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Posts from the ‘Belief’ Category


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.



And in this corner

I’ve been thinking about writing this piece for a while, but I’ve also been reluctant to let it all out. But given the current political climate in the nation, the state of the church and the fact that it’s an election year, I might as well step into the fray.

Let’s start with the Obama administration, I have never seen more idealistic, deaf and frankly out of touch administration than this one. The Constitution seems to have no meaning, they will do anything to push their socialist agenda. So why anyone is surprised that they have used the HHS to push their contraceptive mandates on to church run organizations, is beyond me. All the signs were there during the election, all one had to do was do a little digging, and yet people voted with their emotions rather than their mind. The part that angers me the most is Catholics who voted for Obama, in my opinion they got what they deserved. We attended a meeting on Catholic ethics at our parish, and got a lecture from a bunch of old anti-war hippies about their anti war stances. These are the same people who still have Obama stickers on their cars, I simply can’t understand how you could still support someone whose goal is to restrict your religious freedoms, and still go to Mass.

But the Catholic church that exists in the United States is a shell of what it once was, we have been overtaken with the current psychology of the modern age, and are more concerned about not offending our laity than we are with the truth. We don’t even teach real orthodoxy any more, its all a mixture of light theology and emotionalism. As I’ve stated before, I’ve learned more about the Catholic faith from Orthodox writers than I have more Catholic ones. I’ve been reading the council of Trent, and found it interesting that there is a section devoted to Catechesis and it’s administration. Why are we not following that today?, why are we not back to the Sunday School model and taking the time to make sure the laity are instructed in the elements of our faith? Instead of praise bands, and coffee hours, let’s push instruction and education. We should not be afraid to teach people the basics of philosophy and apologetics, how else are we going to reach the world unless we have laity who are confident and KNOWLEDGEABLE about their faith?

I may disagree with certain points of Catholic Orthodoxy, but I love the Catholic church. It has brought stability to my faith and my life, but because I love it, I can see the faults and want to make it better. However I never became Catholic with the idea that I would mindlessly agree with every point the church teaches, I know there are some who would admonish me for that. But God gave me a mind for a reason, and when I see something I can’t agree with, I’m not going to lie to say otherwise, to do so would be to lose any self respect I have. I can’t stomach believers who become robots, echoing back everything the church teaches them without thought.

We are in the process of dumbing down the population of this country, I don’t know how to put it any other way, or even be polite about it anymore. I work for a utility, on any given week I am submitted to the most mind numbing, paradoxical thinking I’ve ever seen in my life. Everything is spoon fed to the workforce, the company spends an enormous amount of resources selling their agenda to their own employees. After a while people just go numb, you can’t win, you  can’t argue, so you just have to suffer through it. And they wonder why people are apathetic, maybe it’s because instead of treating them like the professionals they are, you treat them all as if they are the lowest common denominator. A case in point is that we as employees had to sit through a week long class on performance in our culture, for me the experience bordered on a new age religion, we where bombarded with pop psychology, told to take the material home and have our family’s evaluate us ( request I refused and ultimately won, but only after getting the ‘it changed my life’ lecture from the instructor). We got the special privilege to hear managers tell us how this program changed their lives, their marriages and their family’s. It was so much like a religion that one gentlemen extolled the virtues by reciting the Evangelical mantra of reading your book everyday and practicing what it taught, it was honestly the same EXACT speech I heard for years in the baptist faith. The difference was this was a company mandated program. The ultimate goal was to make people accountable, but when it came time to do yearly goals, instead of practicing the very system they spent millions on. They spoon fed it the workforce, and wasted time making sure everyone was ‘aligned’. The irony is that had the program worked, simply stating what the goals where and that you are expected to meet them this year, would have been enough. Which is how it used to be done.

The next day two friends and I walked to a new restaurant to get lunch, they had a greeter who’s job as far as I can tell, was to tell us how get in line to order the food. It made me sad that something like that was even needed, the place had good food and a great layout. But if I need someone to show me the obvious then, I shouldn’t be out wondering on my own. I despise restaurants that feel the need to ‘educate’ diners on how their menu works, listen… If your menu is so complicated that I can’t just order the food I want, then I’m going to go eat somewhere else. I don’t need a speech on how to order my frigging food, you have a menu, I order what looks good. What’s so difficult about that? Am I missing something?, are people really that clueless?  I may not want to know the answer to that anymore…

So about this election, let me go out on a limb here and say that I would like to see a good old fashion AGNOSTIC run for president for once. I’m sick and tired of being subjected to the candidates weird religious beliefs and statements. Romney’s a mormon, which has it’s own set of special issues (though I’m told by mormon friends, that he’s a jack mormon at that). The others are all various faiths, but when we get into areas of faith and politics people just say and do stupid things. The media love to find those little tidbits and make mountains out of them, and when you have people like Santorum’s wife commenting that his winning is ordained by God, I just want to go hide somewhere. I’m not actually enthused about any of the current crop, I don’t know where the real conservatives have gone, but boy do I miss them. This whole faith and politics things is such a mess anyway, I argued with a baptist minister one time about single issue voters. He stated that he would never, based on principle vote for someone who supported abortion. I told him that you where never going to find someone to agree with every single thing you believe, these are men, you take the good with the bad. I don’t support abortion, but in reality the President can only effect the issue by creating an activist supreme court. Roe vs Wade, I don’t think, could stand up to a good honest analysis at that level. So I would in fact vote for someone who is soft on the issue, as long as they elect constitutional judges, and not activists to the bench. You can’t think single issue with politics, it’s never that simple. Given the current crop of clowns, I don’t see this country turning around for a long time.

Apple released new products this week, the new iPad is cool and all. But honestly there’s nothing there that would cause me to leave my current iPad2 and upgrade. They really needed something more than just the retina display, I’m wondering if they are still floundering from the loss of Steve Jobs?. I sure hope they can recover. I love my Apple T.V. and MIGHT buy a new one for 1080p, but until the movie industry pulls their heads out of their hind ends and realizes that we now live in a digital content age, I’m reticent to support any format. Everything’s so fragmented, Hulu only shows certain shows on the computer, but not a console. Apple won’t support Hulu, and half the studio’s won’t even release shows to a digital format. I would PAY to see Lost Girl on iTunes, but for some unknown reason SyFy has refused to do so. I don’t get it. Then they go after the internet, using the guise of stopping piracy. Piracy’s not the issue, the industry is filled with dinosaurs who at every technological turn have resisted change, and then once forced have benefited financially from that change. Instead they keep pushing systems where they can control their content and greedily charge you for every viewing, remember DivX, well now they have ultraviolet, which is worse in many ways. I predict that what is going to happen, is the same thing that happened with CD’s, the industry is going to dig in and the rest of the world will simply start producing media through digital outlets, leaving the traditional industry in the dust.

John Piper, the voice of the reformed mindset, and all around narsisistic know it all. Has once again attempted Theodicy regarding the Tornado’s in the midwest. For those who don’t know Theodicy is the attempt to explain how evil can exist with an Omniscient and all loving creator. As usual Pat Robertson opened his big mouth and blathered about it as well, it’s not enough that we live in a fallen world where bad things happen. But these self appointed morons run out and do their best to make the rest of us look like a bunch of nut cases. In Pipers case, his reformed theology means that God is in control of EVERYTHING (this is known as a determinism) and free will is an illusion. So he has to justify the tornadoes, you can read his latest blather here: Fierce Tornadoes and the Fingers of God I don’t understand why it’s not enough that people lost their lives, their homes, and entire towns where wiped from the face of the earth, on top of that you have to tell that God did it. Here’s an idea, maybe the WEATHER caused the Tornado and because people live in a area PRONE to tornadoes, they had the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Bad things happen, if we are to represent the love of God then we should mobilize support, physical and moral to help those in need. Not blather on about some theological point that no one cares about.

It looks like spring is early this year, we ventured out twice this weekend to go to the driving range, I’m still as bad as ever. Some things never change, but I still enjoy playing Golf, so the love hate relationship will continue unabated. I’m hoping it says nice, and that spring comes early so I can get out more often, it’s been a dismal winter for some reason and I’m ready for some warmth and outdoor activities.

Time to go play… I feel better now :)




For the last time

Tomorrow morning, I get the honor of being a lector for the final mass, before the church moves to the new translation. I also found out today that I get to lector on Christmas day, I’m very honored to get the chance to serve, and give something back, when so much has been given to me.

Tomorrow will be a historic day, the current translation was implemented in 1973, and the church in its wisdom has updated it to be more literally accurate based on the original text.
It’s going to be a big day!!!


9/11 Ten years later

10 years, 3000 innocent deaths, 2 wars, young men giving their lives for our freedoms. A world changed, and a country that lost its innocence in one horrifying day.

And then today this comes up in the Liturgy of the Word:

I will never be fully anti-war, no one could argue that we should have left Germany to their own devices. But maybe along the way we missed something crucial, maybe we over-reached, maybe, just maybe, we overreacted. I’m glad we got Osama, I would have pulled the trigger myself, and slept like a baby. I support our men and women who give so much, and get so little in return.

But this makes me wonder where we are headed, and what future generations will face.

10 years is a long time, a lifetime for some, I can still remember that Tuesday morning like it was yesterday, and it still deeply moves me. But now I feel sadness, and frustration at the futility of so much hate.

God Bless America, I love this country, and I worry about where we are headed.



Finally Home…

Last night Michelle and I attended our first Mass at our home parish, it also happened to the the first communion service for some of the kids. It was treat to watch them go through the process, and receive their first communion. For us it was like coming home, although I was nervous I would do something stupid, I was still looking forward to the experience.

It’s been a week since confirmation, and we’ve had time to let it all sink in and settle a bit. I have a better grasp on it now, I’m over the shell shock portion. And I think I can rely our impressions…

But before I say anything, I must say that the people who hosted this RCIA did a fabulous job. Corralling 180 people (and more at times) through this process, is no simple feat. They have been gracious and welcoming, and made the process easier. We even had a couple in the service last night, and they warmly greeted us on the way out. I’m sure they feel proud, and they should.

Confirmation Sunday, was a blur of emotion. It was like being in the center of a tornado, locked to a chair with no way to get out. From the moment we arrived, I felt the pressure of what we where about to do. In all honesty I felt fully unprepared, we were supposed to ring the bells during the Gloria. I had no idea why, no one explained it to me or what it actually meant. So I was handed a bell and then told to keep it quiet until the right time, when the gloria finally came it seemed silly to sit and make a ruckus without really knowing why. In all honesty I didn’t even ring mine, I was more focused on getting through the actual confirmation, and not screwing up my first eucharist.

The church for some reason was very warm, I was wearing a tie and jacket, that along with cold feet (hey, I got them when I got married 26 years ago as well). Had me sweltering, I would have given anything to remove the tie. I was also a little miffed that even given our very explicit directions on dress atire, that my sponsor and a number of my fellow RCIA members didn’t follow the rules. Which made me feel more uncomfortable being paraded down the aisle, especially since the church was packed (and this is a BIG church). And quite honestly I felt lost and overwhelmed, we didn’t do much prep time, and I have never seen a confirmation so it was all new to me.

As we waited for confirmation, the RCIA team members kept up the cheerleading banter. I know they where trying to be helpful, but I felt like I was 10 years old and about to make the speech of my life. It didn’t help, and for my part, added more to my dilemma about what I was doing there. There was a point to be perfectly honest, where I considered getting up and leaving. I never wanted a grand entrance, I hate them with a passion. There was too much focus placed on the ceremony, so much so, that I didn’t really have time to sit and fully examine how I felt. And no one asked, so at one point I questioned if this was the right thing to do. I don’t like feeling pressured, I need time to work through things on my own, at my pace. Had Michelle not been there, I would have not made the whole thing. She is able to read my thoughts, and simply held my hand and kept me calm. I followed her lead through most of the process.

At one point before the Eucharist, they sang a song about our love for Christ (I’ll get to the band in a minute). Our sponsor who is a good Christian man, broke down into sobbing. I am not the most emotional person in the world, and my experience with religion and emotion has not always been good. He was sobbing so hard that at one point I wasn’t sure if we be able to go on, it was… uncomfortable to say the least.

When it was all said and done, and we finished the service. They marched us back out first, so everyone could get a good look at us. We stayed long enough to thank everyone, and then headed home. Emotionally, and physically exhausted. I didn’t get a beam of light, or a revelation when I partook of the sacraments. And again I would have been more moved with a small, quiet ceremony, but I’m changing as I get older and what I once enjoyed in worship. I no longer find tolerable.

In reflecting on the whole experience, it was way to heavy on the ceremonial side. There was too much noise, too much pomp. Right at the end of our RCIA experience we began to grow frustrated with the lack of depth, and I started reading up on other peoples experiences. One common complaint is that the RCIA is so focused on the experience, that they miss the heart of the RCIA’s purpose. I would agree, but I would be very careful to not blame the laity or the priests. We had the opportunity to visit another RCIA program, and to our shock they asked the same silly questions. What we learned was that both programs come from a book that has all those dratted questions pre-canned. It explains a great deal, if you take a 2 hour program. Spend 45 minutes on the basics, 10 on announcements, 15 on a break. Then the rest on meaningless questions like “How do you feel about the incarnation?, in my view. You’ve waisted roughly half your class time on non-essentials. That’s a travesty!! I repeatedly read people saying that nine months is not enough time, I disagree. It’s plenty of time, *IF* you spend it wisely, and don’t turn the RCIA into a social based feelings program with a little Catechesis thrown in for good measure.

The other part where I’m going to come clean, is that I honestly could have waited longer. There’s more to know and learn about the faith, and I’d like the time to study it. But I in all honesty could not stomach another nine months of endless questions about my feelings!, Michelle felt exactly the same way. So like so many others who have come into the Church, we gritted our teeth and got through the process. I’m glad we did, last nights mass was a blessing to us, and I told Michelle that I want to make sure we celebrate that every weekend without fail.

Finally, one issue that has bothered me is the lack of reverence that I see happening in the Mass. At the confirmation, there was a full band. Electric guitar, drums, bass, the whole ensemble. But to my ears, it was so protestant that it hurt. Our parish has just a piano and the cantor, which to my aging ears sounds just fine. But the other thing that shocked me, was how some people dress for the mass. There have been times I wish we had a bunch of Nuns with rulers to restore a little reverence to the proceedings. I guess we have become so welcoming that we don’t want to offend, but camouflage shorts DO NOT belong at mass. I know there is a huge debate about the vatican II mass, and it’s problems. I’m not saying we go back, but somewhere, someone has to start laying down at least a little conformity. We can do it gently, but if the Mass is the cornerstone of our faith, then we should *expect* anyone attending to show some respect. Just a little would go a long ways.

We have been blessed by being able to finally join the Church, the journey is just starting. But I no longer feel like an interloper at service anymore, and God has been good us with this new parish.

Now back to my studies :)




When in Rome…

We did our practice run today for the sacrament of confirmation, as expected it was chaos. They spent at least 5 minutes debating the process, it seemed no one had the plan. So the Father wanted to it one way, the RCIA director another, and I just sat and waited. It was like watching your parents fight over the best route to get somewhere.

Again we got herded and treated like schoolchildren, I just kept quiet and did what I was told. Walk here, walk there, be in line, stay in order. Once things finally settled down, it was fine, but there was so much focus on the non-essentials that I worried that the essentials would get lost. That’s really been my complaint all along, we focus on the things that just don’t matter so much. And there is a tendency to gloss over the critical items, a friend who is going through the process said essentially the same thing. Her sponsor ran RCIA many years ago, and has been frustrated with the lack of depth in the program.

I would have made an agenda, had agreement before anyone showed up. Handed out the agenda and then just do a simple walk through, it could have been handled so much better. But that’s me, I over prepare, and I like to be organized and work through things first.

A humorous moment, was when we all stood for confirmation and then went back to our seats. The order got wrong and that caused confusion, I watched amused as they tried to solve the problem. Finally the RCIA director gave up and said “just sit back down, it doesn’t matter!!”. To which I smiled and said “She Gave Up!!!”, she laughed and asked for my certificate back, I told her she, the Father and I would need to talk about that! We all cracked up laughing, it was a good way to add some levity to the process. Father Len was very lighthearted which also helped.

We are ready, everything is in place, I won’t drop the host. Or spill the wine, I know what to say, and what to do. I’ve done my confession, I’ve spent time with my sponsor to make sure he knows I’m ready. I’m not a ceremony guy, I don’t really like all the pomp. But I’ll make an exception here, if done with reverence, I might even shed a tear or two. It’s been known to happen from time to time :)

And then we will be done, and what I am looking forward too the most, is on April 30th, at 5pm. We will do our first Communion at our new parish, with our new family there. The Church won’t be packed, it will be the small crowd. Mass will be quiet and dignified, and then I’ll finally feel home. That is what I have been waiting for, I’ll no longer be an interloper. I’ll be able to finally celebrate, I can’t wait. I’ll reserve my tears of joy until that time.


Royal Order of the Water Buffalos


Michelle and I met with our sponsor this week, and had a fabulous get together. John and I are on different planets, but we both come from protestant backgrounds and in that respect are alike, we also both tend to be bookworms.

A funny conversation came up about the KofC, I asked John what he knew about them and if he had actually joined. Because if there’s anyone I know would would, join it would be John. Sure enough, he was approached and to use his words, “joined to make someone else happy”. But it didn’t last, he did the “secret” ceremony, attended a couple of meetings, and then just lost interest. He said he didn’t need a hat with feathers, or a sword, and that it just wasn’t for him, and he really joined for the wrong reasons.

I told him about my experience, and how that I just can’t help but think of the Flintstones every time I see a KofC member. Maybe it’s a sin, but it just happens. By his expression I don’t think it ever had occurred to him before and we all got a good laugh out of it.

Again another blessing on this journey, I wanted to meet with John for the simple reason that we had not gotten together and I wanted him to know our progress. The official RCIA rules clearly state that the sponsors job is to affirm that the candidate(s) are fully ready to be received into the church. Honestly, to this point no one asked. So I took it upon myself to make sure that our entry into the Catholic Church was fully honest and that we got all the pieces right, it’s important if I’m going to commit. But we got so much more out the meeting, it was good to share fellowship with someone who had been there, laugh some and finally come to peace with this process.

Its Good Friday, we both have the day off and are just resting (well we have lots of little chores to do), but we are finally ready.  Yesterday I read an amazing article written by Jeff Dunn over at internet Monk:

The Death Of Jesus

I was sitting at work at the end of the day and this piece brought everything together for me, I was very happy with our reconciliation experience. But it didn’t match up with what others had told me about, I know that’s a dangerous thing to do, but I’m human after all. But this piece nailed it straight into my heart, it finally brought the message of salvation, grace and mercy all into a neat little package. And showed that the Catholic Church again, has the right of an issue that so many protestants just don’t understand, or worse don’t want to.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about a simple faith, simple belief, and simple worship. The Parish we are joining, is very modern and austere, and it’s starting to impact my idea of worship. I still love a good Gothic style cathedral, but there is a certain beauty in a sparse presentation. Growing up around the desert, my family always talked about how that the desert was God’s handiwork, it took me years to figure that out. But I think they where right, this is something I’ll elaborate on later.

I’m two classes away from finishing Philosophy 101, it’s been fun. I get up every Saturday morning at six, eat breakfast and we run off downtown to Boise State University. I do 3 hours of mind bending study, and Michelle does the weeks grocery shopping. I had a friend tell me I would hate Saturday morning class, but boy was he wrong. I LOVE it, I get to argue about God, Philosophy and some great thinkers. I jump sides and argue from the atheist position, and generally just have a blast. And it’s really effected the way I look at my thought processes, the tests suck, but I’m test phobic by nature.

But I’m looking forward to being off for a while and just settling down a bit, I need a nap now :)




Into the final stretch

It’s Palm Sunday, we are one week away from completing our journey to the Catholic Church. We studied the creed Thursday which was actually pretty good, I enjoyed the history lesson and the story behind both the Apostles and the Nicene. It was good have to a class that stuck to the basics. But the other parts of the RCIA have really started to heat up, we have been told now at least 10 times what to wear on Easter Sunday. The schedule is so convoluted and twisted that I just gave up, and Michelle is in charge of making sure I show up at the right time at the right place (at least I know what to wear!).

Had it not been for our discussion with Fr Chuey, I would have stopped this ride on thursday night and just given up. Michelle has expressed the same frustration with the process that I have, we have been treated like 10 year olds from the very start. I’m not trying to be disrespectful, but I can count on one hand the times we actually learned something deeper than an RCIC class would get. I’m pretty sure that after about the 3rd lecture on what to wear everyone (who is over 18) would have gotten the message of what to wear on Easter!, seriously! perhaps talking more about the REVERENCE for the Mass, and WHY we are there would accomplish the same goals.

So today we go to mass (our last as interlopers! ;), then we have a ‘retreat’ that lasts most of the day. To give you an idea of our mindset at the moment, we are honestly thinking that this retreat will just be another “How does that make you feel?” exercise, and have nothing to do with what we do next Sunday. When RCIA becomes about the how, and NOT about the why, you start to lose people. Honestly, as bad as this sounds. We just want to get it over, so we can finally worship at the Eucharist. We have friends who feel the same, the RCIA process has become a circus of ceremony, and the middle we feel lost and alone.

Last week marked one year since Michael Spencer (aka the Internet Monk) passed away, I know this seems like an odd statement to make while lamenting the RCIA process. But go with me on this, I found Michael Spencer at the suggestion of a fellow theology student. At the time we where searching for a home church. When I started reading his works, I was floored. Here is someone who understands why I don’t trust ‘Church People’, who understands the pain of someone who doesn’t measure up to fundamentalist standards. Who saw the evangelical circus for what is was, and didn’t mince words. I found Michael too late, he was already sick when I ran across his site and he passed away before I ever got to meet him. Michael’s wife Denise converted to Catholicism a few years back, and it was his writings on the Catholic faith that made me curious. He could never leave his baptist upbringing, but he did find the same reverence that we have found in the normal Catholic services.

Neither Michelle or I, would be here at all. If not for Michaels ability to say it like it is, to express the pain and frustration that we went through. Our road to rome really started with a minister who himself could not get past infant baptism, or the marian doctrines. But he loved Catholics, the same that he loved any of the other faiths. I guess you could say our journey to rome, started with a baptist preacher. And that’s a pretty amazing thought, at times we have felt compelled to do this, while I am frustrated at this point of the RCIA process. I desperately want to be on the other side and be a full member. I want to sign up for the Eucharistic ministry, and spend some time server the Church. And more than anything else, I want to reach out to Protestants interested in the Catholic Church and show them the depth and reverence of what it means to be Catholic.

Thank you God, for your Grace. For your church, and for using men like Michael Spencer to show us a way out of the Post-Evangelical Wilderness. I just want this to all be over, so I can share in the Eucharist. We have waited a long time, we are parched and tired. Next Sunday cannot come quickly enough…



Why Catholicism – Part 2

For the past 5 months, Michelle and I have been attending RCIA. For those unfamiliar with Catholicism. RCIA is the program you go through to become a fully functioning Catholic. Next Easter during the celebration of the Resurrection, we will finally be able to partake in the Eucharist.

I won’t sugar coat our journey, its been difficult. We have both struggled going from a Protestant mindset, to a Catholic one. We have felt like dropping out at times, and each time that happens, we find grace in the people who make up the Catholic Church. And so we stay, seemingly until the next issue arises. This is certainly not the process we envisioned, but like I said its been a difficult journey so far.

Simplistically, Catholicism has three core systems that govern it:

The Dogma:

This is the core belief of the Catholic Church, it covers the trinity, the resurrection, and all the basic components you find in a standard christian belief system. Catholics add a couple more, like the perpetual virginity of Mary, and the Assumption of Mary.

The Doctrine

This is the rule book for Catholics, known as the Catechism. Its part of what Theologians call the deposit of faith, maintained for over two thousand years. It lays out how a Catholic should behave, what limits they have, and what things are considered mandatory.

The Cyclicals:

These are opinions handed out normally from the Papal seat (the current Pope), and can cover a wide range of topics. Pope Pious the second for instance put one out stating that going over 30 miles an hour was a mortal sin, there have been others just as silly. But they can also be incredibly deep, such as the Humane Vitae put out by Pope Paul the second.

More than anything else the Doctrine of the Church has caused us to stumble, for instance the Church has defined what it terms as ‘Days Of Obligation’. These are days when you are required as a Catholic to attend Mass, and a refusal to do so is considered a grave sin. However, these rules exists only in the Catechism. Scripture makes no such claim, the days are decided by a group of bishops. For the United States its a different set of days than anywhere else in the world, in our RCIA class one of our table leaders actually took the days of obligation chart and marked off all the non-essential ones. To further confuse the matter, you can be excused from committing a grave sin, if you have to work on a day of obligation, or are sick.

For Michelle and I the issue is that if your going to tell me that not attending is a grave sin, then you need to back it up with scripture or make a compelling case. From our viewpoint the Church can do neither, when you add that the days are open to interpretation by men, and the Church added clauses to allow people out of the grave sin portion. The position for us become untenable, it reeks of the very thing that Christ admonished the pharisees for. Adding onto the law Moses, and setting up a system of extra rules.

On the flip side of this issue, I’ve only encountered one Catholic who defended the position of the Church. Using Hebrews 10:25 (you could also use Acts 2:42) the position still does not equate to a mortal sin. Yes you can argue that believers should attend, but to then make the jump to what type of sin this amounts to, ignores the function of grace. I’ve heard the same argument from Baptist churches where piety, not belief is the key focus. The majority of Catholics I’ve talked to don’t worry about rules like this. Instead they take Doctrine positions like this apply them only as they see fit.

This is the dichotomy of our journey to the Catholic faith, the words used in the Catechism are very different from what we get from the laity of the Church. Even the Dogma, which is the basis or core of the Church’s belief, has different levels of authority attached to each piece.

The other issue that has torn us, is that it’s so easy to find bad information. Over the years you hear so many false things about what Catholics actually believe. It becomes hard to find the actual truth, the Marian doctrine is a great example. You can even find former Catholics more than willing to opine about how the Church worships Mary, but the actual dogma is much more subtle than protestants can fathom. It’s much easier to simply believe the worst, and to be fair, there are valid concerns with how some have deified Mary.

The more we have time to dig, and look at the foundations of the faith. The more we find depth, history and a reasonable well thought out belief system. We are finally nearing the end, I’m not sure how many more issues we have to work out. But at this point we are committed to finishing the journey, when you begin to understand the deep historical and biblical nature of how the Church operates. The more we realize far we have come, and how far we still have to go. Coming up soon is reconciliation, another topic for another time.

I’ve been actually sitting on this article for some time, In December I finished two classes, along with RCIA and other things going on it was a crazy time for us. I’ve reduced down to one class this semester, so I should have a little more time to keep the site updated. Next up I’ll talk about the Catholic take on salvation, and the Marian doctrines. Honestly some of the more difficult ones we had to work through, another story for another time.