Thursday, April 28, 2011

How are you?

Lately people have been asking me a lot how I'm doing.  And it's not just in the way of greeting, they genuinely want to know how I'm doing.  That's because people want to make sure I'm doing alright now that Dave is gone.  At first I would be honest with people about my emotional state, but I haven't been lately. 

I'm kinda sick of people asking me how I'm doing, because truth is I have good days and bad days.  And I don't want to talk about it with everyone.  Because on those days when I'm feeling crappy, it just makes me feel even more crappy when I have to explain to people why I'm feeling crappy.  I think things should go more like this:

You:  Hi Dan, How are you doing?

Me:  Oh, not so good.

You:  Do you want to talk about it?

Me:  No, I'd rather just keep it to myself.

You: Okay, I'm here if you ever need someone to talk to.

Me: Thanks!

The End.

I don't like lying about my emotions.  I hate telling people things are going good, when really things are going terribly.  But I feel kinda stuck because I know if I tell the truth, people will be concerned and want to know more (or maybe they're just being polite).  Well, regardless, I probably don't want to talk about.  Just ask me if I want to, then I will if I'm up for it.

So now that I've said that, I'm not doing very well lately.  More or less the last few months I've been feeling crushed.  Not all the time, but when it hits, it hits hard.  I'm just so overwhelmed.  I want to kick things over, and break people's necks, and run into the woods.  But mostly I just want to stay in bed and do nothing.  Okay, so I don't really want to do that.  I really want to feel balanced, and normal.

Please don't give me advice, or tell me what to do.  Don't panic or worry about me.  Just listen (when I need it).  Just be there.  Live your own life and I'll live mine.  I'm not worried.  I'll get through this.  Sometimes I just need to be brutally honest about my feelings, and other times I just need to push through them.


Friday, November 19, 2010

How I Am Not A Catholic - Part Five

So now that I've taken the sufficient amount of time to lead you on and on, I will now disclose more fully how I am not a Catholic.  I think the biggest question for me is:

Who are you going to believe?  How does one determine which religion, leader, doctrine, etc. to follow?  What is truth?

You can say that you put your full trust in an authority to teach the truth, but I don't believe that is true.  At the end of the day you are the authority on what you believe.  You had to make the decision that that authority would be authoritative for you.  And why did you make that decision?

Maybe it was intellectual reasons.  You agreed with their doctrines and their arguments.  You heard their logic and studied their traditions. You read books and went to lectures and debated with others.

Maybe it was emotional reasons.  You connected with the people in that church.  You saw compassion and the work being done outside the church and around the world.  You were inspired, supported, and encouraged by that community.

Or perhaps you were born into it and don't know anything else.  Perhaps you're too afraid to look outside and ask yourself the question, "Am I a part of the right church?" 

But once again, at the end of the day, it is you who decides what authority you follow.  Whether by intentional choice or by apathy or by ignorance, you are still choosing to remain under that authority.

But how do you know that you have chosen well?  After all, there are numerous groups, denominations, leaders, and churches selling themselves as the authority on truth.  How do you know which is the "one"?

A problem with Catholicism is that it directly competes with the Orthodox Church.  And I think the arguments for both sides are compelling and intriguing, but neither side has an edge over the other one.  They are both good churches.  They both teach truth.  But I couldn't say which one is truer than the other.

No one can say they have a monopoly on the truth.  If the gospel is for the simple and the humble and the poor in spirit, then the gospel must be simple.  It must be easily accessible for all people, all ages, all races, etc..  How would a simple man know who to follow, the Orthodox or the Catholic? 

Perhaps I'm misunderstanding the Catholic position on authority.  If so I encourage your feedback.

So that is one reason I am not a Catholic.  I don't believe they hold the ultimate authority when it comes to truth, or even specifically simply interpreting the Bible.  Oh, and I didn't even get into how they can't even agree on what is truth!  Well, I have more reasons for not being a Catholic.  Those will come in due time...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

How I Am Not A Catholic - Part Four

Okay, finally I'm back to this series! Let's continue:

So now I'm curious to learn more about Catholicism and my sister starts dating a Catholic. This was good timing. In the Fall of 2004 Jackie began going to RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation before becoming a Catholic). I had seriously considered going along with her just to learn more about Catholicism. It didn't really work with my school and work schedule so that fell through.

But now Jackie was learning a lot and reading from the Catechism and I began asking questions of her and Conor. These questions just kept snowballing and I learned more and more, wiping away many misconceptions I had. Also at CBC I had been learning more about Catholicism from a fresh perspective.

These are the main questions I wrestled with and a summary of the answers I received.


What exactly is purgatory? How can you believe people have the option to leave hell?

I always thought purgatory was a ticket out of hell. If you prayed for the dead or did penance or whatever, you could get yourself or your relatives out of hell. Turns out I was wrong. Purgatory is not a part of hell. It is actually for Christians. It is the next stage before entrance into heaven. Catholics believe you cannot enter into heaven until you have been fully purged of your sinful acts. It's not a place where you "earn" your way into heaven. It's the process you go through to be cleansed.

It's funny that Protestants are so against purgatory, because (whether they know it or not) they believe in an instantaneous purgatory. All Protestants believe we are cleansed before entering heaven. Catholics just believe it takes a little longer.

Praying to the Saints

How do you justify praying to the saints? The Bible says we shouldn't communicate with the dead.

I asked Conor this one and he gave me two answers that were really helpful.

1. Do you ask your friends to pray for you? Yes. Then why not ask the saints to pray for you? Ohhhhh.

2. Why do you think the saints are dead? Oh yeah, I guess they are "alive" in the afterlife.


Why pray to Mary? Do Catholics worship her?

This one I'm still a little fuzzy on, but there's a difference between worship and veneration. Only God should be worshiped. Mary and the saints are venerated. They are held in high regard and devotion is paid to them. But they are not equal to or greater than God.

Regarding prayers to Mary, once again you ask your friends to pray for you, so why not ask Mary, the mother of Jesus, to pray on your behalf? She's also considered the mother of the Catholic Church so yeah, a lot of honour and respect is passed her way.


If my doctrine is not lined up with Catholics, would they say I'm going to hell?

"Of course not!" says Conor, "You are my brother in Christ." I'm not sure I totally understand the theology but I think it has to do with God showing fairness and grace. We are, after all, following after the same God.


Why confess your sins to a Priest for forgiveness when you could go straight to Jesus?

Priests don't actually forgive your sins. Christ forgives your sins. Priests speak the words of forgiveness on Christ's behalf. Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit onto his disciples in John 20:23 and said to them, "If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."

Confession also provides a great opportunity for healing. I think there is something powerful in hearing someone say "I forgive you". Protestants don't get that. A priest can also offer you advice and comfort. Protestants typically keep their sins private and only confess only to God. This is not healthy. James 5:16 says "Confess your sins, one to another, and you will be healed."

The Pope

How can the Pope be infallible? He's just a man like everyone else.

I once thought everything the Pope did was without sin according to this doctrine. Not true. The doctrine teaches that the Pope is protected from error by the Holy Spirit when he is solemnly declaring a dogmatic teaching on faith and morals. These dogmas are never spoken at random. They are products of various councils and there are rules and conditions to confirm their infallibility.

Well, those are just a few big ones that stood out to me. I don't have all the answers and don't fully understand all Catholic dogma, but I'm satisfied they are not heretics and that, in fact, we have a lot to learn from their teachings and tradition (and we have a lot to be thankful for because of them). But why am I still not a Catholic????

This Concludes Part Four.

Monday, April 12, 2010

How I Am Not A Catholic - Part Three

So going into Columbia Bible College I basically believed Catholicism was heretical, yet many Catholics were Christians and by God's grace were still going to heaven.

That started to shift almost right away at CBC. I could tell the attitude of students and profs was more accepting of Catholicism than I was. I had heard a couple years ago that Catholics don't use birth control and that always intrigued me. It actually made no sense to me at all. Why would they be opposed to birth control?!? I never heard of anyone being opposed to it before.

So it began to nag at me. And around that time I realized something I hadn't really thought about. Before the Reformation, the Catholic Church was THE Church. If people wanted to learn about Jesus they would have to do it through the Catholic Church (okay, I know I'm not counting the Eastern Orthodox Church, disregard for now). That's at least 1300 years!

So then I began wondering (out loud sometimes), "If the Catholic Church has been THE Church for so long, how can we so easily pass off all their teachings as heretical?" Especially regarding birth control, I wondered why without any effort or discussion we simply say, "Oh, that's a stupid belief!"

Enter Conor.

Between my first and second year at CBC my sister started dating Conor. He's Catholic. This should be interesting...

End of Part Three.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

How I Am Not A Catholic - Part Two

As a kid, somewhere along the way, I caught the belief that Catholics were not true Christians. They weren't really part of a cult, but their church had gone off the rails hundreds of years ago. I didn't think Catholics were "saved" and I thought they would end up in hell.

After all, they believed in purgatory. I thought purgatory meant that if a person worked hard enough they could get out of hell and join the Christians in heaven. However, this is not the actual definition of purgatory, but my misunderstood one.

They also worshiped Mary, saw the Pope as perfect and sinless, and needed a priest to forgive their sins (whereas I only needed to confess to God).

Somewhere in high school my beliefs lightened a little. I came to believe that some Catholics actually were "saved". They were just ignorant to the fact that their church was an abomination, but thankfully God would show them grace as they did not know what they were doing.

Poor stupid Catholics! Only a handful were saved, but most were still going straight to hell. The one issue that mattered most to me at this time was - Do they have a relationship with Jesus? I came to believe most Catholics had a relationship with the church, but not with Jesus personally.

I'm not sure where I got these ideas from. Obviously they were held by at least some people in my church. We were never taught these things, but passing comments and jokes stuck in my brain. It wasn't until Bible school that things started to change drastically.

End of Part Two.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

How I Am Not A Catholic - Part One

My sister, Jackie, wrote 3 posts titled, "How I Became a Catholic." I encourage you to read them if you haven't already. They describe her journey from Protestantland to Catholicworld. I got to witness this transformation and it caused me to ask many questions (for myself) as it was happening. But I did not make the same decision she made. I would like to share why that is, but definitely not as an attack against Jackie or Catholics. I fully support Jackie in her decision. So here I go...

End of Part One