Friday, November 30, 2012

Christmas

There is a great trend these days to be religiously open-minded. I saw it in an article on RealClearScience recently.
Ultimately, the key is not to be swayed to one extreme or the other -- fundamentalist religion or strict atheism -- but to walk a reasoned middle path. Eagleman believes that path is "possibilianism," the concept of holding multiple beliefs or hypotheses whilst exploring new ideas.

"The goal is to avoid committing to any particular story," Eagleman told Discovery News, "whether that's religious fundamentalism or strict atheism. The goal of possibilianism is to retain the wonder that drives us all into science in the first place and to avoid acting as though we know the answers to things we can't possibly know at the moment."
It sounds pretty good. If people disagree you don't want to jump into the debate with both feet and pick a side. You want to reflect and keep in mind that disagreement almost always means we don't really know who is right. Certainly when we talk about God we can all have ideas and we should respect those ideas.

There is one problem with that. It is called Christmas. God became man. The whole marketplace of ideas about God gets blown away. God is with us. He comes into a world of Jews and pagans. Jews feel they know the one true God. Pagans are more open-minded. They are always willing to incorporate one more deity into their worship. Jesus presents Himself as the fullness of the Jewish faith. You think you know God but I am God so I will explain where you are right and where you are wrong. He also presents Himself to the pagans as some solid truth in a sea of contradictions.

Catholicism is like Christmas. We have lost track of the presence of God. Some still hold to Jesus as the one true God. They have doctrines they are pretty sure about. Others are more open-minded. They feel everyone has ideas and who knows who is right. Catholicism presents itself as the fullness of the Christian faith. You think you know Jesus but the Catholic Church is the body of Christ and can show you where you are right and where you are wrong. The church also presents herself to the open-minded, the liberal Christians, the confirmed secularists. She offers some solid truth in a sea of contradictions.

Catholicism is about preserving the mystery of the incarnation. Christmas was over 2000 years ago. We act like that is not a problem but it is. The solution to the problem is the church. The word continues to be in flesh and continues to dwell among us. Is it hard to believe? Sure. No harder to believe than the idea that God came to earth as a little baby. Man needed God and was unable to reach out to Him. So God reached out to man. It is still true. God is still reaching out to man.

Some will say that God is not longer reaching out to man in terms of a physical presence. That Jesus' life was in the first century and  the New Testament was written in the first century and that was that. Jesus is present for us spiritually but not in any physical way. Even God's physical presence through priests and prophets in the Old Testament is gone and replaced by something purely spiritual.

We have the marketplace of ideas back because this new and allegedly improved arrangement somehow creates a plethora of opinions about God that cannot be settled. Many have given up and declared Christianity to be either false or unworkable. Precisely the situation that the incarnation was supposed to end. Where has God gone? The good news is He is still here. God is still with us. Jesus has been here the whole time teaching true doctrine, offering true sacraments, and ordaining true leaders through His mystical body, the church.

So the message of Christmas is the same as the message of the new evangelization. God is with us. We don't have to wonder who has God figured out right. He has not left us orphaned. He has offer us Himself. His presence in the Eucharist. His presence in the confessional. He presence in the teaching authority of the church. 

5 comments:

  1. I kinda agreed with the opening, but you totally lost me when you started talking about Christmas.

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  2. When all men are all trying to figure out God then they are going to come up with many useful ideas. There is a kind of equality of opportunity there. When Jesus shows up and He is God then that disappears. He knows God better than any man ever will. So Christmas was the death of the "all religions are basically the same" idea.

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    Replies
    1. Tell that to the people with the Coexist stickers.

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    2. It depends what they mean by co-exist. We must respect other religions. It is not that they know nothing. In fact, the Catholic church says everyone, even atheists, have truth about God that we don't already know. Beyond that we need to respect everyone's freedom to choose their own religion. Still Catholics know their religion is better. It is not the best one they are aware of. It is the best one possible because you can't do better than a church founded by God Himself.

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