Voices: lowering oneself to elevations

I have a generally positive, albeit surface-level, impression of the relatively new Pope of the Roman Catholic Church.¹  He seems to rise above even their mere tradition, making his own way based on conscience, if not scripture.  Yet Francis is not above descending to the so-called “elevation” of mortals to some presumed special standing!  Please note these words from Leroy Garrett, just posted in his newsletter, available via http://www.leroygarrett.org.  These succinct thoughts are much better put than my own would have been.²

The presumed saint-making presently going on in Rome strikes me as juvenile, like children playing games in the street.  Children make castles of snow and sand, while clergy in sacerdotal robes create saints with incantations and holy smoke.  Only he who “planted the ear and formed the eye” can turn sinners into saints, and this by their turning from their sins and believing in and being baptized into Christ.  All those who receive the gift of the Holy Spirit at baptism are sanctified or made saints.  Rome’s game-playing, which is receiving premier media coverage — as if it were for real — reminds us of what Luther and the Reformation did for the church by restoring “the priesthood (and sainthood) of all believers.”  But it can’t be plainer than the way Paul put it to the Philippians (1:1):  “To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.”

Sainthood is God-given by grace, not hierarchically bestowed or politically endowed.

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¹ I specify what he is Pope of because “Pope” is an in-house title, inapplicable to the broader world.  In other words, just as your “pastor” is not my pastor, the RC Pope is not pope of the cosmos or of the earth or of the country of which I am a citizen.  “Pope” and “pastor” are titles that deal with functional and/or hierarchical relationships inside an organization.

² I may yet comment on President Obama’s Easter words.  (It is interesting that he seems to have had a “take” at all.)

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SEEing on Feb. 2nd

Seeing on Feb. 2nd

Or, Castigations and Prognostications from the Ground(hog)

An AP news article by John Heilprin (Jan. 16, 2014, nearly three weeks before Groundhog Day) mentions Catholic sex-abuse issues and investigations in five countries that “detail how the Vatican’s policies, its culture of secrecy and fear of scandal contributed to the problem.”

“Monsignor Charles Scicluna, the Vatican’s former sex crimes prosecutor, acknowledged that the Holy See had been slow to face the crisis but said that it was now committed to doing so.”

Six times in this article, the designation “Holy See” was used.  Not only is this an unintelligible English expression, and not only is it concocted by humans, not scripture, but it is an especially ironic appellation.

Initially, I supposed “See” might stem etymologically from an old expression for God’s prophets in OC times — the “Seer.”  It appears I was wrong, assuming Wikipedia is correct:

The term “see” comes from the Latin word “sedes,” meaning “seat,” which refers to the Episcopal throne (cathedra). The term “Apostolic See” can refer to any see founded by one of the Apostles, but, when used with the definite article, it is used in the Catholic Church to refer specifically to the see of the Bishop of Rome, whom that Church sees as successor of Saint Peter, the Prince of the Apostles.¹

[Blah, blah.]

As for priests’ sexual abuse of others, “The Holy See gets it,” Scicluna told the committee.  “Let’s not say too late or not.  But there are certain things that need to be done differently.”

Perhaps the current “See” sees.  Or perhaps it only sees dimly, or in the shadows — no better than Punxsutawney Phil the Groundhog this morning.  The whole See thing is blurry at best, and it makes me so mad, I can’t see straight.Groundhogday2005

Anyone can see that Phil is great fun.  (See at right.  They even dress up in Punxsutawney.)

“The See,” inasmuch as it claims to see, doesn’t.  And can’t.  (See John 9:41 for an in-kind prophesee.)

God is the only Holy Seer.  May we have that vision.

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¹ Note:  most hyperlinks have been scrubbed from this excerpt, for fear that other (ground)hogwash might cloud the highlighted issue here.

Yet another baseless idea

CNN shared the news that a late pope, along with the recently resigned one, are both now cleared for “sainthood” by the new pope.  What a politically brotherly move!  http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/05/world/europe/vatican-pope-sainthood/index.html.

Sainthood, as Romanly conceived of, though, is an idea that has no basis in any kind of external reality.  (It is based in internally conceived dogma.)  In scripture, “saint” is essentially a common noun applied to any and all who are ransomed, regenerate children of God by faith and obedience.  No special distinctions exist, and even the basic clergy/laity differentiation, which is complicit in the Catholic “sainthood” fallacy, is but one of many apostasies.

The Christian world ought — if it had any power of thoughtful analysis, that is — to vacillate between these:

♦  amusement at the silliness of men and institutions that think they have the power to declare such special, spiritual status

♦  spiritual indignation at the ludicrous idea of sainthood perpetrated by a Roman Catholic institution that has little significant connection to scripture, but a great deal of connection to its own baseless history

CNN merely did its job in reporting this newsworthy world development.  May the rest of us do our jobs by discerning centuries-old apostasies, seeing this kind of Vatican-based creativity for what it is.

cnn

It’s really not all that important, guys

Come along with me, siblings, for I am about to “sin” again.  

It has been three months since my last protest.

(Anyone got an indulgence for sale, cheap?  This neo-protestant may need absolution soon.)

The inset quotations below, mired in sub-cultural egocentrism (read:  “we are chest-deep in thinking our religion is really, really important”), came in a recent news report (URL below). . . .

Pope Benedict XVI will visit Philadelphia in 2015 to host the Vatican World Meeting of Families, he announced today as this year’s meeting wrapped up in Milan.

Wow, really?  And I, just as I wrap up some of my programming and planning business in New York, am about to announce a visit to Colorado.  Bully for me.

Archbishop of Philadelphia Charles Chaput was on hand, and, according to tweets from Catholic News Agency, was up on the stage “chatting up a storm” with the pope, thanking him as he kissed the papal ring.

Yay, Charlie.  Bully for you, too.  You seem to know how to win friends and influence popes.  Now:  if you can look yourself in the mirror after kissing a man’s ring, you are either deluded by years of subservience to a religion gone awry, or you are no man yourself.

Chaput, who moved to Philadelphia from Denver last year, is one of the most outspoken U.S. bishops on the intersection of Catholic life and society and politics.
Charles Chaput

Okay, I think I’ve got this straight.  Charlie is not only employed by, and beholden to, the most bloated, blasphemous Christian organization¹ on the planet, but he also must think it matters that he intersects stupidity Catholicism with other stupidity politics.

The announcement comes “amid a scene of epic turbulence for the Northeastern fold,” says Philadelphia-based Catholic blogger Rocco Palmo.
At “Whispers in the Loggia,” he’s posted from the grateful Chaput’s official chancery a response, calling the visit . . . a gift to the local Church in Philadelphia and to the whole nation.

Celebrate, then, Philadelphia!  Bake an enormous cake for Benedict’s trip, and pull out all the stops along Broadway and across Market and Chestnut.  May Rittenhouse Square be festooned for the ‘15 festivities with logos and brands (more wastes of marketing departments).  May Boathouse Row gleam! May you all fool yourselves into thinking this one visit of one man matters one whit in the spiritual world.  

Palmo points out that Chaput’s first nine months in office “…have been dominated by the fallout of a flood of legal, administrative and financial crises which erupted in the wake of a February 2011 grand jury report, the second in five years to probe the archdiocese’s handling of sex-abuse cases across several decades.”

Lest anyone stumble upon my site and have no idea what I am about, let it be clear here that my ire a) is directed toward the Roman Catholic institution, not individuals, and b) is about theology and darkness and power structures and anti-biblical and a-biblical practices, not about the more recently surfacing stories of atrociously immoral actions of priests here and there.  I do not decry the Catholic machine because of those disgusting acts or the subsequent cover-ups.  These specific problems are only symptoms of an abhorrently errant system.  I resist centuries of history, not only decades.  And I boldly call others to join this resistance.

Now, one last provocative bit from the article:

DO YOU THINK… Benedict can persuade more Catholics to follow church doctrine on sexuality and family life?

Uh … no.   Despite people’s insistence that they “are” Catholic, the actions — the real life patterns of the majority of ethnic/born-in Catholics — continue to suggest that the whole thing is a charade.

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Read the complete article, only if you really have a lot of free time, at http://content.usatoday.com/communities/Religion/post/2012/06/pope-to-visit-philadelphia-in-2015-/1#.T8wEYbBSS8A

¹ The Latter-Day Saint (Mormon) organization does not qualify as Christian, or we might have a tussle on our hands.

If’n ya’awnt to (3) …

Caveat lector:  “If’n ya’awnt to” is prefatory Southernese for “if you want to.”  In this brief series, I’m giving neo-Protestant attention to several erroneous assumptions common to thinking and practice in Christendom.  All of this is predicated on the ideas that humans may choose courses of action, and that some choices make more sense — biblical, or common, or both — than others.

Part 3

Here are a few more words and expressions that are used to describe something though they do not describe that thing in fact:

D.  If’n ya’awnt to, you can “baptize”[1] a baby … yup, I suppose you can, but that action only has potential meaning for the grown-ups, not for the tiny, human subject of the ceremony.  On t’utha han’, if’n ya’awnt to, you can relate every instance of the word “baptism” in the scriptures to overwhelming by the Holy Spirit, a la two or three significant occurrences in the Acts recorded by Luke, but “Holy Spirit Baptism” shouldn’t be the assumed meaning of the isolated word “baptism” in scripture.

E.  If’n ya’awnt to, you can assume that the words “koinonia” and “fellowship” refer to mere togetherness, networking, “body life,” or worse—further fattening ourselves at congregational meals.  But the biblical koinonia is more than that, and you we might as well realize it.  In the scriptures, koinonia speaks of partnership in a task or project.

F.  If’n ya’awnt to, you can think that

  1. worship equals the music you use
  2. worship equals the assembly
  3. worship equals “the service”/the liturgy

. . . but worship transcends all of these.

If’n ya’awnt to, you can think and do a lot of things in your church life that have little to do with scriptural principles and patterns but that are instead based in choice and freedom.  By God’s design, we have personal freedom.  But for those who want to do things that matter, things that make rational and spiritual sense, there are higher standards than personal freedom.

If’n ya’awnt to, you can a) realize and b) act on whatever truth you find contained in these words, “searching the scriptures to see if these things are so,” regardless of whatever biases and attitudes are or are not found in the writer.

And, if’n ya’awnt to, you can affirm, or take exception to, a point by adding a comment of your own.  I encourage this!


[1] Here, “baptize” is assumed to mean“sprinkle”—I don’t know of any religious group that actually baptizes babies.  “Baptize” means “immerse.”

If’n ya’awnt to (2) …

Caveat lector:  “If’n ya’awnt to” is prefatory Southernese for “if you want to.”  In this brief series, I’m giving neo-Protestant attention to several erroneous assumptions common to thinking and practice in Christendom.  All of this is predicated on the ideas that humans may choose courses of action, and that some choices make more sense — biblical, or common, or both — than others.

Part 2

C.  Religious titles

1.  If’n ya’awnt to, you can believe that “reverend” equals “designated, sanctioned minister,” but that doesn’t make it so, and it’s irreverent—quite literally—to God, Who is the only One referred to as reverend in scripture.  Properly used, and primarily, the word “reverend” is adjectival, not titular

2.  If’n ya’awnt to, you can ignore Jesus on the matter of whether to call a mere man “Father” or “teacher” (Matthew 23), but I don’t know why you would want to ignore Him.

Aside:  Long ago, I resolved never to call a man “Father” or “Reverend”—no matter if it were a Roman priest on the softball field or a guest speaker in a public venue.  I have wavered because of a situation or two, but I have not fallen.  God helping me, I will continue in this resolve, and will hope to be instructive, not offensive, in this course of action.

3.  Further, if’n ya’awnt to, you can call your full-time minister “pastor,” but the pastoral role, as sporadically depicted in New Covenant documents, is a fur piece from the pastor’s role in any church I’ve known of in my lifetime.  If’n ya’awnt to, you can belong to the massive hunk of Christian flesh that misuses the term “pastor” to mean “head preacher guy” or “leader in charge of everything.”  But the use of the term doesn’t make the man a pastor-in-fact, and you may be an accomplice to the biblically criminal perpetuation (or, to un-mix a metaphor, you may be a cell in the festering, cancerous wart on the Body of Christ) of the hierarchical scenario that is all too common in churches.  This is not just about terminology.  It is about the functioning of the Body.  It is, after all, a Body, not a business . . . and the Christ is the Head.

4.  And again, if’n ya’awnt to, you can set up a minister/preacher/pastor as the “head” man, designating him “senior pastor,” but such titles and designated hierarchies are unknown in the pages of the New Covenant writings.  Corollary:  If’n ya’awnt to, you can call your 28-year-old preaching person who has recently graduated with honors from seminary “Senior Pastor,” but that’s probably more appropriate if your whole church is under the age of 20.

* * *

Part 3 will continue in challenging both word uses and their accompanying, erroneous actions.  If’n ya’awnt to, you can think it’s merely an attitude problem that causes one to spend time on such challenges … or you can a) realize and b) act on the truth you find contained in these words, “searching the scriptures to see if these things are so” (Acts 17:11) regardless of whatever biases and attitudes are, or are not, found in the writer.

If’n ya’awnt to (1) …

“If’n ya’awnt to” is Southernese for “if you want to.”  Introducing each item by this prefatory drawl, this neo-Protestant would like to give attention to several erroneous assumptions common to thinking and practice in Christendom.

I’m actually going to be more serious about these items than the Southernese might lead one to suspect, but if I tick someone off with the content, I figgered the drawl might be seen to infuse the content with some levity.  All of this will be predicated on these ideas:

  • Humans may choose courses of action
  • Some choices make more (biblical, or common, or both) sense than others.

A.      If’n ya’awnt to, you can think Jesus established your denomination in A.D. 33 (or 29 or 30—take your pick), but He didn’t establish any humanly named group then.  Apostatic humans established denominations, and Jesus never intended them.  (Yes, no matter how much you may wish to protest, your denomination [or “non-denomination”], whether the CofC or the UMC or the SBC or the Roman Catholic Church, is but one of the humanly named, divided groups not envisioned by God and our Christ.  All the separate groups are but denominations [named] and are of human origin, to one extent or another.)

B.      If’n ya’awnt to, you can believe that “Catholic Church” or Roman/popish Church = “The Church,” but that doesn’t make it so.  It is offensive to many more biblically centered Christians when you perpetuate the fallacy of referring to the Roman institution as “The Church.”  There are other myopic groups that have historically used generic, universal terminology in attempts at self-description, too.  Once one begins to understand that his group does not constitute the whole, it is at best blind and at worst arrogant to perpetuate such exclusive labeling.

It is quite possible that no Roman Catholics or Roman-sympathizers will read this material.  Why, then, include the item above?  Because the rest of us should be righteously indignant when newscasters or RCC officials or others use the term “The Church” to refer to the RC institution.

* * *

Part 2 will continue in challenging both word uses and their accompanying, erroneous actions.  If’n ya’awnt to, you can think it’s merely an attitude problem that causes one to spend time on such challenges … or you can a) realize and b) act on the truth you find contained in these words, “searching the scriptures to see if these things are so” (Acts 17:11) regardless of whatever biases and attitudes are, or are not, found in the writer.

Truly “catholic” (and other labels)

Names and labels often pique my interest (as do grammatical things and words — which reminds me that an older friend once paused to ask me, in a Bible-class setting, whether the spelling of the word he had just used were “p-e-a-k” or “p-e-e-k,” to which I replied “p-i-q-u-e,” but this is all beside the point).

For instance, a “sanctuary” often isn’t one, really, so that’s a misnomer; “pope” and “narthex” and “sacristy” are just silly words devoid of substantive meaning.  And what about this one — the piece of furniture in which a baby can be ceremonially, un-biblically sprinkled may be labelled “baptistry” or “baptismal font,” but those are both misnomers.  Presbyterians often have those (not-)baptismals, and so do Catholics and others.

There are commonalities all ’round, and sometimes they unite people you wouldn’t expect to be united.  Leroy Garrett, a respected scholar and writer now in his mid-90s, wrote this of a recently unifying experience at an institutional church building in New Mexico:

What particularly caught my eye at the Chapel was a notice that the Independent Catholic Church of Antioch at Santa Fe conducts Mass there each Sunday afternoon. It bills itself as neither Roman, Orthodox, or Protestant, but just Catholic. But it is high-church, with a rich liturgy, with priests, including women, in colorful vestments conducting Mass at what was once a Roman Catholic altar. It calls itself “a love church” that reaches out to all humanity, and as for such social issues as abortion and birth control it leaves it up to each person to decide for himself. They emphasize that Jesus rejected no one, and they seek to be like him. One of their “Spiritual Principles” is: “We affirm that we are a truly Catholic Church in the most universal sense. Our altars and Priesthood are open to all humanity.” It is one more example of the diversity of Christendom.

I would call into discussion the implications of certain capital letters in the above description, as well as the extent of the “universal” acceptance to which this unique NM group aspires.  (The “rich liturgy” often appeals to non-liturgists until they experience “richness” over a period of months or years, at which point they finally realize that pretty much every liturgy is just another overblown human creation.)  Still, that particular liturgy in — which I presume amounted, at one point to a departure from a-biblical restrictions of the Roman Catholic institution — is laudable at least for said departure!

On the sidewalk recently, I overheard two students talking of what I took to have been a reference to, or a congregational recitation of, one of the so-called “creeds.”  They were taking exception to the appeal in this “creed” to the “holy, catholic church”–a designation that is for me at once inspiring and off-putting.  I only heard two or three sentences, but I think one of the two students had no idea, as yet, that the meaning of the word “catholic” is “universal.”  The other student, I think, was about to start explaining this.  I wonder, though, whether even after hearing the explanation, the first student would have been left, like me, unconvinced that the expression “holy, catholic church” should be recited by believers today.

Words are, after all, symbols and communicators.  Communication scientists make all sorts of studies of linguistics and semiotics, and they doubtless have a lot to say about such things.  I am but a closet observer of, and participant in, communication, but I do have the distinct feeling that using the term “catholic” is not appropriately communicative in a protestant church.

And the term is all the more a barrier for a neo-Protestant such as myself.  (There is so much to protest; vive la rebellion!)