Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Faygo and the Wine

I am a computer programmer and my diet consists of junk food. Couple that with a stagnant moving position and you have DAMIEN THE GIANT and I don't mean that in a good way. I used to drink sugary substances and partake of many fine products from the hallowed halls of Mars, Inc. Now, as I am older and needing to be DAMIEN THE NOT SO GIANT AND NOT SO TINY JUST RIGHT SIZED... I stay away from the junk food.

In the evenings, I tend to drink wine these days. A nice merlot hits the spot just right with my dinner to help that digestion and to help lower my Moon High Cholesterol levels. Just in the right amounts it does the body good right right?

Well, isn't that like religion in my life?

I mean, my early formative years was me being dragged around a Church of Christ Environment and the Church of Christ are a very solemn lot. Dancing is bad, music is mostly bad, don't make the deacons mad because they can fire the pastor or they can set you on fire with their eye lasers. Mostly rather a frumpy lot and I have direct experience to this fact. Sorry if any of you are Church of Christ members... no, I am not apologizing for my words either. I was one of you, I am really sorry.

Later, I ended up Baptist. Whhooooo I was a long haired metal freak in highschool trying to make it in a Baptist church, a televised one at that too. Those experiences were fun, but lacked any real substance. The same stories over and over again, all sugary and happy and anything else was frowned upon. You could not challenge ideas with new ideas, you could not sate your own appetite with logic, because the printed answer was always "You have to have faith".

Well, I had faith, I mean I had faith every time I sat in the pew right? I mean the pew isn't going to collapse and drop me to the floor right? But I also understood the reason why the pew did not just fall apart. I understood that screws, nails, glue, the positioning and angle of the legs, all of that held the pew upright so I did not have to worry about anything and I could practice faith. If I saw a rickety chair, poorly constructed I am not going to have much faith that it will hold aloft my fat butt.

So, my approach to religion is the same way, thanks to Georges Lemaitre who constructed the first theory of the Big Bang, who just so happened to be a Catholic priest I was able to begin in my own life rationalizing and finding common ground between the existance of God and the perpetual motion clock of our universe.

However there is a major pitfall and I did not avoid it and I fell into the train of throught that suddenly God was more distant. I began to believe that perhaps God has limited or no involvement in our lives. Sure he wants us to live morally, however I understood with reason and logic that to live a moral life was for the good of myself, my family and society as a whole and not necessarily that of God or religious texts installing in me.

My wife, bless her, loves me and has not smothered me in my sleep yet. She is incredibly too good for the likes of me, but I am so incredibly gifted with her by my side. I see time and time again the good that she draws to her and her heart. In the recent tragedy in our lives I am beginning to see things that stir my heart. I don't know if it is actually God doing anything, but those who believe he is directly working in their lives have been showing that love to us. I have been touched by that love.

So I am searching for truth and some questions I will be posting simply do not have any answer too, but you can thank my grandfather for those genes. I am an inquisitive type and I will even toss out those "Devil's Advocate" questions, not to be mean spirited and not to be all angry. I ask those kinds of questions because I look for truth and honest answers.

I am looking for something finer to my mental and spiritual self than a big bottle of Faygo, I am looking for a smooth merlot or a nice shiraz.

Oh and what does Faygo taste like? Sugar Water ...reminds one of Jolt really. Lots and lots of sugar, the kind of sugary high that makes your teeth chatter and it opens up wormholes in space. Which could be really cool if you want to pull a Dr. Dave Bowman.


Maggie said...

Damien: I almost told you that I was Church of Christ and then didn't want to explain it to the others (who usually aren't familiar with it unless they are from the south or midwest). I went to the slightly more liberal Christian Church branch (instuments allowed) but still a very conservative body. I was blessed in that during the years I was there the pastor was quite wonderful and very open-- which put him at odds with the congregation. You can guess how that ended. I consider the C of C a seriously abusive sect. I know that there must be good ones somewhere but I have never seen one. I know, of course, an awful lot of survivors-- one of my dearest friends needed years, literally, to get past it.

So, when I say I understand what you are dealing with trying to get past the prejudices that Protestants have towards Catholicism I am not just whistling Dixie! Part of it too, I think, is that the Catholic Church has not gotten past its ethnic roots in most or our Protestant minds. So, many times, our vision of what the Church teaches is clouded by the colorful and very hard to understand celebrations of various ethnic Catholics. I am still horrified when people flagellate themselves or tie themselves to crosses. I still gulp when someone claims to see the Virgin Mary on a cheese sandwich!

But these are not the heart of the teaching. In fact, I was drawn to Catholicism inexorably as a result of my graduate studies in medieval culture and literature. It is hard not to get hooked on Augustine, Aquinas, Anselm, Bonaventure (I have my books in alpha order on my bookshelf!) There is this huge body of serious scholarship, theology and philosophy over which the Church reigns. I found this exciting in a way that I simply cannot describe. It might not do it for you but I am absolutely certain that God calls us all and knows just what we need to find him.

Bender said...

OK, now I'm going to echo Gail F from the prior posting --

Much of your description here could come right out of the Confessions of St. Augustine of Hippo, whose own main motivation and driving force in life was a hunger for and search for truth. While enjoying and partaking of the temptations of life, he struggled with accepting the Christian faith and the authority of the Catholic Church for quite a while, until he too realized that there were countless things in life that he simply trusted and "took on faith." And once he simply believed, he began to understand. The scriptures that were previously absurd became intelligible and the font of wisdom. Moreover, in trying to understand truth and reality, both physical and the possibility of transcendent reality, he had a profound understanding of concepts such as space-time long before anyone else. And, he too often played "Devil's Advocate" and asked challenging questions of the same positions that he had recognized as truth.

So, I would not delay, but would go find a good readable translation of the Confessions as soon as possible.

In the meantime, it bears noting that Pope Benedict is himself an Augustinian, and one of the major themes of his writings over the last 40 years is the search for truth, together with the same challenging and questioning of the points he is making.

Scott J said...

Damien, thank you for this comment. Especially your touching words of devotion to your wife. I am inspired by your love for your wife and your devotion to seek the truth. Two awesome things.

Questions are good. Let 'em fly. Sometimes in religious discussions people use questions simply as another way to preach solidified ideological positions, without truly being open to answers from others. But this is obviously not your mindset at all. God bless your openness and honesty!

In addition to what others have mentioned about good reading material (the Catholic Catechism, the Catechism of the U.S. Bishops, St. Augustine's Confessions) may I also suggest a gem called Theology for Beginners by Frank Sheed. Don't let the title put you off. It is written for serious thinkers who nevertheless are not familiar with Catholic theology. You seem to have a logical and systematic mind and this book is great for such a person. I found it very helpful in the beginning process of my own conversion.

I will be praying for you.

Scott J