BY MICHAEL MULLINS
US TV comic Stephen Colbert made news on Friday night when he made an out of character serious observation: “I love my church – warts and all”.
America Magazine’s James Martin SJ has a detailed account of the Fordham University forum he attended, which was a dialogue between Colbert and New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan on the place of joy and humour in the spiritual life. The punchline of Martin’s blog:
Finally, at the end of the evening Cardinal Dolan leaned over to me and said, “This is the New Evangelisation,”
Separately, Fordham theology professor Tom Beaudoin shares some insights on a paper he delivered at the “Ordinary Ecclesiology” conference at Durham in England, on “the widespread phenomenon of baptised Catholics’ changing their beliefs and practices away from ‘normative’/prescribed ways of being Catholic”.
What practical theology helped to introduce in the 1980s ... [was] the extraordinary significance of ordinary lived experience for the theological tradition ... in active dialogue with social sciences, philosophy, and more. ...
So, here is to critically appreciating not only what the churches are “supposed to be,” but how they are actually experienced: lived ecclesiologies.
Beaudoin does not use the word “deviance”, but he could have. That is a source of controversy elsewhere in the US, with news that The Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio faces questions about its accreditation because it is teaching a course titled “SWK 314 Deviant Behaviour” with a course description that links homosexuality with crimes like murder, rape and robbery.
Get Religion critiques a National Public Radio “smear job” on the university, which claims it uses the term “deviant” in the “sociological sense, to mean ‘different from the norm’.”
Meanwhile Sidney Callahan, whose thinking often thought to deviate from the Catholic norm, has a moving blog titled “Why Have Children”, prompted by a question from her 47-year=old son.
I paved the way by mentioning the many arguments for not having children. Obviously no selfish utilitarian arguments should be defended. You ought not to have children to please spouse or parents (like me), or to enhance sexual egos, or provide income or ensure caretaking in old age (nice as it can be.) Nor is there any patriotic or ethnic duty to outbreed the enemy. ...
[But] despite all counter arguments, having children makes you happy. Why? All wisdom agrees that the deepest truest human happiness comes from loving, giving and possessing meaningful goals. Creating and nurturing a family is an experientially proven reliable way to love and be loved. Other paths that produce purpose and love exist, but they are harder to sustain in the long run.
A well recognised deviant is beat poet Jack Kerouac (pictured), who is the subject of the film On the Road, which is set for release in Australia next week. However, according to blogger Michael O’Loughlin, he has been claimed by the American Conservative, which says he was “at heart Catholic and conservative”. But Andrew Sullivan’s blog sticks with the conventional view of Kerouac, which contains some interesting insights on his spirituality. A recent book on Kerouac says a “the deeper themes of loneliness and the yearning for God” lurk beneath his experimental style and turbulent life.
Kerouac once said that the “Catholic Church is a weird church”, but, like Colbert, he seems to have loved it warts and all.
”When Ted Berrigan of the Paris Review asked during a 1968 interview, “How come you never write about Jesus?” Kerouac’s reply: “I’ve never written about Jesus? … You’re an insane phony … All I write about is Jesus.”
Jesus had an affinity with outsiders. David Timbs has some fresh thoughts on the Good Samaritan.
As usual, context is of the utmost importance in understanding the teachings and actions of Jesus. ... “Who is my neighbour?” Levitical Law enjoined, “Love your neighbour as yourself” (19: 18). It would have been beyond his imagination and utterly illogical to think that this idea of ‘neighbour’ could extend to anyone outside his own clan and community. ... Samaritans did not fit into that category in any sense of the word. It was, for Jews, the Samaritans who occupied the outer fringes of respectable halahkic (ritually pure) Judaism, but Jesus himself was a marginal Jew.”
“Youngest priest Paddy Byrne” is on the margins of Irish society, a far cry from the days when the Irish looked up to their priests. His blog at Association of Catholic Priests of Ireland tells that he was Ireland’s youngest diocesan priest 12 years ago at the age of 26. Today – at 38 – he still holds that title. The lesson, he belives:
This is not a time to silence conversation or retreat to the “good old days” of ‘black and white¹ clerical certainty ... In order for the priesthood to be rejuvenated in Ireland, we must listen to the reasons for its diminishing numbers and ageing profile.”
Michael Mullins, founding editor of CathNews, compiles this 'Blog Watcher' column every week.
Disclaimer: CathBlog is an extension of CathNews story feedback. It is intended to promote discussion and debate among the subscribers to CathNews and the readers of the website. The opinions expressed in CathBlog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the members of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference or of Church Resources.