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*In a dream. But please, don't let the shameless false advertising in the title stop me from sharing this totally loony story with you. It's so ridiculous I have to type it out before going back to sleep, or I'll forget it or stop believing I ever had it. It also must be related in full detail, making it a bit too long for the "What Are Your Dreams" thread but ideal for a blog, so here it is. I was over at a relative's house. My aunt and uncle's place , to be precise. It looked exactly like my grandparent's, at least on the inside, but different outside. So for whatever reason, they were having someone staying over with them for a night or so: THE POPE. Yes. Pope Benedict XVI is my aunt and uncle's houseguest. I don't know why, but he is. So as my dream went, the relatives were all gone doing whatever it is they do, and I was still there. Well, I thought, I'm not religious at all. In fact, I left Catholicism long ago because my private school sucked and I was tired of hitting intellectual brick walls everywhere I turned. But if you had an opportunity to see and talk to the Pope in person at your aunt's house, would you pass it up? So I go downstairs to the guest room he was staying in (the same one I once used after moving out of my parents' and before I got an apartment). And there he is, standing in the doorway in full regalia. He looks just like he does on TV, except a little bigger and somehow more...not sure how to say it. There's just something faintly sinister about him. (Or maybe I always thought that. Look at his picture. You can't tell me this man is not evil.) Naturally I'm a little nervous. I figure you're supposed to bow or something, so I do just to get on his good side. "Er, Your Eminence...I'm sorry for disturbing you, but may I ask you one question?" "Why, certainly, sonny," the Pope says kindly. "I'm sure you hear this all the time," I say carefully as he discards his outer robe and seats himself casually on the carpet. "But...what's it like being the Pope?" "I'll tell you," he replies, "But first you have to come over here and sit on my knee." "Um...okay." Gee, that's weird. I'm a grown man and he wants me to sit on his lap? But I go over and do it anyway, since it's a dream and you kind of have to go where your mind takes you. I never could manage that lucid dreaming stuff...but it would have come in handy here, because as soon as I'm sitting on his knee, the Holy Father does something very bizarre... He makes a pass at me. I don't remember what he says, just that it's gross and I get the hell off his knee. This is even more uncomfortable to write about than it is to read, folks. "Hold on," the Pope says, and now he's looking more sinister and crazy with each passing second. "Don't you want an answer to your question?!" And he reaches behind the bed and pulls out a speargun. Like the kind you would use against big fish in the water or something. Except there are no fish around, only me, and this innocent scenario is taking a highly unwelcome turn into dark comedy. Laughing crazily, His Unholiness fires. The first spear misses me and splinters the closet door I'm standing next to. "What the f*** is wrong with you?!" I scream as he fires the second spear into the ceiling above me. I'm standing like 15 feet away, so he must not be a very good shot, but I have to get away from him just the same. The third shot goes into the wall where I was standing; I'm already racing up the stairs and into the living room. I run out the front door and lock it behind me. I know no one in my family will believe this, but as I run, I realize there's one thing I have to do, even if I have no idea why. The Pope isn't athletic enough to pursue me, but he's still in there and still dangerous. I quickly find a friend of my cousin's and get a spare set of keys off him. "What do you need them for?" he asks. "I can't tell you. You'd never believe it," I answer. I run back to the house, unlock the front door, eye the living room to make sure no homicidal religious leaders are waiting for me...and I sneak out their big flat-screen TV. At that point, my dog started whining and the dream ended. Yep. So THIS horrible near-death experience is the first dream that I remember in months, and I will never be able to see Pope Benedict in the paper or on television again without thinking of it. Hallelujah. I never would've had a dream like this about Pius IX or John XXIII...they just don't make Popes like they used to. "I have as much authority as the Pope...I just don't have as many people who believe it." --George Carlin, 1937-2008
It was around mid-day when a strange, majestic pony started teaching to smaller ponies in the middle of the small village about friendship. During this age of new harmony, it wasn't normal for a pony to have been born with both wings and a horn, let alone be twice as tall as a normal pony. Not only that, but it wasn't natural for ponies, either earth, pegasus, or unicorn, to come together all at once just to listen to one pony teach everything that was for, yet against all they knew about peace and harmony. But everything this winged unicorn taught was so intriguing and inspiring that the ponies of the newly established land of Equestria couldn't help but follow in awe. All except a portion of the unicorn tribe. This clan of unicorns, or more commonly known as the Harmisees, knew what was right and wrong. They knew what must be done in order to keep balance between the three tribes. Yet, this...white alicorn is teaching everypony things that is blasphemy and against almost everything they know about friendship. All this talk about "loving your enemies as you would yourself" and such nonsense was somehow interesting to the normal ponies, making the Harmisees look bad. If this were to keep up, the ponies would lose their minds, so they thought, and also all their bits. Today, however, they were going to try to outsmart this freak of a pony, and to put a stop to this. The group of unicorns, coming from a distance, walked up to the alicorn as she was teaching. "Can I help you?" she asked. "Yes, we believe you can." said the leader of the group. "We are very intrigued by your teachings about 'loving your neighbors,' but please tell us. Just who is my neighbor?" he said with a grin. Surely, her answer wouldn't be logical, or even reasonable. But the alicorn looked at them and smiled. Then, as the other ponies got a little more excited, she started to tell a story. "Once there was an earth pony who was walking to another settlement. When suddenly, the earth pony was ambushed by two robbers. They beat him, stole everything he had on him, and left him to die on the side of the road." "An hour passes as the beaten earth pony is slowly loosing his strength when along comes a proud earth pony. She had a beautiful woven cloak, good food for travel, and plenty of bits. The fair earth pony saw the half dead earth pony on the side of the road, but then immediately turned away and kept walking, without so much as a second thought to help the poor colt." "Another hour passes by as the sun slowly falls down from the evening sky, when along comes a young pegasus coming up the road. He turned and saw the weak earth pony barely moving. He looked at the colt for a few seconds, but started to slowly walk away. He didn't want to touch the disgusting numskull, not after what they have done to their own tribe just a few years ago. So he walked away." "Another hour passes as the sun is just above the horizon, when then came a unicorn. An ordinary unicorn, on her way to the nearby settlement. She turned and saw the earth pony, dying on the side of the road. She knew that the unicorn and earth tribes were enemies, and she knew the earth tribe shouldn't be trusted. But she also knew that she should help the poor and be-friend others. So she stooped down, picked up the weak colt, used her magic to get some water for him, and carried him to the settlement. When they arrived, she took him to the nearest inn, gave the colt to the owner and paid him to nurse the colt until he was ready to travel again. Then she continued on her way." "Now, I tell you, who was the colt's neighbor?" she concluded. Everypony was amazed by this story, including the harmisees. Then they answered, "The one who stopped to help him." The alicorn said, "Your ancestors have taught you to love your family and to curse your enemies. But I say to love your enemies and forgive those who mistreat you. For what is harmony without willing the good of the other as others? We must all forgive others, and help those who are both hurt, and those who hurt others."
I wanted to know what the Bronies thought of this new way to look at the whole Christianty vs LGBT conflict. Bronies usually get tagged on with the LGBT community, despite that most Bronies are in fact not inherently Homosexual. Are there only two ways of looking at LGBT, or is there a Third Way? Watch the video below and give me your thoughts, all I ask. on https://vimeo.com.
RockinRarity posted a blog entry in The Mind of Sally - Experiences, Opinions, MusingsIn my experience, it's not very often that someone shares to others on the Internet just why they are Christian or Catholic and why they came to be the person they are today. Many people who call themselves Christian may not even say that it makes that big of a difference in their lives. I guess, perhaps, that I am a bit different. There is one reason why this story of my life is the first part that I am sharing. This is because it is the most important. The reason why I am a Catholic Christian is much of the reason why I am who I am today. Everything that I have experienced in my life, at least on a large scale, is influenced by my religious beliefs. It wouldn't make sense to talk about my romance life or my Internet life without talking about the most fundamental and foundational aspect of myself. Before I go on, I want to make this very clear: I chose this religion for myself. Yes, most of my family is Catholic too, but I'm not the type of person to believe something just because I was raised to believe it. I'm no theologian, but I have independently studied more about Catholicism than most. I would love to get a master's in theology, but that's for another stage in life. Now I begin my story. I am the fourth of six children in my family. I have 3 older brothers and 2 younger brothers, making me the only girl out of all my siblings. As you can probably tell, growing up was quite the adventure. We had a wild household, but thanks to the disciplinary measures of my parents, the house was not uncontrollable. It helps that my dad can put on a scary face when he wants to. We went to Mass every Sunday. At Mass, we would sing songs, as you probably know. My mom has a lovely singing voice. I admired it as a child. I wanted to sing just like my mom. so I started singing church songs as much as I could as soon as I could. That got me participating in Mass early in life. For the most part, I didn't even see Mass as boring like a lot of children do. The church that I grew up in however was not a normal Catholic Church. This church is called a Charismatic Catholic Church, meaning that we would have Mass, but within it, we would have something called Charismatic worship, which involves the raising of hands, shouting praises to God, and even speaking in tongues. I know that that sort of thing can scare people, but trust me when I say that my church was nothing like Jesus Camp. Anyways, I suppose that also kept Mass from being too boring, too. But not only did I grow up in this church, my parents and much of my dad's side of the family were also involved with another Christian group - an interdenominational, charismatic Christian group where Christians from multiple denominations can come together and praise God. Not only were there prayer meetings every other Sunday, but the adults were part of small sharing groups separated by men and women where they would share their lives with one another, and, in general, they agree to uphold good Christian standards for one another. In this Christian group's view - a community, rather - it is not good enough to just be a Christian who goes to church on Sundays and then does whatever they want during the rest of the week. We need to be Christians every day. That's basically my background as a Christian child. I went to Christian summer camps between the ages of 9 and 14, I received First Communion and Confirmation in the Catholic Church, and I attended Christian/Catholic school from 3rd grade until I graduated high school. I went on several retreats during high school, was part of a high school youth group and small group in the charismatic Christian group, and my senior year I got to be a retreat leader for my senior class retreat. I gave 2 talks and lead a small group full of my classmates. As I got older, I wasn't just somebody who cruised through Christianity and never thought of it as having no real effect on my life. I didn't always remember to have personal prayer, but I went to church, went to youth group, and learned more about God in school and in my personal life. And as I continued to grow into that way of life, I felt more security and satisfaction in who I was. After I graduated high school, I attended Eastern Michigan University, a public university in southeastern Michigan. This was my first time attending a public school since 2nd grade. I still lived with my parents for my first 2 years there because I was poor, but I was still learning to live in a non-Christian - and sometimes anti-Christian - environment. This begins the chapter of me learning to become an adult Christian. Because eventually, if you want to follow a religion without feeling like a miserable robot, you have to figure out why you are in it and why you believe what you believe. It's a part of growing up. I suppose that I will start this part of the story with my sophomore year in college. At this point in my life, I had been: -Talking to people on the Internet for 4 and a half years -Dating an old friend from high school for 2 and a half years -Participating on the official Yu-Gi-Oh: The Abridged Series forum for 10 months -Living with my parents, not going to move out for another year -A part of a Christian group in college related to the interdenominational Christian community for a year The first 3 things on the list were decisions that I made completely on my own. The last 2 things on the list were decisions that my parents either made me choose (living with them) or encouraged me to choose (the Christian group). It's not that I didn't enjoy being part of the Christian group, in fact I liked it a lot. But I was still pretty new with it, and I knew that my parents wouldn't like it much if I decided to stop going to their prayer meetings. At any rate, the Christian group was holding a weekend retreat at the beginning of October. The theme of the retreat was about learning more about the Holy Spirit and learning about how to take beginners' steps into how to be an adult Christian. I enjoy retreats and I really wanted to go to it, but the retreat costed $110. Back then, that was a pretty steep price for me. I had a less-than part-time job and I had to pay for some of my classes. There wasn't any way that I could just pull $110 out of my bank account. They offered scholarships, but the maximum amount that they could give to an individual was $30. That helped, but I was still $80 short. It was getting much closer to the date of the retreat, and people were still begging me to go and they prayed for my finances, but it wasn't until a couple of weeks before the retreat that I discovered that I could make it work to go. I babysat one weekend and made $40. It was much easier for me to scrounge up another $40 than it was to try to scrounge up $110. God helped provide the money that I needed to attend the retreat. So I went. On Saturday night, we were encouraged to ask God for a gift of the Holy Spirit that we thought that God may want to give us, and that the people in our small groups are to pray over each other for that gift. Now, I had been prayed over several times in my life for several gifts, and I knew about the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The year of my Catholic Confirmation, I began to pray every day for Wisdom, Knowledge, and Understanding. I've asked for prayer for things like patience, peace, joy, etc. I had received the gift of tongues ages ago. What do I ask for? Then I remembered something four years ago. I was one of maybe 4-5 people on a high school retreat who was bold enough to admit that God wanted me to receive the gift of healing, and I was selected to pray over someone who wanted healing from being afraid of the dark. Since then, I hadn't used the gift of healing at all. So I asked for it again. I was one of the first people in my group to be prayed over, so after my prayer session was over, someone in my group not only wanted to pray for a gift of the Holy Spirit, but she also wanted prayer for her ankle to heal because she had hurt it while running. I laid my hand on her ankle and started praying. I prayed and I prayed, and at first I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to help, and that there was no way that I would even have the power to heal this person's ankle. It's not possible for a mere person like me to perform a miracle. Then I thought, "Of course I don't have the power to heal people!" The point of me PRAYING for someone's ankle to heal is that I am asking God to answer our prayers, and that the gift that I have been given by God is for Him to use me as a vessel of His power. So I surrendered myself to God and let Him take over - knowing that it is not me who heals people, but God. And then something really, really weird happened. I swear on my life that I am not making this up. I could feel parts of the inside of her ankle move. I don't know what it was exactly - bone, muscle, whatever - but I could feel it all move into wherever it is supposed to go. The funny thing is that, at first, I didn't really think anything of it. I don't remember exactly what I thought of it initially, but it was probably something along the lines of, "I wonder what that's all about...". It wasn't until the next morning that the person whose ankle I was praying over was able to approach me and say that her ankle was healed during her prayer session. Then I was able to put two and two together (I mean, how was I supposed to know what a healing feels like? lol). Now, something like this doesn't usually happen to anyone, let alone more than once... but it happened again a couple of months after the retreat. I know a young woman who suffers from chronic pain in her joints. She was a dancer, but she was at her senior year in college and she was suffering from severe knee pain. She was told by her doctors that she could never dance again, and she had a degree in dancing to finish up. Most of her professors, unfortunately, were not very understanding and were suspecting her of faking her pain to get free credit. That distrust from her professors, her constant pain, and her dreams of being a dancer being squashed, things were not going very well for her. Our Christian group has something called the Advent Vigil in early December, where the usual prayer meeting is extended for 3 hours and, at the end, involves praying over one another. The girl with the knee injury was in my group. I can't remember everything that she asked for prayer for, but I laid my hand on her injured knee and started praying. And it happened again. The insides of her knee began to shift back to where they were supposed to go. Because I knew what was happening as the inside of her knee began to shift around, I became much more fascinated with the process. I could feel a difference between the way her knee was before and after, and after felt a bit more like my knee, a healthy and uninjured knee - the way it should be. The difference between this healing and the one from before, however, was that it wasn't a complete healing - the time for healing did not heal her from her pain completely. But what it did was it made her much more comfortable, and her knee became much more movable, at least in the moment. I am unsure of how the healing made a difference in the long run - although she is doing much better now - but I know that it was something for at least a short while. Recently, I studied the Bible passage about having faith the size of a mustard seed. Basically, this passage means that even with a little faith, you can do great things. There is a faith greater still to have - like faith that can move mountains - but you can do things in God's name and with God's strength even if you only have a little bit of faith. I would know - I don't consider my faith to be all that strong, even on my best days. Now, that is not the end of my story, because the story only answers the questions, "Why do I believe in God?", "Why do I believe in a God who works through people to perform His miracles?", "Why do I believe in the God of the New Testament," and "Why am I a Christian?" But any Christian who calls upon the name of the Lord can heal like that. Why am I specifically Catholic, aside from the fact that I grew up Catholic? Because, honestly, when someone asks why you are a Catholic, your primary answer should not be, "Because I was raised Catholic." Catholicism gets criticized for being an "impersonal" religion that only involves going through the motions and repeating memorized prayers without putting any heart into it. But here's the thing... there is supposed to be heart while you are "going through the motions" and saying your prayers. Some people just don't put any heart into it because they're lazy, and that is sad. So I did not want to be lazy. In Catholic school, I took Theology class seriously and learned everything that I could, even if the teacher was bad. I always wanted to know more about the Catholic Church and what it taught and why it taught what it did. I learned from Jason Evert, a Catholic who has written several books and traveled to many many churches and schools across the United States about sexual purity, that there are practical reasons to save sex for marriage, and it is not just one of those "because I told you so" sorts of teachings that you are used to hearing as children. I know that there are reasons for everything that the Catholic Church teaches. I want to know it all. I have done lots of independent study as well. I have lurked the Catholic Answers Forums for the answers to all sorts of questions, engaging my thoughts in all sorts of discussions, figuring out whether or not what each particular person says is true based on what I know about the Catholic Church and my own personal experiences. Especially concerning moral theology - is this situation always right, always wrong, sometimes right, sometimes wrong, or too dependent on circumstances? But it wasn't just Church Teaching that I wanted to know about. I wanted to know God Himself. In college, I found that I actually enjoyed going to Mass during the weekday. I made it a point to go at least twice a week to Mass. I would have liked to go every day, but class made that pretty impossible. I also liked to take my prayer time in the Catholic chapel near campus. During one of the most difficult times of my life, I spent hours each week praying, reading my Bible, ranting at God, moping, and sleeping in that chapel. It was during one of my prayer times in that chapel that it was challenged upon me to break up with my boyfriend of 3 and a half years - something that I knew that I had to do but never had the courage to bring up. A month later God was telling me to see one of the counselors at my university to talk about the mess that was my emotional life. God's presence in that chapel changed my life. And by God's presence, I mean that literally. Because as a Catholic, I believe in the Eucharist, which is God's presence in bread and wine that Catholics receive at Holy Communion at the end of Mass. The tabernacle keeps the Eucharist safe inside the church, where people can pray and literally be in God's presence. I couldn't be more grateful for that chapel's presence on the campus of my school. Two Bible passages have become my favorites. I will share them. Psalm 37: 4, "Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." Proverbs 3: 5-8, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil. It will be healing for your flesh and refreshment for your bones." God is my rock. Jesus is the purpose of my life. The Mass and the Eucharist keep me going, joyful and strong. But my walk with God is not over until the moment I die. I still have much to learn. And that is why I am Catholic.