how do we dialogue with heresy hunters?

It’s happened again. Thanks to the detailed stats and comment links provided by WordPress, I discovered that my blog was being referenced by yet another self-professed gate-keeper of orthodoxy. I shared a similar experience recently. At the time, I refused to give the accusers more notoriety than they deserved. I stand by that now and will not share the name of the blogs that published the accusatory article. (The article was written by one and re-posted by another.)

The article accuses the Prairie Messenger of promoting heresy and dissent, and singles me out as a columnist who is “indicative of the open dissent”. It then lists some of the topics and articles I have written about on this catholic dialogue blog.

My first reaction was to perhaps post a polite response to the accusations. I decided to leave the accusations lying in mid-air with hopes that they will vaporize on their own.

Perhaps it is time to post a warning by-line on catholic dialogue… available in HD! Depending on your viewing area and theological leanings, the words you read may be deemed as Heresy and Dissent.

Sometimes, all you can do is try to have a wee bit of a chuckle. But, the spirit behind these accusations is no laughing matter. In our politically correct world, there are some words that are no longer acceptable because their history is just too horrific.

I would like to propose that the words ‘heretic’ and ‘dissenter’ be added to that list.

Aren’t these merely theological definitions for those whose religious belief or practice is contrary to orthodox doctrine, you ask?

Perhaps, but these words also have a historical association with vile and violent religious persecutions by those who self-righteously claimed sole possession of the truth. The call to wipe out heretics inspired armies of crusaders. Trotting to the authorities with false accusations of heresy or dissent became the ultimate revenge in a dispute with your neighbour. Sadistic inquisitors terrified, tortured, and killed their victims in the name of keeping religion pure.

Accusations of heresy or dissent are too often associated with a mean-spiritedness that has no place in a religious community. It saddens me, but it also challenges us to seek ways to bridge the current divides; for they must be bridged if we are to move forward together as a united people of God.

Have you ever been in a situation where dialogue seemed impossible?

What strategies can be used to promote dialogue in these situations?

feast of the immaculate conception and two year blogging anniversary!

The Virgin of the Immaculate Conception - El Greco, 1610
The Virgin of the Immaculate Conception – El Greco, 1610

WordPress just sent a small note acknowledging the two year anniversary of catholic dialogue. I began this blog on December 8, 2010, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Last year, I wrote a blog post reflecting on this feast.

And, here is a link to my very first blog post. Oh, how I remember the nervousness of that first post. I remember it so well because the nervousness is still there. I still worry if anyone will read what I write. I worry about who will read what I write! In those early months, I remained anonymous. I finally revealed who I was on June 30, 2011.

This blog opened doors to a regular column in the Prairie Messenger, and an invitation to join the NCR Today team of bloggers. Writing for two of my favorite Catholic publications gave me more reason for nervousness. Becoming part of a writing community of so many women and men whom I admire so much, is both an awesome honor and a terrifying task. What can I add? What can I say, that hasn’t already been said…and said so well?

The respectful and thoughtful dialogue on this blog, the community of kindred spirits, and the kind words of affirmation provide the needed energy and incentive. To all who have stopped by, whether your visits are one-time or regular, THANK YOU!

May she, whom we celebrate this day, be our model and guide. Like Mary, may we ponder deeply, reach out generously, act justly, and be ever ready to respond with a faith-filled YES to our God.

I want to be a martini catholic!

My latest catholic dialogue column in The Prairie Messenger is a tribute to the late Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, former Archbishop of Milan. Much has been written about his final interview, and his critique of our church for being “200 years behind the times”. But, the good Cardinal doesn’t just courageously name the problems. He also provides us with a road map to help renew and rebuild our church.