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quod pro nobis traditum est

Friday, May 25, 2012

on social networks

My blog basically and generally deals with matters related to my vocation so does not fit well with the next thoughts on social networks. First, I am on a number of social networks but am not someone who might be considered an "active" or daily participant. Here is why:

1) These social networks, while including many family and friends, are not "social" but seem to be more work related. That is, many or most of the people on these networks are people that have some association, whether directly or indirectly, to the work I am involved in. This means that not only do these networks elicit simple sharing of information between family and friends they also seem to demand some interaction in connection with work. If this is the case, then work is not only something at the office, but now it is also at home and whenever one is on the internet, etc. This may limit any social and enjoyable aspect one might expect to receive from the same networks. In other words, they may bring more stress than enjoyment. Taking work home is not the most relaxing proposition.

2) Related to number one is the almost daily invitation to events, apps and friendships. The last one becomes problematic in that it can become a daily exercise of decision making. In my case, almost all friendship requests are "work" related and more and more from people I do not know or people with whom I have only a slight association. This makes approving friendships harder and harder. I probably already have many friends on these networks who I have no real connection with otherwise.

On the one hand I enjoy the latest news from family and friends which I may probably not receive otherwise. On the other hand, the lines between "social" and "work" are being blurred. Is this workably social or socially workable? Whatever is going on I find myself not enjoying these networks as I would expect and am not as active as I might be expected to be. It's OK.

talking about the saints

In recent years I see more clearly how theological inquiry and discussion is distorted and squelched within the fellowship of the saints. Secularism is not just an external phenomena.

Take for instance the attempt to discuss the saints. Immediately, this topic, maybe like others, seems to draw us to a platform of anti-Catholicism and whatever errors there may be, real and perceived, of those who are not of our own particular tradition. The divine dimension to the question of the saints is dismissed, thus negating real and important questions about the saints in their relationship to God. Discussion becomes horizontal, anthropocentric and antagonistic while the vertical or divine dimension is ignored or rejected.

Discussing theology is more than "us vs. them". There is and ought to be a divine dimension to theological discussion. Looking at the saints, without the negative pretexts, we may appreciate other things about this reality:

1) Existence of saints pre-supposes a God who has power over sin, a God who has the power to forgive.
2) Existence of saints pre-supposes faith and the sanctifying work of a holy God.
3) Existence of saints pre-supposes life after death. That is, saints are together with God in heaven, an existence outside of time.

The word "saint" may bring us to suppose a great list of errors of others or lead to endless discussion of the limitless power of sin (and a limited power of God?). On the other hand, the saints may remind us and draw us to place God back in the picture, the God who is Creator of heaven and earth. This may lead us also to appreciate more the shared belief in the Holy Trinity and in our Lord Jesus Christ and help put to rest secular impulse in matters of theological discussion. These are matters of faith.

If for no other reason, the saints may remind us to appreciate that God has power over sin and death. There is something good to say about the saints, they do not exist for their own sake. They teach us something about Christ and God.

Monday, May 14, 2012

humble consideration

A danger is to view everything in the faith through the filter of salvation. This can lead to rationalizing away that which is divinely revealed as something good. For example, take humility. There is dissonance in discounting humility while quoting a passage of Scripture that says that we are saved by God's grace through faith in Christ and not by our works, lest anyone should boast. In relation to humility, this Scripture might be understood to say that humility is a good thing, that we boast not in ourselves but in Christ. The verse might also address humility in saying that we are not or cannot be saved by humility. We seem to favor the latter understanding.

A danger would be to place too much emphasis on humility. Another danger would be to ignore it altogether. The latter is usually the natural (over-)reaction to the former. If humility is only another ball to be bounced back and forth in arguments over salvation, then it and almost any virtue divinely revealed and given might be thrown under the bus. What's the alternative? Narcissism?

Apart from placing all the weight of salvation on humility itself, it might be good to simply consider the humility of Christ, or Mary's humble reception of the Lord's Word leading to the incarnation, or the humble example of the saints. We might also consider another scenario in which we are saved by humility, Christ's humility, as described in the second chapter of the Apostle's letter to the Philippians.

In other words, maybe because we often lack it, humility is made out to be a bad thing, a burden, another weight of "religion" or of the law. Yet, if salvation is not dependent on our humility might we also consider humility a good thing and even a virtue? Scripture upholds humility and gives it praise.

Returning to the filter of salvation (or justification), there is a tendency to rationalize away everything that is good and given, even that which is divine. That is, since humility does not save, it must be a bad thing or something unnecessary. The faith is not merely a salvation matrix and humility a matter of the law. Cannot salvation sometimes make us a bit narcissistic?

The faith is more than individual certainty, it is whole and catholic, holding on to the mysteries of Christ and God. Humility is one of the many good things to consider in the divine life we have been given. It is not just about me and my salvation, but this takes a lot of humility to consider.