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Sunday, June 29, 2014

THE GODLESS DELUSION: Hear No Miracle, See No Miracle and Speak No Miracle

by Lawrence Fox

“It is more probable that a person died and remained in the tomb than for lead to rise suddenly in the air,” said 18th century Scottish Skeptic David Hume, mocking the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
 Jews and Christian would agree with David Hume on this point that dead people normatively do not emerge body and soul from the grave.
“No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle unless the testimony be of such kind that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish,” Hume laid out his criteria for recognizing a miracle.
The philosopher and Scottish empiricist David Hume (1711-1776) argued that miracles were a violation of the laws of nature and evidence in support of miracles was always weak.  Hume argued that, men universally and overwhelmingly observe nature doing what it always does and nothing more or less.
All of Jesus apostles’ prior to the first witness of Mary Magdalene and Mary, wife of Clopas, would have said “Amen” to David Hume’s assertion. The apostle Thomas refused to believe Jesus had risen from the dead, saying, “Unless I see the nail marks and put my fingers where the nails were and put hands into his side I will not believe.” (John 20:25)

"My Lord and My God!" St. Thomas' response
to meeting the resurrected Jesus 
Thomas the apostle was an empiricist like Hume until the Sunday following the Resurrection when Jesus suddenly stood in their midst, and said to Thomas: "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." (John 20: 27) 
The four Gospels narrate the initial doubt and confusion, utter amazement, and eventual great joy of the events surrounding the miraculous emergence of Jesus of Nazareth from the tomb.  The narrators of the Gospels state that the apostles, saw him, heard him, touched him, and ate with him for forty days after His death and Resurrection. The apostles all surrendered their lives as a testimony that Jesus of Nazareth was crucified under Pontius Pilate, died and was buried and rose again.
In spite of the credible testimony of numerous Jewish and Christian witnesses to the “great works of God,” Hume considered the “so called” miracles recorded within the New and Old Testaments and Catholic Church History to be unreliable.  Hume argued that miracles were attested to by an insufficient number men of good sense, education, and learning. This is purely a pejorative and non-historical statement.

 David Hume stated that gullible men with primitive knowledge about nature and material things promote and accept the evidence of miracles as a result of their ignorance. Miracles are accepted due to a lack of independent scientific inquiry. He felt miracles were nothing more than fabricated events used by religious movements as propaganda to control the superstitious masses.
David Hume’s arguments resonate with atheists living the mantra “see no miracle, hear no miracle, and speak no miracle.”  The mantra is based upon two presuppositions, which the modern atheist holds dearly:
Ø Materialism – the notion that all things can be reduced to a material cause. There are no animating forms and no final cause for things. There are no spirits, no souls, no creator, no intelligent design and no universal wisdom by which all things are ordered. All things are the result of randomness even human choices. Nothing has an intrinsic purpose beyond itself. Nature evokes no intelligibility; it simply needs to be controlled. As an example, the materialist reasons that marriage between a man and woman is not meant for bonding and babies and the preservation of the human race. They believe the state has the right to redefine marriage, and the right to control human fertility by advocating the use of the pill and abortion to satisfy the desire of the populace and implement efficiency. Children cost too much is the propaganda, and the absence of children reduces the economy to mere personal consumption.  The things of worth are technology, invention, and efficiency. Happiness, goodness, beauty, justice, and truth are equated with the possession of material things.
Ø Scientific positivism or empiricism – the notion that only those things, which can be dissected, experimented upon, measured and quantified can be known with certainty.  Statistics, poll numbers, and strategic advertising determine happiness, goodness, beauty, justice, and truth.
 Within this materialist paradigm of reason and inquiry, credible witnesses to the supernatural are suspected as being psychotic, hysterical, simplistic, and forgers. For example in Richard Dawkins’ Materialist Tome, The God Delusion, he introduces a section on miracles, albeit in a negative manner.  One such “alleged miracle” that he focuses on derives from the events that took place between May 13th and October 13th 1917 in Fatima, Portugal.
As a side note, Ian and Dominic Higgins recently directed a feature-length film titled, “The 13th Day,” on the same Fatima events. The film is based upon the memoirs of Sister Maria Lucia Jesus do Santos and publicly-recorded eyewitness accounts. It is an excellent production and in the words of the directors, “visually speaks to a film savvy and modern audience” about something widely witnessed, historically significant, and materially unexplainable.  
Richard Dawkins dismisses the recorded events at Fatima employing David Hume’s methods. The “so called” recorded Fatima miracles “violate nature,”
 according to Dawkins.
Dawkins knows his readership – largely anti-Catholic people -- will reach his conclusions with very little persuasion.  He writes: “It is not easy to explain how seventy thousand people could share the same hallucination. But it is even harder to accept that it really happened with the rest of the world, outside Fatima, not seeing it too.” He is referring to the overwhelming number of witnesses to the recorded miracles at Fatima.
70,000 people witnessed the Miracle at Fatima 
For those who have not heard the story, it is at first shocking.  There are religious, secular, and government records -- all contemporary and in print -- available for the world to read. These state that seventy thousand people gathered on October 13th, 1917, at the Cova da Iria in Fatima, Portugal. They experienced what they all described as the “miracle of the sun.” 
It all began when three very young children, Francesco (age 9), Jacinta (age 7), and Lucia (age 10), informed their parents that they witnessed a vision of a beautiful lady – later identified as the Virgin Mary - in the Cova. The Virgin Mary spoke to the children telling them to come each month on the same day and pray for the conversion of sinners.  
Portugal was a Christian land once ruled by Islamic Moors. Fatima is the name of one of Mohammed’s daughters. Mohammed (631 - 671) was the founder of Islam; one of many violent opposition movements to Christianity along with the Roman Empire, Modernism, Fascism, Communism, and Materialism.
David Hume argued that the evidence against miracles is always stronger then the evidence for miracles since contradictory religions present the specter of miracles as evidence of their divine origins and soundness of doctrine. “It is absurd to believe in a God who would set a people apart as his own special people,” wrote Hume as a rejection Israel’s History. He argued that miracles are the foundation for religious contradictions.
David Hume was mistaken when he identified miracles as being the foundation of all religions. The Koran does not attribute any miracles to the prophet Mohammed, “The signs are only with Allah, and I am only a plain voice. Is it not sufficient for them that We (Allah) have sent down the Book (Quran) which is recited by them?” (Surah 29:50-51)
For all intent and purposes, Islam is simply a natural religion woven together with some Arabic Pagan, Jewish, Christian, and Gnostic overtones. Buddhism and Confucianism are not religions of miracles but philosophical systems. Buddhism does not teach that a personal God exists.  Paganism by definition is the worship of nature.
The so-called supernatural behind Polytheism and Paganism is not the work of God, but magic and the manipulation of matter. Magic does not give nature existence.  The inability to distinguish between the supernatural in the Old and New Testaments and polytheistic systems is lamentable and evidence of an unwillingness on the part of the commentator to truly engage the subject matter.
Apparition at Fatima to three children
In 1917, Europe was engulfed by the horrors of World War I and Portugal was under the rule of a “modernist Republic” which eschewed the Catholic Faith. The beautiful lady informed the children that unless men’s hearts changed, an even greater war would follow. 
Thomas Merton the Cistercian Monk stated that violence was the result of fear in human hearts. John the Evangelist writes, “Love overcomes fear.” and “Whoever loves his brother – and we are all brothers – lives in the light and there is nothing in him that makes him stumble.” (1 John 2: 9)
World War I brought about the death of close to 20 million people through bombs, bullets, poisonous gas, and disease. World War II brought about the death of close to 50 million people. The beautiful lady informed the children that Russia would become the cause of great evil throughout the world and universally persecute the Church. To prevent such horrors, the beautiful lady asked the three children to pray and offer sacrifices and to spread the message of repentance and prayer. It was a very simple and prescient message, but tragically not universally lived.  Still the country of Portugal, which did adhere to the message, escaped the horrors of both wars and Communist oppression.
Why would the Mother of Jesus be the one sent by God to appear to the children at Fatima? The Catholic Church professes -- based upon sacred tradition (oral and written) -- that Mary, the Mother of Jesus, was assumed body and soul into eternity. Jewish tradition (oral and written) identifies that Elijah and Moses were also assumed body and soul into eternity. And it was Moses and Elijah who appeared and spoke to Jesus while on a high mountain with Peter, James and John, as He was transfigured. (Mark 9: 2-8)
Historical documents narrating various Marian appearances in places like Fatima, Portugal; Lourdes, France; Knock, Ireland; Nakita, Japan all convey a consistent Biblical pattern: Mary the Mother of Jesus encourages members of Jesus’ Mystical Body to “do whatever He tells you.” (John 2: 5)  Her messages convey exactly what the disciples heard on the mountain of transfiguration, “This is my beloved Son, Listen to Him.”
The families and peers of the young Fatima visionaries rebuked the children. They were imprisoned and threatened with torture and death by the local “progressive authorities” unless they recanted and confessed that their visions were nothing but a hoax.  
Nothing in the children’s story changed.  Their demeanor demonstrated great courage and indifference to threats of suffering and death. What the three children witnessed at the Cova da Iria changed them dramatically. The children held fast to their visual, auditory, and oratory experiences even in the face of rebuke and punishment.
The local Catholic pastor was originally convinced that the children observed something supernatural and that it was not from Heaven.  The oldest girl Lucia recounts that she suffered greatly from the rebukes from her mother, the pastor, and peers. 
She decided she would not to go back to the Cova da Iria. “But the lady was so beautiful, so good. I had to see her face again and feel the love of her smile,” wrote Lucia. The people demanded the children to ask for a sign from the lady as evidence that their “visions” were not a hoax or the result of fantasy and hysteria.  Such a sign would represent empirical evidence.
The children informed the people that on October 13th a sign would be given so that they would accept, repent, and live the messages. And so, seventy thousand people gathered in the field of the Cova da Iria on that date.
 Some prayed, many were skeptical, and some simply came to mock the three children who were on their knees praying in the rain and mud. It was recorded in the newspapers along with photographic evidence that the people and the land were drenched with rain. All those gathered then experienced the sun in the sky spin, dance, weave, and then descend towards the earth. The people panicked believing the falling sun would consume them.
And then the event was over. The once drenched population was now dry, and so was the ground. Skeptics became believers and others reported physical healings.
Atheist Richard Dawkins 
Richard Dawkins does not disprove the narrated events in his tome. He shrugs it off, arguing that there are always numerous unverifiable and unexplored alternative explanations to the recorded events. His indifferent shrug has been repeated for the past 97 years by atheists and materialists. But no one – as far as I know – has ever concocted a viable and verifiable alternative explanation.
Dawkins muses that people staring at the sun would see strange images. His statement is true and at the same time cowardly. He has an unwillingness to dig into the events for fear where they may lead him.
A person’s optical nerves after staring directly at the sun for ten minutes would be jeopardized if not permanently damaged. There are no records of eyewitnesses experiencing temporary or permanent blindness, the destruction of retinas, or images of sunspots being seared into their eyes. A person staring up at the sun for 10 minutes with no evidence of optical damage is an unexplained phenomenon. Dawkins dismisses the testimony of numerous eye-witnesses since astronomers, cosmologists, and news agencies around the globe did not report solar activity on October 13, 1917, “…which would have certainly been observed if the sun was physically pulled towards the earth.”  
Dawkins holds fast to Hume’s criteria that a miracle must be universally witnessed, “No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle unless the testimony be of such kind that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish.” This is pure sophistry since it argues against the universally recognized method of discernment within a whole array of human matters. Criminal investigations and judicial systems all around the world are based upon the testimonies of credible witnesses.
By disparaging the witness as “hallucinating,” Dawkins shares the same psychological moorings of the now deceased Christopher (Christ bearer) Hitchens (1949-2011), who argued, “that a materialist does not prove the non-existence of the supernatural. He simply demonstrates the non-necessity of the supernatural in relation to how one chooses to live one’s own life.”
 Fundamentally, Dawkins argues the non-necessity of the events. His tragic decision and conclusion – mirrored by the millions living in materialist denial – guarantees that tragic events in human history will repeat themselves  since nothing has been learned about the human heart and conditions leading up to World War II.
Paradoxically, if the whole world experienced solar flares and a dancing sun on October 13th, 1917, the materialist would have every right to identify the event as natural -- something which could be measured, quantified, and empirically explained. Instead David Hume and Richard Dawkins opine, “That which is universally observed is natural and that which is not universally observed is natural hallucination.”
 In both cases, the non-supernatural explanation is posited since uneducated humanity is – according to David Hume - incapable of deriving a proper understanding of events based upon personal experience. He just doesn’t believe anyone.
 The fact that the three children, who were not meteorologists, astronomers, or forecasters, identified the day of the miracle in advance gives credence to their story. Given the fact that materialists have not demonstrated “its falsehood” after 97 years makes their story credible.  The story is further credible because the three children’s moral and psychological character was thoroughly investigated and documented as sound.
The children did not recant in spite of persecution and threats to their lives. In the midst of World War I, the three children foretold a subsequent horrific war that would convulse the world, and predicted that Russia – which at the time was an Orthodox Christian nation – would persecute the Church.  That all these statements came to pass gives credence to their story.  
 It is interesting that in a court of law, the badgering of witnesses is considered contempt for the universal practice of law and the implementation of human justice. Contempt is what Dawkins demonstrates when rejecting the testimony of the children and thousands of witnesses as simply hallucinations.
Francesco and Jacinta died in less than three years after the apparition in heroic fashion. Their story never changed even on their deathbeds. The older sister, Lucia, chose to become a consecrated sister and a cloistered Carmelite nun. Her decision to enter the religious life resulted from her experience of the events, which took place between May 13th and October 13th 1917. She was directed by her superior to record the events for posterity. I believe she began to write her memoirs around 1937 while in religious habit in keeping with her vows of obedience, chastity, and poverty.   

Pope John Paul II meets and talks
with His assassin Ali Aga in prison
During the course of the events surrounding Fatima, there was one revelation the two younger children took with them to their grave, and Lucia did not reveal it to anyone until she confided it in Pope Pius XII. It was the revelation that there would be an attempt on the life of a pope in the future. Dates and time were not given.
 In Lucia’s lifetime, the attempt was made. Ali Aga shot Pope John Paul II on May 13th 1981, the anniversary of the first Fatima apparition.
 John Paul II, who visited Sr. Lucia after the assassination attempt, saw the preservation of his life as an intervention by Our Lady of Fatima to whom he had a great devotion. John Paul II and Catholic Christians share a common 
Pope John Paul II felt Our Lady
saved his life on May 13, 1981
understanding about God’s care for the world.  We do not live under the law of statistical coincidences. We live under the Law of Divine Providence. As requested at Fatima by Our Lady, Pope John Paul II consecrated the world, including Russia, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It was not long afterwards that the Iron Curtain fell.
Final Personal Thoughts
I you ask a Christian what distresses the world today, he would answer, “The world has plunged into an ever increasing ‘culture of death’ and a ‘culture of jihadist Islamic terror.’” Both forms of death are everywhere. The Virgin Mary warned the children in 1917 that human sin would lead the world into two great conflicts:
Ø World War II and
Ø the persecution of the Church along with the annihilation of whole peoples and nations at the hands of atheistic and materialist Communism flowing out from Russia.  
Warnings given in Fatima in 1917 are related to what is taking place today. Human existence has entered another frightening phase of death and terrorism, and the message of Fatima is prescient again. Unless the human heart trapped in the godless delusion changes, the results will be the same. Tragically, since so many Christians live and think as materialists, the spiritual resistance to evil is small within Western Society. 
The Virgin Mary stated that in the end, her Immaculate Heart would triumph and an era of peace would be granted to the world. Her promise was an invitation for the faithful remnant to participate in her message of hope by engaging in prayer and sacrifice.
Responding to such an invitation is an expression of love towards all of humanity, which is “lost in a lost world” of materialism. (Moody Blues)
If mankind does not shake off the shackles of materialism, the horrors of the 20th Century will be repeated over and over again leading to a final horrific climax.

"Lost In A Lost World" written by Michael Pinder
Sung by the Moody Blues

I woke up today, I was crying
Lost in a lost world
So many people are dying
Lost in a lost world

Some of them are living an illusion
Bounded by the darkness of their minds
In their eyes it's nation against nation against nation
With racial pride

Sad hearts they hide
Thinking only of themselves
They shun the light
They think they're right
Living in their empty shells

Oh, can you see their world is crashing?
Crashing down around their feet
Angry people in the street
Telling them they've had their fill
Of politics that wound and kill

The seeds of evolution
Revolution never won
It's just another form of gun
To do again what they have done
With all our brothers' youngest sons

Everywhere you go you see them searching
Everywhere you turn you feel the pain
Everyone is looking for the answer
Well, look again, come on my friend

Love will find them in the end
Come on my friend
We've got to bend
Down on our knees and say a prayer

Oh, can you feel the world is pining
Pining for someone who really cares enough to share his love
With all of us, so we can be
An ever loving family

Have we forgotten we're all children?
Children from a family tree
That's longer than a centipede
Started long ago when you and I
Were only love

I woke today, I was crying
Lost in a lost world
So many people are dying
Lost in a lost world

So many people, so many people, people
Lost in a lost world
So many people, so many people, people
Lost in a lost world
So many people, so many people, people
Lost in a lost world

Monday, June 23, 2014

"I Think I Can!" The Little Catholic Evangelist Who Could

by Susan Fox

I met my twin on Twitter.

Michelle Gonzales is nobody -- like me, but much younger
Twitter Evangelist Michelle Gonzales
can be found on Twitter
at @Dare_2_Believe_
and prettier. That’s good because she’ll be on this earth longer sharing the truth of the Gospel.

She’s got a big heart for God and for Catholic evangelization. She heard Catholic Evangelist Tim Staples speak and that was it for her.  She wants a degree in theology.

But God doesn’t chose important people who can outthink every atheist on the net to witness on His behalf. No, my friend is physically handicapped, and sometimes unsure of her ability to speak to others. The mockery of atheists unnerves her.  But she does it anyway. I originally was attracted to her because of her thoughtful Catholic photos and stories. They showed she had a good mind, and truly understood the faith.
She reminded me of the mighty warrior Gideon from the tribe of Manasseh who appears in the Book of Judges, chapters 6-8.

The hostile neighboring nation of Midian was harassing the Israelites. They would get the crops into the ground and the Midianites would descend like locusts spoiling everything the Israelites worked so hard to produce. There was nothing left to eat!

God allowed the Midianites to harass the Israelites because they were not faithful to what they have been given. They fell into idolatry of the Canaanite gods, and the accompanying practices of religious prostitution and child slaughter.

So an angel of the Lord shows up one day on Gideon’s doorstep while he was frantically threshing the wheat inside the wine press to keep it hidden from those thieving Midianites!

The angel addresses him as a “valiant warrior” and announces that God is with him.

Michelle shares images like this online as a means
of evangelization
Gideon responded very cautiously, “Excuse me, my lord, but if Yahweh is with us, why is all this happening to us? And where are all his miracles which our ancestors used to tell us about when they said, "Did not Yahweh bring us out of Egypt?" But now Yahweh has deserted us; he has abandoned us to Midian.” This sounds almost exactly like the atheists I meet on Twitter. They claim they’ve never seen any sign of God, nor witnessed any miracles in our day and age. 

But the Angel of Yahweh turned to him and said, “Go in this strength of yours, and you will rescue Israel from the power of Midian. Am I not sending you myself?” Often that’s my response to the atheists when they blame God for the evils of the world: “If you find suffering, it’s there because of your indifference. You go fix it. That’s why God made you.”

But Gideon knew it was not within his power to rescue Israel from the power of Midian. “Forgive me, my lord, but how can I deliver Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh and I am the least important of my father's family.”

Doesn’t that remind you of St. Elizabeth greeting Mary, pregnant with Jesus, “Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”

Or Moses -- shoes off in the presence of the Burning Bush, facing an impossible mission and stuttering -- “I cannot speak!” He couldn’t. That’s why God gave him his brother Aaron to speak for him.

Or my young twitter friend wondering how to answer atheists when she doesn’t feel comfortable doing so.

“I shall be with you and you will crush Midian as though it were one man,” the Lord answers Gideon.

Gideon wasn’t born yesterday. He knew this could be an illusion or a figment of his imagination as Twitter atheists often claim when Christians say they know God personally.

So Gideon says, “If I have found favor in your sight, give me a sign that you are speaking to me. Please do not go away from here until I come back to you, bringing you my offering and laying it before you.”

And the angel replied, “I shall stay until you come back.” And he did. It must have been a long time that he waited because they didn’t have microwaves in those days. And Gideon brought back the meat of a young goat he prepared plus unleavened bread and broth.

The Angel of Yahweh burns up Gideon's sacrifice
The angel told him to place these things on a rock, and he touched the food with the staff he was carrying, and it burst into flames before Gideon’s startled eyes, an offering to God. Then the Angel of Yahweh vanished.

Down you go, Baal!

The first task God gave Gideon was to tear down the altar of the god Baal belonging to his own father. Gideon took 10 servants and did it, but in the middle of the night because he was frightened of his own family and the townspeople. Does that sound like the actions of a “Mighty Warrior?”

I once did the same thing. I worked for a newspaper and one of my co-workers had a picture of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta taped onto his computer. He had drawn obscene symbols over the picture. I told my husband about it, and he gave me permission to tear the picture down, but insisted I do it secretly lest someone harm me afterwards. So I did. And nobody knew.

But the townspeople found out that Gideon had destroyed the altar of Baal, and they demanded his death!  His father was smart and said if Baal is a god, let him plead for himself now that Gideon has destroyed his altar. Of course, Baal wasn’t real so nothing happened to Gideon. And he organized his people to fight  Midian.

He asks God for two more signs --  to make sure he is not deceived. Actually, this is a very good pattern, though it’s not revealed in the Old Testament. Ask for three signs: one for the Father, one for the Son, and one for the Holy Spirit. Three times in the Garden of Gethsemane, Mark reports that Jesus says, “Abba, Father. Everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” This cup referred to Jesus’ crucifixion, which took place the next day.

I once had to blow the whistle on a person who ran an organization because it was revealed to me that he had not followed the rules of the group. He was cheating. I wanted to make sure this was indeed what God wanted so I asked for three signs.

The first sign I designated was to see geese flying.
The next day there were flocks and flocks of geese flying in formation. I swear I have never seen as many geese in my whole life before or since.

There was a second sign on the second day: I found where it said in our organization’s handbook that this was actually my duty to report this abuse. And on the third day, I sought  direction from a someone in authority.  He told me to blow the whistle. I did, and the evil was stopped.

Gideon squeezes the fleece 
So Gideon said to God, “If it is really you delivering Israel by means of me, as you have said, look, I am going to put a woolen fleece on the threshing-floor; if (after tonight) there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground stays dry, then I shall know that you will deliver Israel by means of me, as you have said.”

Next morning, Gideon got up and squeezed the fleece and wrung enough dew out of it to fill a cup! But the ground was dry.

Then he requested the third sign, another fleece test. This time he wanted God to leave the fleece alone, but to put dew all over the ground. 

And God did so that night. The fleece stayed dry while the ground was wet with dew. (Atheists note: this is an empirical form of evidence.)

So a huge army of Israel began to amass at En-Harod, while the camp of Midian was to the north under the Hill of Moreh in the valley. This did not please God.

Yahweh said to Gideon, “There are too many people with you for me to put Midian into their power; Israel might claim the credit for themselves at my expense: they might say, ‘My own hand has rescued me.’”

So God tells Gideon to send back “anyone trembling from fear.”  That eliminated 22,000 Israelites. Only 10,000 remained.

Now they all went down to the water to drink. And this part is gross because it is obvious the Israelites had rather primitive drinking habits. God ordered Gideon to separate those who lapped the water like a dog, and those who drank it cupping their hands. Only 300 chose to cup the water with their hands! The rest of the 10,000 drank like dogs. Sure enough, God sent the 10,000 minus 300 back!

These kinds of details are interesting because of the accusations against Scripture that it is all rehashed made-up stories. If it was made up, why not pretty up the Israelites so they don’t lap the water like a dog? Very little of this entire story, or the whole Old Testament for that matter, is complementary to the Israelite people.

God decided that with only 300 Israelites, He would smash the power of Midian, which had been harassing Israel for seven long years. The Bible tells us that  “Midian, Amalek and all the sons of the East were deployed in the valley as thick as locusts; their camels were as innumerable as the sand on the seashore.”

These were brave men willing to go up against such a large army with only 300 men. But their confidence was in God, not themselves.  And so it was on Twitter when Michelle and I  faced down a group of atheists together.

Giving his men a horn, an empty pitcher and a torch, Gideon struck at night. He told his men to blow their horns, and shout, "For Yahweh and for Gideon!”

Gideon blows the horn throwing the enemy's camp
into confusion  
This they did, standing around the enemy’s camp blowing their horns, shouting and smashing their pitchers. They made a big noise.

The whole camp was thrown into confusion. Literally, the men in the enemy’s camp started killing each other while the 300 Israelites watched. Those who lived fled, and the leaders were all captured and killed. The Israelites took control of strategic water points as far as Beth-Barah and the Jordan.  One hundred and twenty thousand men with arms had fallen.

Forgetting what God had done for them, “The men of Israel said to Gideon, 'Rule over us, you, your son and your grandson, since you have rescued us from the power of Midian.'”

But Gideon replied, “I will not rule you, neither will my son. Yahweh shall rule you.”

Unfortunately, after Gideon’s death, the Israelites forgot that God had saved them from the Midianites, and they began to prostitute themselves to the Baals, taking Baal-Berith for their god.

Gideon’s response, “Yahweh shall rule you,” reminds me of Jesus’ frustration with the Jews of His time when they demanded a sign like Moses gave their fathers in the desert --manna out of heaven.

"Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. ‘For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.’" (John 6:32-33) He referred to Himself: "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” (John 6:32-33)

In Jesus’ time the Jews forgot to thank God for their blessings. The Old Testament is the history of the people of God reflecting on their own forgetfulness and its consequences. But they also remember how God came time after time to save them despite their stubborn pride. 

One of Michelle's Tweets
Forgetfulness and ingratitude are the besetting sins of our time. But God is calling many young people to gain the confidence to speak to this confused generation. It is a confidence rooted in each one’s unique relationship with God.  Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love Me?” And each time that Peter protested that he did love Jesus, he was told, “Feed my sheep.”

“Do you love Me?” That is the question that must be answered by this new generation of Catholics in the trenches of the New Evangelization. Michelle has given her positive fiat to Jesus Christ. I pray other young people respond affirmatively as Peter did. Otherwise their contemporaries will not receive the Light of the Gospel.

Remember it is God who is asking.

Here is a story that Michelle shared with me while we were tweeting.

Why People Think God Does Not Exist

This is one of the best explanations of why God allows pain and suffering that I have seen. It's an explanation other people will understand. (Editor's Note: Michelle found this story on the internet.)

A man went to a barbershop to have his hair cut and his beard trimmed. As the barber began to work, they began to have a good conversation. They talked about so many things and various subjects. When they eventually touched on the subject of God, the barber said: "I don't believe that God exists." 

"Why do you say that?" asked the customer. "Well, you just have to go out in the street to realize that God doesn't exist. Tell me, if God exists, would there be so many sick people? Would there be abandoned children? If God existed there would be neither suffering nor pain. I can't imagine a loving God who would allow all of these things."

The customer thought for a moment, but didn't respond because he didn't want to start an argument. The barber finished his job and the customer left the shop. Just after he left the barbershop, he saw a man in the street with long, stringy, dirty hair and an untrimmed beard.

The customer turned back and entered the barber shop again and he said to the barber: "You know what? Barbers do not exist."

"How can you say that?" asked the surprised barber. "I am here, and I am a barber. And I just worked on you!"

"No!" the customer exclaimed. "Barbers don't exist because if they did, there would be no people with dirty long hair and untrimmed beards, like that man outside."

"Ah, but barbers DO exist! What happens is, people do not come to me," the barber responded. 

"Exactly!" affirmed the customer. ""That's the point! God, too, DOES exist! What happens, is, people don't go to Him and do not look for Him. That's why there's so much pain and suffering in the world."

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