Sunday, April 17, 2011

Purely-pure vs. Happy-clappy: a tale of two Churches

When I was a young Catholic, I spent some years fervently believing in the existence of two Catholic Churches. One was the Church of my imagination, the Catholic Church of the Purely Pure, the Church that really, truly did everything Jesus wanted exactly the way He wanted them to; the other was the Church I actually knew, consisting of the many parishes in which I spent my formative years as my family moved around the country.

In the Church of the Purely Pure, there were no felt banners. That I knew with a surety that was rooted in the depth of my soul. There was no banal music; there were no jarring bits of architectural lunacy; there was a lot of magnificent stained glass. No one ever attended the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the Church of the Purely Pure without being dressed in at least their second finest clothes (since ball gowns and tuxedos would have been ostentatiously out of place even for those who owned such things). The priests in the Purely Pure Church didn't just "say the black and do the red," they did so with machine-like perfection, exemplifying sacerdotal authority, reverence, humility, grace, and total self-effacement at all times. The congregation never coughed or sniffled (and children were always perfect); nobody ever shattered the heavenly banquet with any reminder of earthly humanity; and in every prayer, posture, song, word and gesture the congregation also modeled reverence and awe in the presence of the Lord. From twenty minutes before Mass began until twenty minutes after the entire place was liquid with silence and pierced with crystalline jewels of saintly light, permeating through those beautiful windows; it was, in a word, Divine.

This Church had existed, I was sure. The voices of those Catholics I listened to, the words of those I read, the opinions of those I sought informed me that this Church had been every church and parish in America, until the dreadful Second Vatican Council had put an axe to the foundations of this ancient institution, and had substituted a raw and ugly sapling for the venerable tree that had once grown on this not-so-ancient land.

Instead of that Church, though, I knew a different Church--the Church of the Happy-Clappy, the Church of Haugen and Haas, the Church of the modern American suburban parish, where the only sin was talking about sin or otherwise making people feel uncomfortable. In that Church's parishes, felt banners ironically proclaimed the mediocrity of their creators and their surroundings; the music was auditory torture; the architecture was jarring on purpose. Stained glass windows, candles (except for the ones mandated on the altars) and incense had disappeared; statues were removed and replaced with abstract art, much of it pagan in tone or influence. The priests in this Church ad-libbed the Mass with congregational approval and had a tendency to act like stage performers; the lay people flitted around the altar like moths drawn to a cracked porch light; the people in the pews sang and prayed and gestured "Look at Us! Aren't we Special?" the whole time, spending no time at all thinking about God or what He'd like in the way of worship. There was a ceaseless din in the place, and before and after Mass people acted like the whole point of being there was to chat and gossip and tattle and talk; if there was a quiet place in the whole building, it was the dark ugly closet into which the Eucharistic Lord had been shoved (because we can't possibly have Him at center stage, upstaging Father Performer, can we?).

For many of my young years I held this dual view of the Church in my mind: the beautiful Church I'd never seen, and the Happy-Clappy one I was all too familiar with. The former was probably in Rome, at least somewhere there, because the pope would insist on it--but was it anywhere else? Anywhere I could find? The latter was as cheaply ubiquitous as a fast-food restaurant, and about as satisfying; nobody there, I was sure, followed the Church's teachings on anything, and going there Sunday after Sunday was depressing and dull.

Not being able to go live in Rome, I simply festered in resentment and would-be righteous anger: I knew what my various parishes ought to be, and felt as though I was personally suffering for what they were not. That I was also sitting in judgment on my fellow Catholics, including most of my pastors, bothered me not at all: I could see the fruits of their indifference, mediocrity, and light heresy; why call my attitude judgment when it was merely observation?

I wish I had a "Road to Damascus" incident to recall, here, but when I looked back on this time in my life not long ago, I realized that my slow conversion from this mindset wasn't punctuated by anything quite so dramatic. Instead, over the course of quite a few years, I came to see that this belief of mine was wrong, entirely and dangerously so. There has never been a Church of the Purely-Pure; there is not now a Church of the Happy-Clappy. There is the Church, and there are Catholics, and they--and I--are for the most part fallible human beings inclined with the best will in the world to make mistakes and shatter the vision of perfection I once thought was my stolen birthright.

Though I don't remember one particular incident or moment that brought me to this understanding, I do remember a few. Among them are these:

--the pastor/confessor I had who kept assigning me to read 1 Corinthians 13 as my penance;

--my feeling of absolute surprise at hearing a former parish's choir pray aloud for the unborn and for an end to abortion (and my near-immediate shame at having assumed they'd all be pro-choice hippie liberals);

--my gearing up to do battle on a liturgical matter only to find out that my pastor had already insisted to the offending party that the rubrics be followed;

--my gearing up to do battle on another matter involving a Catholic friend--only to have that friend instantly, unquestioningly, and wholeheartedly accept the Church's teaching in an area in which he had been honestly unaware of that teaching;

--my surprise (and joy) when some guitar-playing Hispanic parishioners at a parish were absolutely delighted by some hymns in Latin and were eager to learn more;

--my humility in seeing so many people, more than I can list, embrace crosses I can't even fathom while continuing to serve the Lord cheerfully in any way they can...

There are so many more, far too many for me to list here. But one thing I've learned is this: when I go bristling into any situation as a secret member of the Church of the Purely Pure, I nearly always end up ashamed of my suspicion that my fellow parishioners are not-so-secret liberal Catholics who will resist anything truly Catholic to the core of their beings. Are there some like that? Sure, perhaps a handful. But are they the majority? No. And am I, in my Purely Pure impulses, always right about what the Church teaches or what she wants? No--I'm human too, and make just as many mistakes as anybody.

Do we have work to do, here in America, to help with the reform of the reform? Of course we do, and that work has already begun. Better liturgies, better catechesis, better discipleship: those are the three things we will begin to see, and need to help bring about. But the absolutely wrong, spiritually poisonous thing to do at this juncture, is to pit the Church of the Purely Pure against the Church of the Happy-Clappy as if they were not one Body.

I still hate felt banners, and would love to experience, at Mass, a reverent silence that is golden in its liquidity. But I no longer hate the people who make felt banners, or scowl at two elderly ladies who are delighted to see each other before Mass (and totally unaware how far their voices are carrying). I no longer sit in judgment on the people who lector, who serve at the altar or serve as EMHCs, or sing those Haugen songs; being in the choir means I'd have to judge myself for the banality of the music, but how will the music ever improve if nobody who wants to sing sacred music ever joins the choir?

We have work to do. Let's do it as one, instead of pitting ourselves in haughty judgment against each other.

24 comments:

Patrick said...

Nice post. I'm very thankful to be a "John Paul II baby", which means a lot of that Vatican II strife is just a rumor for me.

Is lectoring unorthodox? I've grown up with it, so I didn't realize it was a problem. I guess the priest used to do the whole thing himself, but I don't see how lectoring is theologically unsound or even off-putting. (Unlike layman distributing the Eucharist; which while not theologically unsound is off-putting for me.)

I've found most Catholics holding unorthodox views do it out of lack of knowledge/poor Catechism/etc. rather than conviction. Those folks are persuadable to orthodoxy, and, for me, it has been nice to befriend some of the more liberal Catholics and, whenever Church matters get discussed over a pint of beer, persuade them to orthodoxy. (It's a two-way street, too; I get "pointers" on kindness, civility, etc. - things that aren't exactly my strengths. We can all learn from each other.)

Anonymous said...

Amen Erin. I've learned that things are not as bad now as I thought they were, and things were also not as great then as I had imagined them to be. Further, me being a snob wasn't going to do any good.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Amen again. The specific issues within the RC church are not my issues, since I am not a member of that church, but the pride and humility, the principle and pragmatism, the recognition that we are all fallible, and that more than not, people who disagree are sincere, are universal. On the Protestant side, I've discovered a quiet respect for the lyrics of James Watt, and while there are some praise songs that genuinely bring me closer to God, there are an awful lot that amount to "Watch me do my praise." C.S. Lewis had an observation to puncture sitting in judgement on neighbors, which I can only paraphrase from memory: if I, knowing who I am, can call myself a Christian, why shouldn't all those beside me in the pew, who also have their faults?

Bathilda said...

thanks for that post, Erin. Patrick, it's interesting that you should say that you could persuade someone into orthodoxy over a pint of beer, because a fellow soccer mom tried to persuade me that the Catholic Church is an evil cult over a pint of beer just this weekend! She's a fundamentalist evangelical, and found it "shocking" that someone as intelligent as me could be guiled into being Catholic. She had me at intelligent, and lost me along the way. She subscribes to the whole shebang...the earth is seven thousand years old, scoffed at all scientific theory, the whole deal.

That doesn't really have anything to do with this post, but I thought it kind of a funny coincidence that I, of all people, found myself defending the Faith!

My only defense that I am comfortable giving is this: I only know how I feel when I go to Mass. A lot of things in the Church, whether purely pure or happy clappy are indefensible.

JMB said...

Years ago I complained to my pastor about the DRE in our parish and he said to me "The good news is that the Church will survive without you!", and She has, and will because Jesus promised.
Great post!

Anonymous said...

Good job

romishgraffiti said...

I still hate felt banners, and would love to experience, at Mass, a reverent silence that is golden in its liquidity. But I no longer hate the people who make felt banners, or scowl at two elderly ladies who are delighted to see each other before Mass (and totally unaware how far their voices are carrying). I no longer sit in judgment on the people who lector, who serve at the altar or serve as EMHCs, or sing those Haugen songs;

i don't recall ever seriously hating or judging anyone I disagreed with. When I found a bunch of palm leaves in the trash can this Sunday, I didn't mutter stuff about heathens; I just assumed an innocent lack of proper instruction, pulled the leaves out of the can got to someone that would dispose of them properly. I don't even think I really hate the abusive practices that have troped their way into the Mass. I don't hate them in the same way I don't hate a gallon of spoiled milk--it still needs to be thrown out of course.

Patrick said...

@ Bathilda:

"...that I, of all people, found myself defending the Faith!"

I don't follow exactly. Why *wouldn't* you defend the Faith?

Bathilda said...

@Patrick, because I don't follow the faith to the letter, I am a liberal, and according to many posters, I am a heretic.

Anonymous said...

Awesome post Erin!

Siarlys Jenkins said...

When Paul wrote of "heresy," he used a Greek term that had connotations of "party or faction." He was criticizing those who said "I am of the party of Paul" as much as those who said "I am of Appollo" or of Peter. Viewed in this light, orthodoxy is merely the heresy in power. The existence of dogma, doctrine and canons is itself the root of the evil, because where one man writes one doctrine, another man will assail it. Athanasius is as guilty as Arias, the Bishops of Rome as guilty as Martin Luther, the Purely-Pure as guilty as the Catholycs.

"Judgement is mine, saith the Lord."

Patrick said...

@ Siarlys Jenkins:

"Viewed in this light, orthodoxy is merely the heresy in power."

That presupposes a lack of absolute Truth. Of course, *all Christians* believe there is an absolute Truth, so orthodoxy is that Truth manifested in the sacraments and sacred tradition of the Church God founded on the "rock" of St. Peter.

@ Bathilda:

"and according to many posters, I am a heretic."

Just so you don't feel gratuitously insulted, "heretic" and "heresy" are technical terms for particular disagreements with the Faith. "Heresy" is acceptance of *some* of a religious scheme and rejection of *some other part of that religious scheme*. It doesn't mean "a person who I dislike", it doesn't mean "a nasty, sinful fellow", or even "someone with whom I'm not in partial communion." For example, Protestantism is heretical, Buddhism is not. Protestants accept certain parts of a religious scheme (which parts depend on which denomination of Protestant), while rejecting other parts. And yet, they are still in imperfect communion with the Church. Buddhism accepts *none* of the Catholic scheme, as isn't in any communion with the pope.

Now; I appreciate that many people use "heretic" as a pejorative; I've been guilty of doing that a few times as well. People like that have yet to accept that doctrinal orthodoxy is God's gift to them, not a hammer to swing at their neighbors (whom they ought to love.) However, it is a technical term for a certain type of dissent, and a type of dissent that you are happy to admit in not accepting Magisterial authority. So there's no need to feel gratuitously insulted.

Bathilda said...

Patrick, I am not insulted by people I find to be ridiculous. They were using the word correctly towards me. I just find it to be, let's say, a little bit 15th century. It reminds me of burnings, the rack, and the Inquisition. (probably because I had two semesters of medieval history) I find it amusing that anyone says that they KNOW, without any doubt that they are right about God. They don't. They might believe it with every ounce of their being, but they don't know it. The faithful of every religion believe that they are right. However, I am a "practicing" Catholic who is half hearted about following the rules and rituals, and therefore, a heretic.

I liked this post of Red's because it was actually humble and admitted that perfection is in the eye of the beholder. Thanks again, Red.

Siarlys... you rock!

Patrick said...

@ Bathilda:

"I find it amusing that anyone says that they KNOW, without any doubt that they are right about God. They don't. They might believe it with every ounce of their being, but they don't know it. The faithful of every religion believe that they are right."

Well, we don't know on our own understanding or merit, but by faith in Christ. When Christ says, "I am the truth, the life, and the way, nobody comes to the Father but through me" (Jn 14:6), we don't say, "oh, that's just your opinion". Do you? You couldn't possibly, else you wouldn't be a Christian at all. You must except that Jesus testifying to Himself as the Son of God is absolutely and objectively true, right? And so why you're right to point to individual Christians' personal fallibility and incomplete/erroneous understanding of God, we have God's own testimony for absolute Truth, and we're able to recognize this through the workings of the Holy Spirit.

Again; that presumes that Jesus' testimony to Himself is True and the logos of the universe, but if we didn't believe that, we wouldn't be Christians to begin with. So in spite of our personal sinfulness, we do know Truth because we've believed God's testimony...Not on our own intelligence, you're right, but by God's Word.

As far as the rules and rituals, those things flow directly from faith in Christ. Take the "Real Presence of Christ" in the Eucharist; a doctrine of orthodox Catholicism that I'm unaware any Protestant sect accepts. We know that the Jews were eating the Passover lamb. We know that Jesus declared Himself the "manna from Heaven" (Jn 6:51). We know that Jesus is, personally, the new covenant and the eternal sacrifice. We know that He said, "this is my body...(etc)...this is my blood...(etc.) (Mt. 26, 14-16), and he did this all at the Passover. And so we know that the Real Presence is True not because we are smart, but because we have faith in Christ, and Christ has told us He's the living bread, etc.

My point is that the rituals, while they may seem arcane or superstitious on their surface, actually flow logically from faith in Christ.

As far as the word "heresy" is concerned; it seems you dislike it because it is an old word with negative connotations. Of course, just because a word is old doesn't make it useless or bad; most of the words we have a quite old. "Priest", for instance, is an Anglicized version of the Latin "presbyter", which is from the Greek "presbyteros". We use it anyway, even though the word is more than seventeen centuries old.

On the negative connotation of the word; that's why I wanted to make clear it was a technical descriptor, not an insult. Because you listed your dissent twice in your above post, my guess was that there was something especially needling about the word. I was wrong about that, though; we completely understand each other on it.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Patrick, I have no doubt that there is an unassailable absolute Truth, and that it was established by an omnipotent Creator, depending in no way on my own perception, or yours, or the Bishop of Rome's, or the Nicene Council's.

No orthodoxy IS "that truth" manifested in any doctrines, dogmas or rituals. Every heresy, including those which have managed to establish themselves as orthodoxy, is someone's sincere attempt to grasp that Truth.

Jesus said exactly what you quote from John 14, although I think you inverted a few words - strictly a typo. He ALSO said that "all the law and the prophets" hangs on two commandments: Love the Lord with all your heart, mind and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself. He ALSO said that there would be faithful devotees to himself who would find themselves among the goats because "Inasmuch as you did it not to the least of these my brethren, you did it not unto me." Not to mention, some who never adhered to his church would be among the sheep, because "inasmuch as you did it to the least of these my brethren, you did it unto me."

It is my understanding, binding on no other, that Chapter 14 has been misunderstood. Look at the questions Jesus is answering. They wanted to be shown the Father -- knowing full well that Moses was told "You cannot see my face and live." He was reminding them WHY it was necessary for him to live a human life among them.

But most important, Jesus NEVER said "And I will build a great basilica in Rome itself, in the seat of empire, and it shall rule My Church which shall be THE ordinary means of salvation to all people." That was conveniently extrapolated later. It could be true for all I know, but it could be false for all Jesus ever said.

I repeat: orthodoxy is merely the heresy in power. We all need to try to understand the Truth, with humility toward the fact that our neighbors may come to a different understanding, because none of us can truly grasp it in its entirety.

Patrick said...

@ Siarlys Jenkins: I liked you're post.

"But most important, Jesus NEVER said "And I will build a great basilica in Rome itself, in the seat of empire, and it shall rule My Church which shall be THE ordinary means of salvation to all people."

Haha. You're right: He never said that. Sadly, He never renamed Simon "Cephas", saying "you are the Rock, and upon this Rock I will build my Church...for about 1500 years; then I will *re-establish* my Church with Martin Luther, and anyone else who just feels like talkin' 'bout Jesus."

The Church of Christ *has to* have apostolic succession because Christ established it with St. Peter as it's earthly head. And so while nobody could comprehend full Truth (which is infinite), there *is* a proper earthly vessel for comprehending what we can comprehend. Was it biblically mandated that the Church end up in Rome? Of course not. But apostolic succession *is* biblically mandated - if there were no need for authority, Jesus wouldn't have said anything about the Rock of Peter, Jesus wouldn't have said anything about "binding and loosing sins" (which was previously done by a Rabbi in an elaborate ceremony that makes Catholicism look austere.). No Protestant sect can claim any thing like authority; and it shows in the various oddness you get in the Protestant sects that get further and further away from the Church. (I've heard there were Protestant sects that actually use *grape juice* instead of wine at whatever substitute they have for the Eucharistic sacrifice. Grape juice! Can you imagine that? One thing that's certain is that Christ didn't serve His disciples grape juice at the Last Supper. That's minor, too; it doesn't even touch "prosperity gospel" stuff and the more serious departures from anything biblically based.)

Nobody quite grasps full Truth; which isn't to say there aren't better and worse grasps of it: but as I said, the further you get outside of the proper Jesus-mandated vessel for discovering it, the further you get from anything Jesus said and that's a heck of a coincidence. Well, this argument will go on until the Apocalypse: you can have the last word on it, if you'd like to respond. If you like reading, though, there are some very readable books by Scott Hahn - a Calvinist minister-turned-Catholic-scholar, that explains some of the biblical roots of Catholic rituals that seem odd on their surface.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

I was raised in a church that uses grape juice, and I currently belong to another. Although Lutheran teaching adheres closely to transubstantiation, we didn't. (Luther said something about the literal body and blood being over, under, around, through and behind the physical bread and wine). The altar of a church I often attend has the simple words "This do in remembrance of me." I know of no reason to be concerned about whether I remember Jesus with wine or grape juice. Wine was the standard drink served at meals, for many reasons, cultural and sanitary.

Actually, many Protestant denominations adhere to the principle of Apostolic Succession, which I find a bit silly. One tie that held the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church to the Methodist Episcopal Church for some decades is the doctrinal necessity to have AMEZ bishops annointed by ME bishops who had some continuity to Anglican bishops who could trace a line via the pre-Henry VIII RC church back to the Apostles.

The reference to Simon the Terrorist (baryona, not bar-Jonah, since his father was not names Jonah) is obscure, and the notion that this established a line of authority extending beyond the man's lifetime is contrived.

Oddly enough, many of the more recent Protestant phenomena preach constantly about obedience. I am darn close to suggesting to some of them that if they want to be obedient, they should return to the Roman Catholic Church and offer obedience to Rome. I prefer the teaching of John Wycliffe, which was not so much that any given Bible is a talisman, but that man has no earthly spiritual overlord but Jesus.

I am not convinced that there IS a Jesus-mandated vessel for discovering the truth. There are vessels that have offered themselves. Some Roman Catholics who have become disgusted with the worldly errors of the priesthood have transferred their allegiance to the Greek Orthodox Church, which arguably has an earlier claim, although by the 19th century it had a sharply diminished base of parishioners.

bathilda said...

(I've heard there were Protestant sects that actually use *grape juice* instead of wine at whatever substitute they have for the Eucharistic sacrifice. Grape juice! Can you imagine that?


****Patrick--you've "heard" this? Maybe your ignorance of other practices keeps you faithful to the Catholic Church, and not your devotion. I was going to say something about living under Peter's rock, but I'll pass on the snark. (kinda) Do you really not know how other churches do things? or were you being sarcastic?

Patrick said...

@ Bathilda:

"Do you really not know how other churches do things? or were you being sarcastic?"

No, I'm quite serious. I'm a "cradle Catholic" and I've only been to one Protestant service in my entire life; and it was a favor to an acquaintance after I had called his church a "cult". I guiltily accepted his invitation to attend an odd rock-and-roll spectacle with a pastor wearing jeans who said, "when you get to Heaven, God's gonna say, 'You know what? You did *awesome*". He actually said that.

In fact, I didn't *have* any Protestant friends until I went to college; when I found out about the grape juice. I've been to as many Jewish seders as Protestant services (1). So I had many "firsts" (some of them to my shame and discredit), before I was friends with any church-going Protestants. We're still friends, but he lapsed; so now I have zero church-going Protestant friends.

"Maybe your ignorance of other practices keeps you faithful to the Catholic Church, and not your devotion."

Think what you will about my devotion to the Lord and His Church. I've never been interested in exchanging the Real Presence for some grape juice, though, haha; heretical doctrines have nothing to offer that hasn't been stolen from the Catholic Church: and that is a matter of historical fact.

Patrick said...

Haha: I forgot to relate this anecdote. One time I told my mother about a "love interest" of mine, and my mother said, "X doesn't *sound* like a Catholic name to me." And I said, "No, indeed, she's not a Catholic." And my mother darn near hung up the phone, haha. She didn't do that, but the subject was quickly changed.

Thanks for the introspection, Bathilda. I haven't thought about that in years.

Bathilda said...

Patrick, the internet ate my response, apparently, and I don't know if you still check on this thread, but the gyst was this: It baffles me that anyone, through a normal amount of reading and observing the world, even movie watching, could still be so ignorant of other religious practices. I have the benefit of taking some really good religious studies classes in college, but I have also been to weddings, funerals, etc. in many denominations. I am from a small town NOT known for diversity, so most of this experience has been as an adult. I don't know how old you are....

You may scoff at the folksy nature of many evangelical type sermons, but those churches are growing in number by leaps and bounds. Why? maybe because they use vernacular that people understand and relate to.

Oh, and as a result of some interesting Religious Studies classes, as well as reading on my own, I have learned that the judeo christian bible doesn't have anything much that hasn't been "stolen" from other traditions/religions. creation, obviously, fall from grace, serpent, flood, virgin birth, redeemer prophet, three days gone, resurrection...all in other religions, too. I'm not knocking our religion, especially, I'm just giving you the big slice of humble pie you seemingly need.

Patrick said...

@ Bathilda:

"It baffles me that anyone, through a normal amount of reading and observing the world, even movie watching, could still be so ignorant of other religious practices."

I don't think "movie watching" gives me a knowledge of other peoples' religious practices. I watched a movie about Buddhist monks looking for the re-incarnated dali lama. And I read a few books by Thich Nhat Hahn (who is one of those Buddhist monks). Heck; I even went to one or two of the "breathing practices", just to see what it was like. Does that give me a knowledge of Buddhist religious practices? No. Most of it remains foreign to me. I have no idea if they have churches or services or organized prayer groups or "hospitalities" or "Buddhist church ladies", etc.

You know; I begin to think it isn't that I'm any less knowledgeable than anyone else; I'm just more honest with the limits of it. If "movie watching" and having a comparative religion class constitute an understanding of other peoples' religions, well...

"You may scoff at the folksy nature of many evangelical type sermons, but those churches are growing in number by leaps and bounds. Why? maybe because they use vernacular that people understand and relate to"

I don't care if evangelicalism is popular (this is quite unlike many around the Catholic Internet, who place a big importance on Catholic evangelization). Christ said "the gates of Hell" wouldn't prevail against His Church (Mt. 16:18), and so evangelicalism's popularity neither concerns me nor interests me. If folksy services appeal to people, let them go to folksy services; *I* had no interest in heretical doctrines then, nor do I now.

"I have learned that the judeo christian bible doesn't have anything much that hasn't been "stolen" from other traditions/religions. creation, obviously, fall from grace, serpent, flood, virgin birth, redeemer prophet, three days gone, resurrection...all in other religions, too."

You're right: but they are all testifying to Christ. I was heartily enthused to find the east Asian concept of "Chi" (energy) theorized a field of energy that surrounds a person. It looks exactly like what an angel is supposed to look like. So sure; all religions have these things - and they're all pointing to Christ. Christ is the originator, and these religions are better or worse reflections of eternal truth.

On the point, though; what I really meant was Protestant faiths haven't come up with any "new" thing that I can't find in Catholicism; plus they usually leave out some of the older stuff (veneration of Our Lady) in order to "simplify" Christianity. That makes the Protestant faiths better or worse facsimiles (Anglicanism v. say, Anabaptists) to things that the Catholic Church developed. As a matter of historical fact. Others may like folksy services, but I wouldn't trade the Real Presence for grape juice. Ever.

"I'm just giving you the big slice of humble pie you seemingly need."

Well, you're right about that, hahaha. The question is whether your easily answerable points will give that slice, hahaha. You may have the last word, if you care to respond. I will certainly read it, but I won't reply.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Patrick, applying the same logic you offer above, perhaps Jesus was testifying to the White Goddess, as Robert Graves sometimes insinuates. I do think there is an underlying reason that so many different religions share so many themes in common. I also believe that monotheism is closer to The Truth than polytheism. But only an ex post facto claim by a devoted adherent can readily define "all other religions" but their own as "testifying to" the object of the particular speaker's devotion.

I was, for instance, a bit shaken to learn that the Eleusinian mystery, practiced for some centuries B.C., involved initiates being sealed up in a tomb for three days, then emerging "reborn" into new life. I'm still not sure that some early Greek Christians didn't apply the notion to what they heard from Jewish adherents of Yehoshua. But, for all that confusion, I have no doubt that God had a unique purpose for Jesus's life on earth.

Protestants "leave out" veneration of Our Lady because, as a Talmudic scholar once pointed out, it is no coincidence that the first Christian church dedicated to veneration of Mary was built in Ephesus. Apparently, those Ephesian silver smiths were going to have a woman to venerate, one way or the other. There is nothing in the Gospels to grant Mary such status.

On the other hand, I see no reason to annoy Catholic ladies who find some comfort in praying for Mary's intercession. If it brings them closer to God, so be it. I'm sure God doesn't mind. Whether it is The Truth, God knows we don't know and can't know. As Thomas Merton wrote "I believe that the desire to please you does please you."

Mrs. Pinkerton said...

Thanks for this, Erin. I am still in the throes of recovery from Purely Puritanism. Please pray for me.