OBAMA: Yeah, although I don’t, I retain from my childhood and my experiences growing up a suspicion of dogma. And I’m not somebody who is always comfortable with language that implies I’ve got a monopoly on the truth, or that my faith is automatically transferable to others.
This is so fashionable. So easy. It’s John Lennon religion. Let’s imagine the world with no heaven or hell, you can have religion, but there will be no dogma. Well, there’s not really religion without dogma. There’s only a matter of opinion. Without dogma there’s only spirituality, and without dogma even spirituality is only sentimentality.
“Oh, dogma divides!” bleat the lost sheep. Of course it does. Did they forget the Master said, “I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. It will divide mother and daughter, brother and sister. Unless you hate your family and friends you cannot be my disciple.”
Dogma divides, but the ironic thing is that it is only dogma that truly unites. How can anyone unite together unless they believe the same thing, and how can they believe anything lest there be dogma? In fact, what the dogmatic non dogmatists can’t see is that they have dogma too: their own dogma. Unless you subscribe to their dogma, you’re an outcast.
Cardinal Newman said, (and I paraphrase) “if Christianity is to be both dogmatic and relevant to the current age, it must have an infallible expounder.” The only reason dogma divides is that there is no agreed authority system to define and defend the dogma. If everyone makes up their own religion from Muslims to Methodists to Mormons, from Episcopalians to Pentecostalists, from Seventh Day Adventists to Secularists and all the rest, then of course dogma divides.
But if there is an agreed authority that defends and defines dogma, why then every sincere searcher for truth should seek out that authority.
It was that search that took me to England, and then to Rome, where I found the successor of Peter the Rock.
This is well and good, but how to answer someone (like, for instance, a daughter) who thinks in just this fashionable way? Who thinks the church/Church is a human construct that, for her, impedes her spirituality. Who shrugs indifferently at the mention of the union of fellowship with Christians. She’s honestly seen a whole lot more acceptance in her life from the lesbian/gay/theater/arts community than she ever found in the pews.This thinking might just be fashionable, but it has an undeniable appeal.
PS. I meant to give you this link…I think you ought to see it:http://bp3.blogger.com/_XXACBlT7D6w/R1bpjN7jzPI/AAAAAAAAATY/LvKryJvmytw/s1600-h/MapofHeaven.jpg
The “appeal” of which you speak has its origin in vanity. The belief that one is righteous because one is “tolerant” is just as self-righteous as any other kind of dogma. But that may take years of reflective experience and the capability to examine one’s own self with some objectivity and humility. It also requires a measure of grace. And worse, it’s impossible to explain to rigid tolerance/all-is-gray dogmatists. Like all intolerant people, they do not dwell in the realm of Reason. The best that you can do is point out that there can be no shade of gray without pre-existing black and white.
I think we as a nation are in trouble when we choose this type of person for our leadership. Hopefully we are more rooted in tradition than the media hype tells us and we will choose wisely in November. Let’s continue to pray for our nation! God bless! Padre Steve
Obama scares me!
I certainly realize the appeal. Sentimentality in all its forms is appealing, but that’s not really the point.I also sympathize with the situation with your daughter. I don’t know one Christian family who does not have these sorts of discussions with family members.Its a tough one. However, what kind of ‘acceptance’ does your daughter find in her theater crowd? Is it acceptance or indifference? Perhaps they don’t care what others do because they don’t really care about others at all.
..and as Dorothy L. Sayers said: “the dogma is the drama!”
There’s a reason he is still a protestant – he hasn’t acknowledged the authority of Rome. But in other quotes he’s supported works, rather than sola scriptura. We’ll see… Time will tell. McCain and Obama are both good choices from their respective parties. I tend to think the catholic vote should lean to McCain, though he is very pro-war, which was declared an unjust war by the pope and of course Obama is pro-choice. Both are flawed. What do we know of McCain’s protestant faith? At least he’s denounced Hagee.
When it is all said and done, is it not a fact that we, as Christians, have more in common than differences and the points we share is of greater importance than those points on which we differ. What I mean to say is that our belief that God so loved the world that He gave His Son that whoever believe in him would be saved is of greater importance than on what we differ. If we put transubstantiation above Christ Himself, we become transubstantiationists and not Christians. If we believe in the Vatican above the authority of Christ, are we not Vaticanists and not Christians. If we put “sola scriptura” above Christ, we believe in a book more than the Word of God. Christ is the focal part of His Church, the Church’s one foundation. To not recognize that what we share is above all disagreements is a blasphemy on the One who died to give us life.
radio45. Indeed. Your point sounds excellent. However, it begs the question, “How do we know what we are valuing is Christ?”Just how, in practical terms does one ‘receive Christ’? How, in practical terms, does one ‘hear Christ’? How, in practical terms, does one ‘follow Christ’? How, in practical terms, ‘know Christ’ ‘honor Christ’ ‘put Christ first’?This is the problem: an Episcopalian who believes in gay marriage sincerely believes he is ‘putting Christ first’ because he advocates justice for homosexual people who are images of Christ.A Southern Baptist may be opposed to homosexual marriage because he sees Christ in Christian marriage and believes homosexuality destroys Christ’s image in man and woman.The examples may be multiplied. Without the authority I speak of, how does one know they are following Christ, and not just their own sentimental idea of what Christ is?
15 minutes, what favorite sin of your daughter’s are her gay/theater friends accepting?When the sin doesn’t pay off in the long run, and/or the amoral crowd offends her and awakens in her the sense of justice that comes from faith, well, she’ll mosey back.I’m thinking the Prodigal Kiddo story is more typical than not.
my15minutes: Your daughter is behaving in an age-specific way, and so are many who respond to the Obama phenomenon. A (poor) paraphrase of Churchill: A young man who is not a liberal has no heart; an old man who is not a conservative has no sense.Young people who rebel against the traditions of their elders are good for us in that they remind us of what we should be about. The homosexual movement, like the pro-choice movement, reminds us that it is the sin and not the sinner that we should reject. The distinction is of monumental importance and one that we too easily forget. Oh, how easy it is to slip into smugness.
The folks in this combox would have you believe that in order to support Obama, you have to be either naive, sentimental, or simply young. Maybe many people support Obama because they happen to agree with his positions on any number of issues (rather than just one single issue, or because of strictly emotional causes). Just maybe people who choose to vote for Obama have their own mature, intelligent reasons for doing so — even if those folks happen to disagree with the mature, intelligent people in this combox. Is it possible for us not to assume the worst of those with whom we disagree?I don’t intend to vote for McCain, but I do understand that there are intelligent, non-sentimental reasons for doing so. (In other words, people who disagree with me are not necessarily dumb or immature or overly emotional.) This is a Catholic blog, yes, but can folks not recognize that in a pluralistic society, people who disagree with the majority at any given blog may still be very reasonable, smart people?
Without the authority I speak of, how does one know they are following Christ, and not just their own sentimental idea of what Christ is?How does submitting to an authority (in your case the Magisterium) guarantee knowledge that one is following the true Christ? The act of submission to authority is an act of faith. It may be the right thing to do, but I don’t think it can guarantee the sort of certainty that you seem to imply it can. Don’t we all live in the vulnerability of not having absolute certainty in our beliefs? That seems to be what faith is. This is not to say we should be the wishy-washy “non-Dogmatists” that you rightly excorciate in your post. But neither should we have the sort of misplaced certainty of feeling we have transcended our contingency and vulnerability that I fear I detect behind your words.
Excellent and wise post Father.
Halden, your comments have the ring of authenticity. They remind me of an undergrad course long ago in Existentialism in Literature. At one point, a student blurted out, “There are no answers!” Our hip professor (the adjective reveals my age) replied, “Ah, that’s the point.” But then a young seminarian said, “No, that’s not your problem. Your problem is that there are so many ‘answers.’ You have to choose one and commit to it.” You may substitute “authority” for “answer.” Some years later, I complained that everything was a gamble. My good Jewish friend said, “Right! So play the odds.”Yes, authority is a choice among many “authorities,” and I’ve chosen the play the odds: The Church is 2,000 years old. All other “odds” aside, that alone would be enough.
halden, I have certainty because not only do I believe in Christ, I believe Christ himself. The wise man built his house on a rock. No storm and not even the gates of Hell have prevailed against it, and there is no natural explanation because many have tried to tear down the house.Upon this Rock (Kepha-Cephas-Peter) I will build MY church…and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.People who try and convince me that the Catholic church is not it, but rather an apostate church, until their church founder over a millennium and a half later discovered the truth and got it right, only elicits this reaction in me: But you’re saying Jesus can’t keep his promises (see above) or that he’s a liar. That would mean he’s either too weak or too evil, and therefore not God, but just a deluded rabbi.But I believe in Jesus and I believe Jesus…so I’m Catholic.The only alternative is radical subjectivity and uncertainty.The wise man built his house on a rock, and this wise girl is going to hang out there, thankyouverymuch.
With all due respect to Fr. L I sometimes sense he is a reactionary to nihilism sentamentality trumping the rational. One does, however, sense in Obama’s charm and charisma an ability to tap into some sentiments, an important skill for any politicians. Another thing, to keep in mind, is that catholics are not suppose to strive towards stoicism or rejection of the passions. Unlike my namesake Marcus Aurelius, we are supposed to be passionate about Christ and a few other things, whilst also striving for self control.Obama and McCain are equally flawed in my estimation from a catholic perspective for supporting abortion and unjust war respectively. That being said I think that they are great canidates from their respective parties, and possibly the best we could have hoped for in any realistic scenario. I would point out that ONLY Ron Paul was both pro-life and anti-war. A handful of Catholics around the blogosphere figured that out and supported him but the vast majority are pro-life (but also pro-war) or they are pro-economic-justice (but also willing to tolerate euthanasia).In other words, (using my best Jack Nicholson impersonation) “YOU CAN’T HANDLE A CATHOLIC CANDIDATE!!”Given the shortcomings of both the candidates presented to us I think either one of them is a valid choice since neither of them truly affirms a pro-life position. (And McCain waffled on torture). Then agian fr. L’s actual post was about Obama’s protestantism, not about how good of a candidate he is. Obama has said a few things affirming works rather than sola scriptura, and he is clearly not a bibliotrist, bible-fundamentalist. There is room there for him to some day wake up to the idea of the authority of Rome and Tradition as espoused by the church. But he was raised in a very protestant African American tradition and it might be asking a lot for that to suddenly happen in his adut years.