Leah Libresco swims the Tiber…

… Yeah, I totally called it. You can always tell. Once you start dipping your toes into those waters the undercurrent sucks you right in. Please offer her your prayers as she continues on her journey of conversion. And I know he’ll probably hate it, but my spidey senses tell me reader Kenneth will also be making the swim in the next two years. I can feel it and I’m usually right about things. So pray for him too.

In other prophetic news; Mark Shea joins the Cassandra Club.

About Katrina Fernandez

Mackerel Snapping Papist

  • kenneth

       Bully for Leah, and I mean that sincerely. I support anyone who has the courage to undertake a spiritual journey wherever it may lead. 

       It doesn’t bother me that you think/hope I’ll convert, but it’s not in my foreseeable travel plans. I’m not an atheist, nor a stranger to Catholicism who thought he hated it based on some half-informed misconception of it. I don’t even hate it. I grew up on your side of the Tiber, so to speak. Spent 12 years in Catholic education, was an altar boy and pretty good student of theology, and I was even given some encouragement to consider whether I had a vocation to the seminary at one point. On the whole, I can’t say I had any particularly bad time with Catholicism. I got an excellent education, some wonderful friends, and an appreciation of the power of ritual that serves me well to this day.

       It was an important part of my own journey, and I don’t disown it, it’s just not what my head, my heart or my spirit resonate with. Nor was Wicca some sort of youthful rebellion or impulsive thing. I spent the better part of a decade and a half post Catholicism as a deeply curious agnostic. I looked into secular humanism, the so-called “liberal” varieties of Christianity like UU, some of the more traditional Protestant outfits, Bahais, Judaism, even (briefly), Islam. I also spent a lot of that time trying to re-examine Catholicism from every angle. 

       Wicca, believe it or not, was actually pretty far down my list. I had been aware of it since the mid-80s and thought it interesting in an academic sense, but didn’t feel any calling to it until my mid-20s. It was a calling I would put down and put off and discern and ridicule until my mid 30s when I came home to it. That homecoming came brought a sense of joy and peace and some firsthand experiences of the divine that I have trouble speaking of in front of strangers to this day because it makes me all weepy.

        I hope Leah has that sort of joy where they are and that you and all those whose souls are called to be Catholic experience. It is the sort of thing that separates the true conversions and vocations from those who convert out of some intellectual conviction or to please the in-laws.

       My faith has been tested in a variety of ways. I have faced my own mortality through it and found strength through that and a lot of life circumstances. I took my formal written leave from the Church several years ago as a gesture of mutual respect. They deserve folks who aren’t CINOs or heretics and I deserve to have my views accurately known. 

       I can’t say for certain what might happen someday. I could be struck blind on the road to Damascus (which would be better than getting to Damascus these days). I’ve seen devout Catholics priests become atheists, and avowed Neo-Nazis become devout Jews. I can’t say what all future voyages will hold, but my compass currently points to Stonehenge, the ritual grounds of Circle Sanctuary in Wisconsin and the woods and lake shores closer to home where we draw down the moon every month. 

    At any rate, make sure Leah gets some 18 year old Scotch. That river is a wide one to swim in both directions! :)

  • kenneth

    Something which also bears mentioning about Leah which I should also post over on the atheist blogs, and might for those who feel shocked by the news from either direction. She’s been headed for Catholicism for a long time and finally decided to own the label.  In reading her stuff even sporadically, it was evident that she was Catholic deep down in her reasoning and approach to the world.  One of her biggest fans for some time has been Mark Shea. If that’s not a sign that your atheist orthodoxy is slipping, I don’t know what is! 

     My guess is she either used to be Catholic or had flirted with the idea in the past but some mix of intellectual, cultural or personal baggage with the Church or its theology stuck in her craw. As intellectuals of that caliber often do, she felt the need to do some “due diligence” to make sure her head could follow her heart in the end. Nothing wrong with all that, but neither the atheists nor Catholics ought to see her move as a sign of the End Times. 

    • MaryRoseM

       Kenneth, there is only one word that can and should be used to describes Leah’s conversion and that word is GRACE. The unmerited gift from God that He offers to all of us to respond to His tremendous love. God never stops calling us  to Himself. We need only to be open to receive His love and respond.  God will do the unimaginable when we say “yes”.

      • Hibernia86

        See this is the difference between the religious and the non-religious. The non-religious say “what evidence can I use to support my belief?” The religious say “what do I feel that my God is telling me to believe?”. Religion is based on feelings and dogma. That is why scientists mainly converge on one answer while religions split into a thousand different views.

        • Eric D Red

          Although the non-religious often do say “what evidence can I use to support my belief?’, that really isn’t the most honest approach.  It may confirm what you believe, or contradict if you let it, but it isn’t going to get you any real insight.  The “true” open-minded approach is “what does the evidence tell me?”.  It’s that approach that leads to real insight, often contrary to what one has believed in the past.  The greatest discoveries have always come from following evidence to the real answer DESPITE what one believed, or what dogma was dictated.

          The real heart of the matter, though, it what is considered evidence.

          • Hibernia86

            Well, yes, you are correct. That is actually what I meant, but mistyped. I agree that people should look at the evidence to form their beliefs rather than cherry pick the evidence to back up beliefs they already have.

            As for what counts as evidence, I don’t think feelings should count. Just because you feel the presence of God does not mean that that feeling is connected to anything outside your head. It is similar with depression. People who are depressed have a more negative view of their life than they would if they took medicine and got out of their depression. Their depression is not logical but only based on a chemical disbalance in their head. We need to have evidence in the material world to back up every belief.  

            I think that the belief in God evolved in order to give people some sense of control over on uncontrollable world (through Gods and prayer) and to sooth people’s fear of death by providing them with an afterlife. But if God actually existed, everyone would see him appear before them and we would see angels in the sky.

            Doubting Thomas is the smartest person in the Bible. We should all ask for evidence like him.

          • kenneth

            There’s really no way to build a solid bridge between science and religion. The questions posed by religion simply do not yield, at this point, to the methods of science. That is, we have no way of testing them by experiment in a way that can disprove them. That being the case, we’re left with two choices. A) Only believe what you can verify, and become a total materialist or B) accept the power of our non-linear and logical intuition as a way to discern truth, even though it is error prone and unverifiable. 

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

            Funny, the more I learn of science and biology the more I have my
            faith reaffirmed. Science proves religion.

          • kenneth

            Not if you do the science with any rigor. Science can inspire us to attribute a higher intelligence to everything based on the enormous complexity and elegance we find, but science offers no data which says that God, in whatever form, “must” exist. In fact quite the opposite is true. At every level which we thought a supernatural intervention was required, we have found natural mechanisms. 

            First it was asserted that life could not have happened without a personal god intervening. That has been blown out of the water.  The chase has taken us to more and more fundamental levels of physics and astronomy, but even there, the “god of the gaps” is nowhere in evidence. That does not mean that science has proven the non-existence of a god or gods. Science simply has no tools for testing or exploring supernatural causes. 

            At the limited, but fairly deep levels we have been able to probe, creation takes care of itself. To me, I see science and religion as two different tool kits to approach two different and utterly dissimilar sets of problems. Anyone who sets out to “prove” faith to themselves by science will either end up doing sloppy science or else will become an atheist. 

          • kenneth

            I do concur with part of what I think you may be saying. While I said science and religion are hopelessly inept at producing results in the other’s discipline, they do often converge on the same truths. As one example, concepts of microcosm and macrocosm – “as above, so below” in my religion meshes quite well with what I know as a biologist. Patterns in nature, as described by fractal geometry, repeat themselves at every scale from the cell to the leaf to the entire forest canopy.

             Many of the wonders we take for granted in physics, chemistry, pharmacy, etc., were understood by alchemist 500 years ago.  They understood by allegory what we now quantify. It is possible religion’s assertions might be proven or disproven by science one day. I have seen some very interesting attempts to do so within my own religion by people relating phenomenon to quantum physics etc. So far it’s all very speculative however. 

        • MaryRoseM

           Faith is a supernatural gift from God.  If you want facts there are plenty around to support the existence of God.   Faith, a supernatural gift, cannot be explained based upon feelings or dogma. As someone already mentioned, feelings are not necessarily reliable. I have personally experienced a reversion to my Catholic faith. I read the Gospels and when I finished reading I knew for the first time in my life that Christ had died for me. I was not the same after that and nothing was ever the same. God gently led me back. I have witnessed countless occurrences of God’s grace working in a person’s life. Read the Confessions of St. Augustine if you want to witness God’s grace in action.  We must be open to receiving God’s grace and He will do the rest and bring us to places that we never could have imagined.