Fortress of Reason

First of all, let me say that I am not an official spokesperson for the Roman Catholic Church. I tell this story because I feel it needs to be said, but it may contain inaccuracies.

Part I : French Revolution

In 1689, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque receives a vision of Jesus. Jesus reveals to St. Margaret that despite the love he has shown to men we only repay Him with ungratefulness and wickedness. He orders St. Margaret to ask the King of France to consecrate France to His sacred heart. The King Louis XIV ignores this order.

Painting of Jesus appearing to Saint Margaret Mary, Church of San Michele
Painting of Jesus appearing to Saint Margaret Mary, Church of San Michele by Giovanni Destefanis

Exactly a 100 years later the French Revolution breaks out. It is one of the deadliest revolutions in history. The aftermath of French Revolution was :

  1. Reign of Terror, murder and mayhem on the streets
  2. The Napoleonic wars severely depopulates France with a large number of people perishing in Napoleon’s thirst for power
  3. Catholic Church suffers major setbacks : it’s nuns and priests turned out, leaders killed or put in exile, it’s property seized and controlled by enemies
  4. There is an attempt to de-Christianize France

However, the effects were partially reversed in time. Some effects still remain to this day. Most important of these are “liberalism” and the  idea of replacing God with reason. See : The Cult of Reason.

It is believed that the King Louis XVI did consecrate France to the Sacred Heart of Jesus after he was arrested by revolutionaries, but it is wasn’t valid since he was no longer the King of France.

Part II: The events at La Salette

In 1846, in the French village of La Salette-Fallavaux, Mother Mary appears to two shepherd children : Mélanie Calvat and Maximin Giraud.

Our Lady at La Salette By Qfamily

Here is what She said :

France has corrupted the universe, one day it will be punished. The faith will die out in France: three quarters of France will not practice religion anymore, or almost no more, the other part will practice it without really practicing it. Then, after [that], nations will convert, the faith will be rekindled everywhere.

A great country in the north of Europe, now Protestant, will be converted; by the support of this country all the other nations of the world will be converted

I see that there are many versions of this text and some readings of these messages will lead you to consider the notion that there is nothing much to it. Be warned that interpreting these messages are difficult for the best of us, but at least we can see that half of this has already come true. If you look at religion in France today, only a quarter believe in God.

So now, the question is which is the great country to the north of Europe ?

Part III: Our Lady and Fátima

In 13 May 1917, three children ( among them Lúcia Santos ) in Fátima, Portugal reported a vision of Mother Mary.

Children of Fatima
Lúcia Santos (left) with her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto, 1917

The veracity of these visions have been declared worthy of belief by the Church. Here is a brief overview of the events that came out of this apparition :

  • The Lady revealed Three Secrets to St. Lúcia. Here is some text from the second secret :
  • The war is going to end: but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the Pontificate of Pope Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father. To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the Consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.

    To me it looks like the ‘war that is going to end’ is World War I and the other one that ‘breaks out during the Pontificate of Pope Pius XI’ is World War II.

 

  • Our Lady fulfills her promise, asking “for the consecration of Russia to Her Immaculate Heart, promising its conversion through this means and the hindering of the propagation of its errors
  • At Rianjo, Spain in August 1931, Our Lord communicated to Sister Lucia His dissatisfaction. Here is what He said :

Make it known to My ministers, given that they follow the example of the King of France in delaying the execution of My requests, they will follow him into misfortune. 

They did not wish to heed My request! Like the King of France they will repent of it, and they will do it, but it will be late. Russia will have already spread its errors in the world, provoking wars and persecutions against the Church. The Holy Father will have much to suffer.

  • Many consecrations of Russia are attempted  ( in 1942, 1952, 1964, 1982 ). St. Lúcia informs that none has fulfilled the conditions ( the conditions are that all bishops in union with the Pope and Russia must be specially mentioned )
  • In March 25, 1984, Pope John Paul II, “united with all the pastors of the Church in a particular bond whereby we constitute a body and a college,” consecrates “the whole world, especially the peoples for which by reason of their situation you have particular love and solicitude.” Both the Pope and Sr. Lucia initially seemed uncertain that the consecration has been fulfilled, but shortly thereafter Sr. Lucia tells the papal nuncio to Portugal that the Consecration is fulfilled.
  • May 13, 1984, An explosion at the Soviets’ Severomorsk Naval Base destroys two-thirds of all the missiles stockpiled for the Soviets’ Northern Fleet
  • 1991, Dissolution of Soviet Union

Technically Russia is to the north of Europe and technically the country is Protestant, in the sense that Orthodox Christians do not accept the authority of the Pope. Since the fall of Communism religion is returning to Russia.

Part IV: Why did I tell this story ?

Regardless of what you think about the interpretation of these events, what you have to accept that there are currently two major threats to our faith :

  • Replacing God with the State

This is mostly a Communist idea. We can see echoes of this idea in modern left wing and liberal movements. Since I went to a government college and grew up in a Communist influenced state, I know this is a bad idea already. I do not think governments are very good at their jobs. There may be good people in the government, but mostly it is an instrument used by people with power to take advantage of people without power. Incentive structures within the government are setup so that people get paid well even if they mistreat the people who have to deal with these bureaucrats.

  • Replacing God with Reason

This is the modern vision put forward by New Atheists. We are required by our professions to maintain and upgrade our capacity to reason, and for a long time, we have done so. We have built our minds into a Fortress of Reason, and this benefits us. Unfortunately, to maintain our relationship with God, it is upon this Fortress of Reason that we must commence our siege.

If you have to keep telling people how real you are, its probably because you’re fake

I would like to share with you something that happened to me when I was coming back from Bangalore yesterday. I was walking from Railway Station to the Bus Stand at Kottayam and while I was walking one guy who was telling fortunes stopped me and invited me to take a session with him. He insisted very much and made a huge fuss about not needing to pay anything that caught me by surprise. I went to talk to him and I found something interesting. Even though he initially said he didn’t want any money he asked for some money (amount of my choice) to be given. He said you can think of it as helping an old guy out and so I gave him 10 bucks 🙂 . Then he insisted that he be given money for a Meal (“Not a Biryani, an Ordinary one” 🙂 ). So I gave him 10 more to see where this was going. I have touched upon the advantages of forcing the price upon the other person before.

Now let me first of all say that I do believe that there can be extra ordinary stuff happening in this world that science cannot explain.

Some stuff he said was right. But they were too general to have impressed me.  Some of them were:

“Your hand says you are technical”

Well, I was wearing jeans and a shirt that people usually wear in technical field. I doubt if he would have made that statement if I was wearing more traditional attire.

“Three letters in name of mother in Malayalam.”

This was correct, but it was too general. If he had named the exact name of my mother, I would have been impressed.

Then there were some random statements:

“Looking at your forehead, you studied LLB. You just did not complete it by action.”

Erm… What?

“You will live till 85 years. Have 3 Kids”

Now, it was when he started trying to predict stuff that I caught his bullshit.

“You are living in a house, which is under construction.”

This was not correct. First of all, I am living in a flat in Bangalore, which is fully constructed, and I am living at my home in Kerala which is also fully constructed. When I informed he was incorrect he asked how many floors it was. I said one and he said that is what he meant. It will be reconstructed to add more floors. Well, then he should have said that shouldn’t he? At this point he correctly predicted that the house occupied a large piece of land, but define large? How large is big enough? Does he mean the length of the house is big or breadth? That statement would simply statistically have worked on a large number of people.

“Tell me a number greater than 7”

I said “2 00 000”

“Now think about a number between 1 and 5. Is it 3?”

When informed I thought of 1, he said he wanted a number not including the limits (?)

Now be very careful of the deception here. First he asked me a number greater than 7 and here I unfortunately gave away my intentions by saying a number that goes beyond what would usually be said. So he realized that I was going to test him and reduced my intervals to 1 – 5. If I had just said something like 10 he probably would have given me a longer interval. Also I think that first he asked me to tell him a random number to test how my mind works. He probably could have got some information that would have improved his chances of guessing my number correctly.

“Think of a flower. Is it Rose?”

Now here I was careful to think of an exotic flower. When I said no and told him the name of the flower, he emphasized he was correct in his guess and said something about colors. Here he really blew it. I don’t think he knew how many colors my choice of flower came in and quickly moved on to something else trying to invoke my Confirmation Bias.

Now here comes his masterpiece.

“You loved a girl, but the hearts never matched.

Some girl is watching your moves and she wants to make contact.

If I say her name will you happily pay me Rs 1000? Other boys like you would usually give 5000.”

I said “No” and he said “You do have the money, but it is set aside for something else”.

I said “No. I just don’t believe in all this”.

Now he was very careful to add more details and advice to his deception like “Do not tell anyone when you call her over the phone, exchange letters etc”.

Now look at the deception here. First he notices my unshaven chin, my loose clothing and takes a guess about my life that would have fit well with a lot of folks that dress like me: love failure. Many of my friends and cousins have joked this about me. Now, he adds hope into the equation by saying that all is not lost; some other girl is watching me, longing for me and wants to make contact. Then he asks for Rs 1000 for her name, but it’s OK, because others would already have happily given him Rs 5000. Ha!

He said that he knew I was not an atheist. Well, duh. I was wearing my rosary and it was visible through the top of my shirt.

Now when all this failed he tried to extract at least Rs 100 from me by using a Bible. He realized that he was in a Christian majority district and had a Bible ready for use when needed.

I probably came of as an easy prey when he saw me walking by: with my loose clothing, unbuttoned shirt, rosary, unshaven chin and everything.

He probably wasn’t expecting someone with least bit critical thinking.

Well, at the end of the day despite losing 20 bucks I learned two things

1. These kind of very smart deceptive people exist.

2. I am not conventional 🙂

The three temptations every man must face

I have been reading Mathew 4:1-11. Here I would like to write what I think about the whole thing. I am in no way authorized to interpret the  Bible so proceed with caution.

I feel strongly that the three temptations of Jesus are a depiction of the three powerful weapons that Satan possesses over us.

After 40 days of fasting in the desert Jesus was hungry.

1. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Here we see that the despite being the Son of God, Jesus was tempted on account of his human nature and weakness. Whence he was hungry and desperate the tempter asks him to commit a sin to escape his misery. Jesus says : ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’ and refutes the tempter.

2. Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

   “‘He will command his angels concerning you, 
   and they will lift you up in their hands, 
   so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’

Here Satan uses his powers of confusion and does not even hesitate the Scripture in the hope to cause Jesus to commit sin. This refers to false ideologies that can take control over our brain and cause us to transgress. But the solution is also clear : “Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” There is enough and more written in the Scripture to cause you to believe. If your  heart is pure and  free from ego, hatred and in search of truth as opposed to personal vendettas or  crusades you are destined to find the one and only Truth.

3. Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

Here Satan hopes that the Son of God would commit sin in the hope of attaining earthly pleasures. This is a huge advantage for Satan as he can promise us immediate pleasure and only path for us to take is focus our eyes on the prize and soldier on for delayed gratification.

Common elements in Religion

I have been doing some thinking recently on the major religions.

I find some commonalities with most of them.

The following are some of them. I mean this as a mere thought excersice and not as an attempt to offend anyone.

The religions under consideration are Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Jewism and Budhism.

1. Prophets

Every said religion teaches that there were a set of awesome people who did some awesome stuff.

For Budhism they are called “Buddha“s (Gauthama Buddha being the one who gave birth to ‘Budhism’, but he would be by no means be the last).

For Christianity, Jewism, Islam and Islam they are called ‘Prophets’.

2. Second coming

Every religion requires people to look forward to something.

For Jewism it is the coming of promised ‘Messiah’.

For Christianity and Islam it is the second coming of Jesus.

For Hinduism it is the tenth Avatar of Vishnu : ‘Kalki’.

Unfortunately, I do not know about Budhism.

3. Why you are screwed if you believe in the currently trendy religion.

When Jewism came into being, the dominant religion was paganism.

Hence Jews preached that anyone attributing Godly attributes to inanimate objects are screwed. Salvation rests with those who convert to Jewism.

When Christianity came into being, Jewism was the trendy religion.

They preached that the only name given under the Sun for salvation was ‘Jesus’. Hence everyone who does not believe in Christianity is screwed.

When Islam came into being, the trendy religion was Christianity.

Hence they preached that everyone who attribute Godly powers to human beings (Jesus) are screwed. Hence only way to salvation was convert to Islam.

No subsitute for Hinduism and Budhism.

Spiritual experience

What is the ultimate spiritual experience? I am dissapointed at the way most modern religions are taking shape. I know they are doing the best they can to convey a very tough message which can never be completely expressed in words. After all, Buddha said that the truth itself can never be “known”, only experienced. It does not help that there are many thieves and devils who walk amongst us, in pure human shape, devouring our faith. But that is no excuse for our lack of faith. On the Judgement Day if God asks :  “I had put on earth all that you needed to believe. Why did you not uncover them? Why did you never look for them?”, I cant fault him.

Some common mistakes I have found in attitudes are as follows :

God : A genie which came out of the bottle

  • “God cured me of my tumour”
  • “God cleared all my debts”
  • “God did so and so for me”

which quickly turns into

  • “Why God does not answer my prayers?”
  • “Why is God so cruel to me?”

Now I know the most common argument against this are the verses in the Bible written to say that so many people believed in Jesus and His disciples when they saw the miracles. But think about that for moment : Which miracle convinced Jesus Christ of the Truth? Do we try to be like Jesus Christ or his followers?

God as a police man

  • “God is Just. He will give me the fruit for my hard work”

which quickly turns into

  • “What good is all the religions of this world, if it cannot bring peace to this world, feed the hungry and end people’s suffering?”

and my personal favourite

  • “God will give him what he deserves”

Seriously, does he believe god to be his Gunda?

Spirituality must be something more than all this. But unfortunately, my search for answers only leads to more questions.

Marriage and Atheism

Why do some people find it very difficult to believe in God but find no problem in believing in stuff like marriage? Marriage should be the longest running con in the world. Is it because believing that marriage doesn’t exist means there is no point living now, or because for so many people emotions are more important than their intelligence? For so many people these are the same reasons for believing in God. Yet the ones who horrendously allege Faith to be a tomfoolery has no problem in believing in love.

I was recently called "lacking human values" for expressing these concerns. What I can’t understand is what my opinions about marriage has to do with my human values at all?