Thursday, November 24, 2011

New Low in Anti-Catholic "Humor": St. Thérèse of Lisieux as Hitler / John Bugay Tries to Justify it Based on Historic Anti-Semitism / Steve Hays' Rank Ignorance of the Biblical Scope of "Blasphemy" and Sophomoric Dismissal of Kittel's Lexicon

If you'd like to see the extremely offensive and blasphemous original image, posted by John Bugay, click here. Don't blame me if you make the mouse-click and view it and don't like what you see. You were forewarned.

[IMPORTANT NOTE (REMOVAL): as of 8:20 PM, 11-30-11, after an entire day defending vociferously this outrage, Bugay removed the Hitler mustache (though nothing else in his satire), under pressure from his pastor and others. Blog regular Paul Hoffer had contacted his pastor and provided contact info. for others to do so. Bugay's explanation appears on his blog post near the top, in all italics. It does not, however, contain any direct apology to Catholics: neither for the outlandish Hitler portrayal, nor absurd defenses of it all day long on his blog and mine, nor for the numerous other mockeries and insults remaining in the post, in his combox, and my combox. It's one thing to do something (the right thing) in obedience to authorities, but begrudgingly or under protest; quite another to sincerely change one's mind and heart, with a desire to make amends. I have objected to this in my combox:

How about an apology and a retraction, and explanation, after defending it all day, putting Catholics down en masse, as if it were the strangest thing in the world that we would have the slightest objection, and all your cronies doing the same? . . . show the true fruits of repentance . . . If you had a true change of heart, and now think it was wrong and never should have been done, then by all means let us know. We would respect that.
Nevertheless, this is a big step, and a positive development, even if a reluctant one by John, and I am happy to commend and thank him for it.  [second link]

Bugay had even mocked our outrage, saying it was fake: "I am amazed at the feigned outrage in the response to these images, for what is absolutely a minimal amount of photo enhancement . . ." This still remains in the post, right at the top. It's clearly an insult and shot at our honest reactions: hardly a loving attitude. I think he needs to go the whole way: not just the minimal amount to get the heat off of himself. The post continues to mock Catholics all over the place, and Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, and Blessed Pope John XXIII as well. I would contend that these things also violate the spirit of the Scripture and Francis Schaeffer quotes that he deemed sufficient to require removal of the Hitler garbage.

Second Note (12-6-11; one addition on 12-7-11):  I have been informed that now I am being blasted for keeping the image up. My policy is that I document error and derogatory bigotry, etc. unless there is a full retraction and renunciation: in which case I am happy to remove the documentation. As I explained in my note above, it is not clear to me (at all) that this is an instance of full repentance, because the fruits of that are not apparent.

I think there was probably some change of mind (per Bugay's disclaimer), though, if so, it was nowhere near adequate or sufficient, in accordance with the outrageousness of the act. We can only go by what we see, since we can't read hearts. That is what the "fruits of repentance" is about (Matt 3:8; 7:16-20; 12:33; 21:43; Lk 3:8-9; 6:43-44; 8:14-15; Gal 5:22; Heb 12:11). This is Christianity 0101.

It looks like Bugay simply removed it because he was told to by his pastor and others, not because it was inherently (rather self-evidently) outrageous and uncharitable. He had been vigorously defending it for days. He hasn't renounced anything else about it: all the accusations towards us, including supposed "feigned" outrage, or the mocking of Cardinal Newman or Pope John XXIII, or the prior refusal of charitable donations for his ailing wife, and wholesale mockery and insulting of those who would do so. He continued insulting my readers afterwards; calling us, e.g., "swine" and (again) a "rogue's gallery." He even has made a ridiculous, outlandish argument that he got the idea for the mustache from the shadow in the photo as it is on my blog.

Therefore, since his "removal" is not the same as a complete repentance and change of heart (since it shows no outward proof of those things), I keep it up, so as to document the anti-Catholic mentality. In order to remove the image and all the talk surrounding it, I would have to see a complete renunciation and fruits of a genuine change of heart. I don't see that at all. I see nothing except his doing what his pastor told him to do: the very bare minimum of charity extended towards us. It seems to me like he was "sorry that he got caught," and is covering his rear end: but little more. I made the plea above for him to go the whole way, but it was roundly ignored.

It is self-evidently ludicrous, furthermore, to make out (as another anti-Catholic is currently doing) that we are now mocking St. Therese because we didn't remove the mocking image. This person thinks (in some goofy alt-"logical" schema) that we (whom he calls "vipers") have expressed "bogus outrage" and that "No one who made a stink about it was really offended," and referred to "the entire episode you guys pretended to be upset about" (my italics). At the same time (a mere six sentences later!) he made the following utterly contradictory remark to blog regular Paul Hoffer: "I would agree with you and your friends that the picture was offensive." Which is it?  I guess it depends on whether it is an odd-numbered date or not, and on the barometric pressure (between sunrise and noon) and humidity (after midnight, but before the owls come out). But it's high comedy, whatever the view/anti-view/view of this singularly insightful heart- and mind-reading luminary is at any given time.

Unfortunately, targets of relentless bigotry and smear campaigns have to document what happens, lest people refuse to believe that such outrages occur at all (or don't learn from them). Hence, African-Americans have documented the sad history of racist stereotyping. Jews have shown how they were caricatured and mocked in Nazi Germany, to arouse hatred towards them (I've been to museums in the Detroit area that do both things).

Likewise, we Catholics (at least apologists like myself) must demonstrate at times (in the worst cases, at least) how our religion is contemptuously treated. If there were genuine repentance, then sure, I would take it down. I always do that if someone changes their mind. Failing that, there is little choice but to leave it up. Bugay continues to refuse to exhibit the genuine and obvious fruits of repentance: the most elementary exercises of the Christian faith after committing a serious sin.

There is no evidence whatever that Bugay feels any differently about the whole incident than he ever did. Otherwise, he would cease calling us "swine" and so forth. It is all of a piece: how he has behaved and talked. The same attitudes that produced the blasphemous "satire" are still evident. The tree is known by its fruits. If we start seeing radically different fruits from Bugay, then we'll talk seriously about complete removal. Thus far, he has spoken out of both sides of his mouth; at one point making a sweeping "apology," then when asked to clarify exactly what he was apologizing for, stating that he was retracting nothing. On 12-7-11, he reiterated his refusal to acknowledge that he has done anything wrong, in this entire sad sequence of events: "I have not been unkind to anyone through this. My conscience is clear." A person's behavior is interpreted in the context of, and in light of, his or her behavior in the immediate past.

Third "Update" Note (12-6-11): The latest charge coming from the usual suspects is that looking for genuine repentance and its fruits is retrograde "eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth" ethics. I say that it is our opponents who are being proponents of "cheap grace" (many Calvinists have decried this tendency in Protestantism today) and contending (if not by word then by action) that (biblical) repentance need not show any fruits or change of behavior. St. Paul taught quite otherwise:

1 Corinthians 5:4-5 in the name of the Lord Jesus on the man who has done such a thing. When you are assembled, and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, [5] you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

After the person repented, then Paul counseled that "you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him" (2 Cor 2:7-8).  Elsewhere Paul connects outward deeds as the fruit of true repentance: ". . . perform deeds worthy of their repentance" (Acts 26:20). Our Lord Jesus said, "Bear fruit that befits repentance" (Matt 3:8). And again: "repent and do the works you did at first" (Rev 2:5). Bugay has not, sadly, exhibited these fruits. He continues to act as before.]

* * * * *

[original post follows]

John Bugay posted this caricature of my blog at Cryablogue, complete with additional middle school toilet humor. It's an instant classic (in terms of documentation of anti-Catholic vitriol, contempt, and bigotry) and apparently considered funny as all get-out in these troglodyte circles. Notice how they leave Protestant C. S. Lewis unscathed (too bad he couldn't be changed into Mao or Stalin, or maybe Jerry Lewis or Jerry Lee Lewis: to follow the juvenile "humor"). Nice touch there . . .

Right-click on the photo and select "View Image" for a larger, full-screen version.

* * *

Bugay has now tried to justify his "satire":

I am amazed at the feigned outrage in the response to these images, for what is absolutely a minimal amount of photo enhancement, certainly in response to some not-so-good-natured ribbing, richly enhanced with exaggerations and enhancements of its own. (11-29-11)

Not only was there nothing excessive or wrong whatsoever in what he did, but he also has to pretend that our responses are "feigned." Then he went on (in my combox) to explain the complex ethical  rationale behind his garbage:

. . . be sure you understand the symbolic meaning of the artwork in question. . . . official Rome distances itself from Roman Catholic policy toward the Jews over the centuries. And my point simply is, so long as Roman Catholics make excuses and dismiss official Roman Catholic behavior over the centuries, every single Roman Catholic -- from the least to the greatest -- is tainted by this "excused" and unconfessed official Roman sin. (11-30-11)

Asked why St. Thérèse in particular should be held up for ridicule and ludicrously portrayed as Hitler, Bugay wrote:

Merely that she is tainted by Roman escapism, the same way the rest of you are. (11-30-11)

He later watered this down (slightly):

I am not attributing any guilt to her -- but when the organization is sullied, it reflects badly on all the members. (11-30-11

And later, in the combox below:

I suggest, in a visual way, that she, as a Roman Catholic, is tainted by (a) Rome's policy toward the Jews in the 19th century, and (b) by Rome's continuing failure to take any official responsibility at all -- shifting the blame to "her children".

I see. So "guilt by association" justifies drawing a Hitler mustache on a godly woman and a saint: implying that she has anything to do with a murderer of millions of people: one of the most wicked men to have ever lived.

I guess, then, that every Protestant today is "tainted" by the "excused" outrages and tortures and many thousands of murders / executions that have occurred under Protestant auspices: especially in England, where the Calvinists and Puritans in John's heritage flourished: producing, for example, The Westminster Confession that he and all Calvinists are so fond of. I have documented these horrors in great detail on my web page: Protestantism: Historic Persecution and Intolerance.

England, under Butcher King Henry VIII, Good Queen Bess and other monarchs was a place where a person could have his heart cut out while alive, his intestines slowly drawn out, other outrages not fit to describe in mixed company, done to him, and then arms and legs and heads cut off, simply for the "treasonous" crime of being a Catholic (remember the final scene in Braveheart?). Most folks familiar with European history know what the English did to the Irish for several centuries (I have Irish blood myself). See the gory details on the page above. Isn't it wonderful to hear both sides of the story for a change?

Bugay is fixated on the scandalous historic treatment of the Jews (which was quite as prevalent in Protestant countries: hence mostly Lutheran Germany hosted the Holocaust). I don't know anyone who would deny it. Yet why is it that he would dwell on sins of many hundreds of years ago, while there was tremendous heroism during the Nazi Holocaust within the last seventy years? It is estimated that Pope Pius XII saved some 800,000 Jews: more than any other organization. I have collected many papers about this:

Hitler's Pope? (Donald Devine)

Blaming the Wartime Pope (Kenneth Woodward)

Nazi Policy and the Catholic Church (Karol Jozef Gajewski)

Pope Pius XII and the Jews (Margherita Marchione)

Pope Pius XI [not Pius XII] and the Nazis (Jimmy Akin)

Was Hitler a Christian? (Answers in Action)

Bugay carps in the revised version of his outrageous post:

But Roman Apologists will make every excuse to maintain Roman infallibility, while excusing 'the Church' for any and every one of its officially egregious behaviors over the centuries. Roman Catholic evasiveness is truly staggering.

Just as he lied about me recently, implying that I had never dealt with Orthodox arguments against the papacy (what a joke!); now he is doing it again (insofar as I am an apologist, and his present target): insinuating that I have never dealt with this. But I have, long since (more than three years ago):

Anti-Semitism in the Church Fathers and Historically Among Catholics: Resources and Recent Catholic "Institutional Repentance"

So much for my own "evasiveness". Does this mean I am spared from having a Hitler mustache now, because I freely admit that Catholics (like every other group of sinful human beings) have sinned terribly in the past?

Bugay also seemed at first to be ridiculously denying that in this "satire" St. Thérèse  was supposed to look like Hitler (though it was always possible that he was just playing around, as he is prone to do, and as he now has confirmed):
. . . please note that it is C.S. Lewis, a famous teacher, who is threatening to crack Dave's knuckles with a ruler". Lewis is the one with the open mouth. St. Therese's mouth is obviously closed. You certainly don't know how to interpret satire.

And Paul Hoffer, how dare you accuse me of such a truly blasphemous and abominable behavior as to "draw a Hitler moustache". That's a ridiculous assertion. All that I did was to darken the shadow under her nose -- which naturally exists in the existing photo! (11-30-11)

One "Mr. Fosi" appeared to agree with the denial:

John has denied that charge, so I don't grant that he did draw a Hitler mustache on the pic. (11-30-11)

But Bugay then freely admitted it was supposed to look like Hitler. Brian wrote in the combox below:

It's bad form to draw a Hitler mustache on St. Therese.

Bugay replied:

Brian, I agree. It's bad form. I am "using an absurd example to communicate something that is absurd".

Later Bugay explained on my blog:

This was obviously a "tongue in cheek" comment: . . . There is a scholastic difference between "drawing" and using the burn tool in photoshop. But you'll just trumpet it, to be able to trumpet something. Doesn't matter if you're accurate about it.
And later at Cryablogue:

It was an attempt at humor in the midst of this discussion, an attempt to trade on the amphiboly between "drawing a moustache" and "darkening a shadow" which naturally exists using a photoshop tool.  (11-30-11)

And again in my combox below:

It wasn't a "denial that it was a Hitler mustache" It was a denial of the method -- which I thought to be a trade on words which I thought could possibly lighten the mood. It was a trade on the methods "drawing" vs "using a photoshop tool".

Yes, the intention in both cases was to put a Hitler mustache there. No, I do not think anyone is a moron. Yes, it is in bad taste. No it is not blasphemy. Yes, the bad taste was intended to illustrate bad taste in other contexts, specifically those perpetrated here and in official Rome.

But despite all, Mr. Fosi was still giving the line that John had no intention to make it look like Hitler (replying to Paul):

You are still saying there is one. It looks pretty similar to the way it looks on Dave's blog header. It may be sketchy but I'm going with John's denial on this one.

Fellow anti-Catholic Mr. Fosi thought it was a denial (since he reiterated this twice); yet if we do the same thing, we don't care about truth or accuracy. Fosi can make the mistake and that's fine, because he's an anti-Catholic. But if we do (and who knows when Bugay is serious or not? His so-called "serious" work is as ridiculous as his farce), we are morons. In any event, if we take John at his present word that it is what we all thought it was (a Hitler mustache), then above he is joking around about his blasphemy, thinking it is the most lighthearted thing in the world (and Fosi was quite serious and misinterpreted what Bugay says was "obvious"). It's yet another instance of Bugay calling good evil. This is becoming a big theme with him.

Paul Hoffer has described the defamation as "blasphemous." Steve Hays (webmaster of the site where this appeared) objected, stating:

His satire would only be blasphemous if it were directed at God (specifically, the one true God). It isn't possible to blaspheme mere men and women. Your complaint reflects Catholic idolatry. (11-30-11)

In stating this, he exhibits his massive ignorance of how the Greek words blaspheemeo [βλασφημέω](Strong's word #987), blaspheemia [βλασφημία] (#988), and blaspheemos [βλάσφημος] (#989) are used in Holy Scripture. They are often applied to men or angels. Hence Kittel's Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (one-volume) states (p. 107):

It may be directly against God . . . or angelic beings (Jude 8-10; 2 Pet. 2:10-12). . . .

Persecuting Christians is also blasphemy (1 Tim. 1:13). The community has to suffer blasphemy (Rev. 2:9; 1 Cor. 4:13; 1 Pet. 4:4). Opposition to Paul's message is necessarily blasphemy (Acts 13:45 [+ 18:6]) because it attacks its basic content.

. . . A bad action is blasphemy either because it resists God's will or beings Christianity into disrepute (1 Tim. 6:1; Jms. 2:7; Rom. 2:24; Tit. 2:5).

Kittel's Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (ten-volume set) elaborates:

3. But the Christian, too, is in danger of giving cause for blasphemy. Denial of Christ in persecution would be such. Hence Paul can say of his activity as a persecutor: αὐτοὺς ἠνάγκαζον βλασφημεῖν. Even in partaking of idol meats Christians in bondage could see blasphemy (1 C. 10:30), as distinct from Paul. Violation of the obligation of love even in such matters ὑμε͂ν τὸ ἀγαθόν (R. 14:16) could expose to scandal. False teaching is blasphemy when it perverts from the way of truth (2 Pt. 2:2; R. 3:8). The blasphemy does not have to find verbal expression. Any bad or unloving action can contain it, either because it resists the holy will of God or because it causes the enemies of Christianity to calumniate it (1 Tm. 6:1; Jm. 2:7; R. 2:24; Tt. 2:5). The basis is clearly set out in 2 Cl., 13, 2–4.

(Vol. 1: 1964- (G. Kittel, G. W. Bromiley and G. Friedrich, Ed.) (electronic ed.) (624). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans)

Likewise, The New Bible Dictionary (1962, "Blasphemy", p. 159):

God is blasphemed also in His representatives. So the word is used of Moses (Acts 6:11); Paul (Rom. 3:8; 1 Cor. 4:12; 10:30) . . . because these representatives embody the truth of God Himself (and our Lord in a unique way) an insulting word spoken against them and their teaching is really directed against the God in whose name they speak (so Mt. 10:10; Lk. 10:16). . . . 

The term is also used, in a weaker sense, of slanderous language addressed to men (e.g. Mk. 3:28; 7:22; Eph. 4:31; Col. 3:8; Tit. 3:2). Here the best translation is 'slander, abuse'.

Even immaterial things can be blasphemed, such as the "word of God" (Titus 2:5: "discredited" in RSV), "good" [acts] (Rom 14:16), "teaching" or "doctrine" (1 Tim 6:1), "the way of truth" (2 Pet 2:2), "matters of which they are ignorant" (2 Pet 2:12). Follow the Strong's word links for comprehensive documentation of usage.

Zondervan Dictionary of Bible Themes (#5800: "Blasphemy") also shows a wide application of blasphemy in the Bible:

God blasphemed indirectly

Rejecting his word and his servants blasphemes God Ne 9:26 See also 2Ch 36:16; Ps 107:11; Isa 5:24

Defiling sacred things blasphemes God Lev 22:1-2 See also Eze 20:27-28; 22:26; Mal 1:6-13

Despising the poor blasphemes God Pr 14:31 See also Am 2:7; Jas 2:5-7

Speaking against his people blasphemes God Zep 2:8-11; Ac 9:4-5 To persecute the church is to persecute Jesus Christ; Ac 26:9; 1Ti 1:13; Rev 2:9

Slandering celestial beings blasphemes God 2Pe 2:10-12; Jude 8-10

(M. H. Manser, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1999)

All of this, but Hays, Bugay, and our esteemed anti-Catholic Calvinist brethren are supposedly the masters of the Bible, and we Catholics, biblical illiterates. Hays doesn't even know the plain definition of a common biblical word. And so he says stupid, ignorant things about it. All we have to do is go to the Bible and Protestant Bible reference sources to refute him beyond all reply. Hays' answer to all this on his blog (the first sentence, within four minutes of my posting it there), was:

Needless to say, Kittel is notorious for its semantic fallacies, so Armstrong illustrates his massive ignorance of basic lexical semantics (e.g. James Barr). Put another way, Armstrong commits the word=concept fallacy. If you want to defend Kittel, that's your funeral. I'll send flowers.
BTW, this highlights one of Armstrong's chronic methodological fallacies. He will prooftext Catholic dogma by copy/pasting the occurrence of the same English word in a concordance.

I replied:

I'm happy to be in the company of hosts of Bible scholars who continue, amazingly enough, to cite Kittel, despite your searing wisdom, thus showing themselves to be miserable sufferers of (what was it?): "massive ignorance of basic lexical semantics." Right.

Helmut Koester wrote:

. . . the violent attacks of James Barr . . . are not really justifiable; decisive though they may be, his remarks are aimed at a few articles of the [TDNT] that are hardly convincing anyway . . .

(Paul and His World: Interpreting the New Testament in its Context, Fortress Press, 2007, p. 242, footnote 11)

Likewise, E. F. Harrison, editor of Baker's Dictionary of Theology, Wycliffe Bible Commentary, and many exegetical books of his own, and founding faculty member of Fuller Theological Seminary:

Almost universally, the value of this work has been cordially recognized. To be sure, it has had its critics, notably James Barr, who finds too much dependence on etymology, some unwarranted intermingling of philosophical-theological judgments with those which are linguistic, too much emphasis on words in isolation rather than consideration of the demands of context, as well as too great a readiness to move from word to concept and to put Hebrew and Greek concepts in contrast to one another. These and other objections point out dangers for those who work in the biblical languages as the basis for exegesis and biblical theology, but it is doubtful that Barr's strictures can be said to invalidate the Kittel method or render nugatory the solid results achieved by its use.

(Introduction to the New Testament, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1971, p. 57)

The very distinguished evangelical Bible scholar Marvin R. Wilson shows himself also to be guilty of "massive ignorance of basic lexical semantics" -- since he (oddly enough, given Hays' infallible pronouncements) offers a third critique of Barr's criticism of Kittel (after praising several aspects of it):

. . . Barr's position fails to be fully convincing. By downplaying any distinction between Greek and Hebrew manners of thinking, Barr does not take into adequate consideration such nonverbal aspects as the historical, cultural, and social-psychological setting from which the respective thought derives. Furthermore, he gives the impression that one may translate from one language to another without any major loss. This is not necessarily the case, however, for words may have a particular cultural and historical development within their own language.

(Our Father Abraham: Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1989, p. 7)

Frederick W. Danker notes other relevant scholarly considerations:

Editor Friedrich accepted the rebuke [from Barr] and vols. 5 (1954) through 10 (1978) reflect more acquaintance with philological realities. David Hill heeded some of Barr's admonition but tilted in the direction of TWNT in Greek Words with Hebrew Meanings: Studies in the Semantics of Soteriological Terms (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1967).

(Multipurpose Tools for Bible Study, Fortress Press, revised edition of 2003, p. 121)

Darrell L. Bock and Buist M. Fanning state that Kittel, notwithstanding Barr's criticisms,:

. . . remains a gold mine of primary source information and should not be ignored.

(Interpreting the New Testament Text: Introduction to the Art and Science of Exegesis (Crossway, 2006, p. 158)

Noted theologian Thomas F. Torrance defended Kittel's methodology and was a critic of these sorts of criticisms from Barr:

. . . Torrance regarded Barr's thinking as a kind of "linguistic formalism" or nominalism that equates reality with linguistic usage . . . Torrance himself characterized James Barr's position . . . as an "outstanding example of . . . nominalist scepticism." . . . Torrance insists, against Barr, that we must not neglect "the fundamental principle of hermeneutics advanced by the Greek Fathers that we do not subject realities to the terms referring to them., but subject terms to the realities to which they refer . . ." (Torrance, Royal Priesthood, p. x) . . . He called Barr a "brilliant philologist whose ideas cannot be ignored, although they are often rather exaggerated" (Royal Priesthood, p. x). . . . Torrance asserted that Barr's approach mistakenly "treated language independently as something having significance in itself . . . and not primarily by reference to the realities beyond which they are meant to direct us" (Royal Priesthood, p. x).

(Paul D. Molnar, Thomas F. Torrance: Theologian of the Trinity, Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Co., 2009,  p. 333)

It's a nice sophistical (and altogether typical) attempt by Steve to deflect the discussion away from the biblical range of "blasphemy" onto methodological deficiencies (real or imagined) of Kittel. He can't escape his whopper, so he tries to obfuscate and get the spotlight off of his silly error and onto something else. It's classic tactics of sophistry.

If he says that Kittel defined words too rigidly (he certainly didn't here, as my citations show), then Steve simply comes in and says that the three Greek words can never possibly apply to human beings (or angels or things) in any sense of "blasphemy". So he is just as dogmatic, except it is from prior convictions that he brings to the Bible in order to eisegete it and bolster his errors of category and woodenly seeing idolatry under every rock.

True to form, Hays wrote another sophistical, obscurantist post, filled with non sequiturs, and never touching the heart of our dispute: whether blasphemy in Scripture applies to creatures and things, as well as to God. I showed that it clearly did. He can't refute that, so he switches the subject and obfuscates, like all good sophists do. Hays seems to think it is a bombshell to point out what I already did in this paper, above. So he writes:

Poor ol’ Dave needs a crash course on lexical semantics. Let’s give him a few pointers: . . .

3) In Biblical usage, “blasphemy” has a secular meaning, viz. slander, calumny, defamation.

4) In Biblical usage, “blasphemy” also as a religious meaning, viz. impiety, sacrilege.

I guess that's why (many hours ago, in a long day of disputes) I cited (above) the New Bible Dictionary, stating the same thing:

The term is also used, in a weaker sense, of slanderous language addressed to men (e.g. Mk. 3:28; 7:22; Eph. 4:31; Col. 3:8; Tit. 3:2). Here the best translation is 'slander, abuse'.

What he neglects to see, however, is that blasphemy can apply to people and even objects, precisely because of their connection to God, or as His representatives.  His extreme anti-Catholic Calvinist either/or mentality won't allow him to see that (he collapses it into inherent idolatry). Earlier today he denied that this was the case. But it's simply not presented that way (according to his opinion) in the Bible. Because I showed him that and he had no ready answer, he started attacking Kittel as a source (attempting to poison the well), and I had to spend time showing how his is not everyone's opinion, by any stretch. I consider what the actual linguists and Bible scholars say about it: not what an unpublished, wannabe-scholar teaching assistant like Hays dogmatically bloviates on and on about.

Bugay summarized on Cryablogue all of this sort of scholarly counter-evidence to Hays' claims:

Rhetoric, Dave. Unlike at your hovel, we have standards here.

Bugay then deleted the lengthy E. F. Harrison citation above, and turned off the comments before I could post the Danker citation. Too much refutation of Hays' inanities, I guess . . . These are the heights and absurdity that these anti-Catholics will scale, in order to avoid admitting that they were dead-wrong about the meaning and range of "blasphemy" in Holy Scripture.

* * * 

It occurred to me that there is a huge double standard here in terms of what an anti-Catholic can do to a photo of a Catholic, and what a Catholic can do. Note how there are loud complaints from our anti-Catholic friends now about how our disgust at this juvenile display is altogether excessive, even "feigned" -- according to Bugay. How dare we complain that a saint (indeed one of the holiest of all time) was made to look like Hitler!!! Yet if we look at how anti-Catholics typically respond to any satire or humor, no matter how harmless, they yell and squawk louder than a stuck pig, and for precious little reason. The classic example is James White. I merely stretched a photo of him (in the late 90s), and he nearly imploded with prideful, bombastic-ego pique. Here it is. Note how terribly outrageous and disrespectful this is. Can you think of any possible thing more insulting than this?:

You would have thought the sky was falling down, according to Bishop White. And so he writes:

He has years of history in posting distorted pictures of me, cartoons, . . . In some ways it is simply pitiful, in others shameful. (7-12-07)

I had some harmless fun with other photos: making one look like a negative, another a weird yellow color, some take-offs of his stuff, etc.:

But the anti-Catholic ego can't take any of that. At the same time, White's professional caricaturist has done two satirical drawings of me, complete with many lies (one / two). Eric Svendsen (formerly very active and prominent anti-Catholic online) did a National Enquirer satire of me that had a child growing out of my chest and a supposed connection with Holocaust deniers (scroll down to bottom right). At one time an entire fake blog, supposedly my own, was put up: literally filled with slanders and mockery. That person was an anonymous coward  and has never been discovered. White's artist also portrayed Patrick Madrid being stoned for idolatry. Gene Bridges, an associate of Steve Hays, had a field day, seriously comparing me to dictators like Castro and the tyrant in North Korea (complete with photographs).

All of that is fine and dandy, yet I simply stretch out a photo of James White or do other harmless, lighthearted stuff such as seen above, and he hits the roof and acts as if I have lost all credibility as an apologist altogether because I did such dastardly, wicked, utterly indefensible, unconscionable things. He can't take any criticism; he seems to have no comprehension of self-deprecating humor or laughing at oneself.

But if we object to outrageous and hyper-slanderous Hitler comparisons, Bugay condescendingly writes: "I am amazed at the feigned outrage in the response to these images, for what is absolutely a minimal amount of photo enhancement, . . ." and "You all really should be concerned about other things." There is a double standard here as wide as the Grand Canyon.

* * *

Anti-Catholic TAO Compares Catholics Who Want to Help Pal John Bugay During His Financial Distress, to the King of Sodom (While John is Similar to Abraham and the Prophet Elisha); His Sophistical Bible Butchery and Eisegesis Exposed

This has to do with the sordid incident described in the post, John Bugay (Presbyterian Anti-Catholic Apologist) Refuses (and Returns) Charitable Donations from Catholics for His Wife's Serious Illness, Insults Donors as "Mockers" With Nefarious Motives, Etc.

The facts of the matter are easily summarized:

1. John Bugay's wife Bethany is suffering from an early manifestation of leukemia.
2. John has openly solicited funds on the Internet, explaining that his family's income has been reduced by some 40% as a result of her illness. Others (such as TAO himself) have advertised this, in order to solicit more contributions.

3. I posted on my blog, John's PayPal address that he provided, in order to raise more funds for his family. I  also cross-posted it on my Facebook page (over 3300 friends) and Twitter account (some 725 followers at the time),

4. I explained that I could particularly relate to his wife's plight since my brother Gerry (died in 1998) suffered from leukemia, and I was, in fact, his bone marrow donor.

5. Fellow apologist Devin Rose (as we later learned) sent an undisclosed amount to John and his wife. I had planned on sending $50, and only mentioned it because (as I stated):

If someone is trying to raise money and asking others to contribute, then it is reasonable to expect them to join in as well. And that is the reason I mention this (along with the pathetic response from John Bugay); otherwise I would have done it without at least revealing the amount.

6. John Bugay refused and returned Devin's donation and asked me to take down the links to his PayPal account, attacking our motivations, writing:

In the meantime, please take down the link to our PayPal account. One donation has come in from this bunch of mockers, and I’ve returned it. And I will return other donations if I can identify them from you or yours as well. . . .

Dave, I'm sorry about the loss of your brother, and the other tragedies in your family. But rather than allow such tragedies to exhort you to humility, your whole enterprise may be summed up with this verse: "God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get." I want to remain as far away from you as possible.

7. When pressed in a combox on my site, Bugay claimed that he did receive donations from Catholics: just not particularly wicked ones like myself and Devin Rose, or (by strong implication) anyone who follows my blog, or my writings in general:

I do "gratefully accept donations for behalf of my sick wife". Including from Roman Catholics. My sole issue is the vehicle here, and the ("not humble") boasting herewith. Dave Armstrong is going to boast. He will either be able to say, "Ha, look at how great I am, I gave John Bugay my last $50.00", or he will say, "The nerve, I offered to give John Bugay my last $50.00, and he turned it down". Either way he is going to boast. At least this way, I am not sullied by his boasting, and nor am I beholden to him in any way.

8. Accordingly, John went on to insult my entire readership in numerous ways, which I documented as a prime example of how an anti-Catholic Calvinist (not all Calvinists!) exercises his faith, with wicked judgments of the interior motivations of others, including (oftentimes, generally speaking) determinations that someone is unregenerate (hence, totally depraved, in Calvinist theology), or not among the elect (a presumption condemned by John Calvin himself). He described my readers (that's you!) in the following ways: "rogue's gallery," [hanging out on my blog is] "a sure sign of bad character," "bottom feeders . . . who can't deal with the truth," "mockers" [several times], "those of you with the seared consciences." The latter is an extreme judgment itself, drawn (presumably) from 1 Timothy 4:1-2.

9. John made sweeping apologies when pressed (though they barely seemed even serious, given the manner in which he presented them), but later said that he retracted nothing, and wouldn't specify  exactly what he was apologizing for, when I pressed him. He also refused to identify those that he thought had "seared consciences" when urged repeatedly to do so by Sean Patrick and myself. At that point I shut down the combox, because John was clearly playing and not being straightforward in his interactions with us. He wanted to make sweeping judgments, but lacked the courage of his convictions to apply them to individuals by name, or explain the rationale for the slanders. He proceeded to put up a post in order to continue the insults and aspersions on all of us, over on his own blog, Cryablogue.

Now, lo and behold, today I discovered a post (11-24-11) by the notorious anti-Catholic "Turretinfan" (always affectionately referred to on this blog as "TAO": The Anonymous One). Its title is referring to John Bugay: "Comparing My Brother to Abraham and Elisha." This is an altogether pathetic exercise in torturing the Bible into supposedly offering support for John's abominable, indefensible behavior. Here it is in its entirety (bolding his own, except for the Scripture passages, which I bolded):

One of my brethren recently has been criticized by a number of people because he did not accept one or more gifts [1].  There is a lot more that could be said about people whose pride is offended when their gifts are refused [2], but my brother's own attitude was the thing that caught my eye.  It reminded me of this:

Genesis 14:22-24
And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, that I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich: save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion. [3]

I suppose I could have thought instead of another gift refusal:

2 Kings 5:15-16  & 26-27
And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him: and he said, Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel: now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant. But he said, As the LORD liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none. And he urged him to take it; but he refused.
And he said unto him, Went not mine heart with thee, when the man turned again from his chariot to meet thee? Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and maidservants? The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever. And he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow. [4]

Is my brother Abraham or Elisha?  Obviously not. [5] His circumstances differ, as do the circumstances of his refusal. [6] That said, I think that only a Biblically illiterate person could think that there cannot be good reasons for refusing gifts. [7]

I shall comment on portions preceded by the bracketed (and blue) numbers:

[1] It was not solely a criticism that he refused a gift, as if no one can ever do such a thing for any reason, but rather, it also concerned the outrageous accusations and rationale that accompanied his refusal, and the extreme lack of charity and judgmentalism exhibited therein. By his presenting it the way he does, TAO eliminates one of the important considerations. But he has little concern for being fair to us, of course. His enterprise is determined to tear us down, no matter what is true or right. For the anti-Catholic, after all, Catholics must always be wrong, if they disagree with an anti-Catholic. It can't possibly be otherwise.

[2] This is, of course, a slanderous exercise in mind-reading. It has nothing to do with "pride" whatsoever, anymore than it had to do with an alleged "boastful" spirit of yours truly. It was an act of charity, for the reasons explained: my own experience with my brother, leading to special empathy; and Devin Rose's sincere desire to help. The refusal to accept these donations amounted to calling good, evil. Devin explained why he did it:

But know that I did not make it in mockery or cunning. We happen to have enough right now to help others with, and that includes Catholics, Protestants, non-Christians, whoever is in need. So I donated a small amount to help y'all. I understand that you think Catholicism is evil and so you didn't accept it. God bless. 

My good friend Paul Hoffer provided an excellent response to this madness in the combox of TAO's post (TAO "edited" it, but thankfully, more than enough remains to amply make the point):

Mr. Fan, cherry picking biblical verses to justify churlish behavior is beneath you. Abraham did not take anything from the king of Sodom as a reward because the previous chapter (13:2) showed that Abraham's material wealth came from God's blessing upon him not due to the beneficence of others. Elisha refused the proffered gift from Naaman because he wanted to demonstrate that God's grace is not something that can be bought. Mr. Bugay refused the kindness out of sinful pride, no more, no less. Thank goodness the Blessed Virgin Mary did not refuse the Gift God gave her.

TAO, utterly blind to the faults of his good buddy and comrade-in-arms, simply projected the faults he exhibits in droves, to Paul: "I see you continue to attribute the worst of motives to your theological adversaries. If you could read minds, your expression of your opinions here might have some weight. Since, of course, you don't, these sorts of posts by you just serve as a memorial to your character." Paul replied again:
I do not pretend to read minds. That said, I have no problem calling a spade a spade when such is obvious. Mr. Bugay's conduct was uncharitable-pure and simple. In the examples from Scripture that you gave, the offer of gifts were turned down, not because of some sort of discerning of the motives of the offeror but because the offerees were concerned that acceptance would have diminished the grace of God. Mr. Bugay did not state that as a concern. Rather, he argued that acceptance of the gifts would give his donors some sort of edge over him rather than attribute to them the possibility that the gifts were made out of kindness. Considering that he rejected gifts that were not meant for him, but for his wife, demonstrates an unchristian sort of selfishness, not towards his donors necessarily, but certainly towards his wife.

Let's take this a bit further, even if the donors had "bragged" about their donations, how does that affect Mr. Bugay? Doe the acceptance of money that was offered without strings give a donor some sort of shamanistic power over the donee? Of course not.

And what does the Scripture say on the matter? Does not Our Lord tell us at Luke 18:9-14 that if one give gifts and exalt himself for doing so, that Our Father in Heaven will cause that one to be humbled? Being gracious and generous when we are able to do so does not give us bragging or boasting rights since all things in truth come from a generous and loving God. The Word of God makes it clear that all that we have comes from God and we are only stewards of those gifts. It would be to the donor's shame, and not to the detriment of the donee if the donor were so crass to brag or boast about re-gifting something that Our Father in Heaven gave us in the first place.

I hope Mr. Bugay will change his mind and his heart and allow anyone who wishes to give to do so.

God bless!

[3] Comparing Catholics (or at least yours truly and my readers) to the king of Sodom, is (according to the warped sense in which TAO intended it) its own refutation. Note how this freely presupposes that we are utterly wicked and only deserving of God's judgment, just like Sodom and Gomorrah. Our acts of charity towards Protestants (even anti-Catholic ones who despise what we believe and detest us personally) are supposedly the equivalent of the king of Sodom offering a gift (for this is the analogy he attempts to draw).

But it's a false analogy, in any event, not applicable at all to the present scenario, even considered apart from the hostile anti-Catholic baggage eisegetically attached to it. As Paul Hoffer noted, Abraham had means already, as a wealthy man ("very rich": Gen 13:2).

Secondly, Abraham explains the refusal himself: so that no one would think that the king had made him rich, rather than God (Gen 12:2). That has nothing to do with John or his situation. It is no analogy whatever. John needs money to pay his bills at present. It's not at all like Abraham. Much as TAO would like to think, John is not nearly in the class of Abraham ("I knew Abraham. Abraham was a friend of mine. And John [half-smile], you are no Abraham"), let alone the prophet Elisha, even though TAO thinks both are quite apt comparisons. And yet we are the ones accused of massive spiritual pride and boastfulness . . .

Thirdly, it clearly is not a refusal in principle from Abraham: to not accept anything whatever from a wicked king -- not in its totality; otherwise, he would have absolutely refused any gift. But he did not do so, since he accepted food and other provisions for the men who accompanied him. This means that the analogy, insofar as it was a wicked man (us evil Catholics) trying to help the righteous man (the godly anti-Catholic Calvinists like John and TAO who so readily exhibit God's love), fails completely, since in order for it to hold, it would have to be total refusal in principle, based on the source (and Abraham's refusal as not that): based on the fact of the giver's wickedness (which was not the rationale Abraham himself provided).

Fourthly, there appears to have been a prior oath involved, on Abraham's part (which would be central in his refusal). The Eerdmans Bible Commentary explains:

His oath was probably sworn before Melchizedek. Vassals were customarily allowed to retain the spoil of battles fought for their suzerains, but it was the latter's prerogative to stipulate this in their treaties. The king of Sodom apparently sought to assume that role but Abraham rejected the relationship. Vassal treaties prohibited subordination to any other royal benefactors. Rejection of the king of Sodom's proposal was the consistent negative counterpart to Abram's positive oath of allegiance to Yahweh as his covenant Lord.

This, too, obviously has nothing to do with John's situation. He took no oath to refuse any assistance from Catholics. He has even stated now that he would accept money from Catholics: just not utterly wicked, boastful, arrogant ones like me and Devin Rose.

Therefore, it is a clear case of "Bible butchery" and eisegesis: for which TAO is frequently notorious. He assumes that he is such a profound exegete, yet he misses the very simplest and most important elements of the passage that he co-opts for infamous use: for a lost cause: justifying John Bugay's outrageous behavior. It's an absolutely classic, textbook example of how the Bible can be abused for just about any unjust or unworthy cause.

[4] The attempted analogy of Naaman the Syrian leper to John's situation fails for similar reasons: as completely inapplicable and irrelevant. First of all, Elisha the prophet bore Naaman no discernible ill will (as John does towards myself, and my readers). After all, he was the willing instrument of a miraculous cure of his leprosy (2 Kings 5:10, 14). If Elisha were "against" the man altogether he certainly would not have healed him, since we see that he caused his own unfaithful servant Gehazi to be afflicted with leprosy (5:26-27). Thus, it follows that he didn't reject his offer simply because he was an evil, wicked man.

Secondly, obviously TAO attributes to me and to my readers a deliberately low, ignominious status: equivalent to this person who was the captain of the army of Syria: Israel's sworn enemy. But of course, only a biblically illiterate person (to borrow TAO's phraseology) would be unaware that the northern kingdom of Israel (where Elisha preached), rebelled against King David's kingdom of Judah, and had uniformly wicked kings and was unfaithful to God's law from the start and in perpetuity. It was God's will, in fact, that Syria win in battle with Israel:

2 Kings 5:1 (RSV, as throughout) Na'aman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master and in high favor, because by him the LORD had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper. 

Thus Naaman was not altogether wicked, and is not presented as such. He is presented as a man with pride and flaws, but not as utterly depraved.

Thirdly, the refusal was not an absolute matter of principle, just as in Abraham's case (where he accepted gifts for his colleagues). Elisha, too, accepted gifts on occasion, as we see in the previous chapter:

2 Kings 4:42 A man came from Ba'al-shal'ishah, bringing the man of God bread of the first fruits, twenty loaves of barley, and fresh ears of grain in his sack. And Eli'sha said, "Give to the men, that they may eat."

Ba'al-shal'ishah may have even been a heathen center, connected with Baal (as the name implies); the text doesn't say (and Bible dictionaries offer little aid to learn anything further about it). But in any event, Elisha was not totally opposed to gifts, and his refusal is not said to be simply because it came from a foreigner and past military enemy.

Fourthly, the refusal in this particular instance was similar to Abraham's (and thus also has no analogy to John Bugay's situation whatever). The Eerdmans Bible Commentary states:

In a world of false prophets and wonder-workers, the true prophet of Yahweh could not afford to give the impression that he was living off his office, that he was prophesying for a morsel of bread or anything else. Neither could he give any indication that he was responsible for the ability to heal; this was the work of the Lord.

The renowned Jamieson, Fausset, Brown commentary concurs:

After the miraculous cure, Naaman returned to Elisha, to whom he acknowledged his full belief in the sole supremacy of the God of Israel and offered him a liberal reward. But to show that he was not actuated by the mercenary motives of the heathen priests and prophets, Elisha, though he accepted presents on other occasions ( 2 Kings 4:42 ), respectfully but firmly declined them on this, being desirous that the Syrians should see the piety of God's servants, and their superiority to all worldly and selfish motives in promoting the honor of God and the interests of true religion.

St. Paul reflects this same thinking, in refusing to give any impression that he was preaching for money (1 Cor 9:18: "that in my preaching I may make the gospel free of charge, not making full use of my right in the gospel"). But that was his choice and "reward": not an obligation for all, since he mentions his "right" and since, in the same passage, he makes an extended case for the just remuneration of workers in the kingdom of God (1 Cor 9:4-14).

Likewise, our Lord, in sending out His disciples to preach, tells them to take nothing (Mk 6:8; Lk 9:3), but does not require them to refuse offerings (implied in Lk 9:4, since they are staying at a house and obviously have to eat). Indeed Christ and His disciples were aided in tangible ways, as Scripture reports: 

Luke 8:1, 3 Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, preaching and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, . . . [3] and Joan'na, the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.

Clearly, none of this has any relation whatsoever to John Bugay's financial situation.  If God were providing his needs without the necessity to ask for help, he obviously wouldn't be soliciting online for funds. Therefore, his needs aren't met, and his refusal to accept our aid was not because of some high principle, as with Elisha, but due to his personal contempt of us and detestation for what he falsely, vainly believes to be our nefarious motives (which likely flow, I contend, from various false principles of the anti-Catholic distortion of Calvinism: itself wracked with many serious false teachings). Thus, there is no analogy here whatever.

[5] Then why entitle the paper, "Comparing My Brother to Abraham and Elisha" in the first place? Aren't titles supposed to directly represent the main theme in a paper? This is typical in anti-Catholic analyses also: talking out of both sides of one's mouth. TAO doesn't want to compare John Bugay to Abraham and Elisha, yet he does. He draws elaborate analogies (including charitably comparing Catholics to the king of Sodom), then partially renounces them later to cover his butt (to use a colloquialism). He's like the corrupt politician who will say one thing here and another contradictory utterance there, so he can cite his own words to either end later, according to expedience and cynical opportunity.

[6] They sure do: so much so that there is no analogy whatever, and TAO's attempt utterly fails, as just shown. These passage plainly have no bearing on the case at hand, and do not justify Bugay's outrageously uncharitable response and his classifying good acts and intentions as evil. Bugay fails a fundamental test of a mature Christian believer:

Isaiah 5:20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

Hebrews 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their faculties trained by practice to distinguish good from evil. 

And for my part, I am following the Pauline injunction:

Romans 14:16 So do not let your good be spoken of as evil.

[7] There are conceivable legitimate reasons (based on the Bible), speaking generally; of course. I deny that the present scenario is one of them, and I strongly deny that the Bible passages produced provide any analogy or rationale whatsoever for John's indefensible behavior. 

What else is new in anti-Catholic eisegesis: enlisted for the noble cause of slandering Catholic brethren in Christ and justifying indefensible uncharitable wickedness on their part: to actually mock and slander and dispute outright, the motivations of people who simply want to help a person experiencing  financial troubles brought on by his wife's leukemia? And all of this in the name of Christ?! Heaven forbid! If I didn't speak out vociferously against such despicable outrages of behavior I would be lax in my duty as a Christian apologist and teacher.

This is not Christian behavior; it's not right, and is in itself evil: ultimately orchestrated and cheered on by the devil himself. That doesn't make the persons doing and saying these things demons or utterly evil. I am simply referring to the wickedness of these particular acts. Unlike anti-Catholic Calvinists and their false doctrines of total depravity and a "sin nature," Catholics have no difficulty in distinguishing a person from good or bad acts that the person commits.

* * *

Here is TAO's entire reply (he doesn't get it, as always):

I see that a certain lay apologist (apparently eager to debate me) has posted a 3800+ word response to the brief article above. Ultimately, it seems he is forced to concede the point that there can be good reasons for refusing gifts. So, given that he concedes that point, it seems unnecessary for me to provide further reply.

Yes; it always takes far more words to refute lies and eisegesis: a lot more to refute any falsehood or lousy piece of logic than the relatively little amount of ink that it takes to spew them out. Someone could say, "you abuse your wife, cheat on your income taxes, and torture cats." That's exactly twelve words. But how many words does anyone think would be required to adequately refute all that?

It's the same here. TAO is a very clever sophist, who uses all sorts of argumentative techniques. He universally fails when dealing with Catholicism, but it still takes considerable work to expose his various polemical and rhetorical tactics. This was also an argument from analogy, which is more complex than many forms of argumentation in the first place. Unlike TAO, I actually did some in-depth, serious analysis of the biblical texts that he trotted out and eisegeted. That takes some ink, too.

So let TAO carp about word counts, and his "pupil" Bugay bellyache about how fast (four hours is hardly "lightning speed") and how much I write, and about cutting-and-pasting. That's fine. For my part, I will make reasoned arguments . . . Whether these guys grasp my reasoning or not is not my concern. I know they almost always won't, but they're not my intended audience, anyway.


St. Francis de Sales' Argument Against Total Depravity and for the Indefectibility of the Church, from the Psalms

God Judges Sodom and Gomorrah

Psalm 14:2-3 (RSV)

The LORD looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any that act wisely, that seek after God. [3] They have all gone astray, they are all alike corrupt; there is none that does good, no, not one. [cf. Ps 53:1-3; 143:2; Is 64:6-7; Rom 3:10-12]

Who knows not the complaint of David . . . — and who knows not on the other hand that there were many good people in his day? [see Ps 7:10; 11:2, 5, 7; 15:2-5; 18:23, 25-26; 24:4; 31:18; 32:11; 33:1; 34:17, 21; 36:10; 37:14, 16,  18, 21, 25, 28-32, 37, 39; 52:6; 55:22; 58:10-11; 64:4, 10; 68:3; 73:1; 75:10; 84:11; 92:12; 94:15; 97:11; 101:6; 107:42; 111:1; 112:2, 4-9; 118:20; 119:1, 10; 125:3-4; 140:13; 141:5; 142:7: “upright,” “good,” “righteous,” “blameless,” “pure”] These forms of speech are frequent, but we must not draw a particular conclusion about each individual. Further, — such things do not prove that faith had failed in the Church, nor that the Church was dead: for it does not follow that if a body is everywhere diseased it is therefore dead. Thus, without doubt, are to be understood all similar things which are found in the threats and rebukes of the Prophets. 
(The Catholic Controversy, 61-62)

I added the additional scriptural proofs in brackets and blue color, to bolster what St. Francis assumed as self-evident. Likewise, Isaiah states: "all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment . . . There is no one that calls upon thy name," (Is 64:6-7), yet makes frequent reference to the righteous, just as in the Psalms (1:17; 3:10; 26:7; 33:15; 38:3; 51:7; 56:1; 57:1-2, 12; 64:5). Isaiah 64:6-7 is typical Hebrew hyperbole. But Protestants, and especially Calvinists with their unbiblical notion of total depravity (not understanding the literary genre) interpret it and similar passages literally. In context, clearly it is not intended to be so. In the passage immediately before (Is 64:5), the prophet states: "Thou meetest him that joyfully works righteousness."


Hydrotherapeutic Spa, Part VI: Aromatherapy, Healing Oils, and Bath Salts

The web page Robert McDowell's Herbal Treatments gives a very helpful overview of aromatherapy:
Essential oils stimulates the powerful sense of smell. It is known that odors we smell have a significant impact on how we feel. In dealing with patients who have lost the sense of smell, doctors have found that a life without fragrance can lead to high incidence of psychiatric problems such as anxiety and depression. We have the capability to distinguish an amazing 10,000 different smells. It is believed that smells enter through cilia (the fine hairs lining the nose) to the limbic system, the part of the brain that controls our moods, emotions, memory and learning.

Studies with brain wave frequency has shown that smelling lavender increases alpha waves in the back of the head, which are associated with relaxation. Fragrance of Jasmine increases beta waves in the front of the head, which are associated with a more alert state.

Scientific studies have also shown that essential oils contain chemical components that can exert specific effects on the mind and body. Their chemistry is complex, but generally includes alcohols, esters, ketones, aldehydes.

Each essential oil contains as much as 100 chemical components, which together exert a strong effect on the whole person. Depending on which component is predominating in an oil, the oils act differently. For example, some oils are relaxing, some soothes you down, some relieves your pain, etc. Then there are oils such as lemon and lavender, which adapt to what your body needs, and adapt to that situation. (These are called "adaptogenic"). The mechanism in which these essential oils act on us is not very well understood. What is understood is that they affect our mind and emotions.

It has been well established that chicken soup is good for a cold (both historically and scientifically). Studies were conducted to find out whether the effect was due to the action of the hot steam on the lining of the nostrils or whether the aroma of the chicken soup has some thing to do with it. The results indicated that chicken soup was more effective than the steam, indicating the effectiveness of the aroma itself.
The article, "Aromatherapy: What Is It?," by Jane Buckle, Ph.D., R.N., from HerbalGram: The Journal of the American Botanical Council, 2003;57:50-56, provides a superb "introductory course" in aromatherapy [I've deleted the footnote numbers in the text].
The definition accepted in most aromatherapy schools is, "Aromatherapy is the therapeutic use of essential oils." Essential oils are defined as volatile parts of aromatic plants extracted by steam distillation or expression.

Although one of the lesser-known complementary therapies in the United States, aromatherapy has been accepted as part of nursing care in the United Kingdom. British nurses are insured by the Royal College of Nurses to use essential oils (both topically and inhaled) for improved patient care, provided their hospital approves and without a doctor's specific instructions. Further, some hospitals also allow non-nursing personnel to use essential oils. Aromatherapy is also used by nurses in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Germany, and Switzerland, and is becoming popular in the United States. More than 30 states allow the use of some complementary therapies (including aromatherapy) as a part of holistic nursing care.

. . . The confusion around what is, and what is not, aromatherapy may have occurred with the renaissance of aromatherapy in France and its export to England in the 1950s. French physicians used topical applications, ingestion, and inhalation, the method chosen according to its clinical appropriateness (e.g., inhalation for respiratory tract infections, or for psychological effect; ingestion for intestinal complaints; topical application for burns, skin, and muscular problems). These methods are clearly outlined in Aromatherapie (The Practice of Aromatherapy), a book first published in 1964 by Valnet, a French physician who used topical, oral, and inhaled applications of essential oils with his patients. Valnet documented the use of essential oils for wound healing and infection control. He wrote, "Essence of thyme [Thymus vulgaris L., Lamiaceae] destroyed the anthrax and bacillus and was a stronger antiseptic than phenol." . . .

Absorption of essential oil components through the skin

Jager et al showed that linalyl acetate and linalol, two components in essential oil of English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia Mill., Lamiaceae), were absorbed from a 2 percent dilution of English lavender in peanut oil through the abdominal skin of human subjects "within minutes" and detected in the blood plasma (ca. 10 ng/ml). The maximum level was attained at 20 minutes; even at 90 minutes, the two components could still be detected.

Fuchs et al demonstrated that (R)-(-)- carvone easily penetrated the skin of human subjects, producing a plasma concentration of 24—32 ng/ml after almost 30 minutes. Covering the skin produced a significantly higher effect. Twenty-five percent (R)-(-)- carvone in peanut oil was used. (R) carvone is an isomeric ketone found in caraway (Carum carvi L., Apiaceae). (L) carvone is found in spearmint (Mentha spicata L., Lamiaceae).

Wyers and Brodbeck demonstrated that 1,8 cineole was absorbed through the skin into the muscles. They found that when an applicator was used the absorption rate increased 320 percent.

In an email in June 2002, Buchbauer, who led much of the experimental work on topical absorption at the Institute of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of Vienna in Austria from the 1980s, is very clear, "It is now common knowledge that fragrance compounds are absorbed through the skin into the blood stream."

. . . because of its name, many people continue to think that aromatherapy is only about smelling something. That is incorrect. The usual definition is, "Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils for therapeutic purposes." No methods are suggested. But, clearly, only essential oils are used.

. . . Of the three methods of application (oral, topical, inhaled), inhalation has the most rapid effect. Chemical components within the essential oil bind to receptors in the olfactory bulb and have an almost instant effect on the hypothalamus and amygdala, which are located in the limbic part of the brain, where memory and smell are said to reside. Mills writes that the lipophyllic components in essential oils actually penetrate the blood-brain barrier. In animal experiments, Buchbauer showed that inhaled essential oil compounds could pass the blood-brain barrier and be detected in brain tissues (especially the cortex) of mice who inhaled single volatile fragrance compounds for 20 minutes.

Jager et al. reported an increase in the cerebral blood flow in the cortex of human subjects after inhalation of 1,8-cineole from an unspecified source. Similar studies by Nasel et al. found the increase not only in normal healthy subjects, but also with a woman with anosmia (the inability to smell). . . .

The importance of smell

The sense of smell is important to human beings throughout their lives. Babies use it to identify their mothers, and depression of elderly persons in residential facilities may be reduced by the smell of flowers. The scent of eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus Labill., Myrtaceae) can increase creativity, citrus, (Citrus spp., Rutaceae) may enhance immune function, lavender and clove (Syzygium aromaticum (L.) Merr. & L.M. Perry, Myrtaceae) can improve cognitive processing, and rose (Rosa spp., Rosaceae) and bergamot orange (Citrus bergamia Risso & Poit., Rutaceae) can be relaxing. Unfortunately, the source species is not always specified in the published literature.

Some essential oils have been found to have analgesic effects when inhaled, taken orally, or applied topically. Topically applied essential oils of lavender, Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile (L.) All., Asteraceae), neroli (Citrus aurantium L., Rutaceae), mandarin (Citrus reticulata Blanco, Rutaceae), sandalwood (Santalum album L. Santalaceae), palmarosa (Cymbopogon martinii (Roxb.) J.F. Watson, Poaceae), and geranium (Pelargonium spp., Geraniaceae) were found to enhance pain relief in children with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Topically applied lavender was also found to be effective in reducing perceptions of pain in critical care settings.

West Indian lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus (DC. ex Nees) Stapf, Poaceae) was shown to have topical analgesic effects and appeared to increase the effects of morphine. The component in West Indian lemongrass that produces the analgesic effect is myrcene, a monoterpene. Topically applied Roman chamomile reduced the perception of pain by patients with cancer in a randomized study by 51 patients. One of the patients in the study said, "I know most definitely that it [aromatherapy] has helped me in my quest for pain relief." In each of these studies, diluted essential oils were applied topically in a massage so it is difficult to extrapolate what analgesic effects are attributable solely to the essential oils. However, in a single case-study, inhaled damask rose essential oil (Rosa damascena Mill., Rosaceae) was found to be highly effective in reducing the perception of chronic pain in a patient with uncontrollable pain, despite patient-controlled morphine analgesia. Certainly it is the experience of the author and many of her students that essential oils can affect relaxation, and that in itself can alter the perception of chronic pain, making something that was unbearable, bearable. Candace Walsh, R.N., wrote, "I have come to understand that essential oils and touch can be a powerful part of any health package. They add an element of comfort and relief that promotes well being on the mental and emotional levels and can help to relieve pain."

Antimicrobial effects of essential oils

Possibly because aromatherapy is perceived to be useful mainly for stress, the antimicrobial properties of essential oils have not been acknowledged. Many essential oils have antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. Some in vitro studies have indicated that essential oils are effective against such bacteria as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), resistant Shigella, and resistant Escherichia coli bacteria.

[further specific examples provided, and the article concludes with 54 footnotes]
The University of Minnesota offers a page on aromatherapy. Some highlights:

From the sub-page, "How do Essential Oils Work?":
During inhalation, odor molecules travel through the nose and affect the brain through a variety of receptor sites, one of which is the limbic system, which is commonly referred to as the “emotional brain.”

The limbic system is directly connected to those parts of the brain that control heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress levels and hormone balance (Higley & Higley, 1998). This relationship helps explain why smells often trigger emotions. Knowing this, we can hypothesize how inhalation of essential oils can have some very profound physiological and psychological effects!
And from "How Do I Choose and Use Essential Oils?" we find an application specifically relevant to the SG-2000 bubble massage spa:
. . . you can apply essential oils topically using compresses, sprays, baths, or massaging them into the skin. . . .

Bath: Drops of essential oils are added to bath water in a dispersant immediately before stepping in. This method results in absorption through the skin, as well as inhalation of the volatilized essential oil. A few tablespoons of full cream milk can be used as a dispersant.

Remember, essential oils are not water soluble; thus they will float on top of the bath and skin passing through the oil will be exposed to full strength essential oil. Bath salts can also be used to disperse essential oils. A relaxing bath base can be made by mixing 1 part baking soda, 2 parts Epsom salts, and 3 parts sea salt. Add 6 drops of true lavender essential oil to about 2 tablespoons of this mixture and mix it into bath water just before entering.
Another page on this website describes research currently taking place:
Although essential oils have been used therapeutically for centuries, there is little published research on many of them. However, this is beginning to change as more scientific studies on essential oils are conducted around the world.

Clinical studies are currently underway in Europe, Australia, Japan, India, the United States, and Canada. Many of these studies describe the remarkable healing properties of various oils.

. . . Research studies on essential oils show positive effects for a variety of health concerns including infections, pain, anxiety, depression, tumors, premenstrual syndrome, nausea, and many others. The articles included below are meant to highlight a few examples.

Anti-Microbial Effects

There is considerable international literature on the effects of essential oils against a wide range of bacterial, viral, and fungal microorganisms. Study results suggest that certain essential oils and components have strong bactericidal action, some even against antibiotic resistant microorganisms. Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) oil in particular has a wide range of research studies that report its anti-microbial properties.

Click to download a PDF file of these research studies.

Some studies have been conducted on the use of aromatherapy for pain treatment. These studies suggest that essential oils may be effective for reducing discomfort during childbirth, headaches, gastrointestinal procedures, and for wound pain.

Click to download a PDF file of these research studies.

Psychological Effects

There are some studies on the psychological effects of essential oils. These studies suggest that essential oils may be effective for reducing anxiety and mild depression.

Click to download a PDF file of these research studies.

Toxicity and Sensitivity

Published reports suggest that a small proportion of individuals may develop sensitivity to topically applied essential oils. In addition, toxicity can result from accidental or intended ingestion.

Click to download a PDF file of these research studies.

Other Interesting Studies

There are other studies that examine the use of essential oils for such purposes as mosquito repellency, the potential to treat skin cancer, alopecia areata, and to affect glucose and insulin levels.

Click to download a PDF file of these research studies.

Expert contributor: Linda Halcon, Ph.D., M.P.H., B.S.N., R.N.

Created: March 2006

Other Resources

1) National Association of Holistic Aromatherapists

2) International Journal of Aromatherapy

3) International Council for Aromatic and Medicinal Plants (ICMAP)

4) AGORA, The Aromatherapy Global Online Research Archives

5) Essential Oils: Their Lack of Skin Absorption, but Effectiveness Via Inhalation (Martin Watt)

6) Aromatherapy Case Studies (Danila Mansfield)

7) FAQ Page (Michel Vanhove)

8) What is Aromatherapy and How Does it Work? (Martin Watt)

9) The Dangers of Some Essential Oils Sold on the Internet (Martin Watt)

10) Natural Toxins in Traditional Medicines - Some Myths Removed (Martin Watt)

11) Correcting the Gross Errors in Aromatherapy Teaching (Martin Watt)

12) Aromatherapy and Essential Oils Website

13) Aromatherapy Benefits: It Does More Than Just "Smell Good"

14) Aromatherapy Stress Relief

15) Which Problems can Aromatherapy Help? Results of Clinical Studies

16) A Beginner's "Essentials" [Oils]

17) Advanced Aromatherapy: The Science of Essential Oil Therapy, Kurt Schnaubelt, Ph.D. [book]

NAPRA Review Vol. 9, No.5 : "Schnaubelt brings singular authority to this explanation of the reasons why essential oils act on different systems of the body. This is aromatherapy's next generation, based in scientific analysis and structured to produce predictable results. Essential for the serious student." [Amazon]
18) Medical Aromatherapy: Healing With Essential Oils, Kurt Schnaubelt, Ph.D. [book]

19) Clinical Aromatherapy: Essential Oils in Practice, Second Edition, Jane Buckle [book]

James Barlow, Irish Pharmacy Journal, January 2005:

"The text is undoubtedly a progressive and ambitious work, and showcases the enthusiasm and experience of the author, and can be recommended to health professionals with an interest in the integration of conventional medicine with complementary and alternative therapies." [Amazon]
20) The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils: The Complete Guide to the Use of Oils in Aromatherapy and Herbalism (Illustrated Encyclopedia), Julia Lawless [book]

21) The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, Valerie Ann Worwood [book]

22) 375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols, Jeanne Rose [book]

23) Natural Home Health Care Using Essential Oils, Daniel Penoel, M.D. [book]

24) Essential Oils Desk Reference (3rd Edition), by Essential Science Pub. (Compiler) [book]

25) Essential Oils Integrative Medical Guide: Building Immunity, Increasing Longevity, and Enhancing Mental Performance With Therapeutic-Grade Essential Oils, D. Gary Young [book]

26) The Practice of Aromatherapy: A Classic Compendium of Plant Medicines and Their Healing Properties, Jean Valnet, Robert B. Tisserand (Editor) [book]

27) Aromatherapy Science: The Facts and Research on Scent: The Scientific Evidence on Aromatherapy and Mood, Wanda Leibowitz

28) Disorders that Aromatherapy Can Cure, Mike Mcgee

29) Soothe Your Stress With Aromatherapy, Heather Haapoja

30) Aromatherapy 101: What is Aromatherapy?

31) Why is Aromatherapy Effective?

32) Aromatherapy in the Bath

33) An Epsom Salt Bath

34) Medicinal Benefits of Soaking in Epsom Salts (magnesium sulfate)

35) Detox Baths For Purification

36) Epsom Salt Baths (Massage Therapy Centre)

37) Detox Yourself

Complete Series

I. Introduction

For further information on purchasing the  SG-2000 home spa, and business opportunities as a distributor, contact

Matthew Tan Kim Huat:

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[ e-mail: matthewtankimhuat [at] gmail [dot] com ]