Saturday, December 19, 2009

Why Christianity and Why Catholic Christianity

A Direct Response to One Writer

Recently, one of my favourite, female Catholic Christian writers wrote an article in a major Catholic online publication. For Catholics practicing their faith it was meaningful, and contained the wisdom we have come to expect from her. But, it was a firm statement against some of the evil we see in our society from a Catholic perspective.

But, this particular piece is not about her, and not about the article, which is why I am not providing the links. But, this writer then received a personal email from a reader that disturbed her greatly and that she published on her own site. In part of the letter the writer said:
I needed the reminder that it's time for my yearly donation to Planned Parenthood, for the wonderful work that they do. They are greatly needed, because people are having sex, will always have sex, and will not stop having sex. It's human nature, something Catholics need to be more realistic about...and I say this as a former Catholic.

Thanks again for the reminder!
This was very disturbing to the article writer, who is as pro-life as you will find on the planet. So taken aback by it she was, that she decided to respond, but also to post it on her site. In response to her own response, she got a further note from the original commenter, that included the following reference that she shared with me in private correspondence recently:
(she) has found peace in Buddhism, and that she is not a sinner and "never going back."
The writer of what was a fine article is a little flummoxed by this, as someone who has a deep faith, and wonderful relationship with the Trinity and Our Blessed Mother, and I can well imagine why. As for me, I do not flummox so easily, because I had, at one extended period of time in my life, abandoned the Catholic Christian faith of my childhood, only to return more than a decade later, with to paraphrase the Kingston Trio "My head tucked underneath my arm", or my tail between my legs, but with a new found joy and peace that passes understanding. I have very little memory of the head or tail tucking, but still hold on to the joy and peace.

When I was away from my faith, I often challenged people with my new religious liberty, or was it that I had become a libertine, with no religion. Why did I do that? I think for the same reason that the commenter wrote the article writer, to engage in some discourse that will draw her back to her faith.

I was born and raised in a Catholic home. I served on the altar as a young boy, and liked all the then pomp and ceremony of the pre-Vatican II church. What I did not have at the time was any kind of relationship with any of the members of the Trinity or our Blessed Mother. Frankly, I had no idea that was a possibility. I never had met anyone who had such a relationship.

So, the Church was, as I aged, not relevant to me (arrogant young man that I was), and I walked away, and God let me. Periodically, God would reach out to me, and I kind of knew it. But, I was stubborn, and carried on with my life. I mean, who really needs someone in their life who is not real?

So, even though God was calling out to me, and I knew it was Him, I still figured that He was not real. I did not wander to another faith, just became quietly agnostic. I have no idea who or how many people prayed at one time or another for my return to a life of faith, but eventually God spoke to me in person, in the depths of my heart, and said 3 words to me: "Go to Church." That time I obeyed, and it started me on my journey back to the faith, a journey that has had many twists and turns in the half lifetime since I heard Him call me back.

It is interesting that the writer of the comment emails has chosen Buddhism, rather than following my path of rejecting religion, in favor of nothingness. What is, of course curious to me, is that the writer would adopt Buddhism, and then support Planned Parenthood.

Buddhism has 4 noble truths, which I wrote about a bit in a piece about Tiger Woods the other day. Beneath that there is the Noble Eightfold Path as laid out by the Buddha. The eightfold path is:
  1. Right knowledge
  2. Right intention
  3. Right speech
  4. Right action
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration
The problem is that outside of the Buddhist monastic life, how does one find the Right Anything? Buddha is dead, by the way. I mean no disrespect to him, and to the value of what he taught. Like all who have sought the truth in their lives, there is much truth in their beliefs and much good.

But, the email writer has grasped on to an important belief of Buddhism, and that is that the Buddhist does not believe in "sin" per se, but in "Karma", which is really Cause and Effect.

Karma, Cause and Effect, is fine as far as it goes. It just does not go far. Hence, a Buddhist, which is very much at its heart a religion of peace, can believe, as the email writer does that abortion is fine, and Planned Parenthood is a noble organisation. Why? Well, if the adherent sees no cause and effect from abortion or from Planned Parenthood and their work, which has little to do with planning parenthood, an oxymoron at the best of times, then quite simply there is none, and Karma rules.

I think I could have been a Buddhist, rather than an agnostic in my earlier days, because that is what I was thinking. I just had not formalized it.

I have come in my life to the desire to have a faith with meat on its bones, with accountability, and guidance, and even more than that, a faith where I can have a personal relationship with my Creator, and his beloved ones.

Buddhism for Catholics is really like a deli sandwich without the meat, veggies, condiments, margarine or butter, and with one slice of bread missing. The remaining piece of bread though, is very tasty though, just kind of dry without the rest.


Anonymous said...

There are all different kind of people and all different kind of Catholics, believing all different kind of things.

You want ultimate truths. Poor, sorry bastard. Better go back to the liquor and Atheism. There's ultimate truth there.

mbrandon8026 said...

Great tongue in cheek response, if it was was. Otherwise, it was still a very interesting response, and I appreciate the honesty.

However, Catholics have a set of beliefs that not all adhere to perfectly, but they are there, and are beautiful in their clarity. It is just a challenge to follow them all for most of us. The fact that Catholics are human and flawed does not diminish the truth of the faith. It is inappropriate to judge Catholicism on the basis of the human nature and flaws of its members.

As Woody Allen once said: "I wouldn't want to be a member of a club that would let somebody like me in." But the truth is that this club, the Roman Catholic Church can be home to anyone, and seeks to invite all to come in and bring their joys, works, trials and tribulations with them.

In vino veritas was a phrase originally created in two cultures, the Latin speaking peoples who credit it to Pliny the Elder, and also the Greeks who attribute it to the poet Alcaeus.

But, in truth there is not truth in alcohol, only perception of reality, which is not of itself truth, but relativism. In fact, alcohol dulls the senses, so that our perceptions are in fact weakened by the dulling.

As for Atheism, atheists tend to be skeptics, which in itself is not bad. However, atheistic skepticism can be as demanding as any other 'ism', leaving the adherent with the requirement to prove the non existence of things that can in fact be believed with the natural eye, as well as the supernatural eye.

So, an atheist must take a story like the one I posted today in my other blog Life in the Spirit with a link from this blog here and discount it totally, as not true.

Try telling my friend Joshua that what happened to him did not happen, and that it could have been caused by anyone other than God, and a God that loves him and me and you very dearly.

So, my question to you would be, do you hold to Atheism and alcohol out of a fear of letting the God who loves you in to your life, or do you have a personal foundation for that belief?

If you have a personal foundation to your belief, I am open to hearing about it, because this life is a journey, and one where all of us have a story to tell, and a path to follow.