Friday, December 05, 2014

I'm Trying

If you're reading this blog, you know that I have a social media presence. Maybe it's vanity, and maybe those who say discussions in those places aren't helpful are right. Fair enough. I've always liked them, and as long as I have the time, I don't plan on stopping. Yet I notice that the public at large doesn't like grey anything. People--whether the media, corporations, political parties, you name it--put you in a camp, and they expect you to stay there. The drug of choice is a false dichotomy.

It's no secret that I'm a passionate guy, with many strong opinions on everything. But I find this intellectual challenge welling up inside to find the truth, even if I have to refrain from speaking to do it. Saying there is grey when others see only black and white isn't to say there is no truth; it is to say that it may take more time and effort than some people are comfortable with to find it.

I'm 34 years old. My days of being a "prophet" are numbered, if not over. The little flecks of grey appearing at the back of my head tell me that a new task is at hand: teach those after me how to think, how to acquire new information, and how to argue cogently (and sanely).

Most people don't think today; they feel. They react. It doesn't matter what "team" they play for; everyone does it. Frankly, I would like to go an entire 2 minutes without being prodded to feel outraged about something. The Duggars. Obama. Cops. Criminals. The gay agenda. Take your pick. Is anyone else just kind of tired?

We're talking about de-escalation. We need it. Not just for a breather, but to find truth. To find what's more important. Goodness takes longer than evil; evil strikes like lightning. How many tragic stories have a, "Next thing you know"? All of them?

Next time you decide not to say or write the first thing you feel, think that you may have struck a blow for the good. Love moves slow.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Fred Says Things Better, Again

I should just admit it. Recall, the Noltie Conundrum only works in a world where God supernaturally reveals things. It works as a dilemma because it demonstrates what legitimate epistemic doubt does to the ability to hold a supernaturally revealed truth x. It relies on the fact that one horn of the dilemma is completely unacceptable for the Christian: that God could err, or lie.

I also thought it was interesting, as I felt the force of it, that it relies essentially on love and goodwill to make the point. It's easy to take the other door, to simply say that Johnny Methodist isn't smart or saved; it's a great deal more fruitful to wonder if Sola Scriptura is the way God intended us to know the faith. (No, in case you're wondering.)

Every serious theological school has a Captain Jack; this backdoor appeal to expertise dies a quick death, upon reflection. At least it did for me.

Maybe the other door out would have been atheism or an existential agnosticism, but for the fact that Christian truth had existed prior to anyone influentially arguing for a change not only in doctrine, but in methodology. Aside from variances caused by later ecclesiological and theological commitments, Christians do agree on some things. It seemed wise to inquire at the basis for that consensus. To seek full communion with the Catholic Church is to recognize that the gospel itself requires a change not only in the content of what I profess, but the bases of my profession, and my horizontal relationship to those who profess it with me.

The Longest Confession Line Ever (And The Virtue Of Patience)

It wasn't that hard, really. I couldn't help but notice, though. That got me thinking. Firstly, this isn't the first time I've waited an hour, at least. I wonder what God is trying to say?

Secondly, I was acutely aware that there was no way I was leaving this line, unless the priest gave up and ran away. Even then, I can't guarantee I wouldn't pester him like I was the persistent widow. That's just how these things go. That's all you need to know about whether we believe all that sacramental stuff. Yes, man!

Thirdly, it helped me shake the dust off my mental feet regarding this Latin American Reformed guy who was arguing with me about the sacraments some weeks ago. I guess I was supposed to feel bad that mother Church teaches that attrition, or fear of the punishment of hell, is sufficient to obtain the grace of absolution. I just kept thinking, Dude, if I sat around worrying about whether I felt sorry enough, or the right kind of sorry, I would die of paralysis and terror. Let's just say that I would have to have reached a level of self-deception heretofore yet reached (thank God) to say that my sins are not sins, or that I desire steadfastly to remain in them. Make of that what you will. He apparently missed the incongruity of claiming that the sacramental ministrations of the Catholic Church are too easy to obtain and benefit from, whilst also claiming that the whole system is an unholy abrogation of the free grace of God in Christ! Pardon me while I enjoy this for a second.

Fourthly, I definitely had this song in my head. I blame Nicole DeMille, in case you are wondering. In other news, how adorable is KT Tunstall? I never actually liked that hit song of hers, about a black horse and a cherry tree, but I could get over it. [Maybe you should just marry a Scottish girl who plays the xylophone.--ed.] That's uncomfortably specific, no? I don't think God cares about that stuff. Whatever it means for immutable Perfection to laugh, I always picture God giggling at my plans, like those evangelical posters that make you feel bad for having plans and dreams. That all probably means I'm wrong about that.

Fifthly, once I got there, Fr. made sure to say--right as we were about to part--that God loves me, sin or no sin, and that He never stops. I think this makes people uncomfortable, because we really are practically as Pelagian as a good Baptist thinks we are, half the time. I actually don't think that an outbreak of "God Is Love" is the cause of all the wickedness in the world. I think our hearts are too small. It can be hard to grasp, for example, if "God" means, "my stern father" and "Love" means, "whatever I hope to find from that guy or girl who promises the world, that I don't really trust". I digress.

Stew on that, if you like.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

From The Department Of The Blindingly Obvious

Rick Warren, of course, is right. I can appreciate the positions of those who say I believe a "false gospel," but...

Firstly, are you sure? How do you know? (These turned out to be much more difficult questions than I realized.)

Secondly, how compelling is a "gospel" that has nothing to say about real human problems? In the end, I didn't think the Church that led the West to the very pinnacle of itself could be preaching a false gospel. At the very least, I could think critically about those who raised a dispute with her.

5 Thoughts For Today

5. I like the song, "On Eagles' Wings." I'm sorry, but not.

4. Here is my Traditional Catholic membership card, and decoder ring.

3. On the other hand, Gregorian chant really isn't that hard, at the end of the day. Why are we singing hymns, then? [Especially when it's only an allowance in a less-than-ideal situation.--ed.]

2. You can add "Days Of Elijah," also. Keeping in mind that it's not proper for the liturgy.

1. There is a 99.9% chance that you are not a lector, or a minister of Holy Communion, even if you are routinely filling such roles. Those are instituted offices. It's a small distinction, but an important one. We should say, "I'm fulfilling the lector's role today," or "I'm assisting with the distribution of Holy Communion." You're not a lector unless you hold that office, and you are not a "minister of Holy Communion" unless you are a 1) Bishop, 2) priest, or 3) deacon. I think we have a big problem with this, because we misunderstand "active participation" as, "I get to do stuff in Mass." That's not what it means. It means uniting your whole life to Christ in the Eucharistic sacrifice, and doing your best to understand what that means, as much as you are able. Anybody can, and should, do that.