I believe in…cafeteria Catholicism

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I am a cafeteria Catholic. Yes, I “pick and choose” what I am willing to believe, put on the back burner what I do not yet understand, and reject what I cannot accept.

For some, being a cafeteria Catholic is synonymous with being a bad Catholic or no Catholic. These folks demand an “all or nothing” acceptance of the doctrines and traditions of the church. “All or nothing” Catholicism is often willing to sacrifice numbers for a smaller, leaner, purer church.

I do not believe in all or nothing Catholicism. This does not mean that I am against conservative, traditionalist forms of Catholic belief and practice. I am against an “all or nothing” attitude that demands unquestioning obedience to each and every teaching and tradition of the church, regardless of its place on the hierarchy of truths, and quickly denounces the doubter or the questioner.

Questions should not be feared, by either the questioner or church leaders.

Questioning your faith means your faith is important to you.

Questioning your faith requires hard work, an intimate wrestling with sometimes deeply grounded beliefs. It calls you to challenge the voices of authority, past and present, that you were taught to never challenge.

Questioning your faith is an act of courage, for you do not know where it will lead you.

Over the years, I have often been disappointed, disillusioned and disgusted with my church. I watched as cradle Catholics headed for the doors never to return. I straddled the doorway myself many times, one foot in and one foot ready to bolt.

When faith in God is tied up so closely to faith in the church, doubt in one is bound to flow into the other. Questioning of the church and her dysfunctional leadership led to a dark night of the soul for me. As I questioned the role of the church in my life, I questioned other beliefs.

And, yet, I’m still here. Why? Yes, there were beliefs that I let go, but there were other beliefs that were strengthened by the questioning.

At this stage in life, as a Mama of five and Grammy of six, I need to answer the question for myself.

What do I believe in?

What do I want pass on to my children and grand-children?

What do I have to offer the church and the world from my own faith lens?

I hope that you will ponder with me, and explore your own beliefs without fear of judgment from yourself or others.

 

I believe in…

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I was told what to believe as a child.

I memorized the Creed without understanding it.

I was persuaded to believe with the black and white, often circular reasoning of apologetics.

I was threatened with the fires of hell if I did not believe.

And yet, I questioned. As I get older, I question more. Iron clad doctrines no longer satisfy me. “Because the Church says so” is no longer enough. In fact, as I get older, these words tend to stoke the rebel fires in my soul.

I am old enough to no longer suffer fools gladly. I’m fed up with fools in the church who destroy the spiritual life of many by focusing on judgmental rules rather than our personal relationship with God.

I’m also fed up with the fools who rule our world. They destroy peace in our lands, and peace in our minds and hearts.

I no longer want to write about the politics of church and world. This does not mean that I won’t continue to read the news. It is important to be informed, to speak out and resist in the face of injustice. But, I need to take a break from writing opinion pieces and commentary.

I need to take a break from the anger.

I need to take a Sabbatical, a personal retreat to search for the roots of my belief. Time to question freely. To share honestly and listen carefully to others. So…..

I am starting a new project with this blog. I am going to use catholic dialogue as a platform to ponder and reflect on WHAT I BELIEVE IN. I also want to find out WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE IN? 

The two words in the blog title will retain their original meaning.

This blog is catholic with a small “c”, embracing the universality and original inclusivity of catholicism. (Here come’s everyone!)

I want to explore what I personally believe in, but faith isn’t meant to be a “me only” journey. Community is vital to Christian faith. So, I hope that old friends and new will join me in this journey. I want, I need, this journey to be a dialogue. What do YOU believe in? Where do our paths cross, and where do they diverge? When do different ways of believing challenge us to expand our own faith, and when are they insurmountable?

I do hope you will join me. In the the original spirit and goal of catholic dialogue

All are welcome to sit at the table of this blog and partake of the conversation, as long as your intentions are to promote a healthy dialogue and not hurtful debate.

 

wisdom in 140 characters

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I’m not a fan of social media. It sucks up time, especially for those (me!) with an addictive personality. Social media’s focus on popularity and numbers can be an ego crusher. It also fills the mind with too much information. Really. Too. Much. Information.

And yet, I’ve become hooked on Twitter.

Why do I like Twitter so much? The poet in me loves the minimalism. Twitter leaves no room for verbosity. Say what you have to say in 140 characters or less, and press the send button.

I’m a lover of words and true wordsmiths, and Twitter has some brilliantly witty and intelligent writers. They know how to fashion a funny phrase, a deep thought, a spot-on analysis or a simple, personal thought all within the strict parameters of a tweet. Tweeting can be a form of smart word-play.

As with all social media, there is a dark side to Twitter.

There are a lot of ragers, ranters and haters on Twitter. It’s easy to get sucked into a hell-hole of anger, especially if you find yourself in an “echo chamber” of like-minded folks. The sharing of information turns into a team pep-rally, fomenting righteous indignation against the shared enemy. This happens on both sides of any ideological fence.

Another danger is the passing on of false information. Laziness and ignorance are behind a lot of the  dissemination of “fake news”. Here are the rules…Don’t read the full article. Don’t check the sources. Don’t educate yourself on the deeper issues being discussed. Simply read the shocking headline and RETWEET, with the suitable amount of indignation.

I have a tendency towards sarcasm, the quick, snarky reply. Too often, a witty or funny retort is a thinly disguised put-down. I need to discern my words carefully, whether speaking or writing. Am I sharing words of worth, or simply joining the ranks of ranters? Am I providing thoughtful, constructive criticism, or simply a nasty put-down? On a day of especially dark news, where are the messages of hope? Can I write or retweet some wee bit of wisdom that will lift spirits, mine included?

Trump, arguably, is the person most associated with Twitter in recent times. The media salivates every time the man sends out a tweet. The more ridiculous the statement, the more time the media wastes in covering the fall-out.

trumptwitter

I have my own theory why Trump likes Twitter so  much.

Have you listened to Trump in interviews, speeches, press conferences? Not when he is simply reading from a teleprompter, but when he is speaking as Trump? The man has no substance. He has a sparse vocabulary, and an even sparser intellect. He speaks in catch-phrases. His reasoning is circular. His words give meaningless a new meaning.

Think of a student writing an essay, who knows absolutely nothing about the topic he or she is writing about. What do they do? They ramble. They pad sentences with worthless words. Pad paragraphs with worthless sentences. Pad the essay with worthless paragraphs, all to meet the minimum word count.

This is exactly how Trump speaks.

Twitter, on the other hand, gives Trump a maximum word count well suited to most of what he has to say. Just the bare-bones message, sometimes shouted in CAPS. No in-depth analysis. No explanations. Yes, 140 characters is usually enough for Trump to get his message across. Short, but not sweet. Trump’s words are not poetry. They’re just scary.

Trump’s tweets reflect little or no intellectual energy. He leaves it to his advisors, the media, and the GOP to expend time, money and resources on figuring out what he said.