Christian Era |OT| W.W.J.D

Goya

Banned
Nov 11, 2017
30
Sure, if you think you're on the right side, you can get a lot of pleasure out of "owning" your opponents with caustic takedowns. But Hart's mode of rhetoric (I find it ironic that he claims people calling his rhetoric harsh is a misrepresentation even as he amply demonstrates the truth of the description) is less useful for persuasion of the unconvinced such as myself and more useful for asserting his own superiority to himself and anyone already inclined to agree with him.

I can understand why the violence described in the Bible, particularly in the actions of the Israelites towards the peoples they fought in and around the Promised Land, bothers people. I would say briefly that judgement of evil is not incompatible with a good God, and that violence is not exclusive to the Old Testament as is often asserted. The case of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5, in which God kills a couple on the spot for lying to the apostles, is not as dramatic as Old Testament warfare but still hard to reconcile with the image of a God who completely refrains from violence.
I fear we err too much on the side of civility in public discourse. If you find a point of view repugnant or an argument bad, not saying as much feels almost oily to me. Especially in an arena of peers who should all know the rules of engagement (Leithart and Hart are longtime friends btw! and Hart's style is almost common knowledge at this point). Why try to paper over genuine disagreement with fake politeness? Why do we need to kiss ass and play games? The negative reviews of Hart's book have sucked lol. None of his critics have been able to spot any seams in the argument and so none have dared engage with it. Whoever is truth-seeking and amenable to persuasion should be paying more attention to the args than to the rhetoric, anyway. But people are never quite as mature as you'd hope and so Hart's "harsh rhetoric" has proved more of a distraction than it should have. See for instance Fr. Kimmel's comment on Facebook:

I really wish David Hart had not replied to Leithart's review in the way that he did. It's a distraction from his book and has provided yet another "reason" for folks to ignore 'That All Shall Be Saved.' Now he stands accused of heresy twicewise--a dreaded universalist and a Marcionite to boot. Sigh.

But David's remarks has had the salutary effect of introducing folks to the very different hermeneutics of the Church Fathers. As Fr John Behr remarked last month: "Unless you’re reading Scripture allegorically, you’re not reading it as Scripture.”
Source: https://www.facebook.com/pg/EclecticOrthodoxy/posts/

Which ties in nicely to your point about violence in the NT. We should be prepared to read all of Scripture figuratively in light of what we know about God through Christ, not excluding the NT. With regards to Ananias and Sapphira, it's striking how the passage nowhere says God kills them. It does however mention Satan filling their hearts. Hence why Brad Jersak and Greg Boyd claim that Satan likely kills them. But that's ofc their reading and who knows what "factually" happened. What's important to take away is how truly evil the sins of selfishness and greed and dishonesty are and how dangerous they are to the Church's mission, not how retributive God is in punishing them. Hell, by the time we're reading Acts we should've already learned from the gospels that God isn't retributive. His justice is rectifying, and there's nothing rectifying about death, especially not if it's final.

On this point, Chris Green is very good in his review of Hart's TASBS:
Eriugena insists that “it is not part of God’s justice but wholly alien from it to inflict penalties on what he has made.” Instead, God inflicts penalties, justly, on all that he has not made (On the Division of Natures V.36). That is, sin, not the sinner, evil, not the evildoer, is destroyed. Murder and abuse and rape and despotism and racism and lying, like all evils, are God-damned and forever eradicated. God does not merely “forgive” the rapist and then expect the one who was raped simply to accept that this forgiveness is just. God, somehow, consumes the sin itself, the evil that was done, so that both the victim and the victimizer are made whole.
Source: https://afkimel.wordpress.com/2019/10/09/god-is-heaven-god-is-hell-a-review-of-that-all-shall-be-saved/
Mere forgiveness for the elect and mere punishment for the damned fall way, way short of God's perfect justice. I highly recommend reading the whole review. It's very good. And coincidentally, Green also doesn't like Hart's tone, so I grant that my take on civility might be total horseshit. I might be underrating persuasion as a goal and overrating just plainly laying out what you believe, however ugly that may be.

On the issue of no church being better than a bad church, I don't feel it should be an either-or. That would be like saying that having no home is better than having one with leaking pipes and rats all over. When someone has a bad housing problem, no one suggests that they should just abandon it and live on the streets instead. If we were to compare living on the street for a day and living in that sort of house for a day, sure we could say that one is better than the other in various ways. But we don't suggest it as an alternative because it's not a solution at all. Instead, we would suggest ways for the person to find a better place to stay as soon as possible. In the same way, a person in a bad church environment would be better off with a better community and a church environment that isn't toxic, and that should be the goal. Suggesting that not having a church is better seems to be looking at a solution in a very narrow individualistic way that is entirely focused on the immediate disposition of the person towards faith, rather than a more holistic view of what would be best for a person spiritually and long term.
But if you allow me to work this metaphor a bit more, the first step after realizing you're in a toxic or abusive environment is leaving it. Then recovering. The last step is trying to find a new, better family. It's hard. "As soon as possible" could be a while. And living alone is certainly better than returning to the abuse.

Think it's also important to point out that everyone has different spiritual needs, gifts, callings etc. and some of us are perhaps better placed at the periphery of Christ's body than at its heart. Maybe on a finger or toe or something. Anyway, practically speaking, if you're introverted or neurodivergent or whatever, this might reduce your need for community, and while that doesn't justify complete isolation, it could justify a less socially involved role. Much to think about, as they say.
 
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Deffers

Banned
Mar 4, 2018
2,077
That was a pretty excellent post, Duckroll. It actually reminds me of something Mr. Rogers said once about grace. He wasn't sure of what it was, but he was sure of where and how it came into his life-- from God, through man. Or woman. Yunno. People. I think your post describing connection to God coming by stirring something in people is really powerful. I think it's accurate. No one is an island-- that doesn't just extend into the political, but into the spiritual. If it weren't true, we wouldn't be talking about a spiritual Ecclesia in the first place. Our belief in that is distinct from our belief in something like the Book of Life-- a ledger into which the souls of all the saved are written. That almost certainly is part of our shared belief (even if it's only figuratively), but there's also a sense of brotherhood between Christians, and the works of Christians, which exists and that's why we feel compelled to talk about a "true" church beyond denominations that, naturally and logically, contains those who are called to life.

With regards to your connection to Numbers, I think you're right in connecting the two events together. When I read that, I feel as you feel, that this showcases the divine Will, the will of God, showing itself to be more encompassing than the structures we define. That isn't to say these two who received prophesy apart from the seventy in the tent were isolated from their religious community-- on the contrary, they were connected to that community in spite of the distinctions laid before them by human norms. Divine will supersedes human structure. And in my opinion it does so frequently.

Your house metaphor is interesting. It rightly points out that the journey doesn't end at being without a house-- it doesn't end without a spiritual community, because as you said. But your metaphor is different from mine. I don't see a toxic church as a home with leaky pipes and rats. I see a toxic church as a house that's on fire. You can't dilly-dally on getting out of it. And the consequences of staying in if you're afraid to do what it takes to get out are gonna be rough. You rightly point out that my view is short-sighted. And it is! Because I see the damage that a toxic religious environment can do to someone as being QUITE severe. This is ultimately a matter of perspective and approach. I think either's good in specific situations, for specific people. Some houses have rats and leaky pipes. You can bring a plumber in to fix that and you can get rid of the rats. Some houses have got black mold. People can't live in there while it's getting cleaned out. Some houses are burning down and it's time to run, not walk. Goya describes the needs of the neurodivergent as being important; and I think that's an important thing to consider that we haven't brought up. There are plenty of different forms of spiritual community, and they're all important. They all serve different needs, too. People who don't fit in the gender binary are gonna have a rough time at a lot of churches. People who don't fit in the sexual norms of their community are gonna have a rough time at a lot of churches. And to add to that, there's neurodivergent people who have a rough time at ANY churches. Period. Case in point, myself. I mentioned as much in my introductory post, but I have a form of obsessive compulsive disorder that operates primarily along religious lines. Church can be... bad for me. So that is another facet to this discussion, and it alters my perception of what faith is significantly from other people.

As we continue these conversations, though, I get this overwhelming sense that part of what is going on is... well, for one, I think we're both keenly aware of the fact that we're not just discussing this with each other and the "regulars" here on ChristianERA. We've had a period of pretty intense, passionate discussion-- and that as a consequence has brought new eyeballs onto the thread. We've got an audience we haven't had for months. I think the reason we're engaging in this discussion is because we all feel that conversation is constructive (we've gotten feedback as such, too). These arguments are fascinating to me because I seldom read something that I wholly disagree with-- but the constructions we make through discrete points come together to create arguments that I think really reveal what we prioritize in faith.
 

Goya

Banned
Nov 11, 2017
30
Regarding community, this passage from TASBS is good:
...the personhood of any of us, in its entirety, is created by and sustained within the loves and associations and affinities that shape us. There is no such thing as a person in separation. Personhood as such, in fact, is not a condition possible for an isolated substance. It is an act, not a thing, and it is achieved only in and through a history of relations with others. We are finite beings in a state of becoming, and in us there is nothing that is not action, dynamism, an emergence into a fuller (or a retreat into a more impoverished) existence. And so, as I said in my First Meditation, we are those others who make us. Spiritual personality is not mere individuality, nor is personal love one of its merely accidental conditions or extrinsic circumstances. A person is first and foremost a limitless capacity, a place where the all shows itself with a special inflection. We exist as “the place of the other,” to borrow a phrase from Michel de Certeau. Surely this is the profoundest truth in the doctrine of resurrection. That we must rise from the dead to be saved is a claim not simply about resumed corporeality, whatever that might turn out to be, but more crucially about the fully restored existence of the person as socially, communally, corporately constituted. For Paul, flesh (σάρξ, sarx) and blood (αἷμα, haima), the mortal life of the “psychical body” (σῶμα ψυχικόν, sōma psychikon), passes away, but not embodiment as such, not the “spiritual body” (σῶμα πνευματικόν, sōma pnevmatikon), which is surely not merely a local, but a communal condition: Each person is a body within the body of humanity, which exists in its proper nature only as the body of Christ.
 
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duckroll

Member
Oct 25, 2017
8,093
Singapore
Thanks for the kind words, it's affirming to have these conversations about faith in a positive way where even in disagreements we can encourage each other and deepen our understanding through sharing and proper discourse. :)
I fear we err too much on the side of civility in public discourse. If you find a point of view repugnant or an argument bad, not saying as much feels almost oily to me. Especially in an arena of peers who should all know the rules of engagement
I agree with this and it is something I subscribe to in how I engage with others. But I think we can clearly see examples where it doesn't always work out because we might misunderstand the intent of others at times and come off too strong. Still learning to find the right balance for each situation, especially on more sensitive topics on social issues or when others are sharing difficulties and expressing them poorly through no direct fault of their own. These are times when we should reflect on how we engage too. No qualms with theologians having an honest go at each other though, that's an age old tradition in academic and philosophical discourse and can actually be entertaining when seen in the right light too. I recently read Duns Scotus' argument against Henry Ghent's view on how Divine Illumination is required for us to have any knowledge, and he basically destroyed him. Lol.

We should be prepared to read all of Scripture allegorically in light of what we know about God through Christ, not excluding the NT.
While sometimes it is literal, I do like this point that all of Scripture -can- be read allegorically as well - even what seems to be literal bits. Scripture is the living Word and unless we are willing to open hearts and minds to it truly being able to speak the truth that we need to read at a given time, we can get caught up with trying to find specific "right" things that a passage is saying and assigning that as a sole interpretation, after which no other meaning can be drawn. That's bad because it limits what Scripture can say to us.

Another example would be the concept of physical illness being a representation of sin. This was a belief held by the Jewish people since the OT. And it continues to be a theme in the NT. Leprosy is a big one. Yet we know today that illness itself is not a specific sign of sin. What then are we to make of certain healings Jesus carries out where he ties it to forgiveness of sin as well? Unless we are able and willing to see the thematic elements that run throughout Scripture from OT to NT and relate them to what God is saying in Scripture, we could allow narrow readings of things to pigeonhole how we understand the text.

But if you allow me to work this metaphor a bit more, the first step after realizing you're in a toxic or abusive environment is leaving it. Then recovering. The last step is trying to find a new, better family. It's hard. "As soon as possible" could be a while. And living alone is certainly better than returning to the abuse.

Think it's also important to point out that everyone has different spiritual needs, gifts, callings etc. and some of us are perhaps better placed at the periphery of Christ's body than at its heart. Maybe on a finger or toe or something. Anyway, practically speaking, if you're introverted or neurodivergent or whatever, this might reduce your need for community, and while that doesn't justify complete isolation, it could justify a less socially involved role. Much to think about, as they say.
Yes, the metaphor can be expanded to look at healing in different ways too, but remember that in my metaphor is about the house, not a family. The house itself represents a church community so to speak. It could be a big house, a small house, etc. When you use family as an example it can alter the intent I was trying to make. Yes, if you have a toxic family and you move away alone for a while before moving in somewhere else with friends it's fine. You could also live alone, it's fine. But that wasn't the example I was trying to draw at all. In the case of an actual living environment, I don't think you would make the same case if someone had to live in their car or in the streets without a place to go home to. Yes, it might take a while to secure a new place but friends should offer a place to stay, or they could rent a temporary apartment until they have one of their own. You would not accept that getting a new place takes some time so a person should continue living without a place to stay. This isn't about living alone, it is about living without any sort of spiritual support on a faith journey. Even if a person does not have a regular church to go to, what I am saying is they should not be journeying alone without any communal support at all. This isn't a criticism of what an individual should or should not do in a situation btw, but a reflection that the support is so important and anyone who is in a position to see someone who struggles in such a situation without a community or support because of a bad church experience should lend a hand and reach out as a fellow brother or sister in Christ. I'm cautioning against us holding back because we might think that a person journeying with God completely alone is a "better" thing than a toxic church environment. Yes, it might be better in a literal sense, but it is still not good because that loneliness also means no support for spiritual growth and the risk of being further misguided due to isolation. Hope that's more helpful in explaining how I was using the metaphor.

And you are absolutely right about everyone having different spiritual needs. Not just that but also different physical needs that define how we best relate to our spiritual life. But I disagree with this directly relating to reducing a need on community. Less socially involved, absolutely. Remember that community isn't just about doing stuff, it's about being there. We tend to underestimate the power of presence sometimes. Especially our own presence, and if we're used to seeing results from actions, we might forget that just being there for someone and listening or sitting there or even then knowing that you are a call or message away can be a big deal. This doesn't mean forcing people to be around each other all the time or involving them in ministry work that has a lot of active doing doing doing. That works for some people, not for everyone. But the community I speak of is being there, journeying together, and living the life of Christ with others knowing that when we need to we have others to lean on for support. That is something I really feel every single person needs regardless of how extroverted or introverted they are.

Church can be... bad for me. So that is another facet to this discussion, and it alters my perception of what faith is significantly from other people.
This is unfortunately a reality that we have to deal with as well. And it requires more care and understanding. I myself am not great with this, because I can only relate to such things through examples I read about or what friends relate to me from their bad experiences. I have no had this sort of struggle in my own life and I am aware that it makes me poorly equipped to help in more meaningful ways. There is no question that bad church environments, abuse, judgemental people, are strong counter-witnesses to the life of Christ. Such things drive people away from their faith because it drives people away from the community they associate with the faith. You shouldn't feel bad about it at all or think that your perspective is any less valid or real. Sharing it can also allow others to learn about the failings in the community and how to improve and do better.

I'll say again that I would never recommend anyone to stay in an abusive relationship or a toxic environment no matter what. I value church community greatly but that is no excuse to make people suffer. That isn't what Christ would want either.
 

Deffers

Banned
Mar 4, 2018
2,077
I think religious community is quite important-- but I don't necessarily conflate that with a church. Informal gatherings can do that. In my case I'm a bit unconventional in that I like to discuss scripture with non-believers.

As for sharing about my struggles... OK. If you want, here you go. More information than you could possibly desire.

As I said before, I suffer from scrupulosity. It's a kind of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder connected to-- what else-- religion. Potentially one in four American Catholic high schoolers are said to suffer from it, but I'm pretty distinct from the descriptions given in the Wikipedia article as well as the demographics, being in the latter half of my twenties. The Wiki article focuses primarily on feeling unworthy of being loved by God. And while that's certainly a component of what I suffer from, I gotta say, these are some pretty mild descriptions of what it's like, which are on the low end of the scale. I'm... not on the low end of the scale. My scrupulosity is very clearly obsessive-compulsive disorder and it's very clearly neurochemical in nature. Feelings of overwhelming guilt are present, but they certainly aren't the end-all be-all.

So let's break it down: the foundation of all obsessive compulsive disorders, the operating mechanism by which they operate, is an intrusive thought. Now, we all have intrusive thoughts. Obsessive-compulsives have intrusive thoughts unrelated to their pathologies, even. Sometimes an intrusive thought makes you feel horrible. A classic example is holding a baby and seeing yourself throw the baby down a flight of stairs in your mind's eye. But what separates an obsessive-compulsive's intrusive thoughts from other peoples' is they're recurring, and come with an attached sense of impending doom. Obviously, this makes OCD cluster with anxiety disorder, because the mechanisms underlying both reinforce each other quite strongly. In the case of most people with scrupulosity, it apparently tends to manifest in obtrusive thoughts over-emphasizing your faults and errors. That's certainly happened, and much like Aquinas I've done the thing with feeling bad about stepping on anything in my environment that's vaguely cruciform. Much like some others I've also done the thing with the seven obsession. But additionally, I have intrusive thoughts that are blasphemous in nature. Spoiler alert: it's not fun. Additionally, unlike the primarily obsessive component of the stories described, I eventually got into physical compulsions. Much like the rest of people there, I kept repeating prayers over and over again. Of course, reading Matthew 6 when Jesus says not to do that helps-- but if I feel I didn't do my prayer right, I feel like it's not a vain repetition, so I have to do it over again. Prior to reading that I was constructing, well... towers of regimented prayer. I'd have more peaceful moments, see them as phony, pare them down, then with time and anxiety they'd build up again. Some times it'd be seven Lord's Prayers before bed. Other times it'd be a Lord's Prayer, Hail Mary, uh... something like the Spanish equivalent of Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, plus some other prayers of my own construction. Things like that. Of course, this intersects with religious iconography. First I'd pray facing it. Then I wouldn't because that's idolatry. Then... and so on. It's a very permutative process because I'm aware of my illness. Like I said, though, it doesn't end there. Like others I'm... regimented about things like obscenity. Never use it in this thread, for example (except damn and hell which have their own uses anyway). Can't swear while in the presence of religious icons or while looking at geometrically cruciform objects. This doesn't only extend to my facing but also where my hands and feet are pointed. You may notice, too, this takes a lot of awareness. So you can already see why a church environment is bad for me. And with time, stuff like religious iconography starts generating a stress response simply because I become hyper-aware of all these rules. Pavlovian association sucks. Feeling your adrenal gland go, sucks.

That's not really where it ended for me, though. OCD isn't called that simply because you're obsessive. For a lot of people obsession is a primary part of it, of course-- but then there's the compulsion of physical action. Compulsion to stop what you're doing and pray for forgiveness, for example-- and because I'm genuinely a believer, it's hard to tell when it's something I'd do authentically and when it's something produced by my own stress. Which is, in fact, WHY I suffer from scrupulosity as opposed to compulsive handwashing (which, surprise surprise, I get into when handling Bibles or icons of any kind). It's because it matters to me in a way very little else does. And... that's where the self harm comes into play. The blasphemous thoughts (or replays of my regular thoughts which become blasphemous in a religious context, that happens too) drove me to feelings of impurity just like everyone else you're reading about here. Feelings of unworth. Before knowing about my OCD as a neurological thing (I've been dealing with this since I was eight) I assumed demons and stuff like that. So I'd cross myself... compulsively. Eventually I stopped just crossing myself and I'd drag my fingernails along my skin as I crossed myself. Fast forward... oh, about ten, twelve years later and there's just a patch of skin on my chest that's ruined. For a bit there, I used to just have a cross made out of scabbed and irritated skin. I'm sure it looks cool on some hyper Christian DeviantART OC, but I can tell you for sure it was just kind of... excruciatingly painful to have. Physically painful. Emotionally painful. Spiritually painful. Painful for me. Painful for my mother.

You can imagine, in this state of mind, how badly someone talking about you disappointing Christ can affect you. Or talking about Hell, where a part of you is sure to remind you that you're going. Or about not doing enough, where a part of you is sure to remind you that you're deficient.

And it's so weird because my parents weren't like that at all. They were pretty much cafeteria Catholics, if my dad even believes in God. My GRANDPARENTS weren't like that at all. On my mom's side, grandpa's a freemason so he's on that Grand Architect of the Universe stuff. He still goes to Mass sometimes, I think, but he's very mystical and reserved about it. My grandma's on some weird magic vibe, she just does inexplicable stuff, and is admittedly extremely Catholic. But not the hellfire kind, just the kind that knows every saint and their feast day, even the non-canonical ones, and has WEIRD paraphernalia sometimes. On my dad's side, my grandpa's got one of those intellectuals' understandings of God that's vague and abstract and sees the commandments as useful superstition from a bygone era. My grandma on THAT side once told me God's parent was Sophia. Remember what I said about the Gnostics? Yeah.

Coming from this background, too, my devotion didn't and doesn't make sense. Nobody knows or understands why. Which meant nobody could really help. With this eclectic pile of beliefs in hand, it was always easy to find someone else to tell you you were hellbound for that kind of stuff. In a lot of ways this was a source for a lot of friction on my part. I was brought up to be skeptical of the church and to see it as an institution of control. I think I've been to three Catholic masses in my life. The only other Church I've been to was a protestant gig my parents were invited to as some Multi-Level-Marketing thing. Later, of course, the Catholic church practically blew up with sex abuse scandals, and the church I was nominally a part of lost all respect in my eyes. Even so it still had this horrible sway over me, this horrible grip and this horrible feeling that I was still going to Hell for looking at that and desiring to be no part of it while remaining loyal to Christ. It's discouraging in its own way too. When I finally realized I had OCD, I had to ask myself: is my devotion authentic, or is it an aspect of my neuropathology?

Something you realize as someone with scrupulosity is there's always someone eager to tell you that you're doing it wrong and you're going to pay the ultimate price for it. People pick up on your nervousness, on your desire to have some goddamned peace for once, and think there's an opportunity for conversion there. And contrary to what you might believe, living in this kind of fear doesn't preclude you having your own convictions. All the stuff I dish about the infinite love of God and about hoping for Universalism? That's me. That's been me. There's always a part of me that tells me I'm wrong, that tells me I'm being arrogant, that's willing to listen when someone says I'm too willful and unwilling to heed the commandments of the Lord, though. Despite that, I haven't retreated from religious debate or discussion as a whole. I believe it's important. I used to think faith was best strengthened like steel sharpening steel. What I didn't really realize was that I was taking hits that were a bunch harder than the people I was debating with.

One of the things that helped for me was learning about other religions. I'm always going to have a deep respect for Theravada Buddhism, because you can imagine how my quality of life changed when meditation entered my life. You can't pray away compulsive prayer. Trust me. I've tried. And when it didn't work, I tried again. And again. And again. You can't pray away blasphemous intrusive thoughts. They're not the influence of demons. They're a part of your neurological makeup. Learning about the mysticism of other religions doesn't come with the ingrained stress response or the stakes that I apply to learning about Christianity. Learning about the Kabbalah and trying to conceptualize God in these majestic terms of infinity and rarified near non-existence whose will penetrated through EVERYTHING helped to combat these weird ideas of judgment. Hell, I've even managed to study the occult, if so far from a mostly non-practical perspective, because it fascinates me. That one's a bit hinkier, of course, and ten years ago got me into one of the worst spirals of my life with this stuff when I tried to discuss religion with someone who... just had no care about my baggage or intrusive thoughts and who I kept engaging with despite that.

Crises of faith aren't hard to come across when you're in this kind of state. When really anybody can put the fear in you that you're hellbound (even someone pathetically bigoted, someone acting in a way that I understand to be contrary to God) it all gets really difficult. Reading about atheism and rationalism, too, is a strange thing. Because on the one hand, I felt I needed that. I felt that I needed to look at cultish and irrational behaviors so that I could realize when I myself was falling into them. I needed to expose myself, too, to conflicting opinions. Because if I just ran, every time, I'd never actually adapt. But consequently, especially in the mid-aughts, a lot of atheist sites weren't... they were rather edgy and content to write stuff that would just be repeated ad nauseam by my intrusive thoughts. My desire to learn more about the Bible, too, to try and root myself in something like concrete Truth that would settle this all once and for all, was and remains fraught. If I read about something in the Bible being edited by a later author, am I betraying the faith by giving that any credence? There's always someone religious who's willing to tear you a new one for suggesting some bit of the Bible's a later addition or a rewrite, even as historians are willing to show you citations indicating that might be the case. Who to trust, who to believe, especially when there's plenty of people willing to tell you you're doing it wrong?

Eventually one night, I just got sick of it. I finally looked back at all my religious practice and freely acknowledged that it was all driven from fear. Not fear of disappointing God, really, but just fear of eternal perdition. And driven by the counter-reaction of fleeting comfort that I got from that. I admitted it. And then I asked myself, did I really want to believe? And I told myself in that moment that if I said "yes," and that "yes" was tainted by fear, or if that "yes" was tainted by a desire for comfort, I wouldn't accept it. I couldn't accept it. Because I would just be locked in this forever, too afraid of damnation to even actually move forward. And so for several hours I just sat there and rejected every time I said that I'd believe because I could see that it was still a response driven from fear or from comfort-seeking. Maybe for others those would be valid reasons to start on a religious path, but for me? Nah. Not at this stage. Eventually, after doing this over and over, after having admitted the emptiness of my faith, something kind of emerged. It was a wordless and multisensory thing. The answer was still yes, but it wasn't for those reasons anymore. And so I decided to keep with the faith. And keep to the faith.

But churches are still bad for me. They're still places loaded with things that produce a stress response, in environments that tend to be highly conformist, where people are liable to ask more of me because... well... they don't know about how hard this is. I'm not sure they'd care about how hard this is, especially in the US. You know how many pamphlets I've got in my life talking about Hell? The number's quite high.

Now, in a proper religious story, this would be the part where I never dealt with an intrusive thought ever again after that religious experience and stopped scarifying myself. Not so. Since then I've still had to deal with those things. The worst of that was ahead of me, still, in fact, because grad school was that godawful and my dad wouldn't stop being abusive. I'm not immune to people chastising me for being heretical even though my faith has ALWAYS been experimental. But I'm keeping the faith. And I'm keeping myself in religious discussion anyways. Because I feel like I can help people. My views may seem heterodox to traditionalists, but they've managed to resonate with people who are different from your average churchgoing sort. I can tell people when they feel unworthy of God's love that they're WRONG-- and speak with hard-won authority on that. An authority that I feel is real, and is strong. I can entertain discussions about if things were added to the Bible or not, I can bring context from different religions into this stuff... and that's let me relate to people differently. Because my perspective is different. My lax upbringing and the firey conflict between that and my scrupulosity makes me look at things with a different eye. And there's still... room for self-reflection. I'm a very prideful and arrogant person, and I've had to work on that throughout my life. Having this doesn't mean there isn't a legitimacy to asking myself hard questions, even though discerning genuine self-reflection from over-the-top self-flagellation is an added challenge. I've sinned, and I've sinned grievously too, even despite of the fear put in me by scrupulosity. I know there's not just room for repentance in faith, but that repentance is a gift from God. So I feel like... like I can help people.

...Hope that helps. And I hope it helps to clarify why I take the stance that I do when I see people that are disgusted with their own religion but still drawn to it, or who feel impure, or who feel unworthy of Christ's love. I've been in all those places. I've walked those beats. And so far those are the people I think I've been able to help sometimes. I think it gives me a lot of ability to talk to people who've lost their faith or never had it too. You can imagine that my answer to the question "Why believe?" is... well, a bit different.
 

Kinggroin

Avenger
Oct 26, 2017
4,811
Uranus, get it?!? YOUR. ANUS.
I think religious community is quite important-- but I don't necessarily conflate that with a church. Informal gatherings can do that. In my case I'm a bit unconventional in that I like to discuss scripture with non-believers.

As for sharing about my struggles... OK. If you want, here you go. More information than you could possibly desire.

As I said before, I suffer from scrupulosity. It's a kind of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder connected to-- what else-- religion. Potentially one in four American Catholic high schoolers are said to suffer from it, but I'm pretty distinct from the descriptions given in the Wikipedia article as well as the demographics, being in the latter half of my twenties. The Wiki article focuses primarily on feeling unworthy of being loved by God. And while that's certainly a component of what I suffer from, I gotta say, these are some pretty mild descriptions of what it's like, which are on the low end of the scale. I'm... not on the low end of the scale. My scrupulosity is very clearly obsessive-compulsive disorder and it's very clearly neurochemical in nature. Feelings of overwhelming guilt are present, but they certainly aren't the end-all be-all.

So let's break it down: the foundation of all obsessive compulsive disorders, the operating mechanism by which they operate, is an intrusive thought. Now, we all have intrusive thoughts. Obsessive-compulsives have intrusive thoughts unrelated to their pathologies, even. Sometimes an intrusive thought makes you feel horrible. A classic example is holding a baby and seeing yourself throw the baby down a flight of stairs in your mind's eye. But what separates an obsessive-compulsive's intrusive thoughts from other peoples' is they're recurring, and come with an attached sense of impending doom. Obviously, this makes OCD cluster with anxiety disorder, because the mechanisms underlying both reinforce each other quite strongly. In the case of most people with scrupulosity, it apparently tends to manifest in obtrusive thoughts over-emphasizing your faults and errors. That's certainly happened, and much like Aquinas I've done the thing with feeling bad about stepping on anything in my environment that's vaguely cruciform. Much like some others I've also done the thing with the seven obsession. But additionally, I have intrusive thoughts that are blasphemous in nature. Spoiler alert: it's not fun. Additionally, unlike the primarily obsessive component of the stories described, I eventually got into physical compulsions. Much like the rest of people there, I kept repeating prayers over and over again. Of course, reading Matthew 6 when Jesus says not to do that helps-- but if I feel I didn't do my prayer right, I feel like it's not a vain repetition, so I have to do it over again. Prior to reading that I was constructing, well... towers of regimented prayer. I'd have more peaceful moments, see them as phony, pare them down, then with time and anxiety they'd build up again. Some times it'd be seven Lord's Prayers before bed. Other times it'd be a Lord's Prayer, Hail Mary, uh... something like the Spanish equivalent of Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, plus some other prayers of my own construction. Things like that. Of course, this intersects with religious iconography. First I'd pray facing it. Then I wouldn't because that's idolatry. Then... and so on. It's a very permutative process because I'm aware of my illness. Like I said, though, it doesn't end there. Like others I'm... regimented about things like obscenity. Never use it in this thread, for example (except damn and hell which have their own uses anyway). Can't swear while in the presence of religious icons or while looking at geometrically cruciform objects. This doesn't only extend to my facing but also where my hands and feet are pointed. You may notice, too, this takes a lot of awareness. So you can already see why a church environment is bad for me. And with time, stuff like religious iconography starts generating a stress response simply because I become hyper-aware of all these rules. Pavlovian association sucks. Feeling your adrenal gland go, sucks.

That's not really where it ended for me, though. OCD isn't called that simply because you're obsessive. For a lot of people obsession is a primary part of it, of course-- but then there's the compulsion of physical action. Compulsion to stop what you're doing and pray for forgiveness, for example-- and because I'm genuinely a believer, it's hard to tell when it's something I'd do authentically and when it's something produced by my own stress. Which is, in fact, WHY I suffer from scrupulosity as opposed to compulsive handwashing (which, surprise surprise, I get into when handling Bibles or icons of any kind). It's because it matters to me in a way very little else does. And... that's where the self harm comes into play. The blasphemous thoughts (or replays of my regular thoughts which become blasphemous in a religious context, that happens too) drove me to feelings of impurity just like everyone else you're reading about here. Feelings of unworth. Before knowing about my OCD as a neurological thing (I've been dealing with this since I was eight) I assumed demons and stuff like that. So I'd cross myself... compulsively. Eventually I stopped just crossing myself and I'd drag my fingernails along my skin as I crossed myself. Fast forward... oh, about ten, twelve years later and there's just a patch of skin on my chest that's ruined. For a bit there, I used to just have a cross made out of scabbed and irritated skin. I'm sure it looks cool on some hyper Christian DeviantART OC, but I can tell you for sure it was just kind of... excruciatingly painful to have. Physically painful. Emotionally painful. Spiritually painful. Painful for me. Painful for my mother.

You can imagine, in this state of mind, how badly someone talking about you disappointing Christ can affect you. Or talking about Hell, where a part of you is sure to remind you that you're going. Or about not doing enough, where a part of you is sure to remind you that you're deficient.

And it's so weird because my parents weren't like that at all. They were pretty much cafeteria Catholics, if my dad even believes in God. My GRANDPARENTS weren't like that at all. On my mom's side, grandpa's a freemason so he's on that Grand Architect of the Universe stuff. He still goes to Mass sometimes, I think, but he's very mystical and reserved about it. My grandma's on some weird magic vibe, she just does inexplicable stuff, and is admittedly extremely Catholic. But not the hellfire kind, just the kind that knows every saint and their feast day, even the non-canonical ones, and has WEIRD paraphernalia sometimes. On my dad's side, my grandpa's got one of those intellectuals' understandings of God that's vague and abstract and sees the commandments as useful superstition from a bygone era. My grandma on THAT side once told me God's parent was Sophia. Remember what I said about the Gnostics? Yeah.

Coming from this background, too, my devotion didn't and doesn't make sense. Nobody knows or understands why. Which meant nobody could really help. With this eclectic pile of beliefs in hand, it was always easy to find someone else to tell you you were hellbound for that kind of stuff. In a lot of ways this was a source for a lot of friction on my part. I was brought up to be skeptical of the church and to see it as an institution of control. I think I've been to three Catholic masses in my life. The only other Church I've been to was a protestant gig my parents were invited to as some Multi-Level-Marketing thing. Later, of course, the Catholic church practically blew up with sex abuse scandals, and the church I was nominally a part of lost all respect in my eyes. Even so it still had this horrible sway over me, this horrible grip and this horrible feeling that I was still going to Hell for looking at that and desiring to be no part of it while remaining loyal to Christ. It's discouraging in its own way too. When I finally realized I had OCD, I had to ask myself: is my devotion authentic, or is it an aspect of my neuropathology?

Something you realize as someone with scrupulosity is there's always someone eager to tell you that you're doing it wrong and you're going to pay the ultimate price for it. People pick up on your nervousness, on your desire to have some goddamned peace for once, and think there's an opportunity for conversion there. And contrary to what you might believe, living in this kind of fear doesn't preclude you having your own convictions. All the stuff I dish about the infinite love of God and about hoping for Universalism? That's me. That's been me. There's always a part of me that tells me I'm wrong, that tells me I'm being arrogant, that's willing to listen when someone says I'm too willful and unwilling to heed the commandments of the Lord, though. Despite that, I haven't retreated from religious debate or discussion as a whole. I believe it's important. I used to think faith was best strengthened like steel sharpening steel. What I didn't really realize was that I was taking hits that were a bunch harder than the people I was debating with.

One of the things that helped for me was learning about other religions. I'm always going to have a deep respect for Theravada Buddhism, because you can imagine how my quality of life changed when meditation entered my life. You can't pray away compulsive prayer. Trust me. I've tried. And when it didn't work, I tried again. And again. And again. You can't pray away blasphemous intrusive thoughts. They're not the influence of demons. They're a part of your neurological makeup. Learning about the mysticism of other religions doesn't come with the ingrained stress response or the stakes that I apply to learning about Christianity. Learning about the Kabbalah and trying to conceptualize God in these majestic terms of infinity and rarified near non-existence whose will penetrated through EVERYTHING helped to combat these weird ideas of judgment. Hell, I've even managed to study the occult, if so far from a mostly non-practical perspective, because it fascinates me. That one's a bit hinkier, of course, and ten years ago got me into one of the worst spirals of my life with this stuff when I tried to discuss religion with someone who... just had no care about my baggage or intrusive thoughts and who I kept engaging with despite that.

Crises of faith aren't hard to come across when you're in this kind of state. When really anybody can put the fear in you that you're hellbound (even someone pathetically bigoted, someone acting in a way that I understand to be contrary to God) it all gets really difficult. Reading about atheism and rationalism, too, is a strange thing. Because on the one hand, I felt I needed that. I felt that I needed to look at cultish and irrational behaviors so that I could realize when I myself was falling into them. I needed to expose myself, too, to conflicting opinions. Because if I just ran, every time, I'd never actually adapt. But consequently, especially in the mid-aughts, a lot of atheist sites weren't... they were rather edgy and content to write stuff that would just be repeated ad nauseam by my intrusive thoughts. My desire to learn more about the Bible, too, to try and root myself in something like concrete Truth that would settle this all once and for all, was and remains fraught. If I read about something in the Bible being edited by a later author, am I betraying the faith by giving that any credence? There's always someone religious who's willing to tear you a new one for suggesting some bit of the Bible's a later addition or a rewrite, even as historians are willing to show you citations indicating that might be the case. Who to trust, who to believe, especially when there's plenty of people willing to tell you you're doing it wrong?

Eventually one night, I just got sick of it. I finally looked back at all my religious practice and freely acknowledged that it was all driven from fear. Not fear of disappointing God, really, but just fear of eternal perdition. And driven by the counter-reaction of fleeting comfort that I got from that. I admitted it. And then I asked myself, did I really want to believe? And I told myself in that moment that if I said "yes," and that "yes" was tainted by fear, or if that "yes" was tainted by a desire for comfort, I wouldn't accept it. I couldn't accept it. Because I would just be locked in this forever, too afraid of damnation to even actually move forward. And so for several hours I just sat there and rejected every time I said that I'd believe because I could see that it was still a response driven from fear or from comfort-seeking. Maybe for others those would be valid reasons to start on a religious path, but for me? Nah. Not at this stage. Eventually, after doing this over and over, after having admitted the emptiness of my faith, something kind of emerged. It was a wordless and multisensory thing. The answer was still yes, but it wasn't for those reasons anymore. And so I decided to keep with the faith. And keep to the faith.

But churches are still bad for me. They're still places loaded with things that produce a stress response, in environments that tend to be highly conformist, where people are liable to ask more of me because... well... they don't know about how hard this is. I'm not sure they'd care about how hard this is, especially in the US. You know how many pamphlets I've got in my life talking about Hell? The number's quite high.

Now, in a proper religious story, this would be the part where I never dealt with an intrusive thought ever again after that religious experience and stopped scarifying myself. Not so. Since then I've still had to deal with those things. The worst of that was ahead of me, still, in fact, because grad school was that godawful and my dad wouldn't stop being abusive. I'm not immune to people chastising me for being heretical even though my faith has ALWAYS been experimental. But I'm keeping the faith. And I'm keeping myself in religious discussion anyways. Because I feel like I can help people. My views may seem heterodox to traditionalists, but they've managed to resonate with people who are different from your average churchgoing sort. I can tell people when they feel unworthy of God's love that they're WRONG-- and speak with hard-won authority on that. An authority that I feel is real, and is strong. I can entertain discussions about if things were added to the Bible or not, I can bring context from different religions into this stuff... and that's let me relate to people differently. Because my perspective is different. My lax upbringing and the firey conflict between that and my scrupulosity makes me look at things with a different eye. And there's still... room for self-reflection. I'm a very prideful and arrogant person, and I've had to work on that throughout my life. Having this doesn't mean there isn't a legitimacy to asking myself hard questions, even though discerning genuine self-reflection from over-the-top self-flagellation is an added challenge. I've sinned, and I've sinned grievously too, even despite of the fear put in me by scrupulosity. I know there's not just room for repentance in faith, but that repentance is a gift from God. So I feel like... like I can help people.

...Hope that helps. And I hope it helps to clarify why I take the stance that I do when I see people that are disgusted with their own religion but still drawn to it, or who feel impure, or who feel unworthy of Christ's love. I've been in all those places. I've walked those beats. And so far those are the people I think I've been able to help sometimes. I think it gives me a lot of ability to talk to people who've lost their faith or never had it too. You can imagine that my answer to the question "Why believe?" is... well, a bit different.
Wow. Thanks for sharing.

Merry Christmas
 

duckroll

Member
Oct 25, 2017
8,093
Singapore
Hope everyone had a blessed and holy Christmas! As we approach the new year, maybe we can share a bit about some takeaways we have from this year and what we want to grow in next year? :)
 

vanmardigan

Member
Oct 27, 2017
539
Man, so many threads on this forum where I just think the OP.... Just needs Jesus. It's as simple as that. So much despair, loneliness, hopelessness, suicidal thoughts etc. And I don't feel comfortable even suggesting that on this forum. I would if I met any of them in real life.
 

Deffers

Banned
Mar 4, 2018
2,077
I guess I'm learning to be more comfortable in my skin and to stand... "in my truth" feels odd, given the thread, but in my integrity, I guess is the more correct way of thinking about it? I feel like I need to learn to be a dynamic individual and to become more perceptive with other people.
 

Firefoxprime

Member
Oct 30, 2017
516
Man, so many threads on this forum where I just think the OP.... Just needs Jesus. It's as simple as that. So much despair, loneliness, hopelessness, suicidal thoughts etc. And I don't feel comfortable even suggesting that on this forum. I would if I met any of them in real life.
Why would you be comfortable? You're literally in a place where EVERYTHING is debatable.

I dunno if you have that personal relationship, but I would recommend praying to Jesus before entering any discussions about personal lives, current events, etc.

If your conversations aren't within his will, then you're basically forcing Jesus on people.

You know that's not how he rolls.

I guess I'm learning to be more comfortable in my skin and to stand... "in my truth" feels odd, given the thread, but in my integrity, I guess is the more correct way of thinking about it? I feel like I need to learn to be a dynamic individual and to become more perceptive with other people.
That's some deep introspection. Not sure what it's connecting to though.
 

DarkDetective

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,158
The Netherlands
Why would you be comfortable? You're literally in a place where EVERYTHING is debatable.
In my opinion, this forum is not a place with such a wide space of mind, where everything is debatable. There are a lot of opinions that can be considered 'holy houses' that should simply not be 'attacked'. I'm not that active on the EtcetEra side of the forum, but I've seen contra-religious statements by quite a number of people in threads.
 

duckroll

Member
Oct 25, 2017
8,093
Singapore
This year I feel I learned a lot about taking a step back and letting things play out without judging or presuming. Less micromanagement of my plans and my feelings, allowing God to be God and to lead me where He will. It hasn't been easy but it has been rewarding.

In the coming year I hope to continue on this journey without worrying about a particular destination. I don't need to be in control all the time, I don't need to be the person with the right opinion or the right assumption about every situation. I want to listen first and practice more humility. And in all things I want to truly trust the Lord.

I also hope that we don't feel disheartened by the increasingly hostile and secular environment around us, and instead of lashing out in anger or turning apathetic, we can reach out in love. Seems like one of the hardest things on this forum these days - to just be kind amid all the shouting over each other and snarky attitudes.

Peace be with all of you and I hope everyone has a great new year! ❤
 

Firefoxprime

Member
Oct 30, 2017
516
This year I feel I learned a lot about taking a step back and letting things play out without judging or presuming. Less micromanagement of my plans and my feelings, allowing God to be God and to lead me where He will. It hasn't been easy but it has been rewarding.

In the coming year I hope to continue on this journey without worrying about a particular destination. I don't need to be in control all the time, I don't need to be the person with the right opinion or the right assumption about every situation. I want to listen first and practice more humility. And in all things I want to truly trust the Lord.

I also hope that we don't feel disheartened by the increasingly hostile and secular environment around us, and instead of lashing out in anger or turning apathetic, we can reach out in love. Seems like one of the hardest things on this forum these days - to just be kind amid all the shouting over each other and snarky attitudes.

Peace be with all of you and I hope everyone has a great new year! ❤
Absolutely. Just have to be savvy and tactful. I'd like to add that most people here have misinformed assumptions on christians.

And.....they have no intention to actively research 😂.

It's really not their fault they've encountered lukewarm or false christians.

Think about all these previous decades where christianity was "mainstream".

People are tired of begrudingly attending church, so I can at the very basic level, respect them enough to not "fake" being a christian.

For next year, I need to strengthen my knowledge of the bible, theology, etc.

People deserve to know the truth, but I'm a disservice to them if I can't properly answer their inquisitive questions.
Lastly, I recommend listening to Moody Radio. They have fantastic music and radio shows. 24/7. This is not Klove....😝

They legit talk about everything, from raising children, to finances, relationships, and current events. It's the international radio branch of a christian university in Chicago.

Preachers and teachers from different sex, ethnicities, and nationalities.

Many radio shows discuss the bible from different angles: emotional, intellectual, and practical.

This station has been pouring into me for the last 10 years, and I pray it will do the same for you 👍.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,314
I don't know that I've made major changes or learned major lessons this year. Perhaps the biggest one would be that I've instituted more regular liturgical practices and returned to reading and studying Scripture and theology (as well as other subjects) on a more regular basis - both of which help keep me more grounded and take me out of the obsession with this passing moment that culture and the Internet encourage. For this upcoming year, I want to work on mortifying my flesh such that I am more consumed with God than my own self. I want to be more fixed outwards, towards love of God and my neighbor, than trapped within my own insecurities and self-analysis. I want to place my talents, which are not my own but gifts I received from God, fully at His disposal so that I may be used for His glory and for the good of those around me. I am easily anxious about my career, my financial stability, my loneliness, and I want to give up that anxiety to God so that I put up no barriers to Him working through me. Humbled by how many blessings God has given me, as unworthy of them as I in myself am, I want to give freely without hoarding for myself, trusting that God will provide what I need.

The recent announcement that Pastor Wang Yi has been sentenced by the Chinese government to 9 years in prison for "inciting to subvert state power" provides a good opportunity to revisit his statement My Declaration of Faithful Disobedience published at the time of his arrest a year ago. Wang Yi's perspective - that he is not concerned so much about changing the world as about testifying about another world, "to tell those who have deprived me of my personal freedom that there is an authority higher than their authority, and that there is a freedom that they cannot restrain, a freedom that fills the church of the crucified and risen Jesus Christ" - is something I want to emulate in my own much more modest way in my interactions with the world.

On a related note, I want to recommend to all of you Terrence Malick's new film A Hidden Life, which is an excellent historical meditation on the difficult demands Christ makes of His servants, through the life of a man who consistently put faithfulness to God above the assertions of those around them that his actions were meaningless if they did not change the world. It's not getting as wide a release as it should, but if you have the opportunity to see it either in theaters or when it releases on BD, you should make every attempt to do so.
 

guiloahhhhh

Member
Oct 29, 2017
475
Man, so many threads on this forum where I just think the OP.... Just needs Jesus. It's as simple as that. So much despair, loneliness, hopelessness, suicidal thoughts etc. And I don't feel comfortable even suggesting that on this forum. I would if I met any of them in real life.
Yep. Holy fuck man you see this so much in real life. Online it doesn't work as well but people are a lot more open and vulnerable in person. And not trying to take advantage of anyone. But in real life you can show how much you care and just offer your perspective for better or worse. Try to show them God's grace by listening and being there as a person.
 
Dec 6, 2019
1,043
Oh nice. I'm finding all the OTs I'm interested in around these parts.

Man, so many threads on this forum where I just think the OP.... Just needs Jesus. It's as simple as that. So much despair, loneliness, hopelessness, suicidal thoughts etc. And I don't feel comfortable even suggesting that on this forum. I would if I met any of them in real life.
I agree with this. 100%. The despair and hopelessness feeds into itself. Some folks need hope. Need love.

A the same time, the marriage between Christianity and Neo-Conservatism, Trumpism, alt-right, has further expanded a rift between those who have been hurt by the Church, and those on its fringes. At least in the states. Actually, the West is becoming increasingly more secular as imperial-age Christian monopoly wanes.

Christianity is no longer potent as an ideology of control. so TPTB seems to be abandoning it. In our lifetimes, we will see Christianity become a minority religion as only the real believers will remain, rather than the snakes who profit from it. Jesus-flipped tables.
 

duckroll

Member
Oct 25, 2017
8,093
Singapore
In our lifetimes, we will see Christianity become a minority religion as only the real believers will remain, rather than the snakes who profit from it.
Very similar to what Pope Benedict XVI predicted the direction of the Church would go. Some quotes:

The future of the Church can and will issue from those whose roots are deep and who live from the pure fullness of their faith. It will not issue from those who accommodate themselves merely to the passing moment or from those who merely criticize others and assume that they themselves are infallible measuring rods; nor will it issue from those who take the easier road, who sidestep the passion of faith, declaring false and obsolete, tyrannous and legalistic, all that makes demands upon men, that hurts them and compels them to sacrifice themselves. To put this more positively: The future of the Church, once again as always, will be reshaped by saints, by men, that is, whose minds probe deeper than the slogans of the day, who see more than others see, because their lives embrace a wider reality. Unselfishness, which makes men free, is attained only through the patience of small daily acts of self-denial. By this daily passion, which alone reveals to a man in how many ways he is enslaved by his own ego, by this daily passion and by it alone, a man’s eyes are slowly opened. He sees only to the extent that he has lived and suffered. If today we are scarcely able any longer to become aware of God, that is because we find it so easy to evade ourselves, to flee from the depths of our being by means of the narcotic of some pleasure or other. Thus our own interior depths remain closed to us. If it is true that a man can see only with his heart, then how blind we are!

and

Let us go a step farther. From the crisis of today the Church of tomorrow will emerge — a Church that has lost much. She will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes, so it will lose many of her social privileges. In contrast to an earlier age, it will be seen much more as a voluntary society, entered only by free decision. As a small society, it will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members. Undoubtedly it will discover new forms of ministry and will ordain to the priesthood approved Christians who pursue some profession. In many smaller congregations or in self-contained social groups, pastoral care will normally be provided in this fashion. Along-side this, the full-time ministry of the priesthood will be indispensable as formerly. But in all of the changes at which one might guess, the Church will find her essence afresh and with full conviction in that which was always at her center: faith in the triune God, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, in the presence of the Spirit until the end of the world. In faith and prayer she will again recognize the sacraments as the worship of God and not as a subject for liturgical scholarship.

The Church will be a more spiritual Church, not presuming upon a political mandate, flirting as little with the Left as with the Right. It will be hard going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek. The process will be all the more arduous, for sectarian narrow-mindedness as well as pompous self-will will have to be shed.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,314
Indeed, happy Epiphany. As the Magi looked to the star to guide them to Bethlehem, so let us look to Christ as the Morning Star to guide us to Himself.

Very similar to what Pope Benedict XVI predicted the direction of the Church would go. Some quotes:

The future of the Church can and will issue from those whose roots are deep and who live from the pure fullness of their faith. It will not issue from those who accommodate themselves merely to the passing moment or from those who merely criticize others and assume that they themselves are infallible measuring rods; nor will it issue from those who take the easier road, who sidestep the passion of faith, declaring false and obsolete, tyrannous and legalistic, all that makes demands upon men, that hurts them and compels them to sacrifice themselves. To put this more positively: The future of the Church, once again as always, will be reshaped by saints, by men, that is, whose minds probe deeper than the slogans of the day, who see more than others see, because their lives embrace a wider reality. Unselfishness, which makes men free, is attained only through the patience of small daily acts of self-denial. By this daily passion, which alone reveals to a man in how many ways he is enslaved by his own ego, by this daily passion and by it alone, a man’s eyes are slowly opened. He sees only to the extent that he has lived and suffered. If today we are scarcely able any longer to become aware of God, that is because we find it so easy to evade ourselves, to flee from the depths of our being by means of the narcotic of some pleasure or other. Thus our own interior depths remain closed to us. If it is true that a man can see only with his heart, then how blind we are!

and

Let us go a step farther. From the crisis of today the Church of tomorrow will emerge — a Church that has lost much. She will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes, so it will lose many of her social privileges. In contrast to an earlier age, it will be seen much more as a voluntary society, entered only by free decision. As a small society, it will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members. Undoubtedly it will discover new forms of ministry and will ordain to the priesthood approved Christians who pursue some profession. In many smaller congregations or in self-contained social groups, pastoral care will normally be provided in this fashion. Along-side this, the full-time ministry of the priesthood will be indispensable as formerly. But in all of the changes at which one might guess, the Church will find her essence afresh and with full conviction in that which was always at her center: faith in the triune God, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, in the presence of the Spirit until the end of the world. In faith and prayer she will again recognize the sacraments as the worship of God and not as a subject for liturgical scholarship.

The Church will be a more spiritual Church, not presuming upon a political mandate, flirting as little with the Left as with the Right. It will be hard going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek. The process will be all the more arduous, for sectarian narrow-mindedness as well as pompous self-will will have to be shed.
Pope Benedict XVI is a wise man.
 

DiscoShark

Member
Oct 26, 2017
403
I'm not a Christian but I think a part of me yearns for the sense of community and belonging a religious organization can provide. Is this a selfish outlook? I think of the church and religion as tools for providing me a service rather than something I feel I can honestly subscribe to and a part of me internalize that as something that's borderline disrespectful.

I've attended a friend's service in the last couple months and they seem to take a literal interpretation of the bible to heart, I have trouble reconciling that side of christianity with discoveries in science or my own personal views on LGBT issues. How do you guys handle these types of struggles?

Apologies if this isn't the space for this type of discussion. I tend to take the view of others in this thread that there seems to be a hostility in discussing these openly in the general Etcetera.

Thanks.
 

DarkDetective

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,158
The Netherlands
I'm not a Christian but I think a part of me yearns for the sense of community and belonging a religious organization can provide. Is this a selfish outlook? I think of the church and religion as tools for providing me a service rather than something I feel I can honestly subscribe to and a part of me internalize that as something that's borderline disrespectful.

I've attended a friend's service in the last couple months and they seem to take a literal interpretation of the bible to heart, I have trouble reconciling that side of christianity with discoveries in science or my own personal views on LGBT issues. How do you guys handle these types of struggles?

Apologies if this isn't the space for this type of discussion. I tend to take the view of others in this thread that there seems to be a hostility in discussing these openly in the general Etcetera.

Thanks.
LGBT has been a difficult topic throughout the history of Christianity, or any religion, or mankind as a whole actually. Personally, I know a lot of LGBT people, including a couple Christian. I must say that I haven't talked a lot about the topic itself with them. Personally, I treat those people with respect. Even though I wouldn't say I like the phenomenon of LGBT - or think it is "good" per se -, regardless of how literally you take the Bible, those people must admit that God loves everyone and that faith in Him is what matters to Him.

God does not want us to sin; he despises sin. When the Israelites wanted to serve Him and do what is good in His eyes, He gave them the law of Moses. The goal of the law was not to punish those who coule not hold the law; He gave them this law to show them that no human can obey His law: everyone has sin. It's in our nature.

God sent His son, Jesus Christ, to the world to die for our sins, to conquer death, and to become the first to partake in a new life - with a new body and nature. One without sin.

When Jesus was on Earth, he said that the most important thing to do was to love God with all your heart, and after that, to love your neighbour as much as yourself (Matthew 22:36-40).
And that has always been the case: read through Hebrews 11. All those people that lived before Jesus came to the Earth, whether they lived before God gave Moses His law or during that period, Paul states in Hebrews 11 that it was their faith that has justified them for eternity.

If you believe in God, He will forgive all your sins. And if we believe in Jesus Christ and his resurrection, we has paid off our sins through His sacrifice, and we partake in His resurrection and get that position in heaven, and we'll get a new heavenly body without sinful nature after we die the earthly death.

Everyone has their fair share of sins. Gay people do, straight people do. No matter how much or how many sins you have, God is both Prosecutor and Judge, and if you place your trust in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, then God is also the Defendant, and He will wipe away your case before the heavenly court.

If you don't believe in Him, then apparently you think you can clean your sheet on your own. Well, good luck with that.

God is righteous, but merciful. Rather than sweeping away this sinful mess, He made a plan to save us from our own shortcomings. He came to the Earth, humiliated Himself by putting away his Divinity and becoming a human of flesh and bones like us (He's made us, and He's been just like us, so He knows what it feels like to be us!), and He sacrificed Himself to save everyone! Now that's power!

Unfortunately, claiming to represent the word of God creates a lot of supposed authority, and it has been misused by a lot of people throughout history and on various scales. There are still people who call themselves Christians, believe in Jesus Christ (apparently), but don't act like they do: they behave like they're trying to save themselves. Well, as I said earlier, good luck with that.

I highly recommend the book "Letters From A Skeptic" by Edward Boyd and Gregory Boyd. Maybe a local library has it for rent. It shows one Christian perspective (that I support, in most cases) on a lot of moral questions about why Christianity would be good/right/true. One of the two men is an agnost, who fires all of his questions about Christianity to the other, who is a Christian. I've learned a lot from that book.


About science, there are things that may not look compatible with the Christian world view, but also a lot of fundamental things where science actually supports the beliefs of Christianity and the existance of a higher entity.

I've started reading the book "The Language of God" by Dr. Francis S. Collins. He has the head of Human Genome Project and he's a Christian. In the book, he's laying down his world view, and he thinks Christianity and science are compatible. I've only started, so I don't have an opinion ready yet, but I found it interesting to have such a high profile scientist in biology (!) make a statement in favor of what some consider to be an unscientific world view.

I end the story here. Hopefully I've answered some questions and raised some new ones, in a satisfactory way. :)
 

DiscoShark

Member
Oct 26, 2017
403
It's funny that you should mention The Language of God as I'm a couple of chapters into the book as we speak. The author's made mention of C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity a lot in the first chapters as well so I have that checked out alongside it. I understand the appeal of it all I guess but have hang ups with some of the teachings themselves (or at least my perception of the teachings given my conversations with other christians - I've not read the bible myself).

I appreciate you taking the time to write out your response in any case so thanks a lot.
With regards to this line though:
"If you don't believe in Him, then apparently you think you can clean your sheet on your own. Well, good luck with that."

I don't think I can do it on my own. Increasingly I'm seeing the value of the connections with people in and of themselves - even if they're divorced from the dogma. I'm getting the sense that what's missing from secular life isn't so much the specific religious teachings so much as the church like institution, an excuse to get people out and interacting with their local community and to get advice about how to live a fulfilling life. Not to sound dismissive but it's the "baggage" I struggle with, not the idea in and of itself.

Thanks again for the response.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,314
I'm not a Christian but I think a part of me yearns for the sense of community and belonging a religious organization can provide. Is this a selfish outlook? I think of the church and religion as tools for providing me a service rather than something I feel I can honestly subscribe to and a part of me internalize that as something that's borderline disrespectful.
That's understandable. Connections with others is a basic human need, one that goes unmet for many people, and a religious community such as a church is definitely a place where that need can be fulfilled. I don't think you're being selfish in having that yearning, except in as much as desiring food and sleep is selfish.

I do think the truth claims of Christianity (or other religions) are not irrelevant. There's a line of thought that says maybe religion isn't actually true, but it's socially useful and should be encouraged along those lines. I can't go along with that. I am a Christian because I believe Jesus Christ is the incarnate Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, who was crucified for my sins and rose from the dead. If none of that is true, Christianity has no reason to continue existing - the hope that it offers me would be a false hope built on a pack of lies. I agree with the Apostle Paul when he says, "If Christ did not rise from the dead, our faith is in vain."

That said, I don't think you need to agree to all the truth claims of Christianity or a particular local church to participate in its community. It would be disrespectful if you merely ridiculed the sincere beliefs of others, or if you pretended to believe things that you do not actually believe. But attending a church or going to church activities without being a Christian yourself? I don't think that's disrespectful at all. The church should minister to unbelievers as well as believers.

I've attended a friend's service in the last couple months and they seem to take a literal interpretation of the bible to heart, I have trouble reconciling that side of christianity with discoveries in science or my own personal views on LGBT issues. How do you guys handle these types of struggles?
I think "literal interpretation of the Bible" is a bit of a misleading phrase. I think even people who say they take the Bible "literally" would admit that there are many parts of it that are plainly not strictly literal but metaphorical, hyperbolic, or otherwise range over a large number of linguistic techniques. The Bible should be interpreted in its full context, just as any other piece of writing. I take the Bible as the authoritative and true Word of God, and to best understand it I interpret it literally when appropriate, figuratively when appropriate, and often both simultaneously. While I rely on the Bible as a daily source of comfort and guidance, there are passages of it I find challenging, and passages of it I can't say I entirely understand. But then, I don't think it could be the Word of God if I found it always easy to understand and accept. Any God worthy of the name has to be bigger than me, bigger than I can wrap my mind around, not smaller than me.

I would encourage you to read the Bible for yourself at some point - the Gospel of John is a good starting point. The Bible is a complex and interesting enough book that it's worth engaging with directly instead of merely listening to what other people have to say about it.
 
I'm not a Christian but I think a part of me yearns for the sense of community and belonging a religious organization can provide. Is this a selfish outlook? I think of the church and religion as tools for providing me a service rather than something I feel I can honestly subscribe to and a part of me internalize that as something that's borderline disrespectful.

I've attended a friend's service in the last couple months and they seem to take a literal interpretation of the bible to heart, I have trouble reconciling that side of christianity with discoveries in science or my own personal views on LGBT issues. How do you guys handle these types of struggles?

Apologies if this isn't the space for this type of discussion. I tend to take the view of others in this thread that there seems to be a hostility in discussing these openly in the general Etcetera.

Thanks.
No, I don't believe that's a selfish view at all - so long as you're being respectful in disagreement or in observance of certain traditions.

Indeed, the LGBT has been tough for me, especially when I'm trying to find a church that provides a good place of comfort and expression for me, as I don't take a literal interpretation of the Bible.
So, I also have difficulties finding a good "fit" when it comes to churches.

It's a huge issue in the church with lots of perspectives. For example, the Methodist church now appears to be splitting into two denominations - one pro-LGBTQ and one against.
I think this will be a huge dividing factor in many protestant denominations in the next decade or two - I can't think of any mainline protestant denomination that hasn't at least whispered about splitting into two because of this issue.

All this to say, you far from alone, Christian or otherwise, in reconciling LGBTQ beliefs.

I would definitely encourage you to try to check out a church that may be closer to your beliefs, if there happens to be one around you!

I think "literal interpretation of the Bible" is a bit of a misleading phrase. I think even people who say they take the Bible "literally" would admit that there are many parts of it that are plainly not strictly literal but metaphorical, hyperbolic, or otherwise range over a large number of linguistic techniques.
I think (hope) you're right that many Christians who claim to have a literal interpretation probably realize it's not all literal.
Not so the way I was brought up...many people I grew up around would find a way of "literally" interpreting everything.
But that might be partially attributed to a lack of education in literary terminology and critique.

Regardless, I had many arguments in college about this very subject, heh. Just thought I'd share my anecdotal experience, in case someone does encounter a person who staunchly opposes anything but a "literal" interpretation.
 
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DarkDetective

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,158
The Netherlands
It's funny that you should mention The Language of God as I'm a couple of chapters into the book as we speak. The author's made mention of C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity a lot in the first chapters as well so I have that checked out alongside it. I understand the appeal of it all I guess but have hang ups with some of the teachings themselves (or at least my perception of the teachings given my conversations with other christians - I've not read the bible myself).
This may sound weird to you as an outsider, but when people talk about "Christianity", usually what they mean with it can differ a lot. There's a very wide variety of interpretations and practices within Christianity as a whole. There are Roman Catholics, all kinds of orthodox churches, and an enormous amount of Protestant denominations, who all think about things slightly yet very different.

Usually, local churches have had a lot of cultural influence as well. The evangelical churches in my country, the Netherlands, share their fundamental core with the evangelical churches in the US, but they've developed away from each other over time, so they're also quiet different now.

Calvinism has had a big influence on Christianity in my country. As a result, across the entire Protestant spectrum, the vast majority of people here think you shouldn't work on Sunday, shops and even bars/restaurants should be closed on Sunday, whereas that may not be a shared belief with American or southern European believers at all. Meanwhile, I can't find a Biblical argument to support this line of thought. Now this is a common problem: people have started to mingle the Bible with cultural thoughts of what's right and wrong, and while those thoughts may come from a good heart, they've developed over generations into some sort of new law that is nowhere to be found in the Bible. And I would even go as far as to say that in more than a few cases, I'd say those practices actually violate what the Bible tells us to do. But then again, that's my interpretation of the Bible...

I recommend finding out for yourself. There's a free (and ad-free) Bible app by YouVersion in the App Store and Play Store with a lot of translations. Pick an easier one, such as the EasyEnglish 2018, and start reading the Book of Luke (don't worry, there's a search function in the app :P) from beginning to end. And after that, the Letter to the Romans, also from beginning to end. Luke tells about Jesus' life on Earth, whereas Romans is a great introduction to the consequences of Jesus' work on Earth for the daily life of people who believe in Him.

---

A more general question that I should've asked first, I guess, is: what is your world view? Do you believe a higher entity like God exists? Or could exist? Why? And is there a purpose to our lives? If you don't want to share it, that's fine of course; I'm just curious.

Personally, I found the book Letters From A Skeptic far more interesting with how it's treating moral issues that people may have with God than what I've read so far in The Language of God. However, the writers of LfaS don't talk about whether it's compatible with science as much as TLoG. There's a different focus. So if you can get that book for cheap - or for free somewhere -, I highly recommend it, because it's more about the actual contents of (one version of) the faith rather than 'the possibility that scientists cannot dismiss the existence of God'. TLoG feels more like a follow-up to me.
 

duckroll

Member
Oct 25, 2017
8,093
Singapore
I'm not a Christian but I think a part of me yearns for the sense of community and belonging a religious organization can provide. Is this a selfish outlook? I think of the church and religion as tools for providing me a service rather than something I feel I can honestly subscribe to and a part of me internalize that as something that's borderline disrespectful.

I've attended a friend's service in the last couple months and they seem to take a literal interpretation of the bible to heart, I have trouble reconciling that side of christianity with discoveries in science or my own personal views on LGBT issues. How do you guys handle these types of struggles?

Apologies if this isn't the space for this type of discussion. I tend to take the view of others in this thread that there seems to be a hostility in discussing these openly in the general Etcetera.

Thanks.
There is nothing disrespectful about getting help and support from a community that offers it out of love. It should not require you to force yourself to accept every belief to "earn" that belonging so to speak. Is it selfish? That's a different question and yes it is, but so are a lot of things we do. Selfishness is something that humans tend towards, and we are often looking out for our own interests. If you can acknowledge that it is selfish and not ideal, but also something that can't be forced at this present time because you don't quite believe, that's fine. Our self-awareness helps us to know where we are in life and in our communities, and being authentic in our relationships is more important than putting up a front for the sake of belonging.

I can't speak for how your friend's church would be like, but in general Christian communities centred on the love of Christ would be welcoming and understanding of those who are curious. There are many communities out there, so being attracted to want to be part of a particular one testifies to something more than it just being a community of people. What is it about these people and how they live their lives that makes them appealing to be around? What is this 'service' that the community provides that is helpful for your life? These would be good reflections to consider. Again, faith is a personal relationship with God and not something to be forced or something to pretend to subscribe to just to fit in. Doubts are largely healthy when exploring anything because doubts are the internal questions we want to ask - they point to answers we are seeking. Being cynical or close-minded isn't the same as having doubts.

Regarding Scripture, the Bible is the living word of God. There are many different ways to read the Bible, and it is one way that God speaks to us through ordinary means. A literal reading is sometimes helpful and even important to not lose sight of what the foundation is - if we reach too far into our own distant interpretation, it could easily turn into our own ego wanting the text to say what we want to hear. On the other hand, reading it too literally all the time doesn't give any room for the word of God to be a personal message to us. How I find that balance is from prayer and learning more about theology and spirituality so I have proper context to interpret stuff without straying simply into what I want to hear. As a Catholic I also try my best to have a good understanding of where the Church's teachings come from and why they are the way they are. When I have doubts or cannot agree with something, instead of arguing against it strongly like I used to do, I dig deeper to see the philosophy and history behind something so I have a full understanding of that perspective before denying it simply because a teaching seems inconvenient or out-dated for society today.

Any educated and thinking Christian will have questions and struggles in reconciling issues in the modern world with our beliefs - human rights, moral issues, legal issues, science, psychology, history, etc. What's helpful is that these struggles are not new, and more intelligent and qualified people have thought about these things and written about them. Obviously not everyone agrees with every conclusion, but seeing where others have approached the issues and asking whether we can relate to these conclusions on a personal level is a good place to start when trying to figure out what our personal stand should be.

I've struggled with Church teachings on contraception, masturbation, and LGBT support. I've wondered about how science fits into many aspects of Biblical text as I grew up too. I can't say that I have perfect answers for everything, but I have anyways found that there are strong elements of truth in any actual teaching - where things tend to go wrong in our world is the application of that teaching. Love has to come first and be our primary motivation for anything. So when people act out of love, there is respect for the dignity of others. When love isn't in the picture, judgmental and hurtful expressions push others away. We are witnesses for our faith and being bad witnesses keeps people away from God. After all, it is in others that we see the face of God.

Wrote more earlier but it got eaten by the server maintenance when I tried to post it, lol. Thankfully it managed to save a chunk of what I was writing before the servers went down!
 

Deffers

Banned
Mar 4, 2018
2,077
Since a lot of my religious practice has been more individual than communal, I do have a slightly different take on this. Not in disagreement with the other posters necessarily, but just literally bringing different things into view.

DiscoShark's view on the essential nature of human connection through social activities expressed by his emotional need is very critical to the expansion of the faith, actually. It's funny to think, but part of the very reason that Christianity spread far and wide was because, in a very real sense, the Christian community brought better "technology" for a social community than its competing religions. It's odd to think of it that way, and the mechanistic terms may feel like it's some kind of detraction, but what I mean by "technology" is like... techniques and processes. The Church's robust system of mutual aid in the beginning was crucially important. The care put forth by the earliest Christians within their community for the elderly, poor, sick, and weak was its greatest strength. By comparison, the Roman Imperial cult didn't do anything for its people other than demand attention, and the mystery schools had their sense of community come at a price by way of initiation (which is a much more trying ordeal than even the OG baptism of full submersion in a river-- and selective besides). The various pagan temple practices weren't much better at caring for people. Past the Pentecost, it's difficult to pin down the metaphysics of the events in an authoritative way across the centuries, which is part of why my analysis is predicated on this idea of social technology-- it's easier to wrap the head around. And let me be clear, social technology doesn't just mean, like... distribution of needed resources to the needy. It's stuff like mutual encouragement, support, validation. Stuff that helps people to be productive and/or functional. Is it selfish to want those things? I mean, yeah, maybe. It's also selfish to want food to eat. But it's kind of a prerequisite for selfless action too. It's wholly understandable selfishness. To survive without food is the stuff of saintly miracles. To survive without validation and support is just as much the stuff of saintly miracles.

Ultimately, I think the capability of producing effective social technology, if you want to think of it that way, is a prerequisite of a healthy church. And in fact, that a prerequisite for an organization that has effective social technology of any kind, church or no, is the presence of a sort of spiritual advancement. I actually think that a lot of churches these days are diminishing less out of the world becoming more secular and more out of the social technologies within the church not keeping up with modern challenges or outright regressing. It's easy to think of today as a godless and fallen time, but like... the Thirty Years' War was pretty not great. We don't really see that in the same light, but viewed from the perspective of social technologies breaking down, there are interrelations and differences to today that I think become really salient.

Anyways, that's my answer to that question.

In personal news, my copy of the Nag Hammadi scriptures came in. Been wanting to dig into that for a decade or so now. Also got a Bart Ehrman book. It's one of his pop-lit ones, though, just as an introductory thing, sadly. Don't worry, I know he overstates his case in the pop-lit stuff. I'm more into it for the lay of the land of Biblical textual criticism right now. It's kind of distressingly small though. Like... I expected it to be three or four times its actual thickness. By comparison, the Nag Hammadi scripture book is fully big-boy Bible sized. It includes commentary, so I guess that figures, but like. Dang. Paperback, though. I'll let you guys know what I think if you're interested.
 
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Deffers

Banned
Mar 4, 2018
2,077
Hey sorry for the double post, but it's going to take an act of God right now to stop all-out war between two big nations today, so hey, just... if you've ever had a praying bone in your body, now would be the time.
 

DarkDetective

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,158
The Netherlands
Wow, I never thought about how "the church" may not be keeping up with social technologies now like it used to. For a long time, the Roman Catholic Church was the religious ruler, so they were dictating a lot of social technology, which makes it easier to keep up with them, but after the "enlightenment", Christianity has become synonymous with conservatism for a lot of people. Whereas the early church was actually very progressive in its social norms and technologies.

Eye opener to me, Deffers. Now the big question that follows is how to translate this into action.
 

duckroll

Member
Oct 25, 2017
8,093
Singapore
I feel the Catholic Church uses technology pretty well though. There's stuff like EWTN, the Thomistic Institute has podcasts and talks on Soundcloud and Spotify, Bishop Robert Barron covers a lot of pop culture in his videos and makes really well produced documentaries on saint and other stuff, you can get daily mass readings and the divine office using the Universalis app, etc. On a more local scale, here in Singapore we have phone apps that provide daily mass readings and reflections from the Archbishop, information about mass timings and locations of every parish in the country, popular prayers, etc. There's also a recently launched streaming Catholic radio app. Catholics are very active on social media platforms too, and at least the social mission of the Church here in Singapore is also very active in using technology to reach out to those who need help, community, or just somewhere to have a conversation. Is it a case of not noticing what is already being done because of preconceptions? Or maybe not knowing where to look?
 

Deffers

Banned
Mar 4, 2018
2,077
I feel the Catholic Church uses technology pretty well though. There's stuff like EWTN, the Thomistic Institute has podcasts and talks on Soundcloud and Spotify, Bishop Robert Barron covers a lot of pop culture in his videos and makes really well produced documentaries on saint and other stuff, you can get daily mass readings and the divine office using the Universalis app, etc. On a more local scale, here in Singapore we have phone apps that provide daily mass readings and reflections from the Archbishop, information about mass timings and locations of every parish in the country, popular prayers, etc. There's also a recently launched streaming Catholic radio app. Catholics are very active on social media platforms too, and at least the social mission of the Church here in Singapore is also very active in using technology to reach out to those who need help, community, or just somewhere to have a conversation. Is it a case of not noticing what is already being done because of preconceptions? Or maybe not knowing where to look?
See, that's why I put "technology" in scare quotes. Most modern churches have effective multi-media presences , and some of the bigger ones have apps too. I think DarkDetective kinda picked up on what I meant.

See, the very way the church reached out to help its own members as well as the poor and sick can be thought of as a kind of technology-- not on an individual level, but on an organizational level. It was a technology that barely anybody else had. The loose network between churches that, as Paul shows us, was also organized towards mutual support buttressed these goals and aims to give the early Church something other people didn't get. The Imperial Cult in the Roman Empire, for example, was organized more towards taking than giving. Taking tribute, taking worship, you name it. A church that gave back the way the early Church did was, in and of itself, innovative.

So it's within this very specific perspective that I refer to "technology." If you're giving bread to the homeless the same way you did it back in 250 AD, but you're using a smartphone to do it, you're only employing new social technology in whichever specific sense you're leveraging the smartphone to distribute bread in a way you couldn't in 250 AD. Utilizing an online app to get mass timings out is a difference of scale, and not of kind, relative to, say, a bell tower in the parochial context of villages. Something like a meals on wheels program at the start of the age of the automobile alters the logistical realities behind charitable giving, so it has a bit of difference in kind going on, but not much.

That isn't to say none of the technology being leveraged in your examples is an advance. After all, the example of meals on wheels is pretty standard practice today-- and using digital communication does kind of alter the forms of organization. But these days everyone's leveraging new social technologies, because our world's changed in 2000 years. And it's within this context that I analyze the church's use of social technology; it's a matter of comparative advancement to the rest of society.

The physical technology of social media is sort of secondary-- because what's vital is the paradigmatic shift that enables. If that makes sense. A secular (and morally grey) example is how Amazon changes our relationship with products and shipping implicitly because it creates a new social technology. It has very little that its competitors don't have, tech-wise, but it brings that together to alter our relationship to consumption. In many ways, for the worse. The early Church was kind of like that-- it did things for people that implicitly changed their relationship to faith, and thereby brought them closer to God. In a lot of ways, it had LESS physical technology than its competitors. Greek temples were overly fond of creating mechanisms meant to simulate miracles. The early Church never went for that. It still managed to do things other faiths couldn't.
 

Goya

Banned
Nov 11, 2017
30
Listened to Rowan Williams’ Being Christian and Being Disciples recently. Quick reads, highly recommended. On reading and interpreting the Bible, here’s a good summary of what Williams says: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2014/08/12/rowan-williams-on-the-bible/
At the center of the Bible is Christ. He offers a kind of “christo-telic” reading of the Bible.

So that leads Williams to ask how do we discern a good interpretation? By looking to and at Jesus Christ. It leads to and finds its clarity in Jesus. In his light we read the rest of the Bible.

The Bible is to be read with one another, and not just alone. We listen to how others have heard and are hearing this Word about Jesus in the Bible.
 
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duckroll

Member
Oct 25, 2017
8,093
Singapore
You doing OK, duckroll? How've things been?
(I'm gonna be real I need to be better at liturgical Latin than I am).
I'm doing pretty good. The Wuhan crisis is having an impact on a number of things here. The archdiocese has instructed that holy communion should only be received on the hand during this period, the holy water fonts in all parishes are covered as well, catechism classes were slated to start this weekend but have been suspended until at least 1st March now. Not much to do but to pray that this health crisis ends quickly and people feel safe again.

But hey, when things are out of our hands, we can still trust in the Lord.

Happy Feast of the Presentation of our Lord and the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary!
 

Deffers

Banned
Mar 4, 2018
2,077
I'm doing pretty good. The Wuhan crisis is having an impact on a number of things here. The archdiocese has instructed that holy communion should only be received on the hand during this period, the holy water fonts in all parishes are covered as well, catechism classes were slated to start this weekend but have been suspended until at least 1st March now. Not much to do but to pray that this health crisis ends quickly and people feel safe again.

But hey, when things are out of our hands, we can still trust in the Lord.

Happy Feast of the Presentation of our Lord and the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary!
Oh wow. Has Singapore been hit hard? Hopefully you'll be alright.

God willing, things will be well. I hope you stay safe, and happy Feast!
 

duckroll

Member
Oct 25, 2017
8,093
Singapore
Oh wow. Has Singapore been hit hard? Hopefully you'll be alright.

God willing, things will be well. I hope you stay safe, and happy Feast!
No we haven't been hit particularly hard, we're just very cautious about it. Better safe than sorry. There are 18 confirmed cases here, and they're all people from Wuhan or who travelled from Wuhan recently. Thankfully no local transmissions yet.
 

Deffers

Banned
Mar 4, 2018
2,077
No we haven't been hit particularly hard, we're just very cautious about it. Better safe than sorry. There are 18 confirmed cases here, and they're all people from Wuhan or who travelled from Wuhan recently. Thankfully no local transmissions yet.
Glad to hear you're not in much danger, and I hope it stays that way.
 

Deffers

Banned
Mar 4, 2018
2,077
Sorry to double-post, but my grandpa from last year is, I'm pretty sure, on his way out. He's decided to stop taking dialysis (which he kinda needed to live), so naturally he's not got long. He's not very comfortable right now-- he keeps having heavy breathing and anxiety and the such. Kinda hoping whoever frequents this thread could send some prayers his way, if nothing else. We've got some anxiety meds for him, we're doing the best we can with worldly means, don't you worry about that... but it's still hard. It's hard for him. He's not a religious man but he's very scared.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,314
Sorry to double-post, but my grandpa from last year is, I'm pretty sure, on his way out. He's decided to stop taking dialysis (which he kinda needed to live), so naturally he's not got long. He's not very comfortable right now-- he keeps having heavy breathing and anxiety and the such. Kinda hoping whoever frequents this thread could send some prayers his way, if nothing else. We've got some anxiety meds for him, we're doing the best we can with worldly means, don't you worry about that... but it's still hard. It's hard for him. He's not a religious man but he's very scared.
I will pray for him, and the rest of your family.
 

duckroll

Member
Oct 25, 2017
8,093
Singapore
Welp. Archbishop has officially decided to suspend all mass from tomorrow noon onwards. They are making plans now in the event this is drawn out, but we pray this coronavirus crisis can come to an end sooner rather than later. >_<

Sorry to double-post, but my grandpa from last year is, I'm pretty sure, on his way out. He's decided to stop taking dialysis (which he kinda needed to live), so naturally he's not got long. He's not very comfortable right now-- he keeps having heavy breathing and anxiety and the such. Kinda hoping whoever frequents this thread could send some prayers his way, if nothing else. We've got some anxiety meds for him, we're doing the best we can with worldly means, don't you worry about that... but it's still hard. It's hard for him. He's not a religious man but he's very scared.
I will keep him in my prayers. May the Lord have mercy and grant him grace in the time he has left.