Debate of Khalid Ibrahim Mabute of Balik Islam Movement and the Catholic apologist Cenon Bibe Jr. in the University of the Philippines was indefinitely postponed

I arrived at 9:30 a.m. at the Quezon Hall of University of the Philippines Diliman, which is behind the Oblation Statue.  Khalid Ibrahim Mabute and Shakil Ibrahim of the Balik Islam Movement were there before the giant Greek columns.  The former was a youth of 18, beardless; the latter about a few years older with a goatee.  They were talking to a certain Manny who was a friend of Cenon Bibe Jr.  The two asked Manny why he came.  Manny said he is a friend of Ceno and he wants to know more about the Catholic Faith.  I just stood behind them trying to eavesdrop their soft conversation.

There were no other people in sight, except a few students doing other business and some guards of the hall.  There were white monoblock chairs arranged in the wide lawn behind, perhaps a sort of graduation ceremony will be held.  But it was raining; the lawn was empty.

Then Cenon came with a black shoulder bag of books.  He was about in his late thirties, taller than Mabute and Ibrahim.  Cenon’s beer belly  made him look older.

Cenon asked if the debate will start.  The two members refused.  They said they think they were only trying to arrange a pre-debate signing of memorandum of agreement.  Mabute said he was only a mediator.  Cenon was a bit annoyed.  He canceled his work only to come here.  He asked for an informal debate, but he was refused.  Voices were raised.  The guards went to them and asked them to go down the stairway.  In the end, they signed an handwritten agreement:

***

Kami sina Khalil Ibrahim Mabute at ako si Shakil Ibrahim sa ngalan ng mga Balik Islam (Islamic Faith Defenders of the Philippines) ay naghahamon kina Cenon Bibe at mga kasamahng Romano Katoliko sa isang maginoong debate isat lugar at petsa na pagkakasunduan ng dalawang panig.

Ito ay palitan lamang ng paliwanag.  Hindi ito dapat maging religious war.

Translation:

We, Khalid Ibrahim Mabute and I Shakil Ibrahim, in the name of Balik Islam (Islamic Defenders of the Philippines), are challenging Cenon Bibe and his fellow Roman Catholics to a gentleman’s debate in a place and time that will be agreed by both parties.

This is only an exchange of explanations.  This should not become a religious war.

Signed: Shakil Ibrahim, Khalid Ibrahim Mabute, and Cenon Bibe.

***

They decided to photocopy the agreement.  Cenon asked for a time for his friends in the Defensores Fidei to come.  About three of them came, each armed with bags of books: Manuel Protacio, Kit Lumnigkit, and Lito Jamisola.  These are veteran Catholic apologists who prefer to debate in front of large crowds, such as in Luneta Park in front of the Japanese Embassy, near the chess center.

Cenon told them the debate was postponed.  After the agreement was photocopied, I went with apologists for a lunch of fishball and buko juice.  And I heard their tales that may be worth several blogposts.  I left them at 3:30 p.m.  I still have work to do.

The debate never happened, and I don’t think it will ever happen in the near future.  But at least I learned a lot and met new friends.

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Thoughts on environmentalism: Hindu “ahimsa”, Greek goddess “Gaia”, and the Good News of Christianity

I

Environmentalism at a glance appears only a movement for the care of our environment, as a care for the earth on which we live in.  There is nothing wrong with this.  But I have a feeling that the movement is slowly being steered underneath by the following principle:  plants, animals, and man have equal dignity.  This sounds like the Hindu concept of “ahimsa,” meaning to “do no harm”.  For example,

Ahimsa in Jainism emphasizes vegetarianism and bans hunting and ritual sacrifice. Jains go out of their way so as not to hurt even small insects and other minuscule animals and make considerable efforts not to injure plants in everyday life as far as possible. In accordance to this policy, eating of some foods, whose cultivation harms small insects and worms as well as agriculture itself, is to be abstained from. (Wikipedia)

This equality of all life also appears to be rooted in the Hindu concept of reincarnation: if a man can be reincarnated to an animal or to a plant or to earth, then all animate and inanimate objects have equal dignity.  If we follow this line of reasoning, it is natural to regard our very Earth as an incarnation of another spirit–caring and sustaining all life like a mother to a child.    The Greeks call her Gaia or the Great Mother Earth: mother without a husband (appealing to feminists), mother of the sea (Pontus) and sky (Uranus), and through incest became the mother of all that is (c.f. Wikipedia).

In 1979, the name Gaia was resurrected by James Lovelock in his book, “Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth“.  In this book, Lovelock proposed the Gaia hypothesis:

Living organisms and inorganic material are part of a dynamic system that shapes the Earth’s biosphere, and maintains the Earth as a fit environment for life. In some Gaia theory approaches the Earth itself is viewed as an organism with self-regulatory functions. Further books by Lovelock and others popularized the Gaia Hypothesis, which was widely embraced and passed into common usage as part of the heightened awareness of environmental concerns of the 1990s.

Thus, we now see clearly the connection of the worship of the Greek Goddess Gaia with our present marches, concerts, and parties for Mother Earth this Earth Day.

II

What should we Catholic Christians do?  Let us read the Bible and proclaim the Good News of our Catholic Faith.  In the Book of Genesis, God, not Gaia, created the world and man.  But of all His creatures, it is only man that he made in his image and likeness:

God created man in the image of himself, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them. (Gen 1:27)

This gives man a dignity above that of any other creature: more than the animals, more than the plants, more than our very earth—the thing that we refer to as Mother.

And God blessed man (male and female), saying to them:

Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and conquer it.  Be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven and all living animals on the earth…. See I give you all the seed-bearing fruit; this shall be your food.  (Gen 1:28-30)

After the Great Flood, God gave a new blessing to Noah and his sons:

Be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth.  Be the terror and the dread of all the wild beasts and all the birds of heaven, of everything that crawls on the ground all the fish of the sea; they are handed over to you.  Every living and crawling thing shall provide food for you, no less than the foliage of plants.  I give you everything, with theis exception: you must not eat flesh with life, that is to say blood, in it.  I will demand and account of your life-blood.  I will demand an account from every beast and from man.  I will demand an account of every man’s life from his fellow men.  He who sheds man’s blood, shall have his blood shed by man, for in the image of God man was made.  As for you, be fruitful, multiply, teem over the earth and be lord over it.

So why should we be afraid of human population growth?  God willed that the marriage of a man and woman would be fruitful.  Why should we use condoms, pills, and other contraceptives?  Why should we dread pregnancy and treat it like a disease?  Why abort the child in our wombs?

In the Book of Exodus, God listed the animals that are clean and unclean.  Clean animals may be eaten; unclean  animals may not be eaten (Lv 11:1-47).  But in the New Testament, God allowed all things to be eaten.  As Christ said to his disciples:

Do you not realize that everything that enters the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled into the latrine?  But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile.  For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, unchastity, theft, false witness, blasphemy. (Mt 15:11)

And as God explained to Peter in a vision, in reference to the acceptance of the Gentiles into Christianity:

[Peter] felt hungry and was looking foward to his meal, but before it was ready he fell into a trance and saw heaven thrown open and something like a big sheet being let down to earth by its four corners; it contained every possible sort of animal and bird, walking, crawling or flying ones.  A voice then said to him, ‘Now, Peter; kill and eat!’  But Peter answered, ‘Certainly not, Lord; I have never yet eaten anything profane or unclean’–Again.  a second time, the voice spoike to him, ‘What God has made clean, you have no right to call profane. ‘  This was repeated three times, and then suddenly the container was drawn up to heaven again.

This is the Good News.  Christianity is the Good News.

Fr. John C. Reville, S.J. on “An Introduction to Devout Life” by St. Francis de Sales

INTRODUCTION

by Fr. John C. Reville, S.J.

The “Introduction a la Vie Devote,” is here offered plus the title of “Philothea,” the name under which the original French of the work was published, by its author, St. Francis de Sales, in 1608.

. . .

The “Philothea” wears well, like all great classics.  It is now more than three hundred years old, and though everything has changed around us, the very language in which it was written, the styles, fashions and manners, the politics, the social fabrics of the times, it has still the freshness and vigor of its first youth.  For the Saints, who seem to be so cloistered from the world and to look out upon it, as might some holy nun through the iron grille of a Carmelite chapel, with ethereal gaze and as in a waking trance, really understand the world better than the worldling.  They unerringly chart its course and accurately take the soundings of its treacherous waters, they plummet it depths far better than those whose bark is tossing on their restlessness.  their vision is clearer, their compass is more accurately set.  Hence it is that any really great spiritual book has of its nature, on of the first qualities required for a world-classic.  It deals in truth and power with the vital questions that affect the lives of men, it enters into the sanctuary of God’s truth into the neglected shrine of inner consciousness and sends the echoes of forgotten principles ringing through the awakened soul.

. . .

The spiritual book, the “Philothea,” now given to our readers is from the pen of one of the greatest men of the seventeenth century in France, and one of the noblest and most lovable Saints in the Church of God.

. . .

If ever there was a priestly soul, it was that of Francis de Sales.  His life was stainless.  His character was balanced.  His intellectual gifts were of a high order, his mental vision clear, his fancy playful, his imagination creative, his learning extensive.  His love of God burned like a poetic flame; it was tender and childlike; it was the very breath of his apostolate.  With an almost feminine tenderness, he loved all men and because he loved them he wished all to know and to love God.  But he was strong.  In his strength, he was tolerant of men’s weaknesses, of their peculiarities, their narrow views, their whims, their oddities, their ill-founded judgments, their inconsistencies and their faults, provided only, these did not essentially interfere with their solemn obligations towards God.  He taught that a courtier might be faithful attendant on his prince and yet serve God; that a woman might keep her social rank and defer to its reasonable demands and conventions and at the same time preserve the grace of God in her heart.

When he first preached to the mountain villages of the Chablais, his simple popular eloquence, full of parables, homely allusions and illustrations, won all hearts.  He spoke to the people and for their needs.  They listened to him with rapt attention and heard the “Provost’s” sermons with something like amazement.  Never had the mountain folk of the Chablais ever suspected even that they could be spoken to in such homely yet truly priestly and dignified phrase.  Conversions from Calvinism became numerous and the name of the young apostle was soon known throught the length and breadth of France.

. . .

The “Philothea” or “Introduction to the Devout Life” is meant for all Christians.  St. Francis himself tells us that too many spiritual authors addressed themselves in their writings to priests only, to religious men and women living under a special rule that obliged them to aim at a higher perfection.  These authors did not address the vast majority of their brethren who had no other guide but the Gospel.  They had cloistered the principles of sanctity and made asceticism a closed book to them.  Yet Our Lord had preached that perfection was meant for all men.  He had called all to perfection, that perfection at least which they might attain in their various states of life.  “Be ye perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”  It is the special merit of the Bishop of Geneva to have opened the too rigidly barred gates of asceticism; to have given asceticism, devotion an open entrance into the court, the camp, the farm-house, the fashionable salon or parlor, the work-shop of the laborer; to have taught with unsurpassed authority, sweetness and charm, that the very height of sanctity and perfection might be attained by any man or woman who, in the fear of God and His Love, fulfills all the duties of the state of life in which his lot has been cast.  Int the “Philothea” then, Francis intends to lead the soul living in the world, on the paths of devotion, to true and solid piety.  It is an error, a heresy even says the Saint, to hold that piety is incompatible  with any state of life.  In the first part of the book, the Saint helps the soul to divest itself from all occasion to sin.  In the second, he teaches it how to be united to God by prayer and the use of the Sacraments; in the third he drills it in the practice of virtue.  He then strengthens it against temptation, and finally teaches it how to form its resolutions and to persevere.  The “Introduction” is a masterpiece of psychology, of practical morality, built upon th e solid foundation of the Gospel and the teaching of the Fathers and great ascetical writers.

. . .

Source:

John C. Reville, S.J., Introduction to An Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales, complete and unabridged (Tan Books, Rockford, Illinois 61105, 1994).

Khalid Ibraheem Mabute of the Balik Islam Movement debates with Catholic Apologist Cenon Bibe, Jr. on 25 April 2009: “Is the Christian Bible more credible than the Q’ran?”

Khalid Ibraheem Mabute of the Balik Islam Movement has challenged the esteemed Catholic Apologist Cenon Bibe, Jr. to a public debate on the “credibility” of the Christian Bible as compared the Q’ran. It will be held on the 25th of April 2009 at 10 o’clock in the morning at the Quezon Hall of U.P. Diliman. May we request you to please pray for this exercise, and if possible, attend this rare event.

Source: Despues Bear

Cenon Bibe, Jr.’s two blogs are Tumbukin Natin and Sagot sa Balik Islam.  I can’t find the blog of Khalid Ibraheem Mabute.

***

I’ll do my best to be there this Saturday.  I have read the bible but not the Q’ran.  All I know is that in the message of the Mary to Fr. Stefano Gobbi in the Marian Movement of Priests, She described Islam as the first 666:

The number of the beast. 666, represents in the first place the year ‘six hundred and sixty-six. In this period of history the antichrist was manifested through the phenomenon of Islam, which directly denies the mystery of the divine Trinity and the divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Islamism with its military force broke loose everywhere, destroying all the ancient Christian communities of Asia Minor and beyond, in the latter half of the seventh century. The ancient Roman and Christian communities in the near east were engulfed in the deluge that followed, and disappeared almost completely. (Marian Movement of Priests, 17 June 1989) (From Reflections on Pilgrimmage 2001 by Bishop Roman Danylak)

The second 666 is the period 1332 in the phenomenon of Protestantism.  The third 666 is the period 1998, which is our time.

Update:  This debate was indefinitely postponed.  Read here.

Pregnancy and abortion in the Filipino psyche: tiyanaks, aswangs, and the Reproductive Health Bill

In Filipino culture, when a married woman craves for a specific food, she is termed as “naglilihi”.  This by itself is only a sign of a greater reality: the woman is pregnant.  In Filipino, the woman is described as “nagdadalang-tao” or to be in a state of carrying a human being.  Because “paglilihi” happens shortly after conception when the man’s sperm fertilizes the woman’s egg, then the Filipino views conception as the formation of a truly human being.

The Filipino word for abortion is “nalaglag ang bata” meaning “the baby has fallen”.  If the abortion was done deliberately by the mother, this is described as “ipinalaglag niya ang bata” meaning “she let the baby fall”.  Notice that abortion is the opposite of pregnancy.  In pregnancy, a baby is already considered a human being after he was conceived, even though he was not yet born.  To be pregnant is to bear a child, as if holding the child with both hands.  To abort the child is to to remove the mother’s support for the child, so the child falls and dies.

In Filipino mythology, a woman’s pregnancy is endangered by creatures who want to take the life of the child.  These creatures are called aswangs.  The word aswang may be rooted in the word “aso” meaning “dog” for two reasons.  First, because the howl of dogs at night warns the approach of the aswang.  And second, aswangs can take the form of a big black dog.  Some aswangs grow bat wings and fly with the upper half of their body.  To them pregnant women smells like ripe jackfruit.  Aswangs go to the house of the pregnant woman and stay below the bamboo floor or above the nipa roof.  They then let their strandlike- and tubelike tongues enter the woman’s vagina and suck the baby’s water.  The baby then dies.

To prevent these attacks by aswangs, the husband sleeps beside his wife.  If he sees the aswang’s tongue dangling on the roof, he pulls it down and cut it.  The next morning the aswang will be known because he cannot speak: his tongue has been cut.  To prevent attacks from the bamboo floor, the husband inserts a bolo on the slit with the pointed end downwards.  Aswangs are afraid of metallic objects.  And if they dare go underneath the woman, they may hurt themselves.  The next morning the aswang will be known because of his bolo wound on the face or on the back.

Aborted babies, being unbaptized, are also believed to be posessed by demons, resulting to a creature called tiyanak.  Tiyanaks appear like a baby wrapped in a skin–perhaps its own dried placenta.  Tiyanaks know that the Filipinos are natually compassionate to the helpless, especially to a helpless baby crying for food and comfort.  Tiyanaks are usually found in the jungles, where a woman would likely throw an unwanted child, there to lie hidden and rot, lest the neighbors know of the heartless deed and the illicit affair, resulting to a loss of honor in the village and subject  to endless stories and gossips.  When a man or woman finds the tiyanak-baby and carries it on his arms, the baby’s face transforms to that of hideous demon, and creature bites the victim’s neck.

From this analysis, we can see that Filipinos value children, even before they were born.  Filipinos uphold the dignity of a pregnant woman and the responsibility of her husband in taking care of her and her child.  Those who want to kill the child in the womb are classified as aswangs.  For Filipinos, it is an insult to be called “hayop ka!” or “you are an animal”, “puta ang ina mo” or “your mother is a whore who does not take care of you (that’s why you grow up unbecoming of a man)”, or “demonyo ka!” or “you are a demon”.    To be called an “aswang” results to an excommunication from the villagers: nobody talks to you and you are always under suspicion.

Today, in Philippine cities, there may be no more aswangs flying with batlike wings and running like black dogs.  But they now take in a more human appearance but with an inhuman heart: the abortionists and the politicians who support them.  Though they do not at present openly support abortion, they are supporting a Reproductive Health Bill with the following clause in its Sec 3 on Guiding Principle:

m. While nothing in this Act changes the law on abortion, as abortion remains a crime and is punishable, the government shall ensure that women seeking care for post-abortion complications shall be treated and counseled in a humane, non-judgmental and compassionate manner.

If this bill is passed, I will make the following prediction: another bill will be filed that will be worded as follows:

the government shall ensure that women seeking care for post-abortion complications shall be treated and counseled in a humane, non-judgmental and compassionate manner

With Pres. Obama now at the helm of the U.S. government, the Philippines will soon kneel before the abortion lobby and finally make abortion into a right.  Abortion is foreign to the Filipino world view.  For Filipinos, abortion is a wrong that can never be a right.

Archbishop Jesus Dosado denies restricting the Traditional Latin Mass in the Archdiocese of Ozamiz, Philippines

“Archbishop of Ozamiz, Msgr. jesus Dosado, declared that no TLM can be celebrated in his archdiocese without his permission,” wrote an Una Voce member Carlos Palad.

Palad told UCA News on April 16 that he based his assertion on a news brief in the March 16-29 issue of the Philippine bishops’ CBCP Monitor. Titled “Archbishop warns vs ‘unauthorized’ Latin Mass,” the report said Ozamiz archdiocese has issued a warning to its Catholics that “any Latin Mass is deemed illegal without the consent of the Ozamiz Archbishop Jesus Dosado.”

. . .

The archbishop clarified his stand in the recent interview. “I do not forbid (TLM) here,” he said. “If people ask me for that, it is my obligation as a bishop to provide them a priest.” He acknowledged only having SSPX priests saying Mass in his archdiocese. Even though Pope Benedict on Jan. 21 lifted the excommunication of SSPX bishops, he said, priests of the society “can say Mass validly, but not licitly.”

Archbishop Jesus Dosado of Ozamiz, vice chairman of the Philippine bishops’ Commission on Liturgy, says the comment posted on rorate-caeli.blogspot could have stemmed from his refusal years ago to allow a priest of the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) to say Mass in his archdiocese.

“I said ‘no way’ not because of the Latin Mass, but because there was something irregular in the ordination of this priest,” the Vincentian archbishop explained in a telephone interview from Ozamiz, 770 kilometers southeast of Manila.

***

Source:  Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN).  See Rorate Caeli for comments.

Fr. James B. Reuter S.J. on the friendship of Fr. Martin Zillig, S.J. and Fr. Henry Lee Irwin, S.J.: The Jackass anecdote

Fr. James B. Reuter SJ, who aside from moderating the Ateneo Glee Club and serving as trainer for the men’s basketball team of yore, once told a story about Father Irwin and another Jesuit Fr. Martin Zillig, who both had many a spirited debate about many a thing.

“At the end of the day, the priests would gather at the recreational room at the Jesuit Residence for small talk about the day’s events. Both Fathers Zillig and Irwin were highly opinionated and they would continue their discussions at the balcony only for the former to storm off in anger muttering, ‘Jackass! Jackass!’

“When Father Zillig fell sick and lay dying, he asked for Father Irwin to stay by his bedside.

“As Father Irwin packed a few belongings to take with him to the hospital, his eyes burned with tears and he began to mumble, ‘I know, I know. He wants me there so he can look me in the eye one more time and say, ‘Jackass! Jackass!’”

The anecdote, humorous it may be, underscores the close-knit fraternity of the Jesuits and Father Harry’s compassion. Towards the 1970’s, Father Irwin fell ill and retired from teaching. Instead he tended to his garden outside the Jesuit Residence and walked around the campus befriending and giving impromptu lectures to students about school, life, theater, and just about anything. He pushed students to explore life and live it to the fullest.

***

Source: “The Blue Ghost” by Rick Olivares