Charlie's Blog: September 2019


Why Does God Allow Evil to Exist?

When the stars threw down their spears 
And water'd heaven with their tears: 
Did he smile his work to see? 
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

The existence of evil and suffering is a cause of grief for believers and a cause of unbelief for unbelievers. How can God allow such evil and suffering in the world? This is not a question the Bible ignores as suffering features prominently in the New Testament as well as Old Testament books like the Book of Job and Ecclesiastes. Great thinkers like Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas tackle the problem, but their answers are unsatisfying. Even modern thinkers like Peter Kreeft are left at the end with saying that they don't know. Who wants to hear that? Yet, I think a satisfying answer does exist. The answer is plain and easy to understand and has always been there in the Bible staring us in the face.

The Problem of Theodicy

The problem of theodicy is a fairly easy problem to state. God is good. God is all knowing and all powerful. Evil exists. No one disputes the existence of evil. What is called into question are the attributes of God's omniscience, omnipotence, and omnibenevolence. Those are big words for some readers, so I will state it plainly as I can. Evil exists because God is either evil or incompetent. This flies in the face of all we know and have been taught about God and is blasphemy. Yet, we are at a loss to resolve the problem. So, people have made attempts at resolving the problem.

The Manichean Answer

Manichaeism was an old Gnostic sect that began with a teacher named Mani back in the 200s. Saint Augustine is famous for once being an adherent to this heretical cult. The religion of Mani is dead today, but it does live on in one idea which is dualism. Anyone who has ever watched Star Wars with its Force that has both a Light side and a Dark side knows what dualism is.

The Manichean answer or dualist answer is that evil exists as a sort of negative to God's positive and must exist by logical necessity like darkness to light. God did not create evil. Evil exists by itself. This argument undermines the omnipotence of God. It also implies that evil has always existed and always will exist. God is powerless to do anything about evil.

Rabbi Harold Kushner's Answer

In 1981, Rabbi Harold Kushner published a book called When Bad Things Happen to Good People. Kushner is one of those good people who suffered the loss of his son to the rapid aging disease of progeria. In trying to come to terms with that tragedy, Kushner comes to the conclusion that God is good, but He is powerless to end evil and human suffering. Essentially, God is not omnipotent. Kushner meant well with his book hoping to comfort people in their grief, but he has written blapshemy in this regard.

The Atheist Answer

The atheist answer to the problem of theodicy is very straightforward. God doesn't exist! Philosopher Peter Kreeft admits that the problem of theodicy is the atheist's best argument, and his response is to say ultimately that he does not know. The agnostic/atheist skeptic Michael Shermer dismisses all of the Christian arguments on the matter as philosophical word games. And, as a former atheist, Shermer's opinion was essentially my own. The problem of evil was a Gordian knot that was solved with the slice of the sword of atheism.

What Aquinas Has to Say

Now, in my personal opinion, Saint Thomas Aquinas is the greatest thinker that has ever lived. I think he clearly refutes the atheists with his proofs for God's existence, and I think present day science does provide the empirical data that confirms Thomas's philosophical arguments. God exists because nothing comes from nothing.

Thomas also goes on to argue that God has the attributes of omniscience, omnipotence, and omnibenevolence. These attributes are necessary to God's being. To put it bluntly, how can God be an imbecile, an incompetent weakling, or utterly indifferent to a world that He cared enough to create? Either God exists in all of His attributes, or He doesn't exist. This refutes Rabbi Kushner.

Thomas then refutes the Manichean error by stating that evil is not a thing in itself but a good misdirected. God did not create evil. God created good. Evil comes about when creatures with free will (angels and humans) exercise their free wills in disobedience to God. Evil exists as a consequence of free will. The question should not be why God allows evil. The question should be this. Why does God allow evil beings to exist? Phrasing the question in that way also provides a clue to its answer.

This last argument from Aquinas is enough to settle the problem. It resolves how God can still be good and all powerful while allowing evil to exist. Yet, no one seems to find satisfaction in this answer. This is because Aquinas didn't explain any further the beauty or consequences of his argument. I will now fill in that blank and give you, Gentle Reader, the satisfaction you are seeking.

Evil and Suffering

As I explained in a previous essay, evil and suffering are not synonymous. Evil can be the cause of suffering, but it can also be the cause of pleasure such as when a husband cheats on his wife or the satisfaction an angry man feels when he commits an act of violence or murder. Conversely, one can do good and suffer for it such as when Jesus went to the Cross, or we sacrifice something for the sake of the good of the other such as giving up a Saturday to raise money for kids with Down's syndrome.

Atheists link evil and suffering, but I think this linkage is an error. Evil properly defined is disobedience to God. The atheist likes to mix and match his terms because he does not see or want to see the irrationality of his own argument. So, I will make it plain. The atheist is arguing that God should give us a paradise without God. God already provided a paradise with Him and has done so again through the redemptive work of Christ. The atheist does not want this.

A Paradise Without God

I have never heard an atheist make the argument that free will was a bad idea. In fact, they glory in free will and think Adam and Eve's eating of the forbidden fruit was an awesome thing. This is what the knowledge of good and evil means. We know good and evil, and we get to choose. We get to live a life apart from God and His commands. The atheists also express a certain admiration and gratitude to Satan for this "gift." But Satan did not give free will to men. God gave it.

Evil came about because of the exercise of free will in disobedience to God. We can argue that we didn't eat the forbidden fruit, but free will was not lost in the fall. We add our signatures to the Declaration of Disobedience in that original sin when we choose to sin as well. Today, atheists try to negate this free will and responsibility by various appeals to biological determinism. It isn't their fault somehow. We are no better than animals that obey instinct. But this is nonsense. If you have known the speed limit and refrained from breaking it, you have the knowledge and the ability to obey it. Humans have free will.

The problem for atheists is not that humans have free will, or that free will has been exercised to do evil and disobey God. For them, their problem is that this evil has brought consequences known as suffering. Behind this argument is the desire the atheist wants for a paradise without God. The atheist wants to live in bliss while doing evil. And this is why atheists refuse to believe in God and pursue utopian delusions like communism or reduce life to mere seeking after pleasure with the option for suicide and abortion when that pleasure is no longer attainable. And they are mad at God for not fixing this problem for them even though they created it.

God does fix the problem of evil, but it is not the solution that atheists desire. Here are the options on God's menu:
1. Negate free will. 
2. Allow evil to go unpunished but rewarded. 
3. Obliterate all evil beings including you and me. 
4. Make a way for people to turn from evil back to good while resolving all of the damage and harm done by the disobedience.
God went with option 4. I present this menu of options to show that we also would go with option 4. God did not create this problem, and He is fixing the problem He did not create and has no obligation to fix. Why is there a problem?

Some clever sophist will point out that these options negate the omnipotence of God. Why can't God make 2 + 2 = 5? Such arguments are complete bravo sierra and nonsense. God does not exist outside of logic because God is logic. There are no contradictions in God. If God cannot will Himself out of existence, does this mean God is not God? Somehow, the stupidity of this nonsense is wiser than the wisdom of God.

The Suffering of the Innocents

The atheist will point to various forms of human suffering especially the suffering of innocent people like children with crippling and fatal diseases. Nevermind the millions that have been slaughtered in the womb by abortion with the tacit approval and support of the vast majority of atheists. Because the innocent suffer, God is the bad guy, or He simply doesn't exist. The atheist answer to suffering is merciful death for themselves and others.

The reason why we all suffer is obvious. This world is not paradise. Paradise was lost in the Fall. It will only return to this world in a future restoration that only God can bring about. In the meantime, we are called to endure the suffering of this awful world in the same way that Christ endured it. Christ was truly innocent and did not deserve what was done to Him. But He accepted it and offered it up on behalf of the human race in atonement for their sins.

When atheists bewail the existence of evil, they are never referring to the evil of worshiping false gods, blaspheming the name of the Lord, or doing ill to one's neighbor by calumny or covetousness. Instead, they trot out some innocent victim of some natural or human horror and put God on trial for what was done to the victim. But as I said, the remedy these atheists seek is a paradise without God. They never stop to consider that such a thing is a logical impossibility.


For the believer, the existence of evil and suffering causes a great deal of grief and doubt. The atheist does not suffer from this same grief because he has ceased believing in God. The problem is solved for the atheist by taking God completely out of the problem. All that remains for the atheist is the evil that exists and the pitiless indifference of an empty universe where everything dies.

Could God not just wipe out the evil people and leave the good people? Well, God has done this very thing. He did this with the Flood wiping out all of humanity and preserving Noah and his family. The ground was barely dry before you saw the return of evil again. God wiped out Sodom and Gomorrah in a similar fashion. And He brings chastisement and punishment upon nations when their wickedness exceeds a certain limit. These things are not cures for evil but merely checks on evil to hold it to a certain level. Evil exists like a mad dog on a leash. God has His hand on the leash.

The probably with wiping out humanity is that it takes the good down with the bad. God could have dropped the hammer of judgment on Adam and Eve the moment they ate the forbidden fruit, but this would have wiped out all of their human offspring including Jesus Christ and His Blessed Mother. It would have also wiped out you and me. So, God showed mercy to the two evildoers and to the rest of us. Was God wrong for doing this? Is mercy an evil?

God shows mercy for the sake of the elect. When Abraham prayed for God's mercy on Sodom and Gomorrah, God said that He would relent if just ten righteous people could be found there. Obviously, there were none except Lot and his family who weren't so righteous. Yet, God spared them from the destruction that He brought.

A similar story is told of the parable of the wheat and the weeds. God tolerates the two to grow together for the sake of the wheat. Likewise, God tolerates evil in the world for the sake of those who believe in Him or will believe in Him. In addition, He allows people to suffer precisely to keep them from falling into evil or to turn them from evil.

Is there a better way than this?! No, there isn't. That was the final answer we get from the Book of Job. Fixing this world requires a goodness and intelligence beyond any human being. God has provided an answer, and there is no one in existence more qualified to give a better answer. This is why Job shuts his mouth at the end of the book. This is also why atheists should shut their mouths. They can't bring us a paradise without God, but they have managed to bring hell on earth.

Our only response to evil and suffering is patience. We have to let the game play out. That is essentially the message of the Bible. There is a lot of history in that book, and that story is still being told into the present day. We must remember how we were evil, and God was merciful to us in our wickedness. The atheist demands justice not realizing what foolishness he is demanding. Only a fool who thinks he is innocent demands justice.


Life is hard and difficult, and many things happen in this world that make us rage and cry. We are the reason for the evil in this world. The suffering is just the alarm bell. God is merciful for the moment because His justice will be final. People demand a world without evil, but this is a false demand. They really want a world of evil without suffering. How do I know? That's easy. Show me an atheist that became a saint while remaining an atheist.

Atheists don't become saints. Equating suffering with evil, they try to eliminate suffering. Inevitably, they fail and turn to their final answer which is merciful death for themselves or others. Since the end justifies the means for these people, they end up inflicting a great deal of suffering upon themselves and others in the process. I know because I did this when I was an atheist.

Here are two options for you to consider:
1. You can be evil in a world without suffering. 
2. You can be good in a world with suffering.
We will ignore the fact that option 1 is a logical impossibility. Let's imagine it could be had. Would you choose this option? As for option 2, this is the world we live in now. Then, there is the implied option 3 which is to be evil in a world with suffering. We already know what this looks like. This is where you try and eliminate the pain for yourself while saying to hell with the rest of the world including those you may hurt along the way. At some point, you will discover that this third option is also a logical impossibility.

Your choice is fundamentally this. Do you choose good? Or, do you choose evil? For me, I faced this choice as an atheist, and I chose the good. I knew that I never wanted to be a monster regardless of what it may gain me or cost me. In an Auschwitz style concentration camp, I would choose to be a prisoner instead of a guard. I would rather be the ashes in the oven than be the guy tossing the bodies in the oven.

Option 4 is to be good in a world without suffering. This place exists, and we know it as Heaven. There is neither evil nor suffering there. Unfortunately, you have to suffer to get there. The atheist does not believe in Heaven. Denying the existence of God and Heaven allows the atheist to live as he pleases. Inevitably, the atheist figures out that the pleasure he seeks eludes him. If he is fortunate, this realization comes on this side of the grave. And when the realization comes, it is an awesome thing.

God tolerates evil people because sometimes those evil people become good people. In addition, those evil people serve as a warning and a reminder to good people to not fall into evil. Regardless of the situation and circumstances of this world of misery, choosing to do evil should never be an option for us. For many atheists, they prefer to suffer in a world without goodness or God. This world actually does exist. We know it as Hell. The evil beings there will have eternity to try and turn it into Heaven.


The Best Things in Life

You can live to be a hundred if you give up all the things that make you want to live to be a hundred.

My wife has this term. This term is the "finger." Imagine you are having a good time, and there is a stern faced Puritan wagging his finger at you for enjoying life. The finger is the condemnation of that happiness. Implied in the finger is the notion that all pleasure is sinful and bad. The Puritans probably thought this, but I don't. What I do believe is that not all pleasures are equal with some being sublime while others are debased. So, in refutation of the charge that I am a Puritan retaining the residue from an earlier period of Calvinism in my life, here is a list of what I consider to be the best things in life.

1. Religion.

When you have God, everything in life is made better. As someone who spent a decade as an atheist, I experienced those years as "flat" like defizzed Coke. When you reduce everything in life to just mere accidents and chaos and nothingness, your enthusiasm for life and your experience is greatly diminished.

Atheists crave religious experience which is why so many of them still end up pursuing some kind of spirituality with practices like meditation or attending atheist "churches" which I find bizarre. They expend a great deal of effort scratching an itch they deny having.

There is pleasure in religion. Whether you attend Mass or pray alone in a room, you have genuine experiences that make you happy to be alive and to exist.

The Catholic religion is the good religion. All other religions are variations of bad religion. Right now, Protestant megachurches do the praise band thing, but this is manufactured religion. They are substituting an aesthetic and emotional experience for God. With Catholicism, you actually commune with God when you take the Eucharist. Even adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in silence is superior to a hundred Protestant praise bands.

2. Family and friends.

Next to God, you have the people in your life. There are good people and bad people. I have learned to keep good people in my life and push bad people out of my life. It will amaze you how few good people there are in the world. Fortunately for me, I married someone awesome.

3. Good books.

I love to read, and good books have a way of elevating your spirit and mind. Because books take time to read, I don't waste that time on bad books. Books have been my friends for many years.

4. Classical music.

I have always liked music, but I have not always liked good music. This is because I listened to a lot of beat driven noise masquerading as music. I have listened to rock, rap, country, electronica, jazz, disco, and on and on. This music is fun at first like eating candy, but you feel polluted later. Upon the recommendation of a priest in a homily on music, I turned to classical music, The result has been an elevation in my soul and mind. I always feel better listening to Bach instead of Metallica.

5. Vegan food.

I have eaten a lot of bad food that tasted good in my life. I have suffered for this. So, I went vegan, and I love plant-based eating. The best part is eating and not feeling the G-I upset I used to get from eating crap. Fresh fruit, salads, pasta, rice, and beans taste good and are good for you.

6. Great art.

I love art, and I follow various Tumblr accounts featuring classical artistry. This is the good stuff. I visited the National Gallery to see some modern art which amounted to crap put together by mental defectives. I was there on the advice of an "expert." Meanwhile, just a minute away was a rare piece from Leonardo. I was wasting my visit there looking at some plywood thing with dryer lint fuzz nailed to it. Fortunately, I had 15 minutes to look at real art instead of crap. That was 15 minutes well spent. As for that other "art," they should have displayed it in the dumpsters out back.

7. Nature.

I call the outdoors "nature's cathedral." People turn to nature and can't help feeling a certain elevation in their spirits. This is because nature reflects God. When you believe in God, your enjoyment of nature is increased. It is really awesome when combined with physical exercise.

8. Physical exercise.

Exercise makes you feel good. I enjoy a good walk or doing calisthenics. If you could take the benefits of exercise and put them in a pill, it would be acclaimed as the greatest wonder drug of all time. I don't know why I don't do it more. I think it is because I am too engrossed in cerebral pleasures to indulge the physical pleasures.

9. Work.

No one thinks of work as pleasurable, but it feels awesome to do productive things. Most of that pleasure is diminished by corporate management who care only for money and not the creation of value or serving customers. Fortunately for me, I only care about the work itself. Management learns to get out of my way and let me do awesome things.

10. Writing.

Writing is a form of work and a creative endeavor. I know I take pleasure in it because I do it compulsively like an addiction. People who paint or play musical instruments know this same elation that creativity brings.

11. Coffee.

When it comes to substances, the only one I abuse is coffee. I have looked at all of the research and virtually none of it indicates that coffee is harmful for you. Obviously, we can't say the same for tobacco and alcohol. So, I drink lots of java without fear or regret. Coffee is 100% pure win and is a catalyst for all of my other pleasures.

12. Sleep.

Some people feel guilty about sleeping, but I don't. Some people do Zen meditation while others do yoga to try and relieve stress and relax. None of these things is as good as just taking a nap. I don't go out of my way to create a sleep environment. I just let exhaustion do the trick for me. If you've earned that sleep, it will be awesome.

My life is relatively boring in comparison to the raucous lifestyle and hedonistic excess of a rock star binging on loud music, hookers, whiskey, and cocaine. As for the reduced hedonism of the pint and the pipe, I don't even go for that as they are not good for you. I have Catholic friends who love their cigars, their steaks, their wine, and their craft beer. They take their cues from G.K. Chesterton who abused his body with such things. The man was definitely no Puritan, but he was no ascetic either.

I prefer the pleasures that make you better not worse. And I think this is why I get accused of being "the finger." But I am the way I am for two reasons. The first is that I am Catholic now, and this has informed my outlook on things. The second is that I have had my share of the regular pleasures, and those pleasures have not been kind to me. The one I regret the most is eating all that crappy food for practically my entire life before becoming vegan. I was never a smoker, and my drinking of alcohol essentially ended at age 35. I drank some beers since that time because I wanted to shed the Puritan label after becoming Catholic, but I don't care now. I am a teetotaller who would rather go to a coffeehouse than a smoke filled bar.

The bottom line is that you have positive pleasures and negative pleasures. Positive pleasures leave you better off. Negative pleasures leave you worse off. I have eliminated the negative pleasures from my life while cultivating the positive pleasures. Am I better off for this? I am. And I am not going to apologize for this.

As for people who prefer negative pleasures, I say to each his own. But am I a better person than they are? I'm not into the comparison thing. People may feel "the finger" when I am around, but this effect is largely a product of their own minds. I don't care to be the scold on these matters. The way I see it is very simple. You enjoy the nicotine in your cigarette. I enjoy breathing fresh air.  I am willing to concede to the smoker that there are real benefits to smoking, and I think the Surgeon General's warning on the pack lets me off the moral hook for warning people about the dangers of smoking. What do I say to a smoker? Light up! Just do it outside somewhere.

The bottom line is that I know two things. The first is that precious few if any are going to follow my path, and I am fine with this. The second is that most people are going to hate me for taking the path that I am on, and I can't help this. I'm not going to hurt myself or destroy myself to make you feel better about destroying yourself. You can swim with me or drown alone. But I am not drowning with you.


How to Lose Weight

If the furnace was hot enough, anything would burn, even Big Macs.
JOHN L. PARKER JR. , Once a Runner

I feel weird writing a post on this topic because I am fat. My weight has been as high as 350 pounds and as low as 180 pounds. But I consider myself an expert on losing weight because I know what works and what doesn't work from my own successes and failures. Losing weight is a simple strategy that is just hard to implement.

This is not a typical how to guide with a list of bullet points. Instead, it is my answer to a debate that has raged for decades. It is purely anecdotal. I cite no scientific studies whatsoever. I am just telling you what I have discovered in my own experience.

People already know that fad diets are a terrible way to lose weight. I remember hearing about them all the way back in the seventies when I was a child. I think the grapefruit diet was having its moment in the sun. Today, you have madness like Atkins, Paleo, Keto, and intermittent fasting that give you results that do not last. This can be frustrating. But these strategies are inherently doomed to failure. I will explain why.

Weight is a matter of simple math. If your caloric expenditure exceeds your caloric intake, you lose weight. If your caloric intake exceeds your caloric expenditure, you gain weight. It doesn't matter if those calories come from carbs, fat, protein, or leafy green spinach. A calorie is a calorie.

Some people will argue that not all calories are the same. I can tell you from my unqualified non-medical personal experience that this is not true. I have lost weight while eating greasy burgers and fries, and I have gained weight on a plant based vegan diet. There is more to that story than what was going in my mouth, but it proves that a calorie is a calorie. (And, for the record, you need to go vegan.)

When it comes to losing weight, people will argue for one side of the other. You can either attack the problem on the intake side or the expenditure side. I argue that your best and most successful route to weight loss will be on the expenditure side. Don't starve it off. Burn it off.

The easiest way to lose weight is to starve yourself. You just stop eating. People who do intermittent fasting report incredible weight loss. This makes sense. When you are in caloric deficit, you will lean out every time. Then, you will eat again except the weight will come back faster than you lost it. I know because this happens to me. The reason for this is that my body is calorie efficient. My metabolism adjusts downward to match my caloric intake. I think this is true for other people as well.

When you calorie restrict, you feel bad. You feel lethargic, and you move around less. You may feel a short term boost when you begin a fast because your body is motivating you to go hunt or forage for calories. But after so much time, it gets the message that calories are not coming, so it shifts down a gear or two to conserve the energy.

Endurance athletes know this truth. When they are low on carb intake, their performance suffers. Even so-called paleo/keto endurance athletes consume carbs and sugar on race day. It defies the conventional wisdom, but you have to eat food to lose weight. By carbing up, you can do more stuff which revs up your metabolism which burns off weight. It shouldn't work, but it does. I know this for a fact because I have done it.

When I was about 18 years old, I weighed 240 pounds. I took a job stacking hay and delivering feed for a feed merchant in my town. The job lasted about seven months for me. It was brutal. During that stretch, I went from 240 to 180. I was also eating hamburgers, french fries, fried chicken, and every calorie I could stick in my mouth. I could not eat enough food. I was burning it off, and I loved it. I could eat whatever I wanted and still lose weight.

This experience taught me a valuable lesson. It is better to burn it off than starve it off. After I left that job, my weight went right back up to where it was before even as I started eating less food. But it took awhile to get there. Knowing that exercise was the secret, I thought that I would go to the gym and burn it off there by lifting weights. This was a failure. The only thing weights did for me was add muscle to the fat. I gained 15-20 pounds doing that. But I did feel stronger and did my job better.

When it comes to losing weight, your preference should be for cardio. This could be brisk walking, running, cycling, swimming, rowing. or whatever. This was the kind of exercise I was getting from all that hay stacking. Lifting weights burns some calories but not for a sustained amount of time. If you could bench press straight for 3 hours a day, you would burn a large number of calories, but you can't maintain this. You will fail because this is what bodybuilders do when they work out. They lift to failure. This is why an out of shape guy can lug a couch up the stairs one time but can't climb twenty flights of stairs empty handed. Cardio is where you get the results.

I ditched the gym and decided to start running. I began with walking and got up to running for an hour each day. This worked. I lost weight even though I was a regular at the Burger King drive thru. I would also add cycling to the mix as I liked commuting this way, and I had a part time job stacking boxes for FedEx and later UPS. That knocked my weight down quite a bit. When I dropped those exercise habits, my weight soared again.

Going vegan had a good effect allowing me to trim fifty pounds off my body. My job was easy, and I did not exercise in my non-working hours. My weight has remained constant since then. I am fat but just less fat than I was when I was eating crap. My metabolism adjusted to the caloric downturn, so I now feel stuffed after eating a bowl of ramen. Even eating this meager fare, I have added some pounds because I am spending more time in front of my desk these days.

The vegan diet is awesome for making you feel better and making you healthier. It will trim your weight down and make exercise way easier. My heart rate and blood pressure numbers are amazing. But my weight remains with me because I don't move enough. Diet is not the magic bullet. As for fasting, this is a regular thing when you're Catholic, and I shed a couple of pounds each Lent. But they come back when I return to normal eating even on a vegan diet.

The magic bullet to weight loss is cardiovascular exercise. McDonald's takes a large portion of the blame for the obesity epidemic, but the couch and the automobile are probably more to blame. I meet people who live in cities like New York, and they are trim from all of the walking they have to do to get around a city where a car is a liability. They eat pizza and hot dogs and don't gain weight. If you look at marathoners and Tour de France cyclists, they are painfully skinny. Yet, they eat tremendous amounts of food. A cyclist in the TDF has to consume 5000 calories per day which come mostly from carbs.

This is what I have learned. The vegan diet is the optimal diet. You can get fit eating crap, but this is stupid. Cardio is the optimal form of exercise. Strength work should be done as a supplement to the cardio to keep your body in overall shape and to prevent injury. Calorie restriction just kills your metabolism. All fad diets work by calorie restriction.

I hate exercise. I wish that changing my diet did the trick, but it doesn't. You have to move your body for at least 30 minutes each day. If you can do more, that is even better. As much as I hate it, exercise has magical results on my waistline. Like I said, it is a simple strategy that is hard to implement. I am going back to the couch now.


The Wilderness Years

And they marched from mount Hor, by the way that leadeth to the Red Sea, to compass the land of Edom. And the people began to be weary of their journey and labour: And speaking against God and Moses, they said: Why didst thou bring us out of Egypt, to die in the wilderness? There is no bread, nor have we any waters: our soul now loatheth this very light food.

I am very candid here at the C-Blog about my journey and struggles. For longtime readers, my story is that I was a Protestant beginning as an evangelical and moving to the Calvinist side of things in my twenties. I even attended seminary for a year to prepare to become a Presbyterian minister when a tragedy shattered my faith in God. I found my housemate who was also a seminary student like myself dead from suicide. It was an upsetting thing to me such that after a few years of drift and coldness I came to the conclusion that all religion was a delusion. I fell into atheism. The only good thing I can say about that move is that it separated me from Calvinism.

My years as an atheist were dark years. I became a militant atheist by my mid-30s where I fell in with a group of other like minded militant atheists like myself. When they took a turn to embrace Wiccans into their group, I was out. I had fled from superstition and considered myself a person who embraced logic, science, and reason. But atheists are more into open marriages and worshiping the Devil than science. You will hear some of them decry ancient paganism and Islam, but atheism exists purely in antithesis to the God of Christianity. Atheists don't hate religion and superstition. They hate the true religion of Jesus Christ.

I separated myself from those atheists not realizing that God was preparing me for what was to come. This blog was a broadcasting station for all of my erroneous beliefs about God and politics. But it reached the woman who is now my wife. She prayed for me to the Blessed Mother which began a long journey to where I am today--a Roman Catholic.

I came into the Church at the same time that heretic Francis was raised to the pontificate. That was six years ago. It doesn't seem that long ago, yet it seems like ages ago to me now. This is because the last seven years of my life have been simultaneously the happiest and most painful of my life. That is a paradoxical sentence to write, but it is the truth.

If you have ever listened to Barber's Adagio for Strings, you know that is very sad music but also very beautiful. That piece of music captures what it feels like to be Catholic. It is a mixture of joy and mourning. Nothing in Protestantism comes close, and I am saddened and disgusted to see the Catholic Church rushing to embrace things I left behind. What Paul VI did to the Mass is akin to what these doctors do to men who want to transgender into women. You can't make them women. You can only mutilate them. Likewise, the Novus Ordo is a mutilated Mass.

My last few years of suffering have tried my faith. All of my pain and grief has served to try and push me back into atheism. The strange thing is that my faith has only increased in proportion to my suffering. I am being tried and refined in the crucible of my agony. The residue of my atheism comes out in the form of complaining. Why does God put me through this? Why do I suffer like this?

I am always brought back in my mind to the children of Israel wandering in the desert. I have meditated on it for years. These Israelites were slaves in Egypt. They were treated very poorly. And God took pity on them and removed them from their bondage through a series of miraculous plagues and the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea. And when they were brought out of Egypt, they would spend the next forty years wanting to go back to Egypt. That is stunning stuff.

Did these things really happen? Absolutely. What nation of people would write such an unflattering myth about themselves? Think about it. These Israelites saw the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. They were fed with manna from God every single day except on the Sabbath. God was looking after them. There were no atheists in this camp because you only had to look at the daily miracles and the constant presence of God. Yet, these clowns paid God back by worshiping a golden calf with a sex orgy. And they wanted to return to slavery in Egypt. It boggles the mind.

Were these people fools? Absolutely. I can't imagine a more foolish people than that generation in the wilderness. It wasn't peaches and cream in that desert, but it had to be better than living under the toil of bondage back in Egypt. Why did they want to go back? The secret can be found in their disgust with the manna. Their souls loathed that bread from Heaven.

We can laugh at and mock these fools, but we need to reflect on a fact. Those fools are us. The Protestants rejected the Bread of Heaven by becoming Protestant and forfeiting the Real Presence. Now, many Catholics and virtually all the bishops and priests today would like to follow after those Protestants. This is why the venerable Latin Mass has become the joke of the Novus Ordo, and the modernist heretics do everything they can to invalidate the Mass itself. They incorporate Protestant and pagan elements into their worship. They should go ahead and drop the charade and make their golden calf and get down with the perversion. We are almost there with these perverts in collars.

Egypt represents the world. You can choose God, or you can choose Egypt. For me, atheism is Egypt. When I complain in my trials, I tell God that I want to go back to Egypt. This is a humiliating confession on my part, but I share it anyway. I have learned to humble myself over these last few years and to be candid about my weaknesses and failures. Without God, I am just a miserable sinner. I despise myself and trust in the Almighty. He truly is my strength and my salvation.

The wilderness years for the Israelites were a rite of purification for the people of God. They had to suffer and an entire generation would have to die in that desert before those people were ready to enter the Promised Land. The reason that generation had to die was because a new generation would have to emerge that had no memories of Egypt. I see something similar in the USA with the boomer generation that recently celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of Woodstock which amounted to fornication, urination, and defecation in a disgusting field as they dropped acid and listened to awful music. The bulk of that generation will have to die off and wake up in Hell before this nation ever turns back to righteousness again.

Most people go to Hell. I know this because the wicked outnumber the righteous. This is why this world is the wilderness for all those who love God and yearn for Heaven. Heaven is our promised land. The wilderness is our purification. This is why we suffer like we do.

Those stiff necked Israelites preferred being slaves in Egypt than being slaves to God. This is why the manna was nauseating to them. They weren't rational people, but people beguiled by evil. This is what sin does to us. It blinds us.

The wilderness was no picnic. But the wilderness was better than Egypt. In my own life, I would rather suffer with the Lord as my hope than ever return to the nauseating darkness of atheism. The thing I have learned in my sufferings is that God lets me go through a great deal of pain, but it is always limited. It never goes beyond a certain limit. At the moment I feel like throwing in the towel, the suffering lets up. And each trial is followed by a season of rest and refreshment.

It wasn't like this when I was Protestant. I encountered my first real trial back then, and I failed spectacularly. I had been reading up on Calvin's teachings concerning suffering in the Institutes, but those theories were no comfort in the reality of my adversity. I look back now on that trial and consider how light it truly was. But that's the difference between Protestantism and Catholicism. Protestants don't do suffering. Their theology doesn't allow it.

I was reminded of this as two high profile Protestants have apostasized from their faith and one has chosen to end his life by suicide. Now, I know other Protestants who do suffer and suffer tremendously. They don't understand the suffering, but they accept it. I think it must be hard for them when they are subjected to prosperity teachers who teach them that suffering and poverty come from a lack of faith. I wonder how Joel Osteen's faith will fare after a cancer diagnosis and his fine head of hair falls out from the chemo and radiation.

I am tempted back to atheism all the time, but I am never tempted by Protestantism. For me, it is either true religion or no religion. This mirrors what happens with so many cradle Catholics who lose their faith. They don't become Southern Baptists. They become agnostics and atheists. They reckon correctly that if Catholicism is false then all religion is false.

What makes people lose their faith in God? We can offer so many answers, but I find most of them to be incorrect. People especially Catholics become atheists because of suffering. This is why I became an atheist. I could not reconcile the suffering in this world with the goodness of God. This is why those Israelites were so quick to turn back to Egypt. They did not trust in God. They believed that God brought them out of Egypt to die in the desert. Ironically, that is exactly what happened to them.

God can only do so much for you, but the rest depends upon your cooperation with grace. Those Israelites died in the desert, but that was their fault not God's fault. Likewise, I must admit that I probably would have become Catholic if I had just kept praying and seeking after God so long ago. This is how so many other Protestants came into the faith. But I was ready to bail when the adversity hit.

The reason I don't become an atheist now is twofold. The first is that I have already been an atheist, and I know that mindset from the inside. The second is that I have learned and experienced too much since becoming Catholic. I have seen the pillar of cloud and fire in my life. I know God exists. I can't not know that God exists. I know it so well that I find myself the ex-atheist consoling Catholics who are tempted to schism and apostasy under the trial of all these scandals in the Church.

Scandals and suffering cannot take away my faith in God. I spend every day of my life reading about saints in the Bible and in the history of the Church who persevered in their trials until the end. I see how those who were weak in faith were perplexed only to hold on through their trials to find themselves on firmer ground. And that is where I am now myself. My faith in God has never been stronger than it is now as my future is now more uncertain than ever. I just trust in God.

What God is able to do in your life depends upon how much you trust in Him. You don't have to do anything heroic except remain faithful to God. God takes care of the rest. For me, this means that I must not complain in my trials. God knows me better than I know myself. And these trials are necessary for me and my salvation.

My wife said something to me that I found to be truly awesome. We live voluntary poverty to such a level that other people we know would be shocked and afraid to live like we do. The irony is that I don't feel in the least way deprived. We just don't live luxuriously. God has taught us to live like this. If we ever had a taste for material things, we have lost it in much the same way that I have lost the taste for meat since becoming vegan. By embracing the thing others avoid, we have learned a great deal of wisdom in the process. Most of the things we fear in life are just in our heads.

You don't want it easy in life. You might think you want this, but you will find out that you don't. You want the cross that God has for you. When you first put it on your shoulder, it doesn't feel good. You want to throw it off. But then you carry it for awhile, and you get used to it. At some point, you prefer it. Then, you embrace it. Suffering with God is better than all the pleasures in this world. Once you know this, you quit complaining. Egypt has vanished from your memory.