Less Than Fully Catholic

Less than Fully Catholic is written by a friend of mine Trisha Day. She warned me that I might be offended by some of what she wrote, but I can assure you I not only was not offended by more importantly challenged. We share the ‘cradle Catholic’ experience which entailed swallowing many gizzard stones.

In my Dominican training we were introduced to what is called “gizzard” preaching. Preaching that reveals that what we have to share is put through the process that the gizzard does to food a creature ingests that needs grinding up in order to be assimilated. Then it is passed on to the rest of the digestive system to nourish the entire system. Trisha had done this for us.

She has taken those things she ingested as a child of faith and processed them in the gizzard of her life experiences. Like many today she finds that those things that sustained her grandparents were not nurturing her. Those same things became her gizzard stones. Her vast reservoir of reading and reflecting on the meaning of life have been run through her gizzard and she produces a ‘gizzard homily’ that will nourish all honest seekers.

We live in times that challenge most of what we think we know. Be it how everything came to be to what everything is destined to become. No generation before us has had to deal with the paradigm shifts we in one generation confront. Unless we like Trisha deal honestly with these questions we could drop the ball that literally “keeps the game going”.

So potential reader, if you define Catholic as an Adjective which the dictionary includes:

all-around (also all-round), all-purpose, general, general-purpose, unlimited, unqualified, unrestricted, unspecialized you might join me  and put Trisha at the heart of what it truly means to be catholic for our troubled times. She has given us a truly nourishing meal. Enjoy.

The Dovekeepers

Alice Hoffman has written a spell binding novel called The Dovekeepers which is built upon the terrible times around 70 CE. The temple has been destroyed, and the people have scattered. Some take refuge in the fortress  that King Harold had built and were trying to survive the genocidal advances of the Roman army that wanted to totally destroy any holdouts that might cause them trouble. Narrated by some women and their experience of the life and times we get a glimpse from the female perspective that is lacking in our historical documents. Hoffnam has done her homework and is able to put flesh on the bones of this pivotal time in history. I listened to it on the CD version. It is very well done.

Escape from Ephesus

This novel, Escape from Ephesus, written in 1991 by Lance Webb, attempts in story form to give us a readers experience of the trials and tribulations of our faith as shared by Onesimus (means useful). It is indeed useful as it hews closely to what we know from those days and years of the beginnings of our faith. Long before we had our gospels and structures, many gave their lives rather than settle for the futility of life without hope and love. You could read many other scholarly books, such as “And Man Created God” and get the facts/details of this same time period, but this novel catches you as surely as any lure of a great fisher could.

Genius Born of Anguish

I vividly remember a convention that featured Henri Nouwen as our main speaker. He had his friend Adam with him sitting on stage. Reading Genius Born of Anguish helped to fill out my awareness of this gifted man. I, along with multitudes of others, have been drawn to his willingness to plum the depths of his own growth in faith and share it with us in his many books, conferences, retreats etc. down through the years. If you too have found a soul friend in Henri, you will love this book.

Process Person Presence

Process, Person, Presence by Raymond Parr. This book is out of print but Amazon will query used book stores for a copy. This book earned my “book of the year” award when it came out. The author begins in his introduction by saying: “Faith is not a rational conclusion drawn from rational premises; faith is an experience of presence, a response to the benigh presence of another which acknowledges  the initative of that other to whom faith is the response.” This book deserves several readings.

Standing Alone in Mecca

We often absorb the media presentation of Islam without any way of assessing its accuracy. Standing Alone in Mecca is a work that can help to remedy this lack. Asra Nomani struggles to make sense of her own religious tradition of Islam with many of the same misunderstandings until she makes the journey to Mecca. There she discovers that her tradition of faith is being perverted by those whose grab for power have hijacked Islam in much the way as the Crusaders (then and now) do Christianity and the Zionists are abusing Judaism. This work is a powerful antidote for the poison of hate engendered by our ignorance today.

The Jesuit & the Skull

Often, what seems like a tragedy turns out to be a gift. Amir D. Aczel, in his The Jesuit & The Skull, gives us the heroic struggle that Teilhard de Chardin  endured in his quest to bring together science and faith. The agony of exile turns out to be the laboratory of discovery. The long years of silencing forced Teilhard deeper than he might have gone if his energies had he spent  traveling to speak to the multitudes who would have been attracted to his insights. His deep relationships with both men and women radiates in his understanding of love. For a while his thoughts were suppressed. Now his name and wisdom is popping up everywhere. If you are just beginning to explore the man, his life and work, this is a good book to start with

The Future of Faith

A provocative read is The Future of Faith. by Harvey Cox. He reflects on Christian history and speculates on Christian future. His premise is that we are entering into what he calls the age of the Spirit, having gone through ages of faith and belief. He says: “Today there is no basis for any “warfare between science and religion.” The two have quite different but complementary missions, the first concerning itself with empirical description, the second with meaning and values. Unfortunately, however, although the war is over, sporadic skirmishes between die-hards on both sides continue. Biblical literalists, who totally misunderstand the poetry of the book of Genesis, try to reduce it to a treatise in geology and zoology. Their mirror image is found among the atheists and agnostics who mount spurious pseudoscientific arguments to demonstrate that the universe has no meaning or that God does not exist. Both parties are fundamentalists of a sort, deficient in their capacity for metaphor, analogy, and the place of symbol and myth in human life. Sadly, battle lines that were drawn years ago continue to cause confusion today. Otherwise thoughtful people still mistakenly view the world as divided between “believers” and “nonbelievers.” But that era of human consciousness is almost over. We are witnessing the emergence of a different vocabulary, one that is closer to the original sense of the word “faith” before its debasement. Pgs. 182-3.”