Saturday, April 21, 2012

What to do when you are arguably the greatest goalie in the history of hockey, you're 39, and you've had the worst game of your career? Follow it up with your best.

Friday, April 20, 2012

I've discovered something interesting about myself and blogging: You can't really say what comes right to mind, despite what blogging is. "Blog" is shorthand for "weblog," which had been short for, "web-based online journal." A little pet-peeve, if I may. Particular entries on a blog are entries, or "posts," in the common speech. They are not, contra a beloved evangelical leader who shall remain nameless, called blogs themselves.
Correction: He's not beloved, except maybe by me. He's a disturber and a troublemaker, and that's why I like him. I probably had to turn in my evangelical card and decoder ring, but I still enjoy making as much trouble for people as possible. It's a trouble we need right now.
I can see you, you know. You've got your ESV Bible, your seminary acceptance letter in hand, an impressive array of checkered shirts, and a habit of saying "context" way too many times. But maybe you didn't go that way, either. Maybe you've been burdened with others' problems of poverty, racism, and a thousand other things. If you're a jerk, you look down on your brethren secretly or not for not being quite as concerned as you are. If you're not a jerk, you at least feel your faith should do or say something about these things. And that's good.
In either case, you need to listen to me. If you'll pardon the crudity, you have no idea what in God's name you are talking about. At all. And I don't mean that in the cheesy "Mastered by Divinity" way that you'll learn to laugh about as your way of saying that you grew from this experience, whether you did or not. I mean,--without intentional disrespect--that the very greatest among you know close to nothing. What you know now is highly selective; what you will know then is also highly selective. And that would be fine, but for the fact that the questions that truly matter are the ones you'll be discouraged from asking. Well, the first, you are more than free to ask, so long as you give the "right" answer: "Who is Jesus Christ?" The second follows from the first, or at least it should: "What is the Church?" It's not as though no one you'll meet ever asked this, nor do I suggest that no one has an answer. But I will say that as you truly explore and discover the answer to the first, the second will recur. And again. Even after you feel it has been answered. Even after other people get tired of answering it for you.
Do not quench the Spirit, and do not quench your question, even if you lose your whole life in the asking. Jesus, after all, did say this very thing.
Of all the things I learned in the days I was one of you, Reformed seminarian, I'm the most grateful that I learned to ask these two questions. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Monday, April 16, 2012

I may have done something foolish. This dude wanted to sell me life insurance. Actually, he was just the phone guy. I'm too nice to hang up on the poor guy. When he gave way to the actual agent, she was a twenty-something girl with a Southern accent. She could have sold me a car. I can cancel it within 60 days and not pay a dime. $25 gas card just for being a good sport. I'll play. Anyway, I'm off to watch St. Louis Blues playoff hockey! WOOOOO! Let's go Blues!
Note to Self: It's time to lay the ground for reading Flannery O'Connor. I always said I would; it just hasn't happened. You can't actually do anything unless you make a plan and stick to it. So the plan is made. Or, if you like, "Mr. Scott, the word is given." I hope I'm not too maudlin to appreciate her. I mean, I get misty watching "That's What Friends Are For" and "Beaches," for pete's sake. [You're just in love with Barbara Hershey.--ed.] Guilty as charged! And Madeleine Stowe. Especially in "Playing By Heart." Ahem. Anyway, Flannery O' Connor. I am Catholic, after all.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

I found an old address on my desk, buried under the clutter. What pain occasioned its finding! Let no one dare tell me the sadness will pass. Even if Augustine lost the friend who was not a friend--and I thought long about whether I had done likewise--it cannot be. I loved purely and truly. Everything but the painful words uttered in selfishness I would do again. And I cannot deny this, even if I wanted to.
I'm not one of those Catholic apologists who is so intent on making a point against Sola Scriptura--not that it needs any help refuting itself--that I'm going to commit myself to the impenetrable opacity of the Bible. I definitely think we should be reading it, and I'd love it if we all knew it better than we do. That being said, the Bible is astounding. No matter how learned one is (and I'm lacking in enough humility at present to say I'm learned) God's word has a depth that can reduce the greatest, most brilliant men to sputtering babble. And I should know.With apologies to Dr. David Twellman of Ave Maria University, I will never fully understand or gain a facility with your 'synthesis' concept. Quite frankly, I'm less fond of outlines now, as well. O the heady days when all I had to do was preach the thing, and to cower in fear at the sight of the Collins Scowl! Er, the arrogant, schismatic days, but joyous they often were. Preaching is easy; thinking is hard. [False dichotomy?--ed.] No. If only because some don't recognize the distinction.
Anyway, I'm glad it's over. This deserves a comment. The author classifies the first part of this as "intellectual," and perhaps it is. But I would say that ecumenism rightly considered is agreement on the truth. It is indeed foolish to pursue unity without the truth. But unity rightly considered means the same thing as ecumenism: agreement on the truth, or better said, in the truth. We might rightly all abhor Ockham's pernicious influence in the truncation of epistemology. But that very truncation masquerades as a humility in the theological system on offer as an alternative. The truth we seek is evident in things; it does not become so by consensus. Rather, we all are conformed to it, not it to us. Is it fitting to accept an abiding hostility to reason, when that hostility is the cause of the ecclesial agnosticism whose truth is the heart of the question? Let me put it more simply with a paragraph break.
The ecclesiastical re-boot that was the great division in the West demands a fidelity to reason and a doctrinal certitude that the project itself cannot supply. The great Church we aim to defend cannot exist only in the theoretical, since the promises given to it are the ground of truth. Christ promised to protect His Church as a part of his character as the Truth. It can no more be unseen as He was, and John's Gospel says plainly, "We have seen his glory." And later--permit me to paraphrase like a Church Father--John says of Christ, "that which we have groped with our hands." The fact that He is mysterious is not germane to the question of whether He came in the flesh. If our commitment to "love" is greater than our desire to know the content of truth, we have a problem. If we cannot know the fullness of truth in Christ, then what is it to know Him?
If roughly 500 years have passed with no agreement in the truth, a truth to which we are all bound, it is reasonable to assume that the manner in which it has been sought is the wrong one. Even without the Catholic Church, it is obvious that we are at an intractable impasse. If we are serious about not sacrificing the truth for the sake of unity, we must come to terms with the fact that the Protestant hermeneutical paradigm prevents us from even a reasonable supposition that we would possess any truth that would be lost.
This is not to say that the Catholic Church, by this argument alone, must be the Church. But if we could go back, knowing that we all separately have held slivers of the truth like shards of a broken window, would you break it again? Does it make sense to deny that it came from the same place?