The Philippine Church of Moral Courage

Analysis and Opinion

By JoeAm

I’m going to charter a new church in the Philippines. The ones now are doing a lousy job. They are more gangs than places where people enter broken and leave empowered to do good. One is a horrible abuser of young girls, another is a set of robots whose free will consists of voting as the preacher says, another spawns terrorists as if God were a killer, and the biggest one beat up on Aquino but gave Duterte a free pass.

Not good enough, I figure. I mean, look around. Do you see a moral Philippines? Some of these churches have been around for centuries. They aren’t producing.

My church will be different. God lives in each member. The preachers will just let Him out. He is a moral God, knowing right from wrong. He’s a courageous God, determined to walk the good path through a world chock full of nasty satans. He’s a smart God, knowing that if we elect idiots we get idiocy. He wants order and caring and security for His flock. He wants them to feel like they ARE somebody and they are going someplace. They aren’t needy souls in a wowwowwee arena being danced at by sexy girls selling shampoo. Life is rich in many ways, and my church will show people how to get some for themselves.

My church will be on line. Internet. Not Facebook though, that cesspit of conceit, drama, and fakery. Maybe You Tube. Maybe its own virtual cathedral. We’ll work that out.

The preachers will be decent souls of courage and principle. Not perfect, mind you. This misbegotten belief that moral people must be perfect is the first modern myth that will be destroyed in The Philippine Church of Moral Courage.

Courage, in fact, is best found among the imperfect, the works in progress, the students of living . . . not the shiny fakes of privilege, gifted with money and power, coasting on an arrogant ease. Working through imperfections, atonement, accountability, listening and learning, genuine forgiveness. These are disciplines our preachers will teach.

Courage comes from knowing oneself, what is right and good, and doing it.

Again and again.

When others can’t.

The second myth we’ll destroy is the idea that guilt can be traded like money, passed around like some great inescapable burden. No. No. Guilt is a psychological derangement that prevents decent people from feeling whole. It’s a tool of the unkind who lift themselves up by beating others down. “Get thee gone, o’ sword of Satan!”

The third sin on our stone tablet of moral courage is sloth. Complacency. Inaction in the face of threat or need. This is the greatest sin in the Philippines. It is moral corruption. Government is full of the stuff. It is people knowing Filipinos suffer and struggle, but doing nothing about it. We will cast out the common idea that personal ease and comfort is more important than helping people.

“Get thee gone, Sloth!”

Our church will not be a place of words and symbols but a place of acts. Of deeds. Of good work.

Well, words a little.

We need to explain ourselves. Our principles. Our guidelines. Our goals. But I’m not writing some thousand page tome that no one reads. A checklist will work just fine.

And no donations are required. They’re like vote-buying, forgiveness in a basket, and we don’t need that.

We need kindness, determination, generosity, and effort.

And courage.


Photograph is from The New York Times. Interior of the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California, now a Catholic church.

50 Responses to “The Philippine Church of Moral Courage”
  1. Karl Garcia says:

    Some sectors tell any organized religion to stay out of politics but when they decide to run for Mayor, Congress, etc If they see a church followed by millions then they will ask for support.
    When one wants to bring down a church, first thing scrutinized is corruption.
    The no donation required stipulation may be criticozed as questionable because the church has no income generating capacity.Except fund raisers which is like accepting donations but not exactly the same.

    In the world of fake news and fake history, it will take a lot of intestinal fortitude and moral courage to organize a Church for moral courage.

  2. NHerrera says:

    Good points in that PCMC. But how long can it function and remain true to its ideals after its charterer is gone?

    • NHerrera says:

      At least I am asking “after the charterer or founder is gone.” The Church founded by the so-called “son of god” went astray bigly while he is still there — not counting if his Church’s ideals on its founding were worth its weight in our devalued peso in the first place.

    • JoeAm says:

      Or, how does it get started if its charterer is too lazy or exhausted to see it through. Well, there are a lot of good people about. And it wouldn’t even be necessary if existing churches woke up and ditched their own moral corruption.

      • kasambahay says:

        ahem, members of congregation ought to stand up, show courage and call off offending churches big cookies! chances are offenders will conform rather than be brought before the laws of men and be confirmed as all too common mortals! else offenders are sent to exile, seconded or replaced.

  3. sonny says:

    A timely homily, Joe.

    • JoeAm says:

      Thanks, Sonny. I’da made a good preacher if I’d turned right as a teen rather than left, then forward, then right, then up, then . . .

      • NHerrera says:


      • Karl Garcia says:


      • sonny says:

        A second reading reminds me why Judaism gave credence to the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Scriptures. Way to go, Joe. Your batting a thousand, IMO. 🙂 You should look into founding that Philippine church. Honest. At least to refract our politics & sociology! You’re doing it already anyway.

        • Karl Garcia says:

          Sounds Greek to me.

          • sonny says:

            I think Joe is quite aware of his mastery of English. He is one of the gifted few whom I know. There is a reason English is the accepted lingua franca of world communications. I am not surprised the blog is always a pleasure to interact with – Joe’s editorial muster.

            • JoeAm says:

              I actually learned more English in Latin than in English, so go figure. Who knows what Greek would have thrown into the pot. Appreciation of the human body perhaps, although I think I’m pretty advanced in that arena, too. 🤣😂🤣 Words are wonderful, as any person who reads a lot will tell you. They’re good for work, play, and common understandings. Thanks for your kind words, sonny. You are one of those rare souls who manages to uplift others rather than try to win all the time. Nice.

          • sonny says:

            Classical Greek & Latin managed to freeze the meanings of the milieu of the cultures that used them. Even the epithet of being a ‘dead language’ is more a boon than a liability. I have to mine even Joe’s short ‘reactions.’ So I ventured to suggest that he coax out that gift to found PCMC. 🙂

            • Karl Garcia says:

              Had to look up Septuagint and it was Ancient Greek.
              That is why it sounded Greek.

              • This is also very Greek, and must be eaten before any deeper discussions.

                After the first bottle between Lance and us two, we shall talk mythology.

                After one bottle each we shall be into philosophy.

              • Karl Garcia says:

                Στην υγειά σας
                Stin ygeiá sas

              • sonny says:

                Karl, I was with you all the way about our play on the Septuagint. 🙂 You do remember our play on pedantry & pageantry. Of course you know it’s always open season on the punny farm we call TSOH.

              • NHerrera says:

                @Irineo, while on the subject of Greek food: I did not know eggplants can taste so good. In the early 80s while in NY, a Greek-American invited me to his home for dinner. The wife cooked, among others, this eggplant concoction which tasted so good. It was alternate layers of eggplants and cheese. I tried cooking it back home in the PH. It didn’t taste as good. Like Karl, it was Greek to me. 🙂

              • Karl Garcia says:

                Punny TSOH might have inspired the punmaker to take the handle unless it was given to him by his parents.

                Made me crave for Medditerranean like the Pita and its fillings.

              • sonny says:

                Tis one of the blessings of living in Chicago. The cuisine one can go to is beyond eclectic: Greek, Chinese, Korean, Indian, German, Scandinavian, n many more. Just like you said, NH. Italian, Mexican, Filipino, … 🙂

              • sonny says:

                @Karl, funning is lots of pun: “the Lord Caesar is sharp as all scissars should be”; Even our Savior made sure He got his share in: “.”Thou art Rock (Peter) and upon this Rock I will build my Church!” Of course, He did it in Aramaic.

              • kasambahay says:

                Irineo! I can barely look at your handog platter. is that fried worms I’m seeing? grilled calamari? octopus?

                I’ve eaten live scorpion, the damn thing was wiggling and I dropped it on the floor, squashed the poor thing with my heels, took it up,and ate it! washed down with tequila. I was egged kasi but won the bet, and gotten a dozen chocolate easter eggs as prize! I draw the line at eating worms. and I dont eat octopus, reminds me kasi of paul the octopus who was spot on in predicting the winner of football word cup, I forgot which year. paul was duly cooked and eaten, the poor darling!

              • JoeAm says:


  4. Juan Luna says:

    A literary fiction deserves a factual literal review.

    The ‘Philippine Church of Moral Courage’ is JoeAm’s way of creating a new tribe that will address issues and concerns that it considers to have been ignored, neglected or simply failed by other established religious groups.

    Very evident in the words and terms utilized, the piece is an expression of exasperation if not outright disenchantment in the scheme of things about the country, and I see the sense in all of it. Imparted within the message was about how the country has lost its way through complacency and moral depravity and it is about time to have a new tribe (I cannot call it religion for being bereft of spirituality) to put it back to order.

    Clearly, a very ideal narrative or diegesis about the desire to have a perfect and moral country; a plot we often see in theatrical or cinematic play. And that is how where I envision the idea going for its artistic value. Definitely it would be very hard, if not impossible, to muster, much less convince, enough warm bodies to make such an idea come to fruition.

    For one, the idea stresses more importance on the ‘Church’ than God and what it can do to bring change for the better. And understandably so because the idea emanates from a human being and not exactly from a deity. The usual discernment of God being the greater and ruler of everything in the universe, the Alpha and Omega and the source of moral authority will be compromised or conflicted.

    Secondly, the absence of spiritual entity would make the proposed Church enervated for lacking the source where physical, emotional and spiritual healing should emanate. Put in another way, the human spirit or soul that stimulate creative ideas is wanting. The physical attributes (kindness, determination, generosity, effort and courage) can only go so far if the spirit and soul is not present.

    Lastly, as an aside, I’m sure most of us here agrees with the premise of the idea but I doubt if we all have the same thinking as to how it should proceed to its realization. 😐

  5. kasambahay says:

    staring at a near empty bottle of suntory, I hear the cyber god chuckling, joeam is a cyber dreamer! and why not, indeed. church of moral courage, church of ethical standard, catchy name for online church. that’s what cyber space needs: a cyber church, like crypto church, present only in digital world. if joeam agrees to be 1st digital prophet, karlG 2nd, and so on, cyber church is highly feasible. did I hear donations? nah, just my earworm talking, lol!

    cybergod says who needs donation when there are advertisers! cyber church patterned much like church vlog. followers will come in time; advertisers attracted to traffic.

    though calling the church – philippine church of moral courage – is somat limiting; cyberspace barely has borders, accessible 24/7.

    • JoeAm says:

      We’ll just refer to it as “that churchy place on you tube” and forget the name. You can even chug suntory when visiting.

      • kasambahay says:

        yay! that’s my kind of church, no pre-judging, lol! drink and dance and be merry for tomorrow, we vote! I have a dream! uhm, make that – I have a nightmare! cebu has gone loco poco troppo!

  6. punmaker says:

    How I wish Edgar Lores was still with us. His ability to discuss things like this was superb.

    Joe, this is a great imagining of the philosophical architecture of a church but I couldn’t help but think ahh this is how the likes of cultists, big love Mormons, Quiboloy, Jim Jones et al got their start and how it transmogrified into something horrible. ha ha ha

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