Wednesday Learn This Open Comments

Got these from Adee via email:

* I’ve learned that I like my teacher because she cries when we sing “Silent Night.”
Age 5

* I’ve learned that our dog doesn’t want to eat my broccoli either.
Age 7

* I’ve learned that when I wave to people in the country, they stop what they are doing and wave back.
Age 9

* I’ve learned that just when I get my room the way I like it, Mom makes me clean it up again.
Age 12

* I’ve learned that if you want to cheer yourself up, you should try cheering someone else up.
Age 14

* I’ve learned that although it’s hard to admit it, I’m secretly glad my parents are strict with me.
Age 15

* I’ve learned that silent company is often more healing than words of advice.
Age 24

* I’ve learned that brushing my child’s hair is one of life’s great pleasures.
Age 26

* I’ve learned that wherever I go, the world’s worst drivers have followed me there.
Age 29

* I’ve learned that if someone says something unkind about me, I must live so that no one will believe it.
Age 30

* I’ve learned that there are people who love you dearly but just don’t know how to show it.
Age 42

* I’ve learned that you can make someone’s day by simply sending them a little note.
Age 44

* I’ve learned that the greater a person’s sense of guilt, the greater his or her need to cast blame on others.
Age 46

* I’ve learned that children and grandparents are natural allies.
Age 47

* I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on and it will be better tomorrow.
Age 48

* I’ve learned that singing “Amazing Grace” can lift my spirits for hours.
Age 49

* I’ve learned that motel mattresses are better on the side away from the phone. Age 50

* I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a man by the way he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.
Age 51

* I’ve learned that keeping a vegetable garden is worth a medicine cabinet full of pills.
Age 52

* I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you miss them terribly after they die.
Age 53

* I’ve learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life.
Age 58

* I’ve learned that if you want to do something positive for your children, work to improve your marriage.
Age 61

* I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.
Age 62

* I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back.
Age 64

* I’ve learned that if you pursue happiness, it will elude you. But if you focus on your family, the needs of others, your work, meeting new people, and doing the very best you can, happiness will find you.
Age 65

* I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with kindness, I usually make the right decision.
Age 66

* I’ve learned that everyone can use a prayer.
Age 72

* I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one.
Age 82

* I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love that human touch – holding hands, a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.
Age 90

* I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn.
Age 92

Monday Aquinas Speaks Truth Open Comments

St. Thomas had some harsh truths about Islam:

According to Aquinas, Islam appealed to ignorant, brutish, carnal men and spread not by the power of its arguments or divine grace but by the power of the sword.

/snip

Aquinas contrasts the spread of Christianity with that of Islam, arguing that much of Christianity’s early success stemmed from widespread belief in the miracles of Jesus, whereas the spread of Islam was worked through the promise of sensual pleasures and the violence of the sword.

Mohammad, Aquinas wrote, “seduced the people by promises of carnal pleasure to which the concupiscence of the flesh goads us. His teaching also contained precepts that were in conformity with his promises, and he gave free rein to carnal pleasure.”

This has always been a sticking point for me – Mohammed’s version of paradise closely resembles a cabaret, and that has never seemed to be appropriate for an afterlife environment. I mean, after the first thousand years or so, sex just becomes ho-hum. I mean, do you rotate out those 72 virgins for new ones, or are you facing the same ones repeatedly? And who wants to drink wine without getting drunk? It’s an eternity of brainlessness, and I think I want better than that, and I think my God does, too.

Such an offer, Aquinas contended, appealed to a certain type of person of limited virtue and wisdom.

“In all this, as is not unexpected, he was obeyed by carnal men,” he wrote. “As for proofs of the truth of his doctrine, he brought forward only such as could be grasped by the natural ability of anyone with a very modest wisdom. Indeed, the truths that he taught he mingled with many fables and with doctrines of the greatest falsity.”

Because of the weakness of Islam’s contentions, Aquinas argued, “no wise men, men trained in things divine and human, believed in him from the beginning.” Instead, those who believed in him “were brutal men and desert wanderers, utterly ignorant of all divine teaching, through whose numbers Muhammad forced others to become his followers by the violence of his arms.”

Islam’s violent methods of propagation were especially unconvincing to Aquinas, since he found that the use of such force does not prove the truth of one’s claims, and are the means typically used by evil men.

Just because I may be forced to convert through force, does not mean the religion is real. It’s a weak religion that depends upon force. A good idea will spread on its own. Truth will draw people, while lies require deception and brutish behavior.

At the time Aquinas was writing, Islam was generally considered a Christian heresy, since it drew so heavily on Christian texts and beliefs. Aquinas wrote that Mohammed “perverts almost all the testimonies of the Old and New Testaments by making them into fabrications of his own, as can be seen by anyone who examines his law.”

I read somewhere that Mohammed got information about Christianity from some improperly informed Christians who didn’t fully understand who Jesus was, nor how the faith was constructed. That’s how he got so much wrong.

According to the noted historian Hilaire Belloc, Islam “began as a heresy, not as a new religion. It was not a pagan contrast with the Church; it was not an alien enemy. It was a perversion of Christian doctrine. Its vitality and endurance soon gave it the appearance of a new religion, but those who were contemporary with its rise saw it for what it was—not a denial, but an adaptation and a misuse, of the Christian thing.”

In his Summa contra gentiles, Aquinas ends his argument against Islam by offering a backhanded compliment to Mohammed, noting that he had to keep his followers ignorant in order for them to remain faithful.

It was, Aquinas wrote, “a shrewd decision on his part to forbid his followers to read the Old and New Testaments, lest these books convict him of falsity.”

“It is thus clear that those who place any faith in his words believe foolishly,” he wrote.