Wednesday, June 29

Storms, faith and Margaret

As Jesus got into a boat, his disciples followed him. Suddenly a violent storm came up on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by waves;  but he was asleep. They came and woke him, saying,

“Lord, save us! We are perishing!”

He said to them, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?”

Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm.  (Mt. 8:23-26)

Looking around today, there are many storms brewing.  Whether it is at home or abroad, secular or religious, environment or economics, there is no end to dark clouds, lightning and strong winds.  Their number is legion and their size is as a leviathan and hope seems lost.

"Why are you terrified?"

But....but...look at the storm!

"Why are you terrified?"

We are to be consumed!  Save us!

"Why are you terrified?"

We are terrified because we lack faith.  It is not that we do not believe, but rather that we, at our core, do not trust.

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding." (Proverbs 3:5)

This reminds me of the legend of saint Margaret of Antioch.  During her imprisonment and torture, a great dragon appeared to her as she prayed. The beast swallowed her whole, but  the cross she wore about her neck (some versions say by the sign of the cross) split the belly of the dragon asunder and she appeared unharmed.  The allegory here is plain, for the dragon is the Adversary which is willing to devour us.  It is by her faith that Margaret defeats the Adversary and survives unscathed.

When the storms are raging hard, Trust in the Lord and know that She will provide.  Have faith, dear friends, and God will provide.  I can't say how, nor when...but it shall happen.  It always does.

Sunday, June 26

The church and the Blood of Christ

"but you said I was the disciple you loved."
A bit of a footnote and follow-on to the earlier post about the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ.

There are two quotes which, talking about the present situation as well as the celebration of Eucharist, seem prescient.

The first is from 1 Timothy 4. As the greek is important, I shall quote first and then translate.
Τὸ δὲ πνεῦμα ῥητῶς λέγει ὅτι ἐν ὑστέροις καιροῖς ἀποστήσονται τινες τῆς πίστεως προσέχοντες πνεύμασιν πλάνοις καὶ διδασκαλίαις δαιμονίων,  ἐν ὑποκρίσει ψευδολόγων, κεκαυστηριασμένων τὴν ἰδίαν συνείδησιν,  κωλυόντων γαμεῖν, ἀπέχεσθαι βρωμάτων, ἃ ὁ θεὸς ἔκτισεν εἰς μετάλημψιν μετὰ εὐχαριστίας τοῖς πιστοῖς καὶ ἐπεγνωκόσιν τὴν ἀλήθειαν.
Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who restrict marriage and require abstinence from those foods that God created to be shared in Eucharist by those who believe and know the truth.  (1 Tim. 4:1-3)
Note that the words are μετάλημψιν μετὰ εὐχαριστίας, to be shared in Eucharist. Speaking of the Eucharist...there is that lovely quote by Augustine talking about the Body of Christ.
If you, therefore, are Christ's body and members, it is your own mystery that is placed on the Lord's table! It is your own mystery that you are receiving! You are saying "Amen" to what you are­ your response is a personal signature, affirming your faith. When you hear "The body of Christ"­you reply "Amen." Be a member of Christ's body, then, so that your "Amen" may ring true!
When we partake of the Eucharist, we are in communion with all of Christ's followers, both visible and invisible and we are all in touch with the Divine.  Anyone who would restrict or forbid one who wishes to feed on the Bread of Live and drink from that Saving Cup, a believer who wishes to be in communion with Christ and all of those who follow me that is a true sin.  That an institution, any institution, would make it a policy to judge believers and hold them as unworthy of salvation and grace is a place which does not, in my opinion, hold true to the spirit or the words of the Master.  They may call themselves Christian, but they are not Christ-like.  They may call themselves Catholic, but they are anything but universal.

I don't like using those sorts of words, but nothing else will do...and that saddens me greatly.

Saturday, June 25

Feast of the Body and intolerance of Christ.

...shed for you and for all.except for that poncy queer, John...
Last night (nearly at midnight), the New York State Senate passed legislation which will allow residents of any gender orientation to freely choose their marriage partners as their hearts and consciences dictate.  Today I got a chance to read the vitriolic response from the bishop of Brooklyn, one Nicholas DiMarzio.  There is a lot of duplicity and sour grapes in bishop Nicholas' letter which I don't see the utility in hashing through. Suffice to say that the good bishop goes on at length about the evils of the secular politics and 'asks' the churches and schools in his demesne to turn their backs on the state and it's representatives.  "Republicans and Democrats equally share responsibility for this ruinous legislation and we as Catholics should hold all accountable for their actions."

Today is also the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, a celebration of the Eucharist which are physical and real icons (as well as potent reminders) that Christ, our Lord and Saviour, willingly gave up his life so that ALL who believe would be saved.  His message was of unity, not division...of forgiveness, not retribution...of inclusion, not exclusion.  To partake in the Eucharist is to celebrate that sacrifice, to enjoy communion with all those, past and present, who have believed and to recognize that, through Him, ALL are welcome in the Kingdom of Heaven.

How things have changed.

Friday, June 24

Natural law, teh smex and a lot of hollerin.

"point the fifth...."
There has been a recent dust-up over at a friends blog that has caused a LOT of heat but very little light.  Out of this whole Sturm und Drang comes the use of the term 'Natural Law' as a defense for a catalog of Restorationist/Traditionalist doctrine.  So, I thinks to myself, what are they on about?  Of course, I go to the Angelic Doctor, for it is under Aquinas' quill that we find the present understanding of Natural Law take form.

Natural Law is "nothing else than the rational creature's participation in the eternal law" (Summa Theologica, I-II, 94) (Eternal Law being defined earlier as God's wisdom).

Yah...could you be more specific, Tom?
"This then is the first precept of law, that good is to be done and gone after, and evil is to be avoided... Secondly, there is in man an inclination to things more specially belonging to him, in virtue of the nature which he shares with other animals. In this respect those things are said to be of the natural law, which nature has taught to all animals, as the intercourse of the sexes, the education of offspring, and the like. In a third way there is in man an inclination to good according to the rational nature which is proper to him; as man has a natural inclination to know the truth about God, and to live in society.." (ibid).

Ah ha!  So..we should look to the other animals to things such as sexual congress and child-rearing.  But, as 21st century science has shown, it is commonplace within arguably all of the animal kingdom to find non-procreative sex (both heterosexual and homosexual) being used to form and strengthen social bonds, to find auto-erotic behaviour in hundreds of species and even that same-sex parents are often better at child-rearing as heterosexual parents. (Medical News, Bagemihl, Biological Exuberance)

But....but...natural law is immutable, right?   Well, yes and no.  According to Aquinas, the law itself does not change, but changes to our understanding of nature would naturally change our understanding of God (and thus, His wisdom and by extension, Natural Law). (Summa, I-II, 94)

Since our understanding of the Universe (of Nature) is an evolving and changing thing, then it would stand to reason that our understanding of God's Wisdom (and, thus, Natural Law) is an ever-evolving process.  Conversely, to constrain ourselves to a patently out-dated understanding of the Universe is to willfully function under a misrepresentation of the nature of the Divine.  At least, that's what Aquinas was on about.

"They hold a plainly false opinion who say that in regard to the truth of religion it does not matter what a person thinks about the Creation as long as he or she has the correct opinion about God.  An error concerning the Creation ends as false thinking about God." (Aquinas, quoted in Matthew Fox, Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality, p75)

Thursday, June 23

Today's Reading

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’
will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

Many will say to me on that day,
‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name?
Did we not drive out demons in your name?
Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’
Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’

“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock.

And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.”(Mt 7:21-27)

So, listen and follow the will of God.  Some folk make this whole thing much more complex than it is.

Just sayin.

Wednesday, June 22

For a friend...posted from the Remembrancer

"God is faithful." 1 Cor 10:13

THIS is the believer's sheet anchor; without this his comforts would droop, and hope would give up the ghost. We are at times shaken to pieces by unbelief, and filled with tormenting doubts. We feel nothing of the presence, power, or comforts of the Holy Ghost; faith, hope, and love seem to be quite extinguished. We have no power, and scarcely any inclination to pray; and we feel only hardness, fretfulness, and misery. We are tempted by Satan, and harassed with tormenting thoughts, so that we feel tired of this miserable life. But God is faithful; He never fails us; but appears again and again, restoring us to peace, joy, and satisfaction; and our most miserable times are often succeeded by peculiar joys. The Scriptures are opened up to our understandings, the promises are applied to our souls, and we are filled with the comforts of the Holy Ghost. Then our souls melt before God in contrition and holy penitence; we feel crumbled into dust before Him, and can only admire and adore the riches of free and sovereign grace. Beloved, in the darkest night, remember,

He will not His great self deny;
A God all truth can never lie:
True to His word, God gave His Son
To die for crimes which men had done:
Blest pledge! He never will revoke
A single promise He has spoke.

PS: Bonus track from today's reading.
The word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision:
“Fear not, Abram!
I am your shield;
I will make your reward very great.” (Gn 15:1)

Fear not, my brothers and sisters, for the Lord is our shield.  Trust in Him and She will never fail us.

Tuesday, June 21

A franciscan, a taoist and some naked people are all in a web...

A good friend of mine recently posted something which directly addresses an idea which has been sitting directly under the surface for a long time, a thought process and philosophy which is so very different than I have heard elsewhere in mainstream Christian thought.  First, I'll quote Thom's catalyst.
"If you don't love yourself, you can't love anyone else. 'Loving one's neighbor as oneself' is predicated upon actually loving yourself first. That love radiates outward to others. Additionally, if you don't know yourself, you cannot pray authentically. Your God becomes an extension of who you think you are. If you cannot be naked with yourself, you cannot be naked before God."
This brings me directly to a quote from Alan Watts:
"Now the Chinese would say, if you can't trust yourself, you can't trust anything. Because if you can't trust yourself, can you trust your mistrust of yourself? Is that well-founded? See? If you can't trust yourself you are totally mixed up, you haven't a leg to stand up and you haven't a point of departure for anything! (Watts, Tao of Philosophy)"
 The extension is simple, but important enough to explicitly state: If you are not honest with yourself, love yourself and trust yourself (which includes knowing your own limits), those qualities cannot be projected outward to others, including the Divine.  This leads us back to the Web of Jewels, wherein everyone is connected and we see ourselves reflected in all those we know just as they are reflected in us. 

I would point out that, due to our inability to truly see and understand the Divine, who we see in Her will always be coloured by our own place in the Web of Jewels, but there is a quantum leap of difference between the Divine being a reflection of our true selves (the Divine within) and who/what we think we are.

An addendum to this all is to consider how we function in a daily fashion.  If we cultivate within us honesty, love, trust and unity, those things will project out from us to everyone in the Web...which then reflects back upon us in a positive feedback loop.  If, instead, we cultivate a habit of artifice, disapprobation, distrust and isolation, then we shall see those things in everything around us, including the Divine.

The choice, as always, is yours.  Water or fire.  Life or death.  Whatever you choose will be given to you.

Monday, June 20

Reflections on Pride

This weekend was Denver Pridefest, one of the largest gay pride festivals in the US.  As is For the second year, our church communion marched in the parade and this year I had the opportunity to join them.  Of course, we weren't the only church organization marching (the Unitarians and a few ELCA churches were there as well), but a cadre of around twenty catholics and four collared priests (two of them female) caused a stir, especially from the strong latino community who was in attendance.

There are two things which struck me as we walked the 2.5 mile route.  The first is the immense number of people.  The parade wended through a quiet, quasi-residential area for about 3/4 of a mile, with small clusters of people gathered along the route and giving us some encouragement - about what one would see at a small town parade.  Then we took a sharp left turn onto the broad avenue that is Colfax and got a panoramic view of the rest of the route. Literally tens of thousands of people lined the street in a sea of rainbow-hued humanity.  That's when it hit me how many people came out, (literally) to support all of us who have come out (metaphorically). 

The entire way, there were people who cheered us on.  Not just "woo-hoo, happy pride" sort of cheering but, "holy crap...catholics!  awesome!!!" sort of cheering.  At several points during the route, each group was  announced over a loud speaker and it was made clear to the crowds that we were not a part of the arch-diocese and all were welcome at the some rather inspiring responses from the gallery.

The only time when we did not feel universally accepted was when we marched past the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception (steeple seen in background above) where the half-dozen to dozen protesters of the whole parade stood at the doors (behind about a dozen cops) and tried to say nasty things about us.  I say tried because we couldn't hear them over the thundering roar of the pride supporters cheering us on.  To say it was heady is an understatement.

The key takeaway, in my opinion, is something I've never experienced at Pride before.  Sure...out and proud is a common theme and we tout 'all are welcome' (and we mean all in nearly the broadest of senses), but being out and proud can feel damned lonely and it's hard to know if our message even means something in an area of the country where most churches can lay that claim.  It's easy to start questioning if the RC diatribe may, in fact, have some truth to it and question the relevancy of our inclusiveness.  Walking in that parade really changed my mind on those things. 

The sense of camaraderie and support from perfect strangers was so incredibly liberating and felt as if society (even if a small segment thereof) was publicly and vocally validating the concept that non-standard is acceptable.  The fact that so many were openly supportive of our group, specifically and explicitly as a non-roman catholic institution,says to me that there very well may be a place for a catholic-not-roman church to do good and help others.

Thanks goes out to Frank for organizing this and personally inviting me to attend.  Thanks also goes to God, whose mercy and kindness is without end.  Praise be.

Tuesday, June 14

thoughts on the reading

“You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. 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.For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt 5:38-42)

This passage is, for me, probably one of the richest fields to work for spiritual fruit and I could spend a month of Sundays pulling out different lessons and instruction.  For today, permit me to pull a few common threads I see and weave a bit for ya.

The first thread which we see a lot in Christ's teaching is the blissful and utter simplicity of it.  No gazillion rules to remember, flowcharts or graphs to reference or iPhone app to consult.  It's dead simple.  Love everyone, both the 'good' and the 'bad'.

The second and contrasting thread is that simple isn't easy.  That's what the image is on about.  Hoeing is one of the simpler things to do, but it's hard work.  So is loving people, understanding them and being good towards those who aren't good to you.

The third and interwoven thread is that constancy and consistency are vital.  Hoeing the fields is of value only when you keep after it. God isn't perfect only on Sundays at church, but at all times, everywhere.  If we are to be as God, then we should reflect that constancy in our lives.  It's real simple....just not real easy.

Friday, June 10

'Duking' it out with Archbishop Nienstedt on the issue of gay marriage

A preemptive apology is in order.  I try not to focus on such things, but there times when, as the Duke would say, 'a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do'.

Archbishop Nienstedt (Minneapolis/St. Paul) recently published an article in his local house organ, The Catholic Spirit, which defends the support of the Minnesotan gay-marriage ban as not being anti-gay.  He states that "The Minnesota Catholic Conference, made up of the seven Catholic bishops from the state, support this amendment not for prejudicial or political reasons, but rather for reasons that are theological, biological and pastoral."

Very well, let us examine each in turn, starting with the pastoral.

"Pastorally, children flourish best in the context of having both a mother and a father. Every scientific study confirms this reality. We know that many single parents strive mightily to raise children in as normal a context as possible — and many do an excellent job at this.  Nevertheless, it is a proven fact that boys and girls develop better with the influence of a mother and a father, living in the same home."

Actually, no, scientific studies do not 'confirm this reality'. In fact, a five year examination of 81 separate studies concluded  that "no research supports the widely held conviction that the gender of parents matters for child well-being," (cite)  As Cambridge University psychologist Michael Lamb put so succinctly, "Nothing about a person's sex determines the capacity to be a good parent.  It is well-established that children do not need parents of each gender to adjust healthily." (cite)

"In addition, the very biological, not to mention spiritual, complementarity of the two sexes defines the reproductive nature of their relationship which, in turn, enhances the well-being and joy of that union. The enfleshed oneness of a man and a woman is indeed a communion of life and love."

There are several things to parse here.  First off, if we are speaking of biology, then let us leave out spirituality for the time being.  Secondly, the Archbishop is specifically saying is that heterosexuality defines being able to procreate, that that definition enhances the relationship and, separately that sex enhances a relationship (many studies support this last part).  This whole thought train is based upon the concept that a social/legal construct (marriage) is founded on a biological function (procreation), which can be easily proven false (celibate marriages, same sex marriage, etc.).  Further, it bases the happiness of a marriage on the ability, desire or reality to procreate.  Harvard University psychologist Daniel Gilbert points out that having children actually significantly harms the happiness of a marriage.  "Figures show that married people are in almost every way happier than unmarried people – whether they are single, divorced, cohabiting...People are extremely happy before they have children and then their happiness goes down, and it takes another big hit when kids reach adolescence. When does it come back to its original baseline? Oh, about the time the children grow up and go away." (cite)

"Theologically, the definition of marriage predates any government or religious denomination. As we read in the Bible, it reflects God’s plan for man and woman to share in his creative power of bringing new life into the world (Genesis 1:27-28). This is ratified by Jesus himself in Matthew 19:8-9. It is a truth that is also evident in light of the natural moral law, which grounds our understanding of the dignity that belongs to each human person."

Just a bit of semantics, but if you are looking to a text written by a theocratic monarchy for a definition of marriage, that would mean that, prima fascia, it does not predate any government or religious denomination.As to the Matthew 19 quote, it is directly referencing divorce (The pharisee's asked Christ why Moses allowed divorce if God didn't want it.)

"He said to them, 'Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. 'And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.'” (Mt. 19:8-9)

It is instructive to continue the scripture.

"The disciples said to Him, 'If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry.'But He said to them, 'Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given.'" (Mt. 19:10-11)

If we understand that natural moral law demonstrates the dignity of each human person, then to prevent certain humans (due to , for instance, race, class, sexual orientation or creed) from participating in the union of marriage and, thus, the fullness of joy and unity mentioned above, would be contrary to the natural moral law.

 Archbishop Neinstedt quotes Archbishop Timothy Dolan for support, saying his argument is hard to refute.   

"To tamper with that definition, or to engage in some Orwellian social engineering about the nature and purpose of marriage, is perilous to all of us. If the definition of marriage is continually being altered, could it not in the future be morphed again to include multiple spouses or even family members?"

Perhaps Tradition is no longer part of the Deposit of Faith or church history isn't a strong suit for the president of the USCCB, but the idea that marriage is a static institution (both within and exterior to the Church) couldn't be further from the truth.  The RC church's current positions on inter-class, same-sex, and inter-racial marriages (as well as procreation within marriage) are all radically at odds with the position taken at some point in the history of the Catholic church. 

Multiple spouses?  I would recommend a perusal of the Old Testament in general.  David, Solomon, Jacob, Esau, Gideon and a plethora of others all had multiple wives.

Family members?  Though generally this is true, one must not forget Levirate marriage, where a man is required to marry the wife of his dead brother, (Deut. 25:5) as well as a man being able to marry the sister of his wife after the wife has died (Lev. 18:18).

This doesn't even begin to cover concubinage (ask Solomon about his 300 concubines), forced marriage of prisoners of war (Deut. 21:11-14), female slaves as sex objects (Gen. 16), single women forced to marry their rapists (Deut. 22:28-29), or female slaves being 'assigned' a short-term slave husband (Exodus 21:4).

The concept that marriage is a static institution is a farce and the arguments made against expanding the legal, secular definition of the term to reflect the social changes in the nation are as wrongheaded today as they were when Loving v. Virginia allowed inter-racial couples 44 years ago.  The difference is that a generation ago, the Roman Church stood with Loving and today they stand against loving.

Thursday, June 9

Reflections on a Merton quote

"Your life is shaped by the end you live for. You are made in the image of what you desire."  - Thomas Merton, ocso

What is it, then, that we live for...that we desire?   Is it wealth, enlightenment, material comforts, happiness or security, ?  Is it ourselves, friends, family, church or country? Do we live for the things of this world, or things more ethereal and eternal?  Do we desire the acceptance of our peers or the prelates, or the favour of the Father?

My sihing would say that what we think about is what we put our energy to and, thus, what we create in the world.  That can be prosperity or reinforcing the lack thereof, happiness or misery.  It depends upon what we focus our minds and hearts towards.  Do we focus on what we have or do we worry about what we lack?

Thoughts about the reading

Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed, saying:

“Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one.

When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me, and I guarded them, and none of them was lost except the son of destruction, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

But now I am coming to you.

I speak this in the world so that they may share my joy completely.
I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world." (John 17)

Christ showed us the way, gave us the instructions we need to reunite ourselves with God.  To do this, we must look to Her, not to the world.  We must know we are creatures of Light, suffused with the Holy Spirit and not just creatures of flesh, belonging to the world.

Tuesday, June 7

Odd quote from comments in another blog

"How loyal are you to Vatican II, or for that matter, Vatican I and the previous councils?"

I have heard this sort of statement, couched in various different ways, since I started treading water in the catholic kiddie pool.  To me, it rings of 'Do you believe in the authority of the Church?  Papal authority?  Magesterial authority?' and a whole bunch of related questions which come down to 'Who's the boss of you?'

The answer there is simple.  "choose for you today whom you do serve; -- whether the prelates whom your fathers served, which are beyond the grave, or the gods of the modernists and capitalists in whose land you are dwelling;  But as for me and my house, we shall follow the Lord." (paraphrasing Joshua 24)

The Divine has given each of us a conscience to know right from wrong.  We know that if we love the Divine, we won't spit in Her face or disabuse Him in any way, but respect and follow what we know in our hearts is right.  What need do I have for a council which says that my very soul depends on obeying the Pope before  country or conscience?  What use is there for prelates who require things of me that God does not?  Why should I pay heed to priests who ape at being God, rather than being servants of God?  What use is an institution which neither teaches, preaches nor practices the words of it's founder?

I follow the Lord.  Thanks be to Her.

Monday, June 6

Haystacks and hearts

There is a thorny issue which sits in front of me these days, for I have read much, reflected much and prayed more than I'd like to admit about the intersection of religion, theology and spirituality.  I should, in the first, discuss what those terms mean to me as I have examined this problem and realise that they are separate and even occasionally mutually exclusive things.

Spirituality is the raw and direct experience we (collectively and individually) have with the Divine.  It is wonderful and messy and very difficult to explain, especially without sounding like a crackpot.  Theology is spirituality's little brother, being the rational, systematic study of God and our relationship with Her.  In short, theology is to spirituality what science is to nature, an attempt to logically understand the illogical and wonderous.

Religion is a method of us as spiritual/theological beings, to relate to each other in community and to collectively implement the interpreted desires of the Divine.  Because it is relational in nature, it is no less messy than Spirituality but, as the relationships are between fallible people who never really 'get' each other, it is much more fraught with problems which stem from miscommunication, misunderstandings and personal, petty concerns.  If that wasn't enough, there's ecclesiology, which is the 'science of church', much like theology is the 'science of God'.

What does it mean, then, to be a Christian? Does it have to do with belonging to a particular sect or denomination?  Does it require attendance and participation in a certain parish or church?  What about acceptance and obedience to creeds, covenants and counsels? Obviously, if the root of being a follower of Christ is to have a relationship with the Father, then spirituality is central.  Unless one is to be a hermit or solitary aesthetic (something which neither appeals to me nor seems generally positive), one needs to have a relationship with our fellow humans.  Thus, religion is on the list of 'must have'.  This leaves the 'sciences' of theology and ecclesiology.

As one who has been, from an early age, inculcated in the cult of rationality, raised in the religion of reason and schooled in the sect of science, this is where I am the most comfortable.  Indeed, growing up in my old, protestant religion, it was impressed upon me strongly that the age of miracles had been turned over to the age of reason.  In the last few years, I have come to discover how very, very wrong that thought process is.  Scripture does not say "No one comes to the Father except through Aquinas (or Luther or Hooker)." nor "...that those who believe in the Filioque shall not die..."  or "This is the cup of my will be shed for the ultramontanists so that they may be forgiven."  The more I read of theological and ecclesiological thought, the more I realise why Aquinas said his work was straw. 

And yet.

And yet Dad wants me to be a priest, said so in fact, and to be a priest, the religious communities require that one must delve into these haystacks , paddle about in the piles of straw in some attempt to find that proverbial needle of Truth.  Sure seems a lot of work to come to "Love God and do right by your fellow man, following your conscience."

Just sayin

Friday, June 3

Quotes and thinking

"If you were besotted with the things of this world, you would want to surpass all others in the luxury of your house, in the magnificence of your garments and jewelry, in the abundance of food on your table, in the splendour of the carriage which took you from one place to another. You would never be satisfied with what you already possessed, but would always want more. And you would constantly be comparing yourself with others, looking with envy at those even richer than you. Your wealth would be like a spiritual prison; and your limitless desires would be the chains that bound you. Thus in giving up all these things, you have smashed the chains and broken free. You have little; yet you are satisfied with what you have."  - Pelagius, letter to Demetrius

Knowing others is wisdom;
Knowing the self is enlightenment.
Mastering others requires force;
Mastering the self needs strength.
He who knows he has enough is rich.
Perseverance is a sign of willpower.
He who stays where he is endures.
To die but not to perish is to be
eternally present.

 - Lao Tse, Tao Te Ching, 33 

"Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.” - John 16:26

We, as people of modern, western culture, are inundated and inculcated with a materialistic and immediate culture which demands that we can never have enough.  But what is it that we truly need and are those things actually things at all? 

Trust in the Lord and know that She will provide.  Don't worry so much.  He's got us all covered.