Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Wednesday, January 26, 2005  

Facts for God

The other day I came upon Mark Shea's site which features his books for sale.

Mark is a well known orthodox apologist for the Catholic Church whom I've had a few bones to pick with over the last few years since I tend towards less dogmatism than he does.

But this blurb caught my attention:

Power in the Blood: The Life-Changing Power of the Eucharist

To receive Communion is to experience the most powerful, personal encounter with Christ you could ever hope to have.

People utter cliches and conventional pieties all the time without ever asking themselves if they are completely true. The above quote is unqualified and absolute, and so I had to email Mark to say:

"Your blurb is not factual. I have met the risen Lord, Jesus the Christ, in person. Receiving the Eucharist since has never equalled it."

Mark's response was: Duly noted.

Do you think he actually benefitted from my experience and remark? Somehow, I doubt it.

People have a sad habit of taking genuine reverance and spiritual imagination and turning them into religious wishful thinking; extending a metaphor or emotion into an unsupportable dogma (see Mary's Immaculate Conception and Ascension, for example).

What began as a sympathetic and emotional contemplation of Mary's role in the Jesus story became a ludicrous extension of unnecessary and unattested miracles conjured out of pious flights of fancy.

When uncreative people, those unused to working with the dreamstuff of the imagination, intuition, and inspired feelings, go to work on expressing new found and naive fantasies, the result isn't pretty. (See Hermas the Shepherd, an early Christian text that was greatly loved and nearly made it into the New Testament).

Whereas the Gospel of John was a work of genius by a highly self-conscious artist/poet who knew exactly what he was about or intending to accomplish. It is the difference to Bach's Mass in B Minor and a child babbling a made up tune.

But sentimental people caught up in the marvel of grace jump to conclusions about experience, its meaning and expression, which do not stand up to scrutiny. Just think about how many religious people, good, decent, tender hearted people, who support large industries that make kitschy trinkets and geegaws.

It isn't a matter simply of taste, but of insight and deeply considered thought that hasn't occurred. Nice people who are naifs in both artistic and spiritual judgment.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 9:47 AM |