Blood(s) and truth

Back in Season 2, Police Commissioner Frank Reagan, of the “Blue Bloods” TV family, was being strong-armed by a Roman Catholic monsignor and bishop to endorse a questionable character’s ascension (bogus, of course) to sainthood.Frank Reagan

Reagan knew things about the saint-candidate that were not common knowledge, you see, and he wasn’t about to be forced to take a supportive action he didn’t believe in.  When his very faith in God was called into question, he got his back up.  Saith the Commish:

This isn’t about God.  It is about a very old and powerful institution that is run by men.  And, in my experience, anything that fits that description usually has an agenda.

Frank Reagan, a “practicing Catholic” on the show, spoke pervasive truth.

(I also inferred that he was questioning his own Roman Catholicism while holding on to God, but that’s just me reading into it, and his is a fictional character, after all.)

He knew there were underlying motivations related to politics and/or finances and/or personal reputation.

Most individuals have agendas — at least, sometimes.

Pretty much all institutions, including all church groups, have agendas more of the time.

And the most powerful institutions (I’m thinking political ones here, too) have agendas all of the time.

Frank knew it, and we should, too:  when official representatives of institutions speak or write, we ought to be alert to the very likely presence of agendas.

Advertisements

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.

=================

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

Slides (pt 3) – R.C.’s grip

Or Castoffs and Casualties

Or Fallout of a System Gone Awry

Or Roman Religion Reprimanded

I’ve offended at least one friend by indicting a religious system.  The personal offense was as understandable as it was unintentional; the indictment of the system was nevertheless quite intentional.  Some irreparable damage might have been done by words.  Yet, in this new post, I’m going to be no more careful.  (Why don’t some people ever learn?)

This is about those who are victims of Roman Catholicism.  Some of them have begun to see better and yet have slidden right back into it.  Why can’t they see the fallacies, the corruption, the reprehensible power structures, the dominance of man-made tradition over scriptural precedent and principle? The answer probably lies, at least in part, in the general apathy of humankind.

1. I know a woman who was raised Catholic.  Now, she reads her own Bible regularly.  She attended a decent protestant Bible study for years.  She has seen better than Catholicism.  She even tried to convince a dying relative that he needed a personal connection to Jesus — i.e., more than the Roman establishment offers.  I may be wrong, having lived for a while in hope that she was coming out of Catholicism, but she seems to be reinforcing her ties now.  Not only can she not let go, but she seems to be sliding backward into Catholicism.

2. I knew a man who actually tried to convince me (in a time in which I was trying to be more open to dialogue about such things) of the validity of Catholicism.  He said, for instance, when trying to persuade me about transubstantiation and such, “The Eucharist is the main reason I’m Catholic.”   And I thought to myself, why would you be attracted to a doctrine that has little to no basis? I’m not sure where he stands now, but I’d be really surprised if he were even a committed Catholic anymore, much less a more biblically based believer. He simply had no grounding, no reason for his faith-system other than mysticism.

3. I knew another woman who was raised Catholic.  By her college years, whether primarily by a) choice or b) devolving belief structure or c) negative experience (and she had some bad ones), she had slidden from marginal Catholicicsm, through youthful agnosticism, to the sandpit of outright atheism.  When I last knew first-hand, about 3 years ago — she simply didn’t care about God.  I suspect that if she had been raised in a genuine, more spiritually founded religious system, she would not be where she is today with faith (i.e., lack of it).

4. I knew a man — once a coworker — with whom I had a few discussions about Christianity.  He, raised in a Polish Catholic family, was probably closer to agnosticism than to atheism.  He married a woman from an equally high-church, but protestant, tradition.  She was a believer, so he decided to be a good family man and go to church with his family when his kids were growing up.  It was more than decent of him; it was loving.  But I fear he has never gained any real measure of faith, and I blame Catholicism for its disconnectedness — its ability to suggest and enforce a hierarchy and a system without valid grounding.

5. I knew another man who even became a recognized leader in a Restoration Movement church.  He had been a Catholic.  Reportedly, he had alcohol and anger management problems, and possibly other problems, as well.  (I know:  “don’t judge.”  Yes, we all have problems. I’m not blaming the Pope for this man’s problems.)  Either before or just after his divorce, he slid back into Catholicism.  We tend to move into comfortable zones when faced with stresses.  One of the problems of Catholicism is that it’s too comfortable, asking more for affiliative action than personal commitment to biblical religion.

This is no scientific study, I know.  It’s selective, anecdotal, and personal.  Yet I imagine its particulars are not uncommon. In every case above, I submit that Roman Catholicism has been a negative influence and/or a hindering option.

Roman Catholicism is a system gone awry (awry more than 1700 years ago, with very little self-correction through the intervening centuries).  It, like many other systems, has produced casualties.  It, like many other religious systems, needs a stern reprimand.  In my view, R.C. deserves some of the most harsh, decisive censure because of its far-reaching, longstanding tentacles. Roman Catholicism must repent, ridding itself of itself.

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.

==========

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.

Monkish monkey-business revisited

This post won’t be all that well-thought-out.  Maybe entertaining in a spot or two, though?

Several times in this space, I have commented critically on the “Kansas Monks”–those associated with Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas.  Although I have a fond feeling for Atchison in general, having spent three important years of my life there and having made some good friends (a few of whom I’ve kept!) I have no fond feelings for monks — these or any other — or what they stand for.

Once, I wrote that I would not write about the “Kansas Monks” ever again on this blog, but I am reneging.  I figure that repeatedly ignored requests that they take me off their fundraising, propagandizing mailing list will be seen to justify at least this one coming-out-of-hiding on my part.

A few months back, I couldn’t resist saving a page out of their most recent magazine.  A sidebar shows pics of six monks (I guess that’s the umbrella term; four are labeled “father,” and another two are called “abbot”), along with blurbs about what each of them does with the internet as part of monkish “ministry.”

  1. A monk named Miller has 4,200 Facebook friends.  Bully for him.  That’s sad, because it probably means he’s got a following of college students who’ve crossed his path and had wool pulled over their eyes.
  2. One named Senecal “gathers prayer requests” via the monks’ website.  Any specific criticism of this one runs a high risk of my impugning his motives, so I’ll merely confess and move on.
  3. The coup?  A monk named Habiger “spreads the news of natural family planning via an e-mail newsletter.”  And what a gospel is that!  And what an (pardon me while I grab my tongue with a forceps and shove it irrevocably into my cheek) amazingly credible witness to a Pope-induced, biblically sound limitation!

In other words, gimmeabreak.  How is a monk going to talk about anything that has to do with sex?  At best, he’s a disingenuous, meddling homiletician with a concocted, a-biblical message he’s passing off, by virtue of his cloth, as biblical.

I have to wonder, further on #3 above, whether the whole Pope-against-contraception thing got started — presumably overtly in about 1930, but whenever — because he and all his henchmen realized that they needed to try to ensure continuous re-population so that they could maintain whatever degree of hold they had on the world.

Cynical? Sad? But maybe true?

==========

For those interested, here are links to a few of the posts that dealt with these monkeys in the past.

https://blcasey.wordpress.com/2010/05/20/osb-at-it-3-times-already-this-year/

https://blcasey.wordpress.com/2010/08/28/vianneys-folly-3-of-3/

https://blcasey.wordpress.com/2010/08/26/a-central-tenet-of-neo-protestantism-1-of-3/

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.

A tale of two streams

In the American Restoration Movement, it is often summarily thought that there were two basic orientations — streams, if you will — that merged, river-like, in the early 1800s.  These streams have been identified as “enlightenment and apocalyptic,” as “head and heart” (or “left-brain and right-brain”), and, more commonly, as “Campbellite and Stoneite.”

Prior, in the 1700s, the Philadelphian[1] societies, in a similar dichotomy, had experienced a similar confluence, as a result of the meeting of two streams of spiritual experience.

1.  The first owed its origin to the desire of the soul for immediate communion with God, and union with Him. (emph. mine -bc)

2.  The second sprang from a sense of the essential unity of all the children of God (emph. mine), and a desire to express this communion of the true Church.

The Roman Catholic Church early introduced its clergy and sacraments between the soul and the Savior, but while this system kept many at a distance from Him, there were those whose longing for communion with God, as He is revealed in Christ Jesus, and desire for the Heavenly Bridegroom was so strong that they devoted themselves to the attainment of the full knowledge of Him and the experience of union with Him. . . .  E.H. Broadbent, The Pilgrim Church, pp. 278-9

Protestantism “proper” accentuated the divisions among the professing people of God and induced enmity and cantankerousness among the parties.  There were, however, those who lamented this and tried to emphasize the underlying unity in life and love of those who are separated from the world but joined to Christ and His members by faith.

* * *

At different points in my life’s river, I’ve sensed that I was responding to stimuli in alternating, more-or-less Campbellite or Stoneite ways.  Translated, and pared down to its essentials, that means that when things in life strike me, I’m either more of a “thinker” or a “feeler,” and how things play out depends on multiple factors.  If I had been swimming within the Philadelphian Societies’ flow, I think I would have flourished more with the “unity with God” orientation; for me, the second one described above is better viewed as a natural result of the former.  The notion of emphasizing being joined to the Christ while simultaneously emphasizing underlying unity in life and love, can be at once a) paradoxically frustrating and b) compelling.

The best course is probably a balance, but the ability to make such a choice, in the moment, is rare.  Perhaps it’s better simply to go with the flow, and to surround oneself both with fellow swimmers who are competent of brain and trustworthy of heart.


[1] Certain German believers’ societies were so named after the Asian church referred to in Revelation, and after the meaning in the Greek language.  These societies were not geographically located in Pennsylvania.

Wesley’s primitivist elucidation

Today, another quotation from E.H. Broadbent (The Pilgrim Church, p. 294):

[John] Wesley’s determined adherence to the Established Church prevented him from seeing those principles which are taught in Scripture regarding the churches of God, and he never attempted to follow up his Gospel preaching by forming churches, on the New Testament pattern, of whose who believed.  Yet in 1746 he wrote, “On the road I read over Lord King’s account of the Primitive Church.  In spite of the vehement prejudice of my education, I was ready to believe … that originally every Christian congregation was a church independent of all others!”

Dear John, why, if you were indeed ready to believe, did you not continue along the path of restoration?  What caused you to retain all the peripheral “stuff” of Christianity?

A piercing voice is heard, through the millennia, above Wesley’s sincere, yet ultimately short-falling, question:  why, oh why, do we continue to depend on man-made church structures?  Why do we hold so tenaciously to a-biblical and even un-biblical hierarchies?  It doesn’t matter whether it’s the Anglican Church within which Wesley was working, or the United Methodist Church that he spawned, or the Roman Catholic institution, or the Church of Christ, or “River of Grace Ministries,” a stereotypical nondenominational church where Joe Jones, “founding pastor,” calls the shots.  They are all man-made structures.

It’s been said that

  1. When the early church “moved” to Greece, it became a philosophy.
  2. When it moved to Rome, it became an institution.
  3. When it moved to Europe, it became a culture.
  4. When it moved to America, it became a business.

However, this is not the end of the story.  God, help us.  Move us backward in principle as we move forward in time.