This weekend was a good one spiritually. Saturday, Bishop Steib from the Memphis visited and gave us a Word that had people rushing for his autograph. Today at Mass, Father gave a great homily on authentic Christianity. Both had me pondering on how I saw my own faith. Was it something I should defend against attack from the Jehovah’s witnesses at my door on the one hand to the subtle (and often not so subtle) condescension of my atheist friends and the likes of Bill Maher on the other? For a long time I, in fact, thought so. Well, no longer. I am willing to evangelize and to explain, but I’ll no longer defend. To do so is to accept the premise for attack. I don’t apologize for loving my wife. Why in the hell should I for loving Jesus? Rationally, neither makes any sense.
I remember a good friend asking me essentially why I was a man of faith, “You’re so bright,” he said. He went on with the usual old saws about how religion is good to get your through a tough time or if your are weak mentally or emotionally but not for the serious minded and intelligent. And I explained, patiently, where I was coming from.
Such thinking is ironic to me. It demonstrates a strong faith in one’s senses. If a man born blind denies the existence of color, what argument could convince him? His senses tell him nothing about the existence of color. In fact, every argument that I know of made to convince him could easily be employed to “prove” the existence of God!
Faith like love or art is a part of the human experience that is not subject to argument. It is ineffable and undeniable for those who experience it. To quote St. Thomas Aquinas:
To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.
catholic, religion, society
Today, I learned an important lesson: faith is a great ally and great threat in politics. When discussing a recent article on the Internet titled, “How to Disagree,” with some friends, I took the opportunity to correct past mistakes at being ineffective, intemperate, or just plain disagreeable when discussing contentious topics. I decided to revisit a particular discussion on homosexuality and examine the mechanics of the back and forth. I wanted to highlight my reasoning, how I was trying to make a point, and so on, to show that I was refuting (and this is important) logical claims by providing evidence that supported my refutation.
I received a couple of responses that greatly frustrated me at first. Technically speaking, my friends had simply restated a contradiction to a point I had painstakingly proven with biblical evidence, evidence that I found incontrovertible. It was right there in black and white, after all. Yet, here they were simply restating the opposite! My ego was stung and information not conforming to my worldview was imposed on me and like most human beings, anger was the predictable first and thankfully internal response. Aren’t they listening?!? Don’t they respect me?!? Are they boneheaded??! And so on. To be clear and concise consider this conversation:
What is the wavelength of blue light?
What is the wavelength of light scattered from the sky on a sunny day?
What is the color of the sky?
It hadn’t yet occurred to me that they were simply confessing faith. Confessing one’s faith comes in many different forms and is often disguised, as it was in this situation. Faith is also emotional and deeply multivalent in one’s life. It doesn’t fit in a nice neat box. It is often ineffable and a reflection of the person who has it rather than a reflection of some abstract or objective reality.
Continue reading “Faith based Politics”
As many who know me can attest, I’ve done a fair bit of personal research into the Bible. Obviously, I have a set of opinions, presuppositions, etc. that differ with much of the received wisdom our forefathers in faith passed down. I have had many struggles with what I’ve come to believe and not to believe. Most of it has to do with the fact that much of what I was taught as a Christian is built on a set of presuppositions or faith, depending on your point of view, that when exposed to “the facts”, came crashing down. As a youngster, I believed in the divine inspiration of an author whole wrote down a message and that this was basically in chronological order from Genesis until Revelation when God basically “stopped” inspiring people. He was finished and the Book complete.
Continue reading “Origins of Faith”
My personal Christian faith has been evolving for years now as I try to clarify the “rule of faith” by which I live. Fellow Christians often asked me, “What is your standard?” Here I give a brief discussion to answer this important question.
**UPDATE 4/12** *Fixed some typos and language errors.*
My personal Christian faith has been an evolving one over the space of years, as I try to clarify the “rule of faith” by which I live. Fellow Christians often asked me, “What is your standard?” Here I give a brief discussion to answer this important question.
All of my understanding of the Early Church Fathers stems from the role of the “primitive,” “catholic,” and “apostolic” tradition that was seen to be the “rule of faith” for orthodoxy and how it developed. It mightily influenced the Canon of the New Testament and other Christian doctrines. In fact, the central authority claim of the Roman Catholic Church that raised me is centered on an unbroken succession of apostolic authority in the church. It’s even in its creed: “…we believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church…” This tradition locates genuine Christian authority in Peter and the Apostles whom Christ charged with authority in the Gospel of John.
Continue reading “The “Rule of Faith””
Lately I’ve been in a sort of funk. What I’ve been reading in the news is distrubing and frightening. The latest round of affronts on personal freedoms have had me feeling greatly saddened about my country and the value for which I believe it stands. America is about tolerance, or so I thought
Lately I’ve been in a sort of funk. What I’ve been reading in the news is disturbing and frightening. The latest round of affronts on personal freedoms have had me feeling greatly saddened about my country and the value for which I believe it stands. America is about tolerance, or so I thought until “my” president sought an amendment to the constitution that would essentially define a group of second class citizens, much like it did to slaves by classifying them as 3/5 of a person.
Continue reading “Marriage of Convenience”