Monday, June 8, 2009

Thinking Is Bad

I wanted to write about this yesterday but going on a Spokane Bicycle Club ride ate up most of the day. Still, that allowed me more time to mull this over. I've mentioned this fervent young priest at St Thomas More church before. Yesterday he gave a sermon about the unknowable and unfathomable mystery of the single God with three parts. He contrasted that with worldly mysteries which are everything else and how just about every television show has a mystery in the story. Once the mystery is solved we move on to the next mystery. He explained how we should not pursue worldly mysteries but only that of the single mystery. Yet by his own admission that mystery is unknowable and unfathomable. So we are to just accept it and rejoice in it.

Then he comes up with this jewel. "Take science, for example," he says with a dismissive attitude. "Look what they do there. They solve one mystery and then move on to another."

Like it's a bad thing.

Now I for one am rather grateful that people like Louis Pasteur, Charles Drew, Jonas Salk, Alexander Fleming, Nicolaus Copernicus, George Washington Carver, Galileo Galilei and many others solved the worldly mysteries they pursued. It's taken a long time, but mankind is far less ignorant than 500+ years ago. And one problem with solving worldly mysteries is that they tend to diminish the unknowable and unfathomable mystery.

This priest is an Army reservist and he's being called up to active duty. I wish him the best. While he's serving I hope that at least on one occasion he'll ask why he has to do something or why something has to be done a particular way. I'm guessing there's pretty slim odds of that happening, eh? He doesn't seem like the type to think about things and ask questions. But if he did, more than likely the answer would be phrased differently than, "It is a worldly mystery you need not concern yourself with."


Unknown said...

I'm reminded of this: Mysterious Answers to Mysterious Questions

Lucas said...

My mom goes to St. Thomas Moore when she is in town and I believe she saw this priest when she was here a couple of weeks ago. If I remember correctly she really liked him. However, my mom is prone to being a raging church lady (she works in the Parish office back home). Figures. Wouldn't solving all of the small mysteries of the world be steps on the path to solving the great unknowable unfathomable mystery?

Hank Greer said...

That's some really good thinking material, Geoff. Thanks for the link.

EvilElf said...

I knew said priest when I worked at GU. Nice kid.

We had a very young priest at St. Augustine's a few years back. He was theologically mistaken on many issues and loved the authority he held. He was an embodiment of much of what is wrong with the church today. Needless to say, he was loved by many ignorant, conservative parishioners.

With Vatican 2 documents and encyclicals in one hand and the catechism in the other, I would have to dissect his homilies for my kids to show them the pathology.

1. He told us that there were things we couldn't ever understand because we weren't priests like him.
2. He said in a "homily" that the best part of his job was forgiving our sins (sac of rec) so we could go to heaven.
3. He invited us all to a talk given by one of the "Left Behind" series authors - a friend of another bizarre priest of the Spokane Diocese.
4. He told us that in eight grade he was head and shoulders above his classmates because he went to daily mass.
5. He wore his cassock everywhere, and loved the frilly stuff.

I believe he possibly was a gay young man who was using the priesthood as a way to appease family and ward off "sinful behavior." Who knows? Just a hypothesis.

Thanks to him (and others), I started exploring issues like authority, fear, control and how they relate to the history of religion. I have a pretty extensive education in religion, but I had only read about these issues. He made them real.

Today, I've never felt better about my place in the universe, my relationship with creation/the creator.

I haven't been to church since.

All to say, young priests, and all the authoritarian/sexual/bizarre/conservative baggage they bring with them to the parish, may lead to real salvation for their parishioners - just not in the way they expect.

green libertarian said...

Wow. I spent more time in that church than any other, a good 10 years starting in about 1991. Attended pretty darn regularly, like 3 out of 4 times a month. Old Father Shufflemeyer (fonetic spelling) was there most of that time. I pretty much enjoyed his Homilies and can't remember anything controversial.

I'm not Catholic, but my wife (now ex) was and she was somewhat devout and bound and determined to get our then infant daughter in the school there. Done and dusted, said daughter graduated from STM and is now a senior (this fall) at Prep.

Since we split up around 2002, the only church services I've attended that didn't have to do with daughter's school have been a few Quaker meetings up in Sandpoint.

I would think it would be a fairly conservative parish.

I'm very torn by the oddities of the Church. Pax Christi is awesome. The social services the Church provides are stellar. The male-dominate hierarchy and much of their doctrine is problematic in so many ways.