Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Points of Authority

For Christians:

1. For all Christians, it is God in Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as the ultimate author of life, which demands higher obedience than any other authority by God's very nature.
2. It is right and just that human beings should have an authority to which they answer, beginning with the above; intuitively, humility demands at least the potential recognition of an authority higher than oneself.

For Catholics:

3. The law of the Church is made for the betterment and salvific benefit of mankind.
4. Re: 3, The specific laws of the Church are to be made for man and the benefit of mankind.
5. The laws of the Church should be made simple when possible and soundly reasoned in accordance with Revelation, so as not to unduly burden the clergy or laity. (A good deal of Scriptural intuition lies behind this, I think.)
6. The Canon Law consitutes a higher authority (where there be conflict) than the laws of man; thus for instance, to make an obvious example, if some country's law mandated that non-Christians receive consecrated hosts, the Catholic priests there would be obligated to disobey said law. (This is a good example for all Christians, not merely Catholics, because the majority of Christians would agree it is ambiguous at best to distribute communion, however symbolically conceived, to non-Christians.)
7. If one is committed to the Catholic Church it is fruitful and good, not merely obligatory, to follow the Church's law even if it does not appear to that one's understanding to live up to the standard of simplicity outlined in (5).
8. It is acceptable to turn away from early authorities in the service of the Kingdom of Heaven; e.g. to refuse to follow an unjust law which conflicts with one's Christian calling in direct command or in indirect obedience, for instance to natural law or some portion of Canon Law, even if followed in accordance with (7).
9. One unjust law does not render all the laws, rules and regulations set down by an earthly authority null and void.
10. There may be some earthly authorities which are rendered null and void by sufficient amounts of oppression and unjust legislation.
11. We should, in accordance with (1) and (2), take care that when we seek to be free of earthly authorities we do it in accordance with humility and truth, not because we seek more power or control for ourselves.

I'm honestly going a bit off the cuff here, kind of throwing some ideas out and seeing what sticks. I don't think much is controversial here, at least not to Christians, but some thoughts:

I think perhaps (1) and (2) should be switched in keeping with the sort of evolutionary (though not logically argued) nature of this sequence of points. I'm not sure how the fruitful part of (7) happens. I'm curious about (8) and what exactly would meet the conditions of (9). This list is probably off in at least one or two places and by no means Catechetical (the day someone starts reading this blog as a catechism is the day the Church has run out of good ideas.) I imagine for Christians in non-Catholic traditions that some parallel thoughts could be drawn to denominational laws, though I'm not sure the laws themselves would carry the same weight theologically.

And yes, that title was a Linkin Park reference.

Friday, March 8, 2013

A Conclave Song from High School

I wrote the original back in high school and it's been floating around my head for a long time; here's the format as I'm introducing it to the internet.

A-Poping We Will Go

A-Poping we will go,
A-Poping we will go!
We are the Cardinals!
A-Poping we will go!

A Pontiff we will find,
Who's holy, wise, and kind!
We are the Cardinals!
A Pontiff we will find!

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Man on the Other Side of the Tiber

This may not be the last thing I have to say about religious identity, in particular because ripples from a shift in religious identity will likely take awhile before they settle down completely, if they ever do. Perhaps given the current sad rift between Christians, this is inevitable. I would be curious if anyone else who has crossed the great river has had similar experiences.

They have a saying in the Catholic Church--"Crossing the Tiber." Now the Tiber is a river, and as I understand, the crossing of the Tiber means going Catholic, what with the Tiber being geographically associated with Rome.

Maybe this, or maybe this isn't, a common experience in conversion. But in my experience, one thing that happens, or at least can happen, is that part of you will remain on the other side for the river, with the same sensibilities and preferences you had before. Now the Tiber can be a dangerous stream, and I daresay it's not necessarily much easier to get the rest of you over than it is to get your deciding portion over in the first place. There was a time in my life after my conversion when that man shouted louder, when I felt the urge to turn back more strongly. When that time ended my reaffirmation of my initial choice to swim the Tiber, but I’m not sure I did so in the healthiest manner, perhaps to mask my own insecurities about my chosen path.

The Scripture does tell you to put to death what belongs to the sinful nature, and it also tells you to die to yourself. But one thing the Scripture does not say is to kill yourself. I think somewhere along the line I tried to shoot the man on the other side of the Tiber. I'm fairly confident that I missed, and hit some other people instead. I'm also not entirely confident that that I was always aiming for him to begin with, and I'm not very proud of that possibility.

There are, certainly, plenty of things one can be angered about legitimately, and I don't mean to decry my embrace of Catholicism in the name of charity, real or superficial. But to anyone who suffered unjust displays of anger from me as a side effect of religious identity--I am sorry. Please forgive me.