Monday, January 07, 2008

The triumph of Orthodoxy over Orthopraxy, part one, personal perspectives and bias

So I've been a Catholic all my life. I've also been involved with other Christian traditions (or "ecclesial communities") over the years. I went to Young Life and some Baptist events as a teen. I worked with Young Life for five or six years through college and into my career as a Catholic Youth Minister. And my family attend a Baptist Sunday School in addition to Mass each week. Long stories behind each of those, I'm still Catholic though, still Orthodox in my understanding of the Eucharist. I don't have any issues with Church theology from Trent to Vatican II, or even with Humanae Vitae or Mary. We have six kids and respect the fact that God may call us to having more. But suffice to say that I have a fairly adequate understanding of both Catholic theology and fundamentalist theology. I won't put that last one with a capital "F," because it's a loose system, especially in Southern Baptist churches. I also see some things, some things that trouble me.

Why the disclaimer?
I say this because the direction I'm going is fraught with the limitations of human perception (so if the Church really is the Sacrament of God's Presence here on Earth, being able to wrap your brain around it would be as difficult as trying to wrap your brain around God) and the fact remains that I may very well be looking at things with an improperly formed conscience or a damaged set of life-filters. So be it. All opinions here are just from one guy named after a barnyard animal. This is all free advice and you get what you pay for, your mileage may vary, etc. But as Chesterton wrote, "If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly." He was talking about generalists who do things out of love as opposed to specialists who do things because they get paid lots of money, taking the most important parts of life (child rearing, for example). This is something that I feel I have to write despite the fact that I may be a poor writer, or one with a skewed view of reality. I have to say what I see because it appears that folks in these two polis' are too wrapped up in the validity of their own respective viewpoints and their historical differences to see the areas where they are deficient. Or Heaven help us, actually look to the other for guidance. One has the right theology, and sees that as their credentials, but the other has a better sense of the practice, and of course sees that as their "fruit."

Which side am I on?
In the title, it may seem as if I have a side, or that I see one as superior, and that is partly true. On one hand, I am going to speak mainly from the Catholic view, one I can't help but shake, and yet on that I have freely chosen. On the other hand, I see this triumph as a bad thing. The fact that these two traditions don't cross-pollinate enough to see the ways that they could benefit from each other is a great thorn in the side of Christ's Bride. We are not whole in the way that we should be. Richard John Neuhaus, editor of First Things, points out that in some way, we are unified, else the prayer of Jesus that we would be one didn't come to pass, and I'd hate to bet against the Lord Jesus and his interests, but this communion is not one that we fully live out. I am for the Catholic "team." I wish for all other "ecclesial communities" to know the truths that God has vested in the Church for their own edification. And I feel that the Catholic Church, while flawless in theology, had deep issues in how it practices, and I'm not talking about Liturgy. But more about that later. OK, everybody up to speed on where I'm starting from and a general idea of where I'm going? Good.


Camey said...

Hey Bull,

We wouldn't call you lame at all and have found your journey most fascinating. Please tell your wife hello for me..

But really? More kids?

Take care ole friend,

bullschuck said...

Camey! It's great to hear from you. I'll pass along the hello to Kim. And about kids, it's not about a number, it's about being faithful in every aspect of our lives. God's in charge, not us, and to take the act of sharing and put up a barrier, it's just not right. It's cheating God from being Providence in our lives.
And from a purely practical view, or I should say the view limited by my own Earthly and worldly vision, I do hope that six is enough, although I know from experience how much we would love the seventh.

Camey said...


You certainly talk a lot of sense.. Definitely agree about being faithful and God's in charge.

And you and your dear wife and precious family have just been prayed for!