The Gospel Truth

Banging on the Doors of Eternity—Part II | December 27, 2012

In today’s society the role and even the value of men seems to have deteriorated to arguably its lowest level in history.

Men are being attacked on all levels.

This is happening in films, books, on TV and worst of all by millions of women.

Modern technology has made them virtually irrelevant to procreation as countless women are forsaking relationships for artificial insemination.

If science ever learns how to synthetically produce human semen, a man will have as much use to women as Gloria Steinem’s bicycle.

Has no use for a man

I think that’s why so many young boys have become so confused about their sexuality and find the comfort of older men, not only more pleasurable, but also enlightening.

Perhaps religion can share some of this blame.

To me a man without a religion is a man without a soul.

As religion has become more feminized, the masculine strength so prevalent in churches during the early 20th century doesn’t appear as dominant.

Churches, priests and hierarchies have to recapture their manhood.

I fault the movement within the Catholic Church for female priests–an oxymoron if there ever was one–as reflective of this trend.

Church leaders have not done a very good job of countering this misplaced attempt at equality on the altar.

During a recent bible study session, one our members–the notorious fellow of I tell jokes story in a past post–tried to worm his liberal views on this subject into the discussion.

I gave the standard answer as to why this was against church teachings.

One of my fellow conservatives, without emotion or missing a dramatic pause proceeded to not only eat the liberal’s lunch and dinner but stayed long enough to consume his breakfast.

With a consummate articulation, fit only for a university lecture hall, or the late William F. Buckley, he told the stunned liberal that the dominant analogy Jesus used for his post-resurrection relationship with his church was that he was the husband the church would be his bride.

Pure articulation like Larry

A young aspiring seminarian made this very point after a 5PM Mass the other night.

This is the underpinning to the Church’s explanations that priests had to bear the same physical characteristics as Christ.

Larry, who actually hold a prominent chair at Washington University’s School of Medicine, said that for the church to give in to feminist pressure would turn this ordained relationship into a lesbian one.

A lesbian relationship for the Church?

Wow did that ever silence the denizens of the left in our group.

As for myself, I also believe that my image of God the Father had to be partly founded on the male influences in my life…especially my natural father.

I think that is true…not just of religious belief but all young impressionable people.

He was the only real man I had to identify with…except for Ward Cleaver, Beaver’s dad on TV.

My father was a good man in a quiet way.

Fortunately my dad had little of the feminine in his demeanor.

Unfortunately his distance and hesitancy for affection led me to gravitate more to my mother’s wing.

Much of his goodness came through my mother.

I think she had a saintly influence on him that I would never have understood then.

To me he was distant…somewhat cold–I can never remember his ever hugging or patting me on the shoulder.

I won’t say that he never did–I just have no recollection.

I know my mother did but evidently not as much as I needed.

Both parents were reserved in those kinds of emotional demonstration.

In his wonderful new book, The Joyful LIfe, my friend and fellow Bible study cohort, Rick Herman, wrote about the five languages of love.

Of  these needs of service, praise, and so on my favorite was the need of touch–human touch.

I think that’s one reason I feel so at peace on Lena’s massage table.

My concept of God has continued to develop along these lines.

Human touch has become part of my religious faith.

Now I hug people all the time.

It is my way of communicating this incessant feelings of pure joy that I feel inside.

God has become a God of touch to me.

Jesus was a man who touched…in more ways than one.

The laying on of hands has great religious significance.

Now when I am afraid or anxious I ask God to just hold me in the palm of his giant hand so I will feel safe and unafraid.

That has become my new prayer.

Trust me it works.

Most of my life’s ambitions were what St. Paul dismissed as the things of a child

I used to blame my parents for my failures, my anxieties and so on.

Never again!

I remember my mother confiding in me…probably for the first time in my life–this was about 45 years ago

She told me in a department store parking lot that my dad’s mother–my grandmother– had committed suicide at the age of 48 in 1909.

It was a menopausal suicide.

Did my dad find his mother?

My dad was just 12 years old.

For all I know he had found her hanging in the hallway.

Had I only know that I never would have been so judgemental of him as an adolescent or held any childish resentments.

While being an adult is difficult, being a child can be even harder and much more confusing.

I think I would have understood him better and gone with the flow of his distant moods.

Things were always better between us from that point on until he died, 23 years later.

I keep thinking–what kind of father image did he have?

I was fortunate to have gotten enough of a favorable image of him to want to be a better man than I was.

My grandmother had been my grandfather’s second wife.

I had no idea what happened to his first Mrs. Borst.

My dad hardly ever spoke of his father that I remember.

And when he did it was critical in a subtle way.

Maybe he blamed him for the loss of his mother.

It is natural for a 12-year old child to do that.

Did he carry that cross for the remaining 80 years of his life?

What a cross to bear

Could I have helped him carrying its heavy weight?

My grandfather had been a Catholic until he was 12 years old.

Something the priest said to him made him angry and he left the confessional and the church in a huff.

In doing so he took my two aunts and my dad from the Catholic Church.

Oddly enough, my dad married a faithful Catholic and both aunts converted–the one was the influence that changed my whole life by getting me into Xavier HS.

So what kind of image of God did my dad have….I don’t really know.

However I can sympathize with my grandfather.

I also had a problem with a priest one time in the confessional when I was about 10 or 11.

I was having some difficulty explaining to him something I had done and he raised his voice and said I had better get it out or I would burn in Hell forever.

It was more than a sobering thought–it has frightened me of that confessional box ever since.

For the last eight years I only go face-face and to priests that are far more understanding.

I remember vividly the hell and damnation sermons of the priest above.

His God was a very BIG God and he was impressed with God’s Almighty Powers.

His sermons played like fiery orations from the 17th century and probably frightened more people than helped them.

I think these impressions of God are all distortions,

You can’t love a god that scares you to death.

Hard to love an angry God

On the other hand a god cannot be the weak milquetoast kind that excuses and enables everything and says go ahead….do what you want!

He will expect me to be a faithful married man, true to his family, his vows and his church.

He will remind me when I stray but he will not only welcome me back, but like the GPS system…the God Positioning System that  Rick Herman’s A Joyful Life talks abouthe will show me the way back.

That’s how big my God is.

How big is yours?

And if he is not as big as mine, then please join me in the huge palm of his hand where all the people I hold dear to me will glow for all eternity.



  1. Bill
    Thank you so much for your insight. I was part of the hugging group of the catholic church, it was called Marriage Encounter.I attended many masses with those guitar being played;at the time they were outsiders of the mainstream church. Now the sign of peace is in some churches are a hug fest.

    Be well

    Comment by Mike Ellington — December 27, 2012 @ 4:31 pm

  2. I KNEW my father loved me. I wasn’t so sure of my mother. One day I told her that I did not think she loved me and she bent over with pain and said “If you could see my heart”. That’s a child for you.
    Down here in the South most everyone hugs when they meet. I did not experience that in Michigan where I grew up. I like it. But we do not hug in church. Just a handshake does it. Pax. MBL

    Comment by Mary B. Lachney — December 28, 2012 @ 1:35 am

  3. My God is so big that I cannot comprehend Him. I just know He loves me. My devotion goes toward Mary.
    And I know that Jesus loved His mother and wants us to love her.

    Comment by Mary B. Lachney — December 28, 2012 @ 1:37 am

  4. The comment about Confession reminds of what a
    classmate said about 12 yrs. ago at a high school
    reunion: “Priest are like anything else; you have to
    shop around to find the one that is right for you.”

    Years ago apparently when couples practiced
    rythmn they were told they had to mention this to
    the priest when going to confession. If he was hard on
    them they just left and went elsewhere.

    God is our judge and we should not allow any priest
    to drive us away from our Church.


    Comment by MFritz — December 28, 2012 @ 3:11 pm

  5. I think any deity worthy of the title ought to be feared. That’s some awesome power there. People who work with bears may love the bear, they may have a certain level of trust in their knowledge of the way the bear’s behavior works and the extent to which they’re having a very special relationship with a wild animal which would normally swat them like we swat a fly and ask questions about whether that was really needed later, if ever. They may experience a certain amount of affection for the bear and care about it deeply.

    But they must never lose their fear of the huge power this animal has to destroy them in an instantaneous reaction whose cue we may not even perceive.

    We’re the intellectual superiors of bears. In this we would not have the same sort of relationship with a deity ( or THE DEITY, as you may prefer ). But you may just as well substitute your own inability to know what such a deity is thinking for the bear’s unpredictability due to some trigger-of-fear which our inferior senses may miss or misinterpret.

    Either way we may be smitten by our own inability to perceive or understand something. A loving fatherly deity may do everything imaginable to impart to a highly-imperfect creation all the rules and regulations for being safe and secure in his universe, but I think we all can attest to the fact that human abilities to apprehend things greater than those things which are elements of a man—or even all the elements of being a man for that matter–are highly imperfect and subject to mistakes, inattention, intentional misdirection by others ( or seduction ) and just the fact that we are not gods and so can no more understand “what was God thinking?” any better than the ants can understand why we just dumped a bunch of diazanon on their city.

    That’s all part of our plan. When the earth rumbles a bit and a seemingly slight wave rolls across the sea and is amplified by shallow coastal waters into a towering wave that smashes us, drowns us, carries us far inland and then maybe far back out to sea this must be part of the plan of any deity who is responsible for the creation of all things. And those of us who have had a tornado come calling know you don’t have to be stubbornly obstinate enough to insist on living next to the sea to have these things happen either.

    Scientists tell us that if what we call “Yellowstone” ever does what Mt. St. Helens did, the entire United States may be blotted out in short order.

    There’s nothing unusual about this. Within the period when men have been living on this continent everything from the Rockies to the Mississippi had been a huge howling desert within which nothing large lived due to ash and dust from such eruptions. If there is a deity and if that happens again it must be some part of that deity’s plan, but none of us will be able to comprehend what good purpose it serves. So we’re better off having some fear. Having that fear in us can, if we’re religious, channel our religiously-lived lives in a direction where some preparation for survival of such events may be the result. Our governments might make provisions not only for man-made disasters but for those over which we have no control as well as their duty to those they govern and as the duty of the individuals within those governments to love and care for their fellow man.

    We don’t put playground equipment in our parks so children may fall off, hit the ground and receive concussions. Fearing that this may happen we now place thick layers of ground-up worn out tires beneath to try to prevent such occurrences.

    Anything good may be had to an extent the intended good is overcome with some unintended bad. Food is a good example. Throughout most of human history most people could not even have comprehended the concept of such as thing as “too much food”, but we certainly can.

    The sea which nourishes us and transports our commercial efforts economically–and which continues to serve that function even after it may have exterminated millions of lives with some catastrophe whose related “good” we are not equipped to comprehend–should be feared even as we feel thanks for all it provides. We’ve supposedly been given the capacity to master the temporal world to our advantage. One of the tools for that mastery would have to be some measure of fear for what even mere creations which are so much larger and more powerful than we are con do to us.

    I’ve known plenty of people who grew up in homes where their fathers were as quick with the loving touch of physical discipline as they were with more pleasurable positive expressions of affection. This did not seem to interfere with their ability to love, honor or respect their fathers. Just as with everything else the disciplinary aspect of the father-child relationship may be overdone to the point of becoming pernicious. That it never would within your relationship to your deity is an essential part of your faith. Your loving deity should not have terrorists going around in his name terrorizing obedience out of his followers, but there is a difference between terror, terrorism and healthy fear of consequences.

    So if you have some ultra liberal clergymen who overdo the loving aspect it’s reasonable to have their influence balanced by some who may overdo the abject-terror aspect. Everything is in a process of opposing forces coming into balance to create conditions which we consider to be “good”. Your body is continually tearing itself down and replacing what is destroyed–anabolism/catabolism. So long as Fr. Fire&brimstone doesn’t hold the exclusive franchise on mediating between the deity and his followers there’s probably some place for him in an organization which recognizes that we’re each free to chuse how we will behave.

    Balance is the key. Without it what we consider to be reassuring “solid” matter would rapidly take on the forbidding aspect of what we look upon on a dark clear night stretching on to what seems to be infinity rather quickly.

    And while we’re fearing things it might be fruitful to contemplate that infinite expanse of ( mostly ) “hard vacuum” and to fear that something might occur to destroy the balance of minute forces upon which we all rely while we’re basking in the benefits of that balance.

    That’s why science must pry into the devil’s little details.

    I find the relegation of science to an endeavor to gather information for the mere sake of gathering information as troubling as we both find the emasculation of our society ( and you of your religion ). The advance of science should be driven as much by fear of what may happen to us–and been avoidable–if we’d only known just a little more as it is motivated by the sheer joy of learning or the appetite for profits gained through the application of scientific knowledge.

    One of my favorite works of speculative fiction is Arthur C. Clarke’s short story The Star:

    or for those of you like myself who prefer film, even if the message gets changed somewhat:

    The point I’d like to make here is that a healthy dose of fear might have saved the inhabitants of the solar system which was discovered to have been destroyed at just the time when it’s light would have been seen over Bethlehem 2000 years before. If they’d been more fearful people then the main protagonist in the story needn’t have ever been tortured by his inability to understand his deity’s “mysterious ways”. In this work of fiction perhaps that destroyed civilization had a loving responsibility to other subsequent intelligent beings to survive so that the discovery of their destruction would not become a torment challenging the faith of other subsequent intelligent beings. Another interpretation is they satisfied their responsibility b y assuring those who came after that all that was good in their civilization had been realized and preserved there for the benefit of others so they should not despair even at the concept that all things must eventually perish–even whole species of intelligent beings.

    I prefer to play Captain Kirk and cheat the exercise. Arthur C. Clarke is not the boss of my imagination. Fear is a healthy part of life and only becomes pernicious when it becomes all-consuming/counter-productive terror. We didn’t fight a war on fearism. Yes, we even have fear to fear, but not until it becomes sheer terror. Like fire or like firearms, it must be reasonably controlled but not eliminated.

    James Stenzel

    Comment by James Stenzel — December 31, 2012 @ 4:51 pm

  6. To James:

    What an elaborate response to my recent post. I think it is actually longer than what i wrote. I don’t agree with your comparing God to an angry or hungry bear who will eat us if we get to close to him. I think that is an image used in the Medieval days by priests like the one I described above who see God as someone to be more feared than loved. Tyrannical parents have demanded respect from their children, rather than love. Our God demands love and if we fail to love him, he will not eat us but our very actions will set us on a course that will bring little if any real happiness to us. If we don’t respect the laws of nature—I wrote about the Darwin Awards—nature will kill us but God is not nature. That smacks of pantheism.
    I agree that there has to be a balance about love. We cannot ignore his commandments or his road to salvation. We can chose a road that too many have taken and should not be surprised if we have great trouble finding the way. I really like the GPS analogy in Rick Herman’s book. I think it works very well. Thanks for the essay. Bb

    Comment by bbprof — December 31, 2012 @ 9:06 pm

    • Pantheism! I wasn’t trying to “go there”! ; ‘ )

      Now, I would plead guilty to trying to search for some sort of a “unified field theory” which would reconcile laws of nature and those so many believe to be “of God”—and evidently not without some reason to do so. If nothing else where there’s smoke there must be some sort of fire…

      I knew I was going to be in trouble for comparing The Almighty with a pet/trained bear.

      That really wasn’t my intention but rather I was just trying to illustrate a situation where, even though the individual involved in the relationship has a high degree of regard and knowledge about the non-human end of the relationship, fear is an essential element to it’s successful continuation.

      Since fear is a proven survival skill within the laws of nature—and a highly important one—I would shy away from simply dismissing it as being too negative to have remain within the valid set of appropriate responses to a worthy deity.

      Sometimes I keep examples of small wildlife for “study subjects”. I have a friend who has a life-long habit of this as well. With him it’s of the utmost importance that the animals he keeps should seem to lose their fear of him. With me I expect a wild animal to always have a wild animal’s fear of me, but it’s enough if it manages to overcome the fear on occasion when this would seem reasonable–accepting an item of food from the fingers so long as there seems to be a ready escape path, for instance.

      Fearing other entities whose motivations and reasoning we are not really capable of fully understanding seems to be within the set of positive behaviors we are made to employ profitably and if truly man is created in the image of God then I’m just arrogant enough to see this God as possibly appreciating the fact that we are what we are and not to wish us to become something else We were not created as angels within the mythology of that religion and as I understand it Christ was sent to be in our midst to experience us as we were and to try to use that perspective to better attempt to relate to us his message through the use of that “microscope”.

      We may use certain types of microscopes to view things very much smaller than we are and even to “communicate” with them when we insert new concepts into the only language they use for communication–their DNA or the precise structure of their molecular structure. We make a microscope out of glass lenses or even of quantum-physics forces now. Perhaps for a deity it is useful to construct a “microscope” which is an “only begotten son”.

      We may hope our yeast cells begin producing some powerful medicine once we’ve visited them with our microscope ( this is probably totally dated technology I’m using in my analogy here ) but we still expect them to eat sugar and excrete their normal metabolites in addition to the desired product. They should still fear the autoclave once the experiment is over ( to whatever extent unicellular life can experience fear, which to my sense of this discussion would mean attempt to adapt somehow to the extent some cells would survive the sterilization procedure of their petri dish—it’s what they are and what they were created to do ).

      I’m just saying that i think that terrorist priest was possibly expressing what he perceived as a loving caring stewardship of the flock entrusted to him within his particular abilities. I’m just saying maybe there’s a place for what he does too, just so long as he doesn’t totally dominate all other views.

      Maybe what I should have said was that when he made that comment about speaking up or being eternally damned the thing to have done would have been to have talked to him about it instead of just reacting ( and I know that’s possibly asking a bit much if the person in the situation is a child, say, confronting an adult authority figure ).

      But aren’t we taught that’s what Christ did when consulting with the recognized experts of the time about God’s message to man? Was he not renown even as a child for being able to speak intelligently to those whose understanding of The Word may have been flawed or incomplete?

      I’d thought so. Perhaps I’m wrong.

      Perhaps Fr. Fire&Brimstone might have been able to explain his viewpoint in a way which would make it seem more like valid loving concern and less like totally autocratic egotism.

      Everything can be overdone. We could be so loving of our fellow man that we allow some of them who are just not ready to be impressed by being loved in return for evil aggression that they will destroy us before we do them any good—if we don’t temper our love with a healthy leavening of fear for what they can and might do to us.

      How can you help anyone if you’ve allowed yourself to be killed–possibly not even by “the enemy” but just someone who is misinformed, misguided or even someone who “came out of the oven” seriously defective?

      I look around at my nation and the race which founded it and it looks to me as if both may have overdone the “love your neighbor” aspect to the point that the once tremendous potential of this nation to help everyone on the face of the planet–and if you want to you can get me to agree, among other things, that this was constituted as a Christian nation and much of it’s power to do good is dependent upon it’s functioning within the parameters of it’s own design ( using your drill for a hammer just doesn’t work very good and it will also destroy the drill’s ability to be a drill, sooner or later )—has been and is being destroyed by a sort of sociological ecumenism which opens us and it to destruction by those whose fear and ignorance will NOT be attenuated by any better angels of their natures we will have squandered our chance to help. And their battle-cry in this cultural war is “you are an evil hater because you FEAR me”. I think the thing to do when your enemy is shouting propaganda at you all night through bull-horns while you’re trying to sleep in a highly-uncomfortable trench or hole is NOT to incorporate the philosophy they’re espousing into your own belief system. The reasonable assumption is that they’re not trying to help you, they’re trying to defeat you.

      Perhaps God does rely only on the nature he is reputed to have created to dole out death. Perhaps God does provide a loving charitable opportunity to cheat death. But still, if this being created a system which can kill you utterly and irrevocably for not following the laws of nature—assuming you have not accepted the charitable loving offer to cheat that death—that is a system which this being did set in motion and did allow to be that way. Recently someone told me that he was not prosecuting Gorge Zimmerman, it was the prosecutor. This was in service of reliving himself of the onus of persecuting someone I believe to be an innocent man. But everything this person had authored on the subject supported the persecution so to my way of thinking that’s the sort of person who elects the sort of politician who appoints a prosecutor who will persecute on the basis of politics. The author of a system of natural law which will kill you for ignoring natural law is responsible and cannot be relieved of that responsiblity—nor should it need to be. As stated before, try as we might, we cannot be capable of fully understanding all the nuances of being a supreme being.

      My apologies for being out sick on the day they taught the “brevity is the soul of wit” lesson.

      James Stenzel

      Comment by James Stenzel — January 1, 2013 @ 1:45 am

  7. James
    After reading your PROSE, I’m convince without any doubt, God help us all if you became the King of America LOL.
    Your friend Mike

    Comment by Mike Ellington — January 2, 2013 @ 12:20 am

    • Thanks but I have more chance of becoming Obama’s court jester. BB


      Comment by bbprof — January 2, 2013 @ 2:30 pm

      • Do they have confirmation hearings on court jester? Just stay far far away from any coca cola cans…

        Comment by James Stenzel — January 2, 2013 @ 4:11 pm

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About author

After graduating from Holy Cross, Bill Borst earned an MA in Asian History from St. John's University and a Ph.D in American History from St. Louis University. (1972) A former New Yorker, he taught for many years in the St. Louis area, while also hosting a weekly radio show on WGNU from 1984-2006. He currently is a regular substitute for conservative Phyllis Schlafly on KSIV radio. (1320) He is the author of two books on social history, "Liberalism: Fatal Consequences," and "The Scorpion and the Frog: A Natural Conspiracy." He just retired as the Features editor of the Mindszenty Foundation Monthly Report. In his 11 years from 2003-2013 he wrote nearly 130 essays on Catholic culture and world affairs. Many in St. Louis also know him as the "Baseball Professor," because of a course that he offered at Maryville College from 1973-74. It was arguably the first fully-accredited baseball history course in the Midwest.The author of several short books on the old St. Louis Browns, he started the St. Louis Browns Historical Society in 1984. In 2009 his first two plays were produced on the local stage. "The Last Memory of an Ol' Brownie Fan," ran six performances at the Sound Stage in Crestwood and "A Perfect Choice" ran for two performances at the Rigali Center Theater in Shrewsberry. His third play, "A Moment of Grace," ran six performances at DeSmet High School in January of 2011with First Run Theater in January of 2011. He is currently working on a 4th play, "A Family Way," which is a comedy about a happy dysfunctional family. He can reached at







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