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Source: (consider it) Thread: Purgatory: The authority of the Catholic Church
leo
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quote:
Originally posted by Trisagion:
Leo, your local Catholic ecumenical contact is acting directly contrary to his own Bishop's wishes. When +Declan was a VG in my diocese he required all schools and churches to describe themselves as "Catholic" and to remove any reference to "Roman Catholic" from notepaper, signed, documentation etc. When he was appointed to Clifton (where I was then living), he issued the same instruction.

Yes - I know and highly respect +Declan and this doesn't surprise me. The diocese had a lot of trouble finding someone to take on this job.

Looking on the bright side, having found one, they are now trying to resource the (voluntary) post and i am impressed by and learning from what has emerged.

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My Jewish-positive lectionary blog is at http://recognisingjewishrootsinthelectionary.wordpress.com/
My reviews at http://layreadersbookreviews.wordpress.com

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Rosina
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quote:
Originally posted by k-mann:
So you are in fact not using a definition of religion that any lexicon agrees to? Why should we bother discussing with you if you don’t use words in ways that can actually be understood?

What is it you do not understand about my words: "Religion is a creation of man"? ISTM human beings need to find order and meaning in the universe. Human beings like to belong and the formal, ritualized expression of a set of foundational beliefs brings people together. I know religion is never going to go away. However, I am not interested in religion as much as truth. Which is why I asked Eliab "why?" he wrote what he did about belonging to the RCC.

Religion is not the keeper of truth nor the guardian of truth. God alone is Keeper and Guardian of Truth It is truth that sets man free from his beliefs in religious teachings that are not truth. It is only the truth from God that gives man life and raises him up from death. Sadly many religions teach that man cannot seek and find God directly but this is in direct contradiction to the teachings of Jesus who taught "go into a quiet place and ask" and "fast and pray".


Here is a quote for you by Lucius Annaeus Seneca "the Younger,"
Roman stoic philosopher, writer, and politician (4-65):

"Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful."


[Smile]

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"Imagine." If you can imagine, you can dream, and if you can dream, you can hope and if you have hope, you may seek and if you seek; you will find.

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k-mann
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quote:
Originally posted by Rosina:
quote:
Originally posted by k-mann:
So you are in fact not using a definition of religion that any lexicon agrees to? Why should we bother discussing with you if you don’t use words in ways that can actually be understood?

What is it you do not understand about my words: "Religion is a creation of man"?
I understood you perfectly. It’s just that you’re wrong.

If you had just gone to a normal dictionary, like the Oxford dictionary, you would see that the noun ‘religion’ means “the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.” Did Christ want us to believe in and worship God? If yes, he wants us to be in a religion. That is what the word means. To say that ‘religion’ is ‘man made’ makes as much sense as saying that you cannot walk, because walking is ‘man made.’ Yes, certain walks are indeed ‘man made.’ Walking as such isn’t ‘man made’ in the samse sense.

Furthermore, ‘religion’ is derived from the latin word religare, which means ‘to bind.’ This implies that we have a bound to God (relationship with him), and perhaps that we are bound to his will.

So yes, you are using a definition of ‘religion’ that you have come up with yourself, and you demand people to go along with you misconception. Are you sure your name isn’t Humpty Dumpty?

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"Being religious means asking passionately the question of the meaning of our existence and being willing to receive answers, even if the answers hurt."
— Paul Tillich

Katolikken

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Rosina
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quote:
Did Christ want us to believe in and worship God?

snip

Furthermore, ‘religion’ is derived from the latin word religare, which means ‘to bind.’ This implies that we have a bound to God (relationship with him), and perhaps that we are bound to his will.

How could one not worship God?

We will have to agree to disagree on our understanding of the word "religion"

Jesus did not ask anyone to just believe in God. He declared that if they followed the way he taught then they would know the truth and they would be set free.
Free from false religious teachings and doctrines.

Jesus did not found any religion. He fought against religion.
He taught others concerning the reality of God and how to ask and receive from God.

Members of a religion all refer to the teachings of the founder of their particular religion - in the case of the RCC this is the pope.

This is the opposite of the teachings of Jesus who taught "seek ye first the kingdom of God".

Jesus knew and spoke of the reality of God. It is a very foolish person indeed who prefers their religion to God.

Jesus never taught man to create religion nor to follow religious doctrine. He taught a "way" in and by which a person would gain knowledge by personal experience. Actually it is a scientific way to follow and is a way of proving.

As is written "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it"

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"Imagine." If you can imagine, you can dream, and if you can dream, you can hope and if you have hope, you may seek and if you seek; you will find.

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Eliab
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quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
Firstly, if you are to be received into the RCC you will have to vow the following (RCIA #491): "I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God." It is basically certain that you would get away with committing perjury on the issue of contraception or really any other issue, unless you manage to make a huge public issue out of this and thereby force the hierarchy into action. Nevertheless, a lack of prosecution does not make a false oath right.

Agreed.

quote:
Secondly, nevertheless your approach here is flawed. In the final analysis you are asked to accept a claim of authority, not of truth. Of course, that authority precisely claims to speak Divine truth. Hence to some extent finding truth in what that authority says supplies evidence for its authority. Yet the fundamental problem of the moral and spiritual life is that practically speaking truth can be found only very partially by our own lights. Worse, it is a truth, which is available to us by introspection, that we are often arrayed against truth, in particular moral truth.
I think I'm a little more optimistic than you about our ability to discern truth, but I think it's a difference of degree, not quality. We certainly won't get to anything like full understanding without help, and we often make mistakes and have failures of perception on moral issues.

quote:
The real question is hence whether you think Christ is the best guide in the first place, and then whether the RCC is the best guide to Christ in the second place.
Yes – and it's the second part that's in issue here.

quote:
quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
The only way I'd ever accept the teaching is by being persuaded on other grounds that the RCC is the supreme judge of this sort of thing, and, having ruled on it, I ought to accept its views simply on authority. That's what I'd like to see argued, and, so far, it hasn't been.

And again, your approach is somewhat flawed. Because if this could be argued, then the Holy Spirit would be out of his job. In the end, there is no compelling argument to be had. For nobody, and nothing. Perhaps we can tilt the playing field a bit with the best of our arguments, but the game itself remains Divine.
If so, then what's the way in?

quote:
But anyway, I guess one has to say something. Let me make the following analogy, which for me is not really an analogy but rather something I lived for many years. If you want to practice martial arts, you have to make a key decision: are you going to practice a traditional martial art, or are you looking for self-defense or perhaps skill in cage fighting competitions?
I like that analogy. It seems to me that the difference is this – the 'skill-oriented ' approach is going to ask, of every technique, “does this work for me? - does it keep me safe, improve my fitness, help me win competitions, get me to whatever my objective is?”. It will certainly be attentive to, and make use of traditions, because those, after all, are records of what has worked in the past for lots of other people, so are prima facie worth learning, but ultimately it will take a critical view. Every technique has to earn its place in the syllabus. The student always has the power to accept or reject something depending on whether it serves his objective.

The 'tradition-based' approach is more about learning a way which the student submits to. His object is to master a particular art, and therefore to become skilled in whatever that art happens to be good for, rather than set out his own objective and evaluate elements of the art on the degree to which they assist in reaching that goal. The way has become an end in itself, and the student can choose to follow it, or not, but while he follows it using this approach, he simply has to accept what the art is.

quote:
So having identified how I think a Way must be passed on, and assuming that God wants to protect this against human failure, what do we get? I say something like the RC hierarchy is just what I would expect. Mind you, something like it, not necessarily precisely it: I think there are plenty of "accidental features" in what we have now. Still, for me this was and is the obvious source of the Way.
I want to be 'tradition-based' when it comes to Jesus, but I find that I'm 'skill-oriented' when it comes to church. There are many Christians I can learn from, but none that I trust absolutely to tell me what Christianity is - just as the sensible 'skill-oriented' martial artist will have a great deal of respect for the traditional forms, but not absolute submission to them.

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"Perhaps there is poetic beauty in the abstract ideas of justice or fairness, but I doubt if many lawyers are moved by it"

Richard Dawkins

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Eliab
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quote:
Originally posted by Sir Pellinore (ret'd):
I was somewhat amused and slightly curious about the case you put forward.

Were you wanting someone to give you a reason to cross the Tiber? Because, if you were, most Roman Catholic posters seemed to be advising you to exercise extreme care to fully understand what you were actually committing yourself to before you signed up, which seemed to me to be highly ethical and praiseworthy.

See my reply to IngoB above. I am, on his analogy, a student learning an art because I want something from it. In fact, I want lots of things, but the relevant one to this thread is truth. I want to believe as true everything that God has revealed as true, and not place the same level of confidence in anything which has not been so revealed and therefore could well be wrong.

There are two ways to that end – respectful criticism and testing of any doctrine that appears important being one, and respectful submission to a teaching authority that can be trusted to have done the criticism for you being the other. At the moment, I'm at the 'criticism/testing' stage.

One of the things which presents itself as important to me, and which therefore ought to be seriously considered, is the Catholic Church's claim to be a trustworthy (indeed, infallible) teaching authority. I am not starting from a Catholic perspective, so that claim would require a definite choice on my part to accept it. The path I am on at the moment is not the tradition-based one of submission to a particular visible-on-earth spiritual authority, it is what I've called the skill-oriented approach of critically testing doctrinal claims, in which tradition is a powerful argument in favour, but only an argument, not a compelling authority. But to be true to that path, a claim to be a compelling authority ought to be considered, criticised, and tested.

That's the point of this thread. Do I expect to be convinced of Catholic claims? No. Am I open to being convinced? Yes.

quote:
Were you wanting to put holes in many articles of Catholic teaching? Because I think, with great courtesy and grace, most of your objections were dealt with more than adequately.
You did? I don't. Some of the specific problems I had have certainly been answered, but what I'm trying to get at is the exercise of Catholic authority. That goes deeper than agreement or disagreement with Catholic teaching.

An example – Mary's perpetual virginity. My perspective is a critical one - “is that true?”. I take into account that Christendom has long believed it, I qualify that by noting that there have always been many Christians who would be inclined to believe any praise of Mary, and others who have been anti-sex, so the popularity of the doctrine could be accounted for even if it is untrue. I see that we have no primary source evidence, and our secondary sources (the NT writers) either didn't know or didn't care to tell us. And then I ask if, despite all that, it is remotely credible that a devout first century Jew would rush to carnal intimacy with a woman whom he believed had given birth to the Holy One of Israel. And where I end up is agreeing with the doctrine. But I'm not a fraction closer to thinking like a Catholic. IngoB or Trisagion might make exactly the same arguments in favour of it as I would, but unlike me they are not asking “is it true?” but “why is it true?” or “how do we explain and defend this truth?”

What I want is not “there are good reasons for thinking that the Catholic Church is right about this” but “there are compelling reasons, reasons strong enough to bet your spiritual life on, that the Catholic Church is right”. Not right about this or that controversy, but always right, inevitably right, guaranteed-by-God-never-to-be-wrong right. It's that claim that I want to test.

quote:
Were you attempting to nail some sort of personal thesis up because I'm not sure you did?
No.

quote:
Was it just another intellectual game on SOF? "Spiritual Chess"?
No.

There are three possible benefits from the discussion for me. The first two are contradictory: I might discover that the Catholic Church is God's infallible authority on earth; I might be satisfied that this claim has been definitively tested and found wanting. As I say, I don't expect either to happen, but if either did, that would be great – I'd've learning something important. The third benefit is that I hoped I would learn something about how Catholics view their Church, and how they deal with the issues that I have problems with. I thought that there was a good chance of achieving that one. So far, I'm not disappointed.

--------------------
"Perhaps there is poetic beauty in the abstract ideas of justice or fairness, but I doubt if many lawyers are moved by it"

Richard Dawkins

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Sir Pellinore
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quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
...See my reply to IngoB above. I am, on his analogy, a student learning an art because I want something from it. In fact, I want lots of things, but the relevant one to this thread is truth. I want to believe as true everything that God has revealed as true, and not place the same level of confidence in anything which has not been so revealed and therefore could well be wrong.

There are two ways to that end – respectful criticism and testing of any doctrine that appears important being one, and respectful submission to a teaching authority that can be trusted to have done the criticism for you being the other. At the moment, I'm at the 'criticism/testing' stage.

One of the things which presents itself as important to me, and which therefore ought to be seriously considered, is the Catholic Church's claim to be a trustworthy (indeed, infallible) teaching authority. I am not starting from a Catholic perspective, so that claim would require a definite choice on my part to accept it. The path I am on at the moment is not the tradition-based one of submission to a particular visible-on-earth spiritual authority, it is what I've called the skill-oriented approach of critically testing doctrinal claims, in which tradition is a powerful argument in favour, but only an argument, not a compelling authority. But to be true to that path, a claim to be a compelling authority ought to be considered, criticised, and tested.


... Some of the specific problems I had have certainly been answered, but what I'm trying to get at is the exercise of Catholic authority. That goes deeper than agreement or disagreement with Catholic teaching.

An example – Mary's perpetual virginity. My perspective is a critical one - “is that true?”. I take into account that Christendom has long believed it, I qualify that by noting that there have always been many Christians who would be inclined to believe any praise of Mary, and others who have been anti-sex, so the popularity of the doctrine could be accounted for even if it is untrue. I see that we have no primary source evidence, and our secondary sources (the NT writers) either didn't know or didn't care to tell us. And then I ask if, despite all that, it is remotely credible that a devout first century Jew would rush to carnal intimacy with a woman whom he believed had given birth to the Holy One of Israel. And where I end up is agreeing with the doctrine. But I'm not a fraction closer to thinking like a Catholic. IngoB or Trisagion might make exactly the same arguments in favour of it as I would, but unlike me they are not asking “is it true?” but “why is it true?” or “how do we explain and defend this truth?”

What I want is not “there are good reasons for thinking that the Catholic Church is right about this” but “there are compelling reasons, reasons strong enough to bet your spiritual life on, that the Catholic Church is right”. Not right about this or that controversy, but always right, inevitably right, guaranteed-by-God-never-to-be-wrong right. It's that claim that I want to test.

...

There are three possible benefits from the discussion for me. The first two are contradictory: I might discover that the Catholic Church is God's infallible authority on earth; I might be satisfied that this claim has been definitively tested and found wanting. As I say, I don't expect either to happen, but if either did, that would be great – I'd've learning something important. The third benefit is that I hoped I would learn something about how Catholics view their Church, and how they deal with the issues that I have problems with. I thought that there was a good chance of achieving that one. So far, I'm not disappointed.

Thank you.

I would take the "skill-oriented approach of critically testing doctrinal claims" as being similar to the fairly common Anglican one of having creative doubts about certain matters.

The Roman Catholic Church, as against the Church of England, or even the Orthodox, due to the central place given to Scholastic Theology, would seem to take what I would call a "maximalist" approach to defining certain matters of belief to the Nth degree, whereas the Orthodox, or Anglicans, would tend to see this as unnecessary.

The Orthodox, for instance, as far as I am aware, do believe that the Theotokos/BVM remained a virgin all her life, but felt it unnecessary to promulgate a specific doctrine on this matter. This is possibly in the light of the the Orthodox Tradition that St Joseph was an older widower with children, hence Jesus' "brothers" and "sisters".

My personal feeling, having been attached to the Anglicans and Roman Catholics at different stages in my life and being a somewhat surprised returnee to the latter in very recent times, is that, until the Roman Catholics and Orthodox really come together, a seemingly "impossible" task at the moment, Christianity will not truly be "breathing with both lungs" to quote a recent papal encyclical.

John Henry Newman was an Anglican who tested the claims of the Roman Catholic Church until all his previous defensive walls fell. John Keble, another member of the Oxford Movement, felt he could remain in the Church of England in good conscience. Both left a unique and saintly legacy in their Church of convincement which still lives.

The Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church in England have a long and sometimes bitter history. They are, in many ways, similar, and, in others, remarkably different. Since the Elizabethan Religious Settlement and excommunication of Elizabeth I the chances of organic reunion have gone. Prior to that there was that chance. The establishment of the Ordinariates shows just how much Rome was prepared to offer dissident Anglicans.

The Roman Catholic Church is not the only Church with a claim to being the most ancient and true representor of original Christianity. You would have to seriously consider the Orthodox claims which are not couched in Scholastic terminology. I suspect you feel a certain affinity with the latter approach but it was a fairly late development in Western theology.

Interesting, you seem to be taking a terribly intellectual approach, even a purely intellectual approach, to the matter of religious truth. I think it could be worthwhile looking at some of the great religious figures as well. That might give you a better idea of the "flavour" of both denominations. Curiously, I've not heard you talk of any. Faith, real faith, is not a purely intellectual thing. Jesus didn't just preach. He cured the sick and reintegrated them into society. His Kingdom, though not of this world, was something far, far more than the Scribes and Pharisees, the religious intelligentsia and authorities of his day, remotely imagined.

I am not sure how far you will get with your "critically testing" approach because, the way you phrase it, it seems that you are submitting what you consider are the RCC's central claims, which may, or may not actually be central, to your individual intellectual "tests". Whether any individual's intellectual "tests", without Grace, are sufficient I very much doubt. I think intellect will take you to a certain point and then you might just have to trust.

--------------------
Well...

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Cara
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What an interesting thread. I particularly like Sir Pellinore's piece above, and also appreciate IngoB's clarifications on some of the issues Eliab is asking about. And there have been many other fascinating contributions.

I was brought up as a Catholic, then had the typical drifting away from the Church and indeed Christianity as a young adult, then came back to Christianty. Decided that I did want to follow Christ; but did not any longer feel comfortable in the Catholic church.

The third prong of Eliab's question, how Catholics deal with the issues that give him pause, is easily answered in my case: I couldn't. There were just too many things I didn't agree with and would have had to act differently on--contraception being an important one. I did look into the whole thing and found I could, like many if not most other Catholics, practise contraception if my own conscience told me it wasn't morally wrong, and still consider myself a Catholic; but it was less than ideal to feel all the time I was falling short.

Then there were other stumbling blocks-and this very question of the authority of the Church was one of them. And the doctrine of Papal infallibility when speaking ex cathedra as well, ratified in the second half of the nineteenth century (sorry I forget date)--which I've since learned Newman himself was against. And the fact that I could remember the days when it was considered wrong for a Catholic to enter a non-Catholic church; I could even remember one nun saying non-Catholics would not go to heaven. (Though I must add I'm very grateful for my Catholic childhood and convent education).

So the thing for me became, how can the Catholic Church be so sure she alone holds the only truth? The Orthodox say the same, but their truth is different. And other denominations have a different truth again. Somebody has to be wrong.

I couldn't be a Catholic any more, but I was still Catholic enough to feel, ok, if the Catholic church doesn't have The Truth, who does? It must be somewhere....And so I did a lot of searching.

But gradually, over the years, I came to think that no one Christian church can be "the Truth." They all have fragments of the truth and their shared core beliefs may be the truth, but none (as I see it) has the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth, because they are run by fallible humans who can't always hear the Holy Spirit.

So this freed me from the search for the perfect church to which I could give intellectual and emotional assent. I came to the conclusion that, while I wanted to be a Christian, I didn't need to believe that any one church was right in every particular, but to find --and I hoped I'd be led to it--a congregation where I could feel intellectually and emotionally at home. First this was the Methodists, but then I found (and I do believe I was led there) the Episcopal Church. (Though English, I spent many years in the US). Of course, it was full of other disaffected Catholics! And it all felt very familiar--Catholicism lite, as some people say. But it's not just Catholicism with less--in the Anglican communion there's this positive, creative ability to live with ambiguity and with not knowing, which suits me now. For surely it is all just so mysterious and unknowable--how can we mere humans think we have all the answers?

Alas, I'm going through a period of very feeble faith right now (many Catholics would doubtless see this as an inevitable result of my being lapsed) but that is by the by.

I suppose what I'm trying to say is that, as Lord P said, I don't think this kind of question--which Christian congregation should I join?--can be decided on a purely intellectual basis. While we do need to employ our God-given brains, there are also emotions, and temperaments, and spiritual inclinations, that come into play...

I know how wishy-washy that sounds!

Cara.

--------------------
Pondering.

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Mary LA
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Cara, I'm hoping that so long as we're not lukewarm there might also be a place in the Kingdom for the wishy-washy.

I converted to Roman Catholicism when I was young and later found myself struggling and alienated. Even at the worst times of painful unbelonging, I've been encouraged by others also struggling -- I came across the work of Catholic theologian David Tracy who argues for the 'fragment' as against the totalising impulse of post-Enlightenment theology and how we are able to go on in plurality and ambiguity, in the face of impossibility, the hiddenness and incomprehensibility of God.

Theologians working with mystical and apophatic understandings aren't any more popular or easy to grasp than those engaged with the political, but for some of us this resonates.

As the poet Rene Char wrote

“A new mystery sings in your bones / develop your legitimate strangeness.”

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“I often wonder if we were all characters in one of God's dreams.”
― Muriel Spark

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Niteowl

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quote:
Originally posted by Cara:
And the doctrine of Papal infallibility when speaking ex cathedra as well, ratified in the second half of the nineteenth century (sorry I forget date)--which I've since learned Newman himself was against.
Cara.

This is the major reason I could never be a Catholic. I don't believe in the infallibility of the Pope and never will since it is an extremely recent ruling in the history of the church.

How do other Catholics on the thread feel about the ratification of the infallibility of the Pope since it wasn't so for the majority of church history? And this is a serious question, I'd like to know how others feel.

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"love all, trust few, do wrong to no one"
Wm. Shakespeare

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Russ
Old salt
# 120

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quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
The path I am on at the moment is not the tradition-based one of submission to a particular visible-on-earth spiritual authority, it is what I've called the skill-oriented approach of critically testing doctrinal claims, in which tradition is a powerful argument in favour, but only an argument, not a compelling authority. But to be true to that path, a claim to be a compelling authority ought to be considered, criticised, and tested.

Sounds like you're asking if there's a way to find the start of that path without leaving the one you're on.

Like the episode of Star Trek where Spock claims to have rationally decided that an irrational action was necessary.

quote:

What I want is not “there are good reasons for thinking that the Catholic Church is right about this” but “there are compelling reasons, reasons strong enough to bet your spiritual life on, that the Catholic Church is right”. Not right about this or that controversy, but always right, inevitably right, guaranteed-by-God-never-to-be-wrong right. It's that claim that I want to test.


What would constitute proof of such a claim ? The minimum might be a history of adopting positions which with hindsight we can see as being morally right.

But my reading of history is that the Catholic church of the Middle Ages was no less and no more against slavery, torture, mistreatment of Jews etc than was the rest of the human race at that time.

But maybe it wasn't moral infallibility that you were thinking of.

Best wishes,

Russ

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Wish everyone well; the enemy is not people, the enemy is wrong ideas

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Trisagion
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quote:
Originally posted by Cara:
)--which I've since learned Newman himself was against..

Then you learned incorrectly. Newman was what was called an "inopportunist". That is he was one of a substantial number who, whilst believing in Papal Infallibility (something Newman first explicitly acknowledged in 1841, having suggested in 1832 that his reading of the Council of Chalcedon led him to "marvel at the power of the Pope, scarcely less than in the present day) thought that at the time of the First Vatican Council (1869/70) it was inopportune to define the teaching in dogma because of the reaction it would cause in non-Catholic countries such as Britain and in Germany.

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ceterum autem censeo tabula delenda esse

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Russ
Old salt
# 120

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quote:
Originally posted by Niteowl2:
I don't believe in the infallibility of the Pope and never will since it is an extremely recent ruling in the history of the church.

If that ruling were at some point to be modified or nuanced in some way, that would be an even more recent ruling, so presumably you wouldn't believe that either ?

For what it's worth, I don't believe that football referees are objectively infallible, but tend to think that the game works better when players don't argue with the referee. In other words they have a sort of functional infallibility for the purposes of the game.

Best wishes,

Russ

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Wish everyone well; the enemy is not people, the enemy is wrong ideas

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Trisagion
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quote:
Originally posted by Cara:
)--which I've since learned Newman himself was against..

Then you learned incorrectly. Newman was what was called an "inopportunist". That is he was one of a substantial number who, whilst believing in Papal Infallibility (something Newman first explicitly acknowledged in 1841, having suggested in 1832 that his reading of the Council of Chalcedon led him to "marvel at the power of the Pope, scarcely less than in the present day) thought that at the time of the First Vatican Council (1869/70) it was inopportune to define the teaching in dogma because of the reaction it would cause in non-Catholic countries such as Britain and in Germany.

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ceterum autem censeo tabula delenda esse

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Martin60
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# 368

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Sounds real to me Cara. They - we - are ALL wrong. ALL theology is heresy.

[ 08. July 2012, 13:18: Message edited by: Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard ]

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Love wins

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Robert Armin

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# 182

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quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
I'm sort of getting the impression that several Catholics are hinting that I shouldn't let the contraception ban keep me out, because I wouldn't actually be expected to obey it. Which is nice, but doesn't really address my concern. Which is, is the teaching actually true?

Firstly, if you are to be received into the RCC you will have to vow the following (RCIA #491): "I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God." It is basically certain that you would get away with committing perjury on the issue of contraception or really any other issue, unless you manage to make a huge public issue out of this and thereby force the hierarchy into action. Nevertheless, a lack of prosecution does not make a false oath right. As convert you are factually in a different situation to cradle Catholics, because your commitment comes to a head at a specific point in time, whereas that of cradle Catholics is ongoing and procedural. The latter allows for much more "fudging". Yet you cannot simply join the "fudge", that is a "privilege" of those whose faults are distributed over a lifetime of being Catholic.
IngoB, I can accept and respect the position you have outlined here; it makes a lot of sense to me. What I find hard accepting is the attitude of a friend of mine who recently became an RC. When I asked his reasons they basically boiled down to, "I'm living in Paris and would like to worship with the locals rather than the ex-pats". His family and I have asked him about his views on contraception and other issues (he is an increasingly active gay man), and he replied, "I still don't accept any of that stuff - I guess I'm always going to be a critical member of the church". Given all of that I still have problems understanding why he wanted to convert - and why the RCC accepted him!

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Keeping fit was an obsession with Fr Moity .... He did chin ups in the vestry, calisthenics in the pulpit, and had developed a series of Tai-Chi exercises to correspond with ritual movements of the Mass. The Antipope Robert Rankin

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CL
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quote:
Originally posted by Trisagion:
quote:
Originally posted by Cara:
)--which I've since learned Newman himself was against..

Then you learned incorrectly. Newman was what was called an "inopportunist". That is he was one of a substantial number who, whilst believing in Papal Infallibility (something Newman first explicitly acknowledged in 1841, having suggested in 1832 that his reading of the Council of Chalcedon led him to "marvel at the power of the Pope, scarcely less than in the present day) thought that at the time of the First Vatican Council (1869/70) it was inopportune to define the teaching in dogma because of the reaction it would cause in non-Catholic countries such as Britain and in Germany.
I believe he also wrote in correspondence that when he first saw the wording of the definition he breathed a sigh of relief at just how limited it was (indicating the defeat of the Ultramontanists) and that he was happy assent to it.

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"Even if Catholics faithful to Tradition are reduced to a handful, they are the ones who are the true Church of Jesus Christ." - Athanasius of Alexandria

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CL
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quote:
Originally posted by Robert Armin:
quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
I'm sort of getting the impression that several Catholics are hinting that I shouldn't let the contraception ban keep me out, because I wouldn't actually be expected to obey it. Which is nice, but doesn't really address my concern. Which is, is the teaching actually true?

Firstly, if you are to be received into the RCC you will have to vow the following (RCIA #491): "I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God." It is basically certain that you would get away with committing perjury on the issue of contraception or really any other issue, unless you manage to make a huge public issue out of this and thereby force the hierarchy into action. Nevertheless, a lack of prosecution does not make a false oath right. As convert you are factually in a different situation to cradle Catholics, because your commitment comes to a head at a specific point in time, whereas that of cradle Catholics is ongoing and procedural. The latter allows for much more "fudging". Yet you cannot simply join the "fudge", that is a "privilege" of those whose faults are distributed over a lifetime of being Catholic.
IngoB, I can accept and respect the position you have outlined here; it makes a lot of sense to me. What I find hard accepting is the attitude of a friend of mine who recently became an RC. When I asked his reasons they basically boiled down to, "I'm living in Paris and would like to worship with the locals rather than the ex-pats". His family and I have asked him about his views on contraception and other issues (he is an increasingly active gay man), and he replied, "I still don't accept any of that stuff - I guess I'm always going to be a critical member of the church". Given all of that I still have problems understanding why he wanted to convert - and why the RCC accepted him!
Some people convert for specious reasons, some for irrational reasons and others still for plainly stupid reasons. Such is human nature.

The Catholic Church doesn't have a window into people's souls. If he lied through his teeth in the reception process there is no real way for the priest or bishop concerned to know that he did. In the circumstances the only person he is truly hurting is himself by consciously putting his immortal soul in danger.

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"Even if Catholics faithful to Tradition are reduced to a handful, they are the ones who are the true Church of Jesus Christ." - Athanasius of Alexandria

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Martin60
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# 368

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Of what ? And where do immortal souls start ... outside 'time' of course ?

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Love wins

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k-mann
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# 8490

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quote:
Originally posted by Rosina:
We will have to agree to disagree on our understanding of the word "religion"

Why? Because you want to make up your own definitions of normal words? Why not also say that Christ was against ‘walking’?*

* I, of course, interpret ‘walking’ as maiming people with pitch forks, drenching them in petrol and setting them on fire. If you disagree, I guess we “will have to agree to disagree on our understanding of the word ‘walking’.”

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"Being religious means asking passionately the question of the meaning of our existence and being willing to receive answers, even if the answers hurt."
— Paul Tillich

Katolikken

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Sir Pellinore
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# 12163

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quote:
Originally posted by Cara:
...

So this freed me from the search for the perfect church to which I could give intellectual and emotional assent. I came to the conclusion that, while I wanted to be a Christian, I didn't need to believe that any one church was right in every particular, but to find --and I hoped I'd be led to it--a congregation where I could feel intellectually and emotionally at home. First this was the Methodists, but then I found (and I do believe I was led there) the Episcopal Church. (Though English, I spent many years in the US). Of course, it was full of other disaffected Catholics! And it all felt very familiar--Catholicism lite, as some people say. But it's not just Catholicism with less--in the Anglican communion there's this positive, creative ability to live with ambiguity and with not knowing, which suits me now. For surely it is all just so mysterious and unknowable--how can we mere humans think we have all the answers?

Alas, I'm going through a period of very feeble faith right now (many Catholics would doubtless see this as an inevitable result of my being lapsed) but that is by the by.

I suppose what I'm trying to say is that, as Lord P said, I don't think this kind of question--which Christian congregation should I join?--can be decided on a purely intellectual basis. While we do need to employ our God-given brains, there are also emotions, and temperaments, and spiritual inclinations, that come into play...

I know how wishy-washy that sounds!

Cara.

Thank you Cara.

I don't think you sound wishy-washy at all but like many intelligent people on a search for somewhere within Christianity where it all might mean something.

Some of the great Western Christian mystics, St John of the Cross and St Theresa of Avila among them, went through a very long, bleak period where they felt bereft of any sign of God's love. Their periods were particularly intense and seemed to last forever. We know about them because they both wrote about them.

I think many people go through a similar, if less intense, experience similar to this. In his play "The Potting Shed" Graham Greene deals with a man in middle age who is at a watershed in his life, with a failed marriage and an inability to relate to his family and an important event in his past which seems to have been relegated to his subconscious which he needs to rediscover to find himself; his life and marriage and his faith.

Much of T S Eliot's poetry is about rediscovering the wellsprings of faith and meaning in oneself in the Waste Land that is our modern world.

Faith and meaning are, I believe, things we ultimately need to find within ourselves. They may well be a response to something outside but we have to internalise them. Otherwise we just give lip service to creeds and carry out religious rites by rote and remain surprised why "nothing seems to change".

The Irish-Australian Roman Catholicism in Australia in the 1960s was one where rigid adherence to a seemingly endless set of rules, some so minor, enforced by aged unsmiling clerics, with some exceptions, and something that is well left behind.

There are still a few old fashioned Anglo-Catholic clerics around who were almost as bad. Fortunately most have retired or gone to the TAC.

Both the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion seem to be going through quite a catharsis at the present time.

I hope, when the catharsis is over, both Churches will have realised what the important wellsprings of the Christian Faith are and what are not. That is not to decry the traditional beliefs but to hope they will not be confused with non-doctrinal issues such as the old canard birth control. Ditto tolerance and acceptance of all without necessarily condoning certain lifestyles.

It is a very testing time for Western Christianity.

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Well...

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Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
# 4360

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quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
For what it's worth, I don't believe that football referees are objectively infallible, but tend to think that the game works better when players don't argue with the referee. In other words they have a sort of functional infallibility for the purposes of the game.

Yeah, but if the referee in a game of football gets something wrong, or is biased against one team, or simply doesn't know the laws of the game properly, the worst that happens is a team loses. Nobody dies or goes to eternal damnation.

Real life is not a game, and if we give so much power to its "referees" and they get something wrong, or are biased, or just don't know the laws properly, then we face some serious consequences.

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Hail Gallaxhar

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Cara
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# 16966

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quote:
Originally posted by Mary LA:
Cara, I'm hoping that so long as we're not lukewarm there might also be a place in the Kingdom for the wishy-washy.

I converted to Roman Catholicism when I was young and later found myself struggling and alienated. Even at the worst times of painful unbelonging, I've been encouraged by others also struggling -- I came across the work of Catholic theologian David Tracy who argues for the 'fragment' as against the totalising impulse of post-Enlightenment theology and how we are able to go on in plurality and ambiguity, in the face of impossibility, the hiddenness and incomprehensibility of God.

Theologians working with mystical and apophatic understandings aren't any more popular or easy to grasp than those engaged with the political, but for some of us this resonates.

As the poet Rene Char wrote

“A new mystery sings in your bones / develop your legitimate strangeness.”

Thank you, Mary. This is lovely. I think A N Wilson, who has recently gone back to being a Christian, wrote not long ago about being proud of, or glad about, the fact that he seemed wishy-washy to some. Alas, I can't remember the whole thrust of what he said (maybe someone else can), but I think the gist was that if we are not locked in to a rigid view, we are freer to learn and grow..not sure, but anyway I certainly am wishy-washy. And sometimes, I fear, lukewarm as well--have always felt very much alarmed by the scripture (forget chapter and verse) you doubtless had in mind, "you are lukewarm, and I will spit you out of my mouth."

Will check out Tracy and Char.


Cara

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Pondering.

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Cara
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# 16966

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quote:
Originally posted by Trisagion:
quote:
Originally posted by Cara:
)--which I've since learned Newman himself was against..

Then you learned incorrectly. Newman was what was called an "inopportunist". That is he was one of a substantial number who, whilst believing in Papal Infallibility (something Newman first explicitly acknowledged in 1841, having suggested in 1832 that his reading of the Council of Chalcedon led him to "marvel at the power of the Pope, scarcely less than in the present day) thought that at the time of the First Vatican Council (1869/70) it was inopportune to define the teaching in dogma because of the reaction it would cause in non-Catholic countries such as Britain and in Germany.
Thanks for this correction and clarification, Trisagion.

Cara.

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Pondering.

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Cara
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# 16966

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quote:
Originally posted by CL:
I believe he also wrote in correspondence that when he first saw the wording of the definition he breathed a sigh of relief at just how limited it was (indicating the defeat of the Ultramontanists) and that he was happy assent to it.

Thanks for this as well, CL. You and Trisagion have shown what I already know--I read too fast and forget the details of what I've read! I have read the Apologia and also much of Newman's correspondence but didn't recall these nuances.

But anyway, for me the infallibility of the Pope is one of the stumbling-blocks in returning to the church of my birth and upbringing.

That doesn't help Eliab much, though. I don't know how far one can go with this sort of intellectual enquiry--yet it was a good question to ask and has led to an interesting discussion. Reading about conversions, whether from non-Christian belief to Christian, or from one denomination to another, I get the impression it often works with an intellectual conviction steadily growing, but only up to a certain point....and then something more mysterious seems to happen. The convert suddenly finds he or she has crossed a boundary and is on the other side, but without always knowing quite how.

(C S Lewis on top of that bus comes to mind. And I seem to recall that from my vague--as has been established!-- memory of Newman's writings, the actual moment when he was sure he must take the step is not in focus. Ditto Gerard Manley Hopkins. The lead-up to the moment in both cases is detailed, the decisive thought or turning point seems elusive. But I could be wrong. And perhaps some more recent converts to Catholicism have explained it in a way that would help Eliab).

In the end, the question of the authority of the Catholic church, it seems to me, comes down to faith. Like everything to do with religion, it cannot be logically proven one hundred per cent to the intellectual satisfaction of a person of our scientific, proof-demanding age. It's a question of which branch of Christianity seems to the seeker to be the truest to Jesus and to the guidance of the Holy Spirit; and which traditions seem the most valid and authentic. (A Catholic would probably put it differently, though.)

Jesus said "I will be with you to the end of the age."
Did he mean he would be with all of us who seek to follow him?
Or did he mean he would only be with the true core of Christians? And who are they? Catholic? Orthodox?

If he meant he would be with all those who seek to follow him, might not the Holy Spirit be with us all, in different ways? Though very often we do not listen....

A divided Christian church does not seem right, as it contradicts the prayer of Jesus himself that we all may be one....so one yearns for unity (and I love those bodies and communities that work towards that, like Taizé)...in the meantime, we grope onwards in the same direction along different paths. Could The Way have many different strands?

Cara.

[ 09. July 2012, 12:46: Message edited by: tclune ]

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Pondering.

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moron
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# 206

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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by Russ:
For what it's worth, I don't believe that football referees are objectively infallible, but tend to think that the game works better when players don't argue with the referee. In other words they have a sort of functional infallibility for the purposes of the game.

Yeah, but if the referee in a game of football gets something wrong, or is biased against one team, or simply doesn't know the laws of the game properly, the worst that happens is a team loses. Nobody dies or goes to eternal damnation.

Real life is not a game, and if we give so much power to its "referees" and they get something wrong, or are biased, or just don't know the laws properly, then we face some serious consequences.

It was a bit of a <mumble>, Mr. McEnroe.
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Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
# 4360

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I'm sorry, I don't have sound on this PC and I'm afraid your point is lost on me.

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Hail Gallaxhar

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Sir Pellinore
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I think the great, saintly, self-effacing John McEnroe was expressing dissent from the referee's decision in his normal non-confrontational way. [Killing me]

Nonetheless, the referee stood by his decision.

All this came through loud and clear.

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Well...

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Cara
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# 16966

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quote:
Originally posted by Sir Pellinore (ret'd):

Faith and meaning are, I believe, things we ultimately need to find within ourselves. They may well be a response to something outside but we have to internalise them. Otherwise we just give lip service to creeds and carry out religious rites by rote and remain surprised why "nothing seems to change".


Thank you Sir P, great post--I love the reminder that so many others have written before about dark nights of the soul. I don't know that Greene book though have read others of his--will keep it in mind.

The para I quote above from your post is so crucial--to really internalise faith and meaning; so easy to write the words, so hard--in my own experience-- to do.

Cara

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Pondering.

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Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
# 4360

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quote:
Originally posted by Sir Pellinore (ret'd):
I think the great, saintly, self-effacing John McEnroe was expressing dissent from the referee's decision in his normal non-confrontational way. [Killing me]

Nonetheless, the referee stood by his decision.

Yes, but even though the ref stuck to his decision (and was therefore "right" for the purposes of the game) he was in actual fact wrong. And because he was wrong McEnroe lost a point that he should have won.

Now, if a priest/bishop/pope/patriarch/etc. is wrong but stands by his decision anyway, and if we have to go along with it regardless, what do we stand to lose? Our souls?

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Hail Gallaxhar

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Sir Pellinore
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# 12163

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Actually the clip I saw just showed McEnroe arguing with the referee.

I thought that was the poster's point.

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Well...

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IngoB

Sentire cum Ecclesia
# 8700

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quote:
Originally posted by Trisagion:
quote:
Originally posted by Mary LA:
One example taught in moral theology classes at John Vianney Seminary in Pretoria has to do with the 1960s Simba revolt in the Congo where raped nuns who had been made pregnant were permitted abortions...

Could you provide more evidence of who permitted this and why? It would seem to me an extraordinary claim and one which suggests that somebody in authority thought that one person should pay with their life for the violent act of another.
Just to deal with this side issue, since it apparently isn't going to happen otherwise: There never has been any official permission for abortion. In the Congo, nuns - who were in considerable danger of being raped - were allowed to take the pill as preventive measure against becoming pregnant. There is no fundamental problem with that at least by any RC official teaching so far. See for example this old NCR article. (I've read about this before elsewhere though, this just popped up with google now.)

quote:
Originally posted by Trisagion:
quote:
Originally posted by Mary LA:
The official mandates issued to Catholic Hospitals by the US Catholic Bishops specifically authorise contraception after rape.

Again, could you provide further and better particulars?
Emergency contraception after a rape has indeed been explicitly allowed by the US bishops, see here. Once more however, this is contrasted clearly (at least in words, in practice this may be harder) with the abortion of an already conceived embryo.

There has been no (official) breach anywhere concerning the the RC teaching against abortion. It is an evil in and by itself, the killing of an innocent human being, and hence never licit as intended act. Concerning contraception, one has to understand that official RC teaching so far concerns the effect of contraception on the regular conjugal act. It is what is considered to be a falsification of the "embodied sign of marriage" which is prohibited. There is no principle problem with for example using the pill to treat a medical condition. There is no principle problem with using it as a kind of self-defense contraception against rapists. There is also no principle problem with using contraception in sexual acts apart from (heterosexual) marriage. The problem with those is that they are illicit as such (there should only be sexual acts within marriage), but contraception does not then add to their wrongness. Or at least that is not necessarily so, and I would argue that it often diminishes their wrongness.

I hope with these clarification we can set this tangent aside.

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They’ll have me whipp’d for speaking true; thou’lt have me whipp’d for lying; and sometimes I am whipp’d for holding my peace. - The Fool in King Lear

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Mary LA
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Well, no IngoB, it isn't that simple.

But there is such a polarised and hostile atmosphere on these boards on certain issues that I have decided not to raise certain topics or exceptions or examples from African church experience again. My raising this led to hurtful and abusive PMs as well as more reasonable questions for clarification and I have learned my lesson.

I do learn a great deal by reading through Purgatory threads and perhaps just reading here is the way forward.

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“I often wonder if we were all characters in one of God's dreams.”
― Muriel Spark

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IngoB

Sentire cum Ecclesia
# 8700

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quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
I think I'm a little more optimistic than you about our ability to discern truth, but I think it's a difference of degree, not quality. We certainly won't get to anything like full understanding without help, and we often make mistakes and have failures of perception on moral issues.

On issues of morality I think a little introspection quickly reveals a gap between our theoretical abilities and our practical ones, for all of us. The question is whether that gap is essential or accidental. I firmly believe that it is essential, based on my observations of humanity and myself, and I think there is a direct connection to the teaching on original sin. As far as religion is concerned, in my opinion the case is closed before it can be properly opened. To argue for "true religion" is like arguing for "true politics". Except that there often is a kind of "middle ground" for politics, whereas for religion it looks more like a "ceasefire" to me.

Since you are I believe a lawyer, I would like to mention that in my opinion your profession is sufficient proof for the impossibility of Protestantism. A text, no matter how carefully worded, never suffices as decisive authority given the potential ingenuity of human interpretation, and the countless motivations to push all possible envelopes in all possible directions. And scripture is not carefully worded at all. Without law makers, and without judges / juries, the legal system would collapse into indecision and/or arbitrariness by unending disagreement. That is precisely what one sees in Protestantism, it is strictly unavoidable, and I cannot possibly believe that it is God's will. So one argument I have for the Catholic hierarchy - as far as you are concerned - is simply an appeal to your professional experience.

quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
If so, then what's the way in?

It's a lot like marrying someone. While there certainly is plenty to think about, and prudence should play a role, this cannot be reasoned out completely. Marrying someone should appear as a great good, but our mind cannot give us ultimate assurances that it will be. At some point it must be a motion of our will that commits us to actually marry this person now. That decision should not be against the best of our reason, but will step beyond it. And in some sense it is then the practice of marriage which makes or breaks it. Our good reasons and the firm commitment of our will must be embodied in concrete action, day in and day out, or this will fail eventually. Arguably, marriage is more in this realization of that initial impulse of intellect and will than in the impulse itself. In consequence, there is an almost depressing contrast between what really makes marriage tick and the idealism (and perhaps hormones...) that originally committed one to this path. The reason why one was not able to find ultimate reasons for marrying is that the goodness of marriages gets fleshed out in experiences, bodily engagement, habits, emotions ... Our most exalted dreams become simply what we do, as God becomes man.

So to me your stance concerning the RCC is like someone who tries to judge whether some woman is "marriage material" based on "objective criteria". It is not an entirely wrong approach, of course. One might even argue that it would do a lot of people great good if they spent a bit more time on such reflections before marrying. But still, at some point you have to step beyond the endless lists of "pros" and "cons" that one can draw up. The answer is not really in that, and it cannot be. In German, there's a general expression for gathering courage to act that fits perfectly here: "You must take your heart into your hand." It is you who takes. Your mind, your will. But is your heart that must be taken, and it ends in your hand, which beyond the grasp itself we can consider as symbolizing action. (To avoid typical misunderstandings: action can here be praying a rosary as much as going to Africa to build wells. I'm not arguing for a simplistic understanding of Christian action.)

quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
I like that analogy. It seems to me that the difference is this – the 'skill-oriented ' approach is going to ask, of every technique, “does this work for me? - does it keep me safe, improve my fitness, help me win competitions, get me to whatever my objective is?”. It will certainly be attentive to, and make use of traditions, because those, after all, are records of what has worked in the past for lots of other people, so are prima facie worth learning, but ultimately it will take a critical view. Every technique has to earn its place in the syllabus. The student always has the power to accept or reject something depending on whether it serves his objective.

Indeed, I fully intended this interpretation. Because I think it highlights what is wrong with much of Christianity. Please note carefully the move you made to define what you are critical about: "does it keep me safe, improve my fitness, help me win competitions, get me to whatever my objective is?" In trying to find "objective" criteria there is an inevitable egocentric move. Admittedly, in Christianity it is often less obvious, because of the nature of charity. So someone may think in terms of "how good am I to my neighbour", but still in the background lurks the "how good am I to my neighbour". In terms of the analogy, no matter how artful self-defence is, it remains self-defence. Following a martial art is not quite the same thing. The martial art is something beyond your own immediate concerns, even though it is you who is practising it. It is of course completely legitimate to practise a martial art for self-defence, to get fit, to meet people or whatever. But if that is all there is to it for you, then you are missing something. Something that lurks behind these more obvious benefits and comes into light only when you start to practice this martial art for its own sake.

And I happen to think that Christianity is not just some kind of "self-defence system". Let "self-defence" here be analogous to "doing good", in particular charity. Yes, in a way it focuses heavily on such matters, just as some martial arts focus heavily on self-defence. But frankly, if we go down that road I think we end up with a particularly charitable but non-religious humanism. A good thing in its way, sure, but not Christianity. There was something else there, or rather, Someone. I can see the "art of Christ" everywhere in the NT, in particular in many of the apparently unreasonable demands on the practitioner that we like to consider as "idealistic, motivational hyperbole". Well, I think one needs to listen there as an artist, even if one is not a good enough artist to pull this off in practice. It is not at all unreasonable for an Artist to tell an aspiring artist that one's art must be Divinely perfect.

quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
The 'tradition-based' approach is more about learning a way which the student submits to. His object is to master a particular art, and therefore to become skilled in whatever that art happens to be good for, rather than set out his own objective and evaluate elements of the art on the degree to which they assist in reaching that goal. The way has become an end in itself, and the student can choose to follow it, or not, but while he follows it using this approach, he simply has to accept what the art is.

Indeed. But two additional points, beyond what I have already said. Firstly, consider Israel. If God was about getting the "most effective fighter" in terms of the analogy, then He surely sucks big time as manager. Scripture is unrelenting in telling us just how relative and transient any Jewish "success" at religion was. Secondly, objective efficiency is opposed to personality. To the extent that one can determine what the "objectively best" fighting move in some situation is, it ceases to be a personal expression. Or if a move gets us "most fit", then we do not say something about ourselves by doing this move, at least not something that distinguishes us from anyone else who want to get fit. It is precisely where one cannot say "this must be done to achieve this goal" that one finds room for expressing oneself. In practice, both self-defence fighting and martial arts leave much room for individual expression. However the constraints of the martial art point back much more to the personalities of the people that have gone before, in particular to the founder(s) of the art. In any Aikidoka, you will see a bit of Morihei Ueshiba moving. In any Taijiquan practitioner, you can catch a glimpse of Chen Wangting. Find a Serrada Escrimador, meet a part of Angel Cabales. Etc. I think in a Christian one must meet a bit of Christ, and I do not believe that this can be reduced to "doing good", or at least not to "doing good that most people will recognize as good". Precisely because what all recognize as good is not recognizably a Christian good.

quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
I want to be 'tradition-based' when it comes to Jesus, but I find that I'm 'skill-oriented' when it comes to church. There are many Christians I can learn from, but none that I trust absolutely to tell me what Christianity is - just as the sensible 'skill-oriented' martial artist will have a great deal of respect for the traditional forms, but not absolute submission to them.

That is simply a misrepresentation. I know no Roman Catholic who "trusts absolutely" every word spoken by the RC hierarchy and is in "absolute submission" to anything but (hopefully) the bare essentials of faith. The reality of the RCC is a lot less disciplined than any traditional martial art that I have ever trained in. But I think you are simply on the wrong track if you believe that you can be 'tradition-based' about Jesus and 'skill-oriented' about church. There is no tradition to be had about Jesus other than through the church, i.e., other people that are following Jesus (and this is not as such a statement against Protestant mistakes about the authority of scripture, scripture also comes to Protestants through the agency of the Protestant church). If you go 'skill-oriented' on church, you will end up 'skill-oriented' about Christ.

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They’ll have me whipp’d for speaking true; thou’lt have me whipp’d for lying; and sometimes I am whipp’d for holding my peace. - The Fool in King Lear

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IngoB

Sentire cum Ecclesia
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quote:
Originally posted by Mary LA:
My raising this led to hurtful and abusive PMs as well as more reasonable questions for clarification and I have learned my lesson.

Just for the public record, I've not personally sent any PMs to Mary LA...

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They’ll have me whipp’d for speaking true; thou’lt have me whipp’d for lying; and sometimes I am whipp’d for holding my peace. - The Fool in King Lear

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Mary LA
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No, you haven't IngoB and I wasn't accusing you.

What irks me most about your post is the assumption that I would have to rely on US-based or First World sources for what is common knowledge where I live. I worked in the Congo for two years, I researched many aspects of the recent history quite carefully.

Maybe add Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness to your summer reading list?

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“I often wonder if we were all characters in one of God's dreams.”
― Muriel Spark

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Sir Pellinore
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I think you'd find The Potting Shed extremely moving, Cara.

http://archive.org/details/pottingshedaplay011152mbp

The 1981 Granada production, starring Paul Scofield, was excellent. I still remember it. Sadly, I have not been able to obtain a copy.

Father Califer, the character who thought he had "lost" his faith, but who had continued for the 30 years he thought he had in it, reminds me of an aspect of myself and everyone, as does James Califer, his nephew.

My opinion is that we often don't "lose" faith but think we have.

I think most of us who were lucky enough to come across at least one genuine exemplar of Christianity, who deeply cared for us and where we were going, keep this somewhere deep within. It seems to return at the most amazing times and turns everything upside down.

Much of contemporary Christianity, of whatever sort, seems to be either incredibly cerebral, without much place for a genuine feeling response (I'm not talking of artificially hyped up emotionalism, but real human feeling, which responds to Shakespeare or Bach in a way a merely intellectual appreciation can't) or involved with good works, which is excellent, but which may not fill the empty, aching hole many moderns have.

For many of us it takes a lifetime to find we have always had something within us all these years.

I think, in these times, many of us need to find our own God given spiritual compass within ourselves. This is something I think many clerics, of all denominations, need to realise. There comes a time when they have to realise many people have really grown up spiritually and treat them as such. Every worthwhile spiritual mentor should rejoice when this happens.

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Well...

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Eliab
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# 9153

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quote:
Originally posted by Sir Pellinore (ret'd):
The Roman Catholic Church is not the only Church with a claim to being the most ancient and true representor of original Christianity. You would have to seriously consider the Orthodox claims which are not couched in Scholastic terminology. I suspect you feel a certain affinity with the latter approach but it was a fairly late development in Western theology.

I thought that the claims of one worldwide denomination would be enough for one thread.

I will admit to seeing a lot of Orthodoxy as attractive, but I don't find their claim to be the One True Church even remotely compelling. The reason for that is that it seems to me to be nowhere near as coherent as the Catholic claim. The Catholics have the Pope, a visible symbol of unity, the successor of Peter, and it is communion with him that defines the true church. I'm (as you know) presently unconvinced that the Pope is all of that, but I do at least know what the claim about him is. If IngoB's argument (God would have wanted to perserve the Way that Jesus taught, and something like the RCC is the way to do that) is correct, I can see that Catholicism answers that need for a safeguard and guarantee by pointing to Rome and saying the bishop there is the focus of that supernatural gift of continuity.

Whereas I don't get the Orthodox claim at all. It seems (and I speak subject to correction) to be that it is an article of faith that the Church of Christ must be united, and since they are pretty sure that they know Christ, are in continuity with his apostles, and have preserved what has been handed down from the Church Fathers, the Church of Christ means whoever is united with them. Their official attitude to the rest of us seems to be essentially a confession of ignorance: they don't (institutionally) claim to know what we are. Of the Orthodox regulars here, I can think of one who would deny that I'm a Christian at all, in the true sense, as I'm not Orthodox, and others who would be seriously offended if I were even to imply that they shared that view. It seems to me that the Orthodox as a denomination don't know what I am or where I fit in, and if they don't know that, then I feel that I can accept their claim to be the Church of Christ on Earth without being remotely concerned, since I think that my denomination is that, too, and they have no cogent thesis I'm aware of to explain what else we might be.

The Catholics, of course, know exactly where the rest of us fit in. They have categories of baptism, of impaired communion, of schism and separation, of validity of sacraments, that (from their point of view) exactly describe where I stand. How I view my membership of the universal church, and my experiences of my own spiritual life, are directly engaged with in Catholic ecclesiology in a way that (as far as I have been able to tell) they simply aren't by Orthodoxy. Don't misunderstand me, I find the (usually) non-judgmental and agnostic attitude of Orthodox individuals to be a much more palateable complement to their self-confidence than the rigorous definitions of Catholicism - but also a lot less challenging.

quote:
Interesting, you seem to be taking a terribly intellectual approach, even a purely intellectual approach, to the matter of religious truth.
The claim "we are right" is an intellectual one, at least, it is at the point that it cuts. I have no problem with Catholic worship, or sacraments, or fellowship - my problem is thinking that a small number of Catholic teachings are wrong. Christianity is not all about intellect, but where an absolutist claim is made on an intellectual level, and I can't agree with it, that's a difficulty.

Also, it is not the case that my objections are only intellectual. The contraception point, for instance, is as much an adverse reaction of moral sentiment as it is of reason. My dislike of the (in practice, though I accept, not in intent) divisive Marian dogmas being made compulsory is much more due to my feeling that there should be no unnecessary obstacles placed to ‘brothers dwelling in harmony' than it is to any disagreement with the doctrines themselves. However it is on the intellectual level that these feelings could be overruled.

quote:
I think it could be worthwhile looking at some of the great religious figures as well. That might give you a better idea of the "flavour" of both denominations. Curiously, I've not heard you talk of any.
No, I haven't. It may surprise you, but they aren't relevant to my thinking. It would be a problem if Catholicism never produced great Christians, of course, but I hope we are all agreed that this is not the case. The minimal test of true religion - it might change your life - is abundantly satisfied by Catholicism. It is also satisfied by Orthodoxy and Protesantism.

Do great Catholic minds inspire me? Of course they do. But what I recognise in them is a shared faith in Jesus. They are expressing, clearly and inspirationally, truths which, when I hear them, I recognise as already being part of my faith. They are better than me at doing the same sort of thing, but not (as far as I know) in possession of secrets that as a Protestant I could never be privy to. When I think "I want what he/she has got!", what it is that I want, I perceive as more and better Christianity, not a closer identification with a particular denomination.

I am, to employ IngoB's metaphor, rather like an indifferently skilled practictioner of Karate seeing a demonstration by a master of Tae Kwon Do. I can't miss the fact that he is much better than me, and that his martial arts tradition differs in many ways from mine, but the most obvious thing that I will see is that what he does well is essentially the same sort of thing as what I do poorly. He employs the same principles of balance, ease of movement, controlled breathing, alertness, speed and strength as I do, and many of the specifics, the blocks and strikes actually employed, are similar or identical to those that I use, it's just that he's good at them and I'm not. If I am taking a skill-oriented approach to my art, rather than a traditionalist one, nothing stops me from learning from a master outside my tradition. If I see from him how to do something I have struggled with, or pick up some theory that helps me to better grasp something I had previously done without full understanding, I'll be delighted. But it won't make me convert to Tae Kwon Do. Of course, if all Tae Kwon Do teachers were blindingly good experts, and all Karate teachers were blunderers, I might conclude that I was learning the wrong style, and that Tae Kwon Do was the superior way of studying what the two arts have in common. That's not the case, though. Both styles have masters that I can learn from. Only if you insist on the very strictest tradition-based paradigm in which a Karate student would be positively discouraged from learning anything at all from the practitioners of other arts*, all of which must be disparaged as inferior, do the masters of other arts present a challenge in principle to the study of Karate.

What you need to convert me from one denomination to another is not a wealth of Christians who demonstrate by their lives and teaching how wonderful it can be to know Jesus. Those Christians will inspire me whatever denomination they or I are in, because knowing Jesus is something we all have in common. As a Protestant, nothing stops me from admiring Catholic saints, learning from them, and even asking for their prayers. Their example is as accessible to me as a Protestant as it would be if I became a Catholic, just as Protestant or Orthodox heroes of faith are accessible to Catholics. Holiness is part of the common legacy of the Christian faith, and even if we do not all manage to attain it, we can all rejoice in it.

quote:
I am not sure how far you will get with your "critically testing" approach because, the way you phrase it, it seems that you are submitting what you consider are the RCC's central claims, which may, or may not actually be central, to your individual intellectual "tests". Whether any individual's intellectual "tests", without Grace, are sufficient I very much doubt. I think intellect will take you to a certain point and then you might just have to trust.
With the qualifier that I don't accept that any individual's intellectual tests are without grace, I agree. That's the weakness. If I do not trust unconditionally in someone who knows better than me, my beliefs are always going to be constrained by my own understanding.

But for Catholicism to be the solution, the claim for infallibility has to be factually true. Otherwise I'm merely swapping the likelihood of uncertainty for the certainty of delusion. There is no advantage to believing the Pope to be infallible unless he actually is, which means that it is necessary to persuade me of his infallibility. I need to be persuaded. I can't (not ‘won't', can't) accept it unless I am persuaded that it is true.

The attractive atmosphere of Catholicism and the sanctity of great Catholic figures doesn't really touch that point. I know where that comes from - that's the grace of God working through men and women of faith. I can want that, and I can see that your Church has it, and not be a step closer to seeing that the specific claims of Catholic authority are true, because other traditions have it as well.


(* as the name of Cardinal Newman has been invoked on this thread, it seems to me that this was more or less his attitude. At one point in his Apologia he makes the explicit (and, to me, astonishing) statement that he did not attend Catholic worship at all at a point in his life when he was seriously challenged by the necessity of conversion in order to be true to his principles. He suggests that he thought it would be wrong to practice two forms of religion at once. That's a different world to mine.

Also, I don't think (and here I'm open to correction by the more knowledgeable) that Newman's conversion was provoked by a serious re-examination of the claims of the Catholic Church, as was suggested above. My reading of him is that the validity of the Catholic Church was never really in issue for him - what became untenable was the view that the Anglican Church was a branch of it. The realisation that Anglican theology and practice was not really consistent with its self-identity as the expression of Catholic Christianity in England (and its past and present dominions) meant that he couldn't remain Anglican, though he clearly wanted to do so and think of himself as ‘catholic'. Newman doesn't really help me on the question of accepting Catholic authority - I'm not sure that that was the thing he struggled with.)

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"Perhaps there is poetic beauty in the abstract ideas of justice or fairness, but I doubt if many lawyers are moved by it"

Richard Dawkins

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IngoB

Sentire cum Ecclesia
# 8700

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quote:
Originally posted by Mary LA:
What irks me most about your post is the assumption that I would have to rely on US-based or First World sources for what is common knowledge where I live. I worked in the Congo for two years, I researched many aspects of the recent history quite carefully.

I see no particular reason why I should trust you as a source more than previous sources I have consistently heard claim otherwise over the years. You may be highly trustworthy to yourself, but to me you are just some anonymous voice on the internet. I have no way of checking that you even have been anywhere near Congo, what research you may have done there and how good / qualified you are as information gatherer. On the information that I do have, my best guess is that you are either mistaken or lying. If you really want to convince me otherwise, then you will have to do better than to point to your personal authority.

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They’ll have me whipp’d for speaking true; thou’lt have me whipp’d for lying; and sometimes I am whipp’d for holding my peace. - The Fool in King Lear

Posts: 12010 | From: Gone fishing | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
Cara
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# 16966

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quote:
Originally posted by Sir Pellinore (ret'd):
I think you'd find The Potting Shed extremely moving, Cara.

http://archive.org/details/pottingshedaplay011152mbp

The 1981 Granada production, starring Paul Scofield, was excellent. I still remember it. Sadly, I have not been able to obtain a copy.

......

My opinion is that we often don't "lose" faith but think we have.

I think most of us who were lucky enough to come across at least one genuine exemplar of Christianity, who deeply cared for us and where we were going, keep this somewhere deep within. It seems to return at the most amazing times and turns everything upside down.
..........

For many of us it takes a lifetime to find we have always had something within us all these years.

I think, in these times, many of us need to find our own God given spiritual compass within ourselves.
.........

Thanks for the link, Sir P.

What you say here reminds me of that well-known quote--Blaise Pascal???--where God is imagined to say something like,
"You would not be searching for me if you had not already found me."


Cara

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Pondering.

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IngoB

Sentire cum Ecclesia
# 8700

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quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
What I want is not “there are good reasons for thinking that the Catholic Church is right about this” but “there are compelling reasons, reasons strong enough to bet your spiritual life on, that the Catholic Church is right”. Not right about this or that controversy, but always right, inevitably right, guaranteed-by-God-never-to-be-wrong right. It's that claim that I want to test.

The claim you want to test there is a caricature, as I'm sure you are aware. I certainly do not agree with this claim, and know of no Catholic that does.

A more interesting point here is the issue of betting your spiritual life on the rightness of the RCC. I'm not sure what precisely you mean there. In what way would you be doing that?

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They’ll have me whipp’d for speaking true; thou’lt have me whipp’d for lying; and sometimes I am whipp’d for holding my peace. - The Fool in King Lear

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Eliab
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# 9153

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quote:
Originally posted by IngoB:
The claim you want to test there is a caricature, as I'm sure you are aware. I certainly do not agree with this claim, and know of no Catholic that does.

Really, it wasn't meant to be.

If it helps to add an implicit “on the conditions and within the limits that the RCC claims to be infallible”, then please read it in that way. That was my intention.

If the RCC does not claim, on those conditions and within those limits, to be guaranteed to teach only the truth, then I have seriously misunderstood the position. I know, though, that not everything a Catholic bishop ever says has that same guarantee – and I didn't mean to suggest that you think that.

quote:
A more interesting point here is the issue of betting your spiritual life on the rightness of the RCC. I'm not sure what precisely you mean there.
Going “all in”.

Not necessarily that being a Catholic, or not, is an eternal salvation issue. I don't think that I'd be damned if I converted and the RCC isn't exactly what it claims. But I would be “all in” as far as this present life is concerned. I'd be saying that, in the time given to me here and now, the Catholic Church is the way in which I will seek God and find out what he requires of me. And if it turned out that the Catholic Church's claims to be right were flawed, I'd be committing myself to a colossal and costly error.

Obeying the Pope on contraception, as I've said, would be costly. I am fairly certain that my wife's reaction to the suggestion would run something like “What the fuck gives you the right to make our sex life conditional on me taking a stupid, pointless, completely avoidable, risk with my own body, you utterly selfish bastard?”. Though she might not express it quite so politely as that. And, frankly, I would see her point. Our marriage (unlike, I'm sure, the marriages of the Catholics posting here) was not contracted on that understanding, and an attempt, however sensitively advanced, to change that would be resented.

As I see my marriage, and my family generally, as an important part of my Christian vocation, I would be staking a significant part of my spiritual life on the Catholic teaching being right on that issue alone. And to do that, I think it is reasonable and moral to be as certain as I can possibly be that the Catholic claims are factually true.

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"Perhaps there is poetic beauty in the abstract ideas of justice or fairness, but I doubt if many lawyers are moved by it"

Richard Dawkins

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Sir Pellinore
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Interesting, Eliab, going back and scanning this thread from your first post.

It seems like you were issuing a challenge to someone to take all your objections to the RCC seriously; for him or her to refute them point by point and thus, possibly, just possibly, convert you to the aforesaid Church's position. Your being both the prosecuting counsel and sole judge without jury.

I think the simple Zen style question would be "Why?" or "Whatever for?"

The dice does seem loaded. Your reasons for playing the game seem as much psychological, and, dare I say it, possibly subconscious as religious.

I don't think I, personally, could, or would want to "convert" you to what you seem to see, primarily, as an authoritarian system, with, almost incidentally, a set of beliefs which you cannot bring yourself to fully subscribe to. One of the matters you bring up constantly is contraception, which, as others have attempted to point out, here and elsewhere, is not a key doctrinal issue.

This thread reminds me very much of Evelyn Waugh. It's almost like a discussion, as the Bolly flows, at someone's set of rooms in the New Building at Magdalen in the 1930s as the deer graze outside. Perhaps, as often is the case with Waugh, it will, years later, seem crucial to the instigator. A turning point.

I find myself an observer to your thoughts seemingly unable to assist. Admitting this personal, relatively minor Waterloo, I wish you well. I think any real answer you may get lies in yourself and is possibly many years ahead.

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Well...

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RuthW

liberal "peace first" hankie squeezer
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quote:
Originally posted by Trisagion:
quote:
Originally posted by RuthW:
quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
If God wants you to be a Roman, then I think your heart will be persuaded.

If God wanted you to be a Roman, He'd have seen to it that you were born in Rome to Italian parents.
I am obliged to you, RuthW, for your entirely undeserved kindness.
Sorry, I missed this earlier. Not undeserved at all, and you're welcome.
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Palimpsest
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# 16772

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quote:
Originally posted by Robert Armin:

What I find hard accepting is the attitude of a friend of mine who recently became an RC. When I asked his reasons they basically boiled down to, "I'm living in Paris and would like to worship with the locals rather than the ex-pats". ... "I still don't accept any of that stuff - I guess I'm always going to be a critical member of the church". Given all of that I still have problems understanding why he wanted to convert - and why the RCC accepted him !

This seems to fall in the "Paris is worth a mass." category. [Smile]
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Sir Pellinore
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People do convert for interesting reasons. A Roman Catholic missionary in New Guinea met a nice Welsh nurse there; converted; married; became an Anglican cleric and was, briefly, the bishop of an Australian country town. An Anglican cleric I respect, who knew him up there, seemed to think that wanting to marry was sufficient theological reason to change. In the light of his recent, short, abortive stint as an Anglican bishop I am not sure. I think you need to have a pretty deep reason to change.

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Well...

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Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
# 4360

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quote:
Originally posted by Sir Pellinore (ret'd):
One of the matters you bring up constantly is contraception, which, as others have attempted to point out, here and elsewhere, is not a key doctrinal issue.

It may not be a ket doctrinal issue, but it's still an issue on which the church demands obedience. Which, for all practical purposes, amounts to the same thing.

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Hail Gallaxhar

Posts: 30100 | From: Adrift on a sea of surreality | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
Cara
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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by Sir Pellinore (ret'd):
One of the matters you bring up constantly is contraception, which, as others have attempted to point out, here and elsewhere, is not a key doctrinal issue.

It may not be a ket doctrinal issue, but it's still an issue on which the church demands obedience. Which, for all practical purposes, amounts to the same thing.
Exactly. What to do with that demand for obedience?

What many --most??? --Catholics do about it is, I think (I can't be sure how it works, contraceptive-using Catholics may correct me if I am wrong) to say: "I have to follow my own conscience on this, rather than the command of the Church; and as it's not a key doctrinal issue, I can still consider myself a good Catholic."

If it works for them, that is great. But then what if on top of contraception, they also have problems with, just for example, the infallibility of the Pope, or the doctrine of transubstantiation, or the obligation to go to church every Sunday? I think there are Catholics who do have more than one problem with the doctrines and rules, but still stay in the Church. I admire them in a way--I know that the reason I can't do that myself is perhaps because I've always had almost too much respect for rules and authority to feel comfortable joining the club while not respecting the rules.

Perhaps they love the Catholic Church so much that they prefer to stay inside it and deal with the discomfort of continually not living according to its demands. Or perhaps to them it's not discomfort.

At any rate, for myself, I prefer a church that has a more fluid approach with fewer rules and requirements, so I don't have to always feel I am falling short. So I'm in the Episcopal Church or, as I'm no longer in the USA, the Anglican Communion.

Obviously, I'm already always falling short of the Christian ideal! I don't love the Catholic church enough--while respecting it and being grateful for my upbringing in it--to stay in it if I'm also going to be falling continually short of the Catholic standards.

But ah, the guilt....at some moments and on some level I still have to fight the guilty feeling that this choice of an "easier" church with fewer demands and requirements is really a sign of deplorable weakness...compounded by the fact that at the moment I'm not even a good member of my chosen church!

However, for me, there's less guilt involved in being a feeble Anglican Christian than there would be in calling myself a Catholic one while breaking rules, disobeying commands, and disbelieving many doctrinal points.

In the end, surely what unites the denominations is far more important than what divides them.

In the Anglican communion I've felt freer to focus on the essence of Christianity we all share. With the Catholics, I'd be too distracted and troubled by the rules-and-doctrine side of it. Your mileage may vary.


Cara

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Pondering.

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IngoB

Sentire cum Ecclesia
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quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
If it helps to add an implicit “on the conditions and within the limits that the RCC claims to be infallible”, then please read it in that way. That was my intention.

That sure helps, given that even on the most generous interpretation there would be no more than a few hundred doctrinal statements that can claim "infallible" status in the RCC. At the opposite end of interpretation, one might then find less than a dozen. Furthermore, you are likely to either agree with or not particularly care about most of them. Finally, ignorance is bliss, as they say. Since it is near impossible for you in practice to work out the precise boundaries between what you must believe and what you should believe and what you could believe, even as a convert you will be fairly protected against being culpable of perjury on Catholic doctrine. I used to get quite annoyed by the lack of official nailing down of the status of all manner of doctrine. Now I realize that this also avoids nailing a lot of people to their cross. It is one thing to be precise about faith, it is another thing to be precise about people. Consider doctrines more as signs pointing the way. Sure, some are huge and have blinking neon lights and should not be ignored if you are standing right in front of them. But not all are, and if we cannot tell at a great distance how important some signs are intended to be, then perhaps that's something we can worry about when we get closer.

quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
Obeying the Pope on contraception, as I've said, would be costly. I am fairly certain that my wife's reaction to the suggestion would run something like “What the fuck gives you the right to make our sex life conditional on me taking a stupid, pointless, completely avoidable, risk with my own body, you utterly selfish bastard?”. Though she might not express it quite so politely as that. And, frankly, I would see her point. Our marriage (unlike, I'm sure, the marriages of the Catholics posting here) was not contracted on that understanding, and an attempt, however sensitively advanced, to change that would be resented.

Scratch the principle objection, uncover a practical issue.

OK then, some practical comments on that issue. My wife and I started modern Natural Family Planning (NFP, the Billings method in our case) when I was a Buddhist and she was a very much non-practising Catholic. NFP had not the slightest to do with religion for us. Rather, she did not respond well to taking the pill, experiencing side effects, and I didn't particularly like sex with a condom. A decade or so later, I can truly say that it has been working spectacularly well. And yes, there are plenty of scientific studies that confirm my anecdotal evidence with data. NFP costs nothing, and it requires barely more effort for the woman than the pill (at least so for the Billings method: basically a second of in(tro)spection and a mark in the calendar per day). If you are using condoms or other barrier methods, then NFP will provide basically the same protection against accidental pregnancy at no cost. If you are using the pill, then it will be less secure. But your wife will not have to dump artificial hormones into her body any more, something that she may dislike on principle and that may be connected to health risks. The one big price to pay for switching to NFP is simply the natural rhythm itself. Roughly, two weeks of sex being possible will be followed by two weeks of sex not being possible. Now, I don't know anything about your relationship, and I don't really want to know either. But I don't mind telling you that in our relationship, it is mostly me who feels that this is a considerable price to pay. My wife seems to survive two weeks of no sex without quite as much difficulty. So, the upshot of NFP for us is: perfectly reasonable family planning at no financial cost, with no potential side effects, and with the main "difficulties" experienced by the person who - nowadays - has a religious motivation for using this.

To what extent all this would be true for your wife and you I cannot tell. However, I think NFP is something that every couple should seriously consider as an option, irrespective of their religious outlook. For many, it will be a perfectly viable and perhaps even the best option, on purely "secular" considerations. In your case then, you may have potential "ulterior motives" for using NFP, but I don't see why this should stop you from suggesting it as something to try. And if you do, and if it works for you, then hey - suddenly that particular problem concerning Catholicism just went away.

OK, what if this is not something your wife is willing to do? Assuming that you want to keep your marriage intact, as I hope you would, could you nevertheless convert? I think you could. However, please note that I'm not trained as Catholic pastor and have no serious background in applied "moral theology". I do not claim any authority on the following, I'm strictly speaking my mind only, and am happy to receive correction by those who know better. Please do consult with a Catholic priest if this ever gets "real".

Anyway, my opinion then: Roughly speaking, if it is your honest intention to bring your wife to the Catholic faith and make your marriage a properly Catholic one - in the (potentially very) long run - then some accommodation along the way should be licit. If the current behaviour of your wife forces you to either bend Catholic rules on contraception or destroy your marriage, then I think you can bend the rules. Why? Because unlike for abortion these rules arise because contraception contradicts the true spirit of marriage. However, destroying your marriage surely contradicts that same spirit even more so! Hence for example if she continues to take the pill but (rightfully!) expects that sex remains part of your marriage, then I think you can have sex with her in spite of the contraception. However, I feel it would then be appropriate that you would not participate in the Eucharist (while still going to mass, of course). That would be the appropriate sign that you consider your own situation to be falling short of what is required of you as Catholic, and that you are seriously intending to fix this if you can (rather than becoming comfortable with the situation as it is).

We all must serve God best we can. If you believe that this includes becoming Catholic, and I agree with that, then this should not destroy all the other good ways in which you already serve God, but rather strengthen them. In particular, it should not destroy your marriage, but strengthen it. And if there is a big difference between what should be and what is in that particular case, then I think that simply is something God wants you to work on. As a Catholic. In becoming Catholic, you are being asked about your beliefs, not about your abilities, about your intentions, not about your situation. That you will become a sinful Catholic should not stop you from becoming a Catholic. Otherwise nobody could become Catholic. That your sins as Catholic would likely be more persistent than that of others should be an occasion for penance and petition, not despair. Obviously, it would be much nicer to convert in happier circumstances. But nobody has ever said that truth comes for free. Certainly not that guy whom they nailed to a cross...

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They’ll have me whipp’d for speaking true; thou’lt have me whipp’d for lying; and sometimes I am whipp’d for holding my peace. - The Fool in King Lear

Posts: 12010 | From: Gone fishing | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
Cara
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# 16966

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This is clearly put, Ingo, and surely a help to Eliab and any other searchers thinking about this issue.

And as far as I'm concerned, you're a better guide/advisor on this issue than any priest Eliab would consult, because you at least have the experience of marriage and, particularly, you have the personal experience of how NFP works, two weeks "off" and all.
I think it was generous to talk about this experience and what it actually means in the life of a Catholic couple.

It may not sound workable to Eliab, (as it wouldn't be for me, for a variety of reasons), but at least you've shown a glimpse into the effects of following the Church's teaching on this matter.

Also, you've shown that, given his marital situation, continued use of contraception, at least in the beginning, should not in your view prevent his becoming a Catholic. (I do understand why you say he has to check with a priest on this point). Which shows the Church may be a bit more flexible than some expect.

Though of course he would be a "sinful Catholic"--like everyone, but in his case the contraception would be part of his sinfulness, and if it continued, he would be persisting in sin, "an occasion for penitence and petition." I've said enough earlier to make it clear why this would be an untenable position for me, but I do appreciate the clarity with which you've expressed it all.

I particularly like your emphasis on the fact that becoming a Catholic should strengthen his marriage, not damage it.

Cara

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Pondering.

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