Everyplace & No Place Part Deux

I love the ancient Christian Celts. A great read is George Hunter III The Celtic Way of Evangelism. He recounts the success of St. Patrick and those who followed him in evangelizing the ‘barbarians’ of Ireland and the surrounding areas.

What struck me was the way Hunter describes the ‘three levels’ of human existence. The highest level is the ‘thoughts of God’ contemplative level. The middle level is the ‘stuff of the earth’ level where fear, sickness, love, joy, birth, death, etc. resides. The final level is the level where most of us live our lives– paying taxes, selling sprockets, making a living and so forth.

Hunter’s thesis is that the Celts were able to succeed in the ‘stuff of earth’ level. They had prayers about every concievable thing–harvest, rain, giving birth, nursing, death, etc., meaning they beleived that God was a part of it all. God was above all but also in all; almighty and immanent.

I wonder if one of the challenges of our day is to convince people that God is a part of the ‘stuff of earh’ and the ‘everyday’ levels of our existence and not just someone we think about when we are about to die.

I have witnessed the births of all three of my children. I can tell you that being a part of the blood, sweat and tears of birth (and I had the easy part) is the ‘stuff of earth’ at its best.

Yet all that the Faith has given me: the Sacraments, the preaching of the Word, prayer and worship, all of those things were with me for those moments. I cannot imagine any of my moments in life–both good and bad without the Faith and what the Church has given me. The ‘Real Presence of Jesus’ is what makes me what I am. In the words of the Rich Mullins song, “I did not make it [the Faith that is], no it is making me…”

57 thoughts on “Everyplace & No Place Part Deux

  1. Hey! for all our differences, at least we got Rich Mullins in common.

    “Well, His eye’s on the sparrow
    And the lilies of the field I’ve heard
    And He will watch over you and He will watch over me
    So we can dress like flowers and eat like birds”

  2. A great read Padre. It has my hearty recommendation as well. Evangelism takes on a decidedly different feel under the Celtic rubric. The Celtic vision with its “earthy” anchor yet also divine tether strikes me as holistic and quite frankly real. It’s a sacramental vision. Another great book that illustrates via historical fiction this same vision is “Brendan” by Frederick Buechner—very raw and very real, though a little whacky at times (by way of the monastic practices depicted), but God haunted throughout. I love it!

    I practice the “Caim” with my daughters (it’s still a game to them at their age, which is fine), which embodies what you describe—“God is a part of the ‘stuff of earth’ and the ‘everyday’ levels of our existence.” I say amen to that. Of course, much of what passes for Celtic spirituality today tends toward a nostalgic or romantic remembrance of a bygone era, which in turn probably glosses over shortcomings, but I nonetheless greatly appreciate its reemergence in our time. In the fertile ground of our Post Modern world, a rekindling of interest in the Celtic Christian mind provides a great segue or bridge for going forward, or as you like to say Padre—“Ancient – Future.”

  3. I’ve been to Iona and to the “thin” place that the community there believes it always to have been and to be. The people there encourage each other in community to stay close to the experience of this intimacy. It’s hard not to pray there as you walk. My Celtic past calls to me almost daily. I want to live intimately with him. I want to wear and share St. Patrick’s Breastplate. If it’s possible to type with a brogue, it’s coming out of my fingers now.

  4. Here! Here!
    I appreciate the concept of finding God present in all things at all times.
    That is in itself the essence of worship as I see it. I came off a little forward on the previous post, concerning the church and it’s more’s, for this exact reason. It’s a popular cliche today to say that the fundamentalists have highjack the muslim religion, I say that the clergy have highjacked the worship of God the Father our creator and sustainer. They have put Him in a box called church and charged the commoner to meet Him. The very idea of paying tribute to a man or an organization, for the priviledge of knowing the fellowship of our creator is just a little outside the realm of logic. threre was much ado about the”office” of bishop, and deacons, pastors and such as the like in the no place sacred everyplace sacred post. Yet no-one dare to agree with the verses where we read that we have no need of a teacher eccept the Spirit only or where the ministery of evangelist, prophet, pastors-teachers is give to individuals for a season eph3 “UNTILL” we come to the recognition of our kinship privilage and resonsibilty to come to God personally for wisdon James1. surely their are ministries for every man woman and child in the kingdom of our Father. All ministries are a gift that we may serve with love for our fellow man and respect for our saviours sacrifice. We serve solely because we are endowed with the Spirit of our Fathers love. Not for title, office, position, recognition, tribute, or to satisfy some imaginary calling which will eventuate into a higher Holliness or a seat of honor at the marriage feast of the Lamb.
    Yes! indeed God the Father the creator is in all things and all things are sustained by His presence. Jn.1 says that all things we made by him and without him was nothing made that is made. So how can anyone suppose that there are different levels of creation ordifferent levels of Spirituallity, if there is only one Spirit which empowers us to walk on this green earth which is the indeed the very manifestation of God’s heart and desire. Knowing this that our Father created the heavens for the earth and the earth for man, and man for His own good pleasure. If the heavens and earth are created for us by the Father how may we discern that it could be anything less than we ourselves are. accept that we are the very temples of His Spirit wherein the earth and our bodies are only vessels to contain that Spirit. Ergo I regress in that why is it that we are not satisfied with the Temple of God?
    Why is it we think we have to build a temple of wood and stone, and why is it we have abandoned the ministry of the Spirit within us and remanded even that to an hireling who willing usurps the Holy Spirit for a price, all the while convincing even himself that it is the will of God.


  5. Well, this is kind of ironic. In the morning I have been working on developing the habit of immediately after waking, putting on a meditation song,quieting myself for a few moments and then reading a passage from “Extreme Devotion”. ( a Devotional I highly recommend BTW) My song choice of late … ” Be Thou My Vision.” I also enjoy the music of Eden’s Bridge, a Christian Celtic group. But aside from all of that, Tony Campolo wrote a book a while back called Seize the Day, in which he mentions reluctantly going on a retreat during which he was taught by monks to enjoy nature as a sacrament. His reluctance was short lived.
    Personally, having been raised on a farm, it is quite easy for me to see all of life, death, birth, seasons, nature, etc… as an endless chain in which every link is an echo of the voice of God. I also have held fast to a belief that our universe is pregnant with the voice of God, to the point that only those who wilfully chose not to are incapable of hearing Him speak.
    I have not read the book that you mentioned Fr. Neo. But I certainly will.

  6. Beautiful post, Fr.Neo! I think perhaps it’s something we can all agree on. To know the Spirit is to ever walk in His Presence, no matter what the course of our day may bring.

    When you mentioned the three levels of existence, it reminded me of something I read by a man called J. Preston Eby in an article entitled “The Antichrist.” He spoke of the heaven, the earth, and the sea as referred to in The Revelation as being three levels of humanity, with “the sea” representing restless, raging, unregenerate man. “Heaven” represents an elevated, exalted dimension of life and reality which is inhabited by those who walk constantly in the Spirit…where they are seated with Christ “in the heavenlies.” A present state of existence lived on a higher spiritual plateau. And lastly, “the earth” represents the majority of mankind, those who “mind earthly things,” mostly religious people, a moral class, but nevertheless bound to earth by the distractions of it to the extent they are not able to walk in the realm of the Spirit…yet neither are they overly wicked.

    I thought it was an interesting interpretation and just wanted to pass it along.

  7. NeoLuce.
    You seem to think that our faith will continue without the church and clergy, but that cannot be. Without teaching our children there will not be adults who know the scriptures or the order of worship. Without worship, we will soon be mood-making our way through cathedrals to ourselves that have no real accountability. There is nothing more certain than the ability of man to self-delude and substitute his wants and needs for those of God. We might put God first in our solitary mountain river wanderings, occasionally, but not dependably.

    Jesus said that where two or three are gathered together in His name, there He would be also. That must mean that two or three is the minimum church. Though prayer can be done in solitude, it might lose its priority without the social expectations of one brother or sister for another. We need each other and the church to keep the faith. The first century church made that obvious. Let’s stay with the game that got us this far.

  8. neoluce — I notice you have had no comment on my post concerning my pastor or the accomplishments of the Faith Community I am a part of. They would have been impossible to accomplish without a unified church united under the vision of our pastor. It took a combined effort of many. But our pastor was the one who gave us direction. Without a vision the people perish. If you think you can do better on your own working by yourself…lots of luck.

  9. Morpheus,
    What is this “order of worship” you refer to, and where did it originate? And did Jesus not promise us that the Holy Spirit would lead us into all truth? If it is as Jesus said (and I believe that it is), then each and every one of us is fully capable of learning the scriptures with the help of the Spirit, and without the necessity of looking to someone more highly schooled than we are. Yes, we can all learn from each other, and we all NEED each other, but let’s not forget that we are each accountable for using our own gifts and abilities without depending upon someone in a “higher” position (even though we might hire them) to do our thinking for us.

    I am reminded of a passage of scripture (Jer.5:30-31) which says, “A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?” When, from sheer laziness and lack of motivation, we allow someone to tell us what the Bible says, or tell us what to think or believe, we abdicate our God-given authority in Christ Jesus.

  10. I’m getting a tad frustrated here.

    Luce and Sheila Jo – From where do you think “the Bible” came? Given that you grant it such authority in your posts, I suspect you are confident of its origins. A simple question that requires a simple answer. And please don’t answer, “God.” That’s a cop-out.

  11. Who said anything about abdicating their individual authority? Who said anything about not using our individual gifts? Since when is sitting under a Pastor and using our individual gifts and callings mutually exclusive? Who said anything about letting another do our thinking for us? If I waited until Sunday service and Tuesday night Bible study to be spiritually fed, I would be a malnurished soul indeed! I go to the feet of Christ daily to be fed the Bread of Heaven. I use my gifts and callings within the body I am apart of. My pastor will tell you that he learns as much from the body he leads as we do from him.

    What disturbs me the most about the anti-clergy postings is the unwillingness to admit that there are ANY good clergy out there…
    I can understand disatisfaction with a few, and even many…but with everyone? Our church needs our pastor to provide the vision. Our pastor needs us to help it manifest… Trust me, no one does Angevoix’s thinking for her… Its not about thought police controlling everything we do and say, its about direction for the church to manifest the Kingdom of God on Earth as it is in Heaven…
    ICorinthians 12:21 “The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!”
    And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”
    vs. 27 “Now you are the body of Christ and each of you a part of it.”

  12. The “order of worship” in the churches to which I have been exposed appears to be a modern expression of what we know of the worship of the church in the first century, the creeds of the early meetings of the church (Nicene and Apostles Creed), the Psalms, scripture readings. It gives the progression of the church calendar from Advent through Lent and Easter, the prayers handed down to us, such as the Lord’s Prayer, the prayers of St. Chrysostum, the praises of glorifying God, blessing His name, approaching his altar, the bringing in of new members through Baptism, the invocations and prayers of thanksgiving, forgiveness of sins, Communion or The Eucharist, sometimes seasonal foot washing from the book of John, etc. Stuff like that.

    I was raised Roman Catholic, raised my kids in the Methodist church and now attend worship in an orthodox Anglican parish. I believe that what I’m calling the “order of worship” is a gift from our history and from the early saints of the church that brings continuity and scope to our worship.

    Go visit a church with traditional liturgical worship form and see if you don’t feel the same. But even if you go to a community church which has truncated itself from church history for historical reasons no longer known in the pews, there is an order of beginning, middle and end which makes worship, even though sparse and contemporary, a formal approaching and respectful experience of the presence of God among us.

    Admittedly, you don’t get much of this in the woods.

  13. Everyone who has read church History or for that matter world history knows that the order of worship the liturgy and all the holy-days, observations and sacraments are a legacy of the Roman emperor constantine, who compromised an amalgamation of religions to quell social unrest among the pagan, christian and jews of the empire. When came then the clergy unto the church???
    Well it is no secret that the totalitarian regime of Rome was being torn apart at the seams and the millitary had lost it’s flair among the elite corp of society. It seems that the emperor had a vision from GOD! Vision of a cross and it was told to him, “under this thou shalt conquer. Curious it seems that the cross he saw was not a crucifix at all but; an aunk an ancient fertility symbol a cross with a loop on the top. Well, HOW convienient seeing as how the Jews had already in their history a story of how the people were saved from a plague of vipers by only looking at a pole with a bronze snake on it….and by the way the christians could also identify with the cross, for the savior was nailed to one. that thereupon were the sins of the world crucified for our salvation from the curse of the fall.
    henceforth and therefore we have the origen of CHURCH and all it goings on and gyrations. None of which existed before the middle of the 4th century.
    Now as far as the scripture and the councel of nice guys who cannonized a select group of writings which they supposed would suffice as compendium of orations for a poultice to solice the qualms of the masses,
    the so called HOLY fathers were true accademics and understood that at that time a perponderance of the earths population were totally illiterate, and had need that someone learned bring to them a condenced message which could be made practical and useful as a guide not only for society but for personal Spiritual persuit.
    as far as the source of the Holy Writ these men came not out of or were a part of any man made institution neither were they ordained paid or recomended by any hierarchy.
    Let me if you will please interject a statement by saint Peter on this subject. found in the second epistle of Peter chapter one verse 16-21
    16 For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.
    17 For He received of the Father Honor and glory, when there came such a voice to Him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
    18 And this voice came from heaven we heard when we were in the holy mount.
    19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shinneth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts;
    20 Knowing this FIRST, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
    21 {{{For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.}}}

    now I realize that there are certain among us that take umbrage at the scritures perferring the soothsayers to the words of God.
    as Sheila Jo says
    and the people love to have it so.

    of course this is the quintessential definition of myrimadon.

    as an aside here I would like to know how you Morpheous can reconcile being subject to clergy authority such as the pope via his minions the priest, abandon their pograms, to follow after a sect which was founded by protestors of the holy roman church i.e methodists (Weslyism), and then still hop back in bed with the catholics prodical sister, Angle
    Can? All the while extolling the virtue of the devine order of priests and orthodoxy manufactured by these sects. There is quite a variety distinctions among the aforesaid groups which seems to be in adverse conflict.
    I don’t mean to assult your progression spiritually, I sincerly desire to understand how a person can authentically subject themselves to such a variety of luminaries which cast such a broad spectrum of colours and flavours concerning there approach to and their assesment of the scriptures and their application for the common people.

    thanks again Neo for your forum and the good grace you have in allowing such a divergance of perspectives to be proffered.

  14. More nonsensical verbiage. Still no evidence of any fruit. Talk is cheap Luce…put your money were your mouth is and give us some examples of the success of your way. The proof of the pudding is in the eating…so far you have nothing but hot air.

  15. My, my, what an interesting assortment of remarks! Like Neoluce, I appreciate this venue because it gives me the opportunity to consider the perspectives of those who come from religious backgrounds which I don’t get much exposure to here in my little neck of the woods. My area is predominantly Baptist, with a Catholic Hispanic population.

    Constantine, I told you at one time that I preferred not to expose my religious background, but I’m having second thoughts about that. Maybe you need to get a glimpse of the paradigms I labored under for so many years for the very reason that I appreciate knowing yours and Angevoix’s and Morpheus’s…it gives me a glimpse of “the other side of the fence.” A glimpse into the minds of people who are no less sincere, just have different ways of viewing God and The Way to God.

    I was taken totally by surprise, Constantine, when you seemed offended that I would use scripture as a basis for authority, and questioned my knowledge of its origin. I had never considered that there might be some people who DON’T use it as the sole basis of authority. If I tell you I was raised in the Church of Christ, and if you are familiar with their doctrines, then I’m sure you can readily understand why I place so much emphasis on scripture. The Church of Christ’s claim to fame is that they teach only the Bible, nothing more, nothing less. Over the years, of course, I learned that what they taught was actually their “private interpretation” of the Bible, just as is the case with most denominations. As for the origin of the Bible, I can only agree with the scripture Neoluce quoted above concerning holy men of God speaking as they were moved by the Spirit. As far as you’re concerned, it may be a cop-out, and I’ve honestly tried to second-guess where you may have been coming from with your question. I suppose you might tell me that the Catholic Church gave us the Bible in the form it is in now, and thus indicate that the Church is the custodian of the Word. (Am I right? I’m just wondering. I don’t know.) My only problem with that is that in such a scenario, the word of God would be “bound,” bound by the edicts and discretion of the the Church and its clergy; but II Tim.2:9 says the word of God is NOT bound.

    My domestic circumstances seem always to be in flux, with confusion around every corner, and for this reason I need someone solid and unchanging to cling to: namely, Jesus Christ. And the Bible, through the Holy Spirit, has revealed Jesus to me, not the Jesus of private interpretation I once gave lip service to, but a Jesus who is real to my heart. He is my Way, my Truth, and my Life. Without Him I can do nothing. If the word of God (the Bible) can only be dispensed through a church, through a human organization, then it will be subject to CHANGE, subject to the interpretive whims and dispensations and revelations of those who are authority figures in said churches. Where’s the stability in that? There IS none.

  16. Angevoix, although I DO realize that there are very sincere clergy people with the very best of intentions, I also believe that the role of a sole authority figure in a religious institution lends itself to the perpetuation of a “lazy laity,” in as far as the knowlege of the Word of God is concerned. I’m not talking about YOU. I’m merely generalizing, and I think you yourself can surely agree that a majority of people in churches do not have a hunger for the Word. Would that everyone were like you!

  17. angevoix said…
    I protest! There is no way in hell!!! The only good use for a photo of Jerry Falwell is as a dartboard!

    now that was a quote that our sweet little lady with the frenchy sounding name made on another posting. and she can’t understand why everyone isn’t just falling over themselves praising the grand works of her priest while she takes up an off ended position toward a very articulate and wise orator of truth and logic. namely me.
    seems she demands respect for her position and persuassion yet fails to allow others the same courtesy.
    How is it the reverand doctor pastor brother jerry fallwell is any less a man of the cloth than her own hired henchman whom she espouses to be something above the fray of us ordinary folk?

  18. God help me to never be so self- righteus that I beleive myself to be one of few that are truly hungry for God. False prophets will be recognized by their fruit. Jesus didn’t tell us to look for who can quote or misquote the most scripture. He didn’t tell us to look for who had the most impressive gift or who could pray the most eloquent prayers…He said to examine the fruit. If the Spirit of God is truly at work in our lives there should be tangible evidence. What our faith community has accomplished under the vision of a pastor took a lot more than good intentions. It took marching the streets against gang and drug activity for seven years. It took sit ins and arrest…for which I still have my ticket. It took letter writing and phone calls to politicians. It took heat from the media, and very real death threats from the drug dealers. It took the combined efforts of a lot of people. I didn’t march the streets alone. It took a hunger not to just read the Word and quote the Word, but to see the Word manifest on this Earth even as it is in Heaven.

  19. “toward a very articulate and wise orator of truth and logic. namely me.”

    You forgot to add humble…

    I ask again…where is your fruit?

  20. And if you must know…Lucey Goosey.
    My Fall out with Fallwell is over the fact that he had the nerve to call Tinky Winky of Tele Tubby fame gay… a slanderous and rediculous accusation for which I for one will never forgive him, regardless of the eternal consequences…
    Let the chips fall where they may…

  21. Morpheus, although I do not understand your reverence for liturgical worship, I now have a better understanding of what you find in it. You’re right. I do need to visit some traditional liturgical services, and I intend to do that very thing when my good friend (Hispanic Catholic, and also bilingual) returns from Mexico. I, too, was raised with an “order of worship” in the Church of Christ, although far different then what you mentioned…and their order was set in stone…”do this or be damned.” That’s where the rub comes in with me now…when I hear specific items of worship imposed upon people as REQUIREMENTS in order to “make it to heaven.” Worship not freely offered is not worship; it’s merely a duty and obligation.

    That’s also why I believe worship can be both individual and corporate. I can freely offer a heartfelt song of praise to my Creator as worship in my own home as well as join my voice with others in “church.” However, when we limit worship to either a corporate assembly OR an individual solo experience, we miss out on the two different facets of our relationship with God. If I believe I can only encounter God’s presence in a church building under the auspices of the clergy, then I miss out on the possibility of private communion with God in the cool of the morning as I watch the sunrise. Or if I believe that I can only worship God in solitude, then I miss out on the rare experience of knowing what Jesus meant when He prayed that we would all be ONE in the Father. For it’s only when two or more minds and hearts come together and find themselves one in Spirit that we get a little glimpse of the heaven God means for us to experience eternally.

  22. Well well well now it seems we have a fruit inspector among us.
    A judge of others by whose standards? I suppose since we have been supeoned to present our good works for her approval.
    We have been inundated with a litiny of her accomplishments and that of her church and it’s principal person. only to frame the question of our integrity it would seem.
    So we see if a person has a different perspective and different convictions there creditials are suspect.
    Dear angevoix
    In fact I am nothing but the voice of one crying in the wilderness. I have no good works to parade. I a have no name you would recognize from a list on your reading room wall.
    I only have the Spirit of my Father pressing me to share with others the truth I have found.
    I have no mission to convince anyone of anything.
    I don’t care who belives my report.
    That is wholey between the hearer and the Spirit Of Our Father to sort out the way they should follow.
    By-the way I was only being acinine about myself being a wise knowledgable orator.

    why is it when a person of a liberal stripe senses the frailty of their position they have to resort to personal attacks? Lo-an-behold, if in the event the victom should reply with some reasonable retote they take up a screeching whinning rant protesting themselves being treated unfaily and demand recognition as a martyr
    for a superior cause which not even they could defend as viable else they wouldn’t have digressed from the issue.

  23. In other words you are a no show in the Arena and chose to sit on the sidelines critiquing those actually engaged in the battle while having absolutely nothing that attest to your qualifications to do so.

  24. You also might like to read “Amazing Grace” by Kathleen Norris. A wonderful Benedictine slant on things.

  25. As for my fruit, we are told to do our alms in secret, not to sound a trumpet off about them the way the hypocrites in synagogues do. I do not mean to belittle you or your fruit, Angevoix, and I am sure what you and your church have accomplished in your community is a wonderful thing. But I think we need to be careful not to compare ourselves with others. It’s not profitable. Likewise, by quoting the scripture, I do not mean to seem as though I boast of some special knowledge of it. Not at all. My point was that we all have access to the same knowledge.

  26. My comments were made in defense of clergy whom I have seen called every name in the Book, Henchmen, Hirelings,false prophets, to name a few. The only criteria we are given in which to judge the authenticity of the ministry of another is the fruit. This is Christ’s standard of judgement…
    You are the one’s who brought the clergy to trial here…I am just delivering the evidence that they have been tried and convicted unfairly…

  27. Yes my dear angevoix
    I am a 53 year old white boy, whose only claim to fame is my faith in the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    The works I have done are meaningless in the whole picture of history. I came into this world without knowledge and I was gifted with the personal experience of salvation through faith in my savior nov. 6th 1976.
    therein the old man died and Christ lives in me instead and the work I do are not my own but are those of my Father. I am nothing He is all and in all.
    I have no trophies to laud no documents that decree my virtue, I am not ordained by any sect nor do I assume any special privaledges.
    I am not a learned person as you can see I can hardly spell. yet I have a mission to share the liberty of Christ among whosoever will hear.
    I have no followers I follow no one. I fellowship with anyone who truely desires to walk in the light as we are capable of discerning it.
    I am ready to teach and I am ready to learn for some things I have learned others have yet to know, and some things others have learned I desire to know. I am not selective in the company I keep as long as they are sincere in their persuit of the kingdom of God. This world is deceptive and it has many distractions, religion seems to me to be the greatest deceiver of all. That is not to say that all religious people are deceivers. I do not postulate that all church leaders are pied pipers or evil demons who capture the souls of men. yet the entire system of churchianity is corrupt from the core even as the preisthood was in Jesus time on earth.
    It was the priest who persured our Lord and it was the proffesional churchmen who extorted the roman govenor for to kill Jesus because He exposed the big lie of religion.
    The temple was destroyed in 70 AD. by devine providence, yet some try to rivive it’s corrupt system today and call it Christian.
    In the book of the revelation of John, Jesus called to us today to come out from among them and be not partakers of their iniquities. He was speaking of nothing other than false religion that turn the hearts and minds of man away from Grace to the doctrine of cain, that is good works which men may exploit for the nourishment of ego.

    I submit to you that the only real devil is man’s ego

  28. “I do not postulate that all church leaders are pied pipers or evil demons who capture the souls of men.”

    So you admit there might just be a few good clergy out there…

    And yes I admit, it is a mistake to get caught up in our works BUT we also have to remember that without works our faith is dead. As followers of Christ our lives should be of use to someone besides ourselves… it isn’t that deep…I beleive that encouraging our neighbor over the hedgerow is as important as serving in a soup kitchen…but we ought to be doing SOMETHING! ANYTHING!

    Neoluce…despite your “verbaige” you and I are not as far apart as you might think on this issue…I just think you are overly extreme in your across the board judgement of clergy… But its easy to point out the problem, it takes courage to find the answer. I don’t think retreating from the battle is it. In fact some would posit that those who have retreated from the battle have forfeited their right to have a say about it.

  29. This exchange is disheartening. Sad.

    Is there no room left for love from the regulars – beyond the common “me too” and long-winded parsing of fine points?

    “Do a spell check next time, white boy.” Really, Seraph? Really? Is this the angel’s response to a man clearly flailing in the pain of homesickness? Neoluce has spun himself beyond reason, his reason carrying himself well beyond the realities his efforts at reason would normally be intended to address. But you, Seraph, you should know better.

    You too, Father Neo. Has mockery become your best way of expressing an un-invitation? You are a voice for home, and you know that for whatever prodigal rantings may come from Neoluce, you represent and are a part of what at some point he may limp home to. You cannot go with him to where he is today, but the fact that you (as a priest) remain a target of his rage means that you also remain the sounding board for his heart.

    Is this your pride or your obedience at work?

    Neoluce, you’re being a dick. You’re trading pot-shots for the sake of hearing your roar echo in the dark, and you are adding nothing to the exchange. You rant like an indolent boy, like the prodigal son. But please, my friend, do not let yourself believe that life is better in the far off land, with the pigs.

    And do not let yourself believe that the church or the people and spirit of whom it is comprised are nearly the monsters your delusions have promised, despite what you have unearthed here.

    The church was the church before Constantine, and there is no question that while the Bride has issues, it is still very much the Bride with whom and through whom Jesus did/does intend to be/make Himself known. He shows up where He is invited, scandalous though that often feels.

    And only a fool would divorce himself from the Bride when Christ does not.

    There is a place for you within the Body. And the Body is a Priesthood. Even when there are only two or more gathered in His name, there you will still find a priest. To that extent, my friend, you are a priest. You are therefore invited to apply the terms of your own previous finger-pointing to yourself at any point.

    You have been seen and saved both as an individual and as part of a saved people. A cowboy approach kicks half your eternal truth out from under you. The approach of a cowboy attacking his missing leg is just silly.

    You do not have to live alone, hurling stones and roaring in the dark.

    You’ve been a dick, and you’ve received dickish responses here. But there are people posting to this blog who know and are great (flawed, of course) friends/witnesses to/priests of Christ. Of Christ, and of the home you are attacking without need or real basis.

    Please, see if you can find the hope inside your anger and frustration, and see if you can speak of it here. You will find good counsel, and you may even find something of your missing leg.

  30. :::HUH:::
    Fr. Neo uses sarcasm when necessary. I am cruel when necessary. I’d hate to have to kick your rear. J/K, sort of.

  31. We’re not going to start resonating again, are we?

    What a community we have here! Isn’t this “the church”. We have teachers, students, priests, men, women. Tough repartee, but always with a tinge of love. We are arguing, but it is the argument of brothers and sisters in Christ. It is a wrangling with an invitation to stay, not a rebuke to go. Awesome, really. True intimacy is often helped by strife and flashes of anger, especially among men. Jesus loved Peter dearly, though he had to bust his chops on a regular basis.

    I’m feeling blessed.

  32. My appologies for any untoward rebuttals. I am very concerned for the health and well-being of one particular clergyman right now and a little sensitive about comments that would disparage him or his authenticity. And again I solicit your prayers on his behalf.

  33. Sheila Jo,
    I wasn’t offended at your use of scripture per se, but at your (and Luce’s) misuse of the same to discredit and dismiss out of whole cloth the notion (important nuance) of church and clergy. What we call scripture today is nothing less (notice I didn’t say “nothing more”) than the product of the early church for good and ill. Your almost one-sided use (Luce’s too) of scripture as a means to dismantle “the church” is akin to biting the hand that feeds you. As for scripture telling us that scripture is true and God-breathed, well, that’s tantamount to the parlor trick of circular reasoning. Regardless, let it be known to those here that I give proper credence to scripture. If the denomination you referenced is the same that requires full baptismal immersion for “salvation,” then I understand much of your vehement rhetoric. Their hermeneutic is a case in point as to my concern for engaging in bible sword drills. The cost, as you have given witness to here by your comments, can be grave. The best man in my wedding was and is COC and would still say to this day that I’m on the highway to hell with AC/DC and the rest of the lot who got sprinkled etc. Their theology is a master/servant modal vs. a parent/child. The world currently has enough of the former to deal with in addition to having some “Christians” adopt the same mentality. They, and others like the nutcase Fallwell, are also the same who would have you submit for no other reason than your gender. If his ilk alone were the example I’d too be running for the hills.

    Ahh…no apologies now! You were doing just fine, as always.

    Norris rocks!

    I like your style. I didn’t agree with everything you said, but you got hutzpah…kind of like Scout (a hero of mine).

  34. Thanks Constantine…
    My church that I attend now is really the first thing I have ever known that was anything like a family to me, and yes I love them dearly… to hear them disparaged… yes it hurts and offends me. And it is even moreso with the current state of affairs with my pastor’s health. So maybe I take it a little more personally than I should…
    But perhaps that is a lesson in and of itself…before we begin blustering negative generalizations about an entire group of people, especially a group which we are no longer even a part of…maybe we need to stop and think. We were all basically maligned…the clergy were painted as insincere huksters and those of us who follow thier leadership were painted as naive simpletons… so hells bells…what AM I appologizing for? Why is it that only one side of this argument has carte blanche to say whatever they damn well please while the rest of us are lectured to play nice?

  35. I’ve spent the hours since my last post praying for you. Last night my network went down, and while I knew how to fix it, I took it as a sign to wait until morning to see what was posted after me. I had dreams about replies, and I feared that I had cut too deeply.

    What a beautiful response from you all. What an incredibly blessing – and rare reward – for risking (albeit anonymously) to speak my heart. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    My spirit continues to labor for neoluce, a man in pain but for whom I suspect your prayers and love could become and incredible salve. Neoluce, if you check back in, may the responses of the people here speak to you of the humility that seems to grow best in a setting where the desire for peaceful community makes itself known as more compelling than the desire to win immediate quarrels. If your own response does not feel like theirs right away, ask yourself if you wish it would – it may be that missing leg of which I spoke yesterday.

    In fearful service.

  36. Yes, and may I add that I wish that my responses sounded a little more like the invitation to stay that Morpheus spoke of, rather than heated retort to offense.
    There are problems to be sure in God’s household just as there are with any family…but the intention should never be to shut one another out in the cold.

  37. :::HUH:::,

    Great–now it’s time for you to come up with a name that is at least a noun. You wouldn’t be the anonymous White Rabbit from previous posts would you be?

  38. No White Rabbits here, my friend. Just someone who’s gained something for her heart from the conversations here, and was sad to seeing it going sideways. I have been impressed with you – and with many of the people here – and was all the more blown away by your responses to my challenge. Thank you once again.

    Oh, and HUH is also a noun…it means visual palindrome. I’m the bell curve of accountability – offensive in equal measure on both sides, but hopefully mounded with love in the middle for those who are willing to endure the climb.

    Maybe HUH is also the noun for the sound a person makes when they read such weirdness.

    The best to you, Father Neo. Does your Sunday effort earn you Monday off? Maybe listen to some Mariah Carey?

  39. Morpheus, I sure do like what you said, “Isn’t this the church?,” meaning, aren’t WE the church? Right here on our little blogpage? I would have to say a hearty “Amen” to that! I’m the church, and you’re the church… where ever I go, and you go, and we go. If everyone everywhere could only wrap their minds around that idea, the world would be changed. We would realize we are Christ’s where ever we are…and we could step bravely outside of the religious boxes that too often hold us captive, freeing us to go into “all the world” to preach the gospel. With the knowledge that Jesus dwells in our hearts, not in a particular assembly, we can truly follow the Spirit. Not that we should “jump ship” as far as deserting our privilege to assemble with other believers, but that we would have the courage to follow the Spirit’s leading if He leads us to march to a different drummer than other believers. Coming from a cookie-cutter type of religion where everyone was expected to believe the same things and do the same things, this holds special importance to me. As I was reading James 2 one night I was impacted by the thought that although Abraham and Rahab were both justified by their works which were a result of their faith, they each had DIFFERENT works. WOW!!! There’s liberty in that knowledge…the knowledge that I don’t have to do like you do, or do like my fellow church members do in order to please God, because His will is different for each and every one one of us!

    And, :::Huh:::, I appreciate your comment concerning the priesthood of each and every one of us. There’s no freedom in Christ without that knowledge!

    Fr.Neo, Constantine posed a question to you quite awhile back concerning your thoughts on the priesthood of all believers vs. the clergy (or something along those lines). I, too, am a bit curious about what you might have to say.

  40. And Constantine…
    How can the The True Church be dismantled? Jesus Himself is its Head and He lives in the hearts of all believers, giving them assurance that they are His. With this knowledge, “no man can pluck them out of His hand” and “the gates of hell cannot prevail against it (them/us).” The only thing that might possibly be dismantled is our paradigms of what the church is and where it is located.

  41. Sheila Jo,
    Under your definition of “church,” how would you propose to carry out the desire of our Lord to “do this in remembrance of me”? Given that this is a “command” from scripture, I would think you’d place considerable emphasis on its veracity, yet would be hard pressed to offer a reasonable suggestion as to how this particular desire of our Lord could be facilitated without the institution of the Church.

    As to the “True Church” being dismantled…it won’t be, though it certainly may appear to be so, or in the process of becoming so, at any given time in history. A cursory review of Church history provides ample evidence to this affect, i.e. the Reformation, the 1054 Schism, the Crusades, when the light of the Church was indeed dim, if not seemingly extinguished, and sadly often brought about by its own hands. We could even now be entering another “Dark Age” for all we know (if the “Left Behinders” ilk gain much more footing with their ghetto mentality and become what the world sees as “Christian,” then indeed the church could cease to flourish for a time), where the institution of the Church would seem to be irrelevant, even dead, during our life time. A generation, or even a few, come and gone is but a season really. For all we know, maybe we are still in the “early Church” era. I’ve expressed this idea to others and it’s not even my own, but one that helps to bring perspective in the “here and now.” If I were to type out to you now the date of this post saying “in the year of our Lord 2005,” but instead made an inadvertent error and keyed in an extra zero to make the number 20005, the notion of Church history from that vantage point would be remarkably different I suspect. Now, there are those who would say, “Impossible!” But I would say, “But of that day and hour no one knows…” I remember asking one of my teachers when I was a sophomore in high school at a private non-denominational (read “born again” here) school– where by the way I read the Bible too much and had it paraded before me ad nauseum–when he thought the Lord would return, and after hedging that “only the Father knows,” proceeded to tell me he couldn’t see the world going another 20 years. Well…he was wrong. Who knows, it could be another 2,000 years or 20,000 years instead of the short sighted 20 years he served up to a young and impressionable mind, and as such we should expect and not be surprised by all manner of things in the Church visible/militant.

    Btw Sheila, I’m not suggesting that you go back to the lunacy from which you escaped, but only saying that Church per se is not as you or Luce would have it exclusively.

  42. Here’s a thought, C. I am not saying I beleive this…I’m just saying that it might be worth considering… perhaps while we are waiting on Christ to return…He is actually waiting on us to stand up and be the church without spot or blemish…the church which doesn’t compromise to popular thought, political or social…the church that is ONE…as he prayed, the church that says thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven, and rather than using the its facilities as bomb shelters to hide from battle, it uses them as boot camps from which to emerge to fight the good fight? If that be the case you might just be right C. It could take until 20005 for christ to return.

  43. A little post-millennial pondering, eh Angevoix? That line of thinking definitely puts the onus on the church to live out its mandate. It basically affirms that God is more patient than we.

  44. Angevoix, I must say I really like the picture of the church as boot camps from which to emerge to fight the good fight. I think that’s exactly what Jesus has in mind for His Church…it’s all about exhortation and encouragement…and “going out” (into all the world), not “staying in.” Church is not a refuge or a saviour; it’s made up of those who look to Jesus as Saviour, the one who enables us to “go out.”

    Constantine…I’m mighty curious now about your religious background, since you mentioned attending a “born-again” type of private high school. I definitely detect a hint of contempt/bitterness in your reference to it, as well as for the “Left Behinders” (akin to mine for the CoC, although I THINK I’m improving!). What’s THAT all about?

  45. Matthew 11:12
    And from the days of John the Baptist until now the Kingdom of God suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force…

  46. Constantine, Ironically, you speak of the CoC as practicing lunacy, and they, in turn, speak of the Catholic Church in the same light (and, of course, ALL other churches as well.) When God delivered me from the bondage of believing there was only one true (earthly) church, I, too, viewed the Catholic Church with contempt because I thought that it, too, taught the same “we’re the one true church” doctrine. (Which, I think they do, don’t they? Help me out here!) I also held in contempt all other denominations which taught the one-true-church thing and kept its followers in bondage (such as Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses). Laboring under this “wrong church/right church” mindset, I began attending a Freewill Baptist church which purportedly preaches anyone from any church can be saved. However, the better I got to know the church teachings and the mindset of its members, I realized that in reality, although it was not proclaimed overtly from the pulpit as it was in my CoC days, these people, too, believed just as firmly in its doctrines as being the only “right ones” every bit as much as any other church does. It was kind of an eye-opening thing for me.

    Then, too, at about the same time, out of curiosity, I checked out a book from the library written by Mother Theresa (who I knew was in the camp with the “big, bad Catholics”), and much to my amazement, I discovered in her writings the Holy Spirit breathing His love and joy through her words. WOW!!! What an epiphany! To find there were actually Catholics who know Jesus, too!

    It may sound funny now, but it was a real learning experience for me at the time. That was the dismantling of one of those paradigms I mentioned. And I sense you have a few of your own as well, Constantine. In pointing at the lunacy of the CoC teachings (and I’m not disagreeing with you), you may not be seeing the discrepancies in some of those the Catholic Church perpetuates. And I’m not downing the Catholics; don’t get me wrong. I’m just saying that all denominations/churches/ religions have their own set of peculiarities which divide and separate them from other brothers in Christ….and these man-made, artificially imposed barriers are what is WRONG with “church.” The True Church surpasses all such barriers.

    It’s an interesting journey we’re on together. Thanks for sharing your perspectives with me….ALL of you!

  47. Sheila Jo,

    I wholeheartedly affirm the biblical teaching that the church is a ‘holy priesthood.’

    Part of my vocation is to model Jesus’ high priesthood & his intercession for believers. I also try to help others ‘offer their bodies as living sacrifices’ & I do my best to draw others to Jesus’ once for all sacrifice on the cross.

    We are all part of the body. I am just one unworthy shepherd of one wonderful flock.

  48. Sheila Jo,
    I was born and raised, as is often said, RC, and remain so to this day (with one very intense detour). There was also a point in my youth when I very seriously considered Holy Orders (vocation as Priest). As a freshman in high school, for a variety of reasons (no, I wasn’t a rebel in need of reform), I went to the aforementioned “Christian” school only to return later to the public school domain. You said you detected some “contempt/bitterness” in my comments regarding the “Left Behinders” and the “born againers” and you’re right. These two groups are essentially synonymous in my view. They use scare tactics to build their ghetto, which for them means predominantly one thing: individual and personal salvation from the everlasting fires of Hell into which you’ll be thrown by God in His wrath (even though He loves you sooo much…smooch…smooch) if you fail to confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord etc. (read here a bunch of Bible stuff). If your own “bitterness” is improving then God bless you Sheila Jo. It’s probably a healthier path to tread. Mine’s not and I don’t care. I also find this ilk overwhelmingly sappy, saccharine, and sickly sweet. Have you ever listened to “Christian” music? God spare me (sorry to fans out there). Many in this camp behave as if God were a cuddly teddy bear who plays celestial vending machine by acting accordingly to the “Prayer of Jabez.” This, of course, bears little to no resemblance to St. Clive’s description of God as “not a tame Lion” (as in Aslan from his “Narnia” series). Read the book of Job again or watch the recent, though achingly not uncommon, news about the little girl Shasta and her brother, and its plain as the nose on our faces that God is very hard to pin down. He ain’t tame folks. (Although, I do believe, down in my bones, His Love is unconditional, infinite, incomprehensible, and long-suffering beyond all that we can imagine. Being “not tame” and the source of unconditional Love needn’t be a contradiction.)

    Yes, the RC Church in its official dogma (even after VC II, though it’s presented thereafter with a touch more generosity) claims to be the one true Church on earth—basically that via St. Peter they hold the keys. Rome asserts that Protestants (even Eastern Orthodoxy in some measure) are “separated brethren.” I find your Mother Teresa experience a common occurrence among the uninitiated. Her life was indeed amazing and filled to the brim with the love of God. Be careful though! Keep watch and gird up your loins! You might find yourself (especially if you attend a Mass with your friend at say the next Easter Vigil) drawn as a moth to a light if you hang around Rome too much. And then you’ll find yourself in a real conundrum to be sure, trying to find the same thing without going to Rome. (Sorry, a little inside joke and jab for Padre Neo.) Btw, Rome often gives me heartburn too. In truth, the “via media” tradition of Anglican thought resonates with me the most, as well as the ambiguous and foggy neo-orthodox.

    I’m glad you like the idea of the Church being charged to GO out instead of stay in (at least exclusively). At the end of the RC Mass, the benediction/dismissal often says in so many words, “GO in peace to love and serve the Lord.” Alas, my experience is that most of we (me included) cradle Catholics have no clue what the hell that means. Rome likes to tell you what to do, not explain it.

  49. “Alas, my experience is that most of we (me included) cradle Catholics have no clue what the hell that means. Rome likes to tell you what to do, not explain it.”

    What a riot, and oh so true. I went through RIC classes before I was baptised, our church puts a huge emphasis on understanding what you are doing and why you are doing it. I am really at a loss as to why Rome doesn’t emphasize this more. The other adults and I were deeply moved by the meaning behind the traditions we were taught… I think this would make an incredible difference to the young people coming up in the church. I felt kind of bad… as if us newcomers were getting a better deal than the “cradle Catholics”.

    Also I have a big beef with the Christian music industry…I’m really sick of this fanciful fluff nonsense that passes as Christian Music…what is that about? My experience as a Christian has had high points to be sure, but there have also been times when I felt as if my heart and soul and entire being were being nailed to the cross. Where is that expression in the Christian music industry? What I hear doesn’t sound anything like my life, which has been a road pock marked with sorrow and tears, sacrifice and obedience, when it hurt like hell. If I hear the same lyrics regurgitated one more time…! Do we know how to say anything to God besides, ” I exalt you, I lift you up, I praise you.”
    Somebody please slap the turn table, the record must be skipping…
    Are we afraid to tell the truth about what it is really like to live out this Christian journey?

  50. Muy interesante, Constantine! Thanks for sharing. I KNEW you had a lot of anger there! So do you reckon in reality you’re any better off than ole Neoluce, when push comes to shove? Your anger’s just directed toward a different bunch than his. I think each of you in your own way has been victimized by those you vilify, or perhaps just feel threatened by them. “Men go to far greater lengths to avoid what they fear, than to obtain what they desire.” (That’s a quote I recently read somewhere.) I’m not being judgmental, just observational. After all, who am I to point fingers?!!

    As far as the fear tactics practiced by the “born-againers,” I would have to agree with you. HOWEVER, those same fear tactics are used in almost every other church I know of, whether they preach about a burning eternal hell or not, and whether they preach the need for personal salvation or NOT. Church of Christers sure did a top-notch job of it! And how about Catholics? It would seem to me that in their encouragement of the practice of constant confession (among other things), they use the same fear tactics. I think any time we do not have peace with our God, there is a terrible element of fear involved at the thought of facing the unknown- whether it be our own demise, or merely facing tomorrow with all of its uncertainty. And ultimately, there IS a need for a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ to obtain this peace. When Jesus said “I am the way…,” He meant it! A place in an earthly church congregation is all well and good, but you can’t hide from God there, although it’s tempting to try.

    And btw, what do you do with the verse, “ye must be born again…?” Just curious. The CoC says it refers to a ceremonial plunge in the baptistry. But in my opinion, that explanation leaves the following verse (the wind bloweth where it listeth, and no one can tell from where it comes or where it goes…so is he that is born of the Spirit- paraphrased) kind of without meaning. After all, we can SEE the ones who are baptized, because the baptizing is done by man. Just my thoughts, of course. Let’s hear yours!

  51. It’s not really anger as such, but frankly disrespect. (Though there are certainly times when anger is appropriate—i.e. the clergy sex scandal in the RC Church. Just don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.) Here’s my bottom line on the “Left Behinders” and “Born Againers.” They are beyond annoying to the point of being a hindrance in my book.

    Do I think my own Church (RC) ever uses fear tactics? Yes, they have a long history of employing, and I’ve personally experienced, fear tactics. My contention is this. A fundamentalist is a fundamentalist, regardless of where they hang their hat—in Rome, as a “Left Behinder,” or as a radical separatist/last remnant breed (Luce). I’d rather take my chances with the secular lot or the “lukewarm” than with the fundies. Just being honest.

    What do I think “born again” means? I think it’s a lifelong process often punctuated by events/experiences, some of these being sacramental in nature—i.e. “one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.” The path of salvation for most, certainly me!, is a curvy, up and down one. Here’s a suggestion. Pick up a copy of Frederick Buechner’s book “Wishful Thinking.” It’s a “lexicon” of sorts that offers insightful and fresh definitions for worn out “Christian/theological” words. He has several books along these lines. I like his definition of “born again” a lot.

    Btw, I don’t feel “threatened” or intimidated in the least from the fundies, wherever they happen to reside, just annoyed. When I was young and didn’t understand you have to take authority for what you believe the fear tactics worked. They don’t anymore.

  52. Constantine, I believe God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him, whatever their current position. When we are willing to question the status quo, and open our minds to the possibility of God’s presence in the places we’d least expect…when we are willing to search for answers where there seemingly ARE none… then I firmly believe God will meet us there and make Himself real to us. We are each on an individual journey (albeit in community), with every person on a different path at a different pace. And just because I’m not where you’re at right now, and you’re not where I’m at right now, doesn’t mean that someday we won’t arrive at the same realization of the fullness of His glory. God is good!!! Just don’t settle down to contentment in what you already know, because there’s always something more to learn, although, as Angevoix says, the lessons are sometimes painful. I believe the process is called sanctification. I can also see how the cumulative results of knowledge gained from life as we experience it with eyes made new by the Spirit could be considered our “new birth.”

    Thanks for the book recommendation! I fully intend to look for it, and the one entitled “Brendan” that you mentioned as well.

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