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 Post subject: Christendom
PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 8:31 pm 
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Oh, yes, more thoughts from a young, naive Catholic boy. Do what you will, but I must write for myself. If you'd care to comment, I would so very much appreciate it particularly because several of you are atheists or what-have-you.

There is a very common phenomenon that when one learns of or begins thinking about something new, that new something all of a sudden becomes ubiquitous.

In my case, my thoughts have been directed, as of late, to Pre-Christendom, Christendom, and Post-Christendom. I don't know why. But it seems to be everywhere. In a lecture. In a movie. Recognized according to personal experience.

Oh - shall I first describe my terms?

Pre-Christendom. Judaism or Paganism. One God or many gods. Triune God? Insanity.

Christendom. Yes, when Christianity exploded (in the West) and acted as the primary influence of things. When it was the faith. When it was the culture. When it was the acting agent behind all decisions, behind societal norms, and so forth. When Constantine had his vision and made Christianity legal. When people would say about the Christians, "Look how they love one another!" (Oh, yes, there was a time.....)

Post-Christendom. The opposite of Christendom and somewhat similar to Pre-Christendom. The opposite of Christendom: when the counter-culture became the culture. Similar to Christendom: desperate desire and need for the Gospel. Oh, yes. I said it. Need? No. DESIRE. YES. And, see, this is exactly my point: everyone is burnt out. NO ONE wants to hear about God, no one wants to hear about Jesus Christ, no one wants to hear about going to church, about God's will, about God being so loving and merciful, and all-powerful, and outside of time, and so on and so forth.

Come on - EVERYONE KNOWS. Yeah, yeah, yeah, "God is outside of time." NEXT!

Consider my perspective. Just consider it. My task is to evangelize. That's essentially what the mission of the Catholic Church is. Every Sunday at Mass, we profess that we are "One", "Holy", "Catholic" and "APOSTOLIC" Church. The Church teaches that the purpose of the human life is to "know, love and serve God" for the end for which we were created - Heaven. Partaking in the Divine Life. That's in the Bible. A book that no one wants to hear about anymore. Now, considering this end, we must consider the means. And in considering the means to the end, we must consider the means to the means.

Work backwards:

Attaining heaven by knowing, loving and serving God. And in order for one to know, love and serve God, one must first know that that is the task! That's the business of Heaven.

How is this relevant to Post-Christendom?

Well, I said earlier that Post-Christendom is like Pre-Christendom in that there is a NEED for the Gospel. This is true. That is a true statement. The difference between the two, however, is that there is not a DESIRE for it. I suppose, deep deep deep deep deep down in the pits of the soul, there is. But, do you want me to thump you with the Bible? Of course not. Do you want me to tell you that Jesus Christ is the answer to everything? Of course you don't. It doesn't seem like anyone does. I guess, my issue is in somehow reconciling the "need" AND the "desire."

Now, why are we sick of hearing about it? I'll list those that I can think of:

Bad Christians - hypocrites
Using fear as a tool
Judgmental bigotry
Unreasonableness, illogical
Science
No one will tell me how to live my life
Evil done in the name of God
"It's a mystery."
"It's God's will."
Etc.
Etc.
Etc.
Etc.
Etc.
Etc.
Etc.
Etc.
Etc.




So, that is my challenge. As a Catholic, my mission to talk to people about the very thing that they hate talking about. At least, that's how I feel at this point in time.

Man, there is SO much more to say and I feel like I didn't even scratch the surface. But... there is so much to make sense of and I don't know how to organize it all into systematic thought.

If you must speak, speak boldly.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 10:09 pm 
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QuoteMaster
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Hi Tommy, your Devil's Advocate here :evil:


Quote:
My task is to evangelize. That's essentially what the mission of the Catholic Church is.


WHY?

Wouldn't quietly going about actually DOING good bring you people who wanted to repay that goodness by being like you and doing good themselves?

"Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your father which is in heaven........."

And even if they didn't at least you would have made their life easier and presumably done what Jesus wanted when he asked people to "Love thy neighbour."

Why need to bring evangelising (proselytising?) into it? You have decided your choice in this, your example may encourage others if they appreciate the practical and demonstrated results of your faith. But why should it matter if it doesn't?

PS I am NOT by any means going to get into a quote for quote discussion with you, but at least you may have the satisfaction of knowing you sent me back to read my Bible to find the Sermon on the Mount!

GT

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2011 5:10 am 
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I love playing Devil's advocate, gumtree. I envy you. :mrgreen:

Your response is fantastic, gumtree, on many levels. The first of which being that when I completed writing, I started to read my Bible and the first thing I read is that I am 'salt' and 'light.'

Damn, I am at work, so much to do so little time....


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2011 1:24 pm 
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Religion v. faith.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2011 5:31 am 
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DSW, could you expound upon that please?


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2011 1:28 pm 
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Faith is one's beliefs, religion is the funny clothes, the man made procedures and policies.

Religion burned witches, faith could not.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2011 10:53 pm 
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I see. Well, let me try and make more sense of gumtree's response. Mind, this is more directed at myself. NOT explicitly in response TO gumtree. Rather, an explicit response to gumtree's response itself. She gave me good food for thought. So I will think.

I suppose, first we should define one more term: evangelism. That is, simply, sharing the faith. We are often told, "Preach the gospel always, and if necessary use words."

And it's absolutely true.

Most times, mere presence is a great enough witness than having to say one word. It is remarkable. People analyze other people. People read other people. The person is the specimen under the microscope and the other person is the scientist collecting data. Now, if I say to a person, "Person, I am a Catholic." There are four ways he can respond: "You're wrong", "You're right", "I don't care" or "I hate you". Whatever the response may be, the scientist in him can't help but analyze the specimen. And if the specimen is a good enough of Catholic, then what will the scientist find when he digs deeper? He will find Jesus Christ. And then what happens? Our thoughts change, our desires change, and then our actions change. Life, once exciting, becomes dull. And the only shockingly beautiful reality left is the ultimate one, which is the most important one. It's true. It happened to me.

St Francis de Sales once said, "You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar."

SO - when I say that my task is to evangelize, and that evangelization is the mission of the Catholic Church, then it's not all talk. That's exactly the point: evangelizing is NOT merely talk. In fact, talk is LAST on the list.

For some people, talk is very much unnecessary, ineffective, and useless. If I have a bitter heart and I am angry God, what good will a logical syllogism do? A child does not like to hear that cookies will make him sick - he's just mad at mommy for not giving him the cookie!

That is not to say, however, that is dialogue is unnecessary, ineffective, and useless. If I am intellectually inclined, then a logical syllogism will be the ONLY thing to convince me.

(And believe it - or not - the Church of which I am a member accommodates bitter hearts AND logical intellectuals. Yes, it has all pieces to the jigsaw. Not only is there a plug, but there's an outlet - and it will shock you.)

So, now that we have discussed the nature of evangelism, it is clear to me that the issue at hand is, indeed, the dialoguing. For, an atheist loves a good deed; but he'd rather not have a bad Christian tell him to read Luke 15:11-32. (Yes, Luke 15:11-32 relates the Truth as much as Matthew 25 does. It is the Truth. That's a capital "T.")

We have agreed on two things:

1. I have the task of evangelizing.
2. I do so first by example, then by dialogue.

So, now I know WHAT it is I'm supposed to be doing, and WHY. Now, I must find out HOW to do it. Again - action, presence, dialogue, and any combination thereof.

The most difficult of these is action. I am a bad Catholic. I feel awful leaving the water cooler at work, then going straight to Mass. It's terrible. There's enough Catholic rhetoric in my brain and enough Catholic desire in my heart, but the language I speak with my body and the words I speak with my tongue hardly does my Savior justice. In such a case, who would believe anything I say anything anyway? I am the 19-year-old boy who cried wolf. Nothing I say holds water.

Do I act like a normal, decent human being? Of course I do. Because I am normal and decent. But the standard has been set - and "normal and decent" is too wishy-washy.... Jesus of Nazareth roused his enemies to murder him and his worshipers to martyrdom.

Action is difficult. A stranger never says to me "You must be Catholic", unless I tell them that I am the last of 9 children.

The dialoguing is more engaging. It includes both parties, explicitly and upfront. For many, this is difficult because some pills are hard to swallow. Who even wants pills anyway???

An insane person thinks that a sane person is insane. Everyone thinks Jesus was a nut. Everything Jesus said seems so upside-down -- that's because HE was right-side-up and we are standing on our head, kicking our feet in rebellion against the heavens.

Who can convince anybody of anything when we all think we are right about everything we think?

gumtree wrote:
You have decided your choice in this, your example may encourage others if they appreciate the practical and demonstrated results of your faith. But why should it matter if it doesn't?

The second half of this response strikes me. Why should it matter if I don't make a difference? Ask a surgeon why it matters that his patient doesn't die during surgery. It is selfish and unreasonable of me to ask others to care about what I care about. It even seems selfish and unreasonable of God (and at times, far worse.) The God who needs nothing acts as if he needs everything!

I suppose I didn't answer why it matters to me. I mean - let's assume I'm right. The Church is correct. The foundation and pillar of Truth. Just pretend. There's two places our souls go when we die: heaven or hell. It matters to me because I don't want to go to hell and I don't want anyone else to go to hell either. I want to go to heaven, and I want others to go there too. But that's just assuming I am right.




I had some time to think things through, but am not still not completely satisfied. I can't touch upon the "HOW" specifically. How does one keep a disinterested party interested? In any event, I have been honest and have spoken rightly to the best of my knowledge. Thank you for humoring me.

Questions, comments, concerns, or nothing.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2011 6:24 pm 
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Tommy, much of what you write is almost impossible for me to comment on in any fairness. You already know my views on religion, ie, if people need a faith that is for them to choose as long as they do not hurt others. However, my opinions of the self appointed administrators of religion, the churches, would make you curl up in horror as they are positively vitriolic.

You are now dedicating yourself to following the tenets of Christianity as laid down by the rulings of your church. Therefore as your church expects you to evangelise by “"Preach the gospel always, and if necessary use words”, then this is what you need to do and answers my question in your case.

I have some disagreement re your example of people analysing each other. Unless they are wearing a dog collar, the last thing on my mind when I meet anyone is what, if any, their religion is. I am going to judge them on their general behaviour and views and will decide whether or not I want to know more of them or if they make me want to run a mile or whether my feelings about them are neutral.

If we like each other and become better acquainted I may never know their religious views unless they bring it up in conversation or mention going to church etc. It is still not going to affect my feelings about them, provided they do not try to convert me. Nor do I particularly subscribe their decency to their religion as such, but to their respect for the sensible social conventions and kind good hearts. I see no reason to advertise that I am an atheist, but would defend and explain my reasons if actually asked. If that lost me friends, so be it, but it never has yet.


Once you start advertising your religion and if you become a priest then responses will certainly change, as you immediately become an advocate of your church.

These following comments of yours I do find disturbing


Quote:
I feel awful leaving the water cooler at work, then going straight to Mass. It's terrible. There's enough Catholic rhetoric in my brain and enough Catholic desire in my heart, but the language I speak with my body and the words I speak with my tongue hardly does my Savior justice. In such a case, who would believe anything I say anything anyway? I am the 19-year-old boy who cried wolf. Nothing I say holds water.

Do I act like a normal, decent human being? Of course I do. Because I am normal and decent. But the standard has been set - and "normal and decent" is too wishy-washy.... Jesus of Nazareth roused his enemies to murder him and his worshipers to martyrdom.



Why should your god expect special words and attitudes if you attend his services or attempt to evangelise? What makes you think he does? If YOU don’t think he accepts you as you are what sort of god do you actually believe in? Don't you think if you are talking to other people that genuine and sincere comments in your own words is going to make a far better impression than some high flown "church like " rhetoric? Are you seeing yourself as needing to be some red hot evangelist, or yearning for martydom?

What's wrong with being a normal decent person trying to do some good in whatever way you can to people who need help? Normal and decent is not wishy washy, it is much to be desired as so many are not.

To my mind somehow you are being made to feel guilty or inadequate and if that is what your religion is doing to your faith rather than giving you hope and joy then there is something seriously amiss.

DSW has it spot on

Quote:
Religion v Faith



GT

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2011 10:00 pm 
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Due to the nature of the weekend I have had, all questions are answered. It is providential. I do feel inclined to respond to your questions, particularly re: my disturbing comments.

Quote:
Why should your god expect special words and attitudes if you attend his services or attempt to evangelise? What makes you think he does? If YOU don’t think he accepts you as you are what sort of god do you actually believe in?

He certainly expects special words and attitudes, and he expects us to attend service, and to tell everyone about who He is. Parents expect their children to be good, kind, compassionate, merciful, loving, trustworthy, and honest. Expectations are a good thing. It is not so much the expectations of DO's and DON'Ts, though. True devotion is in the transformation of the heart, not external works of piety. That makes us Pharisees. He "desires mercy, not sacrifice." It is in the very nature of God to love unconditionally. He is goodness, truth, and beauty. That is true. That is a true statement. Of course he loves and accepts as we are, simply by virtue of being His children. Parents don't like some of the choices that their children make, but that does not make the children less acceptable.

gumtree wrote:
Don't you think if you are talking to other people that genuine and sincere comments in your own words is going to make a far better impression than some high flown "church like " rhetoric?

Yes. Yes, I do. I am very guilty of the opposite. But, again, dialogue is always of use to those are perceptible to it. Rhetoric appeals to some people. It certainly appeals to me... that's been the only way I know to relate anything about Christianity. Genuine and sincere comments appeal to all people. I just have to learn the time and place.

gumtree wrote:
Are you seeing yourself as needing to be some red hot evangelist, or yearning for martydom?

Not necessarily. Of course, that does not make either of those possibilities unnecessary. Paul of Tarsus, the Pharisee of all Pharisees, had a vision of Christ and became the most red hot evangelist the Church has known. And martyrdom is an infinitely valuable witness, e.g. Agnes of Rome. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnes_of_Rome

gumtree wrote:
What's wrong with being a normal decent person trying to do some good in whatever way you can to people who need help? Normal and decent is not wishy washy, it is much to be desired as so many are not.

Normalcy and decency is more directed at individuals who share the same faith as I do, but are lukewarm. People who do some good in whatever they can to people who need help are not normal and decent but are extraordinary and heroic.

gumtree wrote:
To my mind somehow you are being made to feel guilty or inadequate and if that is what your religion is doing to your faith rather than giving you hope and joy then there is something seriously amiss.

You are absolutely correct. And that is my fault for portraying it to be something otherwise. The goal is the opposite. That is part of the reason for my guilt. I said earlier - action is difficult. I want others to want what I have, but I have not made it wantable. The challenge of evangelizing is not in convincing others, but in my making my own life convincing.



Maybe this clears some stuff up, maybe it doesn't. Either way, I know you don't particularly care. I am not out to convert anyone, that's not up to me. This was a good thread and a lot of things were made very clear to me.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2011 10:02 pm 
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QuoteMaster
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By the way, my religion is faith. My faith is my religion.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 3:41 am 
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Tommy thank you - I also found it an interesting discussion and providing food for thought. Nor was I deliberately trying to annoy or provoke you, I hope by now you know me better than that. I think we will always have to agree to disagree.

Quote:
Either way, I know you don't particularly care.



Wrong - I genuinely wish you well, because you have chosen to do something you sincerely believe is right.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 5:47 am 
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I will tip my hat to you, miss. :mrgreen:


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 6:03 am 
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Zen Rebel
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Gumtree and DSW, allow a jaded 22 year-old to respectfully disagree with you.

I believe that religion and faith are inextricably connected. The institution and the practice, the hardcover Bible and the tenets incorporated into a justly lived life, independent worship and communal sermons, they cannot exist independently of each other.

The Church (by this I mean the Catholic Church, though I am an Orthodox Christian myself) whether you like it or not is one of the pillars upon which the Christian faith is built. It safeguards the rituals, the mysteries, the spirit of the faith. It is the physical space in which the immaterial entity of Christianity manifests itself. It is the duty of every adherent to the faith to spread its gospel even as every political activist turns into a proselytizer for his cause. If you have ever approved of a civil rights movement that boldly marched in the streets or shouted from megaphones on city squares, you cannot disapprove of religious proselytizers, who act driven by identical motivations.
Moral principles are very similar to secular laws - in order for them to be workable, they need to be universally honored. Add to this the joy that a true believer feels when he/she discovers God- they would want to share that joy with everyone else, wouldn't you? Out of agape, the ancient Greek concept of universal love, one would be compelled to share his faith and to- yes, share his simultaneous belief in the institution of his faith, because it is the vessel through which this faith is upheld, protected and spread.

And hey, I used to be an atheist. I guess life happened.

Ivan

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 11:59 pm 
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Che, respect automatically accepted. I think us 'oldies' are past needing to apologise for our opinions.

Religion, Faith?

Where in the bible does it mention back to front collars and funny hats? These are the trappings ascribed by man, ie. religion.

Faith is demonstrated in how one deals with all and everyone around them.

Religious trappings do not guarantee right action, ask anyone educated by catholic nuns or abused by priests, ie. no faith displayed.

I've had a bit of an epiphany lately myself, oddly, helped by a R.C. priest

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 6:10 am 
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Zen Rebel
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Religion, the trappings ascribed by man, the temples and the singing and the rituals and all that- they do not guarantee moral rectitude. What they do is enshrine it.

The entire spectacle that the Church erects around the Christian faith is partly an attempt to fix morality into stone, into habit, into the imagination of the believer. If the Christian system of ethics is to survive into the 21st century and beyond, it shall need an institution where it will be unquestioningly upheld, and it is the ritual, when combined with a genuine understanding of the basic tenets of the faith, that brings people together and builds a sense of communion between them.

The idea that an aggregate of self-serving behaviours results in wealthy, happy societies (the classical liberal credo) is seductive, but detrimental to such values as solidarity, charity and compassion. It is becoming something of a secular religion, propagated by both business "leaders" and policy makers in a large portion of the globe. Consumerist behaviour and rampant narcissism are hard-coded into mass culture.

You can successfully argue that the Church is corrupt. That its reputation has been tarnished by child-abuse scandals. We can add many more issues to that list, historical and current. But we must not allow this to overshadow the potentially important social role that it can play and does play today. It is a bastion of pacifism, of social responsibility and social cohesion. It has some problematic attitudes and in many respects it has become a sclerotic and lumbering institution, but part of the problem is that there are too few young people who honestly believe and participate in it. I agree with Tommy on this. It should be spread, but not by simply talking about it to people, but by example. By being a morally upright, compassionate, charitable person, you are already doing God's work and the work of your Church. :)

p.s. An epiphany?

Ivan

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