Saturday, June 25, 2005

Reply To David Stern

One person with whom I had many exchanges in the Catholic forum in Yahoo in which I participated posted a comment to my previous entry. Here is my reply:

Dear David,

I was pleasantly surprised to receive your comments. Although I invited those in the Yahoo forum to check out my blog and offer comments, I didn't expect that anyone would. Now I'd like to address some of your points.

Of course it is easy for you to come to that conclusion as you are not a practicing Catholic.

I'm not sure "conclusion" is the correct word for it. I try to keep my mind open to the possibility that there is more truth to Christianity than I realize. And, even though I intend to write a book summarizing my misgivings about Christianity, how can I be certain that my research, contemplation, and life experience won't effect a radical change of heart and plans?

As near as I can tell you practice nothing.

If you read my essay on "Integral Spiritual Practice," you know that I don't engage in a formal religious or spiritual practice. However, one could say that my life is my practice. Since I was a boy, I've been intensely interested in spirituality and philosophy in the classical sense of the "love of wisdom," and I meditate, read, reflect, thank the Lord virtually every day for my life and good fortune, and strive to mindfully manifest lovingkindness, equanimity, empathy, compassion, joy, and wisdom. Of course, when I speak of the "Lord," I am referring to something quite different than what Catholics appear to mean by the term. There is a book by Eknath Easwaran called Original Goodness that eloquently expresses his and my understanding of the Lord.

you did not participate in a discussion of faith and how the posters experience God; rather you urgently kept asking the same two questions about hell and “homosexual union.”

David, if the Church is wrong about hell and homosexual unions, then I believe that it's a fundamentally flawed institution, no matter what individual Catholics report of their experiences of God. Although I did invite Catholics in the Yahoo forum to talk about their faith and personal experiences, I focused on Catholic teachings and concepts, and, with all due respect to your perception, this focus consisted of more than "the same two questions" about hell and homosexuality.

In Living Buddha, Living Christ Thich Nhat Hanh asserts the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ.

Thich Nhat Hanh has given no indication I'm aware of that he believes in the Catholic concept of Jesus as the unique son of the Big Boss in heaven, and when he writes that "the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ," this is to be understood in terms of the Buddhist understanding of interconnectedness--Nhat Hanh calls it "interbeing"-- in which every object and event in the past and present universe exists and functions only relation to all of the others. I believe that Catholics would find this antithetical to their own understanding of the Eucharist.

Do you suppose he is able to do so by assuming a stance of mutuality toward Catholicism rather than deconstructionism?

I respect Thich Nhat Hanh's non-confrontational approach to dialogue with people of other faiths. However, I also believe that there's a place for respectfully asking questions that go to the heart of a faith's teachings, and this is what I endeavor to do when I discuss Christianity.

Maybe he can teach you if you want to be taught.

I have many teachers, and Thich Nhat Hanh is certainly one of them.

David, thank you for writing. I'd be more than happy to continue dialogueing with you in public or in private.

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