Theres a moment I had with a stranger in a parking lot. She had this bumper sticker on her truck. I intentionally watched her park and tracked her getting out...as I approached her, my finger pointing at her bumper, our eyes locked. She smiled and said,
"you cant imagine how many people ask me where to get one of those..."
"in fact I can but thats a whole other story" I chided with a smirk.
She didnt ask what "religion" I was and didnt need to, nor did I from her. When one understands and values the meaning of Ecumenism, with knowledge of todays roadside bombings, Hamas, Palestine, Beruit, Serbia, and other modern faith based conflicts ad nauseum, one has no need to ask. The faith allegiance of another is of little concern because the motive is not what is the faith identity, it is what do you value of all others identity. This is an inevitable statement or question all must face.
Post Vatican II has seen significant global effort from Rome to all faiths for Ecumenical acknowledgement. Partly driven by the 4th and final Council of Vatican II having nearly 100 representatives of other Christian Communities participating. V-II resulted in RC authorities professing Ecumenism in every available technological way.
We are not talking about a motive to convert other faiths to our thinking, the strategy is much more subtle (and effective). Its having the sense to see a millenium of conflict in Gaza unresolved by that "my side or die" approach. Catholic Ecumenism is a call to humanize our cross faith understanding first and to demonstrate that willingness in a leading way to disarm the need for conflict.
"In a word, Christians have been converted to a fraternal charity which embraces all Christ's disciples. If it happens that, as a result of violent political disturbances, a certain aggressiveness or a spirit of vengeance appears, the leaders of the parties in question generally work to make the "New Law" of the spirit of charity prevail. Unfortunately, this spirit has not been able to transform every situation where brutal conflict rages. In such circumstances those committed to ecumenism are often required to make choices which are truly heroic." (Ut Unum Sint 1995)
On a Global level, by using this approach, we are in no way advocating the faith motive of the Jihad, for instance, we are only demonstrating there is a non-jihad soul fulfilling a call to express holiness. If the gun is laid down, then the largest hurdle is past.
On a local level, the Catholic Apologist is capable of demonstrating the same approach and motive for Ecumenism. Being knowledgable on our Doctrine and Dogma's scriptural basis, and using a charitable approach can disarm most of the Calvin followers anti-Catholic rage, if it is heard. Realizing it may not be heard immediately, and most likely will only be heard years later puts an Apologist in a mature and patient position as well. These two comprehensive skills, Ecumenism and Apologetics are powerful abilities. We are seeing in what some call the worst of times across faith lines, some astonishing results in America ecumenically.
In Dual Authority efforts, Councils of the Holy See and the Lutheran, Jewish and Orthodox Faiths (among others) have produced Joint Declarations on spiritually common practices and belief components of both Faiths. Imagine the attitude required by those in Heirarchy of these Faiths to enter the dialogue. On a summary level, a full even if temporary truce must be called, but I imagine none is needed with Scholars of that level and maturity. There must exist a basis of reverance for the other Faith and their established visible Leadership within to have such a meeting take place and produce and ecumanical result. These Theologians engage themselves in entering the other Faith on a deep enough level to comprehend the spiritual meaning for each other and its following. Ecumenism at its best human ability.
Should we, the "following", profess Religious character assassination in attempting to talk to a Calvinist, a Lutheran, a Presbyterian when explaining a given Catholic Practice question? It is a fundamental of Human relational dynamics that an attack postion creates defense. One cannot reasonably expect anything else.
" "Cooperation among all Christians vividly expresses that bond which already unites them, and it sets in clearer relief the features of Christ the Servant" ". This cooperation based on our common faith is not only filled with fraternal communion, but is a manifestation of Christ himself." (Ut Unum Sint 1995)
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Jillian would like to thank the Academy, and share her Christmas spirit!
Saturday, November 22, 2008
I'd like to introduce Jennifer. I was immersed in her Conversion Post on her blog and realized how recently her coming home has occurred. Jennifer is going through some family turbulence over this journey and I am confident support and relation is welcome. She's quite readable. Go say hello!
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Ecumenical warning. There is a 100% chance that this post will have zero Catholic ecumenism.
There is a "Chapel" in this town that needs serious evangelical revision. Lakeside Community Chapel.
Years ago (prior to my full immersion in Catholicism), a "Christian" friend of mine who attended there talked up this outfits Bible Study sessions after service on Sunday's. So I went, alone.
The sign outside the "Chapel" states "VERSE BY VERSE BIBLE TEACHING". The 9 am service was ordinary 10 minutes of hymns 5 minutes of prayer and 45 minutes of monologue by a Pastor on Romans. An alter call followed. I wasn't particularly enlightened by the Pastors take on Romans but being a benefit of doubt kind of guy, I stayed focused, figured all Pastors have their challenges, stuck it out and headed for "bible study".
I sit down in bible study with about 10 other people and wait for the study Leader. In walks a man who positions himself at a podium and begins to talk about Paul's conversion and the Road to Damascus event. He used practical analogies of thought and was getting my attention on a few levels, I was impressed, he had a take and it was on point and was not overly interpretive. During the study (rather...another monologue) heads nodded throughout the room frequently and the train of comprehension was consistent. At the 40 minute mark it was apparent the topic was concluding and then suddenly, the punch line came out.
This man then begins state "truly converted believers would never be Methodist". He cited a recent decision by the UMC (at that time 5 years ago) to allow a convention of Gay Methodists at the UMC National retreat facility. For 10 minutes the verbal attack escalated, it was as if this man underwent a personality change...real anger began to be displayed. He called for everyone in the room to write protest letters to UMC leadership with names and addresses given. He tried to convey an obligation to anyone in the room that hearing this "cooperation of the UMC with Satan" meaning...biblically...that we were also passively approving of this sin by the UMC and are accountable as well.
After leaving the room stunned by the philosophical whiplash I just experienced, I noticed a rack of Tracts at the lobby exit. There for sale, with retail price tags, was more inter-christian hate publications than a Hotel tourism rack. I stood there reading the cover of each one slowly, MacArthur, Sproul, John Piper, tracts with titles like "The Mormon Road to hell"..."Lutherans Retreat from the Word". One after another, every Protestant denomination, Catholic, Jewish Faith was attacked.
You can imagine my plight. I knew fully I was in Protestant territory, but not a Christian minefield. It was mind numbing and memorable. Since then, I have run into a few members of this "Chapel" and had similar but less intense encounters. One of their members has an active blog in this domain. You will find similar but subtle language there.
I called my Friend that day and discussed the extreme attacking of other Faiths and potentially those in the room, he wasn't surprised at my discovery. "Whats wrong with that? Biblically we are all obligated to save lives from Sin" he said. I told him that in no way biblically is there any call for this type of "ministry" against other Christians, and that even in a Secular approach, attacking a practicing Christian believer of any Faith, that is, initiating an aggressive denouncement of a given Christians spiritual standing using "Satan-sided Faith" language is judgementally hypocritical. I continued to say, the basic principle of denouncing Gays lifestyle as not biblical is not the point, its the twisted interpretation of Christian obligation that those made aware of it are accountable... that is not only hogwash but hypocritical in the "Chapel's" own stated mission...Verse by Verse Bible teaching. Go attack Islamist extremists, and Abortion mills and clear up that mess. Friend stated then.."well its like any Church, take what is uselful and discard the rest".
Later that week after, this friends wife called me to agree with my position on the "Chapels" attack of Christians. They subsequently left Lakeside within that year.
The UMC has long had a history of waffling on the Gay/Marriage issues, there are still somewhat divided in their doctrine even as late as the 2008 UMC General Convention. But my point in specific here is twofold:
1) - Don't go to Key West if you cant stand the feather boa's. Pray for those souls in their state of no grace at a minimum.
2) - Don't hold all non-gay citizens of Key West accountable for the AIDS virus worldwide. No logic argument biblically or otherwise supports this approach.
Am I hereby committing hypocracy by posting an "attack" against this "Chapel", I think not. I have balance and have conveyed that here. I am not stating it should close its doors, or denouncing it as Satan-sided. I am saying there is some truth there, but the contrary occurs to overshadow any of its Christian benefit. Have you ever heard the saying "what you do speaks so loud, I cannot hear what you say'? I cant join into a "Church" or "Faith" and take what I like and leave the rest that I don't find true. I need a majority of the content if not 100% to square with Christs teaching.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Teaching RCIA recently, I had the opportunity to present a "God the Father" session. Copied below is one of my tools for addressing belief in God and the Science position:
"Fathers of Science
By Matthew E. Bunson
On March 12, 2008, the John Templeton Foundation made the announcement of the winner of its annual Templeton Prize, which honors achievements engaging the great questions of life and the universe. The $1.6 million prize for 2008 went to Michal Heller, a Polish cosmologist and professor in the faculty of philosophy at the Pontifical Academy of Theology in Cracow, Poland. What makes Heller additionally remarkable is that he is a Catholic priest.
The 72-year-old plans to spend the prize money to establish a research institute-named in honor of Nicholas Copernicus-that will seek to reconcile science and theology. Fr. Heller said:
If we ask about the cause of the universe we should ask about the cause of mathematical laws. By doing so we are back in the great blueprint of God's thinking about the universe; the question on ultimate causality: Why is there something rather than nothing? When asking this question, we are not asking about a cause like all other causes. We are asking about the root of all possible causes. Science is but a collective effort of the human mind to read the mind of God from question marks out of which we and the world around us seem to be made.
As a priest-scientist, Fr. Heller is not unique. Rather, he stands in a long and great tradition of learned priests who were both scientists and men of faith. Some are well-known to history, such as Roger Bacon, the 13th-century Franciscan who stressed the concept of "laws of nature" and contributed to the development of mechanics, geography, and especially optics. Others are obscure. All, however, left a lasting legacy on their eras in learning, science, mathematics, and practical progress.
Above all, the priest-scientists offer a powerful lesson to Catholic apologists: There is no reason to stand mute when the name Galileo is wielded like a cudgel and the Church is savaged as an enemy of human progress. Apologists and well-read Catholics can point to these priest-scientists and declare forcefully what Fr. Georges Lemaître-discoverer of the "Big Bang"-robustly proclaimed in 1933: "There is no conflict between religion and science." What follows is a survey of a few of the many priests and scientists who have bettered our world over the centuries. The list does not pretend to be exhaustive, and the deeper issues that underlie the long-perceived conflict between science and religion, evolution, and cosmology-so much in the modern cultural dispute-will be examined in future articles in This Rock."
(This Rock Vol 19, No.7)
As Catholic Bloggers, we read each others stuff. Its a small circle most of the time. How do you respond to this recent question a Catholic friend of mine posed:
"You have a Catholic Blog? Wow. (think "fanatic") Thats a little overboard...I mean...I feel I'm as devout as any Catholic but to go to that extent, thats a bit extreme."
Now...getting beyond that you could take this as an indication of spiritual depth of the person questioning...so put that aside for a minute or two and consider the question objectively. How "Catholic" are we to put study, energy and time into this, ahem "hobby"? I dont see this as fanatical or extreme, and yet my first inclination is to respond citing the convenience of this technology and using it for Evangelization, but thats just a thread in the cloth here. Its a discovery process, growing a community of believers, etc.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
My 10 year old daughter, Jill, and I have committed to play a musical duet in her School "Talent Show" tomorrow night. She plays Clarinet and I play Bass, and we've been rehearsing every other night for 2 weeks.
So there we are trying to nail this piece tonight and during a rest she volunteers the following:
J - I know why you have me doing this...(she means playing the Clarinet in general)
D - why Jill?
J - Because you want me to be a musician like you (smiling)
D - Your right...do you know why?...because making music can be life changing...
J - Yeah...it makes it like, easy to express, like, feelings and stuff
D - you are "getting it" aren't you?
J - (She interrupts excitedly) I know I know ! Dad...sometimes when you play certain kinds of music...and I hear certain sounds...I feel like I can do the impossible...like I can do Anything!
I then told Jill she has the "Gift" with the following true story:
When I was in 7th grade my Dad told me (not asked) that I should try out for the Marching band in Junior High School. Intimidated, I reluctantly selected the Trombone and began playing 2 hours a day. See...my Dad was at one time in his life a working Jazz musician. He played in the 40's after WWII in Chicago and NY City in the trumpet section of the Big Bands. Among the horn sections of the Dorsey Brothers and Woody Herman. After 5 years of that he had to "get a real job" when he married my Mom, he said, and never picked up the horn again. But he filled my childhood household with music and exposed me to the entire range of Classical, Jazz, Opera, Blues and popular music growing up. One day when I was 10 or 11, he took me to a Big Band concert, just me and him. It was in the basement lounge of a Hotel here locally in 1970. We stood for 2 hours against the back concrete wall of this lounge while Count Basie and his Orchestra pounded us with Jazz, Bop and Swing. I was penetrated by a flood of sensations I had never before experienced. I asked my Dad on the way home, "is it normal to have goosebumps from the music, I could feel it all over me?"
He replied...you have the Gift, son.
About a 3 years later I ran in from school after a Marching Band rehearsal and told him...
"Its E flat minor Dad! That goose bump chord is E flat minor...does it to me every time!"
He just smiled.
Imagine what it feels like to have the same thing happen to my daughter and me some 38 years later.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Thanks for dragging my whining little 4 year old butt to Catholic Church and making me go thereafter "even if Dad stayed home".
Thanks for grabbing my hands, folding them in reverential prayer and whispering the Creed, the Lords Prayer and the Hail Mary in my ear.
And for making me kneel, when I thought it was the most excruciating torture imaginable,
And for marching me down the aisle every Sunday to get my head crossed and patted by that "dusty old Priest".
For making me stop doodling during the whole atrocious Latin filibuster, Sunday after Sunday after Sunday.
For making me try to outsing that massive scary Mack Truck of a Pipe organ.
For putting me in Catholic Grade school with those fierce Disciplinary Nuns wielding the power of God against all who chewed gum in class.
For exposing me to the most beautiful Liturgy on the planet.
For planting the seed of Catholic truth as best you could, given my constant belligerence, even if the roots took 30 years to stick.
For loving me long enough and deep enough to never let go of me.
I know you know all this but I have to say it.