22 May 2015

SOME FRENCH WORDS USED IN AMERICAN ENGLISH

The French language constitutes a reasonable percentage of the English language vocabulary. From the VOA Learning English Programlet us look at some of them as used in the American English.
1) MAYDAY: This is an emergency code usually used by pilots to communicate that a plane is in danger of crashing to the ground. It is from the French expression “(Venez) m’aider,” or “m’aidez,” which means Help Me.” 
Frederick Stanley Mockford created the Mayday call signal in the 1920s, as a radio officer at Croydon Airport in LondonToday, the Mayday call is given three times to signal a life-threatening emergency.
2) SABOTAGE: It means to destroy or damage as an act of subversion against an organization or nation. 
A person who sabotages is a Saboteur. 
3) LAISSEZ-FAIRE: It means to leave alone and not interfere. It was first used in France in the 18th century.
4) ENTREPRENEURIt means person who starts and operates a new business and takes the responsibility for any risks involved.
5) FILM NOIR: It is a movie about murder and other crimes. Such films were popular in the 1940s and 50s. 
6) AVANT-GARDE: This refers to anything in art, music or literature that is very modern or ahead of its time. 
7) RÉSUMÉ: It is a documentation of one’s education, skills and experience.  
8) SAUTÉThis means frying something quickly in a small amount of oil or butter. 
9) FLAMBÉ: It is a technique by which alcohol is added to 
a dish and then lit on fire.
10) BON APPÉTIT: It means “good appetite,” 
or “enjoy your meal.”
11)        BON VOYAGE: It means have a good trip.”
Au revoir! (Good-bye!)

1 May 2015

PRAY WITH A CHRISTIAN SPIRIT, FOR OUR GOD IS NOT AMADIOHA.

Usually, on the first day of the month my News Feed is full of all sorts of vindictive prayers. Prayers that call down fire and brimstone on all enemies of progress who will stifle breakthroughs and miracles which have been on the way since God-knows-when, and which are expected to land that month. Given the long line of "Amen" that usually respond to such incantations, there is the need look at the need to pray for our needs according to the mind of Christ our Master and Saviour (Matt 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4).
Anyone who intentionally works against another's progress (physically or spiritually) is an enemy of progress. And the normal reaction towards an enemy is defeat by any possible means, including elimination and destruction. According to the Scriptures, with God all things are possible (Matt 19:26). Anything we ask in Jesus name would be granted (John 14:14). And we can do all things in Christ (Philippians 4:13). Therefore, it sounds logical to use the simplest means in vogue i.e., calling on God to rain down fire and brimstone to destroy anybody standing between us and our suspected breakthrough to our destiny.

But Christ our perfect example as Christians also had many strong enemies, both human and spiritual. Trusting in God, he persevered to his glorious destiny without destroying none; even though he had the powers (Matt 26: 53; John 18:36). Foreseeing our challenges with similar forces therefore, one of the instructions he leaves for us among his many teachings is:

"But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust." (Matt 5: 44-45).

Thus, vengeance against the enemy belongs to God (Deut 32: 35; Rom 12: 19; Heb 10: 30; etc). We all are sinful sons of the same father. In our prayers therefore, we do not need to ask our loving and merciful father to hurt or destroy our fellow brothers and sisters simply bcs they hurt us with their own sins. Rather, we need to ask God for protection against such enemies, and pray for his mercy and grace of repentance on them.

Humanly speaking, this is difficult. But that is the Christian spirit. Christ showed us many examples of forgiving the enemy, including when Peter cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest (Matt 26:51-52), and most importantly, by forgiving those who crucified him on the cross (Luke 23:34). Our own circumstances may differ. But the solution remains the same.

If the God of hosts is with us and the God of Jacob is our stronghold (Psalm 46:7), if there is greater joy in heaven over a sinner that repents (Luke 15:7), if Christ and his Disciples/Apostles drove out demons and never commanded them to quench by fire, and if he did not curse even those who crucified him to die by fire, my Christian teachings tell me that it is wrong for any Christian to call on God's vengeance to destroy a fellow sinful human being bcs he/she in his or her sins happens to be an enemy. We are also enemies both to God and one another in our own sins (Isaiah 53:6; Rom 3:23, etc.). We need to always forgive one another as much as we need God's mercy in our own sins (Mtt 6: 14-15), and his protection in the hands of fellow human beings who are inimical to us due to their own sins. We also need to form the habit of praying positively. Paul and Silas conquered their own enemies with songs of praise (Acts 16:25). While we remain faithful and forgiving children of God, the avenging God (Psalm 94) will determine the fullness of time for his vengeance for us.

As for the spiritual enemy, we simply need to be grateful to God for his ceaseless shield against such forces. And we need to strongly trust in him, and pray for his continued protection always. I am still searching to see in the Bible where God destroyed any demon because it was inimical to a believer. The highest I have seen is where the demon was cast out; not even into abyss or the pit of hell as I hear many people shout in the name of praying.
So, I wonder why anybody can say such things in the name of praying to God as a Christian. Unless one is praying to Amadioha, Sango, Igwe-ka-ala, Ala-ogbaga, etc. Let us learn to pray with a Christian spirit. Our God is not a heathen god.

29 Apr 2015

30 WONDERFUL QUOTES ATTRIBUTED TO ALBERT EINSTEIN

Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955) was a German Theoretical Physicist. He is famous for his influence on the Philosophy of Science, and the general Theory of Relativity which is one of the two pillars of Modern Physics. He won the Nobel Prize in 1921. He was remarkably well rounded and his brilliance has left its mark in history, including the following quotes attributed to him:

1. “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.”
2. “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. The mediocre mind is incapable of understanding the man who refuses to bow blindly to conventional prejudices and chooses instead to express his opinions courageously and honestly.”
3. “Human knowledge and skills alone cannot lead humanity to a happy and dignified life. Humanity has every reason to place the proclaimers of high moral standards and values above the discoverers of objective truth.”
4. “Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.”
5. “I, at any rate, am convinced that He (God) does not throw dice.”
6. “The important thing is not to stop questioning; curiosity has its own reason for existing.”
7. “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”
8. “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”
9. “Falling in love is not at all the most stupid thing that people do— but gravitation cannot be held responsible for it.”
10. “The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science.”
11. “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”
12. “Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value”
13. “The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.”
14. “The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits.”
15. “Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character.”
16. “Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas.”
17. “Nature shows us only the tail of the lion. But I do not doubt that the lion belongs to it even though he cannot at once reveal himself because of his enormous size.”
18. “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.”
19. “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”
20. “My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.”
21. “Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding.”
22. “I never think of the future. It comes soon enough.”
23. “Do not worry about your difficulties in mathematics, I can assure you that mine are all greater”
24. “In order to form an immaculate member of a flock of sheep one must, above all, be a sheep.”
25. “The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible.”
26. “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
27. “Truth is what stands the test of experience.”
28. “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving”
29. “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
30. “Common sense is nothing more than a deposit of prejudices laid down by the mind before you reach eighteen.”

22 Apr 2015

THE RADICAL SCIENTIFIC VIEW OF BIBLICAL CULTURES

                                 

ANCIENT BIBLICAL CULTURES

In the ancient Hebrew culture there was a literary codification of the concept of a Creator and of a creation out of nothing, the teaching from the book of Genesis. The Old Testament gives factual evidence of this world view throughout. Christians today take this for granted, but this concept was a radical break from Egyptian, Babylonian, and Greek thought. The Israelites knew they must trust the faithfulness of God because they knew God orders the day and night and that the law of God extends to all things moral, societal, and natural. Isaiah points to the order and measure of physical objects, i.e. what Jaki defined as “exact science,” as contributing proof of God’s omniscience, literally translated to mean having all knowledge.
“Who was it measured out the waters in his open hand, heaven balanced on his palm, earth’s mass poised on three of his fingers? Who tried yonder mountains in the scale, weighed out the hills?” Isaiah 40:12
The Old Testament people saw nothing that happened in nature as vain, even the rain that falls from the sky makes the land fruitful.[1] “Yahweh alone, who created nature, can bring nature to an end and final judgment of all.” (Isaiah 23:10-11) Genesis 1 is much more rational than the Enuma elish creation myth of Babylon. This mind-set permeated the thought of the Israelites, the Jews, and the early Church.
There are also detailed references in the books of the prophets and the psalms to the faithfulness of the regular and permanent structure and function of nature, offered repeatedly as the basis for believing in the trustworthiness of God.
“A message from the Lord, from him, the God of hosts, the same who brightens day with the sun’s rays, night with the ordered service of moon and star, who can stir up the sea and set its waves a-roaring.” (Jeremiah 31:35)
The naturalness of the universe, the predictability and order, the power of God as Creator and Lawmaker are all emphasized, indicating a view of the cosmos that was sustained leading up to the birth of modern science. The absolute certainty of the faithfulness of God is invoked to give credibility to the belief that Jerusalem will be rebuilt:
“It was I framed the earth, and created man to dwell in it; it was my hands that spread out the heavens, my voice that marshalled the starry host.” (Isaiah 45:12, 19)
In the psalms is found a poetic conviction regarding the work of Creation and its relevance to everything man thinks or does.[2] The monotheistic outlook on the world is unmistakable and uncompromising, enthusiastic even. This striking confidence is abundantly evident, and shows the belief in Creation of the entire cosmos out of nothing as well as a belief in the miraculous Creator who could accomplish the former obviously could produce the latter. Even in the earliest psalms, there is a most confident vision of nature, a precursor of the science to come.
The universe of the Old Testament is good, complete, and ordered. The universe is not a creature of unpredictable volition, but the creation of a personal and loving Creator. There is no conflict between reason and revelation, and the order, stability, and predictability of the cycles of the cosmos testify to the faithfulness of God.
“Give thanks to the Lord for his goodness, his mercy is eternal; give thanks to the God of gods, his mercy is eternal; give thanks to the Lord of lords, his mercy is eternal. Eternal his mercy, who does great deeds as none else can; eternal his mercy, whose wisdom made the heavens; eternal his mercy, who poised earth upon the floods. Eternal his mercy, who made the great luminaries; made the sun to rule by day, his mercy is eternal; made the moon and the stars to rule by night, his mercy is eternal.” (Psalm 136:?)
God is not just a dispassionate creator; He is eternally merciful and faithful to His people, and that faithfulness is evidenced in the stability of creation. There is an abundance of such praises in Psalms 35, 80, and 120 of the stability of nature as a work of the Creator. Psalm 73, for example, praises God’s hold on creation: “Thine is the day, thine the night; moon and sun are of thy appointment; thou hast fixed all the bounds of earth, madest the summer, madest the cool of the year.” (Psalm 73: 16-17) Psalms 118 praises God for the stability of the moral law as well as nature: “Lord, the word thou hast spoken stands ever unchanged as heaven. Loyal to his promise, age after age, is he who made the enduring earth.” (Psalm 118: 89-90) Passages such as these demonstrate the naturalness of order and stability in creation.[3]
The Hellenistic Jews held a sacred respect for the Two Books of Maccabees where the first biblical appearance of the phrase creation ex nihilo is found.[4] It is the story of the mother who was martyred after watching her seven sons be tortured and martyred first. The sons were tortured as she watched because they refused to break God’s command and eat the flesh of swine. Their tongues were cut out, scalps torn off, hands and feet mutilated, while the mother and remaining brothers stood by. Then each one was roasted alive, maimed and suffering as they were. The brothers comforted each other as they died bravely, “God sees true,” they said, “and will not allow us to go uncomforted.” (2 Maccabees 7:6) As they died, the mother continued to hearten her sons:
“Into this womb you came, who knows how? Not I quickened, not I the breath of life gave you, nor fashioned the bodies of you one by one! Man’s birth, and the origin of all things, he devised who is the whole world’s Maker; and shall he not mercifully give the breath of life back to you, that for his law’s sake hold your lives so cheap?” (2 Maccabees 7:22-23)
Outraged at the defiance of his authority, the king turned to the youngest and only still-living son whom the mother counselled in her native tongue:
“Nine months in the womb I bore thee, three years at the breast fed thee, reared thee to be what thou art; and now, my son, this boon grant me. Look round at heaven and earth and all they contain; bethink thee that of all this, and mankind too, God made out of nothing. Of this butcher have thou no fear; claim rightful share among thy brethren in yonder inheritance of death; so shall the divine mercy give me back all my sons at once.”(2 Maccabees 7:27-29)
Jaki tied this story to the history of science because it demonstrates the radically different view of creation held by the Old Testament cultures. He explains, “No martyrdom with a hope of bodily resurrection was ever inspired by a Demiourgos whose ‘creative’ power consisted in the ability to manipulate the already existing ‘formless’ matter into actual shapes.”[5]

EARLY CHRISTIANITY

The facts are in the writings of the Church Fathers. St. Justin Martyr (c. 100–165 A.D.) rejected pantheism in favor of the Creator in his First Apology.
“Stoics teach that even God Himself shall be resolved into fire, and they say that the world is to be formed anew by this revolution; but we understand that God, the Creator of all things, is superior to the things that are to be changed.”[6]
In his Second Apology to the Roman Senate, he explained why the Stoic morality did not hold under the doctrine of eternal cycles.
“For if they say that human actions come to pass by fate, they will maintain either that God is nothing else than the things which are ever turning, and altering, and dissolving into the same things . . . or that neither vice nor virtue is anything.”[7]
Athenagoras (ca. 133–190 A.D.) taught that Christians, not the pagans, were the ones “who distinguished God from matter, and teach that matter is one thing and God another, and that they are separated by a wide interval, for the Deity is uncreated and eternal, to be beheld by the understanding and reason alone, while matter is created and perishable.”[8] He also taught that the world was “an instrument in tune, and moving in well-measured time,” and that the Deity is the only one who deserved worship because He gave the world “its harmony, and strikes its notes, and sings the accordant strain.”[9] Athenagoras noted that the failure of philosophers to realize this distinction led them into inconsistencies about the origin and permanence of the world.
“Neither, again, is it reasonable that matter should be older than God; for the efficient cause must of necessity exist before the things that are made.”[10]
As Christianity spread rapidly throughout the Roman Empire, Christian thought and fundamental characteristics of Greek science achieved a sophisticated awareness crystallizing in Alexandria where the first school of Christian thought emerged.[11] Clement of Alexandria (died A.D. 215) was an intellectual who studied with Christian teachers elsewhere before coming to Alexandria to teach at the school and refute paganism and pantheism.[12] One of his students was Origen (c. A.D. 182–251). Clement and Origen had a “double task,” to articulate the Covenant to the faithful and serve as apologists to the pagans, which required them to address cosmology.[13]
In his Exhortation to the Greeks, Clement taught that a result of idol worship was the mental chaining of the intellect to the blind forces of nature.
“Why, in the name of truth, do you show those who have put their trust in you that they are under the dominion of ‘flux’ and ‘motion’ and ‘fortuitous vortices’? Why, pray, do you infect life with idols, imagining winds, air, fire, earth, stocks, stones, iron, this world itself to be gods?”[14]
Clement urged for a more confident attitude toward nature, a view of a world created by a rational Creator. Not only did he exhort the Greeks to view the world as creation, a robust confidence in human and cosmic existence, but he exhorted them to have faith in Christ who generated that confidence.
“How great is the power of God! His mere will is creation; for God alone created, since He alone is truly God. By a bare wish His work is done, and the world’s existence follows upon a single act of His will. […] Let none of you worship the sun. Let no one deify the universe; rather let him seek after the creator of the universe.”[15]
Origen tried in his De Principiis (On First Principles) to synthesize Christianity with pagan and Eastern ideas of the cosmos, and he sought understanding of the eternal cycles.
“So therefore it seems to me impossible for a world to be restored for the second time, with the same order and with the same amount of births, and deaths, and actions . . .”[16]
Origen noticed the impossibility of eternally repeating worlds and that such an idea was in conflict with revelation. He recalled the events of biblical and salvation history, noting that if the world repeated itself over and over again, there would be more than one of all biblical events. He also noted there could be no free will because souls driven in an endlessly repeating cycle are all predetermined.
“For if there is said to be a world similar in all respects (to the present), then it will come to pass that Adam and Eve will do the same things which they did before: there will be a second time the same deluge, and the same Moses will again lead a nation numbering nearly six hundred thousand out of Egypt . . . a state of things which I think cannot be established by any reasoning, if souls are actuated by freedom of will, and maintain either their advance or retrogression according to the power of their will.”[17]
Origen reiterated a firm conviction that the cosmic vision was not predicated on eternal cycles but on the fusion of truth and benevolence, the recognition that Jesus Christ is the Incarnate Word of God.[18] There is no place for the resurrection in the doctrine of cosmic cycles, and the early Christian Fathers recognized this clearly.
“For we know that even if heaven and earth and the things in them pass away, yet the words about each doctrine, being like parts in a whole or forms in a species, which were uttered by the Logos who was the divine Logos with God in the beginning, will in no wise pass away.”[19]
Origen, like many of the early Church Fathers, demonstrated the depth of his conviction by martyrdom.[20]The worldview of the Bible and of Christianity was not merely a philosophical outlook; it was a pervasive conviction that was kept pure and protected at any price because the faithful held it as true.
In his work The City of God, St. Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354–430) addressed questions about the destiny of man, which hardly made sense in the doctrine of eternal cycles.[21] Augustine taught that the physical universe had its origin in the sovereign act of creation by God. It was baffling to Augustine that anyone would believe that good is not the source of all things.
“But it is much more surprising that some even of those who, with ourselves, believe that there is one only source of all things, and that no nature which is not divine can exist unless originated by that Creator, have yet refused to accept with a good and simple faith this so good and simple a reason of the world’s creation, that a good God made it good; and that the things created, being different from God, were inferior to Him, and yet were good, being created by none other than He.”[22]
When other scholars tried to interpret biblical references as evidence of eternal cycles, Augustine strongly rejected such an interpretation, just as his predecessors had, on the grounds of the impossibility of more than one Savior:
“At all events, far be it from any true believer to suppose that by these words of Solomon those cycles are meant, in which, according to those philosophers, the same periods and events of time are repeated. . . far be it, I say, from us to believe this. For once Christ died for our sins; and, rising from the dead, He dies no more. Death has no more dominion over Him; (Romans 6:9)  . . . The wicked walk in a circle, not because their life is to recur by means of these circles, which these philosophers imagine, but because the path in which their false doctrine now runs is circuitous.”[23]
For another thousand years, the writings and wisdom of Augustine remained a principal source of instruction that held consequences for the coming new phase of human history immersed in scientific enterprise. It was under the stronghold of faith in a Creator from Old Testament times and strengthened through the first millennium of Christianity that the European scholars received the Greek philosophical and natural works from the Arabs.

< About the Author

STACY TRASANCOS is a joyful convert to Catholicism, with a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Penn State University and a M.A. in Dogmatic Theology from Holy Apostles College and Seminary. 




22 Jan 2015

CATECHIST JOSIAH TAYLOR AZUBUIKE OGBONNA

Cate. T. J. A. Ogbonna.

Birth

Catechist Josiah Taylor Azubuike Ogbonna (a.k.a. Dee Taylor) of St. Benedict’s Catholic Parish Ntigha, Aba Diocese Nigeria was born on July 25, 1935, in the present Umu Uwa-oma Ugaa, Oria na Ugaa Autonomous Community, Ntigha Ancient Kingdom in Isiala Ngwa North LGA, Abia State Nigeria.
Education
He attended the following schools: Group School Eziama Ntigha (1946-1949) and Community School Amapu Ntigha (1950-1953), both in Isiala Ngwa North LGA, Abia State Nigeria. County Teachers' Training College Ogoja, Cross River State Nigeria (1962-1965), and Teachers' Training College Ihie, Isiala Ngwa North LGA, Abia State Nigeria (1973-1974).
Marriage
He got married to Mrs. Cordelia Mmaweze Ogbonna (nee Chikwendu) in December 1969. The marriage is blessed with five surviving sons. His second son, Master Chibueze Eusebius Nwokeukwu died in 1989 at the age of 17.
Occupation
He was a teacher from 1956 to 1992. His first teaching appointment was with the school authorities of St. Paul’s Catholic Parish Wanokom, in the present Cross River State of Nigeria, from 1956 till the Nigerian-Biafran Civil War. After the war, he was re-absorbed by the then Ministry of Education, East-Central State of Nigeria in 1970. He taught in many primary schools in Ntigha and Nsulu in the present Isiala Ngwa North LGA, Abia State Nigeria. He retired at the rank of Headmaster Special Class in 1992.
Ecclesiastical Service
Before his retirement from Civil Service in 1992, he joined the services of Catechists in the Catholic Diocese of Aba Nigeria in 1986. He served as a Catechist in the then Ngwa-ukwu Zone under St. Anthony’s Catholic Parish Nbawsi, Aba Diocese Nigeria (St. Bernadine’s Ihie, St. John’s Abayi, and St. Theresa’s Amoji) from 1986 to 1990. He returned to his home parish, St. Benedict’s Catholic Parish Ntigha, Aba Diocese Nigeria as the second Parish Catechist in 1990. He was later transferred to CKC Eziama Central, St. Peter’s Umuekpe, and St. Augustine’s Avo, all in St. Benedict’s Catholic Parish Ntigha. He was serving his second tenure in CKC Eziama Central till his death.
Death
Catechist Ogbonna died on January 1, 2014, the first day of his 79th year of age and 28th year as a Catholic Catechist.

Ichie T. J. A. Ogbonna (Dee Taylor)

Personal and Social Life
Catechist Josiah T. A. Ogbonna was popularly known as J. A. by his fellow teachers, as Taylor by his elders and age mates, and as Dee Taylor by the younger ones. He was a Choirmaster in the old Nbawsi Parish in the 1970s. He served mostly as a secretary and financial secretary in many secular and ecclesiastical organisations. Till death, he was the Welfare Secretary of the Aba Catholic Diocesan Catechists, Nbawsi Vicariate, and also the pioneer Ichie (King-maker) representing Umu Uwa-oma Ugaa, in Oria na Ugaa Autonomous Community, Isiala Ngwa North LGA, Abia State Nigeria. He would always be remembered as a teacher to the core in academics, faith and morals. He would be missed for his serious-mindedness in public and private affairs, and for his ancient proverbs and humorous jokes.

 Burial Ceremony of Cate. T. J. A. Ogbonna


Remembering Dee Taylor on All Souls' Day, 2014.