Depictions Of Deities Outside Catholicism

You shouldn’t be allowed to worship false idols, stated directly by the First Commandment. Are you allowed to depict other religious deities for decoration? In 1656 AD, as a resolve to the Chinese Rites Controversy, it was decided that you were allowed to show statues of Confucius. On the same note, I agree that an individual shall be allowed to possess statues and icons of religious leaders, as long as you are not worshipping these deities. You are allowed to own statues of other religions idols. We are allowed to have tattoos that show depictions of other religions. Then lastly we should able to attend the religious ceremonies of other religions.

Others may say that is it wrong to depict the idols of other religions, however I believe that you may, as long as the idols aren’t for worship. Looking back at the Old Testament, we find the story of Moses and the Jews where the Jewish people create a golden calf. When Moses returns with the laws of God, known as the Ten Commandments, he is deeply outraged at the Jews’ creation of the god Baal. (Exodus 32) Therefore, it’s wrong to depict other religious idols, however this is not quite the case. The Jews had been making worship to the calf and dancing and singing to it. As stated by the Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me,” (Exodus 20.) Therefore as long as you do not make the idols into gods and strictly have them for the sake of decorative adornment, there is nothing wrong with their depiction.

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Although, what’s the difference between decoration and worship? When are you taking decorating too far? You may tell yourself, I’m not praying to the idol, therefore I am not worshiping it. However, this kind of thinking becomes highly problematic. You do not necessarily have to pray to the idols to worship them. Creating an alter for the idol is going too far, as well as making them the center of your life. You must make sure that when you depict another religions idol, you must not see them for more than a statue. Although, you can respect the culture which the idol comes from and be interested by the religion, you can not believe in their deity.

The Chinese Rites Controversy was started as a dispute from within the Catholic Church with the Jesuits and Dominicans. The issue was: Should the Chinese people be able to take part in Confucius and other traditional ceremonies? Pope, Clement XI in 1715 and Pope Benedict XIV in 1742. decreed that it was wrong to take part in these ceremonies because they went against the ideas of the Catholic Church. However, Pope Pius XII in 1939 declared that the ideas of Confucianism where allowed to be partaken in by Chinese Catholics. Although, you were not allowed to burn paper and if you wanted to bow there had to be a crucifix present.

Confucianism may be a religion to some, however you can have statues of Confucius as long as you do not believe in Confucianism. This is why Catholics can own statues of Confucius. While still being able to make proper worship to God and attend worship service on Sundays.

Therefore, you can own statues because it was concluded by Pope Pius XII that we were allowed to as long as you did not believe the idol to take the place of God. This defends the idea that idols can be displayed as long as you are not worshipping them, as well as following the teachings of the Church actively.

Then again, why stop there? If idols can be displayed as statues, would we be allowed to have tattoos that depict other religious symbols, like the taijitu symbol, otherwise known as the yin and yang symbol? Statues are something that can be a very minor decoration and you would not be actively displaying them with you. Although, there must be a very clear distinction that the tattoo does not represent your religious beliefs, because that will most likely be one of the first things people will see on you.

Although, tattoos and statues may seem the be the same argument, this is not the case. However, with tattoos, this may be highly problematic and a conundrum for some. Why should there be a difference between statues and tattoos? Although, I believe that you should not be allowed to have such tattoos, because the situation becomes slightly more difficult.

Although, some of the same rules apply to tattoos that applied to statues on the sense that they are not allowed to be worshiped, or lead your life. Though I think it would be more difficult to want to worship a tattoo than a statue, but in that regard a tattoo of other religions symbols still can not be justified. However, it becomes more prevalent in your life, which opens a bigger passage towards temptation. After all which sin is easier to commit? One that you come across everyday, or a sin that you do not even find yourself in the position to commit?

“often, we put ourselves into situations because we tell ourselves that we’re “beyond” certain sins. This can be true, but it’s more rare than we like to think. If I’ve noticed that I delight in certain temptations, I need to be honest about the situations that I place myself in that lead to them. It’s very simply a choice to cut the temptation off.” (Fr Clayton Thompson)

Therefore, if you were to have a tattoo of Another religion, you may be tempted to follow the teaching of that religion. However, I believe while the temptation may exist, it’s not very likely that your views will change because of a tattoo. Although I don’t have a tattoo, I’ve had a statue of Buddha next to my bed for over a year and never have I looked at it and be tempted to make any changes in my religious beliefs. Although, I also have a crucifix next to my bed as well, so may you just need Catholic imagery for every non-catholic image or statue you own?

Then lastly, should you be allowed to attend, other religions’ worship services. Now of course you can not attend them to worship because this goes directly against the Church and The First Commandment, however it is still possible to go to other religions churches as an observer. Simply put, yes, the Catholic Church believes you are allowed to observe other religions ceremonies because it puts our own religion in perspective. So to say, we can strengthen our own religious beliefs in God, through observing other religions.

Although when it comes to observing, how far can you truly go? All forms are worship are strictly prohibited, but if there is a ceremony during their worship service which does necessarily pertain to the religion itself, are you allowed to take part? Such as the act of shaking someone’s hand, or donating to the church?

If you go to another church, it is fair to donate because it is ok to give people what they need in order to survive. Although, are you allowed to participate in small activities such as shaking hands? “worship in common (communicatio in sacris) is not to be considered as a means to be used indiscriminately for the restoration of Christian unity.” (Pope Paul VI) Therefore, you can only attend a Catholic Church and not a Protestant Church, even for the restoration of Christian unity.

If a Catholic were to partake in another religions worship ceremony, they would be excommunicated from the church, because we are only allowed to worship and receive communion from the Roman Catholic Church. However if there are no Roman Catholic Churches in the area, Catholics may be aloud to worship in the Greek Orthodox denomination of the Catholic Church. This means that Catholics may not substitute any other Christian denomination churches for a Catholic Sunday mass. However, you may attend other Christian churches as long as you do not receive their communion and go to Catholic mass on Sunday. This is because Catholicism believes that communion must be unleavened wheat bread and wine made from grapes, which become Jesus’s body and blood. We are not allowed to visit other Christian churches because the Catholic Church is the only church to believe in the transubstantiation of the Eucharist.

It is also important for a theologian to study other religions so they can understand their view points and try to help them come to believe in God and the Catholic Church. Without the knowledge of other religions we would seem ignorant to the non-Catholics and this is the reason why Catholic priests were persecuted in Japan until the 19th century. We openly rejected their customs and traditions as sinful practices so we appeared to be a threat to the Japanese Government, which is one of the reasons why Christianity had been outlawed there. In order to avoid such tragedies, we must become well versed in the ways of the world.

In the end, Catholics should be allowed to own statues of other religious idols. However Catholics may not have tattoos of other icons, but can attending other churches as an observer. However, as Catholics, we must make sure that the Judeo-Christian God is always at the center of our lives as well as the practices of the Roman Catholic Church. Statues must only serve as decoration, as well as tattoos. Other churches must also only be visited for the sake of increasing your knowledge on the religion. Pope Pius XII trusted that these things would not make people stray from the path of God. Although, It is possible to be tempted through other religious idols and teaching but I believe as God leads our lives, we should never stray from the Catholic faith.

Horror Of Tsunami

On December 26, 2004, “an earthquake of magnitude 9.3 on the Richter scale” (U.X.L. 571) strikes in the Indian Ocean. A small ripple forms at the epicenter moving out rapidly at anywhere from five hundred to six hundred miles per hour. On the shores, people flocked to the beaches as the water receded back farther than usual at a pace unseen before this occurrence. Within a short time, the water was back, and much more with it, slamming the coast and flooding the land. This tsunami affected lives in seventeen different countries from Indonesia, where over 168,000 people died alone, all the way across the ocean to Kenya in Africa. An estimated 230,000 individuals died due to this tsunami with many missing and even more injured. The death toll from this Boxing Day tsunami is a staggering figure and shows the brutal devastation that these waves can leave in their wake. While earthquakes themselves can be deadly forces, they can cause even more unspeakable damage when they end, especially when they occur on the coast or out at sea. For centuries scientists have constantly been working to find ways to improve prediction methods that could save more lives.

Named “tsunami” by Japanese fishermen, “tsu” meaning harbor and “nami” meaning wave, harbor waves as they were called, are actually not harbor waves at all. These waves that form can be deadlier than their originating cause as they pick up speed and rush across the ocean, ultimately finding their destination along the beaches and coasts of land. Earthquakes, landslides, and volcanoes, as well as meteorites, can all contribute to forming these powerful waves out at sea. A common misconception is that these waves are related to the tide or the wind. In fact, it is far more connected to the Earth itself than the air above it. Deep within the Earth, as faults move and plates spread, sink, and grind against each other, earthquakes are likely to form. These earthquakes in the sea often go unnoticed, but the significant ones can cause massive displacements in the water which is how tsunamis form. The formation can occur two ways. The first type of earthquake causes a vertical fall in the seafloor sucking water down with it because water flows to the lowest point. These fall lines that are formed can be hundreds of miles long and will fill almost instantly. Once it fills, the remaining rushing water is forced back out in what can start as small as a forty-one centimeter ripple that can stretch for many more miles in length. That ripple does not remain a ripple for long. The other form of an earthquake pushes a section of seafloor upward vertically for many feet over hundreds of miles launching the water above it out eventually to flatten itself. Landslides, volcanic eruptions, and meteorites cause them by pushing the water out and away at a fast pace by either a pulse in the ground after the event or a large amount of mass being introduced into the water very quickly. Once the wave begins in each of these scenarios, they are similar from this point until landfall. At the start these little ripples that eventually form the wave move out over deep water, they increase in speed over the deeper water, rushing for possibly thousands of miles at hundreds of miles an hour until it finally reaches shallow water and breaks.

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When tsunamis strike land, they drag with it a mass of water including that which rushed out at the start of the displacement. With this extra water tsunamis often break on the shore like a normal wave, but the difference is that they never stop. A reverse tide current is formed by the break trying to pull the wave back out, but it is useless and as the wave becomes a constant rush of water, continually steamrolling on a straight path to land finding any low area possible. A break in this way occurs because the wave, that could be thought of like a flood that occurs on water and from this combination of speed and mass the momentum is overwhelming the tide’s abilities. As the water floods in, the water behind it pushes the water in the front along which is why the wave is stronger by many times than the tide. The rapid rush of this wave slows as it nears shore, but its impact is devastating to communities that are unprepared. In the shallow water, the ripple turns slowly into a wall of water which is traveling from thirty to three hundred miles per hour which will slam the beaches. This transformation occurs when the wave condenses in the shallows and vertically grows but horizontally begins to shrink, along with it forming a strong forceful current of its own. This originally small ripple is why most sailors do not see the tsunamis out in the open ocean giving them no warning when they go back to port and see destruction. Onshore, however, today there are often warnings and they need to be listened to.

“It was the first of November 1775. All Saints’ Day dawned crisp and cloudless” (Shardy 3) This was the start of one of the worst days in Portugal’s history. On that day there was a quake that rattled Lisbon, a city that seemed almost blessed, for after, the quake, the day deceivingly had turned around in their favor. Following the earthquake, the Tagus River bay in Lisbon, which is generally fairly deep ranging from sixty to a couple hundred feet in depth, receded exposing amazing treasures that had been sunk in the bay since the golden age of the Portuguese Empire. People naturally flocked to the area collecting the treasures not realizing that their supposed blessing was going to be the end for them. Before people could react, the water from a tsunami came back rapidly, killing thousands on its way back in and up the steeply sloped streets that wound through the city. In the aftermath, only one house in the poorer district stood through it all. This disaster gave the world a new need to understand and predict earthquakes. So scientists set out to work and studied warnings and prevention techniques, bringing the study of seismology to the forefront. Through this tragedy, the world gained a valuable piece of information- if the tide recedes quicker or farther than normal get out of there as quick as possible, especially if you felt an earthquake. Scientists are also monitoring the undersea earthquakes that occur to determine which of those can produce a tsunami. Prevention research is far from perfect as the Japanese learned in 2011 with a seawall that was unfortunately too low. Seawalls can be excellent preventive tools if they are high enough to manage the height of the tsunamis, which is, of course, difficult to predict. Another major prevention method for death and damage is the construction of tall buildings that can withstand the power and currents of these destructive forces. However, it is often only the wealthiest countries that can afford to protect themselves in this way.

“The 28 September 2018 magnitude 7.5 Palu, Indonesia earthquake occurred at 1002 UTC.” (UNESCO) Even today these waves can strike unpredictably and most countries other than Japan are too poor to be able to pay the price tag that is placed on new prevention methods. This is what happened in Palu, where most of the structures that could handle the earthquake were destroyed later by the tsunami. “Most tsunamis are caused by earthquakes on convergent tectonic plate boundaries. According to the Global Historical Tsunami Database, since 1900, over 80% of likely tsunamis were generated by earthquakes.” (NOAA) The Pacific is where this plate action occurs on a large scale. Most Pacific countries have seismographs in as many places as possible and they look for earthquakes that are known to be at the point on the Richter scale where a tsunami is likely to form. Armed with this knowledge of where and when an earthquake or landslide that is powerful enough to occur, people in coastal cities should build up defenses against these waves that are known for destroying entire communities and wiping out towns and destroy the economics in the area for a long time. Repairing these places that have mostly been leveled take tedious work and long periods of time, as well as money for the repairs and attempts at preventative buildings that can protect against future terrors.

Economic devastation is another big problem for the countries affected by tsunamis and can be one of the longer lasting effects from the disaster. When the wave hits the land, the force can destroy not only human life but the life of animals and crops as well. The wave may take out oil tanks leading to oil spills or destroy ports that can provide food and resources for people. And the wave, most likely salt water, can devastate fields by washing away crops or killing them to the root in the salty water potentially causing a food and clean water shortage as well. That is why for many villages or towns, it takes many years for repairs to be made and everyone to get back to normal since most of the area was likely damaged or destroyed.

Tsunamis, known incorrectly as harbor and tidal waves by most,  are far more destructive and powerful than either of these waves. Scientists can continue to learn and remain optimistic that there will be a guaranteed way to predict these killer waves in the future. While we may not have prediction and prevention perfected, one can see how much closer humanity is to knowing that answer than when the disaster in Lisbon caused the world to wake up and begin to study this in earnest several hundred years ago. International organizations have been setting seismology stations in high-risk places for years trying to give people a chance by pinpointing the likely epicenter of the disturbance and measuring it to determine if a threat is imminent. Now scientists have the details of how and why these waves occur and are focusing on identifying those forty-one centimeter ripple as possible tsunamis in the making. Even without fully accurate technology, there are ways that civilians can keep safe by recognizing the common signs of a tsunami. With these simple and obvious observations, thousands can be saved by even just one person who speaks up about the possible danger. Cities can now be built to house these new warning systems and be strengthened to withstand the power without issue and with little damage done. Through the work these scientists and engineers are doing, countless lives and communities could potentially be saved.

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