day 27 – the trad-lib scale

I often refer to the “trad-lib scale” in our church -an imaginary line with traditionalists or conservatives on the right and liberals on the left. I like to think of the ideological scale as a very long one, with lots of room between the extremes of both conservatism and liberalism. And, unless you purposely place yourself so far to the right or left that you fall off the scale, there is room in our catholic (universal) church for all.

My own life has been a journey back and forth along the scale. I was born in a more conservative time, but raised during the early, heady days of Vatican II. I find myself sliding back and forth on the scale to compensate for the strengths and weaknesses of both conservatism and liberalism.  I believe in faith seeking understanding, and find it in the solid grounding of the teachings of our church. But, I also need the challenges of liberal questioning for I, too, have many questions. I need a balance between the headiness of theological thought, and the emotional arena of the heart. One without the other leaves me feeling frustrated.

Where am I on the scale today? I’m comfortably settled in the moderate zone of the in between, with a foot firmly planted on both sides of conservatism and liberalism. Does this sound noncommittal? It probably does. But this is my strategy in trying to seek that deeper understanding. And, I think that there’s some wisdom to it. Whether it’s our world or our church, we need to listen to all the voices on the trad-lib scale, for there is truth in both. We have to be open to the Spirit of Wisdom, for she will blow where she wills. And, where she wills can often surprise us.

3 thoughts on “day 27 – the trad-lib scale

  1. Here are some of my thoughts on tradition (both big “T” and small “t”) in the Church:

    In the present state of division and anxiety in the Church, not only is the temptation to remain the same but rather than moving toward the future, we can individually and collectively move toward nostalgia for the past. When we prayed in Latin, when nuns dressed in medieval garb, when communion was holy bread only for the worthy, not food for the starving, and when there were so many priests that lay people did not do ministry, that is when the church was really Church, and we were really Catholics.

    We have a nostalgia for something that did not really exist! Did you ever have a nostalgic moment for the good old days in your own life? Then you think it through and remember what those days were really like? You realize those days were not as good as you thought they were.

    When God is inviting us, individually or as the church, to new life we have not only let go of what we have at present, but we have to let go of the nostalgia of the past that does not exist any more. The more nostalgia we have for the past that is gone, the more the anxiety and feelings of crisis increases in the Church because it is impossible to recreate the past. God is always moving us to create a future.

    With tradition, both the big “T” and mall “t’ types, can be about holding on to what we know, the spiritual life is about going to what we don’t know, and cannot know and will never know, this is Mystery.

    1. Thought-provoking reflections, as always, Ray! We shouldn`t over-look the good qualities of nostalgia. Our faith is of the heart as well as the head. So often our emotions are stirred by those small tweaks of memory from hearing a certain song, smelling a certain smell, praying a certain prayer. We can`t forget the good of our past, for it is part of our foundation – whether we`re talking about our lives or the church. But, as you say, perhaps it`s a matter of degree. `The more nostalgia we have for the past that is gone, the more the anxiety and feeling of crisis increases…`

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