Saturday, December 02, 2006

Orthodox and the Catholic Churches Meet

Did anyone else find this map interesting? It came from a link in the article on Pope BXVI and his visit to Turkey.

There has been so much talk in recent times of Islam sweeping across Europe...but what is the situation really?

On a different level: are the Mosques full? Are the church parishes full on Sunday? Are maps like this still helpful?

I read somewhere that freedom is about making a choice - it is not about being in a state of wavering indecision.

Around where I live if you want to know what people believe in you only have to visit the shopping mall.


Athos said...

Aramis, I'm even more forlorn about what I see in the lifestyles of the young adults in the Church. An IT consultant, for example, who lives with parents, has no desire to marry and/or raise children in the Catholic faith. Highly smart and articulate, lives for singles scene, great clothes, etc.

Has the aim to marry, raise children in the Domestic Church and "come grow old with me, the best is yet to be; the last of life for which the first was made" too banal when juxtaposed beside pop culture's glitz, glamour and fascinating desires?

The Mall is just the concretization of the above degeneracy. It, as you observe, IS the new temple of pagan prayer.

And maybe this is what you were driving at previously: namely, those who go to Church for Mass then spend their priorities on lesser things.

This would indeed be like the ancient Israelites who observed Sabbath and then "played the harlot" with the fertility rites of their neighbors the rest of the week.

And, if I'm not mistaken, consequential judgment is the comeupance, if one believes the OT prophets and the biblical narrative.

Athos said...

Simple maps do not tell one much regarding birth rates of those different colors, Aramis. However, if one doesn't have time to read about it or if one chooses not to read, say, Mark Steyn's works, they will leave one neatly in the dark.

However, Gil Bailie has made mention of the birth rate factors involved in the west in his Emmaus Road Initiative talks of late. Would it not behoove us to take Steyn as seriously as Mr. Bailie does?

I would recomment Googling "the century ahead it's the demography stupid" to find the Wall Street Journal article of January 4, 2006 if one does not want to purchase his book, America Alone (2006). Otherwise, one only has little colors on maps to ask questions about.

David Nybakke said...

You commented: "And maybe this is what you were driving at previously: namely, those who go to Church for Mass then spend their priorities on lesser things."

Yes, exactly. You brought up (Luke 18:9-14) the Pharisee and the tax collector and I tell you that my point is for us to look into their eyes (their hearts) and see... I draw from Bailie’s tape series on Dante and which you posted earlier; and what does he see? Dante says, “A thousand burning passions, every one hotter than any flame held my eyes fixed on the lucent eyes she held fixed on the Griffin.” So she’s not looking at him, she’s looking at Christ. And Dante says, “Like sunlight in the glass, the twofold creature shone from the deep reflection in her eye.” So he looked into her eyes and he saw the reflection as in a mirror of Christ.

WOW. There is so much to this image to unpack…just look at our personhood and the implications for that…

We are to BE Church (and this is the only path on which one is graced with the eyes of Beatrice…as one sees the “reflection as in a mirror of Christ”). We not only find our vocation through and by being Church, we find our personhood. So contrary to secular or Enlightenment notions built on individualism, we become a person through the historical Church and baptism, for it is in an eschatological nature that our desires are transformed from the biological and limited existence that fills us with acquisitive desires (horizontal) to desires that express and do the Will of the Father (vertical). In other words our personhood is authenticated through Another Person – through the historical Church at the Eucharistic Table.

And so whatever Church is, it not only meets us where we are at, it needs to be looked at to assist us in prayer and guidance with vocation (religious or other) so that we can grow into our role as Church.

And as for Mark Steyn, I guess if that means getting every female pregnant than go at it...maybe its just me, but I find the Church a more important place to begin than the bedroom.

Athos said...

For those of us past having 2.1 children within the sanctity of Christian marriage, the issue is moot. Right.

But unlike Muslims who apparently realize that children are not only beautiful heirs of their faith but insurance that Europe will not die off with postmodern individualists (Muslim women average 3.7 children), it isn't about "getting every woman pregnant," Aramis, or your appraisal of my comments that "the Church (is a) more important palce to begin than the bedroom."

It is about, once again, what we were designed to be and do nuptially, as husband and wife.

Husband and wife, young enough, should have strong, healthy families -- and take them to that Church that you and I are so fond of, for the same reason.

The Shakers decided not to procreate and look where it got them. At least their reasons were religious, not self-centered self "fulfillment" -- whatever the hell THAT is.

David Nybakke said...

Dear Athos, I don’t believe we are at polar ends of some debate here, but we do seem to be missing something…

I am sorry for that last line in my above comment, for it seems that it distracted you from where I feel emphasis needs to be placed – the need to become a person. A person, not like the individual – a flimsy caricature and lost soul, but one, who by their inheritance, has received a calling and ministry of the Church. A person who knows, as Beatrice came to her vocation, through prayer and ever-loving and ever-faithful growing relationship with Our Father, that our existence is ecclesial and therefore ever-connected to the Church.

Everyday at Mass we pray for more vocations to the religious life.

We all are called to BE Church and so in this light, it livens up the idea of vocation, doesn’t it?

Athos said...

Aramis asked, We all are called to BE Church and so in this light, it livens up the idea of vocation, doesn’t it?

Absolutely. But I suspect this sounds monotonous and routine to many cradle Catholics and non-reverts, if that isn't putting too fine a point on it.

What sounds exciting and enlivening to us comes across to the jaded ear as "Yada, yada, yada." I wish it weren't so, but it often takes converts like author Evelyn Waugh (a guy; wrote Brideshead Revisited) to see it as a true life's vocation. He wrote:

“Conversion is like stepping across the chimney piece out of a Looking-Glass world, where everything is an absurd caricature, into the real world God made; and then begins the delicious process of exploring it limitlessly.”

Add to this service to the least, the last and the lost (Christ in all of his distressing disguises, as Mother Teresa of Calcutta said), and what more can a person ask for?

Soft-core nihilist forages to the Mall, movies or golf club pale by comparison. But not for all, obviously.

Athos said...

To go back to a question you ask:

Are the mosques full?

They are where I live near DC. The question isn't are they full, but full of what? Gospel? Paraklete inspired peace and forbearance?

The yeast of the Pharisees?

Aye, there's the rub.

Porthos said...

Then there's that big grey area of the map that is (most of) Western Europe. Unfortunately, fitting color, I think.

David Nybakke said...

Dear Athos,

When you write: Are the mosques full?

They are where I live near DC. The question isn't are they full, but full of what? Gospel? Paraklete inspired peace and forbearance?

The yeast of the Pharisees?

I sense a fear (?), at least a prophet-like warning in these words. I do not want to mislead you in thinking that I disagree, however… While driving around the other day I happen to find myself behind a car with a license plate that read "GNOSTIC" and a second car with a license plate that read "B YRSLF," and these sparked a rememberance of reading in Bailie somewhere (and I believe in von Balthasar) that the real enemy of Christianity is Gnosticism. By being lulled into thinking everything is fine by the breathing in the parasitic Gnostic fumes of secularists, humanist, academics (regardless of a left or right stance) or practicing philosophers, Christians are falling away from their tradition and practice of their faith. Key concepts of our faith, such as; obedience, discipline, monotheism, repentance, conversion, liturgy and Eucharist are simply being ignored or trivialized.

So, as Porthos commented, we have, “that big grey area of the map that is (most of) Western Europe.” I feel that people being lulled to sleep, as their senses and desires dulled by Gnosticism in its varied forms, is Christianity’s number one problem, and not Islam (though if we are not soon to awake,...).

Athos said...

You said, Aramis:

"I feel that people being lulled to sleep, as their senses and desires dulled by Gnosticism in its varied forms, is Christianity’s number one problem, and not Islam (though if we are not soon to awake,...)"

And look at that: in one compound sentence you summarized the entirety of Steyn's book. Awesome, bro!

David Nybakke said...

summarized the entirety of Steyn's book. Awesome, bro!

Dear Athos, I guess my issue centers around, do we awaken people with and through Jesus Christ or the fear of another religion? Do we bring forth more and more of the significance of a relationship with the Triune God in becoming a Real Person that theorists like Girard and other who continually substantiate Christianity or do simply put on the world's boxing gloves and just pound away?

Athos said...

Aramis, maybe your question can be boiled down even further:

What brings about conversion: love or fear?

My father says he first came to Christ because he was afraid of hell. Only after did the 1st Great Commandment begin to replace the doubts and fears.

Rene Girard had a scare with a brush with skin cancer and opted for a deeper relation with God.

In Dante's Divine Comedy, several times people are moved out of lethargy by being scared to do so.

Will this get one into complete perichoretic relationship with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit?

I doubt it; but it has been known to get folk out of their ruts and onto the right path.

A dear friend and spiritual director, Conrad Hoover, once said that a rut is a grave with both ends kicked out. If fear will get one started -- even fear of another religion -- maybe the (few) offspring of old Christendom will remember their precious lineage and pull out of their paganist gnosticism, eh?

David Nybakke said...

Let me insert from your post on Dorothy Day: "Reflections During Advent," Part One "Searching for Christ"

WHEN I was a very little child, perhaps not more than six, I used to have recurrent nightmares of a great God, King of heaven and earth which encompassed all, stretched out over all of us in a most impersonal way, and with this nightmare came also a great noise like that made by a galloping horseman which increased in volume until the sound filled all the earth. It was a terrifying dream and when I called out, my mother used to come and sit by the bedside and hold my hand and talk to me until I fell asleep. That passed, and then a few years later I met a little girl by the name of Mary Harrington who told me about the Blessed Mother and a heaven peopled with saints, and this also was a great comfort to me.

Fear based projections concern me as we come to understand the socio-drama of mimetic desire and its inevitable link to violence. It seems that we may have touched on an interesting conversation piece about fear. Your examples of;

1) health related fears that are directly connected to the fear of death which seem to go along with the Becker social theory;

2) theologically based fear - as in the fear of going to hell; and

3) what I think would be described as mimetic desire fueled by fear by or of another.

Can I say fear, like most anything else, can be a good thing or a bad thing? If fear brings one to conversion, and I mean a Christian conversion, than it is a good thing. If fear brings one to ... fear or an entrenchment in the socio-drama then it is a bad thing.

I often struggle giving voice to this bias; that when someone is addressing others from a particularly strong cultural-language base one should always be, as in the reference of Beatrice, pointing toward Christ. This, I hope, reduces the chances that the reader/listener will receive the message mimetically or horizontally. They may not know Christ, but they hopefully will realize that your reference point is beyond where it is that you standing right now.

Athos said...

Not really sure I read you rightly, Aramis, but sounds good.

What Jesus says to St Peter after his encounter on the seashore after the resurrection ("Peter, do you love me?") is something that thoroughly rankles all of us on this side of Enlightenment humanism and the individualist project. He tells Peter:

"Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, "Follow me" (Jn 21:18-19).

Not many honest persons, converted or otherwise, will say this is an experience to be looked forward to with relish. After all, even Peter would not WANT to go there, according to Jesus.

Here is where the reality of the human experience -- fears, confusions, joys, tumult, security, anxieties -- are seen by the Church as things to be "offered up." Suffering, like the joy of being faithful and obedient, is not without meaning and purpose, if it is so dedicated.

The Morning Offering used by many speaks to this:

OJesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer You my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day,
in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world.
I offer them for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart:
the salvation of souls, reparation for sin, and the reunion of all Christians.
I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and of all Apostles of Prayer,
and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month.