I think, at this important juncture, it becomes crucial that I identify some purposes and goals for this blog. First and foremost, it is opinions. Not more, not less. I attempt to write from the perspective of someone who has been Roman Catholic for 21 years of my life and, unlike many of my generation, was well-catechized (Baltimore Catechism style), by some “bad Catholic” nuns such as those pictured on the amazing Mark Barnes’s blog ( http://www.patheos.com/blogs/badcatholic/) as well as directly below:
Although I left Rome for 35 years of my life, 20 of those were spent in strongly Bible-honoring Christ-centered/ecclesial communities within the Assemblies of God and similar circles. While charismatic in belief and gifts, the A/G warns strongly against such misuses as constant “slaying in the Spirit,” “leg growing” (if you do not know what this is I say best not to even ask!), and using such gifts as tongues and prophetic words according to 1 Corinthians 12-14, making love the center (chapter 13) and following strict guidelines as laid down by St Paul for the public use of such gifts.
During the “missing in action” 15 years after, I explored many other spiritual paths and traditions including such things as the Tarot, astrology, I Ching, and a general hodge-podge of New Age types of experiences. Those were as well the years that I was active in the LGBT lifestyle. I also attended and was a member of, at various times, a United Methodist, Episcopal (Anglican), UCC (United Church of Christ), and MCC (Metropolitan Community Church). Oh, and Baptist for a bit as well. You might say I partook of a literal “Seven Layer Salad” of various Christian groups in addition to around 7 years where I never darkened the door of a church at all.
Since my return to Rome in 2005, I went through RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults), which is a thorough review of basic core Catholic beliefs, and then took a 2 year course of studies through the St Paul Seminary. Since I had already taken 4 years of college level theology through the Assemblies of God, I now have 6 full years of theological study from both Protestant and Catholic perspectives.
ALL TO SAY—I do not claim to be a “theologian,” on TV or otherwise! However I do have a pretty broad spectrum of religious study and practice, and find that I have at least a decent handle on most issues. What I do not know I at least have many resources to research and find out. So my opinions, while being simply that, are generally not based on vague “tingles of the spine” or “flavor of the day” experiences but on at least a basic grasp of my own theology and that of others.
That was a long but important digression. I started out by saying that I was attempting to bring forth some specific goals for this blog, and one of those is in the area of becoming more devotional in my approach to blogging. For instance as I posted a couple of weeks back, I plan to start a Rosary meditation series soon. I will continue to cover current topics of interest, and the occasional “just fun” posts too. But expect less politics and more overall Christianity, however from a Catholic Christian perspective to be sure. I also plan to go beyond this with the occasional sharing of posts such as the other day regarding Jefferson Bethke, a Protestant Christian evangelical brother who has done some truly amazing things, whether one totally agrees with his approach or not, and then attempting to build some authentic bridges wherever possible between Protestant and Catholic Christianity. There are literally dozens of sites out there for Catholic apologetics, and I have in fact some of them listed on my blog roll. But what I tend to see less of are those with a concern to be truly ecumenical. To me that may mean at times laying aside, while not ignoring, the very real differences that continue to exist between us. And when I see someone who I believe is doing so effectively, whether Protestant or Catholic, I will gladly share their stories and perspectives without giving up my understanding of the Faith. Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI has indicated the need for this type of dialogue, and I think it sadly becomes frozen in place when all we do is wrangle over someone’s use of the word “religion” for example. There I have said it. That is not the direction I wish to take this blog and I will be doing my utmost to steer clear of such discussions.
The changes I am making are not in truth huge—this has pretty much been the vision I have had from the beginning for my writings. However I think even I could not have articulated it without a few months of “blog time” to begin learning the ropes within the blogosphere. But now is the time.
As my posted article “Catholic First—Christian First” (linked below) clearly delineates, I am of the view that our first objective as believers is not to “bag Catholics” from the “evil world of Protestantism.” I believe that the first and foremost goal we are to have as Christ-honoring historical Christians is to fellowship together in whatever ways we honestly can without compromising belief on either side. If during that process someone becomes intrigued with or wishes to learn more about the Catholic Faith, I will gladly help direct them towards it. But sometimes we as Catholics make it “Church first, then Jesus” and in reality it is the exact opposite. I think that is what my brother Bethke meant when he said he “loved Jesus but hated religion.” In that context, would that more of us do the same.
- Revisiting Jefferson Bethke And Our Concept of “Religion” (catholicboyrichard.wordpress.com)
- My Story…Again (catholicboyrichard.wordpress.com)