Are you tuned in?

The term “Fundamentalist.”

During a conversation recently it was put to me, that a comment a I’d made was considered to be ‘fundamentalist‘. I was taken aback by this judgement.  It made me think about how I had approached the conversation and why on earth my comment would’ve possibly been misconstrued as ‘fundamentalist’? As the conversation progressed my thoughts bounced back and forth to my understanding  fundamentalism.As it happens, I was sharing concerns about the acceptance of New Age ‘healing’ practises undertaken by Catholics.Exchanging money for services  implies that one would accept these practises, surely. At the same time I expressed my disdain at the negative press Christians receive in our secular society, and ended by stating that we as Catholics should be responsible for speaking up about our faith(however insignificant that may seem) and the Truth about it, more than ever.  It was at this point that my comment was deemed to be  ‘fundamentalist’. I felt uncomfortable with this label and decided to do a little investigation into the definition of the word, hoping to gain fresh insight and understanding of it’s worth.

http://www.religioustolerance.org/reac_ter9.htm

  • Within academic circles, the term is generally used in a precise manner. For example, Author Karen Armstrong defines fundamentalist movements as “embattled forms of spirituality, which have emerged as a response to a perceived crisis” – namely the fear that modernity will erode or even eradicate their faith and morality. 1 That concern is shared by FundamentalistChristiansJews, and MuslimsSikhs, and others
  • Within Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and other faiths, the media generally use the term to refer to the most conservative wing of the religion. For example, fundamentalist Christianity is often described as the most conservative wing of Evangelicalism.
  • However, sometimes the term is used as a general-purpose “snarl” word which is intended to denigrate a religious group, implying that they are intolerant or prone to violence.
In light of the first definition, my comment certainly cannot be described as a fear that modernity will erode or even eradicate my faith and morality. My intention was and is , to highlight the accepted notion in secular society, that most decisions are made relative to one’s needs and circumstances at that one moment in time, and it is accepted that in light of this relativity, decisions  need not be held up for scrutiny.  Surely Christians always attempt to make decisions based on their knowledge and understanding of their Belief and in light of their role as Christians in society?
My discomfort surfaced when thinking in terms of definition two. Witnessing in favour of grass root foundations of the Faith, means that sometimes my views may be easily dismissed  as conservative or right-wing, simply because the issue at hand is blurred through the dirty grey lens of  relativity.  My question then is, ‘What is my role as a Christian in conversations such as these?’
I finally breathed out slowly on reading definition three. I decided that my comments were clearly rebuked in terms of a general-purpose snarl at my gall for raising a topic that in itself can cause an uncomfortable twitch during conversations.
The term, ‘don’t upset the apple-cart’ springs to mind here.
I know for sure that my contributions should not have been labelled as ‘fundamentalist’.  I do hope that in retrospect my concerns raised will encourage further sincere investigation and then be understood as an important  principle; a fundamental decision that serves as a choice between being right or wrong.
As a n extra: Over at http://the-hermeneutic-of-continuity.blogspot.com/ you can enjoy reading about new fundamental laws that have just been passed in Hungry. FUNDAMENTAL in the true sense of the word!


It took me a while…

Picture from Father Piotr W. Wiśniowski (cyber-missionary)

In terms of Catholicism my mind ejected words that read: Natural Law!???, Consumerism, Secular Mothering, Exemplary, Gifts from God?  Worth less than …

Another way of reaching out.

Logo from the WednesdayWord website.

Having developed a firm and steady interest in ‘The New Evangelisation’ proposed by the Church, I was happy to be introduced to this exciting endeavour by a friend of mine. Look for yourselves at  http://www.wednesdayword.org/

By subscribing to the voluntary institution via schools or parishes, they would receive eye-catching copies of the Gospel readings aimed at primary school children and their families. The leaflet is printed on good quality paper and  contains engaging activities that can be completed as a whole family. I would think that the point of sending these home through schools would be to re-awaken an interest in the Word of the Lord; foster good family discussion time at least once a week around the coming Sunday Gospel reading and hopefully promote further discussion of the reading after the homily.

Just superb!

Are you on board ?

Make a difference

 

 

 

 

I just got back from the annual service for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which was held at our local Baptist church this year, and the theme for this year was prepared by the churches in Poland.

The Theme for 2012:

‘We will all be changed by the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ’

(cf. 1 Cor 15:51-58)

It was a beautiful service!  Very moving and thought provoking, and I left feeling elated at the openness and acceptance I experienced from those who didn’t know me, but knew that in order for me to have attended, I must be a Christian. The evening included beautiful readings, uplifting music, poetry, prayer and an overall sense of belonging.

This year was more special than most, for me anyway, because our Bishop, Paul Hendricks, was the key-note speaker. His message was to the point and included anecdotes from his life at Oxford University as a student. He mentioned that he  enjoyed debating with fellow students about various topics on faith and religion and mentioned that he would always come away from these discussions invigorated and challenged by what had been explored. He also mentioned that he grew in faith from these experiences. A lot.   (I found this link http://www.harvardichthus.org/ which may go a long way in explaining what Bishop Paul’s debates may have been about. Fascinating!)

It was inspirational, to say the least, and I sat in my chair quietly proud of our strong and confident leader, preach in the spirit of Ecumenism.  He stood as  part of Christ’s flock , reaching  out in love to us all by suggesting that we play our part in uniting Christians, and challenging us to take ‘the first step’towards discovering another Christian denomination and what we may have in common with one another.

I have a long way to go down this unknown path called Ecumenism and I have much to learn, but I am spurred on by the experiences encountered at the services I have attended during the Week of Prayer for Christian unity over the past few years.

What about you?

The Sion Community

I want to introduce a Community that I have had the pleasure of meeting on a number of occasions. My first experience of this Community came about through a Mission Week. The Evangelists  were hosted by volunteer families from the receiving  parish .

The Mission had a two-pronged focus: the parents and children of that parish.  The Good News reached both the parents and children of the parish simultaneously, and boy, their Good News was electrifying! The Holy Spirit was present in them and worked through them in their work so much so that their love for Jesus was tangible. That experience left me changed forever. For more details on a Mission Week, please contact the Community directly.

My second encounter with them was not as intimate but just as powerful.   I urge anyone with a hunger for the Lord to investigate their webpage and to make contact with them. Here is the link: http://www.sioncommunity.org.uk/

Something to whet your appetite : I received an email on Friday from the Maryvale Institute in Birmingham, advertising a ”Foundations for Mission’ weekend with Mgr Peter Hocken – 28th & 29th January. This will be held at the Sion Community and is sure to be life-changing and unforgettable.

See you there!

Are you listening for the message/s meant for you?

Picture from Father Piotr W. Wiśniowski (cyber-missionary)

A fish out of water.

Today I experienced an alienation from the society in which I live. It was made clear to me in no uncertain terms. Crystal clear!

My staunch commitment to the Truth, cultured by Catholic Social Teaching and the adherence to Tradition which in turn supports and bears the weight of the Catholic dogma underpinning the of Dignity of the human (from conception to natural death) was challenged in its totality.

In this instance, I was surrounded by twenty or so professionals from different agencies who work towards an integrated approach in order to protect children and young adults who may be considered ‘at risk’ . Social workers, health visitors, managers in the education field, pastoral workers and teachers, to name but a few. This group yielded an interesting mix of  rich and varied opinions,  providing a wide learning platform that united us in our ultimate aim: to work towards early intervention in the lives of children and young people in an assured way with the understanding of the importance of sharing relevant information between our agencies consistently. So far so good.

Much of the day was impregnated with the legalities surrounding sharing information in relation to the Data Protection Act, The Children’s Act, the Human Rights Act, and not forgetting, the EU Bill of Human Rights. As professional people dealing with issues that arise from our work, we need to be up to speed with all this , in order to protect ourselves as well as the institutions in which we work, but most importantly, the children’s and families rights with whom  we interact.

The challenge for me arose towards the end of the day, when we were presented with a case study. I will highlight only a few of the issues that were contentious for me as a practising Catholic Christian.

  • Two teenagers aged 12 and 14 years of age engage in ‘consensual’, unprotected sex.
  • The distraught 12-year-old girl approaches the Pastoral Carer at her Secondary school asking for advice on what to next,  as she doesn’t want a baby.
  • She does not want to disclose this information to her parents. (No mention was made of the other human participant in this sexual act, other than his involvement in the act!!)

As the outline of the case study unfolded, my whole being sensed the reverberation of the negative consequences of the secular, English society in which I have chosen to live.

Here are some of the observations I made not only from this case-study, but also from the immediate and impassioned responses from my colleagues: a lack of conscience regarding the role of  the parental right to know about what’ s happening in their daughter or son’s lives,  although to be fair, within the constraints of the Data Protection Act, they were responding ‘appropriately'; the total lack of respect for a possible human life that may have been created by this union, concentrating suggestions wholly on getting the girl to a health visitor where she would be prescribed the morning after pill, (without parental consent!!); focussing directly on information targeted at ‘educating’ the girl on existing birth control options rather than highlighting the best option of remaining sexually inactive as the safest birth control measure. Not only does this option rule out the possibility of contracting STD’s (sexually transmitted diseases which soon proved to be the next biggest concern for the group) but it’s a sure way of allowing yourself to develop in the  understanding of your body and emotional self, as a still growing and developing person. This was really an eye-opener for me. I realised just how much I have been sheltered from the reality of secular decision-making, having worked mainly in a Catholic environment for majority of my adult working life.

These issues were raised as a matter of course and I could see  they are here to stay. No longer is Faith in God resonant in the fabric of this society. Perhaps, maybe in name only, but not in other tangible everyday situations where informed decisions matter the most.

I left contemplating my options if I were ever to be in the shoes of the pastoral advisor  in this case study. I would have to tread very carefully indeed. I would most definitely not accompany the girl to the health facility  that would offer the morning after pill, and I suppose I would opt for the ‘easy’ way out and refer her on to another member of staff that would spout the secular blurb with little more than a bat of an eyelid.

In a more positive light, I would be interested in reviewing the social and emotional programme/s offered at the school with the view to suggesting additional options be made available to the young people. I would work doggedly on the improvement of self-appreciation and self-worth of those attending the school. Of course, this is wishful thinking, and I hope never to be put into a situation such as this.

In God only do I trust. Who knows what lies ahead of me on my journey of Faith?

Great discussion piece?

I found this the other day and I think it makes you stop and consider what’s in front of you. If the soul doesn’t evolve alongside the mind and the body, something is sure to go awry?

What are the consequences of the ‘I don’t want to offend’ mindset?

On my Journey, I have encountered the Holy Spirit in different situations either prodding me gently to go ahead when I’m feeling insecure; as a wonderful embrace of Peace after receiving Holy Communion or the sacrament of Reconciliation; as a Friend I can rely on when I really can’t find words and am at a loss when it’s really important, and crucially also,  as Someone who nudges  me to speak up when I find it difficult to stand my ground as a Catholic Christian. I experienced these nudging’s a number of times and did not take heed of them, retreating to my solitary place of silence where  I didn’t rock the boat because it became too uncomfortable. I would then go away from the situation, agitated, frustrated with myself and with a sense of sadness and not just a little guilt for not challenging ignorance or even worse, a direct attack on Catholic morals and values.

However, the Lord is patient when waiting for me to learn a lesson! After many missed opportunities and uncomfortable times of introspection, it gradually dawned on me that if I didn’t say anything I would be living a lie, to myself , the people in my life and most importantly, to my Lord. The path to this realisation was signposted in neon lights with:- hand-picked mentors from the Lord, who continue to provide me with the tools to unpick my insecurities; courses, reading,  groups, including a wonderful parish,  invitations  that illuminate and continues to improve my  knowledge of  the Faith;  by the courage,  faith and love for Jesus ever-present in our priest, Fr. Peter; and of course, the sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation. I could add to the list, but will leave it there and perhaps return to this topic at a later date.

Herewith a thought for the road. I quote from the http://www.integratedcatholiclife.org/2011/11/hain-the-consequences-of-the-i-dont-want-to-offend-mindset/ which hosts a piece written by Randy Hain:

”The saddest and most glaring point about the “I don’t want to offend” mindset is that we rarely think about how we are offending Christ.  We get bogged down in minor personal concerns and our own fears when we should be thinking about His sacrifice for us on the Cross.  We should routinely fall to our knees in gratitude and recognize that nothing we will ever face can compare to what He did for us.   We will be supported through our fears, difficulties and struggles if we will go to Him in prayer and ask for help.  His sacrifice then and His ongoing love and support, He will always sustain us in difficult situations if we will only be humble, acknowledge Him, embrace Him and love Him.”

The punchline for me:- ”The saddest and most glaring point about the “I don’t want to offend” mindset is that we rarely think about how we are offending Christ.” Keeping quiet, avoiding the subject, directing the conversation elsewhere, pretending not to hear…are behaviours that lead us to offending Christ in our quest for ‘peace’.

I have learned from my lessons that it takes prayer, courage and continued searching for true knowledge about the Faith to stand up and be counted as a vanguard in God‘s army.

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