who listens to your heart?

who listens to your heart cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward
“Who Listens To Your Heart” (ink and pencil on paper, 8″x8″)

Who listens to your heart and gives you a promising prognosis? You can find help from beyond yourself. But really it is within you. Others can help you find it. I know this to be true.

I want to encourage you to join davidhayward.ca. I promise you will find a community of amazing people who are expert listeners, who can detect the life that you still have within you, who can encourage you to turn things around, and will be there for you as you walk it out.

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  • Carol

    Although I am a theologically convinced Trinitarian, one of my favorite quotes comes from the founder of Transylvanian Unitarianism:

    We need not think alike to love alike. ~Francis David, clergyman (1510-1579)

    I often feel more spiritually “connected” to people of faith in other Religious Traditions than I do to those whose Christian dogmatic beliefs that I share.

    I recently came across this description in an anthology of literary fiction that fits so many (not most) faithful church-goers these days:

    Timothy was—Staffy squinted his eyes for a moment, seeking a word—Timothy was what you might have called a believer. Oh, I don’t mean only that he was a good Catholic, though that was part of it, of course; I mean he believed that people ought to act and did act according to certain rules in life. It made for a kind of blindness in him. He was like a man following a road on an old map that’s been out of date for a hundred years; he couldn’t see that there were other newer roads now that people were using, or that a few people were even cutting across fields to build newer ones still. No, he walked along his road like it was the only one in the universe and, like everybody that took a step off it, one side or the other, was on his way to the devil, as fast as might be. ~Mary Deasy, excerpt from Hour of Spring

    As one of the [Unitarian Universalist] denomination’s many itinerant clergy, he [Hosea Ballou] was riding the circuit in the New Hampshire hills with a Baptist preacher one afternoon. They argued theology as they traveled. At one point, the Baptist looked over and said, “Brother Ballou, if I were a Universalist and feared not the fires of hell, I could hit you over the head, steal your horse and saddle, and ride away, and I’d still go to heaven.” Hosea Ballou looked over at him and said, “If you were a Universalist, the idea would never occur to you.” ~ told by the Rev. Elizabeth Strong

  • He knows what’s in our hearts. That’s why He wants to kill us off.

    And then give us His heart.

    He does this in Baptism. (Romans 6)

    Sure, we still drag around the old body and old sin nature. But the truth of the matter is that now we have a new heart in us and that is the one that Jesus sees.

    Galatians 6 – “Those of you who have been baptized, have put on Christ.”

    This understanding of the Christian faith can liberate people from all the spiritual ladder climbing and self-improvement (and self-righteousness) Christian religiosity.

    Why? Because “it is finished”…and He has done it.

  • Carol

    Yes, but we still have to “work out” what God has “worked in” and that is an on-going learning by doing process which is why Luther taught that we are saints and sinners simultaneously.

    “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Philippians 2:12-13

    Christ’s work is finished, as he proclaimed from the Cross. Ours has just begun. Of course, our work is his work or it will not bear lasting fruit and counts for nothing in the Eternal scheme of things.

    We must first get ourselves into Christ’s life-he is the vine, we are the branches- if our fruit is to be life-giving and lasting.

    The problem with a believer-centered spiritual emphasis on inviting Jesus into our lives without first centering our lives in Christ is that the home team always has the advantage.

    “Becoming a Christian is not so much inviting Christ into one’s life as getting oneself into Christ’s life.” ~Orthodox Study Bible

  • Carol

    BTW, I don’t believe God wants to “kill us off.” I believe S/He wants to transform us.

    How can God have a relationship with us if we are dead?

    Perhaps what you are trying to say is that God wants the false self, the Old Adam, to die; so that the New Adam, the true Christic self can be reborn and grow again in us; but than why not emphasize the life-giving part rather than the dying part and is it not our hearts being resurrected with Christ in Baptism? Jesus already had a loving intraTrinitarian relationship. The whole point of the Incarnation, which includes the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus was to include us in that Trinitarian relationship, which certainly is not accomplished if we are “killed off” and replaced by Jesus. That only gets God back to square one–a loving relationship with Jesus (which S/He already had) minus us.

    Faith may not be the result of logic; but, once Grace has been accepted, it does have its own inner logic. I believe that it is we who are resurrected in Christ; not Christ who is re-resurrected in us.

    “Actually, the function of the moral sense is not to draw morals from Scripture at all, to moralize history, but to assure the correspondence between the Christ-event and the inner man.”–Paul Ricoeur

    “Hope, insofar as it is hope of resurrection, is the living contradiction of what it proceeds from and what is placed under the sign of the Cross and death.” –Paul Ricoeur

    “If the Resurrection is resurrection from the dead, all hope and freedom are in spite of death.”
    –Paul Ricoeur

  • Gary

    I agree with Kind David in Psalm 8

    When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,

    what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?
    You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.

  • (If there weren’t the perennial ugly dogmatist and those fools discussing religious dogma while riding along, whom would we have to pick on?)

    But really,we want to talk about Jesus and he does not snuff out the glimmering wick, nor break the bruised reed. (Nor is he against the dogmatist. Since even this thought that he seeks the week and the lost is a dogma of sorts.) We can be sure of it. He seeks even us. We can really rejoice in that. None of us are to dumb, or too little, or too confused, or sad or anything for him not to be concerned about us. Even if the heart had stopped beating all together, he can revive it. He can raise the dead. It is his special purpose and talent and gift.

    In terms of doctrine, I was want to indulge in this for a second–I’ve started in on G.K. Chesterton and am almost finished “Eugenics and Other Evils.” It is such a smart book. It is the doctrine-less age which permits such experimental evils and speculations like Eugenics to rise.

    Eugenics would do away with the weak. Jesus would lift them up.

  • Carol

    Gary and I agree on this one.

    I found deep wisdom (and errors) in all of the Great Religious Traditions; but nowhere did I find as great an affirmation of the human person as the Judeo-Christian Tradition and especially in Christian mystery of the Incarnation.

    If Jesus of Nazareth is truly/fully human as well as truly/fully Divine and WITHOUT SIN, then *sin* cannot be intrinsic to our human nature; but must be an aberration. Sin is not only an offense against the Divine Nature, it is a betrayal of our own humanity.

    We should be encouraging people to “be who they are” rather than telling them that they are worthless “piles of dung” (Luther must have said that during one of his bouts of depression).

    People tend to live up to (or down to) the opinion others have of them. Nietzsche got it right: “The Christian resolution to find the world ugly and bad has made the world ugly and bad”–except it isn’t the Christian resolution, it is the Christian heresy.

  • Nietzsche does not know what he is talking about.

    Things being like dung is being realistic. There actually are things like dung in the world and even in us. This is the God-awful truth. You cannot rise again, if you have not died. This is the paradox. You must maintain several things together. Because they are both true.

  • Carol

    Brigitte, it is not dogma that so many of us are rejecting it is dogmatic absolutism, which is both a modern Christian and an Enlightenment heresy.

    You cannot claim absolute finality for a dogma without claiming a commensurate finality for the sphere of thought within which it arose. If the dogmas of the Christian Church from the second to the sixth century centuries express finally and sufficiently the truths concerning the topics about which they deal, then the Greek philosophy of that period had developed a system of ideas of equal finality. You cannot limit the inspiration to a narrow circle of creeds. A dogma – in the sense of a precise statement – can never be final; it can only be adequate in its adjustment of certain abstract concepts…. Progress in truth – truth of science and truth of religion – is mainly a progress in the framing of concepts, in discarding artificial abstractions or partial metaphors, and in evolving notions which strike more deeply into the root of reality. –Alfred North Whitehead

    The sacred history of redemption is still going on. It is now the history of the Church that is the Body of Christ. The Spirit-Comforter is already abiding in the Church. No complete system of Christian faith is yet possible, for the Church is still on her pilgrimage. And the Bible is kept by the Church as a book of history to remind believers of the dynamic nature of the divine revelation, “at sundry times and in divers manners.” ~Georges V. Florovsky, Bible, Church, Tradition: An Eastern Orthodox View

    …(A) relatively simple kind of reflection shows that we never possess the Christian faith ‘in itself’, in as it were a ‘chemically pure’ state. We ‘possess’ the Christian faith only as a faith that is humanly heard, humanly understood, humanly affirmed and humanly appropriated.”–Walter Kasper, The God of Jesus Christ

    Ideal Christianity doesn’t exist because anything the human being touches, even Christian truth, he deforms slightly in his own image. Even the saints do this. ~Flannery O’Connor

    The word “Christianity” is already a misunderstanding – in reality there has been only one Christian, and he died on the Cross. –Friedrich Nietzsche

    “The institutions of Churchianity are not Christianity. An institution is a good thing if it is second; immediately an institution recognizes itself it becomes the dominating factor.” — Oswald Chambers

    Many have gone back because they are afraid of looking at things from God’s standpoint. The great crisis comes spiritually when a man has to emerge a bit farther on than the creed he has accepted. –Oswald Chambers

    Now “crisis of faith” takes many shapes and forms. I suppose the salient question is whether a crisis occurs within or against faith. ~Michael Phillips

    This is a great article on Chesterton:


    The author credits Cowper rather than Newton with writing the hymn Amazing Grace; but the error is understandable since they collaborated on the producing a hymnal.

    Here’s another one:


  • My dogma is this, absolutely: Jesus loves sinners and is their physician.

  • Carol

    Brigitte, no one is denying the reality of *sin*; but the message of the Resurrection is that sin does not have the last word; neither in this world, nor the next.

    When we obsess over our “sinfulness” we are still focused on ourselves, we have only flipped the narcissistic coin from self-righteousness to self-abnegation. Luther was correct that it is forgiveness, not immediate perfection, that is the heart of the Gospel for the pilgrim Church on earth. But the whole point of forgiveness is to free us from an obsession with our own sinfulness. Grace gifts us with the possibility of victory over sin, not fully realized this side of the grave; but truly, even if imperfectly, experienced none the less. Conversion, healing, transformation, sanctification, deification, whatever you want to call it, is more than just an eschatological hope.

    I think that classical Reformation theology, in its zeal to avoid the sin of Pharisiac self-righteousness, made the serious error of denying the possibility of an experience of infused Grace.

  • Carol

    Brigitte, if you agree that the healing of our humanity begins this side of the grave; then we are on the same dogmatic page.

  • Of course, it begins on this side of the grave, otherwise God should whisk us right off after conversion or baptism. But it is something that is hard to measure, and I like to beware of the Pharisee in the parable with the publican.

  • Carol

    Brigitte, I can identify with your position.

    I think a lot of Evangelicals think that if they give God the credit for their moral victories that they are somehow glorifying God. I guess they miss the biblical text that reveals the Pharisee giving credit to God, “Lord, I THANK THEE that I am not like other men. . .”

    It has been said that holiness is like humility, once you think you’ve got it, you’ve lost it!

    But there is always the danger of making the opposite error when we try too hard to avoid one error.

    The myth and the proverb
    Scylla and Charybdis were mythical sea monsters noted by Homer; later Greek tradition sited them on opposite sides of the Strait of Messina between Sicily and the Italian mainland. Scylla was rationalized as a rock shoal (described as a six-headed sea monster) on the Italian side of the strait and Charybdis was a whirlpool off the coast of Sicily. They were regarded as a sea hazard located close enough to each other that they posed an inescapable threat to passing sailors; avoiding Charybdis meant passing too close to Scylla and vice versa. According to Homer, Odysseus was forced to choose which monster to confront while passing through the strait; he opted to pass by Scylla and lose only a few sailors, rather than risk the loss of his entire ship in the whirlpool.

    Because of such stories, having to navigate between the two hazards eventually entered idiomatic use. There is also another equivalent English seafaring phrase, “Between a rock and a hard place”.[1] The Latin line incidit in scyllam cupiens vitare charybdim (he runs on Scylla, wishing to avoid Charybdis) had earlier become proverbial, with a meaning much the same as jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Erasmus recorded it as an ancient proverb in his Adagia, although the earliest known instance is in the Alexandreis, a 12th-century Latin epic poem by Walter of Châtillon.

    Every religious tradition has its own emphasis on revealed wisdom.

    Since we introduced the subject of “dung” in a previous post, I would like to share something that I got from a nun on comparative religion:


    TAOISM: Shit happens.

    CONFUCIANISM: Confucius says, shit happens.

    BUDDHISM: If shit happens, it isn’t really shit.

    ZEN: What is the sound of shit happening?

    HINDUISM: This shit happened before.

    ISLAM: If shit happens, it is the will of Allah.

    PROTESTANTISM: Let shit happen to someone else.

    CATHOLICISM: If shit happens, you deserve it.

    JUDAISM: Why does this shit always happen to us?

    ATHEISM: I don’t believe this shit.

    AGNOSTICISM: What is this shit?

  • That’s all very illustrative, Carol. 🙂 I like it. The way between the Scylla and Charybdis is like the narrow way. We are always in one danger or another. I will usually speak of either despair or security (pride). The middle path is the path of the cross, that is we have been given a gift there. We have the great exchange. — My “shit” for his righteousness. — And THAT in a nutshell is the teaching of the reformation. 🙂

  • This one hit close to the heart today, teared up a bit. That God/Christ cares enough to hold me close to listen to and feel my heartbeat is so encouraging. Someone who understands my fears and hurts in an intimate nature. He is so awesome. Thank you for sharing David

  • Kris

    “But your heart still has many beats left in it.” That is a very touching line and reminds of us of that fact that we are here to live and feel everything:)

  • Carol

    Yes, Brigitte, the Cross is the narrow way; but it is the path, not the destination. The destination is the Resurrection and, eventually, the Ascension.

    There is no longer any Cross in most formal American Christianity and, without the Cross, no Resurrection, either. Most Conservative American *Christians* cling to the Law, not the Cross, Pentecostal/Charismatics use traditional church-speak to cloak a spiritual gnosticism in much the same way as Liberal *Christians* hid their secular humanism behind traditional theological terminology that has been redefined by context.

    Halverson was correct, Christianity has become an “enterprise”:

    In the beginning the church was a fellowship of men and women centering on the living Christ. Then the church moved to Greece where it became a philosophy. Then it moved to Rome where it became an institution. Next, it moved to Europe , where it became a culture. And, finally, it moved to America where it became an enterprise. –Richard Halverson, former chaplain of the United States Senate

    Some of the megachurhes are even mass marketing it on TV–retail religion and feels good spirituality (Bonhoeffer’s *cheap grace*:”Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”)

    And the key to successful mass marketing is to target the lowest common denominator. No wonder that the average American church-goer’s biblical literacy is at the 8th grade level. Isn’t that the age when most kids are confirmed?

    Confirmation is supposed to be a rite of initiation; not a graduation! Most denominational adult ed courses are pathetically dumbed-down and there really isn’t any spiritual formation, counseling maybe after ignorance and/or willfulness has created a dysfunctional mess.

    I believe David has mentioned Phyllis Tickle and her theory that every 500 years the Church has become so corrupt that it needs a new Reformation.

    Luther had many brilliant insights that are still valid for our time; but he also had many insights that were culturally-conditioned and should be let go. It has been said that God has no grandchildren. Each generation must figure out for itself how best to “sing the Lord’s Song in a strange land.” And our contemporary globalized world with its technological society is a very strange world indeed:

    “We exist in a bizarre combination of Stone Age emotions, medieval beliefs, and god-like technology.” —Edward O. Wilson, esteemed Harvard biologist

    It takes a lot of discernment to separate Tradition from traditionalism because our personal stories, with their time-bound customs and ways of seeing the world, define who we are. Transcending them to welcome the Lord’s emerging new world can be a very threatening challenge.

    I have come to the sad conclusion that many Christians of my generation [I am 70 years old] are not only not up to the challenge; but they are reluctant to pass the mantle of power/leadership to the next generation and take the role of advisors/encouragers to them as they trial and error [the only way we can learn a new thing] their way to discovering and institutionalizing the New Reformation Rose.

    I respectfully submit this link for your consideration:


    When we confuse traditionalism with Tradition, and we all tend to do that, especially as we grow older, we become an impediment rather than an inducement to faith in our own children and all those who have not yet begun a spiritual pilgrimage of faith.

    “Tradition is the living faith of the dead; traditionalism is the dead faith of the living. Tradition lives in conversation with the past, while remembering where we are and when we are and that it is we who have to decide.
    Traditionalism supposes that nothing should ever be done for the first time, so all that is needed to solve any problem is to arrive at the supposedly unanimous testimony of this homogenized tradition.” –Jaroslav Pelikan, former Lutheran theologian who converted to Eastern Orthodoxy

    The dignity of man rests above all on the fact that he is called to communion with God. The invitation to converse with God is addressed to man as soon as he comes into being. For if man exists it is because God has created him through love, and through love continues to hold him in existence. He cannot live fully according to truth unless he freely acknowledges that love and entrusts himself to his creator. …. Without doubt those who willfully try to drive God from their heart and to avoid all questions about religion, not following the biddings of their conscience, are not free from blame. But believers themselves often share some responsibility for this situation. For atheism, taken as a whole, is not present in the mind of man from the start (Atheismus, integre consideratus, non est quid originarium). It springs from various causes, among which must be included a critical reaction against religions and, in some places, against the Christian religion in particular. Believers can thus have more than a little to do with the rise of atheism. To the extent that they are careless about their instruction in the faith, or present its teaching falsely, or even fail in their religious, moral, or social life, they must be said to conceal rather than to reveal the true nature of God and of religion.
    –Vatican Council II, Gaudium et Spes, 19

  • “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion.”

    I have to trust that is true. Even when I see that my heart still is wicked, in so many ways.

    I need a Savior. Not a tune-up.

  • Carol

    Steve, we all have our daemons; but, after all these years of being a Christian, do you not also see some goodness in your heart? Is not the love of God shed abroad in our hearts the fruit of our faith and the source of the Christian believer’s joy and hope?

    It’s all about balance, which is too often sadly lacking in classical Protestantism’s exaggerated Augustinian pessimism.

    “God has, so to speak, put something of the divine goodness in everything. There are holy sparks in all created beings. The human task is to see these things and to liberate the divine sparks in creation by praise, love, and joy.” ~Thomas Merton

    “The great awareness comes slowly, piece by piece. The path of spiritual growth is a path of lifelong learning. The experience of spiritual power is basically a joyful one.” ~ M. Scott Peck

    I believe Jesus enjoyed his ministry here on earth despite the situation of the church leaders and government oppression. He knew the deal. Would we know how to laugh if he didn’t. After all, we are “made in His image”. And often “God laughs”. ~Unknown Source

    “The best argument for Christianity is Christians: their joy, their certainty, their completeness. But the strongest argument against Christianity is also Christians–when they are somber and joyless, when they are self-righteous and smug in complacent consecration, when they are narrow and repressive, then Christianity dies a thousand deaths.” –Joe Aldrich

  • Carol

    Steve, we all hear “two voices”, the “voice” of the Holy Spirit/true Christic self and the “voice” of the “Old Adam/false wounded self.

    Luther’s pastoral wisdom was to direct our thoughts away from ourselves, whether it be thoughts about the goodness God has wrought in us which can too easily lead to self-righteous judgmentalis of others or to our remaining faults and failings, which can too easily lead to depression. The Gospel is the Good News of what God has done FOR us in Christ Jesus, period. Luther taught that *sin* was not “man turned down toward the earth rather than up toward heaven” as the medieval Catholics believed; but “man curved in upon himself” or what modern psychology would call “narcissism/egoism.” Luther’s teaching was a return to the Patristic teaching that:

    Death and sin are inseparable cosmic realities in fallen creation, because
    “through one man sin entered into the world, and through sin death, and thus
    death passed unto all men” (Rom. 5:12). According to the prevailing
    patristic exegesis of that passage, then, it is this universal mortality that
    makes personal sinfulness inevitable. Dominated by suffering, fear of death,
    and insecurity, man came under the power of an instinct for SELF-protection
    and SELF-preservation. He began to struggle for his OWN survival, at the
    expense of his neighbor, even if this survival could be only temporary (and
    therefore illusory), since “death reigned from Adam to Moses, even upon those
    who did not sin as Adam did” (Rom. 5:14). Indeed, it still reigns, in spite
    of all human efforts to conquer it, except by Jesus, the Christ.

    Mortality is, therefore, the ultimate condition of fallen man. It keeps him enslaved,
    dependent, and inevitably concerned about his threatened
    self, with a tendency to use others for his own selfish interests.
    The vicious circle of death and sin, however, was BROKEN by God
    Himself, who came “to serve, and not to be served,” who said that it is
    “better to give, than to receive,” and “who gave Himself for the salvation of
    many.” In a world where struggle for survival at the expense of others is
    the law, He showed that death for others is the ultimate act of love. And
    when this act was performed by God Himself, a new life indeed came into the

    This “redemption” brought by Christ defies rational explanation, yet its significance
    is overwhelming. It is an event that took place in history, that, like all historical events,
    took time: the time of Jesus’ earthly life, and the three days of His burial.–John Meyendorff, The Time of Holy Saturday, from ORTHODOX SYNTHESIS: The Unity of Theological Thought

    The Gospel is not what God is (or has not, because of our weakness and willfulness, done IN us. Self-righteousness, whether of the flesh or from God, and self-abnegation are both sides of the same self-centered coin and therefor signs that our spirituality is still dominated by narcissistic self-absorbtion rather than Christ-centered gratitude and joy.

    Luther suffered from depression and scruples, partly clinical and partly from hyper-Augustinian conditioning he received as an Augustinian monk. Luther’s huge body of work contains both voices, revealing a man whose only hope of healing for his psychological/spiritual distress, which is also painfully revealed, was in focusing on the the Christological mysteries and not on EITHER his spiritual progress or the lack thereof.

    I recommend this article for a deeper understanding of personal spiritual struggles that gave Luther the powerful insights unique to the pastoral theology of his time:


  • Carol

    To Steve and Brigitte and anyone else interested in the truly brilliant insights of Luther’s pastoral (not dogmatic) theology, I also recommend this excellent article:


    The Psychoanalysis of Luther: Escape from Pessimism
    by Francis J. McGarrigle, S.J.
    For the lack of study of Luther’s evolving pre-Protestant psychology, few of his religious children, in my opinion, really comprehend the mind of their father in God. To understand the Wittenberg theologian it little profits that we quote some sentences from his writings; for we can cite, as bias would prompt, expressions of deepest spirituality or of disgusting coarseness and even of obscenity; expressions of powerful literary conception or of the most arbitrary self-contradiction. It little profits too, that we dwell on Luther’s moral life, which if proved one way or another, would prove but little. Of prime importance is his intellectual and psychic character, which gave to the Western world a new and far-reaching division.

  • Dearest Carol, would you spare us the second rate tertiary sources. If you would like to discuss something from scripture we’d be happy to do that. If you would like us to defend Lutheran doctrine from the confessions and show how they are scriptural, we would like to do that.

    The confessional material is found here, in the book of Concord, which we have mentioned before and you have mentioned before. And once more–no it is not written by Melanchton, only some of the documents, and those during Luther’s lifetime and under his supervision and with his collaboration. Melanchton nearly did topple Lutheranism completely under later political pressures, but this has nothing to do with the Book of Concord, except that the Formula of Concord is addressing these problems, as well as the epitome of the Formula of Concord: http://bookofconcord.org/

    The stuff of Luther’s psychology is just so much psycho-babble and has been heard before pretty much as nauseam. A really good and the best biography is Martin Brecht’s in three volumes:


    You seem to like to read, so you might get through it. It is all very interesting but I have to say I’m only half way done.

    The whole idea of an “Augustinian Pessimism” completely misses the point of everything. Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism was rejected by the church before any split with Orthodoxy, so everyone who his looking to his own spark of goodness shall be left to his own devices, really. I will put my trust in the Lord only and his promises and his redemptive work. The Spirit always points to Christ, not to me.

  • Carol

    Brigitte, our “spark of goodness” is not our own goodness, it is the goodness of the Divine Presence/Holy “shed abroad in our hearts”, what Catholicism names “infused Grace.” There are two kinds of “works.” Works of the flesh are motivated by self-interested survivalism, the reciprocal altruism that is sufficient to sustain a stable secular society; but is a far cry from the acts of self-sacrificial kenotic love that are the signs of the immanent Presence of the Spirit of God residing within the human heart.

    Perhaps it is our European genetic/cultural heritage that makes it so difficult for Western Christians to hear the voice of the Spirit of God within over the voice of our own narrow, individualist self-interest and disordered desires.

    In the East, custom encourages people to greet one another, even strangers, with a bow which means “the Divine Spirit in me greets the Divine Spirit in you.”

    The bow can be as slight as a nod or as intense as a full prostration.

    As an experiment, try looking everyone you meet in the eye while giving them a sincere smile and a slight nod. You will be amazed how often they will instinctively nod back.

    In the West encourages us to greet each other with a handshake, a custom which grew out of the need to prove that we did not have a dagger hidden up our sleeve.

    ‘Nuff said on that subject; but please do give some consideration to the possibility of infused Grace, a Divine Presence that is closer to us than our own heartbeat and is the Source of works of great compassion and self-sacrificial justice. The lack of its recognition in classical Protestantism has resulted in imputing Pelagianism to the genuine fruits of the Spirit.

  • Carol

    As to the Book of Concord. I have already read it and consider it to be Protestant scholasticism, wholly concerned with dogmatic theology. There is more than one school of theology. Besides dogmatic theology there is contemplative theology, speculative theology and pastoral theology. I appreciate Luther’s genius in the field of pastoral theology; dogmatic theology, not so much. And after the Protestant scholastics got finished refining it, it spoke even less to my own theological understanding and spiritual experience.

    However, since we do not “prove” the depth of our love for God or committment to the Gospel by *ace-ing* a theological exam or *racking-up* spiritual experiences, I accept your beliefs and the ways you chose to express your faith as valid for you. We are a very diverse species and God meets and accepts us all where we are at even while always encouraging us to try to be more, not settling for anything less than the very best we can be. The spiritual paths are many, the destination is the same.

  • Carol

    Brigitte, this is how Franciscan priest Richard Rohr “explains” infused Grace, which is often referred to as “union with God”:

    Mary’s understanding of her nothingness is also saying something about all of us. Our worthiness is also and always given. It is not attained. It is God in you searching for God. It is God in you that believes and hopes and cares and loves. And there is nothing that you can take credit for. It is something you just thank God for!
    The same is true of prayer and all spiritual initiatives. Eventually you realize that you don’t just say a prayer by yourself. Rather, you recognize that prayer is happening, and you just happen to be the channel and instrument. When your mind, your heart and your body are all present, which is always a gift, that full presence is prayer. At that moment God is able to use you, because you are out of the way and God is leading the way.

    And this is how a Hindu mystic “describes” it:

    Out of Supreme love
    they swallow up each other
    But separate again
    for the joy of being two.

    They are not completely the same
    but neither are they different.
    No one can tell exactly what they are.
    -Jnaneshwar (also known as Jnanadeva)

    It is a transformation of the self, a realization of the true self; not an annihilation of the self as the classical Reformers seem to have thought.

  • Carol

    “Tradition is the living faith of the dead; traditionalism is the dead faith of the living. Tradition lives in conversation with the past, while remembering where we are and when we are and that it is we who have to decide.
    Traditionalism supposes that nothing should ever be done for the first time, so all that is needed to solve any problem is to arrive at the supposedly unanimous testimony of this homogenized tradition.” –Jaroslav Pelikan

    Brigitte, this is the result of not being willing to re-examine 16th century theological beliefs and spiritual practices:

    “I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world, and do not find in our particular superstition (Christianity) one redeeming feature. They are all alike, founded upon fables and mythologies.” – Thomas Jefferson
    Once upon a time I was a member of the Church. My faith was as strong as anyone’s. I received 90% of my education from Private Christian Schools. I was baptized. I converted people. I protested outside of clinics that provided abortions. I prayed in rapturous ecstasy, gently rocking side to side, hands raised overhead. I tithed. I spoke in tongues (well, I mimicked those who pretended to speak in tongues). I owned four bibles with my name emblazoned in gold on each (my current tally is eleven). I considered missionary work. I dated only my fellow Christians. I pitied the people who worshiped all those other false gods. I knew my god was the real deal. I believed. I had no doubt.
    So what happened? Sorry to disappoint, but my progression from die-hard Christian to Skeptic and Atheist wasn’t the result of some dramatic/traumatic event. It was a gradual evolution. Once I was free of the church and its constant reinforcement of Christian dogma, I received an incredible gift; the ability to think for myself. With this newly open mind I began to discover that the real world didn’t match up with the one represented by the church. It’s an amazing thing to no longer be wrapped in the comforting embrace of religious delusion and be forced to confront reality on reality’s terms. It was with this newly open mind that I decided to revisit my bible and let me tell you, reading the bible with a fresh mind, one no longer clouded by fantasy, but clear and hungry for truth is quite an experience. The Bible may be the most available and most purchased book in the world but it is also certainly the least read. Allow me to clarify; by read I don’t mean skimmed through during family bible study or reviewed specific favorite passages during the Sunday sermon. I mean really read it, front to back, absorbing every depiction of God encouraged genocide, God-ordained rape, constant, primitive sacrifices to a god whose bloodlust seems insatiable, rampant sexism, unbridled racism, countless contradictions, superstitious nonsense, sexual depravity, inhuman cruelty, petty jealousy, blatant lies and obvious, revisionist mythology. If only more people would take the time to truly read the “good book”, surely more people would, like me, no longer be able to worship the god depicted in its pages.
    This site is really just an attempt to create an online catalog of the many observations and questions I’ve accumulated during my evolution from believer to skeptic (click on the Categories listed at the top right of this page). Christians may find them to be irritating, obnoxious, silly, eye opening or troubling, but my desire to understand how they can continue to believe when confronted by the very same issues that resulted in me losing my faith is sincere. This is why I created it in blog format; to allow those who wish to comment a way to do so. But please, only intelligent responses. I don’t need to be told that I’m going to burn in hell because I refuse to worship your particular god or don’t follow your particular concept of Christianity. And please, please try to refrain from simply regurgitating scripture or religious dogma. If these are the only types of responses you’re capable of coming up with, you might as well remain silent. Remember, the bible no longer holds any authority for me, so these standard, comforting, oft repeated, oh so familiar tenants all have the same subtitle: “Because The Bible Tells Me So.” Also, if you are unable to come up with a reason or an answer, simply shoving “faith” in the resulting gap serves no purpose other than to comfort yourself. Faith is merely a synonym for hope; providing an answer only for the desperate. And just so we’re clear; I’m not trying to ‘convert’ any Christians into Atheists. I don’t even believe it’s possible. For an individual to abandon the practice of worshiping gods (your god, their god, his god, her god), they must come to some very personal revelations and make some very personal choices. No one can turn someone into an Atheist.
    And before any Christians come at me with the tiresome issue of why Atheists waste our time studying and discussing something we don’t believe in, let me direct you to my article – “Why Atheists Are NOT Wasting Their Time” that the good people over at http://www.PathofReason.com were kind enough to publish. AND before anyone decides that they have me figured out just because I embrace the label Atheist, they might want to read another of my articles – “Why Our Labels Always Fail To Define Us”. It would be as foolish for someone to assume that they knew my position on the Theory of Evolution, or the Origin of Life, or the Big Bang, or abortion simply because I refer to myself as an Atheist as it would be for me to assume that I knew a person’s opinion regarding these same topics just because they called themselves a Christian. If history has taught us anything, it’s that many of those who have referred to themselves as Christians, if judged on actions alone, would not have been labeled as such by anyone else. I could gather a hundred different people, all of whom consider themselves to be Christian, and ask them all if they thought anyone in heaven would be more beautiful than another and why, and I would very likely receive a hundred different answers.
    One of the most irritating things I encounter with Christians is how they constantly speak for all Christians as if there were a universal mindset in what is arguably the most divided and divisive religion in the history of mankind. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told by a Christian that Christians don’t think this or believe that or encourage this or tolerate that, etc. I’ve spoken to Christians who believe the flood depicted in the bible was caused not by rain but by the fabled water canopy (a dome-like shield of water supposedly covering the earth) collapsing all at once. But do ALL Christians believe this? Let’s hope not. I’ve spoken to Christians who believe that there are no innocent children or even babies as we are all born sinners and that God sends babies and children who die to heaven or hell based on what they would have done in their lives had they not died. Do all Christians believe this? Of course not. I’ve spoken to Christians who believe that the Bible is infallible, free of any man made errors or historical inaccuracies. But these people are understandably in the minority. I’ve spoken to Christians who believe that only they are capable of morality. I’ve spoken to Christians who believe the age of accountability begins at age 5, others have said age 8, others have said age 12, others have said age 18. I’ve spoken to Christians who believe that a man’s freewill can not be overcome by anything, not the influence of drugs (legal or illegal) or alcohol, not mental disorders (schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, etc.), not traumatic experiences, nothing. I’ve spoken to Christians who believe that the earth is a few thousand years old and those who believe that it is a few million. I’ve spoken to Christians who believe that the story of creation depicted in the book of Genesis is fact and those who believe it is allegory. I’ve spoken to Christians who believe that sinners are sent to hell to burn in eternal hellfire and those who believe that death is the punishment for sin, not torment in hell. I’ve spoken to Christians who believe that the sixth commandment states that Thou Shalt Not Kill and those who believe that it states that Thou Shalt Not Murder. I’ve spoken to Christians who believe that it took 120 years for Noah to complete construction on the Ark and gather up all the animals and those who believe it took only a few years. I’ve spoken to Christians who believe that Noah gathered 7 of every ‘clean’ beast & 2 of every ‘unclean’ beast & 7 of every fowl of both sexes, and a male & female of every ‘creeping thing’ and those who believe that he only gathered a few of various species and that these species eventually ‘became’ all the rest (I believe that’s called evolution). I’ve spoken to Christians who believe that we will all be equal in heaven, in other words when you arrive in heaven you will equally love the spirit of your daughter, who was raped and murdered when she was just nine years-old, and the spirit of the scumbag who raped and murdered her but accepted Jesus Christ as his personal savior the day before being executed on death row. Then again, I’ve spoken to Christians who believe that people will be rewarded differently in heaven dependant on their deeds here on earth, in other words, there will be a hierarchy in heaven; the fellow who was born into wealth and chose to spend it all on orphans will have a bigger mansion than the fellow who was born into poverty and did little more than live a clean and decent life. I’ve spoken to Christians who believe that with death comes the dissolution of marriage; a husband and wife are no more. In other words, a woman whose first husband beat her, cheated on her regularly and left her bankrupt, will find herself in heaven standing beside his repentant, Christ accepting spirit feeling no more or less for him than she does for the spirit of her second husband who was devoted to her for fifty-two years and died of heartbreak just days after she finally succumbed to the devastation of Alzheimer’s. In heaven, your beloved is no more special to you than a complete stranger. Just so we’re clear, heaven is a destination I’m supposed to strive for, yes? To reiterate – There is no Christian authority. Please speak for yourself, not for all believers.
    Like almost all other religious people I was indoctrinated into my religion as a young child. At the exact same time I was being told about the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus, at the exact same time my innocent, naive mind was certain the dark interior of my closet and the recess under my bed became passages to some nightmare world whenever the sun went down, at the exact same time that in my ignorance I was absolutely certain that if I left my bedroom window open at night the tree outside would crawl inside and eat me while I slept, at the exact same time that my foolish, child’s mind believed everything my parents told me, they told me about Jesus and God. I would argue that one of the most harmful things a parent can do to their child is teach them theory as fact, regardless of how wonderful they think that theory may be. Once myth has been established as fact in a child’s mind, it is very difficult, even as an adult, for that person to shake that belief. If a child is surrounded by people who believe in Santa Claus, isolated from those who don’t, and has this belief continually reinforced (presents arrive miraculously, cookies and milk are consumed, hoof prints on roof, magical tales recounted nightly, etc.) throughout their life, guess who still believes in Santa Claus as an adult. Religious indoctrination of a person who lacks the ability or has yet to develop the ability to reason for themselves is the equivalent of brainwashing. The followers of David Koresh and Jim Jones taught the delusion they accepted as fact to their children. Many of those children paid the ultimate price for their parent’s gullibility. For every Christian who is 100% certain in their faith, so feels perfectly justified in teaching their child the ‘absolute truth’ of Christianity, there is a Muslim, a Scientologist, a Mormon, a Hindu, a Buddhist, etc. who feels just as certain in their faith. Until there is only one god and one religion in this world, teaching a child a theory as an absolute must be discouraged. I find it unethical for anyone to teach a child that what you hope and pray to be true is in fact undeniably, unquestionably true. Teach a child what you believe to be true but also teach them that there are hundreds and hundreds of millions of other people who believe in something entirely different and that it is up to them to come to their own conclusions. Teach your child absolutes as absolutes, theories as theories, faith as faith, science as science, hypotheses as hypotheses, etc.
    All visitors are welcome on my site and no one’s comments will be censored (that is unless you are one of those irritating parasites whose only comment is to direct me to a place to purchase cheap boner pills). Feel free to place as many links to other sites in your comments as you like but understand that this wordpress site has its comment filtering settings on default. This means that it will automatically hold any comment that includes more than one link for moderation (my approval). I usually click the approve button the same day the comment is left but if it takes me a few days, please be patient. Also understand I did not create this site to have a continual back and forth with those who do or don’t agree with what I say in my posts. I look forward to reading all comments but unfortunately I don’t have the time to reply to very many. And if anyone can offer any advice on how to make this site better, more convenient, easier to navigate, etc. please speak up. It’s still a work in progress.
    Let’s try and keep it courteous, people (wishful thinking, right).

    Phyllis Tickle on why the biblical hermeneutics of the 16th century Reformers no longer resonates with many people in contemporary society whether they are Christian or secular:


    It is important to identify the social context of the biblical text; but the perspective should be that of a cultural anthropologist, not that of the historian.

    A myth is not something that never happened; but something that happens all the time. Biblical myths are often the telling of a composite of historical events in narrative form that reveal the accumulated wisdom of the people of God.

    Medieval Latin/Western theology, formulated in the static philosophical categories of Plato and Aristotle (Greek Essentialism), rather than the dynamic philosophical categories of Heraclitus, often failed to adequately express the complexity of God’s relationship with his people and the transformational affects of an immanent, usually mediated, Divine Presence had on them. Scholastics, both Catholic and Protestant, interpret the Scriptures from an ontological rather than a relational perspective:

    “In Judaism it was possible simultaneously to ascribe change of purpose to God and to declare that God did not change, without resolving the paradox; for the immutability of God was seen as the trustworthiness of covenanted relation to his people in the concrete history of his judgment and mercy, rather than as a primarily ontological category.” –Jaroslav Pelikan, The Christian Tradition—Vol. 1.

    Scripture in the Latin/Western Church is still considered to be a “means of Grace”; but also authoritative when applied independently, apart from faith as would be the case in a secular society, rather than a revelatory sense requiring faith for accurate interpretation. Interpreted ontologically as a metaphysical treatise and juridically as a moral manual the bible is may transmit knowledge about the God of Nature; but it will not be a means of Grace by which we come to trust in the Loving-Mercy of God the Father of Jesus to stand before God in the psycho-spiritual nakedness necessary for a deeply intimate relationship.

  • Caryn LeMur

    Carol: may I offer that you make your arguments quite a bit more concise?

    I think it is unwise to use this forum to overwhelm others with information overload and also with a high vocabulary. I actually do like several of your arguments, by the way. And your use of links was an excellent improvement.

    But… if our goal is to help the community of wounded to rethink basic doctrines (or their basic relationship with church, Jesus, God, and fellow humans)… then, completeness of argumentation should give way to conciseness. Extensiveness of vocabulary should also give way to common word use.

    I offer that Jesus had an extensive tidal wave of information that He could call upon… and a vocabulary that would put us all to shame. Yet, He was the master of conciseness with clarity, and used a simple vocabulary. He came to heal. He is the Divine Healer. He is also our example to follow.

    Much love in Christ always and unconditionally; Caryn

  • Dear Carol and Caryn, if still matters, I will try and have a look at this on Wednesday.

  • Carol

    Caryn, I don’t know if you are familiar with the Myers-Briggs personality test (MBTI); but by its criteria I am an MBTI. MBTIs comprise about 7% of the population. Of that 7%, 3% are females. So, when it comes to minority status I’ve been there, done that, bought the T-shirt.

    INTJs are Big Picture thinkers, we tend to connect the dots before most people have even seen the dots. When we get hold of an idea we are like a dog with a bone, it consumes all of our attention until it has been completely digested.

    I am who I am, just as you are who you are. If my posts anger, annoy or in any way have a negative effect, please don’t read them. You will not go to hell or even become less spiritual if you don’t read my posts.

    I am not the only person in the world who speaks for God, although God does speak through me to others and to me through them which gives us a much deeper bond than we have with most people, even those with whom we share a blood bond.

    I am more interested in credibly presenting the faith in our secular society than I am in trying to soothe ruffled feathers in the Church. Apologetics is an important part of missions. ISTM that the Church has abandoned its mission to the world and set up an ecclesiastic subculture of priests and levites, where it is all about serving in the temple/church while the world is left to its own fate without the leavening/seasoning of faith. It does not take much leaven to make the dough rise or much salt to season a dish; but it can’t be salt that has lost its flavor. In my 40+ years as an adult convert, I have met only 3 other converts to the Christian faith that had not been Jews before becoming Christian and those are few, also. Many claim to be “converts”; but, when they tell their stories, they turn out to be proselytes, converts from other Christian sects; not converts from other faiths or secularism.

    The world we have created with our advanced technology has become increasingly complex. If we wish Christianity to be a credible religious Tradition, we will have to be able to give a less simplistic reason for the hope that is in us.

    The churches, both mainline and Evangelical are hemorraghing members. They are mass marketing a civil religion, which to be successful means targeting the lowest common denominator. If a christian believer wants to mature, then it is either go it alone or find a contemplative community that is faithful to the teaching of its founding Saint and not all monastic communities have remained faithful.

    There was a time when the Western Church was the one light in a very Dark Age. St. Augustine was one of those points of light; but the Augustinianism of the Reformers, although they had some brillian insights, is a very watered-down verson of the original.

    St. Augustine faced many of the same theological/spiritual challenges that we face. He fought his psychological daemons and his theological doubts with courage and intelligence, which should be an inspiration to us all:


    Answers Research Journal 4 (2011): 89-101.

    An Examination of Augustine’s Commentaries on Genesis One and Their Implications on a Modern Theological Controversy

  • Caryn LeMur

    Carol: thank you for your last post. It was highly readable, and easy to digest. Although I am not familiar with MBTI, I can read that you are “an MBTI”… so, if I were interested in that viewpoint, at least I could research it.

    I understand and respect that you are interested in reaching out to a secular society. However, you wish to do this by Apologetics?

    I noticed you wrote, “If we wish Christianity to be a credible religious Tradition, we will have to be able to give a less simplistic reason for the hope that is in us.”

    I am not terribly interested in creating a credible religious Tradition… but that just may be a difference between our life goals… yet, I find it fascinating that you are moving towards encouraging a religious tradition by the approach of offering a more complex answer.

    I’ve met hundreds of converts to Christianity, and was the first non-secret believer in my secular family. Hardly any of converts I know came to Christ from the influence of apologetics… most came to Christ from experiencing a welcoming ‘love’ that overwhelmed them. Many later used apologetics to strengthen their own faith… but apologetics won none of my close friends.

    How do you propose in concrete terms to use apologetics to win new converts?

    Much love in Christ always and unconditionally; Caryn

  • Carol

    Caryn, I misposted, I am an INTJ, not an MBTI.

    My daughter has a “personality disorder” (the new euphemism for clinical mental illness) and her primary coping mechanism is playing Pogo Games for most of the day on my computer. I have to do my computer work at odd times, usually between 11:30 pm and 3:00 am, so my posts are rarely without “goofs” since I am not at my best and brightest during those hours.

    It’s a pleasure to meet another convert from secularism. We are a rare breed, which is surprising since secularism has brought our society to the brink of hopelessness and over in many individual cases.

    I think we are pretty much on the same page, inspite of perhaps being called to serve from different perspectives:

    Apologetics is my gift; but it is really pre- or post-evangelization.

    I doubt that anyone would be interested in knowing or giving a reason for the [eschatological] hope that is in them, until they had first been loved into believing, however tentatively, in the Christian Gospel.

    It is not only theological formation; but spiritual formation that is lacking in most contemporary American churches.

    Once a year there is a Time, Talent & Treasure drive to persuade people to give more to the Church; but we have been called out of the world to be equipped (theological/spiritual formation) to be sent back into the world “as sheep among wolves”–not to create an escapist ecclesiastical sub-culture.

    Perhaps if more Christians did their corporal acts of mercy in secular humanitarian institutions, or if we practiced Gospel ethics in the workplace even though it put a promotion or even our job at risk, the influence of the Gospel would be more widely spread.

    How many Christians realize that whenever we are fortunate enough to find ourselves with disposable income, our decisions on how to dispose of it are not just financial; but moral?

    I’m not saying that we should never spend anything on ourselves. Sometimes we need to feed our daemons enough to keep them contentedly caged and an impulsive purchase can be cheaper than a shrink’s visit; but we should be aware of the choices we make and they should be made from a faith perspective.

    Personally, I think that the shema should always be the #1 card.


    Just when I thought I had all the answers, the questions changed! ~Source Unknown

    Subj: *One way to bring the Year of Faith to the pews
    Date: 12/04/2012 06:39:38 AM Eastern Standard Time
    From: synergy500
    To: synergy500

    Published on National Catholic Reporter (http://ncronline.org)


    One way to bring the Year of Faith to the pews
    Fr. Peter Daly | Dec. 3, 2012 Parish Diary
    The Year of Faith began in October. Pope Benedict is calling on the church to deepen our understanding so we can strengthen our witness.

    I’ve always thought that faith was more about the heart than the head. Cardinal John Henry Newman reflected that idea in his motto, “Cor ad cor loquitur” (“Heart speaking unto heart”). That phrase reflects Newman’s idea of both prayer and theology.

    But Newman, the consummate intellectual, would be the first to remind the church that faith is not sentiment alone. There is also something to know. Faith is about the heart and the head.

    My own archbishop, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, has pointed out that our weak instruction in the faith over recent decades has left Catholics poorly prepared to deal with the “tsunami of secularism” that has swept over our culture.

    Preparing for this Year of Faith, I read an article [1] in September’s America magazine by David Impastato. He suggested that memorization of the basic elements of our faith can nourish our spiritual growth. By getting some basic things in our minds, we can help them take root in our hearts. Mr. Impastato gave a short list of “must-know” teaching and prayers for Catholics. His list included the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes and the Creed.

    Over the past year, our daily Mass crowd has experienced this “head to heart” spirituality at morning Mass. About a year ago, we started saying Psalm 130, the “De Profundis,” every morning to remember our beloved dead. Each day, I read the names of all the parishioners who have died on that particular day over the history of our parish. Then we say Psalm 130 — “Out of the depths I cry unto you O Lord” — followed by the prayer for the deceased: “Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord.” We had the psalm and the prayer printed up on cards that we leave in the pews. Over the course of the year, we have learned it by heart. We now have common words for our grief.

    That experience got me thinking. Maybe we could learn other things that way? So I came up with 10 prayer cards, printed on both sides with things we want to commit to our heads during the Year of Faith. The 10 cards include the following:

    1. The beatitudes and the Ten Commandments.

    2. The corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

    3. The seven deadly sins and the seven life-giving virtues.

    4. The gifts of the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 11) and the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22).

    5. The books of the Old Testament and New Testament grouped by type.

    6. The canticle of Zechariah (Luke 1:68-79) and the canticle of Mary (Luke 1:46-55).

    7. The Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Glory Be.

    8. The 20 mysteries of the rosary: joyful, glorious, sorrowful and luminous.

    9. Psalm 23 (“The Lord is my shepherd”) and the Apostles’ Creed.

    10. Psalm 130 (“Out of the depths”) and the prayer for the deceased.

    Very pleased with myself, I announced this idea to the parish at Mass on the first Sunday of October and said we would be distributing the cards over the year. After Mass, a young girl, a freshman in high school, came up to me and said, “You forgot one card.”

    A little surprised, I asked her, “What did I forget?”

    “You forgot the Great Commandment.”

    Then she recited it by heart: “Hear O Israel, The Lord our God is Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul, and all your mind and all your strength. And you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

    Shamefaced, I said, “You’re right.”

    So it looks like we will have at least 11 cards. No. 11 will be the Great Commandment on one side and the Great Commission (“Go and teach all nations”) on the other side. This last card reminds me that priests should listen to their people.

    This prayer card catechism is a flexible thing. These little bite-sized bits of our tradition could be expanded to teach things like the parts of the Mass or quotes from the Bible. Maybe we should have a card with the first chapter of John’s Gospel (“In the beginning was the word”), or passages from St. Paul, like 1 Corinthians 13, the famous hymn discourse on love. A card with night prayer and the Canticle of Simeon (“Now you dismiss your servant”) would also be a good idea.

    Our goal is not to memorize a bunch of words. Our goal is to engrave the faith on our hearts, as Ezekiel would say. Then in moments of joy or sorrow, perplexity or opportunity, we would have the words to give voice to our faith.

    Of course, that is only a start. Ultimately knowing should lead us to doing.

    [Fr. Peter Daly is a priest at the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., and has been pastor of St. John Vianney parish in Prince Frederick, Md., since 1994.]


    Source URL (retrieved on 12/04/2012 – 05:38): http://ncronline.org/blogs/parish-diary/one-way-bring-year-faith-pews

    I sent this email out to my cyber-friends this morning:

  • Carol

    This is one of my favorite quotes (did I mention that most INTJs LOVE wisdom quotes?):

    “There’s a lovely Hasidic story of a rabbi who always told his people that if they studied the Torah, it would put Scripture on their hearts. One of them asked, “Why on our hearts, and not in them?” The rabbi answered, “Only God can put Scripture inside. But reading sacred text can put it on your heart, and then when your hearts break, the holy words will fall inside.”
    — Anne Lamott (Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith)

  • Caryn LeMur

    Carol: First, I am impressed at your late night postings… mine are often gibberish about 1AM onward… lol.

    I understand mental disorders… I am diagnosed PTSD and GID… so, my heart goes out to your daughter. It is hard to step out / break out of the cycle that sets in place.

    May our Jesus give you both good insights for managing that disorder. Sometimes, there is no cure at all… but ‘managing the disorder’ is a worthy goal…so that year by year the disorder is less and less a center-of-gravity for our lives.

    Thank you for sharing your heart in these last posts. I feel like I got to know you a bit better.

    Much love in Christ always and unconditionally; Caryn

  • Carol

    Caryn, I think we all have a little PTSD since the corporate culture or “capitalism on steroids” has turned our society into a hyper-competitive Hobbesian hell, only it isn’t *post*, it’s an in-our-face “present” reality. Of course, it is more traumatic for persons who are highly sensitive (HSPs) like my daughter. I think of HSPs as “canary people”–like the caged canaries that the minors used to take down into the mines with them because the birds were more sensitive to toxic air than humans. When the canary keeled over it was time to get the hell out of the mine ASAP!

    My daughter’s primary diagnosis is Schizoid Personality Disorder (not to be confused with schizophenia). The symptoms are very similar to the social dysfunction of autism. One thing that I have learned is that, although there may be a primary disorder, there is usually a spectrum of disorders in clinical mental illness. Kerrin also has a sleep disorder, an eating disorder, agoraphobia and OCD, which she says should really be CDO since then the letters would be in the right order.

    She may also have GID. Her father is an unintentionally abusive alcoholic. Kerrin used to hate her father, she would refer to him as “the sperm donor.” We talked and she came to realize that her hatred was giving him control over her life even though they were no longer sharing physical space. As an adult, she could also see how wounded he is from his family’s dynamics where there was also a high incidence of chronic depression and alcoholism. Kerrin now sees her father more as a human tragedy than as a cruel person. She says that “his heart is in the right place, it’s just that his head is up his ass.”

    That pretty well sums it up for all of us when we find ourselves being an ass, as we all are from time to time. One thing I have learned from marrying into a highly dysfunctional family after growing up in a relatively healthy, though not exactly “normal” family (“normal” is a statistical fiction, there is no “normal”, just conformism) is that people with clinical mental illness differ from us by degree, not in kind. We all have “disordered” tendencies; but are able to control them when it is in our self-interest to do so. In those with clinical mental illnesses the disordered tendencies are so strong that they may even be more like determinisms than mere tendencies. Being strongly self-interested does not make us more “good” than those with diagnosable personality disorders; but it does empower us to act better which often leads to unjustified judgmentalism. Just to face the challenges of life while having a diagnosable personality disorder requires heroic effort that “normal” people do not understand and therefor cannot empathize with. It there is to be any hope of “coping” there must be either a deep apprehension of Grace or an almost saintly social support group or, preferably, both.

    Without your personality disorders, you might not have developed as intimate trust relationship with God; so, maybe, it is one of those “blessings in disguise.” As someone who cares deeply for my daughter and others with personality disorders, I have speculated on what purpose there could possible be for all the suffering. The best I could come up with, and it is only speculation, not a dogmatic belief, is that we have been given the opportunity to get much of our purgatorial suffering over with this side of the grave.

    “The extreme greatness of Christianity lies in the fact that it does not seek a supernatural remedy for suffering, but a supernatural use for it.” – Simone Weil

    “Nature is value-free. It can’t tell the role between the deserving the undeserving. God’s role is not to decide where the hurricane [or any natural misfortune including disordered genetic tendencies] goes and how severe it is. God’s role is to motivate people to help neighbors and improve methods to predict hurricanes. GOD IS FOUND NOT IN THE PROBLEM, BUT IN THE RESILIENCE.” ~ Rabbi Harold Kushner, rabbi of the conservative Jewish tradition

    The struggle of life is one of our greatest blessings. It makes us patient, sensitive, and Godlike. It teaches us that although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it. –Helen Keller

    “It is an awful truth that suffering can deepen us, give a greater luster to our colors, a higher resonance to our wounds. That is if it doesn’t destroy us, if it doesn’t burn away the optimism and the spirit, the capacity for visions, and the respect for simple yet indispensable things.”–Anne Rice

  • Caryn LeMur

    Dear Carol: What a blessing to read how you have learned to function within your family. I agree that disorders are a blessing since the disorder often causes a deeper walk with Christ.

    I think it was the writer of Hinds Feet on High Places that discussed her own stuttering. As best I recall the story, the author (when in college?) was so embarassed by her stuttering,… that is, until a friend told her ‘I am so jealous of how your stuttering causes you to walk so closely with Jesus’.

    I tried my hand at laying marble tile years ago for fun. I found a pink marble with white quartz lines… and in the gaps were small flecks of gold. Stunning. In my opinion, every weakness that creates a fissure in our personality, is an opportunity to lean ‘not upon our own understanding’ but to ‘trust the Lord with all our heart’. The fissure is real – and we fill it with our own well-earned quartz wisdom and also with Christ’s golden presence… and thus, we become as weak, and yet as beautiful, as well-lined marble. I like to think that the Living Temple (of believers) is made the more beautiful by these marbled-believers placed in places of prominence, or places of healing, for the sake of many.

    And to have a child that is HSP… and for you to understand that she can sense the world so strongly, like the canary… what a gift of insight you have into her world.

    I am so glad to get to know you a bit better.

    Thank you for sharing your world, and your heart, with us.

    Much love in Christ always and unconditionally; Caryn

  • Carol

    Caryn, are you familiar with Wabi-sabi, the spirituality of imperfection:

    insightmeditationcenter.org http://www.insightmeditationcenter.org/booksarticles/

    It is more complementary with Eastern Christian theology than with our Platonic *perfectionistic* Latin/Western Christianity:

    In Orthodox theology, the two words “image” and “likeness” are not used interchangeably as they are for Roman Catholics and Protestants. For Orthodox Christians, “image” denotes the powers and faculties with which every human being is endowed by God from the first moment of his existence. “Likeness” is the assimilation, the growth process to God through virtue* and grace. We call this growth process “theosis.” For Western theology, man was created perfect in the absolute sense and therefore, when he fell, he fell completely away from God. For Orthodox theology, man was created perfect in the potential sense.
    –Fr. George Nicozisin
    *Virtue is an inner quality of character. Rules and principles are external general guides measures of human behavior.