Monday, March 5, 2018

An Explanation of the Nine Papal Titles

Some regard him as the Antichrist. Others regard him as a living symbol of bigotry and injustice. Several regard him as one of the last guardians of morality, tradition, and sensibility at a time of a great cultural crisis. Many more have different opinions about the leader of the Catholic Church, but these are not likely to carry away billions of believers who regard him as the only legitimate representative of Immanuel on earth. Below are the nine papal titles from Pontifical Yearbook, with my explanation for each of them. 

1.) Bishop of Rome: This is the oldest of the papal titles, still in use since at least the end of the first century AD. Tradition states that the apostle Simon Peter became bishop of Rome in about 54 AD after he served as bishop of Antioch. 

2.) Vicar of Jesus Christ: Immanuel needed somebody to continue one’s work after one returned to heaven, and one chose one’s apostle Simon Peter to do so. Simon Peter had acted as a spokesperson for other eleven apostles, and he probably continued to do so in his later years. The pope is to Immanuel what the Canadian governor-general is to the British monarch. 

3.) Successor of the Prince of the Apostles: Such a title applies logically to the men who replaced Simon Peter, since the Catholic Church regards him as the “prince” of the apostles. 

4.) Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church: If the first papal title is “bishop of Rome”, the main papal title is “supreme pontiff of the universal church”. In fact, the adjective pontifical is synonymous with papal. Critics of the Catholic Church use such a title to prove that the church is pagan in origin, but the role that the title describes is in fact apostolic in origin. Biblical scholar James Douglas Grant Dunn has argued that Simon Peter played a significant role in holding together a nascent Christian movement by taking an middle position between James the Just, who recommended compliance to the Law of Moses for non-Israelite believers, and Paul of Tarsus, who recommended the opposite measure. That made Simon Peter a bridge-maker or a pontifex maximus according to Dunn. Even today, the pope must find ways to handle diverse opinions within the church, so that the unity of the church would be secure. 

5.) Patriarch of the West: This placed the pope as one of the five leaders of the Christian community, alongside the patriarchs of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. Pope Benedict XVI renounced the title during his reign. 

6.) Primate of Italy: This alludes to the jurisdiction of the pope over every church in Italy. 

7.) Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province: This alludes to the jurisdiction of the pope over every church in the ecclesiastical province of Rome. 

8.) Sovereign of the State of Vatican City: This alludes to the exclusive rule of the pope over the state of Vatican City. 

9.) Servant of the Servants of God: This alludes to the role of pope as a caretaker of believers, who must make sure that all of them have faith in Jesus. 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

A New Name for the So-Called "Civil Marriage"

        Labels do matter, despite the famous maxim by William Shakespeare that “a rose by any other name is just as sweet”. This still holds true especially in labelling things and abstract concepts. Inevitably, this leads to adding more definitions to names and thus to the use of retronyms.

        For example, people have attached the adjective acoustic to the word guitar to distinguish it from the electric guitar after the advent of the latter. Moreover, the show Star Trek that ran from 1966 to 1969 gradually received the subtitle “The Original Series” after the release of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: Enterprise, and Star Trek: Discovery.

        Such examples of coined retronyms might help explain why many religious denominations, especially the Christian ones, object to governmental extension of the definition of marriage to include non-heterocissexual people, since they see it as conceptual appropriation. The dispute over such an extension goes hand in hand with the struggle of such people to achieve the same civil rights as everybody else, leading inevitably to a conflict with the freedom of each citizen to practise one’s religion.

        People from both the Right and the Left have been speaking for and against marriage for non-heterocissexual people, and they have been using various strategies to put their advocacies into practice. For example, some countries have referring to their “civil marriages” as “civil unions” and “domestic partnerships”, but such actions have failed to satisfy the rest of the citizens. The author has drawn upon conjugal terminology to suggest a better new name for “civil marriage”: nuption. The author hopes that such a solution might satisfy all citizens from various ideological persuasions.

        The suggestion would go like this: the word marriage would go back at the hands of religious denominations, and the government would now label “civil marriage” as nuption. The latter can do whatever it wants with nuption, but the author would like to recommend some rules for nuption. First, appoint a “nuptializer”, a special governmental officer whose sole function is to formalize nuptializations. Second, require pairs under nuptializations to renew their pledges every year, month, week, or day to eliminate the need for divorce. Third and lastly, require a rigorous test on a pair to determine if they deserve to enter nuption.

        The solution brings certain advantages on both religious and nonreligious people. First, nonreligious people such as atheists with no ties to any religion can enter an arrangement separate from marriage, which would now return to religious domain. Second, religious ministers with objections to extending marriage to include pairs of the same sex can now take a very deep breath, as the government can no longer require them to formalize the unions of such pairs. Third and lastly, such a solution would uphold the separation of government and religion.

        Marginalized people such non-heterocissexual people certainly deserve fundamental human rights, but it does not mean that any government should force religious denominations that object to giving them the licence to engage in non-coital intercourse in the form of marriage to do otherwise. Crises sometimes demand more solutions that are creative and acceptable to all at the same time. Let religion have the word marriage back, and let the government keep its nuption.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Elohim are not Gods

Psalm 82:1 in its original Hebrew version literally reads, “Elohim stands in the council of El. He judges among elohim”. English translators of the Bible have usually rendered el or eloah and elim or elohim as “god” and “gods”, respectively. Eloah is the long variant of el, and it might have referred to a member of a group of elim.

The appearances of such words in the original Hebrew version of the Bible have been perplexing Christian translators for centuries, since translating them as “god” and “gods” would undermine the cornerstone of Christian belief, monotheism or recognition, belief, and worship of only one God.

To believe in a Bible that acknowledges the existence of many deities is unpalatable, but this need not be the case. The author would take his cue from the works of biblical scholar Michael S. Heiser to formulate a resolution to the dilemma.

Elohim in Hebrew is plural, especially when the plural form of a verb antecedes it, but its grammatical number is still unsure when a singular one does. Most commentators have been regarding it as a plurality of “majesty” or “excellence”, but the author would contend that elohim functions as a collective noun when the singular form of a verb antecedes it. Such a function has a precedent in the Hebrew word for Egyptians: Mizraim.

Mizraim means “Egyptians” when the plural form of a verb antecedes it, but “Egypt” or “Egyptian people” when a singular one does. Therefore, the Hebrew Scriptures have indicated that a divine council (not a pantheon) headed by Yahweh guides the course of the universe, as Heiser argued in his studies.

How would English translators of the Bible render the words el and eloah, as well as, elim and elohim? They must keep in mind that only Yahweh can be God, so what would such words mean? Heiser argued that the words refer to any dweller of the dimension of spirits. He included angels, souls of dead persons, and daemons in his description of elohim.

Linguists have traditionally derived el and eloah from a proto-Semitic root that meant, “To be strong”, conjuring the ideas of leadership and power. Therefore, the author would define an el as a divine master, eloah as a divine manager, and elohim with the singular form of a verb as a divine management.

In the end, Christian believers need not despair whenever they encounter supposedly unpalatable passages in the Bible. Nobody except Yahweh is God. There is only a divine management consisting of divine masters headed by Yahweh.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Kohen and Hiereus Do Not Mean “Priest”

Every Christian denomination affirms of every believer in Jesus to direct access to God, but the denominations themselves have trouble conceiving it correctly. Catholic and Orthodox churches criticize other Christian denominations for supposedly making clergy even of their laities, while the latter have accused the former of denying the right to direct access to God to theirs, just because of the confusion over a simple word: priest.

Christians have translated the Hebrew-Aramaic-Greek Bible into different languages, including English. The word priest comes from the Greek masculine comparative adjective presbuteros, which means “older”. However, English translators of the Bible have used the word to translate not only presbuteros, but also the Hebrew word kohen and its Greek counterpart hiereus, both of which denote a permanent attendant of a deity, since they can find no other better word to translate both. Sacerd, the Anglo-Saxon transliteration of the Latin word sacerdos, has all but disappeared in usage.

As a result, non-Catholic and non-Orthodox Christians have thought that there should no distinction between the clergy and the laity, since they think that all believers have direct access to God. Catholic and Orthodox Christians have the fair share of the blame for overemphasis on clerical ministry at the expense of lay ministry. The right way to perceive Christian ministry is this: every believer has the right to direct access to God, but not all believers can join the clergy.

How can Christians rectify such a problem? They should start to translate more accurately. In ancient Israel, kohanim as representatives of God sprinkled blood on the altar, tore the sacrifices, and burned the pieces. The author would suggest the use of the word “officiant” to translate both kohen and hiereus, leaving “priest” as the only translation of presbuteros.

Words and their denotations do matter, and they change because of how people use them, but they must not sully the actual message of the Bible. 

Friday, December 30, 2016


(I made this story to see how the recently concluded television series Downton Abbey could be integrated with my dream PokéDC Universe, should Warner Brothers succeed in buying rights to both Pokémon and the show. Downton Abbey is a property of ITV. Superman is a property of DC Comics. Pokémon is a property of Game Freak and the Pokémon Company International. No infringement is intended.)

Nathan Kress as Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman 
Image may contain: 1 person
William Shatner as Perry White 
Image may contain: 1 person, night
Felicity Huffman as Frannie Pendleton, leading reporter of the Daily Planet (my original character) 
Michelle Dockery as Dr. Regina Brooke Burton/Pounder (my original character) 

Dan Stevens as Matthew Crawley/Slashburn
Image may contain: 1 person, closeup
Silence and breeze virtually rule the cityscape of Metropolis in the southernmost part of Illinois. So far, no crime has touched the streets since Superman, Satoshi Yūzaki (Ash Ketchum), and their allies have defeated a clan of vampires trying to take over the United States.
Now, joyful laughs and funmaking dominate the building of the Daily Planet. From the editor-in-chief Perry White down to the receptionists, the entire staff celebrate the success of "Luthor Linked to Secret Arms Deal", a hit headline story by Frannie Pendleton, aunt to the young Lois Lane.
The newsroom is filled with people close to Frannie, including the neophyte Clark Kent and a certain Regina Brooke Burton, a scientist cursed by an industrial accident to turn into a giant rock monster, the Pounder, if provoked to anger.
The table on the newsroom is laid with assorted foods, a bottle of Martini, and posh glasses.
"Oh, thank you, everyone for celebrating our paper's success, but I may not be able to write such an article if people like Brooke, Clark, and Perry didn't give me some insights on the case. The Daily Planet has become a family to me", Frannie expresses her gratitude.
"I know you can do it, Pendleton", Perry affirms.
"Don't mention it, hun", Brooke says.
"Hey, Mrs. Pendleton, you can even let me give your enthusiastic niece some journalistic training", Clark suggests.
The whole crew then proceeds to eating, drinking, doing charades, and singing at the karaoke.
At nearly 1:00 a.m. does the party end. Clark, Perry, Brooke, and Frannie, as well as the other guests, exit the building. Then, they see a flame rocketing above the skies.
It was bright enough, yet it is no ordinary flame. The flame appears to be heading towards Brooke, but it does not touch her or go near her. The flame looks human. Better yet, it is human, only endowed with superpowers.
"Mary, my love, let us go home! George is waiting for our loving hands. We'll no longer have to part ways. I'm alive! Come with me please!", says the flaming human, hovering a few feet off the ground.
"You're mistaking me for somebody else", Brooke denies.
"But you are Mary. My eyes can't lie to me", says the flaming human.
"I'm sorry, whoever you are, but I'm Dr. Regina Brooke Burton".
"You don't have to hide from me, sweet Mary Josephine Crawley".
Then, those words from the flaming human gives Clark a clue on it really is.
"Crawley, that's it! Certainly, you're Matthew Crawley, husband to Mary and father to George. I know you're from Downton Abbey! We mean you no harm, my friend, but Brooke is not Mary Crawley. I mean no offense, but Mary's still dead", Clark nervously explains to the resurrected Matthew.
"How do you know my name, lad?", Matthew asks Clark.
"I'm aware of a television series based on your lives, although I never watched it myself", Clark answered.
"Ah, I see".
"Hi, I'm Clark Kent, reporter from the Daily Planet. This is my editor-in-chief, Perry White. This is my colleague Francine Pendleton, who takes care of the hard news. Well, there's, you know, the one who introduced herself to you".
"I don't understand all of this. Why is my body on fire? Why did I live again if I died during the war in Europe? Who raised me from the dead and gave me the power to burn and fly and throw flames at anything!? Can somebody please answer me!?"
"Matthew, we don't know how you got there, but we promise to help you find out".
"Thank you, Clark. You are of such good help to me for now".
Atop the globe of the Daily Planet building stands the mighty Mewtwo, with his eyes looking at the five baffled souls, particularly Matthew, saying, "You will know at the right time why I revived you, my herald".

THE BIG SWITCH (A Story about the Community of LGBTIQ)

(Superman and Vartox belongs to DC Comics. Pocket Monsters belongs to Nintendo, Game Freak, and the Pokémon Company International. No copyright infringement intended.)

Nathan Kress as Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman
Adam Sandler as Vartox

Vartox was walking around the lounge of the headquarters of the Catch-Alls at night when he saw a perplexed Superman reclining on a couch, with his hands folded against his lips and his eyes fixated on the ceiling, wondering what he must do next to save the world.

"You must be worried about something. You can tell me your problem, fella", Vartox offered Superman a chance for a good talk.

The last Kryptonian promptly agreed. "I badly wanted to help feminine men and masculine women without having them transition. I mean, I have no device that make swapping of bodies possible", he said.

"OK, I get what you mean. C'mon, I'll show you something", Vartox replied.

Vartox and Superman then proceeded to the former's arsenal, still inside the headquarters. Vartox then pointed to a bronze tool that looked like a large set of handcuffs.

"Is this what are you looking for?", Vartox asked Superman.

"Tell me first what it is, just for me to know what it is", Superman answered.

"Well, we Valeronians call this one the 'psychopneumatic exchanger'. It enables two persons of different sexes, races, or even species to exchange souls and spirits. That explains the name of the device. You would simply cuff their arms, press this blue button, watch their souls and spirits switch bodies, and presto, they're all set", Vartox explained.

"We'll have that one, but we need to put it to the test", Superman suggested.

"Game", Vartox smugly agreed. "I've been seeing none of my inventions fail".

The two later flew to Thailand, where "reassignment of sex" is in demand, looking for test subjects. They luckily found a pair at a beach in Phuket: a feminine man and a masculine woman, none of whom had transitioned yet.

"Good evening, friends, you two are guessing why Vartox and I are here. My good man here has a device that could enable, let's say, a man and a woman, to swap bodies literally, and we're looking for our very first volunteers for the experiment. You can slap me for free if the experiment doesn't work. Are you two willing to volunteer?", Superman said.

"Why not, I'm all for it! I want to be a girl so badly", said the feminine Thai man. The masculine woman simply nodded.

"If you don't mind me asking you two personal questions, why does each of you wants to belong to the opposite sex?", Superman asked.

"I want to do girly things like having long hair and wearing fancy dresses", the feminine man answered.

"I want to do things like driving trucks, you know", the masculine woman answered.

Superman found their answers quite cliché. "Anyway, let's all proceed to the experiment, OK"?

Superman and Vartox cuffed the two queer Thais, and the former pressed the button. Then, a glowing blue light emanated from the two Thais. Superman simply gasped in disbelief.

The procedure took more or less 4 minutes, after which the light subsided. Superman was still skeptical about the process. "I wonder if this is some kind of a trick", he thought.

This was the moment of truth. Superman must ask the two queer Thais again to confirm if their exchange of souls and spirits succeeded.

"How are you two feeling?", asked the Man of Steel.

Surprisingly, the man started to act masculine though confused. The woman became feminine though still confused as well. The procedure was a success! Vartox has made a breaktgrough. His invention would eliminate the need for surgery to switch from one sex to another. No longer would feminine men and masculine women to feel discomfort in their bodies for so long.

Well, Superman's alter ego Clark Kent constantly feels constrained being male. Would he take the process too?

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Feeling Like a Loser? Don't Worry. I Feel the Same Way, Too, and We Probably Know Why.

Imagine yourself as a member of a soccer team. You and four of your teammates scored plus points for the team, but the rest fail to score and even suffered penalties, while most players from the opposing team score more points during a match. The opposing team won, and the team of which you are a member lost as a result. What would you feel? You would usually feel bad about the defeat, even though you have nothing to do directly with it. Why is it so?

Part of the answer may lie in the public generalization of a group in terms of its average character deduced from the performances of all of its members. A concrete analogy for this one is a stained shirt. The stain may not affect some portions, but the entire shirt has blemish.

People certainly generalize a group positively if its members who perform positive actions outnumber those who perform negative ones. Some decent people may feel that the actions of others who belong to the same group as they do water down their efforts because of this.

People usually tend to evaluate a group based on what its majority thinks, says, and acts, which could affect the rest of the group, as well as those to whom the majority does them. It could either spell benefit or damage to the psyches of the members of a group.

For example, affected individuals take measures to prevent males from committing major crimes such as robbery, murder, or rape as their peers have done, because more males than females commit such crimes. Males protecting their females from other males, confrontational feminist slogans, and socio-legal and psychological deterrents to all males are examples.

Experts call the positive phenomenon "basking in reflected glory" and the negative one "cutting off reflected failure".
When a person "basks in reflected glory", one feels very positive for the accomplishments of one's peers and may even claim them for oneself. When that person "cuts off reflected failure", one tries to dissociate oneself from the shortcomings of one's peers, referring to them as "them".

People tend to forget that they carry the reputations of their peer groups, and that public image DOES matter. I only hope that each of us will be careful not to do anything that could destroy our images and those of our peer groups.