Donny's Ramblings


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Easter Vigil 2014 – Why Catholicism?

I’m re-posting this from my Facebook Page.  Here on my blog there are other posts about this topic, for those interested in more detail on my reasons for converting.

More than 5 years ago, a Catholic ministry asked if I’d be willing to be interviewed for a documentary they were making regarding pornography. I was surprised, because from experience, those leaders in the Protestant churches with which I was familiar would never have asked a Catholic speaker to be part of a ministry project. I got curious. I’ve always been the type to go directly “to the source” if I want to know what someone believes (for example: if I wanted to know about YOU, should I ask YOU, or should I read a book that was written by someone who doesn’t like you?). I began asking questions about the things Catholics believe, and began arguing with Catholics about how wrong they were about certain issues. Matt Fradd and I even had recorded debates on issues such as baptism and other important topics.

Fr-Carlos Martins invited me to speak to students at York University in Toronto. We stayed up until 2am discussing theology and other things. He told me that he saw I would become Catholic. I told him that would never happen. He told me that not only would I be Catholic, I was called to be a Priest. Little did he know, I’d had such thoughts myself, and they were becoming more frequent.

Father James Mallon from Nova Scotia had me speak for his parish. All of you who have been around me for any length of time know that I’m not afraid to say what I’m thinking. I told Father Mallon that a good friend had recently told me that the Catholic Church is the biggest mission field in the world, because so many Catholics don’t realize what a deep, personal relationship they can have with Jesus. I asked what he thought of that statement. He replied, “Both I and the Pope would agree with that.” He then asked if I planned to stay outside taking pot shots at all that I thought was wrong about the Catholic faith, and criticize it incessantly, or if I would instead get in and help educate people, becoming a “missionary” to an enormous group of people who are dearly beloved by God. That challenge really moved me. Honestly, that challenge gnawed at me then and still does to this day.

I started digging deep into Catholic theology. I had many questions, many issues, and many disagreements. Yet I felt drawn to the church. I really do feel like there is much for me to do inside the Church. And although most of the Catholics I’ve met when they’ve had me come speak for them have VERY close walks with Jesus, I’ve also run into just as many who seem intimidated to approach him directly, particularly amongst the hispanic, spanish-is-their-first-language Catholics. I firmly believe it is perfectly fine to ask the Saints and Mary to pray for us, as there is scriptural evidence that they already do so. But I also began sharing with my Catholic friends that we are the bride of Christ, meaning Jesus is our spouse. The Bible tells us that in our natural lives, when we are married we are to leave father and mother and cling to our spouse. This means we can and SHOULD therefore go directly to Jesus. Going to Him through a saint or His mother is not necessary (but again, asking for their prayers is great). The thing is, this line of thought does NOT conflict with Catholic theology in any way. I’ve been told, even by a Deacon, “Thank you for the reminder that we can have such a personal relationship with Jesus.”

I feel the unmistakable call of God to be a missionary to His Church, and I have pursued it. I am willing to be used in any manner He wishes. That pursuit continues tonight, as I am to be confirmed in just a few hours and will enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. I have NO DOUBTS whatsoever that I’m where HE wants me to be. I’m home.


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On Falling Back, and Voices in My Head

An email to a friend who asked if I think I’ll ever fall back to my old life:

H****,

You asked a question that I’m sure many have wanted to ask me: if I think I’ll ever fall back into my old life.

I’ll share a few thoughts.

I got into porn for a handful of reasons. I’ll share one: I thought it would be fun to be paid to be around naked women. I started by looking. I was only into solo photos; women posing all alone. It did nothing for me if they were with others, male or female, or if they were doing things to themselves. What got me going was a woman showing off her body. When I first started shooting porn, I was a prude by adult industry standards. Clients purchased what I created because I was great at recruiting people they weren’t used to seeing naked. I’d walk up to normal, everyday college girls and talk them into posing. I’d talk female professionals into posing. I’d talk moms whose bodies showed the evidence of having children into posing instead of being ashamed of their bodies. As time went on, clients demanded that I produce more graphic content, so I slowly did. What had repulsed me at the beginning of my career didn’t seem so bad by the end of it.

But the appeal of working with naked women was only part of the reason I started. Money was another, but that was actually far down the list. What really motivated me was hatred toward Christianity. Like anger, hatred is usually an expression of pain. I was deeply hurt when I started believing that all I’d been taught to be true was, in fact, a lie. To this day there is nothing I despise more than being lied to… it just feels like the ultimate form of disrespect. It was so disappointing to feel like a fool who had believed lies, and I channeled the pain of that  disappointment into anger, bitterness and hatred.

I loved my parents, so it made no sense to take my  disappointment out on them, even though they were the primary source of guidance into the Christian life I was ever increasingly believing to be a lie. So instead I hated people from their churches who displayed hypocrisy. I hated the legalistic denomination with whom they had chosen to align themselves. And soon I hated all Christians in general.

After XXXchurch started changing my perceptions of Christianity, I started praying and challenging God to prove to me that He is real. I did this while at the same time blogging about being an atheist. When He physically touched me in 2006, I no longer doubted He existed. But that touch isn’t where it ended. After I asked him to take control of my life, He started speaking to me. Sometimes in dreams, but other times in whispers right in my ear. It was amazing. That went on for a handful of months but then stopped. It didn’t happen again – His whispers in my ear – until October of 2012 as I sat on the porch of a seaside cafe, having coffee with a new friend in Australia. That was the last time to date. But it doesn’t have to ever happen again for me to be sure it was God speaking directly to me.

Some might say I’m crazy and haven’t heard God whispering in my ear, but am just hearing voices in my head. I know better. Some might say the shock I felt in September of 2006 wasn’t God, but something more realistic like a short in my car’s electrical system. But I know better.

The pain of disappointment is gone. I know He is real. I don’t want to rebel anymore. I have no reason to express pain via hatred anymore. I have no reason to “go back” to that life.

Instead I am driven to dig deeper, learn more, love more, keep inviting Him to change the yucky parts of me, and keep asking Him to let me see others the way He does. I love Him.  I don’t want to betray Him anymore.

– Donny


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Thoughts

Dogs are very loyal. I love my Mastiff pup. He’s very cuddly and loves sleeping with his head on my lap.

I’m very proud of my country today. I have high hopes. I think the team our President has put together is going to fight hard and has a lot to prove. Because of that, I think he and they will do their best, and that’s all we can really ask.

I’ve met my friend Carrie in person one time, but talked to her for hours online. I still consider her my friend. She’s on a mission to save animals and homosexual marriage rights, and doesn’t believe in God at the moment, so we definitely don’t see eye to eye, but I know she’s a good person and think she’s beautiful. She makes life more interesting without even trying. Pray for her as she works her way through heartbreak.

Mastiff puppies fart a lot. It’s not pleasant.

Rick Warren prayed in front of the entire world earlier today. I was impressed at how well he stood up for his convictions. Good job, Pastor Warren!

I think denominations argue too much over petty things. My friend Drew will argue about random nothingness until he’s blue in the face. So will my friend Chris. How spoiled we are to live in a country where we can argue over whose church is closer to what Jesus had in mind.

My ex-wife is amazing. My son says she’s the best person in the world. I have to agree with him.

Did I mention I love my Mastiff?

Click Any Photo To Enlarge:

Hiding From Tickle Monster

Sleeping

Wha? Whaddaya want, dad?


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Focusing on What’s Important

We all get so easily distracted by petty things and ask the wrong questions. That’s what hit me as I read this:

Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?”

Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong questions. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over.”

Of course, we all know the outcome of that story: Jesus healed the blind man’s eyes so he could see.

I still have goosebumps, literally, from his words. “You’re asking me the wrong questions. You’re looking for someone to blame.” That is just SO like us. Like ME. Asking the wrong questions, and looking for someone to blame instead of searching, while the sun shines, for the work that I COULD and SHOULD be doing.

Today I’m going to try my hardest not to look for someone to blame. I’m going to keep my eyes open and try to see the work that needs done. God help me see it.

(more and more, I’m becoming a Jesus Freak)


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Focusing on What's Important

We all get so easily distracted by petty things and ask the wrong questions. That’s what hit me as I read this:

Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?”

Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong questions. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over.”

Of course, we all know the outcome of that story: Jesus healed the blind man’s eyes so he could see.

I still have goosebumps, literally, from his words. “You’re asking me the wrong questions. You’re looking for someone to blame.” That is just SO like us. Like ME. Asking the wrong questions, and looking for someone to blame instead of searching, while the sun shines, for the work that I COULD and SHOULD be doing.

Today I’m going to try my hardest not to look for someone to blame. I’m going to keep my eyes open and try to see the work that needs done. God help me see it.

(more and more, I’m becoming a Jesus Freak)


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Dinesh D’Souza’s “What’s So Great About Christianity”

On May 19th I posted my controversial To Carrie, Regarding Atheism blog. On the 30th of May I followed up with a promise that I’d post scientific evidence for God in a future blog entry. It was my intention to create another blog post listing detailed references. I first planned to read a bit more, organize my thoughts and the evidences I’d found, and list them all out in another long, detailed blog post. But then I read this book:

With this book, D’Souza did exactly what I intended to do with my blog post, but in much more detail than I possible could have done. It is my opinion that if an atheist can read this book and not be convinced by the evidence presented… well, nothing will change his or her mind.

In the first 80 pages Mr. D’Souza addresses topics relating specifically to Christianity. He writes about such things as the murders during the Crusades, putting a proper perspective on them. He points out how many deaths resulted and over how many years, and then as a comparison he discusses the killings attributed to atheistic regimes throughout history. He also addresses several other topics that have been used to “attack” Christianity. All were good, but I was much more interested in the book AFTER I’d read beyond those first “defense of Christianity” pages. After all, I wanted to get to the scientific evidence for God.

And boy, was I happy to get there!

For now, I won’t say much more. I highly recommend buying this book for any friend that has “atheistic” tendencies or a hatred of Christianity. But before you give it to them, read it yourself! I’ve handed my copy out to others (my dad has it at the moment), and sent a copy to Carrie as well. When my dad returns the book to me I may write another entry on this subject, quoting a bit of D’Souza’s writings. I think, however, that this book needs to go in my “books that changed me” section over in the right column.

Buy it today. Just do it!

(Oh, and special thanks to Bill Giovannetti, my Pastor, for recommending that I read it)


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Dinesh D'Souza's "What's So Great About Christianity"

On May 19th I posted my controversial To Carrie, Regarding Atheism blog. On the 30th of May I followed up with a promise that I’d post scientific evidence for God in a future blog entry. It was my intention to create another blog post listing detailed references. I first planned to read a bit more, organize my thoughts and the evidences I’d found, and list them all out in another long, detailed blog post. But then I read this book:

With this book, D’Souza did exactly what I intended to do with my blog post, but in much more detail than I possible could have done. It is my opinion that if an atheist can read this book and not be convinced by the evidence presented… well, nothing will change his or her mind.

In the first 80 pages Mr. D’Souza addresses topics relating specifically to Christianity. He writes about such things as the murders during the Crusades, putting a proper perspective on them. He points out how many deaths resulted and over how many years, and then as a comparison he discusses the killings attributed to atheistic regimes throughout history. He also addresses several other topics that have been used to “attack” Christianity. All were good, but I was much more interested in the book AFTER I’d read beyond those first “defense of Christianity” pages. After all, I wanted to get to the scientific evidence for God.

And boy, was I happy to get there!

For now, I won’t say much more. I highly recommend buying this book for any friend that has “atheistic” tendencies or a hatred of Christianity. But before you give it to them, read it yourself! I’ve handed my copy out to others (my dad has it at the moment), and sent a copy to Carrie as well. When my dad returns the book to me I may write another entry on this subject, quoting a bit of D’Souza’s writings. I think, however, that this book needs to go in my “books that changed me” section over in the right column.

Buy it today. Just do it!

(Oh, and special thanks to Bill Giovannetti, my Pastor, for recommending that I read it)


28 Comments

What You Look For, You Will Find

At least 5 days a week I walk the Sacramento River Trail. If you’ve been reading very long you know this. These walks are my time with God. I learn a lot on The Trail.

Where the trail crosses behind the Elk’s Lodge there’s a beautiful place to sit and look out at the river. I’m sitting there now, writing this blog post from my iPhone using the WordPress Application I recently mentioned in another post.

I also mentioned a Bible Application provided by LifeChurch.tv for iPhone users. Since it was released I’ve incorporated it into my morning walking routine. I sit right here on this bench, stare out at the river, read a few passages, think about them a bit while watching the boats pass by and repeat that process until I’ve read through at least one chapter, often more. The computer nerd in me really loves being able to read multiple versions of the Bible on my iPhone.

This morning I’ve read through 3 chapters of John and found an answer to one of my never ending questions. I’ve read this chapter many times before, but I guess the time is just right today because it finally sank in.

In my blog post to “Carrie the Atheist” awhile back, you might recall that I voiced several of my concerns and questions with the Bible. One of those questions has to do with the ability of the writers of scripture to recall what Jesus said to them. Few of us can remember word for word the conversations we had just hours ago, yet the writers of the Bible are trusted to recall conversations with Jesus from decades before they were written down?

Here’s what I found this morning:

In John chapter 14 verse 26 Jesus is quoted as telling his disciples that when he is gone, the Comforter that he will send will, amongst other things, “bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

The Donny in me would bring up objections on how using this verse to prove its accuracy is pure circular reasoning. But the Comforter and I converse quite a bit on this trail, and on this day I believe this answer was meant for me to find. I choose to accept it.

What you look for you will find.

Next on my list? Those men who met in the fourth century to decide which books to include in our Bibles and which to toss aside… I’d like to believe they made the right decision. Dear God, please shed some light on this for me.

photo

photo


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On My Reading List (Mandatory, I Tell Ya!)

Undoubtedly motivated by some of the things I wrote in my blog post to Carrie and the subsequent comments, my Pastor has strongly recommended I read this book:

Reinventing Jesus: How Contemporary Skeptics Miss the Real Jesus and Mislead Popular Culture

Synopsis:

Reinventing Jesus cuts through the rhetoric of extreme doubt to reveal the profound credibility of historic Christianity. Meticulously researched yet eminently readable, this book invites a wide audience to take a firsthand look at the primary evidence for Christianity’s origins.

I’d have it in my possession this evening, but it’s not in stock at my local Barnes and Noble. The good news is that Amazon.com has it in stock and is, in fact, shipping it to me now.

Note to readers: when your Pastor recommends a book, ya best betta read it!

PS to readers: On a somewhat related topic, I’m very proud of my boy, who loves reading just as much as his daddy. He’s just completing second grade and his latest reading award (this week) reveals that he’s read more than 660,000 words this school year.  He’s reading at 8th/9th grade level, too. Be still, my heart!

PPS: Bill, I also bought What’s So Great About Christianity by Dinesh D’Souza, as recommended at lunch the other day, as well as The Cell’s Design: How Chemistry Reveals the Creator’s Artistry by Fazale Rana.


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A Little of This and a Little of That

EVIDENCE FOR GOD:
I haven’t forgotten this blog. I’ve been adding notes to a file in my Google Docs called Evidence for God. Carrie is a tough cookie, and she wants hard evidence. I’m doing my best to accommodate this request. I’m reading more. Organizing more. Making notes of references. I love a challenge, and this challenges me.

On top of what I’ve already learned, I want to read this book before completing my thoughts: The Cell’s Design: How Chemistry Reveals the Creator’s Artistry – I haven’t yet read it because it’s not due for release until tomorrow. Advanced readers (those who get a chance to read before the official publication date) have highly recommended it, the most notable comes from a Scientist I respect.

Note: As of August 1, 2008, I’ve decided not to write the “Evidence for God” post, and am instead recommending that readers pick up a copy of Dinesh D’Souza’s What’s So Great About Christianity?, as the book accomplishes exactly what I’d hoped to accomplish by an “evidence” post.

EVOLUTION:
I’ve received a lot of feedback in the form of comments, private emails, and myspace messages from some of you who take issue with my belief in Theistic Evolution. If you’d like to read more on this subject I’d highly recommend this website, as it gives a great overview of this concept: http://www.theistic-evolution.com/. People, there is strong evidence for evolution, and it’s not “anti-God” to believe it. Educate yourselves. 🙂

REPERCUSSIONS AND STUFF:
Because I’ve decided to write my thoughts without worrying about possible repercussions from the organized Christian community (read my last blog entry and all the comments on it), you are experiencing my learning process. My Pastor says the kinds of questions I’ve been asking are pretty normal, but usually not made public by those asking them.

I like sharing and allowing you, my constant readers, to participate in the process. Please don’t get your panties in a bundle when you read something you may not agree with. Capiche?

APPLE CUSTOMER SERVICE ROCKS:
On another note, I’d like to give major props to Apple. My iPhone has been messing up because I dropped it a few times and thereby created a dead spot on one corner. It was functional, I just had to turn the screen for some features to work.

Two days ago I was in Sacramento to pick up my mother from the airport. I arrived a few hours early so I decided to head to the Apple Store at Arden Fair Mall. When I showed them my iPhone and explained the problems I’ve been having…. THEY REPLACED IT! Free of charge. The fault is mine, yet I received a brand new iPhone because Apple customer service kicks butt! But that was only part of it…

Apple gives free tech support at what they call a “Genius Bar” at each Apple store. Because it’s free, an appointment is necessary, usually at least one day in advance. Since only a tech can authorize a replacement phone, the rep I spoke with informed me I’d have to make an appointment. I told her I lived nearly 2 hours north, so they got me in within 5 minutes.

Also… an iPhone is pretty much a miniature computer. You can arrange it in numerous ways, settings, etc. I figured I’d have to start over setting up my iPhone the way I like it, but that wasn’t the case. When I plugged it into my laptop to sync, everything was reset to the exact same settings from my previous phone, right down to the order in which my icons are arranged on the desktop and the photos in the phone’s library.

Apple has it down, I tell ya!