A person who claims to be God or to stand in persona Christi is an impostor unless he can show you his bloody wounds. Demand a demonstration from any claimant to divinity of his bloody wounds. They are the badges of his love for us. P.S. A clerical collar is no substitute for bloody wounds.
The truth is the same for all religions. There is only one truth. No religion has a monopoly over the truth. The truth is platform agnostic. Yet, not everyone agrees on the truth. Not everyone's eyes are opened. Many are blind and cannot see the truth. They are prisoners who sit in darkness .
The Church has all of the answers but none of the questions. The answers belong to the Church but the questions belong to the multitude. What good is a Church with all of the answers and a multitude without any questions? A business with a warehouse full of great merchandise but without any customers is a failure. So, too, a Church. The Church has not paid the proper attention to supply and demand. Too much emphasis has been given to the supply and too little emphasis has been given to the demand. As a result, the beautiful, symbiotic dance between question and answer is dead. The multitude no longer ask life's most important questions. In its misguided effort to raise a docile multitude , the Church has raised a multitude who pass through the valley of tears questionless. '"Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son."
Why are we here? Where did we come from? Where are we going? How do we get from here to there - from godlessness to paradise? Who knows the way? Not asked. This is the problem. How do we fix it? How do we inspire curiosity in the multitude about life's most important questions? The first step in the process of conversion is to stimulate the multitude to ask the right questions. Until then, the answers are irrelevant - the magisterium unable to bear any fruit. Now is the time to resuscitate the beautiful, symbiotic dance between question and answer. Now is the time.
Beware the foe who tells you that you cannot think for yourself - that you cannot express the truth in your own words - who tries to interfere with the free exercise of your rationality. He is not your friend. He is afraid of what might happen if you used your head. He is afraid of what might happen if we thought for ourselves. He does not want you to use your head so he is trying to shoot you in it. Duck!
Mark Twain said, “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—it's the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning." So, too, the difference between the person who professes his love for us and the person who demonstrates his love for us by passing through the brutal gauntlet that we orchestrated to test love's authenticity. It, too, is a large matter. It is not enough to just say the words. Love is done not just said.
Where Transformation Takes Place
The sanctimonious want to bar sinners from the holy places that define the escape route through the valley of tears. They want to erect "Do Not Enter" and "No Trespassing" signs to keep sinners away from the holy places. Unfortunately, this does not help sinners to discover God. Sinners do not transform themselves. The Church does not transform sinners. Only God transforms sinners and the transformation takes place at the holy places. If the goal is to transform sinners into saints, it is necessary to welcome them to the holy places. If the goal is to transform sinners into saints, it is counter-productive to keep sinners from the holy places.
The Patient is Dying
The thermometer that gauges the temperature of the body of Christ is the practice of Christianity. By this measure, the patient is dying.
The New York City Police Department runs a program of self-criticism called CompStat by which it uses crime statistics to evaluate the job performance of its bosses. Given the deplorable Catholic statistics, if such a program were applied to the bosses of the Catholic Church, how many heads would roll? Shall we wait until the number for Mass attendance falls into the single digits before the bosses of the Catholic Church are fired for incompetency?
The Church has all of the Answers but None of the Questions
The Church has all of the answers but none of the questions. The answers belong to the Church but the questions belong to the multitude. What good is a Church with all of the answers and a multitude without any questions? A business with a warehouse full of great merchandise but without any customers is a failure. So, too, a Church. The Church has not paid the proper attention to supply and demand. Too much emphasis has been given to the supply and too little emphasis has been given to the demand. As a result, the beautiful, symbiotic dance between question and answer is dead. The multitude no longer ask life's most important questions. In its misguided effort to raise a docile multitude, the Church has raised a multitude who pass through the valley of tears questionless. Why are we here? Where did we come from? Where are we going? How do we get from here to there - from godlessness to paradise? Who knows the way? Not asked. This is the problem. How do we fix it? How do we inspire curiosity in the multitude about life's most important questions? The first step in the process of conversion is to stimulate the multitude to ask the right questions. Until then, the answers are irrelevant - the magisterium unable to bear any fruit. Now is the time to resuscitate the beautiful, symbiotic dance between question and answer. Now is the time.
The Mindset of the Church has Stymied a Culture of Dialogue and Discussion
The Church has failed to develop a culture of dialogue and discussion. Why? The mindset of the Church is that information flows downstream from God to the Church and, thence, to the multitude. Therefore, monologue is its preferred form of discourse not dialogue. Think of the sermon or homily. Information flows only one way. The Church doesn't take feedback from the multitude . The Church's disdain of feedback from the multitude is unfortunate because feedback is a proven error correction device and some of the best ideas come from the bottom-up instead of the top - down. The multitude can now read, write and think for themselves.
Many are the sources of information available to the multitude. Now, the merit and demerit of an idea must stand on its own two feet. That the Church supports an idea is no longer enough. The multitude rejects the Church's claim of a hotline between it and God and looks upon claims of governmental legitimacy by virtue of the "divine right of kings" as an anachronism meant to frighten the multitude into submission.
To succeed in the modern world of a literate and skeptical multitude, the Church must learn to do what it has disdained to do, that is, compete in the marketplace of ideas. Its ideas are being challenged - their legitimacy cast into doubt. The question yet unanswered is, without a culture of dialogue and discussion, can the Church successfully compete in the marketplace of ideas?
Ideological Proskynesis is Dead
The Church has tried to jam its rules, regulations, rigmarole and red tape down our throats by dint of its claimed omnipotence. This is a medieval not a modern tactic and it arises from a time when authority and hierarchy were rigid and everybody knew their place. Before we learned to read, write and think for ourselves, we docilely swallowed whatever they jammed down our throats. Times have changed. In modernity, we have learned to read, write and think for ourselves. In fact, it is the Church who has taught us. Now, the Church's tactic triggers our gag reflex. We regurgitate it. The command - obedience paradigm no longer works (Note: It hasn't work since Adam and Eve). A new approach, therefore, is needed. The appeal must be to our rationality. We must be persuaded. This dismays the medievalists. It discombobulates them. It makes them apoplectic. The modernists, however, are up for the challenge. In fact, they think an appeal to our rationality is the best way to go. They believe that, when fueled by the truth, our rationality steers us in the right direction. Rational people seek the sweetness of paradise and flee the sourness of godlessness. It is contrary to our self-interest to do otherwise.
The Star of the Show
The Church is the usher who shows us to our seats. God is the star of the show. Everything goes to shit when the Church thinks that it is the star of the show.
It is not about the Church. It is about God.
The bosses of the Church needs to learn a lesson from our amusement parks. The nitty gritty of their operation takes place in the background away from the eyes of their customers. When the nitty gritty breaks into the foreground, the experience is ruined. The Church is functioning well when God is in the foreground and the Church is in the background. When the Church, however, jumps into the foreground and elbows God into the background, all hell breaks loose.
The Old Generals
The old generals are fighting the last war with yesterday's strategy and tactics. Thus, they are losing the current war. They are shooting themselves in the foot, yet, they expect us to pay for the bullets. Do we help in their self-destruction? Or do we clamor for their reform?
What is at the Center of the Christian Solar System?
In religion, as in astronomy, there are two schools of thought: 1) the followers of Ptolemy and 2) the followers of Galileo.
The followers of Ptolemy put sin at the center of the Christian solar system. To them, Christianity revolves around sin. Sin is the hub and all things Christian are defined in reference to sin.
The followers of Galileo deny the Ptolemaic model. The Galileans put the God who loves sinners at the center of the solar system. Like Pluto, sin is a minor, dwarf planet that revolves around something else. It has its place in the Christian solar system but it is not the star. The God who loves sinners is the star. To which school of thought do you subscribe?
Beware, however. The same inquisition that persecuted Galileo Galilei will persecute anyone who would try to dethrone sin from the center of the Christian solar system.
There is so much more to Christianity than sin.
Excerpt from 1906 encyclical of Pope Pius X titled “Vehementer Nos“
“The Scripture teaches us, and the tradition of the Fathers confirms the teaching, that the Church is the mystical body of Christ, ruled by the Pastors and Doctors — a society of men containing within its own fold chiefs who have full and perfect powers for ruling, teaching and judging. It follows that the Church is essentially an unequal society, that is, a society comprising two categories of persons, the Pastors and the flock, those who occupy a rank in the different degrees of the hierarchy and the multitude of the faithful. So distinct are these categories that with the pastoral body only rests the necessary right and authority for promoting the end of the society and directing all its members towards that end; the one duty of the multitude is to allow themselves to be led, and, like a docile flock, to follow the Pastors.”
Post Script: This is arrogant bullshit. It reflects a medieval not a modern mindset. It epitomizes the zeitgeist of the Church in a different age. It is an anachronism appropriate to a time when the multitude could not read, write or think for themselves. Its arrogance ought to embarass modern day clerics. Did the Second Vatican Council repudiate this pre-conciliar notion of the church as “unequal society” ?
Curiosity is Moribund. Can we Resuscitate it?
Curiosity in God and in the important questions of life is fading. Can we stop and reverse its decline? How can this be done? Who killed it? Did the Church's attempt to fashion a docile multitude extinguish the flame of curiosity in the multitude - snuff it out? The Church holds the opinion that the flow of information is from God, to the Church and then to the multitude. This view destroys the zeitgeist that we are all in this thing together. It divides us into an elite and a multitude . This view creates a mentality of arrogant monologue in the Church. It suffocates dialogue. It has taught the multiude not to ask any questions. The Church has taught the multitude to read, write and think for themselves. Yet, the Church objects when we do so. It is as if the Church is afraid of a questioning multitude. Sad. Questions about life and about God need to be encouraged not discouraged. Christians are scientists whose mission is to discover the truth about God and about life. The Church was put on the earth to assist in our scientific investigation of God and of life. Do your job.
The Great Mistake of the Church
The great mistake of the Church is that it supplies the answers before the questions are asked . The Church has neither respect for nor patience with the multitude . In its glee derived from its association to God, it cannot help itself. F%$@ their questions is its attitude toward the multitude and F%$@ the multitude as well. We have all of the answers. There is no need for any questions. Arrogance. Remember, Church, it is Jesus who has the bloody wounds. You and the serpent are without them.
What is Christianity?
Christianity can be viewed in a variety of ways - few of which are accurate and many of which are inaccurate and unflattering.
An innacurate and unflattering view of Christianity is the view that Christianity is a thick book of intrusive and detailed rules, regulations and red tape issued by a despotic Church that tries to rule us as our King. The Church's rulebook abrogates and displaces our autonomy over matters whose sovereignty rightfully belongs to us. Furthermore, the rulebook is enforced by a zealous gestapo of fanatical priests who, like sadistic psychological torturers, whack the children of Adam and Eve inside their heads with the billy club of sin until their souls are black, blue, battered, bruised and bleeding. They beat the crap out of our souls. Spare the rod and spoil the children. The billy club of sin is good for the soul. We must take our lumps like men. 'Thank you, sir, may I have another' is the only acceptable attitude of a member of the Church despotic .
“The Scripture teaches us, and the tradition of the Fathers confirms the teaching, that the Church is the mystical body of Christ, ruled by the Pastors and Doctors — a society of men containing within its own fold chiefs who have full and perfect powers for ruling, teaching and judging. It follows that the Church is essentially an unequal society, that is, a society comprising two categories of persons, the Pastors and the flock, those who occupy a rank in the different degrees of the hierarchy and the multitude of the faithful. So distinct are these categories that with the pastoral body only rests the necessary right and authority for promoting the end of the society and directing all its members towards that end;
the one duty of the multitude is to allow themselves to be led, and, like a docile flock, to follow the Pastors.”
we don't need another rulebook or another king to rule us . We need prophets to reveal God to us. Many are the kings who want to rule us. Few and far between are the prophets who want to inform us about God. Prophets are scarce - they are in short supply . The need for prophets is great.
A better view of Christianity, therefore, is as the priesthood of prophets who circulate the Autobiography of God amongst the children of Adam and Eve to shatter the illusion that hides the sweetness of paradise from us.
Are you aware that our perception of reality is distorted by illusions? Do you know the ingredient that makes paradise sweet and that this special ingredient is hidden behind an illusion? Are you aware that an Autobiography of God exists and that Jesus wrote it at and about the city of Jerusalem in a region of our planet called the Middle East more than two thousand years ago? Have you read it? Did you know that the Autobiography of God is the sledgemammer of truth that shatters the illusion that hides the sweetness of paradise from us as the blow of a hammer shatters glass? Isn't it time for you to educate yourself about Christianity?
God entrusted Christianity with a treasure. He gave Christianity the mother lode. Therefore,
the best view of Christianity is that Christianity is a treasure map for treasure hunters engaged in a treasure hunt. On the treasure map, 'X' marks the spot of the treasure . The 'X' that marks the spot of the treasure is the Cross . The Cross of Christ is the treasure of Christianity. In the Cross of Christ, the Autobiography of God is told. During the telling, the answer to the question,'Who is God?' is revealed to us.
I am a Christian who is no longer searching for the treasure. I have stopped searching because I have used the treasure map of Christianity and have found the treasure. I have read the Autobiography of God. I know the answer to the question,'Who is God?'. It has opened my eyes and transformed my life. There is no longer a need to search. I have caught the tiger by its tail.
In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?
(William Blake, )
I have seized the fire. My hand holds the tail of the Tyger. Now, pray tell, what the heck do I do with it?
Rejoice. Your salvation has arrived. You have hit the jackpot. Bend your knees and worship him. Sing his praises. Express your gratitude. Beg forgiveness for your sins. Dance. Whirl like dervishes. Put on a wedding garment . Cue the fireworks. Release the confetti. Sound the trumpets. Strike up the band. Whatever you do, don't let go. Follow the Tygre back home to paradise. Join the new exodus, served by the new Moses, the Church. The new exodus is making its escape, as the Jews made their escape, through the hostile desert of godlessness from slavery under the yoke of Pharaoh to freedom with God and his Holy Family in the promised land. Run with the Tygre as fast as you can! Run home. Take as many as you can with you.
Surely, the veteran mountain guide has more to show the curious than the rookie? The Church is the usher who shows us to our seats so God can put on the show. God, not the Church, is the star of the show. However, many of the seats for the show are still empty and the curtain is about to rise. Therefore, it is time for the Church to fill the vacancies . It is time for the ushers to ush. Pack the house. Let them enter through the doors and through the rafters ! Let there be standing room only! Lights, camera, action! Standy! Watch the curtain rise!
As we explore the mountain of God, God fans into flames the pilot light of curiousity he lit in us at baptism - into a raging and blazing and amazing bonfire of unbridled curiosity .
Beware the mountain guide who thinks he is the mountain. Beware the lightning bug who, in the words of Mark Twain, thinks it is the lightning. Run from the impostors who do not bear the bloody wounds of the Son of God. Run.
Beware the small minded, joyless Christian - the technically correct Christian (the TCC) - who can identify the artist by his brushstroke but has no appreciation whatsoever for the awesome and overarching beauty of the work of art. He practices a dull form of Christianity. There is no excitement to it. It lacks energy. It is a joyless Christianity. It is blander than bland . It is a Christianity without a treasure - without a Tyger to seize by the tail . It is Christianity without Christ.
The technically correct Christian sees the trees but not the forest. He obsesses over the gnats of Christianity but not the camels - over the motes of Christianity but not the beams
. A technically correct Christian is all Martha and no Mary . A technically correct Christian has no sense of proportion - has no clue about what is more important and what is less important - no sense of the hierarchy of importance of the various aspects of Christianity. A technically correct Christian is too wimpish to take a stand on what constitutes the good news of great joy in Christianity . Everything is good news to the wimpish Christian instead of the Autobiography of God that Jesus told to us while impaled on the Cross like a fish on a hook .
To a technically correct Christian, all aspects of Christianity are of equal importance. In reality, however, some aspects of Christianity are more important than other aspects. Faith, hope and love are all aspects of Christianity. But, isn't love the greatest of them ?
The Holy Spirit is tugging at our souls and the curious are following the tug back to its source. Following the tug of the Holy Spirit back to its source is an enterprise that we must engage in ourselves. Each of us must be the pilot of our own soul. We cannot subcontract the job to another. We cannot delegate it. No one else can do it for us not even our Church. It cannot be done vicariously. Seeking God is a unique, idiosyncratic, personal experience. There is no substitute for going through it. Why? In the process of seeking God, God transforms us. Unless we do it ourselves, we cannot be transformed.
At the holy places, bits and pieces of the mystery, majesty and magnificence of God are available for collection. You can fill your treasure chest to the brim with them as you explore God at the holy places. They are more precious than diamonds, pearls, rubies and golden coins. However, others cannot collect them for you. The only way to collect them is to collect them yourself.
The Church can point out the holy places to you. The Church can show you the map that God entrusted it of the holy places. However, nobody, not even the Church, can drag you from holy place to holy place against your will kicking and screaming like a recalcitrant child. Such a tactic will not work. The Church can lead you to water but cannot make you drink. You must drink of your own accord. Like birth and death, having close encounters with God at the holy places are experiences that we must go through ourselves.