a conversation between faith, culture, and the church

kazuend cherry blossoms

Whenever a community receives the message of salvation, the Holy Spirit enriches its culture with the transforming power of the Gospel. …In the Christian customs of an evangelized people, the Holy Spirit adorns the Church, showing her new aspects of revelation and giving her a new face.

—Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 116


Image: detail of a photo by Kazuend

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faith in conversation with experience

John Price concert

No sooner do we formulate a faith conviction than we must integrate into it the chaotic flow of experience. Since we now have an ultimate perspective, it must shed light in some way on all that is proximate. We cannot “cry God” with a self satisfied grin and fall silent. Hot on the heels of faith comes theology.

Theology is not so much faith seeking understanding as faith scrambling for respectability in the midst of a Mystery which it has latched onto firmly enough to say, “Oh yes!” but not thoroughly enough to say, “This is how it works.”

—John Shea, Stories of Faith


Photo by John Price

in memoriam umberto eco—mac vs dos

mendel_i_150_r

This past Friday, February 19, the Italian semiotics scholar and novelist, Umberto Eco died at the age of 84. He is one of those authors whose shorter writings have popped up on my radar from time to time. He has a peculiar mix of insightful, funny, and maddening things to say, and I’m resolving once again to read dive into one of his books …eventually!

For now, here’s an article that I remember reading back in the 1990s.

A Holy War: Mac vs Dos

Insufficient consideration has been given to the new underground religious war which is modifying the modern world. It’s an old idea of mine, but I find that whenever I tell people about it they immediately agree with me.

The fact is that the world is divided between users of the Macintosh computer and users of MS-DOS compatible computers. I am firmly of the opinion that the Macintosh is Catholic and that DOS is Protestant. Indeed, the Macintosh is counter-reformist and has been influenced by the ratio studiorum of the Jesuits. It is cheerful, friendly, conciliatory; it tells the faithful how they must proceed step by step to reach—if not the kingdom of Heaven—the moment in which their document is printed. It is catechistic: The essence of revelation is dealt with via simple formulae and sumptuous icons. Everyone has a right to salvation.

DOS is Protestant, or even Calvinistic. It allows free interpretation of scripture, demands difficult personal decisions, imposes a subtle hermeneutics upon the user, and takes for granted the idea that not all can achieve salvation. To make the system work you need to interpret the program yourself: Far away from the baroque community of revelers, the user is closed within the loneliness of his own inner torment.

You may object that, with the passage to Windows, the DOS universe has come to resemble more closely the counter-reformist tolerance of the Macintosh. It’s true: Windows represents an Anglican-style schism, big ceremonies in the cathedral, but there is always the possibility of a return to DOS to change things in accordance with bizarre decisions…

Naturally, the Catholicism and Protestantism of the two systems have nothing to do with the cultural and religious positions of their users. One may wonder whether, as time goes by, the use of one system rather than another leads to profound inner changes. …

And machine code, which lies beneath and decides the destiny of both systems (or environments, if you prefer)? Ah, that belongs to the Old Testament, and is talmudic and cabalistic.

—Umberto Eco, excerpt from an article in the September 30, 1994 edition of Espresso. English translation found here.

Image credit: By Anonymous [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

he dwells among us—if today you hear his voice, harden not your heart

NamphuongVan winterview

The new Jerusalem, the holy city (cf. Rev 21:2-4), is the goal towards which all of humanity is moving. It is curious that God’s revelation tells us that the fullness of humanity and of history is realized in a city.

We need to look at our cities with a contemplative gaze, a gaze of faith which sees God dwelling in their homes, in their streets and squares. God’s presence accompanies the sincere efforts of individuals and groups to find encouragement and meaning in their lives. He dwells among them, fostering solidarity, fraternity, and the desire for goodness, truth and justice. This presence must not be contrived but found, uncovered.

God does not hide himself from those who seek him with a sincere heart, even though they do so tentatively, in a vague and haphazard manner.

—Pope Francis, Joy of the Gospel, 71

Photo credit: Namphuong Van

the love that moves me to speak

Aaron Burden Bible Study Write

The driving force behind God’s giving human beings his ineffable gift of the Holy Scripture was love: Deus qui amas animas (cf. Wis 11:26). This same love must be the driving force behind the apostle’s writing: “It was love that moved me to speak.” Love of God makes God become the hub of one’s being…

Awash with this love, endowed with the right intention, strengthened by prayer, and steeped in Scripture, the apostle will be able to take up the editorial task confident that his or her writings, like the holy book, will succeed in being light, guide, and support for people; or, in other words, be for them, way, truth, and life.

—Bl James Alberione, The Publishing Apostolate, 166-167

 


Photo credit: Aaron Burden

no story is an island entirely unto itself

Samuel Zeller conversations

The process of interpreting and ‘narratizing’ personal experiences—’biographical work’—is artful, to be sure, but it is also constrained by the repertoire of stories available and sanctioned in one’s context of action. As the sociologist Margaret Somers notes, ‘all of us come to be who we are (however ephemeral, multiple, and changing) by being located or locating ourselves (usually unconsciously) in social narratives rarely of our own making’ (1994: 606; emphasis in original). Stories, even self-stories, are inherently social.

—Joseph E. Davis “Narrative and Social Movements: The Power of Stories” in Joseph E. Davis ed., Stories of Change: Narrative and Social Movements, (Albany, State University of New York Press: 2002) 20-21


Photo credit: Samuel Zeller

it’s not enough to get the story

Tobias Negele Bridge Keys FL

… it’s not enough to get the story, but it’s also important to figure out how to make it compelling.

Right now, one of the problems is that there’s a lot of information out there that is technically available but it’s not absorbed by people who aren’t interested in these issues.

We tend to preach to the choir. I think our most fundamental challenge in journalism, especially those of us who want to have an impact is to preach beyond the choir and reach people who might disagree with us, might be challenged by our views and that’s a complicated answer that involves images, video and great story-telling and it’s hard, but it is so important.

Nicholas Kristof

 

Photo credit: Tobias Negele

communication & evangelization

AmadorLoureiroType

When these means of communication are used for evangelization they receive a consecration, they are ennobled. The writer’s office, the printing room, the book center become church and pulpit.

—Bl James Alberione, UPS, I 316

 

Photo credit: Amador Loureiro

dialogue

Drew Patrick Miller Guggenheim

Dialogue is only possible starting from true identity.

I cannot pretend to have a different identity in order to dialogue. No, it isn’t possible to dialogue in this way. This is my identity and I dialogue because I’m a person, because I’m a man or a woman; and man and woman have the opportunity to dialogue without negotiating their identity.

The world suffocates without dialogue: for this you also make your contribution, in order to promote friendship among religions.

Pope Francis

Photo credit: Drew Patrick Miller