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In the Holiness of Truth

Rod Dreher has written a moving testimony to his decision, along with his family, to enter the Orthodox church. It makes for painful, but ultimately liberating reading.

In a previous posting, I wrote of Edith Stein and Carmelite spirituality. The heart of her spirituality was the single-minded search for truth, and its ultimate revelation in the person of Jesus Christ.

Dreher shows that he has sat attentively in the school of Carmel. Here is part of what he says:

I hope at least you will pray for me and my family, and with me for theultimate unity of Orthodoxy and Catholicism (by the way, I took as mypatron saint in Orthodoxy Benedict of Nursia, who as a pre-schism saintis also revered by the Orthodox; I also chose him in part to honor PopeBenedict, whom I cherish). I hope also that my own example willencourage others -- Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant -- to lookseriously into their hearts, and detach themselves from both idolizingthe Church in the place of Christ -- this is partly what led to theScandal, and partly what led me to put myself in a position where theScandal destroyed my Catholicism. And I hope my example helps people todeal swiftly with anger before it masters them.

Prior to Vatican II, seminarians were instructed to recite the following prayer while vesting: "Clothe me, o Lord, with the new man, who is being recreated in God's image, in justice and holiness of truth."

We can all join in that heartfelt prayer, for the Dreher family and for ourselves, as we seek to know and do the Lord's will -- in holiness and in truth.

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Fr. Imbelli,Thanks for bringing this to our attention. I also believe the health of the Church requires reunion, and one can only respect those who follow their consciences. I agree whole-heartedly that we must all "detach themselves from idolizing the Church in the place of Christ ", althought I would prefer a slightly different formulation--but I think really a complementary one--we must not idolize the Bishop of Rome and make him the center of the Church, where Christ should be. But I am not persuaded that joining the Eastern Orthodox is required to do this.

Wow. I don't believe all Orthodox bishops are like that. If so I want to be Orthodox. As sick as I am about the sex abuse crisis I did not realize it was as bad as Dreher shows. Power and abusive sex make for darkness indeed.Does anybody know more about the Orthodox. I will check them out.Perhaps we need the prayers more than Dreher.

Clicking on the link to "moving testimony" I'm getting a "SORRY, THE PAGE YOU REQUESTED WAS NOT FOUND" error message. Could someone please e-mail me, off-list, the article in question?TIA,Maurice

Please send via my e-mail link a cut-and-paste of his post, if you have it anywhere. Thanks a bunch.Is it interesting to see how many Mainline Protestants and Evangelicals have been drawn to Orthodox churches. What I have heard from the people with whom I have spoken about this topic is that people ritual and transcendence, but they do not seek the Roman eccclesiastical structure because it is too centralized for their liking.Pray for Rod and his family because some neo-Feeneyites have come out of the woodwork and really tried to come after him with multiple swords. It's a black mark on us and our lack of tolerance.

"...detach themselves from...idolizing the Church in the place of Christ..."How true! I must say I see this behavior in those who want to return to pre-Vatican II thought and practice. "Orthodox Catholicism," they say. Hah!We laity need to take charge and steer the Church back to its primitive roots. God knows, the last and current popes, Vatican minions, and reactionary bishops appointed by JPII don't want to do so.

Dreher's piece ought to be required reading for all US bishops.

It;s interesting that this piece arrives the same weekend as the documentary "Deliver From Evil."At the same time, in the new America on line, there is another reuyttal to Marci Hamilton's article in September there on what we've learned from the sex abuse crisis -another rebuttal from catholic leadershoip.The stunning thing is the lack of insight by the hierarchy here (and their close followers) on how much hurt people see in their oversight failures.Yesterday, tom Doyle spoke in Philadelphia at a conference on this topic headed by the Philadelphia DA. He urged the prosecution of former bishop(Cardinal) Belivaqua.Anyone who has followed this sad chapter in American (and irish and Australian) church history in particular can only begin to wonder how deep the disconnect between the still Eucahristic faithful and the hieracchy is.

"I had become the sort of Catholic who thought preoccupying himself with Church controversies and Church politics was the same thing as preoccupying himself with Christ."I find that statement to be the telling aspect of Rod's need for change. Maybe the rest of us who spend too much time haunting these blogsites are guilty of the same things.I thank God every day that I am in a parish that seems to lack the problems of being too "liberal" or too "conservative." I had to experience a lot of parishes before I found mine. It was worth it. The foolishness that one should (must?) attend one's geographical parish has been proven wrong for way too long. I simply dont see how people can waste their time by attending a parish that is too large or too orthodox or too progressive. There will always be points of disagreement about things, usually unimportant things. The point is to find a place were the community supports me and I can support the community. My Jesus and me is not a theological approach that I accept. It has to be Our Jesus and us in order to be effective.I just hope that Rod and family can adjust to the liturgical, church governance and parish size changes. But most of all I hope they find the peace of soul that is getting harder and harder to find in Roman Catholicism any more.

Alas, for some reason Belief net took it off its site or placed it elswhere. Will someone send me the whole article or post it. I should have saved it.

Rod told me that Beliefnet is doing a big redesign - to be unvelied either Sunday or Monday - and his blog is screwy there because of that. Once the redesign is posted and done, the post should reappear and not disappear again.

Dear Robert,I would be interested to hear why you consider Rod's essay "liberating." What does that word mean to you? Is it because you understand him to have given persuasive and truthful *reasons* for leaving? This seems to me the only valid grounds on which to deem his experience as "liberating."

Dear mlj -- is there a first name? I feel I'm communicating with a corporation:):You raise a fair question. Here's an attempt to speak to it.The prayer with which I ended my original posting and from which I took its title -- "In the Holiness of Truth" -- comes from Ephesians 4:24.The verses which immediately follow read: "Therefore, putting away falsehood, let everyone speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil!"I read Mr. Dreher's "confession" as a moving attempt to speak the truth as he had come to see it, and to put away the falsehoods which had imprisoned him. Falsehoods like anger, illusion, even idolatry.As a member of Christ, I rejoice in his liberation and take courage from his example to be a bit more honest about the illusions and angers which still bind and blind me."Leavings" in this case are rather beside the point.

Fr. Shawn O'Neal,I tried sending you the text of the blog post; to oneal@yahoo.com, which is the address mentioned with your post. But the mail has bounced. Is that the correct address.?(I am getting the page properly from the link. So may be the site is ok now.)Sunil Korah

I was finally able to read this. I confess that Dreher wrote to me sometime last year in response to a post I made somewhere else, about the fact that I decided not to raise my children as Catholics (they can always change my decision on their own behalf). I didn't respond -- new baby -- not sure what to say -- but I remembered it as I read through his article. My husband is not Catholic, and I think it's a shock to Catholics when they realize that this sense of "community" or camaraderie is pretty typical in smaller denominations or congregational churches. It's also why such churches tend to burn out after only a couple of generations. But I wonder, in a larger context, whether in fact, the church was always supposed to be a series of smaller cells that catered to the personal faith of the congregants -- if that, in fact, was what was meant by love (or caritas) being the most important quality -- and that no matter how intellectually compatible a person might find the dogman of this or that denomination, the concept of "orthodoxy" as we might call it will never be sufficient for true Christian formation and faith. I was troubled, also, by his own focus on the form of worship over the substance of belief. But perhaps in a larger institutional setting, this is all we ever have to go on. Surely that's not a good thing.And he's right about the suffering of innocent priests. I have certainly seen this in my own parish, with the best feeling the kind of anguish that the worst should but are not feeling.I certainly wish Rod and his family the best.

Sunil:Thank you for the offer and for telling me about your problems sending the article to my address.I received it from another person who posts here, but I truly appreciate your offer.

Conservative or liberal, weve all been affected by the abuse crisis, and the more you learn about it, the worse it seems to get. There is no end to the damage it is doing. Dreher and his family seem to be doing their best to find a spiritual home. If they decide to stay among the Eastern Orthodox I hope one day they and their community will be re-united with us. The impulse to --if not idolize the Church--_ at least idealize it can express itself in different ways. Catholics like the Drehers who saw themselves as members of a winning team chosen to lead the Church back to purity and virtue, and who set such store on loyalty to the hierarchy, must feel a special anguish and shock when suddenly forced to see the institution and its leaders in a different light. Other Catholics, I think, have long been expressing a similar grief in what probably seems to their more Conservative brethren a noisy obsession with the failures of an institutional church they cant seem to forgive for not being more perfect. There seems to be more than enough heartbreak for all of us.

"But I wonder, in a larger context, whether in fact, the church was always supposed to be a series of smaller cells that catered to the personal faith of the congregants -- if that, in fact, was what was meant by love (or caritas) being the most important quality -- and that no matter how intellectually compatible a person might find the dogman of this or that denomination, the concept of "orthodoxy" as we might call it will never be sufficient for true Christian formation and faith. "Donna, this is mostly the way it was before Ireaneus and others decided that everyone should be like them. In truth this has harmed the church. And make no mistake about it. The only reason we are able to express ourselves in this era is because of democracy. The Reformation would have never taken place if dukes and princes did not give support.

That was Barbara's quote, Bill. I just got here. :-)I'm repeating some of what I said in response to another question in another thread, but here are the quotes that stood out for me:....giving tacit permission for conservative, orthodox Catholics to discuss the matter, and to say in public about the bishops' handling of the matter what they had mostly only been saying in private, but feared to voice because they didn't want to be seen as disloyal......who wrote of the pain and suffering they had undergone because either they or a close family member had been molested by a priest, and their diocese had covered it up and even attacked them when they sought justice.There was the woman who, along with other women, had to clean Vaseline off the altar in her parish in the mornings after the priest there ....had been doing God knows what the night before.The woman couldn't be persuaded to go public, because she still works for the Church, and said she had children to support.If WE are Church, then where are WE in all of this? What is our responsibility to our children? We talk of idolizing the Church over Christ. What about our children? Do we care for them at all or are they at the bottom of the list entirely? Do we care only for our own and not for the children of others?Here's what amazes me.....the sexual abuse scandal hit my parish like so many others. The pastor (who I've known since I was 15) was removed from the parish and ultimately defrocked. Once the report became public, people who worked in the rectory started talking as did others who were deeply involved in parish politics. Where they were over the course of the last 15 years is anybody's guess, but all of a sudden they had lots to say.The new pastor arrived and made significant changes to the rectory to more clearly delineate the rectory's business from the priests' private living space. Teenagers who used to work in the rectory after hours and on weekends were only permitted to work during office hours when other staff members were present. The CYO was disbanded because they could not get ANY parent volunteers to help run the group and instead left it to one of the parish priests to run by himself. And you know who complained? The parents. One priest and over a dozen teenagers alone in the gym one night a week and not one parent thought it worth their time to be present? One teenager in a house full of priests until 10 or 11 at night and parents were angry because the new pastor wouldn't hire their kids? WTF?! I'm not suggesting that children were walking into a den of inquity every time they crossed the threshold to the rectory, but come on! These were good priests and they were terrified! The priests didn't want to take the risk of being falsely accused or thought of as doing anything improper. One would think parents would be more wary of the situations they were exposing their children to. Even the altar servers can't get a parent volunteer on board!If we are not willing to challenge ourselves to speak up, if we are not willing to reach out to our fellow parishioners and help them speak up, then we are not much better than the church hierarchy.

Father Imbelli,I hope you will not find this impertinent, but I think the "leavings" is exactly what this is all about.I hesitated talking about Mr Dreher. I don't know him and I don't read his blog or his articles that much, and I have found much of the reaction to his recent conversion a bit mean spirited. Yet he has made his decision a subject of discussion, and so I will discuss it and try and be charitable.I agree that his "confession" of his own anger and frustration and possibly idolization of the Church is thought provoking and heartfelt, but doesn't his response in leaving the Church negate the whole thing? Is the right response understanding and forgivess, or just getting a divorce. I know he seems to think he tried to make peace and get the Church to change, but as either strikingly arrogant or naive. There is no such thing as a Catholic who hasn't been disappointed or let down by the institutional church in some way, but why leave? The only reason I think you leave is that you don't believe what the Church proposes for our belief. I remain Catholic because I believe the Church is THE One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, not just the best among several choices. I don't really see Mr. Dreher identifying what it is about what the Church teaches that he disagrees with. Another point that I think is interesting is the reaction here, in what is considered a "progressive: Catholic blog. Mr. Dreher's statement of his reasons for leaving the Church seems to be two-pronged the first is about the abuse situation and an unresponsive heirarchy - which is what I am reading about here. The other seems to be that Mr. Dreher doesn't find the American Church orthodox enough for his taste, which seems curiously absent as a topic for discussion here.I wonder if he had left to join an SSPX parish instead would the treatment have been so sympathetic?

Sean,It is important to keep in mind that Dreher was a 'doctrinal' Catholic as he pointed out. Could you tell me where Jesus stressed doctrine over practice. Practically zero.The one who does the Will of my Father is his constant refrain, over Mary, his family, over everything.Doing God's will is in Matt 25:31-46, the Good Samaritan lesson and the Widow's mite. If doctrine is not on Christ's lips, why should it be on ours?It is: "Let us express our faith in God through Christ, exhibited in love."

Sorry for too many posts. But the comments of Neuhaus on Rod Drehers change should be paid attention to. http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/?p=500The more we understand the present structure of the future the more we can unite to do something about it.

Sean HApparently you did not read Mr. Dreher's explanation for the grounds he found for actually opting for Orthodoxy over Roman Catholicism. He says that he looked into the history of Vatican I and decided that it was somehow illegitimate and the Bishop of Rome is not infallible. That, he felt, provide room for him to opt for Orthodoxy. Remember that he and his wife are converts to Catholicism from Protestantism, if I remember aright, 13 years ago. Clearly he now thinks he should have chosen Orthodoxy over Romanitas (my choice of words, not his). He does not mention Jaroslave Pelikan's conversion from Lutheranism to Orthodoxy, but I wonder whether it had any effect on his thinking. In any case I suspect you think he made a mistake. AlI have to say is that I respect his decision. I would not be inclined to follow it.

Bill,I have seen you make this distinction before, and I don't get it. Doctrine is synonymous with catechisis - the teachings of the Church. The teachings of the Church and the practice of the faith, while not the same thing, are inextricably connected. Don't I have to both accept the doctrines and practice Christian charity?

Sean, the Catholic encyclopedia gives the traditional explanation, which to a thinking person are difficult to accept. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05089a.htmCertainly, I accept the existence of God and the resurrection of Christ as dogma. Otherwise , our faith is meaningless and we are to be pitied indeed as Paul tells us.Just a cursory review of history reveals how Augustine let orthodoxy harm his fellow Christians--he got non-Christians to hurt and kill fellow Christians because they did not think like him.Athanasius shows another abuse of ecclesiastical ambition if deceitfully organizing his becoming the Arch-bishop at the age of twenty. He then proceeded to lose and to to regain that job with a guile that would make Richelieu proud.Most of the bishops and popes, save for Gregory I and Leo I were quite wordly and ambitious--certainly not spiritual men.The present scandal in the church is not so much that it is new--rather it is that Catholic people will not settle for answers which are obviously lies. Jesus Christ lives because of our faith and our actions not because we have to believe what a certain class dictates.Sadly, we have cultivated a clergy with privilege and comfort and have not demanded more.Donna keeps repeating that we should demand nothing but the best from our priests. We should challenge them as well as comfort them.

Donna,Yopu said"If WE are Church, then where are WE in all of this? What is our responsibility to our children?""If we are not willing to challenge ourselves to speak up, if we are not willing to reach out to our fellow parishioners and help them speak up, then we are not much better than the church hierarchy."Of course, you are right, in my opinion. Those among the laity who knew, but did not speak up, surely failed in their responsibility.But having said that, I think it is not wrong to expect a higher standard from people in positions of authority and responsibility. So if priests and bishops have behaved in an unchristian manner they are bound to be found fault with.

Here we have the nuclear core of Bill's position:>>Jesus Christ lives because of our faith and our actions.<

"So if priests and bishops have behaved in an unchristian manner they are bound to be found fault with."They certainly should, but the guilt of one does not excuse the guilt of another.It's the same principle that comes up in those frustrating political debates where someone states where a member of one party has erred and the immediate response is to point out where a member of the opposing party also erred.As though that made any difference.The laity cannot be forgiven for their silence just because the clergy who aided and abetted the abuse were bigger screwups.The laity cannot be forgiven if their silence continues because it is in their silence that the clergy will find tacit permission to maintain the status quo.

I am sorry, Sean, but when Catholics fight over semantics (and that's what it looks like to non-Catholics), they have lost the plot of their faith. My point above is that faith is something more than cognition, but when cognition (or orthodoxy or whatever you want to call it) is what guides you, as it appears to have guided Rod Dreher (just guessing based on my overall assessment), you are bound to be disappointed because even Paul recognized that it wasn't enough. The most telling passage of that article is when Rod states that he assumed that when he became Catholic he would become enmeshed in a community of mutually sustaining believers very much like the community his wife had experienced growing up as an Evangelical. "I believe therefore I will be emotionally fulfilled" is not a deliverable promise on its own terms. And I guess I find this especially sad because he is a convert and I imagine that many converts share his hopes and convictions.

Barbara,Why is it an either or proposition? That was my point. Faith preceeds reason, but it doesn't contradict it - it can't. The doctrines of the Church are not in conflict with what we need to do be good Christians. They are two sides of the same coin - not two different things.My experience with converts is often the opposite of what you are saying. They frequently come from traditions that are all about feeling with little or no doctrine. Most of those I know were looking for the Truth, and many miss the emotional aspect of the tradition they left but prefer the fullness of the faith.Anyone who has done through a conversion experience knows how fickle emotions and the feeling of being "filled with the spirit" can be. Unless we bring the intellect and the will to bear on our Faith we are bound to loose it, or to make it nothing more than a warm, fuzzy, God loves me thing. We need to have both a hard head for the Truth and a soft heart of charity.

Dreher's piece troubles me because he talks about the Church as if it were a club, the membership in which confers some sort of merit or shame on him.He talks about his heyday in which he truimphed in being on Fr. Neuhaus's "team." And about the pain he felt when the team failed to follow its own rules and rituals and was discovered to be as full of criminals and hypocrites as of saints.Dreher admits all this, of course, which is why I'm stymied about why he decided to leave Catholicism. Our family entered the Church during the height of The Scandal. In middle age, my husband and I had few delusions about how corrupt people could be, even (and perhaps especially) people wrapped in the mantle of organized religion. What drew us to Catholicism and what keeps us in are Catholics. Not the celebrity Catholics like Amy Welborn or Fr. Neuhaus or William Donohue or the Berrigan brothers or Fr. Andrew Greeley--or even the many fine writers at Commonweal.Just the regular Catholics. The Catholic father of a friend who told me the story of Doubting Thomas when, at the wise old age of 7, I informed him people couldn't just get up and walk around after they died. The Catholic kid across the street who went to church to light a candle for our dog when it was hit by a car. The janitor at my son's Catholic school who spent his lunch periods building a snow hill for the kids and rounding up second-hand sleds. The Catholic woman who took care of my grandmother before she died. The Catholic nuns at the retirement home where my sister-in-law works who tell her how much they appreciate her care and who pray for her every day. And, of course, my longest and closest girlfriends who are nearly all Catholics.I've had a lifelong attachment to Catholicism and Catholics,which is, of course the same thing. At heart, it's emotional and not especially logical. But love never is.

Sean H, I understand what you are saying -- and perhaps it's as simple as knowing too well the weaknesses of what one knows best -- I can't tell you how many people in my husband's church are ex-Catholics who are breathing easy now that they can let the light of THEIR own reason shine. Oh yes, believe me, I might be quick to point out how THEIR reason is not exactly a neutral touchstone for understanding (I don't, in charity) -- but I have often been amazed, as well, at how much insight an "ordinary" not particularly well-educated person can have on spiritual matters. Getting from belief to fullness of spirit is not an easy road and the idea that faith does not contradict reason is, I am sorry, a form of denial. At least in my view, based on how I define reason.

I once left the church and reluctantly came back because of something that I read from Michael's Garvey's "Finding Fault", written in 1990. It caused me to think a lot about what I believed to be the essence of being a Christian and how I could best live that out. At the time of my return my belief was that Catholicism was church home that best exemplified the following:"God does the choosing and you find out about the rest gradually from your folks: How you have landed in a turbulent and global household with the galaxy's most eccentric rules; that the lights are never to be put out and the stranger never to be turned away; that the meals are to be served whenever there is hunger; that the groceries must be generously depleted and generously replenished with everything everyone has; that those who fret and grouse and cheat and lie and steal and kill must be relentlessly sought out and brought back to life; that those who break the rules and those who abandon the house must be pursued to the remotest frontiers of their souls and forgiven; that those who pass judgment on the violators of house rules, like those who take their author for granted, are doomed. And that those who inhabit the household must always remember that what is outside is ending."I'm not so sure that I would make the same judgement today about the universal Catholicism, but the local Catholicism that I have found in my parish still exemplifies that essence. And that is why I remain back, in spite of all of the seemingly increasing list of warts, sludge and clerical hypocrisy.Having tasted the waters of other forms of US Christianity, I know that each strain has more than its fair share of problems. That said, Catholic problems are those with which I am most familiar and, so, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, 'til death do us part.

Barbara--I hope I'm not butting in on the exchange you and Sean H. are having, but I couldn't help noticing your comment that it is a "form of denial" to believe that faith does not contradict reason. The faith/reason issue is one I've struggled with for most of my adult life. I've gone through phases, especially when working in scientific fields, when I felt strongly that anything that can't be reduced to an empirical level is but a figment of the imagination. Thomas has always been one of my favorites among the Apostles. Perhaps it is middle age, however, or a willingness to finally accept that not everything can be expressed in the cold, hard language of science, but I am now content to accept that faith and reason are not mutually exclusive.In "Fides et Ratio," JPII began his encyclical with the following: "Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truthin a word, to know himselfso that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves." I don't know if you've ever read the entire encyclical--it is admittedly a long one--but you may want to give it a try. http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_... encyclical is a tour de force by a brilliant scholar and theologian. It certainly helped me sort out a lot of disconnected thoughts about faith and reason that were ricocheting around in my mind. There's no denying that faith requires a leap into the unknown, an unknown that is not subject to the scientific laws, but I hope that I am beginning to experience the sense of certainty that can also develop from a commitment and surrender to faith. I'm still a work in progress, however.

mljFirst J.-P. Sartre wrote a play in which a character says something to the effect of "l'enfer, c'est les autres". Then Gabriel Marcel is reported to have said in response, "au contraire, le ciel c'est les autres". Probably the banner was thus inspired. In any event are we not supposed to find Christ in others and is not Christ God. Maker of banners must be allowed some ellipsis.

My mother always said, "Hell is other people."

I don't mind the incursion. Reason has so many meanings -- reason as motive, as explanation, as proof, as logic -- but when it is juxtaposed with faith, I think of it as setting up a sort of equivalence with scientific understanding or proof by evidence, as if "faith" is as "reasonable" an undertaking as science. I think science is the short term loser with this trend, but in my own view, religion is the long term loser. Ultimately, religion is not susceptible to proof. Refusal to acknowledge that is a failure of faith if there ever was one. Duh. That's why they call it faith! That's what I was getting at, anyway.

Our little discussion group in this high science comunity has been bandying about the faith/science (not faith /reason question)Reason is, of course, experience grounded but entails so much more than mere empiricism.Nevertheless, as the Causey article in Comonweal and the interview with Fr. Coyne in the latest America show, science raises profound issues for basic faith notions in creation and redemption.I think this is far afield from Dreher, whose heart was cut by betrayal of the community.It is the Eucharist and its life in tthe local community that holds people within the faith when major disilusionment arises - hence the need to move beyond Sunday Catholicism as an essential witness today(if not always,)

Sean, All of us should have pride in the richness of our faith. Our theologians have greatly enriched us. Yet we should acknowledge where there have been mistakes.Even the official church has departed from some of the assertions of Augustine. For example on predestination and on unbaptized going to hell. Pelagians believed in limbo which was more or less accepted until our times.Now Benedict will probably rule that limbo does not exist. The point is not whether something has been always taught because too many thing have come under this false umbrella. The infallible fact is that no one talked about the infallibility of the pope until the 12th century. We have to stop fighting the counter reformation. The Separated Brethren want to converge with us. Now it is time to see how we can unite with Islam and the other religions to see how God has entered their lives also. Interesting that Dreher who was a militant dogmatist at one time left for a more moral, loving church.Paul urged us to "Owe nothing to anyone but to love one another."We can do a lot with that.

Barbara,If you put it that way, no can disagree.

But there are people who disagree. In particular, there are people who try at many turns to impute to scientific principles the same kind of "belief" that is usually reserved for matters of faith, as in, it's no less reasonable to believe in God than to believe __________, where the blank can be filled in by things like "that people evolved from other species," or "the principles of higher physics." If Abraham took his son out in the wilderness, tied him up and was just about ready to sacrifice him today, we wouldn't think much about his rationale as set forth in the OT. No, indeed, we'd think he was a nut. Yet from our back perspective we have faith that his rationale was not only correct, but that there could be no other explanation for his actions and that he should have done nothing except for what in fact he did. That makes faith a lot more radical than reason will ever be.

Barbara,I agree that faith goes beyond reason, but reason also can show that God is incomprehensible to our minds, so that it is not unreasonable have faith, provided we do not end up believing that something is true which reason shows to be logically impossible,

In the light of "deliver Us From Evil" and columns and articles by Prof. Marci Hamilton, the California hierarchy has gone on the offensive full scale, particularly against Ms. Hamilton, who has supported prosecuting Bishop Walsh of Santa Rosa for failure to report (see CNN last night.)Unfortunately, Bishops (probably folowing their lawyer's advice) are devoid of insight into how foolish the strategy of attack when under suspicion is.No one wonder Dreher was so sad - I almost feel like joining him.

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About the Author

Rev. Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is an associate professor of theology at Boston College.