Tag Archives: Catholicism

PC GODTALK AND ESSENTIAL SPIRITUAL ENERGIES

PC GODTALK AND ESSENTIAL SPIRITUAL ENERGIES

At first sight nothing might seem more reasonable than the new move among Catholic schools in Australia (and other places and doubtless soon many non Catholic schools as in Sweden ) to introduce gender neutral language around God whom it’s assumed  should be easier by this to relate to. To be dropped are such words as “Father” “Son” and “Lord”. It seems to be assumed, rather in line with radical feminist Mary Daly’s once groundbreaking Beyond God the Father, that such words bespeak only the patriarchy.

Since the bible anyway nowhere categorically states that God is male – there are even places in the OT where God is compared to a mother, nurse or wife, – the new emphasis would hardly strike anyone as an inappropriate adjustment. It can still seem reasonable even though, as Catholic journalist Ann Widdecombe insisted on TV, Jesus always referred to God as his Father  so that should be good enough for us. Even so, we have to consider that Jesus also maintains, God is most essentially Spirit (Joh 4:24). And Spirit is, and is reflected through, certain energies more personal than abstract. Disposing of common names and terms for God risks leaving us with only the impersonal deity of the philosophers.

I suspect that what is going on has more ramifications than meets the eye, and especially for Catholics these may be linked to the Pope’s surprising swerve, signed into being last February with Islam’s leading imam, towards a new ecumenism of faiths with special and surprising reference to the often hostile Islam.  (See article on this site “St Malachy’s Last Pope” https://wp.me/p4kNWg-oM )

Before going further, let’s consider three problematic biblical verses for the project of dropping such key, familiar words as “Father”, “Son”, and “Lord”.

“….and every tongue should confess that Christ Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:11).

“no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor 12:3)

“This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son” ( 1 Joh 2:22).

These verses accord the “patriarchal”, non PC words a special spiritual status in the realm of belief;  and undeniably, if you aim for a very strong Chrislam union of faiths, Christianity would need to downplay or cancel out especially the third quote because the Koran (Sura 23:91)  is dogmatic that “God has begotten no Son”. Indeed for Islam anything Trinitarian is as good as pagan and polytheistic.

What is Christianity trying to say with and through its “patriarchal” words attached to a religion for whom God is Spirit?

I suggest the matter is a bit confused by the fact the whole of the West (including somewhat St Paul) until the Enlightenment and modern science, had what Thomas Lacqueur would call a one-sex theory rather than a two sex view of reality. Women, like children, were regarded as less and below men but in some sense the same sex; the understanding of human relating was hierarchal throughout. Had there been a two sex theory (as we implicitly assume today) it might  have been possible to speak in terms of something more like a continually interacting, equal but different energies in the style of Yin/Yang.

This doesn’t sound like it would be much help to a Christian view of reality, but in fact it helps quite  a lot and tidies up what might not seem to fit, everything from the Spirit impregnating the waters at creation to Jesus declaring himself subordinate to the Father in John’s gospel and not being the fully, mathematically equal being that Augustinian and western philosophy has made him.

Where sex and gender are  concerned, there is of course a spectrum which contains a fair amount of difference so that male and female display a variety of styles and degrees in expression of their masculinity and femininity; but the core/archetypal energies are, and always will be, basically more or less yang active first and yin receptive. Though God is Spirit and male and female only reflect, imitate or symbolize transcendent divine energies, the fact remains that Yang more nearly “begins” is “first” or creates just as the male impregnates the female, starting a process the female brings to term.

Accordingly, to refuse to admit God is “the Father/Creator” or to think of Jesus as “Lord” can amount to denying God orders things and represents order rather than chaos. The created needs to acknowledge the Creator short of precisely chaos – in contemporary life a fair deal of mental disturbance and crime is associated with males raised without fathers. Though historically women have too often suffered from male domination, the fact seems to be that many men themselves crave some degree of domination by other males. God may be imagined as anything from pure light to a figure enthroned, but a deity without the quality  of an initiating power and authority is no deity, or not one that spirit and soul can ever quite adequately interact with. And it belongs to religion’s duties to help keep the doors to spiritual communication open. Which is something PC revisions may not psychologically and spiritually assist.

A strong case for Christian understanding of the Trinity, especially against the background of our two sex apprehension of reality is as follows. It is not as per Augustinian, western  and less than strictly biblical notions of a total, mathematical equality of the persons, but rather a complementary union and semi-subordination in harmony with statements like “The Father is greater than I” (Joh 14:28).

…………………..GOD (the Father/Creator)

JESUS…………………………….HOLY SPIRIT

Jesus and the Holy Spirit, both as the Eastern churches even split from the West to affirm, proceed or emanate from the bosom of the Father (who can also be like the Mother) who contains both energies analogous to male and female. (The West makes the Spirit proceed from the Father and the Son, which is most unlikely, not least in view of how much Jesus waits upon the Spirit!).  Son  and Spirit are however  the fundamental  ying/yang who together help materialize things “below” the level of the hidden and transcendent deity of which  however they are part. Christ and Spirit  in their different ways are both divine mediators of  the Godhead who being as immaculate as humanity is imperfect, cannot be directly approached or experienced in fullness.

While it is feminist trendy to propose the Spirit is feminine, the Holy Spirit, as Jesus insists (Joh 16:23),  is “he”, essentially male in terms of energy (like the Spirit who impregnates the waters at creation). It is Jesus –  who will do nothing until the father first wills or the Spirit moves him –  who is effectively the female principle hidden in plain view. He is self described as the mother hen who would like to protect Jerusalem and the world.(Matt 23:37). Practically and to human view obviously Jesus is male, the Logos or Word of God. But he is also called by St Paul the Sophia, the Wisdom of God which is feminine. Jesus is a face of, and the principle of “change” within the essentially unchanging deity; he is deity’s visibility and invisibility.  One needs to realize this, in effect a mystical realization in its own right, but as Jesus remarked, “Wisdom  is justified of her children”  (Luk 7:35).

All this and more would be much easier to absorb given only a few mystical and esoteric understandings that Christianity is by and large determined to pass over and dismiss. It cannot be adequately covered here.

However…sufficient to stress that though the historic and sometimes present misuse of terms like “Father”, “Son” and “Lord” can be acknowledged, any easy dismissal of their current usage is still a danger to Christian spirituality.  What has been to many the unexpected Catholic role in this radical change belongs to a wider problem, namely that Catholicism is at heart the least Judaeo-Christian and biblical of the branches of Christianity. It has too often, as now, inclined to impersonalize God, substituting relation to deity for a cult of saints, angels and especially Mary. The latter has received an abundance of titles and roles drawn straight out of especially biblical Proverbs and the Jewish apocrypha where they apply to the mysterious figure of Wisdom. Christians understand this figure to be the Jewish Messiah, Jesus, not any “Queen of Heaven”, a title that especially the prophet Jeremiah denies the right of existence to.

At a certain level, mystically, Catholicism is all of a potential  world faith though scarcely Christian with it but Neo-Platonic in the style of Plotinus.  This thinker would shape Christian mysticism from  St Augustine onwards right up to the popular Thomas Merton who from his many impersonal, as good as non-theistic realizations, easily slipped into the position of virtual or actual Buddhist convert. Questions can well be asked what Catholicism and its controversial Pope is doing and preparing behind its various adjustments to contemporary trends  and realities.

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QUAKES, GAYS and SOME ITALIAN ECCENTRICITY

italyquake

CENTRAL ITALY SUFFERING LIKE SODOM ?!

The recent quakes in central Italy, a quake prone area but suffering its most destructive tremors in thirty seven years, was promptly blamed on Italy’s recent legal toleration of gay unions by Fr Giovanni Cavalcoli.

The Vatican soon answered back in condemnation of such a charge – it dismissed the notion that God would punish in vengeance this way as “pagan”, pre-Christian and not part of the Church’s teaching .

Not to be cowed or outdone Fr Gionvanni, who believes all quakes are the result of human sin, riposted that the Vatican needed to read its own catechism (which disapproves homosexuality).

Not long before this a priest in Trento, Fr Gino Flaim, was suspended for the embarrassment caused the Church for apparently defending paedophilia on the radio, suggesting that it occurs because “children need affection”. It has therefore to be  accepted as a sin just as all other sins must be accepted (a quite common view among Italian clergy) but by contrast he is unsure about tolerating homosexuality because that is a “disease”.  It seems that right now one folly answers another in Italy.

ARGUMENTS BIBLICAL AND PAGAN

There’s a radical, eccentric Protestantism like that of the late Rev Ian Paisley which will attribute almost any evil to Rome and the Papacy. But if proof were needed that Catholicism really can be a blind guide, muddled and pagan to the point of being almost outside the Judaeo-Christian tradition itself, the above proves it and let’s be clear why.

1) For a start, it is unbiblical nonsense or biblical illiteracy to propose all notions of divine judgement are merely pagan or pre-Christian. The judgement idea is certainly – some would say notoriously – present in the Bible and not just in the Old Testament but also the New as in the book of Revelation which depicts the world after the times of grace. However, most essentially the Bible’s messages of wrath delivered by its Hebrew prophets, though sounding violent with the violence of their era, are not to the effect that God throws thunderbolts like Zeus. Their  message is that on account of persistent, serious evil a certain divine protection is withdrawn so that the demonic forces of chaos of a fallen world more fully take over.

This understanding is behind Jesus’ response to the question about those who died when the tower of Siloam fell (Luk 13:4). Jesus denies people there died because they were more sinful than others but that such destruction could happen to any and everyone if they failed to repent their sins. For Jesus all are basically condemned before God due to sin, (original and other) and thus in need of grace, a word of relatively little weight in Catholicism which stresses earning one’s way on earth and/or in a supposed purgatory.

Even so and popularly, it is of course  held that God judged Sodom and Gomorrah for “homosexuality” and Fr Cavalcoli echoes that tradition. But that is not what even the prophet Ezekiel declares was the case  – he saw rather pride, gluttony, indolence and ill treatment of the poor (Ezek 16:49) as the sin of Sodom. To the extent the non-biblical word “homosexuality” was involved in Sodom at all (and the men to whom Lot offered his daughters would surely be bisexual rapists in modern terms), their sin was desiring “other flesh“ (Jude 7) i.e. seeking to rape angels.

2). In making any claims of a would-be “prophetic” nature, clergy should be citing the Bible before the Catechism. But the extent to which Catholicism is not listening to, understanding or citing the Bible at all, is represented by the way it has treated its monstrous sex abuse scandals.

If the Church read the Bible it would know that while Jesus and the New Testament on such subjects as divorce and homosexuality can be and have been a matter for some degree of interpretation and debate, the abuse of children is non-negotiable. Jesus appears to consider it among the very worst of sins, something it would be better to be drowned in the depths of the sea than to commit (Luk 17:3). The idea that a priestly sex abuser be passed on to the next parish rather than be outright dismissed could only be countenanced in a milieu where the Bible is not assimilated and the whole notion of sin is taken very lightly and even common reality is not seen. A lot of paedophilia is not involved with childish desire for affection as Fr Flaim imagines but perverted adults’ desire to prey on the young, use and even terrify them.

A CONFUSED ITALIAN SPIRITUALITY

Italy and its Catholicism is still chained to a degree of refined paganism through Aristotle. His legacy via medieval philosophers still supplies a series of rationalizations of biblical teachings and ethics often so inappropriate and irrelevant they can only muddle and muddy the entire spiritual atmosphere to the point of  allowing it the sort of compromises which have left the nation victim to the mafia itself.

No matter precisely what one thinks and believes about gays and homosexuality, Fr Cavalcoli was wrong. A democratic society must tolerate its minorities and Italy was not wrong to grant gay unions. God won’t send quakes and in a historically known quake area besides for just that. Religiously and socially “marriage equality” (which Italy hasn’t passed) will always be more controversial because of various implications  especially as regards the adoption and rearing of offspring. Even notable gays, including in Italy Dolce and Gabbana and in Ireland the gay activist Ken Mills, have raised questions about this. It’s not a social change that can and should be argued from “equality” alone.

Although undeniably “marriage equality” raises questions for both Christians and gays, it is and will always remain a minority issue. It is nothing like as important as the massive corruption and mafia involvement in Italian life. These truly would constitute issues for the biblical prophets. While individual priests and even popes may now and again address this endemic problem, unfortunately Italian Catholicism is so entangled in the legacy of scholastic philosophy and a cult of saints that it looks set to continue along its muddled way now under the guidance of a well meaning but contradictory, eccentric Pope.

Pope Francis has so reduced his faith to a modern quasi-Marxist ritual of good works that, once again against all biblical basics and norms (which declare that without faith it is impossible to please God Heb 11:6), he has decided that good atheists and in effect everyone who does their bit of charity is bound for eternal bliss. This new, weak and confused Catholicism, plainly unable to face the Islamic challenge in any serious way, looks set to drag Italy down with it. It is a Christian virtue to forgive enemies, but the smiling Francis can’t even see who are the enemies to forgive in the first place. While Christians suffer genocide in parts of the world and Catholics like Aasia Bibi continue to languish in Pakistan’s jail for the “blasphemy” of daring to protest her Christian identity against bullies, Francis  will speak of “our Muslim brethren” like some kind of post-Christian globalist.

It is quite possible like Tobias Jones in The Dark Heart of Italy both to love and admire Italy and to be appalled at its corruption. I didn’t make a long article longer by speculating upon possible upcoming dangers for Italy, but I do think my unusual and revealing summary of Italian life and mind, including its religion (http://wp.me/p2v96G-OA) is and will prove well justified.