Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Chaput; Take Two

I did not know the interview with Archbishop Chaput was a two-part deal.
So below I posted the rest of the interview. It is actually very interesting and brings things to light.

For one things, my cheeks are burning, Pat Ciarrocchi
was the one pronouncing his name right! I am humbled since apparently his French Canadian pronunciation is Sha-pew, and I have been misled by the local pronunciation. Lesson learned. Please listen to the rest of the interview.

I smell hope on the horizon, and a man of God is coming to sort out Philadelphia. Can't wait to watch it all unfold!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

More on Chaput's World View...

I am thinking I should add a new blog, or change the name of this one.
I am no longer thinking about how my view as a convert differs from other views. I don't think that's important any more.
What I do think is important is following the thinking of Archbishop Chaput, now of Denver, soon to be of Philadelphia.
This quote of the day has helped me connect my life as a citizen of the United States to my life as a member of the body of Christ:

We Christians are in the world but not of the world. We belong to God, and our home is heaven. But we're here for a reason: to change the world, for the sake of the world, in the name of Jesus Christ. The work belongs to us. Nobody will do it for us. And the idea that we can accomplish it without engaging in a hands-on way the laws, the structures, the public policies, the habits of mind, and the root causes that sustain injustice in our country is just delusion. ( Render Unto Caesar, p. 46. )

Friday, September 2, 2011

Archbishop Chaput heads East

I love a good laugh, don't you?
Especially when the media professionals are silly, but don't mean to be. A little bit like the innocence of children who don't know they are cute yet.

( You have to watch the news-clip to enjoy the irony. ) :

Ah, Archbishop Chaput, there are so many great things they could have said about you!
They could have mentioned your book Render Unto Caesar where you write;

"A lot of the new bigotry simply involves a steady stress on Catholic sins while turning a blind eye to Catholic vitality"(p.41)

In the interview you say:
"I can't let this be the only issue...".

Hilariously, they can, however. And they do.

It's almost like they read your book! As their coverage unfolds, it becomes painfully obvious that "this" - sex scandal - IS the only issue. They mention it first. They illustrate it in the middle. ( By the way, the woman who flew to Denver to interview you, did she forget to pack her skirt?)

They close with more about "this."

You have an interesting fight ahead Archbishop Chaput. Not the least of which you will have to teach them to pronounce your name.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Evangelizing the 'Next America'

It's not exactly news that our country is headed for extraordinary challenges.
Tonight my husband Pat tried to explain the current economic "solution" to our debt crisis, and even though I suggested he explain it as if I were a 5th grader, my mind drifted away the minute he started talking dollars and cents. I can't comprehend it and I don't even want to try.

Next he updated me on Bill Donahue's latest crusade. Again I shook my head, wearily. I know what a "Catch 22" is but why is Obama putting us in one?

Despair - I know I am supposed to do something, but
the very idea of comprehending, not to mention doing something about the problems in our country in addition to living a busy family life makes me cringe. Like many of you I have kids who need me and I am tired!

But hey, I have figured it out. We are in good shape!

Because here is what I do understand:
the Pope chose Archbishop Charles Chaput as the next Archbishop of Philadelphia. He is at the helm bringing clarity into the murky darkness of what is going on and what we can do.

Below, in his insightful historical analysis of Catholicism in America, Chaput says,

"The ‘next America’ has been in its chrysalis a long time…. But the future is not predestined. We create it with our choices. And the most important choice we can make is both terribly simple and terribly hard: to actually live what the Church teaches, to win the hearts of others by our witness, and to renew the soul of our country with the courage of our own Christian faith and integrity.”-Catholics and the Next America - Charles Chaput, Archdiocese of Denver; soon to be Archbishop of Philadelphia

Monday, July 18, 2011

Kissing Frogs

Ever hear of a guy named Charles Sanders Pierce? It was while reading a collection of his essays in undergraduate school many years ago, that I became able to think for myself. History sings the praises of pioneers who had new thoughts: Marx, Freud, Darwin. But college doesn't necessarily give us the ability to think for ourselves. It feels like I discovered it by accident, one Spring day, when a cartoon popped into my mind.
Things you need to know to have a better understanding of why I thought the way I did before the cartoon moment:
I was raised by a mother who had embraced secular humanism. ( We can use reason to deduce the good the true and the beautiful. Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Human Needs. )
I was also raised by a Father and Step-Mother who were fallen-away Catholics. When I was 10 they started following a Guru from India. Thus I was indoctrinated into the belief that Jesus was one of many enlightened beings. The part of my life I spent in my father's home were not happy years. So I was not a fan of what I believed to be religion in general. Also my Father was openly disgusted with Christians. Without adult self-awareness, I accepted this notion as - well, gospel truth, which is funny when you consider that there were no Bibles in the homes in which I was raised.
So - with that in mind I want to share with you how Charles Sanders Pierce, the unknown philosopher who was the true father of American Pragmatism, taught me to think for myself.
It is pretty simple, really, what he taught me: Philosophers and Scientists had been switched in their cradles. We do not hold ideas in our minds, as Philosophers like to insist,we discover them in experience, like any good Empirical Scientist.
Thus it was that while discussing his ideas about what Philosophy's job was in a class 22 years ago that an image popped into my mind. Like a cartoon!
Before that moment of the cartoon, my working model of the act of thinking was; as people we choose to entertain thoughts, and those thoughts can be held up to logic and we can decide what to believe and proceed as reason dictates. Visualize the classic "ghost in the machine."
With the revelation that Pierce's writing provided, "We are scientists discovering beliefs", I saw, courtesy of an unexpected cartoon; myself and my classmates as bundles of statements walking around colliding with experiences. We did not determine the whole thinking process as sentient beings. We WERE our thoughts, and our thoughts were colliding with new information and being changed whether we wanted them to or not. I lost that sense of Cartesian mind/body duality.
Without the idea that I was a brain in a body I realized there was no such thing as objectivity, wherein reason is the sovereign faculty - which is, in my opinion, the primary illusion that a liberal arts education rests upon. When I realized there was no such thing as objectivity I started to question all that stems from objectivity. I quickly noticed that we were expected to accept too many things as given - if you are curious please see Pius IX Syllabus of Errors. They are all there! And that is how I used a liberal arts degree to deconstruct modernity.
With Pragmatism I was able to side-step all the absurdity that goes with modernity - relativism, for one. That there is no God, for another. Oh how silly it is to proceed along that line of thought. Do you know, friend, that without faith in God, you can't even accomplish an act of kindness? You can try to be good, but you can't know with absolute certainty that the outcome of your good intentions will be good. ( Ethics of Ambiguity, Simone de Beauvoir )
Pierce introduced the fact the we were objects in a field of other objects. We do not decide or dictate the contents of our mind - our thought is the product of our experiences.
I began to wonder - are our experiences random or is some greater being making things occur? The only way I could know was by experimenting. Eventually, I reconsidered the tossed aside notion that Religion was bad.
I only did what Pierce suggested - when it came to my guiding beliefs, such as Who am I? What is my life for? What makes anything have any meaning? I acted as a scientist would: I tried out different beliefs, and I looked for consequences. If a certain belief had a consequence that made me less able to handle my life - then that was a bad belief. If a certain belief helped me to survive or feel health of mind - I deemed it to be true.
Eventually I was able to pull the Bible back out of my Father's discard pile - you can do this kind of thing if you take nothing for granted. You can "discover" Truth.
It takes a long time to get to mental health, or Truth, in this way. But I find it pretty comforting, personally. There is hope for people who are willing to try on thoughts, or kiss frogs.
Have you ever heard the statement "If you want a Prince, you have to kiss a lot of frogs." ? Oh the frogs, the frogs. That is a story for another time. And anyway, He's really a King.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Catholics take note:

When I think about my own personal history, it does not surprise me that the REAL Catholic perspective has become totally marginalized in the world today. I personally hate to be unpopular, but I'll do it for Him. (8th Beatitude.) Will you? Let me tell you a secret:
Smart people find God in their desperation, not in their thinking. They do not find him with their thinking because they are too complex to see anything so simple as a God-man who loves them so much He would give up His perfect, beautiful lovable self for them. But when they are desperate, facing the abyss - then the question can be posed - what would your life look like if you fell in love with the God-man who loved you so much that He was willing to give up His perfect and totally lovable self and die, just for you?
We are surrounded by this desperation and what I really want to tell you is that I was desperate and 25 before a very kind and wise 15 year old told me the secrets which gave me the keys to the Kingdom. She said "I believe that when a woman has sex she gives up her right to not be pregnant."
And I was 26 when my even wiser friend told me the best thing, the kindest thing I have ever been told - "The Bible says God is love."
I was a smart person, too smart to find God with my thinking. I thank you now, God, for the desperation, and the answers that came when I looked up from my misery.
But I have to ask - why was I 25 before a single Catholic ever told me what I needed to hear?
This knowledge I have, about the darkness out there, compels me to ask you - have you shared what you know with a desperate smart person lately? It's your job if you are following Christ. And I run into plenty of desperate smart people - and it is never my job to decide what kind of ground I have come across - thorny, shallow, dry, what have you - (Matthew 13 1-23 ) I just keep throwing those words out there.

Saturday, July 9, 2011