Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Brief Defense of Catholic Answers

Michael Voris
When believers fight amongst themselves, the devil must laugh with delight--while the world snickers.  The latest "drama" is Michael Vori's campaign against Catholic Answers.  Not so surprisingly, it follows in the wake of this apologist not being hired for a position with this apostolate--back in 2009, or so.  Does anyone else catch the scent of sour grapes here?

Before delving more deeply into this topic, I should disclose my own little connection to Catholic Answers.  When they published "A Thirst for Reverence", it was greatly appreciated.  In fact, as a Protestant convert, it helped me find my new Catholic voice.  That's not to say I didn't have a few small concerns with the editing of my original article.  It seemed that the positive elements of my Protestant background were downplayed, and the emphasis was more upon on the negative.  Really, though, this was only a couple paragraphs; there could have been valid stylistic reasons for their editorial decisions.

If the only thing you recognize of Catholic Answers is Jimmy Akins' ever-lengthening red're ahead of most.  Still, I suggest this issue of unity is important.  After all, who remembers the 17th chapter of John?

20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will[e] believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.

Yes, unity is terribly important.  As I understand, Michael Voris' attack on Catholic Answers focuses on its financials--specifically the compensation of its big names--like Karl Keating and Al Kresta.  Dave Armstrong and Dwight Longnecker have already addressed most of these issues quite well, but I wanted to weigh in really briefly on the financial side of it.  I see a lot of  financial records in my day job as a governmental auditor, and I can say with complete conviction that a non-profit can be a particularly confusing animal.  

Salaries represent only a one dimensional glimpse into a complex three dimensional organization.  It doesn't show, for example, what is being freely given back to the non-profit.  Appearances are important, of course.  I remember being a little concerned about Catholic Answers' Cruises, for example.  When I would see cruise announcements followed immediately by calls for seemed problematic.  Still, it's important to realize that poor timing doesn't constitute financial impropriety.  The fact is that these events most likely constitute a significant revenue stream.  It may be in poor taste to do appeals on the heels of cruise announcements, but it means nothing in and of itself.

When I was a kid, a Sunday School teacher posed an interesting question.  It went something like this.  If Christianity were a crime and all the authorities had was your parents' check book or bank statement as evidence, would there be enough there for a conviction?  I like that way of looking at the spiritual life--where the tire meets the road, so to speak.  If Catholic Answers wanted to nip this thing in the bud, they might consider releasing a week or two of their General Ledger entries--reflecting a typical period.  They then might offer a detailed explanation of the identified transactions, which would be (in effect) a small sampling.  This might help make it more real for folks, helping them get a glimmer of the real complexities of these organizations.  How is their mission supported by their financial practices?  If they can articulate that and support it with documentation that makes sense to the average Joe, that might make Michael's arguments appear even more silly than they already are.

While transparency and accountability are important to non-profits, however, releasing this kind of detailed response might just encourage those with an ax to grind.  The best thing to do may be to do...absolutely nothing.  It's time for certain people to stop tearing down good organizations for the furtherance of personal agendas.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Catch Karl on KBVM on Thursday Morning!

University of Portland

C'est moi.
Excited for my second visit to Portland's airwaves this week.  I hope you will listen to my interview on the radio this Thursday on station KBVM/88.3 FM on the beautiful University of Portland campus from 8:10 to 9am.  Here's the link to their live stream.  

By the way, I think we're also planning to give away a signed book or two!

Dina Marie Hale hosts KBVM's Mornings show.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Help Allison Gingras Reach Her Goal!

Allison Gingras, CWG Member
I wanted to share this important message from Allison Gingras.  If your devotions are anything like mine...I think a devotional App idea like this sounds great.  I hope my readers will lend a hand in helping her reach her goal.  What a cool idea!  

Hello Fellow Catholic Writer’s Guild member,
My name is Allison Gingras.   I’ll make this very brief.  I have created a Catholic Daily Devotional App – taking my writing to a whole new venue.  I’m so blessed to have Little i Apps providing the development –with a projected Nov. 1st roll out date. 

To learn more about me - please visit: or read my bi-weekly TechTalk column on   (mine is the 3rd face from the left on the top row) .  The project can be found at

Thank you in advance for your consideration in helping a fellow Catholic writer to serve God!!
God’s Many Blessings,

Allison Gingras

Encountering Christ Through Discipleship

This little piece may be featured for a Catholic Writers' Guild endeavor, but I thought I'd share it first with my readers.

Raised as a Protestant in the Nazarene denomination, I recall hearing the term discipleship bandied about quite a bit, but I think the true meaning eluded me until we were called home to the Catholic Church.  For me at least, the experience of joining the Catholic Church in 2005 was evocative (in a small way) of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s words from The Cost of Discipleship.  “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”  The follower of Christ must hold nothing back for himself in his wholehearted embrace of God’s will for his life.  This means not necessarily depending upon the support of family and friends, but unwaveringly taking the path to which we have been directed.

Too often discipleship seems nothing more than a vague and nebulous idea rather than a relationship hinging directly upon the mysterious person of Christ.  There was a popular spiritual book a few years ago called The Shack.  It's message purported to free the reader from those unpleasant obligations associated with Christianity.  It embraced a faith free from organized religion, and claimed to offer in its place a relationship with no strings attached.  I call this a lie clothed in a truth.   Yes, the relationship part is critical if we are to successfully live our lives for Christ from Sunday through Sunday: every day for Him.  It’s important to also bear in mind, though, that every relationship has its own associated expectations and boundaries.  John 14:15 reminds us that if we love him “we should desire to also keep his commandments.”  It is through these commandments that we are set free to live for Christ, and become the people we were intended to be.  

 In a similar vein, I suggest that community is another critical component of discipleship.  We’re not “going this alone,” after all.  How we behave towards and treat others is so critical in our spiritual walk.  We need to learn that it’s not about us.  As C.S. Lewis put it so eloquently in the Weight of Glory. is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.  Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations - these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.

When my grandmother lay dying in her hospital room overlooking the colors of fall in the Yakima Valley some years ago, I remember talking to my grandfather (now also gone home to be with the Lord) about the death of self.  My grandparents were a powerful model of this kind of life lived for Christ.  Just as my grandfather crafted beautiful and solid things from wood, his words, actions, and sacrifices were a meaningful cooperation with Christ in building lives for Him.  This concept of death to self has always been close to my heart.  

Like everyone, it’s a struggle to put our own desires and hopes on that cross at times, letting things go, but it’s through the act of offering these daily struggles up that we infuse our lives with a deeper spiritual meaning and depth beyond our petty selves.  If we follow Christ and die to ourselves, surrendering everything to Him, we are on the true road to discipleship.