How I learned to stop worrying and love the Church

March 14, 2014 § 62 Comments

Part of the “Francis Effect” has been the encouragement of heretics and the discouragement of the orthodox, and I don’t want to discount the importance of all that.  But I can’t help get the impression that most people expect the wrong sorts of things from the Church.  Most modern people, including modern Catholics, seem to see the Church primarily as a teacher of Christianity through verbal discourse: as a kind of intellectual or apologetical classroom for teaching Christianity (and other things besides) on a big chalkboard.  Christianity is viewed as salvation science, and the purpose of the Church is to bring salvation skills and knowledge – salvation technology – to whomever approaches to sit in the classroom, buy the textbooks, and earn the degree.

So we are told that we should be Catholics because the propositions produced by the Church proposition-factory, a.k.a. the Magisterium, are true — with caveats.  Protestants take a similar view, but their proposition factory is the text of the Bible (or some redacted portion of it) combined with whatever authoritative hermeneutical system they’ve implicitly adopted from outside of the text while pretending not to have adopted a particular authoritative hermeneutical system from outside of the text.

But this is to misunderstand the basic nature of the Church, in my view.  It certainly doesn’t correspond to the reasons why I, personally, am and shall remain Roman Catholic.  Staying with the Church because it is a doctrine-factory that produces (mostly) true doctrines seems to me to miss the point entirely, and sends a great many people down the rabbit hole.   There are a number of good reasons to be Catholic (or a member of one of the other rites in communion with the Pope).  The (highly conditional) reliability of the Church as a doctrinal-proposition-factory is probably even one of them, though it should not be first on the list.  Our Protestant friends suffer so much under the weight of “Churchianity” in part because they only see “the Church” as a teacher, and a particular kind of teacher at that — a discursive teacher who teaches almost entirely using words in the form of lectures (sermons) and reading.

But this is not the Catholic understanding at all.

Remember, as Christians we aren’t saved (or damned) because we have adopted the right (or wrong) sets of propositions.  We are saved because God has adopted us – if we choose to cooperate with His love and grace.  And the ordinary means that He uses to impart His love, to gift us with His grace is – because He has chosen for it to be – the Sacraments.

And the Catholic Church (along with those other rites in full communion with the Pope of Rome) are the only place to go to receive valid, licit Sacraments.  The best (and in my view only) reason to be specifically Catholic is because God loves us, we love Him in return, and as our Father and Master he has ordained how we are to respond to His love and receive it in obedience.  This is on His terms, not ours.  We cannot do otherwise without cutting ourselves off from His love, from His concrete gift of grace to us in the form of the Sacraments.

So while I don’t want to discount the importance of the intellectual struggles that others have, brought on by the toxic combination of modern attitudes with ultramontanism, I do wish that others could find their peace with it.  And I think that peace is within easy grasp once we have our priorities right — once we stop trying to impose a modernist template onto our understanding of the Church.

§ 62 Responses to How I learned to stop worrying and love the Church

  • Peter Blood says:

    If Francis started talking “Game” you’d let out a howl. It’s a stretch, but others let out a howl for things that they thought would be a stretch.

  • Zippy says:

    Peter Blood:
    I’m not defending Francis’ various troublesome statements, any number of which I also find troublesome; nor am I criticizing those who find them troublesome and criticize them on that basis.

    I’m just stepping back from the trees a bit, to take in the wider view.

    I do feel some sympathy for Francis himself, because I have the impression that his immediate predecessors were far better equipped intellectually and politically for the responsibility they held than he is; and at the same time the moment is if anything more dire. As others have noted this closely resembles the situation with Paul VI and Humanae Vitae.

    Besides, I’ve been objecting to ultramontanism since well before I even started this blog. Like many errors it torments people of good will who are subject to it and delights the enemies of truth. Other than in extremely rare cases of exercises of the extraordinary magisterium, the Pope is basically a (very human) monarch. People have forgotten how to be when it comes to monarchs.

    As to Game, it means very little to me as a specific subject. It just presents a teaching moment for certain kinds of folks (including me, since I always learn from my commenters) — mainly the sort who are likely to read here. I’m probably most known in the Catholic blogosphere for my opposition to waterboarding and other kinds of torture; but the truth is the subject is not and has never been high on the list of substantive issues about which I am personally passionate. I’m much more concerned with the annulment crisis, for example.

    So, anyway, don’t take this as a criticism of Francis critics. It is supposed to be a comfort, if anything.

  • Peter Blood says:

    Thanks for the elaboration, even if I was just making an off-the-cuff mess-with-you comment.

  • buckyinky says:

    Thanks for this Zippy, your words here are encouraging, if for no other reason than to know that you aren’t among those who say “If the Pope does x, I’m walking.” I had already figured you weren’t of this mind (and I’m not unsympathetic to many of those who are), but it is good to hear confirmation, and well-explained reasoning behind it.

  • Thank you for your encouragement Zippy. I’m fortunate in that there’s an FSSP parish only a thirty minute drive from my home; some of the families there make a two hour drive. I would add this advice if anyone’s parish leaves something major to be desired: a wise old Catholic gentleman once taught me that your faith can be preserved and even strengthened if you learn how to power nap during the homily, heh.

  • King Richard says:

    Well stated; I may link to this (if that is acceptable).
    Prince Jonathan noted in relation to a recent discussion of the impact of Modernism in general and Americanism in particular that ‘the crisis of the Church seems to be more a lack of good followers than a lack of good leaders’.
    And I can attest; very few people understand how to think or, let alone react to, a monarch!

  • My impression is that – like the current Archbishop of Canterbury – this is a leader who was nobody’s first choice, nor even their second nor third choice.

    I watched the Vatican announcement live on BBC TV and when the name of the new Pope was announced there was several seconds of (stunned) silence from the expert commentator, presumably doing a bit of swift Googling or asking around the office – because it was very clear that he had no idea who was this Jorge Mario Bergoglio.

    I take this as evidence that he was the least-worst/ least-obscure candidate who would be accepted by both sides. Under the circumstances, it seems implausible that he really was divinely chosen and his selection was likely a matter of ‘horse trading’.

    Which is very unfortunate all round – because it looks to me that the RCC leadership is substantially corrupt and incompetent, and needs divine help now more than for some considerable time.

  • King Richard says:

    Why does it seem implausible that the the Pope was divinely chosen’? That you disagree with his non-dogmatic statements That you do not care for how he dresses?
    The Holy Spirit does not choose popes to please you, nor I. The Holy Spirit does not choose popes to give you what you want, nor what I want.
    The Holy Spirit chooses the pope that the Church needs at that time.

  • @KR – The implication is that the electors were not listening to the Holy Ghost. Unless people listen, they will not hear. The Holy Ghost does not (cannot) compel the Cardinals to choose a particular Pope; but only when they sincerely listen for His promptings. Lacking evidence of an electorate who are willingness to pray and discern the truth, there is no reason at all to ‘give the benefit of the doubt’ to the Papal electors.

  • Zippy says:

    I think the idea that the Holy Ghost chooses the Pope directly and therefore every pope is just exactly what the Church needs at the time is obviously problematic, given the history of the papacy. It rhymes with a (very Protestant) conception of the divine right of kings, resting on the nonsequiter which infers impeccability from the fact that all legitimate human authority derives ultimately from nature and nature’s God.

  • Mike T says:

    Remember, as Christians we aren’t saved (or damned) because we have adopted the right (or wrong) sets of propositions.

    In a limited sense, that is correct. However, our salvation begins with the acceptance of the propositions laid out about Christ in the Gospel. Likewise our natural course of damnation continues if we reject them. There is no way to infuse saving grace into someone who rejects the Gospel. Ignorance is one thing, but formal rejection puts them outside the realm of salvation even in Christ’s own explicit words (whoever rejects my words stands condemned already before my Father).

  • Proph says:

    “I think the idea that the Holy Ghost chooses the Pope directly and therefore every pope is just exactly what the Church needs at the time is obviously problematic, given the history of the papacy.”

    Mmm, synchronicity! I have a post going up on this topic at the Orthosphere later today.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    However, our salvation begins with the acceptance of the propositions laid out about Christ in the Gospel.

    No it doesn’t. It begins by loving Christ. A Down’s kid with a 60 IQ who can’t read can easily be a better Christian than a nerd with a Bible and a highlighter.

  • Zippy says:

    Proph:
    I look forward to it. Folks really really want impeccable rulers, but rulers are human beings and never impeccable so we always end up either with rebellion or the equivalent of ultramontanism. That’s (for example) why the American founders are so iconic to many “conservatives” — and the beauty of ultramontanism-of-the-dead is that the dead aren’t around to prove to us that they are screwed up human beings.

    One thing I do frankly appreciate about Francis is his emphasis on the fact that he is just a guy, puts his pants on one leg at a time, etc. People should listen to him when he says that.

  • […] I should pause to say that I’m on board with Zippy (and I think his diagnosis that Argentinian provincialism is the key to understand this Papacy is […]

  • Chad says:

    Thanks for the perspective. I love the church, and being a part of the mystical body with an fssp parish 15 min away has been a blessing. But, as you say, sometimes we all get overwhelmed by our passion for the church and lose sight of the priorities.

    Also, I’m of the persuasion that problems of the church will be solved by individuals and families enacting change; rather than the whiners and moaners that’d rather wait for someone else to solve the problems

  • It’d be more accurate to say that the Holy Spirit always gives us the leaders we deserve.

  • Mike T says:

    No it doesn’t. It begins by loving Christ. A Down’s kid with a 60 IQ who can’t read can easily be a better Christian than a nerd with a Bible and a highlighter.

    My comment was narrowly focused on the essential Gospel claims about Christ, not the entire Gospel. A kid with down’s syndrome can easily get by with love and John 3:16. But this isn’t about kids with down’s syndrome, but rather about assertions made here that merely being a liberal (among other world views) is even tangentially related to any possible reason to not face the full bore wrath of God for rejecting the gospel.

  • Chad says:

    “It’d be more accurate to say that the Holy Spirit always gives us the leaders we deserve.”

    Eh. Even the Pope and the Church can be a trial and a cross to bear. The church has had to purge itself, cleanse itself, and re-define itself multiple times throughout history. Usually because of the churches own fault at not responding to the sins of the times.

  • Cane Caldo says:

    @Beefy Levinson

    It’d be more accurate to say that the Holy Spirit always gives us the leaders we deserve.

    This cannot be true.

    Eh. Even the Pope and the Church can be a trial and a cross to bear. The church has had to purge itself, cleanse itself, and re-define itself multiple times throughout history. Usually because of the churches own fault at not responding to the sins of the times.

    This is just a restatement of the already dismissed: “the idea that the Holy Ghost chooses the Pope directly and therefore every pope is just exactly what the Church needs at the time”

    As far as I can tell, the only catholic response of a frustrated RC (who wants to remains an RC) is: “It’s a mystery. Get back to work.”

  • @Cane: This cannot be true.

    The prophets Hosea and Malachi would beg to differ.

  • Cane Caldo says:

    @Beefy

    Can you elaborate? Perhaps we have different understandings of deserve.

    I don’t see how you can determine deserve to mean something other than either:

    1) ““the idea that the Holy Ghost chooses the Pope directly and therefore every pope is just exactly what the Church needs at the time”

    2) Some form of antichrist to destroy the church. By church I mean those who are submitting themselves to the sacramental fruits of the RCC; which Zippy has said is the specific and primary charism of the RCC, and the only valid expression of love for Christ.

    Case in point: I read Bonald’s linked post and comments. His response sounded like a temporary Protestantism.

    So I guess the answer is yes, I have passed into sinful disobedience, and the Magisterium is working effectively. I’ve tried to find a loophole but failed. And if I did find one, the pope could plug it any time he wishes. Of course I am displeased to be in a state of sin, and that loyalty to the Church demands the destruction of the historic peoples of Europe, but an effective Magisterium should displease people. We should not be able to make its statements mean anything we want them to.

    How long can someone willfully be in sinful disobedience before the thing to do is excommunicate them? How long can someone embrace denying the Magisterium when the Magisterium gets to decide the who, what, when, where, whys, and hows of the sacraments?

  • @Cane:

    Pretty much the entire OT is the story of God’s chosen people repeatedly going astray and God calling them to return to him through the mouths of his prophets. When Israel turned away from God he allowed them to be ruled by wicked kings or scattered by foreign despots.

    “They have broken my covenant and transgressed my law…Israel has spurned the good; the enemy shall pursue him” (Hos. 8:1,3).p

    “Disaster comes upon disaster, rumor upon rumor; they seek a vision from the prophet, but the law perishes from the priest, and counsel from the elders. The king mourns, the prince is wrapped in despair, and the hands of the people of the land are palsied by terror. According to their way I will do to them, and according to their own judgments I will judge them; and they shall know that I am the Lord” (Ezk. 7:26-27).

    “And now O’ priests, this command is for you. If you will not listen, if you will not lay it to heart to give glory to my name, says the Lord of Hosts, then I will send the curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings. Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you do not lay it to heart” (Mal. 2:1-2).

    Barack Obama’s policies are vicious and wicked, but twice the American people elected him. If Protestant pastors are feminist Churchians, or Catholic bishops are rank Modernists… well, pastors and bishops are elevated from the great masses of the Christian people. They’re a sign that God is saying to us, “Thy will be done.” It’s a sign that we ourselves must be converted and return to God.

  • Zippy says:

    Cane:
    [the sacraments] which Zippy has said is the specific and primary charism of the RCC, and the only valid expression of love for Christ.

    Clarification: not only valid. Necessary to be fully in obedience to Christ, though, absolutely. The ordinary means to express love of Christ and receive grace. Extra ecclesium nullus salus and all that.

    As for Bonald’s quoted dilemma, I think it arises from the misapprehension of the nature of the Church that I discuss in the OP. Modernity is fond of false dilemmas (see e.g. Mike T’s posts in the other thread on a different subject). For Catholics the false dilemma is typically ultramontane; for Protestants it lies in the solas (vs “white magic”); for secularists it is in naturalist positivism vs postmodernism.

    But they are all false dilemmas, in my view.

  • Cane Caldo says:

    @Zippy

    Yes, I meant to express that the sacraments are enough and essential in the RCC view.

    “As for Bonald’s quoted dilemma, I think it arises from the misapprehension of the nature of the Church that I discuss in the OP.”

    I’m not convinced it is false.

    Your view of the Church is from the Magisterium. The RCC view is that the Church “birthed” the Bible, rules, etc. If the Magisterium takes a stand against itself, that is a real dilemma. If the head is crazy, the body genuinely suffers.

  • Zippy says:

    Cane:
    And yet I went to Mass earlier today, presided over by a priest in communion with the Pope who traces valid succession to the Apostles.

    It is in fact a false dilemma, though I’m not surprised that you cling to it.

  • Cane Caldo says:

    @Zippy

    Haha!

    “And yet I went to Mass earlier today, presided over by a priest in communion with the Pope who traces valid succession to the Apostles.”

    Which is only relevant or helpful according to the interpretations and pronouncements of the Magisterium. Mass, transubstantiation, popes, and valid succession accordingly to worldly means can’t be deduced from nothing, and they did not come directly from the Scriptures.

    And–as important as your experience is to you–these same interpretations and pronouncements of the Magisterium are used specifically to keep me out.

  • Zippy says:

    Cane:

    Which is only relevant or helpful according to the interpretations and pronouncements of the Magisterium.

    There you go again. You’d make a good ultramontane Catholic — “it is only true because the Magisterium says it is true”.

    …these same interpretations and pronouncements of the Magisterium are used specifically to keep me out.

    No they aren’t. Absolutely no one is “kept out”. People either choose to do what it takes to validly and licitly receive the sacraments, or they don’t. But they always have the choice.

  • Mike T says:

    The statements of which I am aware regarding immigration are that the state cannot prevent immigrants that wish to live fully at peace within the host culture and acclimate to its culture. This is reasonable enough. Unfortunately for the pro-immigration wing of the Catholic Church this means that in practice probably a good 95%+ of all immigrants can be deported on the simple basis of having no desire to stop being whatever they came from.

  • Mike T says:

    Zippy,

    Random question about praying to a saint since you seem like one of the few internet Catholics who knows WTF he’s talking about…

    Are Catholics supposed to pray simply that the saint will pray for the thing requested/for the person needing support or is it common (and accepted) to pray that saint will perform any good work beyond that? I guess what I’m asking is is the proper form restricted to “Mary, pray for me for X” or is it tolerated when a Catholic prays in such a way that implies that Mary or another saint can actually provide X?

    I’m genuinely curious since what I’ve read can be interpreted both ways. For example, I’ve seen sites on the rosary that imply that Mary will perform a miracle requested whereas other sites that say that the saint will only “put a good word in.”

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:
    I think (though I could be wrong) that the official answer is that there is no official answer. The “rules” for dealing with saints are really the same as for dealing with any other human beings; although we are more ignorant about the saints than about our fellow human beings here on earth.

    We can ask for help, and the help may come as the person saying prayers for us or it may come in other forms. We don’t know what “powers” saints may have qua saints; but we know that any powers that any of us have come from God. Nevertheless we sometimes help each other in ways other than by (in addition to) praying for each other. As far as I know there are no doctrinal answers to the question “what natural powers do saints have besides merely existing”, although being able to hear us is one at least implicitly.

    We can venerate (show respect, deference, and admiration to) saints, just as we do with kings or heroes. But we must not worship and adore any human being as God is worshipped and adored.

    Mary is the most highly venerated saint. This is referred to with its own term (“hyperdulia”) to distinguish it from the worship due to God alone (“latria”) and veneration of other saints (“dulia”).

  • Cane Caldo says:

    @Zippy

    There you go again. You’d make a good ultramontane Catholic — “it is only true because the Magisterium says it is true”.

    Perhaps if I were a good ultramontane Catholic that is what I would say. As it stands I’m not, and so it makes sense that I didn’t say such a thing.

    What I said was that the doctrines of the Catholic church (especially those which differ from Protestants; even and especially what the Lord’s Supper is, and how it becomes what it is, and that those things are important for loving Christ) can only be believed if one has a faith in the Magisterium that supersedes faith in Scripture.

    At this point we should remember that Scripture is the inerrant Word of God, and not even if we include the Deuterocanonical books we will not find evidence for confection, frequency, transubstatiation, the priest as alter Christus, and an in persona Christi, valid apostolic succession, and supremacy of the Roman bishop, and all the other things that the Magisterium has pronounced upon as necessary for loving Christ through the remembrance of the Lord’s Supper.

    Just for the record: I’m still not saying that the Magisterium’s interpretations and pronouncements make these things true; merely that what you confess as central to being in communion with the RCC (and therefore Christ via apostolic succession) is knowledge from no one but the Magisterium. Your expression of belief in God runs through the Magisterium, and apart from it you can know only the merest of shadows of God.

    Otherwise, you’d be more accurately described as a Protestant.

    No they aren’t. Absolutely no one is “kept out”. People either choose to do what it takes to validly and licitly receive the sacraments, or they don’t. But they always have the choice.

    I must confess those things above; else I will be kept from communion; both in the sense of properly receiving communion, and of being a part.

  • Cane Caldo says:

    Sorry. The first sentence of my third paragraph should read:

    “At this point we should remember that Scripture is the inerrant Word of God, and not even if we include the Deuterocanonical books will we find evidence for…”

  • Zippy says:

    Cane:

    What I said was that the doctrines of the Catholic church (especially those which differ from Protestants; even and especially what the Lord’s Supper is, and how it becomes what it is, and that those things are important for loving Christ) can only be believed if one has a faith in the Magisterium that supersedes faith in Scripture.

    Yes, I understand that that is what you think.

  • Mike T says:

    As a Protestant, the hardest thing about Catholicism is figuring out what is infallible and what is not when trying to understand what’s essential to Catholicism. One advantage of sola scriptura, though I agree with y’all that it is a positivist error, is that it tends to wipe out Christian folk beliefs that cannot be rigorously defended. For example, consider the following statement about the rosary:


    The Catholic Church, exercising its authority to “bind and loose on heaven and earth,” and in perfect accord with God’s Mercy, has set the following conditions for the granting of a plenary indulgence for those who pray the Rosary:

    Be in a state of grace–that is your soul is free from mortal sin.
    Be free from attachment to–that is, not in the habit of–venial sin.
    Go to confession several days before or after praying the Rosary.
    Receive Holy Communion on the day you pray the Rosary.
    Say a prayer for the Pope.

    By fulfilling these simple (but often difficult) conditions, you merit the grace to release one soul from Purgatory. While we are free to ask God to apply this grace to a particular soul, God can do as he pleases, according to His Will and Mercy.

    Can I be a Catholic and believe that this claim about the rosary and purgatory is a load of rubbish? Or do I truly have to believe that repeating a formulaic prayer will convince God to release a soul from purgatory in order to be in good standing?

  • Cane Caldo says:

    @Zippy

    Yes, I understand that that is what you think.

    You don’t have to be this way, you know. At any moment you could stop being flippant and obtuse, and recognize that I’m talking with you in good faith.

  • Mike T says:

    can only be believed if one has a faith in the Magisterium that supersedes faith in Scripture.

    Even as a Protestant, I would say that this is not true. Nothing that contradicts scripture can be true, but where scripture is silent there is no reason for magisterial authority to hypothetically not be authoritative.

  • Zippy says:

    Cane:
    How is it even possible that I am being flippant, when I’ve discussed this with you repeatedly and in detail over the course of at least a year or so in multiple threads? What exactly am I supposed to do when you stubbornly insist, because of your own incomprehension, that I must think things that I don’t actually think?

    Once one makes the commitment to be Christian at all, none of the ‘options’ other than Catholicism make any sense at all. By that I mean that they literally make no sense: that on any reasonably close examination they are crazy and self-refuting. I’ve discussed why (or many of the “whys”) any number of times in any number of places (while at the same time I openly acknowledge that apologetics isn’t my ‘thing’, so if you want to hear it you are just going to hear it raw, without any marketing fluff).

    So the choice isn’t between being Catholic or Protestant. The choice is between being Catholic Christian or not a Christian at all.

    I understand your (and protestant more generally) objections, but none of those objections – generally resting on sensibilities and prejudices and the very errors that make Protestantism seem appealing, to wit Mike T’s dismissal of Peter actually having been granted the authority to concretely bind and loose in particular situations as ‘folklore’ – change the basic situation, which is that any attempt to be both Christian and non-Catholic falls to pieces, and even more importantly cuts one off from the Sacraments established by Christ.

    Mike T:
    The short answer is that yes, purgatory and indulgences (including plenary indulgences) are doctrines of the Church, the latter as part of the authority Christ granted to Peter to bind and loose. There is a not-bad-upon-cursory-look primer on them here. What specifically merits an indulgence is a particular decision of the Pope, under the authority the Papacy was granted to bind and loose, and a number of those have accumulated over the millennia including the indulgences attached to the Rosary. It could be standing on your head and counting backward from fifty though, because it arises from the authority of Peter — much as things like (say) priestly celibacy arise from the authority of Peter, and could be changed at any time.

    So indulgences per se are doctrinal (not to mention Scriptural), and the requirements for receiving a specific indulgence are set by Church law.

    Meeting the requirements for a plenary indulgence is almost impossible though (and the conditions, while real, are not observable — especially that business about no attachment to even venial sin). Most indulgences are partial, meaning that they do as penances count against the temporal (not eternal) punishment for sin, but there is no ‘measurement’ attached.

  • Scott W. says:

    Meeting the requirements for a plenary indulgence is almost impossible though

    Just for your consideration:

    http://the-hermeneutic-of-continuity.blogspot.com/2006/05/plenary-indulgences-not-impossible.html

  • Mike T says:

    I actually wasn’t referring to Peter’s authority there. Rather I was pointing out that one advantage we have is that it’s not hard to figure out if something is from an infallible source in Protestantism because the only source it recognizes as a valid teaching authority is scripture. Catholicism has scripture, sacred tradition and Papal authority to loose and bind. The down side for us trying to understand Catholicism is that many Catholics frankly believe a lot of bullshit and are sufficiently ignorant that it’s difficult to know when the Church “teachings something that seems fishy” versus a Catholic believer being an ignoramus. So even doing research online, it can be quite difficult to figure out what is essential and what is not essential.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    one advantage we have is that it’s not hard to figure out if something is from an infallible source in Protestantism because the only source it recognizes as a valid teaching authority is scripture.

    Indulgences are taught by Scripture, though, at least to as unambiguous (or ambiguous, depending on your POV) an extent as any number of other things that Protestants take as infallible doctrine (e.g. the Trinity).

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:
    I should add though that you certainly have a point here:

    many Catholics frankly believe a lot of bullshit and are sufficiently ignorant that it’s difficult to know when the Church “teachings something that seems fishy” versus a Catholic believer being an ignoramus.

    But again I think the focus is off. You don’t have to do anything more than the Downs kid has to do. Joining the Church is like getting married: you should certainly do it with your eyes open, but you should also recognize that it is a commitment and a step into that unknown country called the future. You can’t possibly know what it is going to take to keep that commitment ahead of time; yet once you’ve made the commitment it binds you for life and your life will never be the same.

    I can tell you right now what it will take, though (whether we are talking about marriage or joining the Church): every single thing that you have to give, and you have things to give that you don’t even know you have.

  • Silly Interloper says:

    Mike T:
    From a Catholic perspective, you are in worse shape than the ignoramus Catholics that frustrate you.

    To wit: Many Protestants believe a lot of bullshit and are sufficiently ignorant that it’s difficult to know when their preferred interpretation of the Bible is something “fishy” versus a believer being an ignoramus.

    That reuse of your words is illustrative enough, but the reason you are in worse shape is that you don’t even have a confirmed, valid interpretation of scripture to work off of in the first place. At least the Catholic Church has a confirmed and valid magisterium. But with all of the many reasonable interpretations that Protestants use–not only contradicting the Catholic Church interpretations but each others–your so-called “infallible source” is a non-starter. Your “infallible” source isn’t the Bible–the Bible is inerrant, sure–but your “infallible” source is the unauthoritative interpretation of scripture through one Protestant church’s personal preferences. And because of your doctrinal preferences, your church “sees” evidence of those doctrines no matter how tenuous, and doesn’t see the evidence for Catholic doctrine no matter how strong.

    Basically you have the Catholic Church:
    Christ’s appointed authority–>Preservation of True Doctrine–>Often confused by ignoramuses.

    Then you have Protestantism:
    Rejection of Christ’s appointed authority–>Replacement of Christ’s authority with scripture–>Interpretation of scripture based upon rejection of correct doctrine and ignorance (no authoritative starting point)–>Often contradictory and often confused by the already inherent ignorance as well as those who will pile on with more “ignorance” (disagreements) with someone else’s pet interpretation.

    What you call an advantage isn’t an advantage at all–it’s a fatal defect.

    But I have the feeling you have been through this a time or two, from what Zippy says.

  • drprice2 says:

    If you could explain what you mean by “Encouragement of heretics” in your link, I’d appreciate it.

    I assure you, I’m not asking with fire in my eyes or fists clenching and unclenching. Frankly (rimshot!) I’m too spiritually tired to take umbrage even if it is an accusation of heresy.

    Thank you–and for the worthwhile post as well.

  • Zippy says:

    Dale:
    I mean that your post shows that Cardinal Kasper is encouraging heretics and heresy, gutting the indissolubility of marriage even further than it has already been gutted by neglect and other factors.

    Moral heretics and near-heretics, very perversely, find encouragement and even ‘love’ in the prospect that some kinds of public and scandalous adultery will get a ‘pastoral exception’ that allows particularly notorious adulterers to sacrilegiously receive Communion (to their own detriment) while persisting in publicly scandalous adultery (at the same time presumably failing to grant a ‘pastoral exception’ to other kinds of adulterers, frequently ‘in the closet’ and therefore not so public and scandalous).

  • Mike T says:

    From a Catholic perspective, you are in worse shape than the ignoramus Catholics that frustrate you.

    From a Protestant perspective, which is where I currently am, the price of getting it wrong by engaging in certain Catholic practices is damnation. So with a little empathy you might see that from my perspective I have a very steep price to pay if I am wrong. That’s of course the eternal perspective. There are temporal prices I would pay alone, so as I inch toward certainty in anything, I’d prefer to do so with conviction.

  • drprice2 says:

    Got it–thank you!

  • Silly Interloper says:

    How can you know you are getting it wrong (or right) at all if your powers of interpretation are not only fallible, but impossible to verify? Throwing down the “damnation” gauntlet doesn’t do a thing for you if your entire method guarantees you will not get it right, and no amount of delusory conviction will help you then.

    You are like a man who has willingly locked himself in a room of a burning house, refusing to leave for another house because something over there might burn you.

  • Cane Caldo says:

    @Zippy

    How is it even possible that I am being flippant, when I’ve discussed this with you repeatedly and in detail over the course of at least a year or so in multiple threads?

    Are you now going say that your response–the one I quoted, not the bulk of your comments throughout time–was not flippant? C’mon, man. I’m not trying to discover what colors you think will be in this season, or even something as mundane-if-serious as the efficacy of pharmaceuticals.

    But, let it alone.

  • Zippy says:

    Cane:

    C’mon, man. I’m not trying to discover what colors you think will be in this season, or even something as mundane-if-serious as the efficacy of pharmaceuticals.

    What exactly are you trying to do? It isn’t clear that you were trying to discover anything at all. You were telling me what Catholics must believe, and you were wrong.

  • Cane Caldo says:

    @Zippy

    What exactly are you trying to do?

    I’m trying to figure out why and how you disagree with the Catholic priest of the parish in which I live; of whom I inquired about what exactly I must confess as a Catholic. He says I cannot be a Catholic if I cannot confess settled doctrine; most especially such things as have been pronounced infallible.

    I understand him, and what he said. I do not understand you.

    And, I’m trying to figure out what you, SI, and other Catholics tend to dismiss personal interpretations of clear scripture by appealing to an understanding of clear scripture; as in the case of Jesus’ words about who can bind what on Earth and in Heaven.

  • Zippy says:

    Cane:
    You are all over the place. I quoted something you said that was just plain wrong:

    What I said was that the doctrines of the Catholic church (especially those which differ from Protestants; even and especially what the Lord’s Supper is, and how it becomes what it is, and that those things are important for loving Christ) can only be believed if one has a faith in the Magisterium that supersedes faith in Scripture.

    (Emphasis mine).

    That’s just plain wrong. Not only is it wrong, it is heresy: Catholics don’t believe that the Magisterium is higher in authority than Scripture. Not only is it heresy, but the question presupposes an irrational epistemology: pitting the text against the magisterium and tradition requires you to start from false lollard premises about epistemology. You only think that way because you are a textual positivist when it comes to Scripture: your knowledge of how knowledge works is screwed up, so you can’t even think about the matter properly.

    If you want to bring a local Catholic priest into it, maybe you can take your own words that I quoted to him and ask him if he agrees with them.

  • Scott says:

    “(or a member of one of the other rites in communion with the Pope)”

    A year ago, this sentence would have looked like Chinese to me.

  • Cane Caldo says:

    @Zippy

    That’s just plain wrong. Not only is it wrong, it is heresy: Catholics don’t believe that the Magisterium is higher in authority than Scripture.

    Yes, I know it’s wrong. I was relaying what I observe the great number of Catholics do; including priests. I was not repeating what they say they do, but what I observe them do. As you are a font of different Catholic thoughts, it occurred to me that you might have a better answer; that If I am blind, then you could perhaps help me see.

    It would surprise me if that wasn’t clear to you, but sometimes when two people are talking one or both of them stops trying to communicate towards understanding. Instead they start trying to correctly defend.

  • Zippy says:

    Cane:

    I was relaying what I observe the great number of Catholics do

    Well, OK, but so what? I am sure there have been Catholic serial killers, but that doesn’t say much about Catholicism in particular apart from humanity in general — and that Catholics are humans.

    I’ve attempted to get you to question your positivist epistemology in the past, to no avail. That doesn’t necessarily reflect poorly on you, mind you — I’ve attempted to get plenty of Catholics to question their positivist epistemology in the past to no avail, despite the fact that their deepest-seated religious beliefs ought to better predispose them to it than our Protestant brothers and sisters.

  • Cane Caldo says:

    @Zippy

    Well, OK, but so what?

    So What: Then don’t be flippant and obtuse when others continue to engage you in earnestness!

    And So What: If you did successfully grok that I was relaying what I observe the great number of Catholics do, and if you further have seen this for yourself, then there was no call for you to speak as if I were the source of a heretical ultramontanism; or that I had falsely accused Catholicism itself of it merely by mentioning my observance and questioning of it.

  • Zippy says:

    Cane:

    If you did successfully grok that I was relaying what I observe the great number of Catholics do,…

    I’m not convinced that you have any idea what “the great number of Catholics [happen to] do”. But even if you did, even if I stipulate it, that means exactly nothing.

    What you said was bloody wrong, man. Get over it.

  • Cane Caldo says:

    I am surprised that you are taking this stance–after admitting that you recognized what I meant; after writing a post about the same; after linking to other writings about the same…

    It’s exactly the same as if I had made a sarcastic statement which you properly understood as sarcasm; yet you insist on pretending that it was an earnest statement for the sake of appearance. It wasn’t bloody wrong, and YOUR POST is the evidence.

    But I can’t help get the impression that most people expect the wrong sorts of things from the Church. Most modern people, including modern Catholics, seem to see the Church primarily as a teacher of Christianity through verbal discourse: as a kind of intellectual or apologetical classroom for teaching Christianity (and other things besides) on a big chalkboard. Christianity is viewed as salvation science, and the purpose of the Church is to bring salvation skills and knowledge – salvation technology – to whomever approaches to sit in the classroom, buy the textbooks, and earn the degree.

    So we are told that we should be Catholics because the propositions produced by the Church proposition-factory, a.k.a. the Magisterium, are true — with caveats.

    This is worse than being a natural twit who can’t navigate social interactions. You’re doing so on purpose.

  • Zippy says:

    Cane:
    I see. You slander Catholicism with falsehoods on my blog, and I’m a meany and a social twit for not treating your slander as “earnest”.

    Glad that has been cleared up.

  • […] Second guessing the Holy Spirit is a fool’s errand, but it wouldn’t surprise me to find out that the people who are really supposed to learn something from the current crisis are the traditionalists — those who truly aspire to be faithful sons of the Church. […]

  • Wood says:

    Zippy,

    In an unrelated post you said:
    “I sometimes wonder how many atrocities have resulted from leaders playing ironic provocateur mated to followers and subsequent generations taking them seriously.”

    And unfortunately my mind went straight to the Holy Father. I didn’t want to post that on that thread. I was digging around your site and found this post. What a great one here. I hope you write more on this topic in the future. Anyway, FWIW, thanks for this post.

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