Tag Archives: catholocism

Impressions of “Debating Truth: The Barcelona Disputatoin of 1263, A Grpahic History,” by Nina Caputo and Liz Clarke

In modern terms, a Dominican monk named Paul Christiani sued for the right to preach in Jewish synagogues. This lead to a public trial, with Paul as the plaintiff, Nachmanides, a respected local rabbi as defendant, and King James I as judge. But part of the legal argument was this: Jews already accepted Jesus a Christ, synagogues were crypto-Jewish churches, and this could be proven using only Jewish religious texts! This con-texts used are fascinating, as not only excludes New Testament letters to the Jews (such as Matthew and Hebrews) and pre-Hebraic sources (Stories from Ancient Canaan, Assembly of the Gods) were excluded, the trial intentionally added texts not typically part of Christian hermeneutics — the Babylonian Talmud.

And thus, the first wrinkle: for Paul Christiani was an adult Jewish convert to Catholocism. He had a literate, adult understanding of Judaism as it was actually practiced and believed, not simply an academics understanding of the Hebrew parts of the bible. The Jewish tradition Peter and Paul learned including not only the Hebrew Bible (which makes up the bulk of the Catholic Old Testament), but also the Talmud, including oral laws not written down in the written Torah, explanations and rulings on those laws, as analysis and commentaries.

In these impressions I will describe the most fascinating part for me, wonder about the Friar’s and the Rabbi’s actual views of the Talmud, and note some arguments that I had expected to read from both Paul and Nahmanides, but which were not included in the disputation.

Possible the most fascinating paragraph is one in Nahmanides’ account, describing Paul’s use of the Talmud during the disputation.  Paul seeks Talmudic support for the notion that the Messiah was born in the first century:

Friar Paul then claimed that in the Talmud it is said that the messiah has already come.

He adduced the story in Midrash Lamentations concerning a man who was plowing and whose ox lowed. An Arab passed and said to him:

“Jew, Jew, unhitch your ox, unhitch your ploughshare, unhitch your plough for the Temple has been destroyed.”

He unhitched his ox, unhitched his ploughshare, and unhitched his plough. The ox lowed a second time.  The Arab said to him:

“Hitch up your ox, hitch up your ploughshare, hitch up your plough, for your messiah has been born.”

I responded: “I do not believe in this story at all, but it is a proof for my view.”

He then cried out: “Behold he denies their books.”

I learned a lot from this simple exchange. First, that the end of the Second Temple period was not only traumatic for Judaism, but also (for at least some Jews) led to a sustained belief that the Messiah was born… and that belief was in someone other than Jesus. I had never heard this, and it emphasizes the point that Judaism is not “just” the Judaism of Jesus’s day — it was not static.

I wonder what was Frair Paul’s view of the Talmud. Was he using it simply as a rhetorical device? Or as a Jewish convert to Christianity, did he believe that it was an authentic if culturally distinct part of the Christian religion — analogous to the view of some Christians toward Messianic Judaism. Likewise, from what I can read online, Nachmanides is famous not just for his role in the disputation, but also for his in-depth criticism of the famed Jewish scholar Maimonides, as well as his work on the Kabbalah. He also seems to have had a complicated relationship with the Talmud — one I barely am aware of. I am reminded of my experience reading The Syrio-Aramaic Reading of the Interpretation of the Koran, which page after page reminded me of the the deep linguistic/historical/cultural/religious foundations I do not have.

Both Friar Paul and Rabbi Nachmanides fail to make claims that I to me seem obvious for their positions. For example, take the part of the disputation where Friar Paul is arguing for Talmudic support to the idea that the LORD would be incarnate among men:

Again he returned [to his previous line of argument] and brought evidence from the Midrash where they said: “It is written, ‘And I will walk among you (Leviticus 26:12). They likened this [example] to one it resembles, [about] a king who went out for a walk with his laborer in his orchard, but the laborer hid himself. The king asked, ‘Why do you hide, for behold, I am like you.’ In the same manner, in the future, the Holy One, blessed is He, will walk in the Garden of Eden among the righteous, who will be afraid of Him, in the future to come. The Holy One, blessed is He, will say: ‘Why do you tremble before me? I am like you. I will be your God, and you shall be My people (Leviticus 26:12).’ Since God said, ‘I am like you,’ it shows he turned into a man, like them.”

An omission made by Friar Paul is puzzling to me. It seems significant, but neither the Latin nor Hebrew accounts of the disputation include any reference to the “Angel of the LORD,” which would appear to be an obvious place to make such a claim in the Hebrew Bible. The “Angel of the LORD” appears both anthropomorphic but also speaks as if it was the LORD Himself. But neither party makes an appeal to these references, such as

Then the Angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said: “I led you up from Egypt and brought you to the land of which I swore to your fathers; and I said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you. And you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed My voice. Why have you done this?
Judges 2:1-2

And thus it would seem neither of them found these passages meaningful to this question.

Likewise, I was surprised that Nachmanides never used what is now a common argument within evangelical circles to buttress his case: that the Hebrew Bible intentionally makes it impossible to identify the Christian Messiah — in the contemporary words of the Catholic Church, that “God, the inspirer and author of both Testaments, wisely arranged that the New Testament be hidden in the Old ” (Dei Verbum). The best elucidation of this argument is from Michael Heiser’s The Unseen Realm, where he argues the secrecy was to prevent those who would harm the Messiah from knowing his identifying too soon. By this logic the Transfiguration (when Moses and Elijah joined a council of Peter, James, and John) around the Messiah was a climactic revelation that could not have been predicted from Hebrew texts alone.

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.
Matthew 17:9

The obvious implication of the New Testament being “hidden” and the identity of the Messiah being kept secret is that these cannot be proven from the old revelation alone.

Nevertheless, Friar Paul never takes what seems like an obvious swing in his direction, Rabbi Nachmanides does not take the same swing the other way.

Debating Truth is written an four sections: a comic book style close paraphrase of the disputation, a number of legal documents (including chronologies of the disputation from both sides), a historical section providing context for the disputation, and finally a historiographic analysis of how reliable the different texts actually are. This organization is brilliant. It is easy and fun to read the comic-book close translation of the debate. The original documents provide a post-modern breakdown of the event as seen from Friar Paul, Rabbi Nachmanides, King James, and the Pope, the “context” provides some background primarily on Catalonia and the Jewish community, and histiography raises serious questions about what we actually know about the original documents.

I come to this book having recently read biographies of two famous friars, St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Francis, as well as a Madigan’s history of medieval Christianity. Both focus on the role of the friars in turning to the personal and intellectual experiences, as opposed to the sacraments-alone (at best) or simply corrupt corrupt (at worst) nature of many parishes and monasteries. I would have liked the connection between the revolt of the friars and the disputation to be more clear.  Likewise, much more biographical information on Nachmanides and King James is provided than for Friar Paul, and to me this makes for an unbalanced presentation.

Yet the book was striking, incredibly informative, rich in detail and background, and opened my eyes to much I did not know before.  What else could I ask!  I’m so glad I read this in the paperback edition.

I also recommend this terrific interview with an author.

Impressions of “Judaism and Christianity: A Contrast,” by Rabbi Stuart Federow

Judaism and Christianity: A Contrast the inverse of The Crucified Rabbi. Instead of being an explanation of the Gospels as fundamentally Jewish documents, A Comparison asserts that the Gospels are fundamentally pagan documents that co-opted Jewish words. Rabbi Federow presents Christianity as foreign to Judaism as any replacement theologian does.

Roughly, there are five classes of arguments in Judaism and Christianity.

First, arguments against heretical or non-Catholic Christianity
Second, arguments against literary Judaism
Second, arguments that mirror Christian apologetic
Fourth, arguments that Christian writers have failed to address
Five, arguments that may persuasively argue against Christianity from a Jewish perspective

In the interest of space, I will provide one example of each of the arguments

Against the Heretics

Rabbi Federow criticizes Nestorianism, the idea there are two Christs (the part of Jesus that is man, and the part that is God), and only one of these died on the cross.

Although this should be obvious, Jesus was a human being, and not a lamb. Christians may believe that Jesus was also God: however for their to have been a death on the cross, it had to be Jesus-the-human that died and not Jesus-the-God who died, since the One True God cannot die.

All existing Christians agree! The Nestorians were declared as heretical, and the last known Nestorian Church was a pagoda in China!

A Nestorian artifact of the support objected to in the book

Against Judaism

Christ’s prophesy that he would lay in the ground for “three days and three nights” is criticized, as this appears to contradict the Biblical account. As Federow reckons:

However, if one simply remembers the story of Jesus as portrayed in the Christians’ New Testament and the way in which it is celebrated all over the world, Jesus was crucified and buried on a Friday (called Good Friday) and was resurrected on a Sunday (called Easter Sunday)

Friday – the first day
Friday Night – the first night
Saturday – the second day
Saturdy night – the second night
Sunday morning – Jesus was resurrected

But if on sunday, as some point during the day, he was supposedly resurrected, where is the third night?

Yet the Book of Esther, recognized by all Christiand and Jews as scriptural, counts days in the same manner:

Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!”

So Mordecai went his way and did according to all that Esther commanded him…

Now it happened on the third day that Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace, across from the king’s house, while the king sat on his royal throne in the royal house, facing the entrance of the house. So it was, when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, that she found favor in his sight, and the king held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther went near and touched the top of the scepter.

And the king said to her, “What do you wish, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given to you—up to half the kingdom!”

So Esther answered, “If it pleases the king, let the king and Haman come today to the banquet that I have prepared for him.”

Then the king said, “Bring Haman quickly, that he may do as Esther has said.” So the king and Haman went to the banquet that Esther had prepared.

Esther 4:15-5:5

Contemporary American English speakers note that phrases such as “next weekend” are ambiguous in their tongue. We shoudl not be surprised that other languages have ambiguities too.

Esther swoons, upon hearing she cannot count

With the Christians

In the context of a longer argument against the Messiahship of Jesus, Federow brings up the following analogy: what if one calls in an electrician, but the repairmen is a plumber instead?

As soon as the “electircian” left, all of Jack’s neighbors came over to his house. They said to Jack, “Wasn’t Bill a great electrician?”

Jack responded, “He wasn’t an electrician. Electricians do not fix the plumbing.”

That is strikingly close to C.S. Lewis’s analogy in Mere Christianity that Christ is like a carpenter that the believer hires for some specific work (to repair the cabinets say, or a marriage) and then is surprised that the work performed can be quite different (it appears a mansion is being built — completely beyond spec!)

“I just wanted the plumbing repaired, this seems a bit much…”

Beyond the Christians

The Hebrew Bible distinguishes three kind of blood sacrifices: the Sin Offering, the Trespass Offering, and the Peace Offering. Alred Edersheim has an excellent description of them. They were sacrificed in a particular order

  • the Sin Offering (such as a castrated steer or a female lamb), for the forgiveness of intentional sins
  • the Trespass Offering (sometimes a male lamb), for the forgiveness of unintentional sins
  • the Peace Offering (sometimes a male lamb, calf, or bull) , the jofyl sacrificial meal

The gem of the book was the following line:

Christians believe that Jesus, who was male, was their sin sacrifice of a lamb. However, we cannot find a passage in the Torah where God demands a male lamb to be sacrificed for sins.

If one wanted to offer a lamb for a sin sacrifice, it have to be female.

“Leviticus 4:32: And if we brings a lamb for a sin offering, he shall bring it a female without blemish.”

Jesus was not a female, much less a female lamb. So Jesus could not be a sin offering.”

I had not encountered this before. There are sacrifices of male lambs in the Bible outside of the three-fold sacrifice, including how Abraham describes Isaac:

And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb of a burnt offering.” So the two of them went together.”
Genesis 22:8

And the sacrificial male lamb is used in the Passover offering too

Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats. Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight. And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it. Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it
Exodus 12:5-8

Additionally, the specific phrase Lamb of God appears only twice in the Bible

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water.”

And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”

Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!
John 1:29-36

Something is missing from how Christians understand these events. Rabbi Federow should be blessed for pointing out this gap in our understanding.

As the Bible says:

“Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”’”
Zechariah 8:23

I am grateful for Rabbi Federow’s work, as God is with him, and he is showing us some things that were too hard for us gentiles to find on our own.

The Wedding Feast of the Lamb who Takes Away the Sins of the World

Before the Christians

By far the most convincing of Federow’s arguments is the obvious one: much of the Messiah’s work is unfinished. The Jews were given a specific description of what the Son of David would accomplish, so that they could recognize him.

The real Messiah will make changes in the real world, changes that one can see, perceive, and prove. It is for this task that the real Messiah has been anointed in the first place, hence the term messiah — one who is annointed. These changes that one will be able to see and perceive in the real world include the following: … There is peace between all nations… All weapons of war are destroyed… There is an end to all forms of idolatry… Famines cease to exist… Death ceases to exist [etc].”

Christians would respond these things will be accomplished by the Messiah but not just yet. Rabbi Federow responds then perhaps Jews should just wait to be sure they don’t follow a false Messiah.

It’s hard to argue against that.

An interesting analogy arises to the Parable of the Sleeping Guards

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning— lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”
Matthew 24:32-37

If the guards were hired after the time the man went away, the new guards would know him only through the written and verbal descriptions of those who had seen him, or knew what he would look like. If the traveling man came back with a deep tan, or unexpectedly dirty or fine clothes, or missing a limb or with a new wife, these would be surprising. The travelling man could not be too cross at his servants who were trying to prevent a trickster from hoodwinking them. Rabbinical cautiousness of the crucified Rabbi is thus seen, by Christians, as faithfulness to the Messiah who came for them.

Zealous guards at the wedding feast

I read Judaism and Christianity: A Contrast in the Kindle edition.

Democrats v. Catholics

Markos Moulitsas Zuniga writes “The gloves are coming off in Lousiani” in response to this weird, anti-Catholic advertisement put out by the Lousiani State Democratic Party

Not stopping there, he posted a bizarre pueudo-summary of an article previously written by Jindal for the New Oxford Review.

Much of the nonsense about the relationship between Church and State comes from the late 19th century, when anti-immigrant nativists targeted Catholics (Irish, Italians, Poles, etc.) as un-American and un-Christian. It’s no surprising that Louisiana’s Democratic Party, facing a second-generation American and first-generation Catholic, decided to play the faith card again.

Symbols of Christianity

For some time I have been using this Chi-Rho emblem:

alpha_chi_ro_omega_md

to symbolize the Christian 4GW. The original design was by James Greece of Catholic and Loving It, with a minor change by Lexington Green of Chicago Boyz.

I found the original graphic on a now-defunkt clipart page, so I am grateful to James for letting me know of the image’s original location, and its use as part of his wedding services company. (As a newlywed myself, I can appreciate his work!)

As long as the subject is Christian symbolism, I also wanted to point out “It’s Christmas! Let’s be glad!” by Sufjan Stevens. Sufjan describes his church as “kind of Anglo-Catholic,” so the Christian and Marian themes shouldn’t be surprising.

Sing a carol to your mom
Because she knows what’s going on
And she knows if you’ve been bad or good

And if you get what you deserve
To be graded on the curve
Oh, you got a lot of nerve

Listen to the song on last.fm, download from podbop, or purchase from Amazon.

True Sufjan fans may appreciate the animated YouTube video of ‘Put the Lights on the Tree’.

Anti-Catholic Bigotry in Nebraska

Hoegh, P. (2007). Senator criticized over move to restrict alcohol in church. CNSNews.com. January 19, 2007. Available online: http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewCulture.asp?Page=/Culture/archive/200701/CUL20070118a.html.

The news is so incredible that I thought it was fake:

Democratic State Sen. Lowen Kruse has introduced a bill that would eliminate two provisions to Nebraska’s underage drinking law which allow in their own homes or at places of worship during religious ceremonies.

While saying the primary goal of the bill was admirable, Catholic League President Bill Donahue worries about the implication for Mass. Catholics and some Protestant denominations use wine in their communion services.

I immediately tried to check this out by going to Senator Kruse’s webpage.


Nebraska: Equality, except for Catholics (?)

Kruse provided a link to the , where I found the proposed law. The strikethrough (like so) is the part of the law that Senator Kruse wants to revoke:

53-180.02. Except as provided in section 53-168.06, no minor may sell, dispense, consume, or have in his or her possession or physical control any alcoholic liquor in any tavern or in any other place, including public streets, alleys, roads, or highways, upon property owned by the State of Nebraska or any subdivision thereof, or inside any vehicle while in or on any other place, including, but not limited to, the public streets, alleys, roads, or highways, or upon property owned by the State of Nebraska or any subdivision thereof. , except that a minor may consume, possess, or have physical control of alcoholic liquor in his or her permanent place of residence or on the premises of a place of religious worship on which premises alcoholic liquor is consumed as a part of a religious rite, ritual, or ceremony.

It actually gets worse than this. Not that not only are the religious service excemption revoked, but other exemptions stay on the books.

53-168.06. No person shall manufacture, bottle, blend, sell, barter, transport, deliver, furnish, or possess any alcoholic liquor for beverage purposes except as specifically provided in the Nebraska Liquor Control Act. Nothing in the act shall prevent (1) the possession of alcoholic liquor legally obtained as provided in the act for the personal use of the possessor and his or her family and guests; (2) the making of wine, cider, or other alcoholic liquor by a person from fruits, vegetables, or grains, or the product thereof, by simple fermentation and without distillation, if made solely for the use of the maker and his or her family and guests; (3) any duly licensed practicing physician or dentist from possessing or using alcoholic liquor in the strict practice of his or her profession, any hospital or other institution caring for the sick and diseased persons from possessing and using alcoholic liquor for the treatment of bona fide patients of such hospital or other institution, or any drug store employing a licensed pharmacist from possessing or using alcoholic liquor in the compounding of prescriptions of licensed physicians; (4) the possession and dispensation of alcoholic liquor by an authorized representative of any religion on the premises of a place of worship, for the purpose of conducting any bona fide religious rite, ritual, or ceremony; (5) persons who are sixteen years old or older from carrying alcoholic liquor from licensed establishments when they are accompanied by a person not a minor; (6) (5) persons who are sixteen years old or older from handling alcoholic liquor containers and alcoholic liquor in the course of their employment; (7) (6) persons who are sixteen years old or older from removing and disposing of alcoholic liquor containers for the convenience of the employer and customers in the course of their employment; or (8) (7) persons who are nineteen years old or older from serving or selling alcoholic liquor in the course of their employment.

This blog has a “health mullahs” to point out over-zealous health laws. However, this isn’t a health law. It keeps the exemption allowing 19 year olds to sell and serve alcohol, it keeps the exemption that allows 16 year olds to handle alchol, it keeps the provision for people making their own moonshine.

This is not a health law. This is hate speech in legislative form, designed to harrass Catholics and criminalize Catholocism. Senator Kruse, a Methodist minister, should be ashamed of himself. Like all other bigots.

Catholic Enterprise Resilience

My recent podcast discussed Christianity and evolution, and my blogfriend Sean Meade raised some issues with my understanding of the faith. It’s delightful to have this sort of conversation, and I am very grateful to podcaster Phil Jones for the discussion his work has brought. My short answer to his questions “Paul believed in resilient enterprises.” For a longer answer, read on…

Paul summarized Christianity in three words, one of which is most important

“There are three things that will endure – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love.”
(1 Corinthians 13:13)

Paul was explaining Christ’s commandment to ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ (Matthew 22:39). But Paul didn’t just apply the commandment to the individual-level-of-analysis — teaching Christians how they should treat each other — but also the system level — how Christian groups should interact with each other. Using circumcision as an example, Paul writes

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth… The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” (Galatians 5:6-7,14-15)

Paul gives a tricky prescription for the church. Paul is insisting there are both relevant and irrelevant doctrinal questions. The relevant one is love, without which the everything is forfeited. Yet an irrelevant one is circumcision, which doesn’t matter, and which Paul wishes Christians would just stop arguing about.

alpha_chi_ro_omega_md
sicut in caelo et in terra.

In other words, Paul is insisting that Christianity be a resilient enterprise. It should be a realm of limited competition, in which affiliates are free to adapt themselves to local conditions but not free to engage in destructive competition. The Catholic Church comes the closest to any organization in history in implementing this. A plethora of bishoprics, orders, uses, and rites fill up the local niches, bending to this preference and that, in order for the basic message to remain the same against ideological encroachment.


Given this, even the very beginning of the Protestant Reformation is regrettable. As opposed to the internal diversity encouraged by the Church, Luther’s first two theses were

Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said Poenitentiam agite, willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance.

This word cannot be understood to mean sacramental penance, i.e., confession and satisfaction, which is administered by the priests.

Luther presents an always-everywhere variation of Christianity, directly aimed at Christians who disagree with him on neither faith, nor hope, nor love, but an even outer Christian belief.

As opposed to Luther’s narrowing of the faith, the Jesuits (formally known as the Society of Jesus) believed in inculturing it. For example, if faith, hope, and love — but most importantly, love — are made easier for a Chinese peasant by assuring him that the Lord of Heaven really does love him, then assure him of that. For it’s certainly true. John Paul II described this as “the insertion of Christianity in the various human cultures.” This is a far more human undertaking than attempting to build culture anew.

This blog’s old masthead was “Beauty. Victory. God.” Victory is a beautiful concept — it’s what Paul talked about in his racing analogy, and what John Paul was aiming for describing a 4GW-style insertion of Christianity into existing social networks. If we bite and devour each other — if we lose — we destroy each other. Missionaries realizing the power of darwinian competition while inserting Christianity is no less Christian than missionaries realizing the power of gravity when they decide to take the stairs instead of jumping.

Communist Cathederals, Western and Soviet, Plus a Lake

It turns out that the Church I saw off Wangfujing is actually the East Church, or Saint Joseph’s Church. It’s one of the four main CPCA pseudo-Catholic churches around Beijing. Saint Joseph’s was built in 1655.

Today we went to another, the Western Church. The Western Church is the youngest of the four “directional” churches, built in 1723 and repaired in 1912. It’s appearance is sadly abused. We also saw another abused Cathedral of sorts — the very Soviet Beijing Exhibition Center, celebrating a political philosophy (International Communism) more forgotten than Christianity could ever be.


The “front” of the church is only available by walking into a drug store’s gated parking lot. A kind guard — and so far, all Chinese guards have been kind, allowed us to walk the parking lot for a few minutes to get a shot.

 


A side view of the building. Miscellany obscured the view.


The most dramatic shot of the false place of worship I was able to get


Some how, this seemed to be the saddest location


A brick wall separated the church from the parking lot. This is as good as I was able to get of a true side view of the church.


The building, in context


Thanking the guard, we circled the block to get a look at its “back” (the only portion visible from the street). This is the other other shot of the front we could get, sneaking in between buildings


The schedule of mass on the part visible from the street — the “back.” The Chinese Characters read Christ-Mother-month. An image of the Madonna is also displayed


The hind of the building, from the sidewalk. This picture is shot through the gates. “Pax” — Latin for “Peace” — is written on the wall. Because Vatican II happened after the schism, the CPCA conducts a traditional Tridentine mass.


Pictureboards and the building.


The license-plate like thing is the twisted metal zip code of the building In gold on the gate is the address, with the road’s name (West-Street-Gate, or Xizhimen) clearly displayed.


The very, very Soviet Beijing Exhibition center from behind the gates. Yet again, a kind guard would let us in to photograph. The building is now a convention center, and the red banner welcomes the China International Exhibition on Police Equipment as guests. The communist wreath encircles a dove, with PEACE (in English) written below.


Turn about 135 degrees to the left of the previous shot, and see this: a shopping mall. So this page has brought you three Cathedrals: one to the CPCA, one to the Communist Internationale movement, and one to Mammon. Guess which one is doing the best? Ayn Rand would be pleased.


A Soviet star and hammers-and-sickles adorn the building. It’s hard to get across in pictures, but the architectural style was also reminiscent of an Orthodox Cathedral.


There’s No Truer Way to Support Communisn than Staying at the Luxorious Exhibition Centre [British spelling] Hotel in Beijing, China.


Instead of Saints, four workers stand on pillars, welcoming conventioneers.


Approaching the main door. Because of the ongoing convention we were unable to go in, but at least we got this far.


A side view of the Convention center. On the other side of this shot is a Zoo. I like the look of this picture a lot — perhaps this will be a future tdaxp banner?


On the backside of the Convention Center, a speed boat, a police SUV, and those two ever-present symbols of Beijing: a bus and construction cranes.


The Imperial Boat Port. Read: fishing spot and pleasure boat tour center.


A sight-seeing boat with a cool bridge in the background, opposite the Centre


Fishermen try their luck in the polluted pond. We even saw two men swim. *shudder*


Stairs to the bottom of the lake welcome those who walk on the lake. I remember similar stairs in Italy, where my hosts said cloths were prepared that would be sent to China. Perhaps this is the opposite leg of the trip?

Republic of Hate

As Holidays Approach, French Find New Ban on Religious Symbols Cuts Both Ways,” William J. Kole, Associated Press, http://ap.tbo.com/ap/breaking/MGB720IZO2E.html, 13 December 2004.

France continues her anti-Catholic, anti-Islam, anti-God bigotry.

PARIS (AP) – They arrived as they do every December: gaily wrapped gifts destined for children at a kindergarten in rural northern France.

But this year, teachers unwrapped a few, took a look and sent all 1,300 packages back to City Hall. The presents were innocent, but strictly speaking, illegal: seasonal chocolates shaped like Christian crosses and St. Nicholas.

As Christmas approaches, France is awakening to the realization that a new law banning conspicuous religious symbols at schools – a measure used mainly to keep Muslim girls from wearing traditional Islamic head scarves to class – can cut both ways.

“It’s an unhealthy political affair. Absolutely regrettable,” said Andre Delattre, mayor of the northern town of Coudekerque-Branche, which has shipped the traditional chocolates to local schools for 11 years.

“What’s the point? It’s the children who are being penalized for this difference of opinion,” he said. “They’ve been deprived of a festive moment.”

The law, which took effect in September, bans overt symbols such as Islamic head scarves, Jewish skullcaps and large Christian crosses at public schools.

In the United States, religious expression is encouraged. The U.S. Justice Department recently intervened to protect a Muslim schoolgirl’s right to wear the head scarf. In France, they would make her a criminal.

No wonder our ancestors fled that continent of death and decline.

Hat tip Democratic Underground.