A new convert feels frustrated

08/13/2010 Comments (13)

and writes:

As Catholics, we should be ashamed and aware of this poll.

As a recent convert from the Southern Baptist tradition (Easter Vigil, 2009), I’m hard pressed to square this with my Protestant family and friends. How are we to lead the world to Christ and be His light in said world if He is not our first priority?

You are right of course, that God must be first.  “Seek ye first the kingdom of God…”  However, there’s a reason that from our very earliest days, it has been necessary for Catholics to be taught “bear with one another” (Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:13).  Christians didn’t start being a disappointment just recently.  We have always been a disappointment.  The Church is not...READ MORE

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Big Laws and Small Laws

08/11/2010 Comments (36)

G.K. Chesterton observed that when you reject the Big Laws, you don’t get freedom and you don’t even get anarchy.  You get the small laws.

This phenomenon is on display in the growing conflict between the Left’s zeal for crushing free speech and the Right Wing Noise Machine’s tendency toward Bringin’ the Crazy.  So, for instance, the problem with stories like this is that you always have to keep in mind that one of the permanent itches of the Left’s Nanny State ideology is the constant desire to crush free speech and control public discourse.  Just look at the Tyranny of Nice in Soviet Canuckistan, which lacks our Bill of Rights.  The Left, of which Media Matters is a flagship...READ MORE

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In Search of the Multiverse

08/09/2010 Comments (35)

Some guy speculates, based on nothing, that each black hole contains a universe and that our universe is likewise in a black hole.

Part of what drives fascination with this is the need some materialists feel to get past the immense fine-tuning that lies behind the universe—a fine-tuning that tends to awaken the inner artist in the human person and get him thinking unwholesome thoughts about the possibility of You Know Who.  One way to avoid that is to come up with some reason for supposing that our universe is not just a one-shot event with a beginning, middle and end (like the Judeo-Christian conception. So the eternal Big Bang/Big Crunch cycle has appeal in appearing to held out promise....READ MORE

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Doctrines, Disciplines, and Different Legal Traditions in the Church

08/06/2010 Comments (27)

A newly confirmed Catholic who is trying to navigate the sometimes baffling world of small T tradition writes me from England:

I’m still a bit bothered by the idea of eating meat on Friday once being a mortal sin and now not (how does that work? What was the actual sin involved back in the day, and why isn’t it sinful now?

That’s one of those things “everybody knows” and so it prompts me to question if it was ever really true.  The sin, whatever its gravity, attaches not so much to meat as to the duty of respect owed the passion of Christ.  So there is still a discipline of self-denial attaching to Fridays, but the Church gives us different ways of living that out.  Some sort of...READ MORE

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Still more of My Interesting Conversation

08/04/2010 Comments (2)

My correspondent continues:

- whatever the first man was, can we be confident that he had sufficient reason to comprehend god’s commands fully and thus be held responsible for a fully-informed decision about not doing X (X = figurative for eating of the tree of knowledge)?

It would appear, from Genesis 3, that the answer is “Yes.”

- where did the initial communication link we possessed (walking with god in the cool of the day) go as history progressed? For example, even though cast out, we still had 1:1 speaking sessions with Cain, the patriarchs, and prophets. We have no such thing today.

I think you are reading the Bible in a fundamentalist way here.  I also think you are generalizing...READ MORE

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Continuing my Interesting Conversation

08/02/2010 Comments (5)

My correspondent continues:

1) My emotional component of belief is gone. I am fully open to considering that all of my previous experiences were not god, but in fact post-occurrence causal inferences based on what I already believed to be true.

Does it have to be either/or?  In a sacramental universe, God comes to us through human things.

- what is the Church’s best guess as to the time period in which the fall took place?

As far as I know, the Church attempts no answer to that question.  It regard the fall as a fact of revelation, but is agnostic about when it happened and even about the specific historical circumstances.  The catechism describes Genesis 3 as using “figurative language” to...READ MORE

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Interesting Conversation

07/30/2010 Comments (76)

I’ve been having an interesting chat with somebody who is dubious about matters of faith.  I thought it might be interesting to take a look at the discussion.

S/he writes:

Can one choose belief?

Yes. But it’s a particular kind of choosing. Not shutting your eyes and willing to yourself to believe what your intellect knows to be self-contradictory nonsense (that’s insane). But choosing to believe the possibility that the God who transcends (not contradicts) reason has spoken in Christ Jesus. It is, at the very least, worth checking out the possibility.

- Re. choosing. I don’t comprehend much of a difference… choosing to believe vs. choosing to believe in the possibility sound very similar....READ MORE

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Where Does the Church Drive you Crazy (and Make You Grow)?

07/28/2010 Comments (23)

I am inveterate explainer.  It’s just what I do.  Where some men draw a picture of a horse, I draw a picture of a horse and then write below it: “THIS IS A HORSE.”  When it seems necessary, I italicize “horse”.  And boldface.  And underline, just in case.  That’s because I hold two deep and contradictory convictions. 

The first is that if you build an idiot-proof argument, they’ll build a better idiot.

The second is that if I just apply myself hard enough, I will nonetheless build the idiot-proof argument for this or that truth of the Faith.

I’m always, therefore, attracted to arguments that make things extremely clear, rather than to Delphic utterances that leave things shrouded in...READ MORE

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About Mark Shea

Mark Shea
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Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.