Tuesday, October 16

Christopher is having fundy trouble again. My oldest son works in the division of the UT Athletic Department that's responsible for taping games for highlights purposes, as well as producing the coach's shows and miscellaneous other work. He loves it, and we're all so grateful that he's involved in something for which he has such a passion. A couple of the guys he works with are fundamentalist Christians - very good people who've taken good care of my son as he's transitioned from home to college, and I'm appreciative.

They've always teased and questioned him about being Catholic, good-naturedly, I've believed, but it's starting to get to Christopher. Tonight he called and we had a long talk about such matters, which, over the past week, have revolved around the interpretation of Revelation 13:18 - the number 666. All my kid was trying to point out to them was that the number could stand for Nero (the numerical value of the letters in his name adding up to 666), and they jumped all over him, saying that of course he was wrong, of course he didn't know what he was talking about, of course it was simply Satan's "number", and somehow, in the end, devaluing Christopher's faith.

He just didn't understand why it was such a big deal, and frankly, neither do I. I asked him if, in these conversations about literal interpretation of Scripture, he ever brought up Jesus' words of institution at the Last Supper. "Yes!" he almost shouted, "I do! They just say that it's not important, and that Jesus meant something else!"

Ah. Christopher, allow me to introduce you to Mr. Fundamentalist. His first name is Inconsistent.It's pretty bizarre how literal interpreters of Scripture will spend so much time and energy defending the "literal truth" of certain passages and completely ignore others - lots of others. It just goes to show that "truth" is not the issue, but verse-slinging in defense of already-determined assumptions is.

Oh yes. Say a prayer for my son, will you? Gracias.

Off-site posting! I'm sitting here at the Georgetown branch of our library system, waiting for Katie who's at a special program in musical composition at a public elementary school down the block. I've read America, The Atlantic Monthly and Entertainment Weekly, and that's about all that's here to read. This is also about all I can manage with a sleeping baby draped on my lap. Later!
Speaking of Sister Wendy , here's a nice tribute to her from Beliefnet.
My husband Michael Dubruiel has moved his blog to this spot, which he's calling "Annunciations." I like it.
For those of you wondering what's going on with the investigation into the terrorist cells, take a look at this article from last week's LA Times.
"Women of Cover?" Did anyone notice Bush's use of this term in last week's press conference?

I was struck by this that in many cities when Christian and Jewish women learned that Muslim women, women of cover, were afraid of going out of their homes alone, that they went shopping with them, that they showed true friendship and support, an act that shows the world the true nature of America.

Here's what I have to say: if he made up the phrase on the spot, he's pretty darn clever. If one of his speechwriters was responsible - fire the culprit for the crime of being incredibly lame.

Feast of St. Gerard Majella

A Redemptorist lay brother, St. Gerard is remembered for many qualities, including his holiness (well, yeah...we can take that for granted, I guess), his patient endurance of ill health, his gift of healing, and this:

At one point in his life, Gerard was subject to a rather shocking accusation: that he'd had an affair with a woman. this page says the accusation was that he was the father of a child, but nowhere else have I found that element of the story.

When the accusation was brought to him by none other than Redemptorist founder Alphonsus Liguori, Gerard decided to take the Redemptorist rule's command to accept the discipline of one's superior's in silence, without dispute literally, even in this circumstance, which was clearly not the intent of the Rule.

But he did, and was punished for his supposed indisgression for several months, even though everyone found it almost impossible to believe that he would have been capable of such a thing. After a time, the girl, very ill, confessed her lie, and Gerard was brought back into full community life.

This story reminds me of a Zen Koan. Yes, it really does. Here it is:

A beautiful girl in the village was pregnant. Her angry parents demanded to know who was the father. At first resistant to confess, the anxious and embarrassed girl finally pointed to Hakuin, the Zen master whom everyone previously revered for living such a pure life. When the outraged parents confronted Hakuin with their daughter's accusation, he simply replied "Is that so?"

When the child was born, the parents brought it to the Hakuin, who now was viewed as a pariah by the whole village. They demanded that he take care of the child since it was his responsibility. "Is that so?" Hakuin said calmly as he accepted the child.

For many months he took very good care of the child until the daughter could no longer withstand the lie she had told. She confessed that the real father was a young man in the village whom she had tried to protect. The parents immediately went to Hakuin to see if he would return the baby. With profuse apologies they explained what had happened. "Is that so?" Hakuin said as he handed them the child.

Interesting, isn't it? Not so much for the similarities in the stories, but for the differences, which clearly point out the distinctions between Christian and Buddhist spiritual ideals.

The Buddhist ideals that are stressed here are self-detachment, and release from any desire, here the desire for "justice" and even truth. Hakuin certainly acts out of compassion in caring for the baby and protecting the mother's reputation, but that's not the real point. The point is that Hakuin understood that all of the concerns that swirled around the situation were really illusory and not deserving of attachment or concern.

Gerard, on the other hand, is intent on imitating Christ. We may wonder if he took things a bit far, and it may strike us that there's a bit of self-righteousness in his silence in front of St. Alphonsus, but beyond that, the ideals we can see lived out are patience under trial and faith that God's truth will win out in the end.

I have to confess, I find the Buddhist story more appealing. Don't know what that says about me, but there it is.


Blog Archive