The Story of Exodus in the Prince of Egypt (Shane Limbaugh, April 27- May 3)

The movie the Prince of Egypt is about the story of Exodus or better known as the story of Moses leading the Jews out of Egypt. In the movie Moses struggles with being a Prince when he begins to see how poorly “his people” are being treated.

Moses has always caused trouble for the Pharaoh but this I believe is simply for comedic relief in a movie that can sometimes become extremely serious. After growing up and becoming the grand architect for the Pharaoh he receives a “gift,” a woman they found roaming the desert.  Moses being the kind man he is helps the woman escape and this all starts the downhill effect which leads Moses to question his faith in the Gods. Once Moses discovers the Pharaoh had ordered children to be killed and that he was one of the few that managed to escape he begins to put two and two together. He runs away into the desert in a huff of rage. Of course who does he meet in the desert? The woman he let go. Who is she the daughter of? A Protestant Chieftain. Then as we all know Moses unleashes the plaques upon the Egyptians.

We have all seen this God many times but why do almost of all of his doings from the Old Testament seem to be things that cause great suffering to many people. He flooded the world for 40 days and 40 nights and caused massive suffering to Egypt. Why does God do these things in the past but no longer? It would seem that God stepped in back then and stopped these crimes but he hasn’t done such since. God has not stepped in to stop any war or to stop the holocaust which was the exact same as Egypt. It all seems very strange to me that God would not help his people in their time crisis in later years when he has done it from the beginning.

Discussion
Why do you think people change religions at all? Do you think God lets bad things happen for a reason? If so what do you think his reasonings are?

Work Cited
Prince of Egypt. Dir. Brenda Chapman. Perf. Val Kilmer and Ralph Fiennes. Dreamworks, 1998. DVD.
Web. April 20, 2017.

Theology in “Jane in the Virgin” (Lauryn Martinez, April 20th-April 26th)

If you’ve never watched Jane the Virgin it is about a a hard-working, religious young woman, Jane, who vows to remain pure until marriage. Her vow is complicated when a doctor mistakenly artificially inseminates her during a checkup. From the beginning this show has illustrated very modern and multicultural views on religion. However there is one specific episode I believe adds on to a blog post that was created a few weeks ago. Chapter 51 (season 3 episode 7) deals with a numerous amount of storylines but I want to point out the religious take of it.

It all begins when Jane’s grandma Alba, who is super religious points out that Jane has not been to Mass for a while and explains to Jane that her son Mateo might not “have god in his life”. Alba also states that because of Jane’s actions, she is being a bad catholic and a bad mother which ingrains guilt into Jane. Despite the hesitation of her son’s father, she takes Mateo anyways but soon realizes he is way too young to sit in Mass. When her grandma asks her why she is avoiding church she makes up about a million and one excuses. However as the episode progresses Jane finally acknowledges that the origin of her guilt stems from nearly losing her husband Michael (I know it’s confusing but it makes sense if you watch the entire series)

She’s furious with God and terrified by the possibility of His absence. For me personally I have never felt as though she was angry with Him, I believe she is scared and confused, resulting in doubt. At the end of the episode Jane goes to church to makes a confession. She asks the nun a question that I believe is universal regardless of anyone’s religion. How could He let this happen. Whenever something terrible happens we all hear people say God makes everything happen for a reason/ God has a plan. It is things like this that can make a person wonder  how an almighty power could allow the terrible things which happen in the world.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What defines a “good catholic/christian”?

  2. Should religion be enforced on an infant?

  3. Why does God allow terrible things to happen?

    Works cited

    Nemetz, Dave. “Jane the Virgin Fall Finale Recap.” TVLine. N.p., 28 Nov. 2016. Web. 15 Apr. 2017.

Alexis. “Jane the Virgin 3×07.” Forever Young Adult. N.p., 05 Dec. 2016. Web. 15 Apr. 2017. (photos)

 

“Death Penalty: Is Capital Punishment Morally Justified?” (Diana Espinoza, April 20-26th))

“Death penalty: is capital punishment morally justified?” (Diana Espinoza)
 
There has been and still is a huge debate on the death penalty being morally justified. This article explains that there are many different religious views on the death penalty, some people think that it is plain wrong, and others think it is justified. In the Old Testament we see the idea of “an eye for an eye”. But we also see that God teaches us throughout the Bible to forgive one another. For these people that have committed terrible crimes, should they be given life in jail instead? Should people who have committed crimes such as murder or rape be sentenced to the death penalty? Death penalty sends the message to other criminals that they should not commit crimes, but does it really work? 
 
Discussion Questions: 
1. What do you think about the death penalty? Is it morally right or wrong?
2. What types of crimes should lead to the death penalty?
3. What if an innocent person gets the death penalty?

“Pope Says Christians Should Apologize to Gay People” (Katherine Martinez, April 13-19)

“Pope says Christians should apologize to gay people”

As a person who has been raised by Catholic parents, I have been exposed to many situations in which Christians disagree with certain issues. An issue that is constantly brought up amongst Christians is their hatred for those who are homosexual. I found the fact that Christians are opposed to homosexuals to be a strange concept due to the fact that the main argument of Christians is to love and care for you brothers and sisters, but yet they reject homosexuals? Most Christians say that being homosexual is wrong, unjust, and sinful. One tactic that I have seen from those who disagree with what Christians are trying to label homosexuals as is to use the bible to prove how unjust and judgmental they are. One of my favorite quotes is a short verse, “There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:12). However, not every Christian is as opposed to homosexuality as some others are, they have accepted them for who they truly are.
Last year, I remember going to church and hearing several people talking about what Pope Francis has recently said in regards to how Christians have been treating homosexuals and I found an article on CNN which covered what Pope Francis said in regards to the topic of homosexuals/LGBT. Pope Francis stated that all Christians should ask for forgiveness to those whom are gay. Some Catholics found that the statement that Pope Francis gave was a breakthrough in regards to the church’s views on homosexuality.
Pope Francis directly discussed the mistreatment of homosexuals and how much the Church is to blame for their mistreatment, “The Church must ask forgiveness for not behaving many times — when I say the Church, I mean Christians! The Church is holy, we are sinners!” Pope Francis also brought up the question “Who am I to judge gay people.” This is a question that all Christians should think about before trying to judge others for who they choose to love. Pope Francis address the conflict that Christians have created and suggested that the church as a whole should ask for forgiveness for the unjust treatment, which I completely agree with.
Discussion Questions
How do you view the Church’s treatment of homosexuals? Do you believe that they owe the LGBT community an apology? What are your views on how the church should treat the LBGT community?

My Sister’s Keeper (Naiya Dolce, April 13-19)

One movie that I loved to watch was, My Sister’s Keeper. This movie was about a small family that had a sick daughter. The daughter, Kate, had cancer and was dying. For the sake of their daughter’s life, the parents decided to conceive another child. Only that child was specifically created to be a donor for their daughter, Kate. Their youngest daughter, Anna, grew up being a marrow donor for Kate. When Anna got older she realized that the parents were too focused on Kate. Anna loved her sister, but she was tired of being poked with needles.

While Kate was in the hospital, the doctor informed the family that she needed another organ or she will die. They instantly volunteered Anna as the donor. Anna decided that she did not want to go through with the surgery. Her mother began to resent her for it, and it created problems within the family. For support, Anna decides to sue her parents for emancipation. She wanted to be in charge of her own body, but the question was what will happen to Kate? When her mother found out that she was going to court, the problems within the household grew. Things start to unravel and unfold. This movie shows Anna and Kate’s perspective on the situation. I attached the scene of the movie where the surgery was discussed.

https://youtu.be/v1wtVMQJ_zI

 

Theological Issue: Throughout this movie, of course there are many religious issues that one could discuss. The one that came to my mind was accountability. In the movie Anna was basically genetically modified. She was born to keep her sister alive. She didn’t like how she was being treated as an object instead of another daughter. In church we are taught that family comes first. We are supposed to protect our brothers and sisters no matter the circumstance. If something happens to a family member, then we should be held accountable. This topic brings to my attention the story of Cain and Able. Cain killed his brother Able, and God approached him. He asked him “Where is Able your brother?” Cain replied, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:1-15). Cain refused to admit that he killed his brother. God wants us to take care of our siblings, and set an example. We are responsible for whatever they do, because they represent the Lord. Anna is Kate’s keeper in this movie. She is protecting her from death in a way. But, how much is too much?

Discussion: Is it okay for the parents to force Anna to donate to Kate? God wants us to protect our brothers and sisters, but would God understand Anna’s decision? Is it okay for Anna to choose herself, and to not donate anymore?

Rape and Abortion (Karissa McAnelly, April 13-19th)

Rape & Abortion

When raped and impregnated, is it okay to have an abortion? Catholics would say no, it is wrong because it is the killing of an innocent baby and also because it is the killing of a life. They would also say that both the woman and the baby have dignity. Others would say yes it is okay to have an abortion because they do not want to live with the memory for the rest of their life. Also, they would say that it is not a killing of life because the baby is has not been born yet. In addition, they believe that only the woman has dignity but not the baby.

Watch Video 1 here

In video one, Lianna Rebolledo gives her testimony about something that affected her tremendously. At the age of 12, Lianna was abducted, then raped, and impregnated, which is “…offensive to human dignity…” (Gaudium et Spes, Tanner, 220). After all of that happened, she felt worthless and lost her dignity, and she also wished she could be pure again. She felt so bad that she wanted to commit suicide. After finding out that she was pregnant, the doctor suggested she get an abortion because she should not be reminded everyday by the baby that she was raped. Lianna then asks “If I have the abortion, will I forget the rape and all the pain and suffering?”, which the doctor says “No”.

Lianna then comes to the conclusion that she will not abort the baby because the baby did nothing to hurt her and also because the baby is innocent. After giving birth to the baby and raising the child, Lianna’s pain and suffering was healed, and she was “saved”. Lianna states, “I think Abortion, in cases of rape, it is like a double rape to yourself”. When she was raped, she had no control over that, but when choosing if the baby should be aborted, she had control. In this case, rape is murder because when someone is raped their dignity is being murdered, and when a baby is aborted, it is physically being murdered as well as its dignity.

Watch Video 2 here

In video two, Ashley Sigrest tells her personal story about how her abortion affects her and compares it to women she met, who did not have an abortion. Ashley believes that “rape is not an excuse for abortion to be legal” because she has gone through it herself and knows that it is wrong. She says her abortion “…made it a 100 times worse” because she cannot ever forget that she aborted her child nor can she go one night without having “nightmares about the rape”, which is “…mental torture…” that “…violates the integrity of the human person”(220). She regrets having the abortion and wishes that she could have the child back because she misses the child very much, and she also thinks the child would have tremendously helped her completely heal from the incident. Ashley was being pressured that abortion was the best and only option, which is why she did it. According to Gaudium et Spes, abortion is “…hostile to life itself…”(219).

Later on, she met a few women who had been raped too, but did not have an abortion. Rather than having the abortion, the women either raised their child or gave the child up for adoption. Those women did not abort the baby because it was an innocent child that had done nothing wrong. Ashley, on the other hand, who did abort the baby, has been living her life ashamed and feeling guilty because of the decision she made. When Ashley was raped, some of her dignity was murdered, and on top of that, she aborted her own child and murdered its dignity. Later on in life, Ashley got married and had a family, but she never forgot the aborted child she had once before.

Instructor’s Note: This is an important issue, one that should be debated. Remember that there are people on both sides of this issue, and some may have had traumatic experiences related to this issue. In your discussions, be kind and sensitive to your classmates. As a Theology class, our focus should be a discussion that relates to Christian viewpoints on scripture and revelation (this can include biblical understandings of human dignity, the value of life, and human rights).

Discussion Questions:

  1. In your personal opinion, would rape be considered murder? Explain. If it is, what is being murdered?
  2. In the case of rape, will the abortion get rid of the pain and suffering or will it make it worse? Why do you think that?
  3. What is the difference between the dignity of a living person on Earth and the dignity of a baby in the womb?Citations:

    Source of the Two Articles: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=IrYOj3iwskk

    Tanner, Norman, and John Mahoney. Gaudium Et Spes. Bologna: Istituto per Le Scienze Religiose, 1972. Print.

Why Does God Allow Bad Things to Happen? (Liyah Aranjuez, April 6th-April 12th)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0NOTU1g0Z8w

Growing up Catholic, I have always been taught that I am loved by a just and righteous God; a Father who has created us “in His image and likeness” with all that is good and wise (Genesis 1:26-27). Yet, as I came to realize the truth of reality and the story of Adam and Eve, it was hard to accept that my God, who is claimed to be the purest form of love and goodness, would allow humanity to experience so much evil and suffering especially in today’s world.

I recently discovered a channel on YouTube called Ascension Presents which is an evangelistic platform designed to bring faith-filled presenters to share their thoughts about theological concepts and ideas. They are a group that hope to bring their viewers’ hearts closer to Christ. Father Mike Schmitz answers one of the toughest questions that encompass Christian religion: Why does God let bad things happen? Why would a loving and all-powerful God continue to let many people suffer and experience inexplicable hardships?

To summarize part of the video, Father Mike Schmitz rejects the idea’s mindset when people automatically answer the questions mentioned above by saying “it is all part of His plans”. He states that evil doings and sufferings are, indeed, not part of His plan, that it was not His will to create so much heartbreak. He believes that humans have bought evil and hardships on ourselves since we decided to sin against God and engage in free will.

I thought he made a great point to show that when Adam and Even decided to reject God and fall into temptation, they bought sin and evil upon humanity. This concept made me realize a connection to one of our readings in “In the Beginning..” because Ratzinger points out how Adam and Eve were not in denial of God but how they doubted his covenant. Ratzinger believes what lies at the “very heart of sin lies human beings’ denial of their creatureliness…they do not want to be creatures, do not want to be subject to a standard, do not want to be dependent” on God (Ratzinger 70). God gave humans free will, the freedom to choose right and wrong, which has, in turn, bought about the evil and sin that we see today. In other words, they made the “decision not to accept the limitations of their existence”, limitations set by God to ensure a perfect relationship with Him and everlasting life in His kingdom (Ratzinger 67).

Father Mike concludes by reiterating that God does not allow bad things to happen, we, humans, has brought that upon that ourselves, we have allowed bad things and evil to happen to us. God’s will is to guide and provide strength to those who are weak and provide the greater good for humanity. The Lord declares that he “knows the plans [He] has for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Discussion: Why do you personally think God allows suffering and evil to exist in the world? Do you agree or disagree with Father Mike? Why or why not? How do you deal with hardship and obstacles that happen in your life?

“Jerusalem Hosted an Interfaith House of Worship for the Three Abrahamic Religions” (Samara Essa, April 6th – April 12th)

Muslim, Christian, Jewish Leaders Plan Interfaith Worship Center in Jerusalem

The state of Israel in general, and more specifically the city of Jerusalem has been dealing with religious controversies for a very long time. The Jewish people of Israel have had serious clashes with both the Christian and Muslim religions. These clashes had led to violence and hate crimes amongst these religions, not only in Israel but all over the world. So, it was a huge surprise to me when I came across an article about how this past Fall from September 5-11, leaders from all three faiths planned a week long interfaith house of worship. This event was hosted by the Alpert Youth Music Center, and for that week the center was called “AMEN”.

The three religions of the “book” (book of revelations), share “a passion for Jerusalem in which they will co-exist temporarily under the wings of the Almighty.” This event was integrated into Jerusalem’s yearly “Mekudeshet” (“Blessed”) festival. I found many articles about the plan of this to happen, but I didn’t find much on the outcome of the interfaith house of worship, or any proof.


I ended up finding another article about a group that actually did meet (with proof) on May 9 in Jerusalem to hold a multi-faith prayer. There was a group of 130 Christians, Jews and Muslims, that prayed together even after being threatened. They took turns explaining their notion on what prayer is, and found all the similarities between the three faiths. Then they separated into different parts of the building to do their separate prayers, then at the end they all came together and gave a song from each tradition. One of the Jewish Rabbis attending the event explained the purpose of this meeting by stating, “It is a very simple thing. Each person prays in the presence of the other, affirming the presence of the other, indicating a willingness to live together in peace. In this sense, it was a hugely successful event.” We are currently going through hard times all over the world in regards to religions clashing, so to come across this was very interesting and refreshing, and gives hope.


The unity and acceptance of not only the Abrahamic religions, but all religions were a major topic in “Nostra Aetate” of the Vatican II. It emphasized that it “urges all parties that, forgetting past things, they train themselves towards sincere mutual understanding and together maintain and promote social justice and moral values as well as peace and freedom for all.” The event of the union of these three religions is exactly what Christianity is all about; all humans are created in the likeness of God, and everything God created is good. So all people are created equally under God, and Christians following the Gospels must act as so, and this event right here is a great start. The end of “Nostra Aetate” follows up on this by stating “We cannot, however, call upon God the Father of all if we refuse to behave like sisters and brothers towards certain people created to the image of God. The relation of man and woman to God the Father, and their relation to their fellow human beings, are linked to such a degree that scripture says: ‘Whoever does not love, does not know God.’”

Discussion Question:
Do you think it is possible to establish such an event in America during these times of political/religious turmoil? What kind of impact would you think it would have on our nation?
Do you have any moral objections or issues with this event, or with different religions praying in conjunction in general?

“It’s Time to Reclaim Religion” (Ana Martinez, April 6th-April 12th)

While browsing through videos on TED Talks, I came across a very inspirational video called “It’s Time to Reclaim Religion” by Rabbi Sharon Brous. The rabbi talks about a torn world and how religion is what is causing the disagreements and war, but believes and lectures on how religion can also be the solution.

https://www.ted.com/talks/sharon_brous_it_s_time_to_reclaim_and_reinvent_religion/transcript?language=en#t-5073

The issue addressed in her video is religious extremism and routine-ism. Rabbi Brous mentions that religious extremism and religion related violence has increased in the past few years and that now it’s almost normal or that no one is no longer surprised that someone has decided “to show his love of God by taking the lives of God’s children” and recalls the events of the shooting at planned parenthood and San Bernardino. She also goes on to mention that religious extremism justifies things such as racism, anti-Semitism, islamophobia, disgrace towards LGBT, and subordination of woman and concludes with calling it “a great failure of religion” Additionally, she explains that another problem is religious routine-ism in which religious leaders are stuck in routine and lack vision, soul, and life they merely do things out of routine and thus a lot of the younger generations are uninterested. She relates this to marriage, by explaining that the first couple of years it’s great and followed by traditions to celebrate the anniversary, but a few years down the road it’s just a “date on the calendar” with “no love affair” and that’s how it ends up in plain routine and the religious aspect it’s following traditions because that’s just what is has been.

She suggests that if we put into practice 4 key principles, perhaps they can revitalize religion. Now, she put these into play for her own Jewish tradition and goes on to explain that she in fact left her job to do so and called it “IKAR” or “the essence or the Heart of the Matter”.  Rabbi Brous explains that Christians, Catholics, and Muslims alike have done something similar. She suggests that the same way our religions can justify the negatives (violence and extremism) and it can justify the positives (love, compassion, coexistence, love etc.) These principles include Wakefulness, Hope, Mightiness and Interconnectedness. Wakefulness in the sense that we have access to the news almost immediately and instead of just shrugging it off, we should take action, as it is our responsibility. Hope in the sense that religion should make people feel like they have a purpose. The third principle was to acknowledge mightiness in a manner that we understand that we can’t do everything, but we can do something …almost a like feeling of empowerment. Finally, interconnectedness is how we connect as human beings.

This topic reinforces the some of ideas presented in our reading of Nostra Aetate. Nostra Aetate mentions towards the end of the chapter, “we cannot call upon God if we refuse to behave like brothers and sisters” and goes on to say that “whoever does not love, does not know God.” and concludes with stating that the church “condemns as foreign to the mind of Christ any kind of discrimination whatsoever between people, or harassment of them, done by reason of race, class, or religion…” The issues mentioned in this video are mostly caused because there are people who are extremely devoted to the word of God, but practice it with hatred. Additionally, if instead of looking on how our religions differ and we focus on what we have in common and can find value in other religions, we can surely overcome the harsh realities we see in our time. But we can only do this if our religious leaders inspire a change in our religions.

Discussion Questions:
Is there a way that the religions can keep their traditions without being so routine-like? If so, how?
As the younger generation, we are the voice of the future. What can we do to bring awareness to our religion and churches to revive our traditions and beliefs? Is it wrong? What about implementing or adding NEW traditions instead of wiping out the old?

“In the post-Arab Spring Egypt, Muslim attacks on Christians are rising” (Zuhuma Ainiwaer, March 30th-April 5th)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/in-post-arab-spring-egypt-muslim-attacks-on-christians-are-rising/2016/11/13/f50a18e2-84fc-11e6-b57d-dd49277af02f_story.html?utm_term=.e44c0a9abcf9

The article “In the post-Arab Spring Egypt, Muslim attacks on Christians are rising” by  Sudarsan Raghavan from Washington Post, talks about the relationship between Muslim and Christian who are living in Muslim countries. There is a village in Egypt where Christians and Muslims live together and get along, but recently because of the political change in the country, the relationship between Christians and Muslims in the village became bad and violent, and Muslims in the village attacked a christian farmer, who was trying to protect his children from the melee.

Another example was in Iraq and Syria, Islamic State militants have destroyed churches, abducted Christians and carried out forced conversions. The main reason of Muslim and Christian citizens turning against each other was the religion of the politician power-holder. Christians as minorities in the country eager for get a power-holder and not be discriminated by Muslims. As written in Vatican II, the churches look upon Muslims with respect, because they venerate Jesus as a prophet, even though they don’t acknowledge him as God, and honor his mother Mary (Nostra Aetate pg.325). The bigger idea in Vatican II is “All nations are one community and have one origin, because God caused the whole human race to dwell on the whole face of the earth.”(Nostra Aetate pg.323). Personally, I lived in my country as minority and discriminated by majorities, then finally moved to the U.S. where everyone has religious freedom, here I respect people from different religions and they respect me, also we don’t force each other to believe in our religion.

Discussion Question

The Second Vatican Council says the Church respects Muslims. Why do you think Muslims and Christians fight each other? Why are Muslims stereotyped in our society today? Would the relationship get better between Muslims and Christians if we change our opinion about Muslims?

Work Cited

Raghavan, Sudarsan. “In post-Arab Spring Egypt, Muslim attacks on Christians are rising.” The        Washington Post. WP Company, 13 Nov. 2016. Web. 29 Mar. 2017.

Benedict, James Carroll, and Edward P. Hahnenberg. Vatican II: the essential texts. New York:        Image, 2012. Print.