Saturday, May 05, 2012

Who can switch to Dolly Parton from Guns 'N Roses without a thought? JK can! Anyway, I ate at the fancy-pants Eurocafe where my brother serves. I admit it, it was awesome. I got a chicken piandini pizza, whatever that means.
I met Greg's new girlfriend. She's foxy in a "Too Bad You're Not Catholic" sort of way. She said she gave up on church, whatever that means. She's funny and very nice. She only swears occasionally, and I don't think she minds that I am quite observant. Oh, and she's Republican! No wonder he didn't think it was long-term. Commie.
Her name's Maureen. [What is she, 85?--ed.] No, jerk. We had a good time chatting about how I've gone from, "I'd rather vote for Santorum's kitty-cat than you" to, "How many times do you want the lawn mowed, Mr. Romney?" Apparently, Greg had never heard that Obama and the old Democratic Congress spent more money in a year than that paragon of fiscal virtue, George W. Bush, (sarcasm) spent in 8. And no, the wars don't even it out. I wanted to focus on the fiscal issues, because she's nice. No reason to start a fight. She's a keeper, to me. He might not want to commit, but they are addicted to each other. And he's too good a person to just leave. I think God will drown him in grace until he surrenders. I just hope he surrenders.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

I should probably have a category for people I disagree with that I read all the time/find mildly annoying/capable of sending me into a sputtering rage without the love of Christ guiding me. Rachel Held Evans is joining that informal list, where she joins such luminaries as Dr. Anthony Bradley, Geraldine Ferraro (RIP), Robert Wright, Al Gore, and others. Her blog is nearly always interesting and provocative, and I have enjoyed many recent posts. I have always liked how she skewers/critiques/snipes at evangelical culture. I can appreciate the discovery that evangelicalism has a lot of holes and blind-spots; I sympathize, because it does. Heck, it's a word no one can define, anyway. It's like trying to hug fog, or hit The Greatest when he was young. You can't use words you can't define, or at least you ought not.
Anyway, is she anywhere close to sure that she knows the definitions of the words she uses in the linked post? I'm not. If she wanted to probe my attitudes toward how to understand the biblical passages related to submission, or if it were possible to peer through the windows of my future marriage (God-willing), she may well find (surprise, surprise) that I love my future spouse, whoever she is, I trust her, I value her opinion, and I believe she is more than a sexual ornament in my life. Duh. But first off, I'm not afraid of the word 'patriarchy,' anyway. It has a negative connotation it doesn't deserve. It's very possible that complementarity is really patriarchy, and I don't have a problem with that. If you associate love and respect and listening and discussion and cooperation and female dignity and deference in certain situations with egalitarianism, then I suggest you need to re-define all these words. I don't believe in a strict equality of the sexes. I don't believe feminism--with a guarded qualification for 'ifeminists', who are putting the focus of dignity and power back on the individual--has anything good to teach us except what not to do.
I can't tell you which tasks or roles women should not have, because I don't know. I could recklessly opine, but I won't. OK, fine. We know--or we ought to know--that they are not Christ's ordained clergy. Whether biblical or ecclesiastical, a contrary opinion is flat wrong. Sorry. In the world outside the Church, (or those doing their Christ-loving best to imitate her as a church) how should I know? Sky's the limit. But for a few qualifications: Women can't be fathers, uncles, brothers, or any such thing whose definition depends on being male. You can't be a male nurse if you're not male. You get the point.
And this is where it gets hard: if you are a mother of children, your primary vocation is mother. (And fathers is likewise.) You might need to work outside the home for a third party, in which case, choose something that doesn't interfere with that as far as possible. If you feel the hackles rising here, it's only because feminists have shamed us all into believing that marriage and family is somehow less than being "independent." (Even when they say women should be respected in any choice, they're lying.) Bull****. Being an uncle kills me, because any good I can do or any wisdom I could impart is limited by the fact that I'm not 'Dad' in a direct sense. I desire it passionately, even if I don't know what I'm asking. I want to go on; I want someone to say, "He loved me; he poured himself into me; I love him." This is also why we Catholics call our priests "Father". Paternity and maternity can't be denied or ignored; they just might be expressed differently in any one case. (Maybe it won't even be expressed fully and properly in this life for some unfortunate people, but it WILL be, I have no doubt.)
I don't give a rat's posterior what you "enjoy" doing; God didn't ask you when he made you a mom or dad. I say if our daughters and sons want to be moms and dads,--and almost exclusively that--good for them! Don't ask me again. [Nobody asked you in the first place.--ed.] Yes, she did.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

The irritating part of the Catholic Church's claim to be the church Christ founded is that she doesn't say, "Here's our delightful best guess about matters of faith and morals, and we'll take our place among the family of churches." She says, "This is the Church." She's happy to show the proof, but she doesn't back down. I was so used to doctrinal relativity and plurality that I couldn't grasp the entirety of what she was saying, and even when I did, I wondered how people could believe such things. But for the sake of intellectual honesty, I set aside the presumption that the leaders I followed HAD to be correct. I figured if the Catholic Church would make such strong claims, she had to have evidence. If it was false, that, again, would be pretty obvious. But it isn't. In fact, before I had submitted to the Catholic Church as that which Christ founded, I was forced to concede that the claim itself is reasonable. More than reasonable.
Make sure that you understand the contours of what is being said before you rush to say how "messy" it is. Devin Rose has written a book called "If Protestantism Is True." I can't speak to the quality of those arguments, but I'd have to say that my thought process was opposite of this. In order to understand what the Catholic Church was saying to me, I had to live in the paradigm that operates with this as its central truth. What would it mean? What remains true? What's different? How well does this claim fit with history? Which hermeneutical paradigm explains history best and allows me to discern the faith once delivered?
The funny thing I found, in all honesty, is that our common patrimony as Catholics and Protestants (we'll call the Orthodox 'Catholics' for the sake of this argument) was utterly contrary to the Protestant convictions I had. That is, we had to set our convictions aside in order to reasonably claim a share in that patrimony. In other words, the Church Fathers knew nothing of the Reformers' doctrine. That in itself proves nothing; Luther et al could be right. But if so, the Protestant argument cannot be one of continuity. I had to say that the claim of continuity in response to the charge of schism was out of ignorance. Discontinuity is not itself a problem, but if a claim of true continuity was the answer to the charge of schism, it's a huge problem. Because that continuity or discontinuity is established objectively. On the other hand, if I could establish a particular set of doctrines as evidently true by means of the hermeneutical method I had known, the historical problem would fade, since the obvious truth of the Scriptures would endure even if it never held sway in some mythical notion of a unified Church.
But one potential problem I saw with this Scripture-based approach is that it magnified differences in interpretation. We weren't one big happy Protestant family raising our banner against the Catholic foe; we each had formed communities that promulgated particular dissents from the Catholic Church. If I were to "win" this way, it would be a very particular set of interpretations, or at the very least, the "core" of the gospel would be very obvious, which would immediately show forth a path to unity, at least among us. If we failed to do so, the promise of a "pure" Christianity, sifted from the accretions of an arrogant hierarchy trading on the authority of Christ, would be a lie.
But every time I heard someone speak about the "simple gospel" or the "core," it was either:  1)Appealing to a time before the splits, or 2) a re-packaging of a particular set of doctrines that was no more beyond challenge, or shown true, than any other denominational or confessional position.
But the good part is, appealing to a time before the splits is a good move, because--and we know this intuitively--that unity, however short-lived, was real. Upon what was it based? How did it come to pass? Did they use Sola Scriptura to establish it? Was the ecclesiastical apparatus just a rubber-stamp for Scriptural exegesis and interpretation? If so, score one for the Reformers. But alas, not so. There was no emerging consensus of doctrine or even contents of the rule of faith by Scripture alone, because Christians did not know what "Scripture" as we know it today was. Mark Galli suggests that the church bore witness to what had already been spoken by the Spirit, but this is false. The consensus upon which he and so many others rely was established by the invocation of ecclesiastical authority. Spirit-led and sanctioned, to be sure, but the Church knew itself and its authority, and thus, defined doctrine.
What this means is that those organs of authority must still exist. It also means that "Church" is not some theoretical hope in an anticipated future, but it is visible. To maintain those bonds is as real and as necessary as Nicene Trinitarianism for the Christian. To rely on this physical Church and its authority given by Christ is to touch the very heart of the apostolic age, to touch the very heart of Jesus. I could not hope for the unity of all Christians, while holding doctrines that prevented that unity. I could not be a double-minded man, utterly convinced of truths my hermeneutic could never find, and also convinced of others our forefathers rejected. Yes, rejected. Augustine was not a Lutheran, Calvinist, or any such thing; he would tell us to repent, cleaving close to our Mother and her bishops. So would they all. I'll use a light touch with our Eastern brethren not in communion with the Roman pontiff, because I know they largely agree, and their bishops are true.
Despite whatever warm feelings I may share with my separated brethren, the children of the Reformation, I cannot go with you; I cannot pursue "unity" by denying the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. If I had known, I would not have left her; I would not have cast my lot with another.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

5 More Snark Nuggets

5. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't baptize him in the name of the Trinity.

4. I have enjoyed this wide-ranging and idiosyncratic conversation about your political philosophy derived from a graphic novel, and I wish you well in your fruitful apostolate as a blithering idiot.

3. I'm no expert, but I don't think "the spirit of Vatican II" is supposed to make the liturgy look like a Kool and the Gang video.

2. I'm just thinking out loud here, but maybe extraordinary ministers of Communion should be male so we're not tempted to ask for their phone numbers after Mass.

1. Again, I'm no biblical scholar, but if your recessional hymn during Easter sounds like a funeral dirge, you've missed the point.
5 Delicious Snark-Nuggets For May

5. If I'm supposed to keep my Rosaries off your ovaries, keep your dictates off my prelates.

4. It's Biden we're deridin'
    But there's Confession for backslidin'
    From the bishop you been hidin'
    That long black train you've been ridin'
    Will wreck eventually.

3. There really is no polite way to say, "You're headed straight for Hell," but it may be true in any one case.

2. Dare I say it, but "Do we have a valid Eucharist?" is a more important question than, "Do we have a youth group?"

1. I don't care if you like Def Leppard, and that you value "community," if you're not sent from the Apostles, kindly button your face. Furthermore, I'd like to introduce you to my hot single friend, "RCIA." She's very persuasive.

Monday, April 30, 2012

I just realized what I'm called to be in this world: I want to be the next Andy Rooney. [You want to be a joyless liberal hack who's on TV way too long?--ed.] Um, no. Well not the 'joyless liberal hack' part. Do you realize still that the funniest book we ever read was Andy Rooney? Back in 1999. At the St. Louis Community College library. Back when that girl from grade school was still attractive (no offense) and I briefly considered lifting the "ban"? Ahem. Nevermind.
The point is, life is either horribly sad, or completely ridiculous, and someone should say so. [No in between?--ed.] Not really. What is the greatest thing to happen in the entire universe, ever? "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (I'm including Christ's glorious resurrection in that.) Given the fact that every single person born after the first sin and the first sinners themselves would be on a bullet train straight to Hell apart from the mercy of God, and that mercy in any age flows from the cross of Christ, I'm very thankful for Christ and His work. I'm hilariously thankful. I'm ridens wheelchairius. [Did you just call yourself 'Laughing Wheelchair'?--ed.] Yes. My 'brother' Evan calls me 'wheelchair' when he wants to shut me up, and it's hilarious. Oh, that reminds me of the time Thom Smith was visiting me at the old school and all the people with disabilities decided to show up that day. Seriously, like all six. He got out of the van and said something like, "Man, I haven't seen this many cripples since the Pool of Bethsaida!" If you can't laugh at that, you need to get outta here.
There are things in life that will never be funny. Those are wrong and evil. We just cry for those if we can, and pray. But some of us have crosses that get lighter with a little levity. The distance between what is and what should be is often absurd. We react to the absurd with sadness or with laughter. I much prefer the laughter; sometimes it's the other. Many times, it's both. But there's nothing good left in my life that isn't somehow connected through the Cross.