If I’m Being Led by the Spirit, One of Us Has Been Drinking

Vemeer's "The Glass of Wine"

Given my rather erratic journey of faith, one would have to conclude that the Spirit can’t really be held responsible.

As any good convert, I was more Catholic than the Pope. It was important to believe everything as told, and to do everything right.

I actually did scour the books for the “correct” version of a prayer, which version of the Bible was “Catholic” and so forth, no Protestant stuff for me.

This went on for some time. I was leery of biblical scholars and theologians who were not Roman. I couldn’t trust them you see. They might not be giving me the “official” version.

As such, I was not concerned with the issues of celibacy and women’s ordination. I assumed my Church had good reason for this. I was for and against them respectively.

Of course, today, I laugh at such things. In fact, I started moving distinctly away from “doctrine” and official dogma once I started taking a Master’s program in Pastoral Ministry at a Catholic liberal arts college in Detroit. Happily I was introduced to all the fine theologies that were and are making the rounds–liberation, black, women’s, feminist, Latina, LGBTQ–the list gets longer by the day.

Some of it cut across the niceties of what I considered acceptable. I definitely disliked James Cone‘s Black Liberation Theology for instance. I too thought some of the feminist stuff was a bit too strident.

But time changes one. At least it did me. Now I respect and love Cone, and I have a big “go sista” to the feminist Christian movement. I recently read and reviewed New Feminist Christianity: Many Voices, Many Views, edited by Mary E. Hunt and Diann L. Neu. You can read a copy of it at my other blog AFeatherAdrift (please don’t mention this one–My Episcopal friends have no idea yet of my Catholic struggles).

I read it with fervor and joy, happy to see that feminist work is continuing and broadening in terms of subject and locale. As I said, once, I looked quite askance at this. But that was before I realized by gentle but helpful teachers, that God is diminished when we construct Her in this limited way, with hierarchies of power and leadership. A good healthy dose of good biblical exegesis helped hugely as well.

One of the things I learned from the book was that there is no “women’s voice” there are many, as the name suggests. There is no Latina voice, nor lesbian voice. We do not judge each other. For some women, leaving the Roman tradition is necessary. For others, like myself, it turns out to have been a mistake.

I can only speak for me. I am Catholic, and that informs much about me in the end. I choose to stand and oppose my faith on issues that I discern them to be wrong. I do it perhaps because my personality is confrontational, or perhaps for some other reason. But that is the path I am on, though it no doubt looks odd and troubling to others who know me.

Catholics on the extreme right had convinced me that I had no place in the Church. They were real and I was a “cafeteria” one, barely worthy of the name. I needed to go to a church that I found that agreed with my self-serving needs. I was contemptible.

But of course I was not gay, nor did I seriously want to be ordained. I am well past child-bearing, and thus I have no personal issue with abortion or birth control. My troubles with doctrine were heart felt, and supported by serious intellectual study and reflection.

What was worse,  were the things they said about American Catholic universities and colleges (most of them that is) and about religious men and women (excluding of course ETWN). I was nothing but the product of “liberalized” nuns and priests who were never taught properly in the first place.

It is with deep sadness that I hear of the Vatican’s examination of religious men and women in the US, with a view to determining their degree of orthodoxy. It is a shame, since these men and women carry the lion’s share of the social justice work being done on behalf of Mother church. They present the Church as loving and concerned, as politically involved, and as caring for the least among us, something Jesus presented to us as our duty.

I am also deeply sad that on the Internet, there is a paucity of liberal Catholic blogging. I have searched with almost no success to find bloggers who are like myself, walking in the shadows of their faith, formally rejected, yet finding a vibrant welcome here and there. I believe with all my being that most Catholics are supportive of us.

It would be nice to be able to talk to others who struggle as I do.

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