do not instruct them? Public education has not only become complicit but teaches an intellectual and moral vacuum in which there is no objective truth, everything is subjective and there are no moral absolutes. Yes, the natural law is still written in the heart of every person, but the dominant cultural forces are combined to treat the silent entreaties in the heart as old fashioned taboos. The judicial system still permits the killing of the most innocent citizens at will; in fact such permission to kill the innocent is a foundation of the current Democratic Party. This combination has given us a culture that is toxic to basic morality. As Dostoyevsky had one of characters say, “If there is no God, you can do anything.” Thus society at large has to bear the burden of the humane imprisonment of those who commit capital crimes.

Repentance. I publish a rosary booklet (The Seven Day Bible Rosary) and offer it free to prisoners. I have distributed hundreds of these and have received only one letter saying “I didn’t do it,” and that was from a man on death row. Another death row prisoner made no such comment. Others have told me specifically that being sent to prison was the best thing that has ever happened to them. Without being specific, they admit that they had been living sinful lives. Now they are reading a Catholic newspaper in which I advertise and asking for something to help them pray the rosary. Some of these have had their first encounter with the Catholic faith in prison; others were raised in Catholic families but ignored what they were taught. Some have told me that it has taken years for them to get to this stage of repentance. Life imprisonment gives some prisoners the time they need to repent and grow in holiness.

Spiritual warfare. There is a spiritual warfare going on between the Lord Jesus and Satan for every person. Jesus gave his life for my sins, the sins of everyone who reads this, and also for the sins of every other sinner, some of whose sins are not only very serious but also public knowledge. I do not want Satan to win any of these battles— which he might do if some criminals are put to death before they repent.

The bottom line: Please join many prisoners who are praying the rosary every day as Our Lady of Fatima has asked us to do—for world peace, for the conversion of Russia, and for the conversion of sinners all throughout the world. I can hear it already, “Those folks have nothing but time on their hands but I am too busy.” It is a rare day when a person who wants to honor Mary’s request cannot find the time to do so. The daily commute provides many with plenty of rosary time. And the list of opportunities goes on.
The above was first written November 27, 2015. Obviously, I am in great agreement with some of the thinking of Pope Francis.

However, when he changes the text of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to reflect this, I have to interpret that in the way stated by a Dominican theologian who says the changed text is a pastoral statement, not a matter of doctrine. That is, it may be considered widely applicable in developed economies which have prisons in which inmates can live out a lifelong sentence. That may not hold true in some developing countries that would have a very hard time providing food, shelter, medical attention, and sufficient security for a life-sentenced criminal. It may not always hold true even in developed countries when a convicted murderer manages to murder one of his guards. Perhaps the certainty of a death at a certain date might help such a person prepare to meet his Creator and Judge.
—John F. Kippley, August 5, 2018,

Breastfeeding is out; Formula Feeding is in. A tragedy!

Sunday, December 31st, 2017

In December 2017, a study on infant feeding among infants during the first six months of life was published in the International Breastfeeding Journal.  This study involved 1899 United States mothers.  Sadly, at one month postpartum, more mothers formula-fed (33%), than those mothers who did direct breastfeeding or those who pumped or those who offered solid food feeding.  Many moms were offering solid food at 2 to 4 months of life.  Many moms who combined all three different feedings (direct breastfeeding, pumping and forumla-feeding) ended up with just formula feeding by the 2nd month of life.

The tragedy of the predominance of formula feeding in our country is the loss of the health benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and baby.  Breastfeeding is not only the best nutrition, it is also part of a natural system that provides information and protection as well as nutrition.

Mixing up a variety of feedings for the baby certainly decreases or eliminates the spacing effect of breastfeeding and could reduce the milk supply.  In my opinion this research once again illustrates the advantages of Ecological Breastfeeding.

Once cycling resumes for the ecologically breastfeeding mother, her cycles are very similar to  those of  a non-nursing woman.

Extended amenorrhea is a great benefit to the married couple because this plan of God’s requires no abstinence.  It’s a natural birth spacer.  But most importantly, breastfeeding saves lives and reduces the risk of so many diseases for both mother and baby.

Couples who take instruction from NFP International via classes or the home study course will receive this message.

In this season of giving, please give NFP International your financial support so that more and more couples can learn this part of God’s plan for the welfare of mothers and babies.

Sheila Kippley
Please donate.


Why Believe in God?

Sunday, September 3rd, 2017

Why Believe?

Why should I believe in God?  Sooner or later, every thinking and believing person has to make a decision.  Do I really believe in God?  And if so, why?  These questions are normal.  In fact, St. Peter tells believers to be ready to give a reason for their faith (see 1Peter, 3:15).
These questions have attracted many thinkers, and various reasons for faith in God have been given; this little brochure will give a few of them.  But first we need to address the huge problem of our day.

Practical atheism: materialism and indifference.
     There are not a large number of intellectual atheists.  As logicians tell us, you cannot prove a negative.  Also, as you will read a bit later, some atheists have discovered that dogmatic atheism simply doesn’t explain life as we know it.
Far more numerous are practical atheists—those who act as if God doesn’t exist.  Their gods are money and pleasure and power.  They don’t build idols to these, although some of their houses might be called that, but these are the principles by which they make their decisions.
Perhaps even worse than these idol worshippers are those who are completely indifferent about the existence of God and act as if it doesn’t matter.  They don’t deny the existence of God, but they seem not to care.

Pascal’s wager applies very much to them.

Pascal’s wager.  Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) was such a brilliant mathematician that in 1970 a computer programming language was named after him.  Some of his unbelieving friends were living ungodly lives so he made a bet with them.  “If I live as if there is a God and die and find there isn’t, I have lost nothing.  If you live as if there is no God and die and find there is God, you have lost everything.”  This does not prove that God exists, but it certainly provides food for thought.

The “no consequences” approach.  About 200 years later, Fyodor Dostoyevsky had one of his characters say, “If there is no God, everything is permitted” (Brothers Karamazov, 1879). That played out hugely during the times of aggressive Russian and Chinese atheistic communism when Stalin and Mao killed millions of their own people.
Also, just read the papers.  Some public schools are so anti-theistic that they forbid  the Pledge of Allegiance because it contains the phrase “under God.”  With that kind of education, why shouldn’t people do whatever they think they can get away with?  If the only purpose of education is to enable you to earn money so you can enjoy whatever you desire, why not take the shortest way to get money?
We are bombarded by the daily news that gives deadly proof that George Washington was right when he said in his 1796 Farewell Address, Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.”

The human existence approach.  Does my existence have meaning?  If there is no God and thus no meaning to life beyond money and  pleasure and power, why not commit suicide?
Jacques Maritain (1882-1973) and his wife Raisa (1883-1960) were philosophy students in Paris learning the materialistic doctrines of the day and concluded that life has no meaning.  They were considering suicide when they met Leon Bloy who introduced them to Catholic Christianity.  That was truly a life-saving event for them.

The argument from Design:  Anthony Flew, (died April 8, 2010) was an English philosopher in the field of the philosophy of religion.
A notorious atheist most of his life, he was caught up in the problem of evil beyond that caused by personal sin.  In 2004 at age 81, he announced that he was now a believer in deism and claimed that Thomas Jefferson was a fellow deist.
He gave two reasons for his rejection of atheism.
1) DNA research “has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce life, that intelligence must have been involved.”
2) Inconsistencies in the Darwinian account of evolution (NY Times, 2010/04/17).  That is, a completely materialistic approach to evolution as contrasted with a theistic guided evolution is simply inadequate to deal with the real world.

The approach of logical reasoning.  St. Thomas Aquinas developed the Five Ways of coming to the conviction that God exists.  You can search them on the internet.
Here is one sentence from the Second Way concerning causality:
“There is no case known (neither is it, indeed, possible) in which a thing is found to be the efficient cause of itself; for so it would be prior to itself, which is impossible.”   Very briefly, nothing comes from nothing.  We are here.  Someone got us started.  That Being we call God.
This Second Way is probably the easiest to understand because it starts with you and me and all of us.  I don’t need any education to realize that I am not the reason for my own existence.  I was born from my mother, and no matter how far back you can imagine, you bump up against the reality that someone had to start the chain.  In the language of philosophy that Being is the First Cause.

Forms of belief in God.  As former atheist Anthony Flew showed, there is more than one form of belief in God.  Is God just the great Watchmaker who designed and created the universe and takes no active interest in it, or is God very much more?

     Deism is belief in a God who created the universe and then left it alone except to energize it.  God is the first cause and the sustaining cause of the universe.  Period.
     Theism is belief in a God who not only created the universe but guides it and even intervenes in it.
     Polytheism is belief in many gods—a god for war and a god for peace, a god for good weather, a god for health, etc.  This is common in the ancient pagan religions.

Judeo-Christian theism is belief in the One God who is not only our Creator but who actually loves each individual man and woman, not just “mankind,” and Who wants us to love Him.  Furthermore, this One God has intervened in human affairs as told in the Judeo-Christian history.
Deism or the God of Revelation?
     As a Catholic believer, I believe that God loves his entire creation. I believe that God loves you and me and each one of us and that he has revealed his plan for our eternal happiness.  I believe that His commandments are from His love and are for our good, not His.
I believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God.  I accept the first 11 chapters of Genesis as parable-like accounts that reveal extremely important truths about creation and our relationship with our Creator, similar to the parables of Jesus.
I believe that God entered human history with the call of Abram whose name He changed to Abraham as a sign of the Covenant.
I believe that Jesus worked true miracles like those more recently worked at Lourdes.
I believe that Jesus is true God and true Man, the Christ, the Messiah foretold by the prophets in the Church of the Old Covenant.  In turn, the Lord Jesus founded the Church of the New Covenant upon Simon, son of John.  Just as God had changed the name of Abram to Abraham, so also the Lord Jesus changed the name of Simon to Peter (rock) as a sign of headship in the New Covenant.

Why believe what the Catholic Church teaches?
At the Last Supper Jesus promised three times  that the Holy Spirit would guide the Apostles and their successors into the fullness of the truth:
“The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your mind whatever I have said to you” (John 14:26; see also John 15:26; 16:12-15).

I believe that Jesus keeps his promises.
Why believe in Jesus?
     I believe that Jesus is worthy of belief because of his resurrection from the dead.  That is not true about any other religious leader.  St. Paul was emphatic: “…and if Christ has not risen, vain then is our preaching, vain too is your faith (1 Cor 15: 12-19.)  The apostles—ordinary folks, not dreamers or religious fanatics—went to their deaths witnessing that they had seen and eaten with the Resurrected Christ.
It is vitally important to realize in our hearts that God really does love us and that His commandments are for our good.  Then we will want to love Him in return and say “Amen” to the Last Supper  words of Jesus, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

Replies to two common questions.
     Conflict between the Catholic faith and science?  Not true.  The Catholic Church founded most of the ancient European universities.  A list of Catholic scientists would be very long indeed.  For example, the pasteurization of milk is named after its developer, Catholic scientist Louis Pasteur (1822-1895).  There is no contradiction between the Catholic Faith and true science.
     Moral evils by churchmen?  Of course.  Ordination does not eliminate free will and temptations.  For what the Faith looks like in practice, look at the lives of the recognized saints and also the millions of Catholics who do practice what the Church teaches.

The content above was produced for a brochure initially for prison inmates who asked me to help them respond to attacks on their faith.  It probably has much wider applicability.  To be continued next week.
John F. Kippley, © 2017
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