Saint of the Month: Ignatius Loyola

Birth: 1491

Death: 1556

Feast Day: July 31

Patron: Spiritual Retreats and Exercises

Info: Ignatius was born in Spain to a noble family and was the youngest of thirteen children.  He joined the military. It was while recovering from a leg wound that he read the Bible and became impressed not only by Jesus, but those who followed Him.

There are two things that Ignatius Loyola is known for. One is founding the Jesuits order in 1534 at the age of 45.  Other founding members included St. Francis Xavier and Peter Favre. The Jesuits (also known as the Society of Jesus) did not adopt their name until 1537, when Loyola became ordained as a priest.  It was approved by Pope Paul III in 1540. The Jesuits are now a worldwide organization.

His second noteworthy item was his writing of Spiritual Exercises, which he wrote while on retreat most likely in the year 1522 or 1523. These Exercises are practiced by meditating on sacred mysteries. These exercises are still practiced today by priests and those on retreats.

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Harry Potter and the Christian Muggle Part 1: The Sorcerer’s Stone

J.K. Rowling is a Christian writer, but you wouldn’t know it from the way a good portion of parents and the Christian media treat her. To them, Rowling is promoting witchcraft. And you know what? They obviously haven’t read the books, as far as I’m concerned.  They just see the word “witch” several times and boom! “Witchcraft!” (Note: I know two pagans personally, and they can attest that their religion is NOTHING like what you see in these books)

Well, I’m going to do something different.  Welcome to this project. I am going to analyze Harry Potter and show you just how Christian I think it actually is.

Oh, and a word of warning:

First, let’s look at Rowling herself. Is she Christian? Actually, yes. Rowling herself has said in an interview:
“I believe in God, not magic.” In fact, Rowling initially was afraid that if people were aware of her Christian faith, she would give away too much of what’s coming in the series. “If I talk too freely about that,” she told a Canadian reporter, “I think the intelligent reader – whether ten [years old] or sixty – will be able to guess what is coming in the books” (Michael Nelson, “Fantasia: The Gospel According to C.S. Lewis”, The American Prospect, vol. 13, no. 4, February 25, 2002) Besides, witchcraft in Harry Potter is hardly even similar to real life Wiccans.  No real Wiccan goes around flying on broomsticks, playing Quidditch, or casting spells. In reality, the magic in these books is more like what you see in C.S. Lewis’s Narnia or your average Grimm’s Fairy Tale.  I think the main problem is, when people think of Christian fiction, they think of books about the Amish or similarly boring stuff.  (my opinion of the Amish books may differ from yours) They don’t realize that writers like Flannery O’Connor and Graham Greene didn’t write anything like what Wanda Brunsetter or Beverly Lewis write. (and in my opinion, O’ Connor and Greene’s books are way more interesting.) Oh, and those of you who say C.S. Lewis or Tolkien are good alternatives, they don’t even mention or quote the Bible in their fiction books (Lewis saved that for his nonfiction). Where is it written in Christian doctrine that you must only write “Christian” media if you are a writer?

So, is there Christianity in Harry Potter? Yes, most definitely.  Right in the first chapter of The Sorcerer’s Stone, we’re told his parents sacrificed themselves when Voldemort killed them. According to Jesus, this is the greatest love–to lay down your life for those you love.

In addition, there is Dumbledore, one of my favorite characters.  What I like about him is his eccentric personality and courage. Everyone else in the books won’t even refer to Voldemort by name. Instead they call him “You-Know-Who.” Dumbledore won’t stand for any of that. He wants to show Voldemort that he is not afraid of him, so he defiantly says his name.  How does this coincide with Christianity? We’re supposed to be fearless against evil. In fact, Satan’s already lost! In Genesis, God tells Satan that Eve’s offspring (foreshadowing Jesus) will crush his head (Gen 3:16). Furthermore, in Paul’s letter to the Philippians, we learn that even Satan has to kneel before God.

For my final item, one of my all-time favorite moments is when Harry Potter discovers the Mirror of Esired. The Mirror shows whoever looks into it their deepest desire.  Ron Weasley sees himself winning the Quidditch cup, and Harry sees himself reunited with his dead parents.  Dumbledore advises him to give up on the mirror, lest his desires drive him mad.  In Christianity, we believe that giving into our desires rather than God’s distracts you from His purpose.  I think this is Rowling’s way of showing how wrong being selfish is.

These are only for book 1. Next month, I will cover The Chamber of Secrets.

 

One Faith, Many Paths: Nicklas Otterdahl-Jensen

For this time around, I chose to interview someone all the way from Norway. So, here’s my first international interview!

1. How and Why are you a Christian?

I am a christian because of experience, essentially, possibly due to charity as well. I was a very young radical atheist and thinker when I was really young, always a bit socially alienated sure, as well as introverted, yet clever as a child. I was easily the most anti-religious person of my class during child school, and in that sense, the most spiritually poor. This changed with experience on the inside, coupled with conscience, and a certain feeling of knowing what is right, that lead me gradually to become a christian. Essentially I try to figure it as God’s love of the poor, that I was granted such mercy and ability to know. Whereas I had no such nature before. To answer why I am a christian currently? Well, I might not be a good christian in all honesty, but in an odd way that allows me greater outreach to those who are not Christian, so it may carry some reason as well.

2. Which denomination are you?

I have none, raised mostly in protestant churches, though, I agree generally more with the Angelican point of view which try to reconcile the core points of all 3 major paths. I find it fascinating and presume to learn rather than presume to know.

3. Favorite Bible verse? Why?

Gen. 50:20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. (Joseph speaking to his brothers who were going to murder him but instead sold him into slavery) 

It essentially shows how God can turn that which is evil, into something which serves good. The devil must have thought it a grand victory when Christ was crucified, little would he know that the path was now clear for the salvation of man.

4. Favorite Biblical figure besides Jesus? Why?

Honestly? I’d say Paul. Who reconciled a strong faith with also the human humility a great person would have. He wept at the very thought of people going to hell. I mean I love Peter who’s more or less the definition of a repenting sinner, but whereas Peter had all human elements within him and with time reached greatness, Paul had all the elements of greatness within him, and with time reached a grand sympathy.

5. What is your current profession?

Creative digital artist.

6. Tell me a little about your childhood?

Other than what’s already been said I would say my childhood overall was kind of crappy, but at least it was worthwhile.

7. What is Christianity like in Norway? How different is it from US?

The better question would be if Norway knew what Christianity was at all. In every way, sense and whatnot it is different, some for the better, but probably most for the worse. It’s a nice place, though.

Film Freak: That’s What I Am

Studio: WWE/Samuel Goldwyn Films

Rating: PG

My Rating: 9/10

Running Time: 101 minutes

Summary: Set in the 1960’s and based on true events. Andrew is a student who is paired with a geeky, tall student named Stanley, who is often picked on by bullies. Through Stanley and a scandal involving their homeroom teacher, Andrew slowly learns to stand up for himself and others.

Review: The WWE is no stranger to charity.  Their superstars are involved in the Make-A-Wish Foundation.  In 2011, WWE started a campaign against bullying called Be a Star, which this film started. I  thought the movie did a great job of confronting the issue. Andrew was an excellent narrator and we also see some good character develop.

I thought Stanley was also a great character. You could see him as someone who wanted respect without stooping to the level of those bullying him or others. I also liked their teacher, played by Ed Harris. (you might remember him as Mr. Holland in Mr. Holland’s Opus.)

If I were to nitpick, my main problem is the rating.  Because the teacher is accused of being gay, I really felt the movie deserved a PG-13 rating. I don’t think children younger than that are ready for that topic.  Granted, the movie is somewhat ambiguous about whether the teacher actually is gay, but the issue is still addressed.  Other than that, I feel this movie is well done and I recommend it.

 

 

 

Saint of the Month: Maria Goretti

Born: October 16, 1890

Died: July 6. 1920

Feast Day: July 6

Patron of: Rape Victims

Maria Goretti is one of the youngest martyrs in Catholicism. She was strongly devoted to God and was the daughter of a farmworker near Anzio, Italy.  When she was 12 years old, she was raped by Alexander Serenelli, who was the son of her father’s partner, who lived with her family.  When she refused his advances, Serenelli stabbed Maria to death.

Now, you may think that is the end of the story.  But years later, Serenelli received a vision from Maria, saying taht she forgave him for his crime. Because of this vision, Serenelli reformed his life.

To me, Alexander’s reformation is a true miracle.  I remember being told by a professor that rape was the worst thing you can do to a person, and I agree. I don’t believe that the victim is ever  at fault.  No one “asks” for rape by how they dress or their actions. I have heard people who’ve been raped say they feel vulnerable and that they have difficulty moving past it.  That is why I think Maria can be a role model.  Forgiving those who have harmed us can be difficult, but Jesus called us to love everyone, even our enemies. Loving those who love us back is easy, as He said. Yet when Jesus was mocked, scourged, and crucified, he did not retaliate. Now, does this mean we should not defend ourselves? Hardly. Non-violent self-defense is permitted and expected. Loving everyone is a challenge, but our reward is great.

Why I Am A Christian

By now, you’ve probably noticed I’m unashamed of my Christianity.  It’s time I explained why.

I’m what you call a “cradle Catholic”. It means I was born into my faith. But that doesn’t mean I’ve never doubted or wavered.  If your faith is never tested, it never truly grows.

To be honest, during my teen years, I began to question my faith.  I realized that being a Christian only to keep out of Hell was incorrect. I’d also heard of all the horrible things we Christians have done, like the Inquisition. But I started reading about the saints, I realized a reason to be Christian. If Christianity had inspired so many people to become heroic, it can’t be that bad.  I also realized I owe a debt to Jesus. He did a lot to save me.

Now, I’m not about to tell you that you should a Christian too.  I know I can give you all sorts of reasons, but in the end, it’s not me. I’m just opening the door. God does the rest.

Now I know what some of the arguments are. I will offer some rebuttals.

1. How can I profess a religion that is responsible for bloodshed? Atheists aren’t so pure either.  Allow me to quote Answering Atheism: If Christians have to answer for the Inquisition, Atheists have to answer for Stalin.  Evil is part of human nature. Christianity has nothing to do with it. Everyone who has ever done evil in God’s name has done it through misinterpretation.  Besides, Marxists like Stalin and Lenin believed in their convictions probably as strongly as any Christian. Christians have also done good in God’s name. Besides the saints, there are missionaries who have taught children how to read and write. We have lead charities. We oppose tyranny.

2. How can I believe something science has claimed doesn’t exist? Science can neither prove nor disprove God.  Science can only prove what is tangible.  I feel that religion is proof that there is something beyond the material world. Shakespeare said it best: “There are more things in Heaven and Hell than dreamt of in your philosophy.” If there weren’t anything beyond the physical realm, then why would so many religions exist.

These are my reasons for believing in God. I feel that it is my answer.

One Faith, Many Paths: Shahayla Shadburne

For this month, I am interviewing a good facebook friend of mine named Shahayla Shadburne, who I met on Christian Anime Alliance. She is an interesting person and I think you will enjoy this post.
1. Tell me about your childhood.

I was born on a reservation, I was the only white girl so I got a lot of good and bad attention. I had a pretty good childhood, chasing rez dogs, going on hikes with the guys, and following my 10 kittens wherever they went.

2. What do your parents do?

My parents are the head of a ministry that writes discipleship materiel for Native Americans. They also teach bible studies, and at one point a youth ministry.

3. Why are you Christian?

3. I used to study all sorts of religions and Christianity is the only one that truly teaches Grace and Love. All other religions have a set of rules or practices that you MUST do, or you wont be happy, or go to an after live or so on, Christianity is the only one that I have come across that is clear that Humans can’t be perfect, we need to just give God our life and he will help us with the rest.

4. Favorite bible quote?

I have two,
“The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth.” Psalm 145:18

” I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go : I will guide thee with mine eye” Psalm 32:8

5. Favorite Biblical figure?

I have always loved Ruth, she is the picture of a strong, loving woman.

6. What do you want to do now that you’re out of High School?

I’m thinking of going into YWAM DTS training, or some sort of missions trip, and then going to college at Northwest university for intercultural studies.

7.You’ve told me you have friends who aren’t Christian? Any advice you would give to other Christians who want to reach out to other faiths?

Be a friend, sometimes its good to not preach all the time at them, but just be a good friend, if things come up that you don’t agree with, plainly tell them your opinion, but don’t be judgmental. Also I try to pray for opportunity to reach out, sometimes my friends will ask questions about Christianity.

8. You strike me as a very outspoken Christian. Is there any reason you do this?

Honesty is really important to me, I find that if I’m clear about what I think, things are open more for discussion and then I can learn about what others think and evaluate what I believe based on the bible.

9. Do you have any relations to any Native American tribes?

We have none but I have many family friends that are native American, and living with native Americans so much it kind of feels like I am one myself now.