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Archive for April, 2012


What I’m reading

I love my kindle, an average reading day for me is The Orthodox Bible (I like the translation), the Philokalia, and a science fiction novel of some kind (anything that piques my love of fiction)

But last night while searching for a new non-theology book (I gotta keep my sanity somehow), I ran across this book:

Changing Churches: An Orthodox, Catholic, and Lutheran Theological Conversation

It’s an account of two Lutherans (both professors), who converted away from the Lutheran church to Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy (Antiochian to be precise). I was intrigued so I grabbed the sample version and read the whole thing this morning, I was blown away by how respectful they are treating the subject, and yet are being fully honest about the strengths and weaknesses in their decisions. I immediately bought the full book, and will dive in tonight. I’m very excited to see how their journeys compare to mine, and what I can gleam from their combined knowledge.

The last time I was this excited was when I found Francis Beckwiths conversion story.

I’ll post a review when I’m done, which won’t be long :)




Answering Devins Questions Part 2…

I realized after writing my last piece that I didn’t fully answer Devins question, it had been on my mind for a few days. So I sat down last night and wrote it out while it was still freshin my mind, then ran upstairs and started working on our renovations…

Here again is Devins question:

“But if you became Catholic while believing that the Catholic Church was in error in one or more of her doctrines, that perhaps reveals that you never fully accepted that God has guided and is guiding her into all truth. Do you believe that God is guiding the EO Churches, protecting them from error in their doctrines? Not accusing, not trying to trap you, just curious.”

So the last part of his question about if God is guiding the EO churches protecting them from error in their doctrines. It’s a complicated answer, and something I have thought about for a long time. But first let me state that I am not a theologian, or an apologist. I’ve been studying Philosophy when my schedule allows (hopefully will get a degree one day), and I love to dig and study, but by no means should someone bank their salvation on anything I say. I have done some study under Michael Patton over at Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, and have a huge debt of gratitude for his program that teaches lay people theology.

So let’s start with some biblical references to set the stage:

St Paul in talking to the church in Philippi makes the following statement:

    Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.
(Philippians 2:12-18 ESV)

He goes on to explain that he is straining and pressing on toward the Goal of being Christ like. His admonition has always stuck with me, I never stop trying to make sure that what I am doing, believing, practicing, helps to make me a better man spiritually.Then we get to 1st John:

    Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
(1 John 4:1-6 ESV)

Finally there are the Bereans:

    The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men. But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was proclaimed by Paul at Berea also, they came there too, agitating and stirring up the crowds. Then the brothers immediately sent Paul off on his way to the sea, but Silas and Timothy remained there. Those who conducted Paul brought him as far as Athens, and after receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they departed.

(Acts 17:10-15 ESV)

The Bereans have influenced me greatly since coming back to find my faith, I love the fact that they didn’t just take Paul at his word, but went and studied everything he said before believing. So today in our Christian world, we have three main divisions all claiming to have some type of Apostolic succession and the “truth” about the Gospel:

  1. The Catholic Church
  2. The Eastern Orthodox Church
  3. The Protestant Churches

I can easily dismiss the Protestants with a minimal amount of study into both history and scripture, been there, have the funny hats, not doing it again.

But the other two are harder to deal with, much harder.

Protestants by and large, have gone on a rampage against the Catholic faith since Luther introduced his own unique view of the Gospel in 1516. Granted Luther had some very valid concerns about the Catholic Church, but those things eventually got fixed.

So now you have two Churches both claiming Apostolic succession, and both can show a direct historical lineage back to their foundations from the Apostles. So that’s a tie…

Both claim to be the ‘One True Church’, and here comes the rub in this whole thing. Both churches have been plagued by bad decisions, neither side has been ‘Protected’ by God. Catholic apologist will split hairs and say that the dogma of the faith has only been changed by the Papacy a few times, and that is the only time that Papal infallibility comes into play.

It’s true in one sense, but in another, the view from the Catholic side that the Papacy was handed universal authority on matters of faith here on earth, has been problematic. Adding the Immaculate Conception in 1854, the doctrine of Papal infallibility in 1870, and the Assumption of Mary to the dogma of the church in 1965, should give anyone pause. In my view the issue with the Papacy is not being the Primate of the Bishops, I think that role is desperately needed. But when you translate Christs words to Peter in the Gospel of Matthew to mean that suddenly Peter and his successors have this divine control over the whole church, things get a little weird. You are putting the very fate of the church into the hands of one single man, who by his very nature, shares the same sinfulness as Adam did. Humans are sinful, all of us, and to claim that somehow the Papacy is specially protected is not something I can find a good solid argument for. Either from the writings of the early church fathers, or scripture. After all, we either have free will like Adam and Eve, or the Pope has some special providence that again I can’t find any reference material for.

The Orthodox Church views changing the dogma of the faith differently, they believe that only in ecumenical councils, with the Primate of Rome attending, can the dogma or the teachings of the church be modified. I think that’s a good thing, because having one person other than Christ making those kinds of changes is terrifying. On the other hand, as Devin correctly points out, without Rome, the Orthodox Church has not made any dogmatic changes since 1032.

There has been all manners of bad things that have come from both the Catholics and the Eastern Churches, and it seems that some don’t want the schism to end, I’ve already run into that nonsense on the EO side, and I won’t stand for it. But I am stuck in the middle, so I have to choose what is right. I have to work where I want to worship, and give freely of my talents. And it sucks, this is not a fun place to be. I’m tired of polemics, apologetics who don’t concede anything, or worse, take history out of context to bolster their case.

So who is right? Neither in my opinion, or at least fully. When you involve mankind in anything holy, they screw it up, its our very nature since Adam and Eve took the first bite. I don’t believe that either side can show with full certainty that they are the ‘One True Church’, they will claim it, boy will they claim it. But Johns words live in my heart, test all things by the spirit, don’t be easily deceived.

After all my study, listening, thinking, praying. I believe that the Orthodox have a closer handle on what the Apostles handed to them, I don’t think they are perfect. My hope is that East and West can unite, with Rome as the primate of the bishops, and the ancient churches living in unity. But until that time, I’m a man caught in the middle.

I will only truly be satisfied when I finally get to meet Christ face to face, then and only then will I trust another human being fully with my salvation. That’s no small thing, given that literally everyone thinks THEY have it right somehow. So for my own part, I have to weigh the options, and then make the choice that I believe God is telling me to make. What irritates me is when people assume that they are the only ones who know the full truth, because in that sense the words of St Paul could not be any clearer:

    If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

(1 Corinthians 13 ESV)

I have definitely found a more comfortable, loving environment in the Orthodox church, if I can just get past the alien nature of their liturgy and pious nature, I’ll be set :)

Come quickly Lord Jesus and fix this mess.



Answering Devins Question Part 1…

In my last post about crossing the river to begin my journey to the Orthodox faith, Devin asked this question:

“But if you became Catholic while believing that the Catholic Church was in error in one or more of her doctrines, that perhaps reveals that you never fully accepted that God has guided and is guiding her into all truth. Do you believe that God is guiding the EO Churches, protecting them from error in their doctrines? Not accusing, not trying to trap you, just curious.”

It’s a great question, and I mulled it over for quite a while before answering, partly because I wanted to make sure I gave an honest response, and partly because I had to stop and go back and think about my (our) reasoning.

I left the Evangelical world in 2008, and Michelle was not far behind. We are wired differently, she can let things slide that drive me up a tree, it makes a good combination for a long stable marriage. When I began too question things that we were being taught in church, she knew where I was headed, but was never really bothered over the inconsistencies like I was. It took her a while longer to reach the point of simply giving up and going Apostate.

A year later we started looking again, tired, empty hearted, but still believing. We wanted to find a good solid, biblical church home, what ensued was a very difficult period for us, where we tried all the major flavors of the evangelical world. We ended up in the Anglican church for a while, but finally came to the conclusion that there wasn’t enough oversight and structure. We loved the people, but we had concerns with how things were run, so we stopped going to church altogether for a while.

When we finally ended up at the doors of the Catholic Church, we were worn out, emotionally drained, and very cautious. After our first mass (which was the feast of the Annunciation, the worst thing a cautious Mary fearing protestant should see on their first visit). We met with the RCIA director at the largest parish in town a few weeks later, and then two days later the first RCIA of the year was being held. We took that as a sign of providence, because we had been debating about if we should even go and ask about RCIA. That started a long 9 months of study, struggles, questions and endless discussion.We stopped receiving communion, and did everything that was asked of us.

I wanted to quit more than once, I loved the people, but there was no deep study or discussions (I did what study I could, but had not strong mentors who could answer theological questions). There where bright spots to be sure, but it seemed that they were more concerned with how we felt, rather than teaching the true orthodoxy of the church. When we started to get near confirmation, I asked a very pointed question about what we where agreeing too. I was told that all I needed to believe in was the Apostles Creed, that was all that was required. I tried in vain to get my fingers on the confirmation text the Church was using, but there was a desire on the part of the administration to keep those details safe until the day of confirmation.

I was very frustrated more than once with need to keep things secret from us, when we where accepted as candidates, I asked repeatedly what the ceremony contained. I was told it would ruin the surprise, I would have quit then if not for my wife. I take oaths very seriously, and it still gets under my skin that I could not get direct and solid answers to my questions. When we sponsored our candidates I made sure that nothing was held back from them if they wanted to know, I know that the Church means no malice. But these things matter, and with all the dangerous religious garbage out there, being fully open about ceremonies and details is crucial in my opinion.

When we finally got to confirmation, I was a nervous wreck. More than once I wanted to bolt, and had it not been for my wife, and my need to once again take communion, I would have avoided the whole mess. I wanted to enter into the Church quietly, without fanfare, and begin to serve. But I was forced into a large, crowded ceremony (which for me is a hard thing to deal with), with no idea what was going to happen. I could not find out what I was going to be asked to agree too, or the scope, and by this time I just wanted it over with.

So on Easter Sunday 2011, we did everything we were asked, and against what my head was telling me, I agreed to be confirmed into the Catholic faith.

A year later I still have mixed feelings about that day, all I wanted was someone to sit down with me and explain what was about to happen in detail, go over what I was agreeing too. And to make sure that all my questioned where answered, but there where so many in our group, that simply never happened. I tried to move more than once to our local parish RCIA where I could get more personal attention, but my wife wanted to stay, so I stayed.

What I realize now is that I would have probably never gotten those answers, the Church uses a program that is geared towards feelings, or what I call “Touchy Feely Nonsense”, and it strays from hard Orthodoxy. Bibles where trucked in for the class, and then taken away, as if we had never seen one before. The whole thing felt like a government training program geared to the lowest common denominator, I’m not trying to be unkind, it’s just hard to explain how bad it was for us. Making matters worse was that getting an appointment with a priest was nearly impossible, the Church has a serious shortage, and one priest for a parish of 10,000 parishioners is just nuts! I met with Deacons when possible, but when you start asking technical questions about salvation, original sin, free will, and things like monergism and synergism. Well you get some pretty strange looks…

So did I have questions when I joined?, yes a number of them in fact. But after reading Francis Beckwith’s book on his conversion, I took his same idea which was if the Church got the big things right, then the little ones would fall in place. Never once where we handed the Dogma of the faith, and told this is what is required to be a Catholic. Those kind of hard discussions sadly never happened, I’m not sure I would have joined or not, but it would have made me more comfortable with the whole process.

Michelle and I talked a great deal before we entered into the Church, we were so bruised and worn out, that we needed to become part of something. We LOVED the liturgy, the reverence for the Eucharist, and all the trappings. And I couldn’t break her heart and bail at the last minute, so at the time it seemed like the best of all options to simply join. And I actually have not regretted it, I’ve grown by leaps and bounds in the faith, I love our parish and the Catholic way of life.

But I never stopped digging for answers, and the more I dug, the more I started to find things that didn’t seem right. Papal Infallibility, the assumption of Mary, and immaculate conception being made dogma (all within the last 14o years or so). The Churches stand on contraception and Natural Family Planning, liturgical nonsense that takes place even still today. When I started to seriously look into the Orthodox faith, I learned more about my Catholic faith, than I did from the Catholics. And I started to see that so much of what the Orthodox church believed, aligned with what my studies had told me.

So I’m now in the process of leaving, not because I want to, but because if I don’t, I can’t say I’m being honest with myself. I love the Catholic Church, I really do. But there are things I just can’t sit by and ignore anymore, and for me personally, I’m either committed to it fully, or it’s just going to be painful because I’ll know in my deepest parts that I simply don’t agree.

The hardest part for me has been putting my wife back through another long search, I feel terrible. It was so painful the last time, she has been very stern about not just jumping ship. But the more we have talked the more she has come to realize that there are issues we would need to compromise on, and so she has followed me on this new journey.

So there it is, in all it’s dark glory. We are on a new journey, and the Orthodox church is like entering an alien landscape, they even cross themselves the opposite of Catholics! We have done two vespers services, and it’s not getting any easier. What helps is that everyone is a convert and knows exactly what we are going through, people have shown us so much love and patience, that it takes the edge off (but not by much yet). So my heart knows this is the right thing, but my head is screaming “RUN YOU IDIOT, RUN!!!”





I got the following text on my way home from work Friday:

compressor has gone bad…leaking and rusted out. working on getting a price to replace it

I thought; well, there goes another couple of hundred bucks on the A/C..

Boy was I wrong!!!

It turns out that not only is the compressor bad, but the unit belongs in a museum. I don’t keep up HVAC technology, so we had no idea. So the WHOLE ENCHILADA has to be replaced, and let me tell you first hand, they aint cheap!

When I got home I was handed a price tag of $3500 dollars for a new compressor. After the convulsions stopped, we started to talk about how we would pay for something so expensive. We aren’t rich, and we really didn’t want to deplete what little savings we had, so I robbed a little from my 401K. I’m not sure what else we could have done, we can’t survive the summer without A/C, we may be wimps, but we are damned comfortable ones!

I’m sitting at home right now, all the windows are closed, it’s 80 degrees outside, the blinds are drawn, and $150 worth of fans are causing a small hurricane in my home. There is nothing more soothing, than the sound of 15 fans all blowing at top speed, I’m considering teaching the cats to wind surf, at least make it entertaining. And of course all of this happened, the minute my middle child moved out, and we started the renovate. There’s no stair rail, no carpeting (I’m installing wood floors), the refrigerator stopped making ice, and now the A/C is out. It’s a grand existence, let me tell you.

And the really, really fun part, is we have 7 fish tanks, all with clownfish and various other breeds, some that we have raised ourselves. Fish tanks, especially the Saltwater kind, don’t like to get hot. Bad things happen when they get hot, so not only have we been trying to keep the house cool, we have been caring for the tanks to keep them cool as well.

We told the kids NOT to cook, leave the oven off until the check gets here and we can get the unit replaced, if you cook, you will heat up the house. When we left last night, it was actually cool, we got home and it was a nice cool evening. But the house was still buttoned up tight, and our youngest decided she would cook! So walking into the house was like a sauna, it was so frustrating. So we opened it all back up and prayed for a cool evening breeze…

I wonder if the neighbors can hear me snore from the backyard?





Rivers Old and New


Last night, Michelle and I had the extreme pleasure of spending an evening sharing Vespers, faith, questions and much laughter with Fr. Mark Fenn and his Wife Michelle, of the Antiochian Orthodox Church here in Boise.

We learned a great deal about the Orthodox faith, a lot of questions were put to rest, I learned some things that floored me, and we felt loved and welcome. From the moment we tentatively walked through door (late as usual), we were made to feel at home. We had never attended vespers, it was other worldy, simple, austere, and moving.

When Vespers ended Fr. Mark sat with us and gave us a lesson on how the Orthodox faith is structured, showed us around the Sanctuary, and answered a lot of questions, his wife Michelle was headed over to the Russian Orthodox church to see parishioners who where celebrating a baptism. That was my first shock, that parish members from one Orthodox church would go visit the other one, when I inquired, I was told all three Orthodox parishes in town consider themselves all one faith. That’s certainly different than the divisions I had read about.

Fr. Mark, was beyond gracious and patient, showing love and compassion to our questions. Later in the evening his wife Michelle came back by, and the four of us discussed the faith. Both answering questions and concerns with grace, it was very moving for us. One thing that we have missed in the Catholic faith, is loving fellowship. It’s something that Protestants get right (when it’s not out of balance, it’s a wonderful thing), and something that we have missed for a long time. That’s not to say that Catholics are cold, they aren’t. We have met some warm and wonderful Catholics. But let’s be honest, in our experience Catholics by and large don’t really open up until you have been around them a while, we felt like interlopers for the first 4 months or so at our Parish.

What we found last night, was the one thing that we felt was missing from the Catholic faith we have been part of for a couple of years now, that is Grace. Not some conceptual, theological term, but real, down to the core, loving Grace. Let me give you an example, in the Catholic Church, if you miss a day of obligation (mass on Sunday, or certain calendar events) on purpose, you have committed a Mortal sin, and you must seek reconciliation or your very soul is in danger. Orthodox don’t think you should be missing Mass, but they aren’t about to declare you in mortal danger of losing your soul if you skip a service.

Another difference that we keyed in on, is that both Faiths do confession, but the Orthodox treat it less mechanically than the Catholic faith does, in fact your priest becomes your confessor. Getting to know you at a very personal level, and confession becomes a tool to not only forgive sins, but to help your faith grow. Reconciliation for us has been more mechanical, you go, confess, are forgiven, do your penance and off you go. It’s vastly more intimate in the Orthodox faith, part of that could be that the Catholic Church is in dire need of priests.

For the first time, I found someone saying, what I had found in the bible, and the early church fathers. There was a foundation that was built on love and grace, and it flowed into every word spoken. Michelle has been hesitant about this direction, but has allowed me to follow the truth and see where it lands us. She’s still wants to search things out more, and we both still have more questions that need to be answered.

But I’ve finally found the shore I was looking for, I’m sure of it, my heart settled in for the first time last night, there are more questions to be sure, but no more deep nagging ones. I love the Catholic Faith, I will always be in love with the faith of Rome,  I can’t express that enough. I wish with all my being that the Schism of 1032 could be repaired, because the Orthodox could benefit from Catholics, and the Catholics could learn so much from the Orthodox faith. But there are things about the Catholic Faith that are just so unnecessary, the dogmatizing of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption, the legalistic nature of the catechism,  infallibility. The reactionary nature of the Church to contraception, while endorsing Natural Family Planning (and yes, I mean in the sense of using it as contraception).

Those and many other inconsistencies have nagged at me for a long time, I don’t have all the answers I need just yet, but after last night I discovered what my study had told me was so, that the Orthodox have held TIGHTLY to the original teaching of the Apostles. They haven’t added onto it, or constructed a bunch of rules around it, they leave it as is. It’s what I hoped the Catholic Church had done, but I just don’t believe that anymore. I will always be Catholic, just not a practicing Roman Catholic any longer. I setup a meeting next week too sit with the Vicar and tell him my intentions to join the Orthodox faith. Michelle is holding out to see how it all plays out, but she told me to follow my convictions.

I started the process, there’s no turning back now.

And I get to be a Catechumen again (still not sure about that), and learn a whole new way of practicing my faith (I can’t even pronounce the Philokalia right, so I have A LOT to learn). It’s a little scary, and a whole lot exciting. I didn’t cry when we got Confirmed in the Catholic Faith, mostly because by that time I was so worn out from all the nonsense that was RCIA. But I teared up this morning in Mass, I’m going to miss the beauty of the Mass. However I’m looking forward to being accepted into the Orthodox faith.

Then I can finally say that my journey has taken me from one side of the Christian faith, to the other. From many shores to a select few, and finally to one…

Pray for me as I row to another shore…





Looking East

I’ve been searching for a very long time, the journey has been wonderful and terrible, all at the same time. Michelle has settled into the Catholic way of life, and we have been faithful to the agreement that was made on the day of our confirmation. So much has changed in the last 7 years, children growing up, leaving, sometimes on different paths than we would have chosen. Our time in the Evangelical Wilderness made us much wiser than when we first arrived there, but we still have a long, long ways to go.

Our faith has changed as well, what was once acceptable in our evangelical beliefs, are now the very things we shy away from. We have also taken the time to educate ourselves, and submit to the teaching of others. I will never know enough for me to be fully comfortable with my faith, but that is the way my maker wired me, I accept it and live with it everyday. As I have mentioned before I have been studying the Orthodox faith for some time now, the more I read the more it dawns on me just how common sense most Eastern Orthodoxy theology is. My one regret is that the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox can’t fix the schism of 1032, it has caused me a great deal of consternation.

There are so many things that the two churches agree on, that it seems silly they can’t find some way to heal the rift and go back into mutual communion. But then one reads the declarations of Vatican I, and Vatican II and you realize that Rome for all it’s beauty missed the mark on infallibility, divine authority of the papacy (not primacy mind you) pushing a belief that one cannot find in the early church. Add to that the dogma of the immaculate conception, the consumption of Mary, the Filoque, and the liturgical abuses since Vatican II, the legalistic nature of the churches teaching, and you begin to realize the actual scope of the problem.

I’ve been looking East for a time now, and the one thing that has kept me away is that by the canon of the Catholic Church, I cannot take communion with the Eastern Orthodox Church. Frustrating, but I did agree to follow the teaching of the Catholic Church (by the way that agreement, does not cover my objections and questioning). So now to experience the Eastern Orthodox Liturgy, I have to play a shell game, take communion at my local parish (because, it’s a mortal sin to not take weekly communion), the rush over to share in the liturgy at my local Orthodox Church. To even experience their liturgy means that I have to juggle schedules, because I can’t miss weekly mass.

However, tomorrow night we are heading over to share in the Saturday Night Vespers service. The Fr. was gracious and offered to meet with us before service and go over questions that we both have. So we are going to dip our toe in the pool, meet with the good Fr. and begin to get a feel for where this is all leading. I will do a more detailed post on why I’ve been looking east for so long, and why I’m slowly coming to realize that it may be where we needed to be all along.

I want to make a couple of points very clear so there is no misunderstanding, Michelle and I both love the Catholic Church. We love the liturgy, the sacraments, and being part of the church family. But I have always had some reservations, and as I have dug into the past, some have gone away, but a small important set have stayed. Some have been game changers for me, that doesn’t mean I intend to bash Catholics in any way shape or form. I just have core issues that I disagree with, I have not found any apologist who can make an airtight case on those issues. Maybe I’m looking in the wrong places, but in my own studies, I’ve concluded that some things just aren’t as clear as they are made out to be. The one thing that drew us into the Catholic faith was the idea of a centralized leadership, coming from the evangelical world where everyone makes up their own rules, and dealing with mainlines, who have no real structure or control over their parishes, the Catholic model makes so much sense. The Papacy IS in the early writings of the church fathers, but it’s different than what we have today, but the Bishop of Rome has had a seat of primacy since first century AD.

And we haven’t left yet, we are just exploring to see what the Orthodox have to offer,  to find out first hand, rather than learning it from a book. Its a pattern we have done before, the difference this time is that we have done a great deal of research to get to this point, so we have a good solid understanding of what we are looking for. But boy did it take a long time!!!






A Requiem For A Friend

A long time ago, in a place far away, we met some very special people. We shared a love for computers, and all things geek, we never feared being different. We embraced it, and it made us all stronger. It was in that period of our lives that we met Tami, she was dating a co-worker at the time and she quickly became our friend. I can remember sitting over at their house late a night talking about AOL, and the online world and where it was headed. Tami, Michelle, and our good friend Debbie became a trio. To this day I cannot think of anyone who had more fun, got into more trouble, or caused as much angst as those three. What I remember the most is the laughter, over just about everything.

During a time of crisis at my employer, our friendship was directly challenged by management. Michelle in her gentle and kind way, basically stated that they were not just out of line, but had made a grave mistake if they thought they had ANY say in who chose as friends. I’ll never forget the stunned faces, or the sudden shock at being so strongly challenged. Job or not, Tami was our friend, and being falsely accused of things she had no part in. We defended her honor, and they never again challenged us.

On that day our friendship was cemented, she became part of our lives. There are so many moments I remember from those times.

The day Tami showed up in full motorcycle drag, all wrapped in black leather with a black helmet and shaded face shield. She knocked on the door, I opened it and closed it back in her face, being not sure who the hell was at my door!. She knocked again and I opened, by then I had figured it out, and greeted her with a line from star wars. She was thereafter always known as ‘Darth’…

I remember her little postage stamp apartment in Oildale, and the day we spent helping her clean it up, it was disgusting. But we loved her so much we wanted to make sure that she got a chance to live the life she wanted. We felt honored to be able to help someone we cared about so much, we even got her to go to church (though she was sure the place would burn down once she got inside!).

She was there to hold Karan as a small child while Michelle was sick, she ate dinner with us, played with the kids, and ingrained herself into our lives.

Michelle hired her as an assistant in her Dad’s office, I’ll never forget Michelle’s Dad finding her sleeping at her desk!! She was a mess for sure, but to know her was to love her.

When life moved her to Texas and us to Idaho, I was still able to make her laugh from a distance. And I loved nothing more than poking fun at her, every chance I got.

On April 29th of 2012, she was traveling with her boyfriend from Austin, Texas heading to Pennsylvania to see her parents, she had not been feeling well for a few days. She made it home, but not alive. She passed away while riding in the truck.

Michelle and I have an empty place in our hearts now, we never expected someone so full of life and trouble to go at such a young age. During mass this morning Michelle wept, and neither of us could talk to the Father without tearing up. At 10:30 mass today, they said a prayer for her. We lit a candle in her honor and prayed that God would show his overwhelming mercy and grace on someone who struggled to find her place in this world, something that the ancient generations of Christians did as well. If our Father in heaven is anything like what I read scripture, then he will show mercy for her soul, and Michelle and I will meet her again.

We miss her so much, we loved her dearly, and we pray that her family has the strength to get through this.

Tami, Darth, The Dark One, who graced our lives, made us laugh, made us cry, drove us crazy, and became part of our family.

We love you, me miss you, we will see you again.