Friday, March 11, 2005

You can be on the left and still be right.

I'm never sure if it's a good idea to put one's thoughts online nowadays, especially when one is a Roman Catholic talking about the church and the world, theology and doctrine, faith and prayer. There's too many grouches out there--people, I think, not so much in love with the world as trying to control it, and using Catholicism for that purpose. These people, I'm afraid, are missing the beauty of Catholicism in the search for certainty.

But, what the hell, why not?

And so, welcome to Catholic to the Left--a polemical title, to be sure, but for I what I mean to be a contrary voice. To my mind there are too many brittle, hard-edged Catholics roaming around out there, too many triumphalists, too many newly "converted" evangelical Christians who became Catholic so that they could have an intellectual certainty to accompany their emotional one.

I also feel duty bound to offer an alternative voice to those in my generation who long for a return to a previous form of Catholicism--usually one less than 100 years old. I am 31 years old, a cradle Catholic, a veteran of Catholic education (K-12), of undergraduate seminary and graduate theological study (MA in systematic theology), as well as an author of articles and books on prayer and a teacher of theology.

I list these credentials only to stake my claim in the conversation; call me what you will if you read me, but I know well this tradition--my love for it exceeds my knowledge--and I simply can no longer tolerate the way it is presented and perceived in the world, by Catholics and non-Catholics alike. It is a rich heritage, and it deserves better than reduction to mere ideology, to communion politics and single-moral-issue thinking, to sexual obsession and obscure eucharistic devotion.

As you may already have guessed, I am no fan of the liturgical restorationists, the moral reductionists, and the papal authoritarians. If I had to identify myself, I'd say I was a conciliarist in the Vatican II mode and a lover of the liturgy at heart--not of rubrics or ritual fetish but of a Catholic liturgy that takes itself seriously as a "work of the people," the baptized people who know that if they could get "it" right--in liturgy and in life--the world would indeed be transformed.


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