Wednesday, August 30, 2006

One day I was walking through the park, just minding my own business...

In visiting Amy Welborn’s blog today, I stumbled into a conversation about Georgetown University and a conflict going on there about evangelical groups (InterVarsity Christian Fellowship among them) being denied a campus presence at the behest of the Protestant chaplaincy. See here for the details. I don’t really know what’s going on; I’ll let the more knowledgeable and involved folks duke it out over there. The angle that interested me was that some conservative Catholic folks on the comment thread were saying that the evangelicals were asked to meet off-campus because their pro-life and anti-homosexual-marriage views ran counter to the beliefs of the mainline Protestant chaplaincy, though the reason given for their expulsion was their insistence on “proselytizing” in defiance of an agreement not to do so. I’ll reprint for you here the one comment I made on the subject:

“Re: the Georgetown dustup - being a convert from evangelicalism, I should underline for you all that evangelicals and Protestants are by no means a monolithic block - "there's all kinds of them just like there's all kinds of us", as Flannery O'Connor said. Whether or not it's actually the case here, from my experience of the Protestant chaplaincy on the campus of Wellesley College in the '80s (the head of which performed a lesbian "wedding" in the college chapel the year after I graduated), I can totally see the pro-life, anti-homosex folks being booted off campus for being difficult and embarrassing, and I wouldn't put it past Protestant mainliners for taking advantage of the largesse of Catholic ideas of ecumenism to accomplish their own goals. Just my $0.02.”

I also ran into Wilma, a Bible-only Christian (I hope she’s OK with that description) and fellow commenter on the thread. She challenged our commitment as Catholics to the truth of the Gospel; in the light of what I’ve heard about the current spiritual climate at Georgetown, I can see why she might be concerned. I invited her over to chat some more about Catholics and Christians, and to read my last few posts here, and she sent some comments along. Since I’m not sure whether she’ll see my responses in the comments boxes below, I thought I’d create a new post with my responses.

Regarding my post An Experience with St. Therese, Wilma had this to say:

“’The holiness and integrity that Christ had given her somehow imprinted and soaked into those bones, leaving a spiritual aroma that attracted us all, that we sensed as we gathered in faith to honor her.’ You have got to be kidding me. Dead people's body parts. How gross is that? What stops any of you from digging up grandma to feel the ‘love’? This is what Jesus taught: Mat 8:22 But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.

Hi, Wilma – um, thanks for coming over. I’m not quite sure where to begin, but I guess I’ll start here: One of the most subtle but most important distinctions between Calvinist and Catholic theology is their very different views of the relationship between matter and spirit. Catholics hold that because of the Incarnation, matter and spirit can coexist, as they did in the Person of Jesus Christ; i.e., the redemption and transformation of matter/the material world into the Kingdom of God began with the Incarnation. This means also that matter, e.g. our mortal bodies, can be infused with grace – which they are in the sacraments.

This causes Catholics to honor (I say honor, not worship) those material things which we see as windows into the Beyond, into the heart of God – including the Eucharist, icons of various kinds, and relics of deceased saints. It is precisely because we want to honor our beloved Grandma’s body that we dress it in her favorite clothes, place it in a cushioned casket, lay it carefully in the ground, and bury it gently against the day of Jesus’ Return, when her body and spirit will be reunited in the Great Resurrection. This reflects our belief that Jesus didn’t die and rise again to save us from our mortal bodies; He means to save and redeem our bodies as well. (See I Cor. 15: 42-44).

Truthfully, I don’t know how the whole body parts thing got started; I think it had to do with the fact that during the first 300 years of Christianity, coming across a Christian’s dead body wasn’t all that rare an occurrence, and St. Augustine and other early Christians speak of miracles connected with being the presence of saints’ bodies or tombs. This would be a natural extension of the phenomenon described in Acts 19:11-12 (kerchiefs taken from Paul’s presence/body healed the sick). See here (especially the third paragraph) for more information.

Lastly, looking at the context of the verse you quoted, I hope you’ll agree that Jesus is talking not about literal death and burial practices, but about a relationship that his questioner couldn’t leave behind to follow Him. This obviously was a relationship standing in the way of his relationship with Jesus; the saints, whose spirits are in the heart of God, always point us toward Him, just as the rest of our Christian friends do.

Wilma also had this to say about my comments below on universalism (Wilma in bold, me in regular font):

Ah Unitarian-Universalists...Did you know the Pope's had the president of the UUA to come and visit?

The Pope (specifically, John Paul II) had the president of Cuba, one Fidel Castro, over to visit once. This does not mean he or any Catholic is therefore a Communist. Next.

Did you know that that JPII and now Benedict support the WCRP, a Unitarian Universalist founded "interfaith" organization? Did you know that one of the last prayer's for Assisi sounds JUST like the Alice Bailey/ Lucis Trust inspired one world religion "Great Invocation"? The Theosophical UUs LOVE IT. RIGHT FROM THE VATICAN website... Short exhortation by the Holy Father: Violence never again! War never again! Terrorism never again! In God's name, may all religions bring upon earth justice and peace, forgiveness, life and love! How UNIVERSALIST can you get?

[Also, from one of her previous comments on the Georgetown U. thread:]
Catholicism supports the new one world universalist order which embraces all false religions and stands opposed to the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

I’ve puzzled for a bit over how to respond to this charge. Wilma, did you see my response below to Marc’s concern about Thomas Merton and his alleged Buddhist leanings? Not to belabor the point, but contact, interaction, and dialogue with other religions does not constitute endorsement, acceptance, or “embracing” everything in those other religions. Catholic teaching holds that other religions may have some limited grasp on spiritual truth, and we dialogue with them in hopes of reinforcing whatever truth they have.

If you subscribe to the particular end-times scenario which includes a One World Religion, I suppose I should tell you what in some circles is an open secret: Catholics do hope for the coming of a “one world religion” – actually, a return to a “one world Christianity”, which is Catholicism. We do plan to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth, as He commanded us to do in Acts 1:8, and we work to establish Christian cultural reflections of His truth, justice, and love in every venue possible. We know, however, that the Kingdom of God won’t come completely until Jesus returns, but until then, the Kingdom of God is already on earth, beginning its occupation of “enemy territory”, via Christ’s presence in His Bride, the Catholic Church. I imagine this upsets you further, but I’d be remiss in my duties as a Christian if I didn’t inform you.

Regarding the Assisi gatherings to pray for peace – come now, would you prefer that humans not ask whatever Higher Power they believe in for help in achieving peace on earth? Would you prefer that we give up hope for a peaceful coexistence between different religions and cultures, and return to blowing each other up to the last man standing? Unless you can grasp the meaning of the difference between religious dialogue and syncretism, based on what I've already said, it won’t do much good for me to continue to try to explain it.

Here’s Wilma’s comment on My Summer Vacation:

“And it was there that Gary and I discovered the delightful sense in which, through the power of literary reiteration, 'King Kong died for your sins’.”

And you're surprised a Bible Christian is upset?

I guess everything [including outrageous blasphemy] is A-ok in the erudite world of Emergent Pagan Catholicism. King Kong, Tolkien, Labyrinths, Horror Movies, and Mexican Paganism....Maybe next year they can plan a Solstice Summer Celebration, The Tao of Stephen King, prayer to the Four Winds, Sage burning and Diva Ultra-Goddess Theology class for wayward yuppies who want to play at being "religious" instead of actually seeking after God’s Will and learning His Word.


Wow. Um – OK, let’s start with King Kong. I guess you didn’t follow the link to Rod Bennett’s blog Tremendous Trifles (linked above), where he explains exactly how and why the sentiment “King Kong died for your sins” isn’t a casual blasphemy, taken in the context of pop culture mythology. If you did, I guess it didn’t make much of a dent in your way of thinking.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s work is so full of God and Christian spiritual truth that I can’t see how a fellow Christian wouldn’t see that – except that perhaps you might object to his characterization of a wizard as a good guy. If that’s the case, and you can’t see any further into his stories - well, I’m sorry you missed it.

Labyrinths: I don’t care if you don’t like them. I don’t care much for them either. If the platter of sweet potatoes isn’t to your liking, just pass it down and keep your grimace to yourself.

The genre of modern horror is one of the only venues left in pop culture where novelists and filmmakers are asking the Big Questions: Is there a God? Does Satan exist? What happens when I die? What is the purpose of life? What’s my responsibility to my fellow man? Can love be eternal? I contend that it’s not sinful for Christians to enjoy talking and thinking about the ways in which human fears and longings for salvation are expressed in these films; in fact, Christians must engage in these conversations in order to provide compelling, truthful answers to these Big Questions. At the very least, we must learn the language of the natives in order to understand the point at which Christ can enter and save their universe.

Wilma, they’ve called you a troll over on Open Book. Though I also noticed the similarity between your nom de plume and early Protestant reformer William Tyndale, I’m using it because that’s the only handle you’ve given me. If you’re really interested in dialogue, I’m happy to continue; if you’re only interested in venting your spleen, however, I suggest you leave it for now and refocus on whatever good works God is preparing for you to walk in today. Peace be with you.

1 comment:

Wilma Tyndale said...

Just so you know Kathleen I am a cradle Catholic-- Catholic school, nuns, confirmation, the whole nine yards. I also spent many years in the Unitarian-Universalist Association. However I am now a born again Christian, and in learning God's Word have been blessed to know Jesus Christ as my Savior. I have interacted with Catholics for over four years now, oftentimes for several hours a day, online. I can define Transubstantiation unlike a high percentage of Catholics in the pews. {Why do you assume I am a Calvinist?}

"e., the redemption and transformation of matter/the material world into the Kingdom of God began with the Incarnation."

Uh dear, did you ever read the first line in the BIble?;)


"This means also that matter, e.g. our mortal bodies, can be infused with grace – which they are in the sacraments.

Oh really?
and pray tell, just WHERE does the bible teach that we are INFUSED with anything other than sin?


"This causes Catholics to honor (I say honor, not worship) those material things which we see as windows into the Beyond, into the heart of God – including the Eucharist, icons of various kinds, and relics of deceased saints."



So you mean when 3 million people line up in the pouring cold rain, to walk by a bunch of dried up bones, and shriveled up organs, this is just for "honor"? How about insanity? Why would your saints themselves want attention paid to their dead body parts, rather then to God if they are truly saints? --by the way there's a reason Catholic churches instead of Fellowship Baptist are chosen as the backdrop for your loved horror movies.

" Truthfully, I don’t know how the whole body parts thing got started; I think it had to do with the fact that during the first 300 years of Christianity, coming across a Christian’s dead body wasn’t all that rare an occurrence, and St. Augustine and other early Christians speak of miracles connected with being the presence of saints’ bodies or tombs."

So you don't know but you honor it anyway? Shall I teach you a thing or two about Necromancy?

"Not to belabor the point, but contact, interaction, and dialogue with other religions does not constitute endorsement, acceptance, or “embracing” everything in those other religions. Catholic teaching holds that other religions may have some limited grasp on spiritual truth, and we dialogue with them in hopes of reinforcing whatever truth they have."

2Cr 6:15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?

The apostles did not have "rap" sessions about Baal, Isis, and Molech. Neither did they hold world-wide prayer sessions for all the pagans to go offer their sacrifices {Right from the Vatican website one can view some Vooduns offering their liquor libations to the "spirits" at Assisi}. They preached the true gospel, not the antichrist universalist "cosmic christ gospel" where as your last Pope stated..."Jesus" is found via false religions.

Here is what he said:


“It will be in the sincere practice of what is good in their own religious traditions and by following the dictates of their own conscience that members of other religions respond positively to God’s invitation and receive salvation in Jesus Christ even while they do not recognize or acknowledge him as their Saviour".

Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue-Congregation for The Evangelization of Peoples, Instruction Dialogue and Proclamation, 19 May 1991 n29; L’Ossertavore Romano English Edition, 1 July 1991, p.III

Your last Pope {as well as the present one} must have missed these verses.

Act 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

2Cr 11:4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or [if] ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with [him].



So your religious "dialogue", is NOT Biblical.

All of the above would make your favorite wannabe Buddhist man Merton anything but a would be Saint.



Regarding the Assisi gatherings to pray for peace – come now, would you prefer that humans not ask whatever Higher Power they believe in for help in achieving peace on earth? Would you prefer that we give up hope for a peaceful coexistence between different religions and cultures, and return to blowing each other up to the last man standing? Unless you can grasp the meaning of the difference between religious dialogue and syncretism, based on what I've already said, it won’t do much good for me to continue to try to explain it.



I don't care about the line between religious dialogue and syncretism which in Catholicism seems to move every year, but the line set forth by God's command which is this..

Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.

So when Rome has prayer sessions for peace with Vooduns, Shintoists, Jainists, Buddhists, Islamics, and right on the Vatican website, pretty much state they are all praying to the same "God"---in that horrid Lucis Trustesque prayer, your church has flunked Christianity 101, and has broken the first commandment!

I can find an example of this, EVERY WEEK, where someone like the Dalai Lama who definitely preaches "another gospel" and is "antichrist" by all scriptural tests-- who directly denies Jesus Christ is invited in and lauded by the Catholic clergy right in their cathedrals.

Again and again, we see the Roman Catholic church praising and lauding other religions from Cardinals praying to Allah, praising Buddha's teachings and lighting incense to Ganesha {I can prove all this happened} and Catholics in the pews being led more and more into universalism. What has happened at Georgetown is par for the course, they are not just wayward "disobedient" liberals. They are following the examples from the TOP.


2Co 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers.

Eph 5:11
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them...


As for your pop culture inquiries, all you have shown me is that the things of this world are far more important to you and these other folks, then God's Word, and commands. You stick to these things because they appeal to the flesh.

Jam 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

The genre of modern horror is one of the only venues left in pop culture where novelists and filmmakers are asking the Big Questions: --snip--..... I contend that it’s not sinful for Christians to enjoy talking and thinking about the ways in which human fears and longings for salvation are expressed in these films; in fact, Christians must engage in these conversations in order to provide compelling, truthful answers to these Big Questions. At the very least, we must learn the language of the natives in order to understand the point at which Christ can enter and save their universe.

Modern horror does NOT teach the things of God {as an ex-horror fan, I could write an essay even on what sort of things Stephen King stands for...by the way his daughter is a UU minister.} If you are looking for salvation and the answers to life via The Corpse Bride, Alien, Freddy Vs. Jason, Stephen King, Dracula, Dawn of the Dead, The Hills Have Eyes and other worldly, occultic, satanic, evil movies, you will only be led into more and more error and the things of the world. Even the idea that you see horror movies as "Christian" tells me that you are extremely lost, and excusing these things so that you may continue indulging in them. I repented of this in my past and now with the Holy Spirit indwelling in me, am truly revolted by them as is every other true child of God.

Wilma, they’ve called you a troll over on Open Book.



I don't care what I am called, in fact that is to be expected.

Jhn 15:18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before [it hated] you.