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A psycho-spiritual role for logic


I’m not an overly enthusiastic fan of reason, logic, rationalism, scientism, physicalism, thinking, etc. But I am absolutely an enthusiastic fan. What does “overly” mean to me?

When you put all of your eggs — all of your big questions — in the basket of rationalism, you cheat your humanity. The height of reason is not the height of humanity {see endnote for more}.

Logic — no matter how pure — is simply not a person’s only way of “knowing.” Let’s take up the question of, “Who am I?”

Mire your self in as much logic as you wish about the question, “Who am I?” You stumble quickly into irrational grandiosity which inflates your self-importance, like Mushu presents himself as The Great Stone Dragon to Mulan (voice, Eddie Murphy): https://youtu.be/zn_nM7x7Lcw.

At the opposite end of the Logic Pendulum‘s swing is that you are but a speck on a tiny planet in the universe, bound to be wormbait and dust.

We each sense that we are something special in the universe, but that sense does not, and cannot, come from our faculty of reason isolated from the rest of our life experience.

“Who am I?” leads us to ponder both the universal and the specific. Neither seems to make sense alone. I am part of something big, and I am an individual. Let’s play further with another question logically…

“What is my potential?”

Here, I think logic has a deep and profound psycho-spiritual role to play for a person. You are NOT the ideals and values you espouse. That’s illogical grandiosity. Yet most of us live our lives thinking and acting this way. We wish to be something we can never be. Consider it logically. An ideal is an ideal and cannot be entirely embodied by… well… a body. Neither ANY-body nor EVERY-body.

Objective truths are unreal. They objectify us. And something within us tells us that we are not mere objects, in reality. So poo-poo on your idolization of objectivity. We are each subjects—agents of action.

“Who am I? What is my potential?” Logically, I am Neil. Logically, my potential cannot exceed Neil’s theoretical potential. Logically.

Why do we get so easily tempted by lures of achievement? By promises of becoming something we wish for? Because we live in a materialistic culture with expert marketing! And those forces are not founded on logic! They appeal to “something” in us far beyond our faculty of reason. At their extreme, they are imaginary realms, outside the realm of logic.

Our imagination lures us, logic be damned!

This propensity, proclivity, impulse, and compulsion for imagination is evoked when we hear platitudes like…
Be all/the best you can be.
Be your best/full self.
Self-actualize.
Know thy-self.

So, set aside your imagination as best you can, and apply here some brutal logic. And remember that psychology informs us by unequivocal consensus that Comparison is a lethal practice for The Self.

You cannot be “that” in its imaginary entirety. You cannot be “this” at every moment. You cannot be this or that by choice, by will, voluntarily in every circumstance.

This is the fullness of logical honesty.

In the sense that you deny each of these truisms, you are logically ill. You become *mentally* ill when you rely exclusively on logic. Because “you” are so much more than an engine for reason.

A human being is much more than a thinker.

A human being is also a feeler.

We try to sort out those two, but that is an exercise of logic! Can you peel an orange with an orange peel?

Anytime we consciously exercise logic, we sense that it is incomplete. And so have the greatest minds in philosophy throughout our history.

Today’s brilliant thinkers have an imaginary hope that we haven’t YET figured out how to subsume our faculties of emotion into our faculty of reason, but will in the future—like scientific discoveries remain incomplete and point to paths we should follow for further discovery. Of course we should do that, but if the aim of those pursuits is a fantasy that we will detangle our thinking faculties from our feeling faculties, and reduce the mystery of the human being, well, then, what are we left with?

Anyhow, that may seem to have strayed from my purpose here. I have drifted into talking about universals, and not the specific You, or Me.

Stop being so hard on yourself because you do not perfectly embody ideals, which were never meant to be perfectly embodied. Be content with valuing them. You are unique in the universe, even outside of time: Never has there been, nor will there ever be, another you.

To “do You well,” practice some logic about who you are, and, especially, who you aren’t.

Then practice some more logic: The full You that you just conceived NEVER remains static.

You are this and that… sometimes.

That’s *honest* logic.

“‘Neil’ is a name which should never be spoken.” Or only spoken as a whisper. Or whatever. Why? Mystery.

This morning’s Neil is not the same as this evening’s…

Logically…


Related: Beware of therapy goals! (2) Envy and the Pitfalls of Validation

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Neil D. 2021-09-01


{ ENDNOTE

The Enlightenment is a wonderful collective achievement, but it is not the end game. It was just a corrective swing of the pendulum away from the oppression of both the superstitious middle ages and the religiosity of The Renaissance. (https://slate.com/human-interest/2015/01/whats-the-difference-between-the-renaissance-and-the-enlightenment.html)

The Age of Reason and the Industrial Revolution have put us in the age of technology, biotechnology, information, etc. accompanied by political revolutions which have put the freedom of individuals on par with service by the power of the state.

If you are more interested in his characterization of European/western historical ages, I recommend reading about the aforementioned topics as well as “Deism.”

}


Featured

“How do you feel?” “I don’t know…”


“How do you feel?”
“I don’t know…”

I don’t think it’s unusual not know what we’re feeling. Nor even to be unable to feel.
What are you feeling now?
Are you feeling a mixture of feelings?
Are you feeling one shallowly?
Are you feeling one deeply?

If you aren’t sure, there are some almost universal triggers to make or help you feel.

I’m not at all a fan of the musical genres jazz, classical, or country. I can enjoy occasional hits from each, but rarely more than one or two at a time. Upon hearing of my disdain for classical, my sister challenged me.

I believe this 3.5 minute piece is one of the almost universal triggers that cannot be heard without a maelstrom of accompanying feelings (listen with space to move your arms through their full ranges, and fasten your headphones or earbuds securely, for your head will dance upon your neck, and, almost certainly, you’ll need to stand, and quite possibly dance):

If you are a classical music aficionado, don’t try to convert me, but please do share with me pieces like this one, which do not require an appreciation for the art form, and do not for the uninterested include wasteful bridges, interludes, and introductions. I wish to hear more brief pieces like this, in which every note has intrinsic value, even to the infidel.

Neil D. 2020-07-19


Featured

My love letter to me


My love letter to me
…from my mom,
…from my soul,
…from me.

[6 minute read]

My rational mind loves theology, and I can wrap many of my beliefs into tidy packages to delight my reason. But that’s horribly dangerous, just like this theology: “The wages of sin is death, and you need a savior.”

“Do you NOW see and feel, Neil? Despite the crown of thorns, humiliation, false charges, excruciating death, do I threaten my wrath? ‘Forgive them, Abba…’ He was not begging on your behalf because you are unworthy of Our love. He was vocalizing what flows inseparably FROM Our love. Our sadness that you ‘know not what you do…’ To your Selves.

“Do you NOW see and feel, Neil? When I, your passionate and personal God, say that I love you unconditionally, that means no necessity of forgiveness. Our acts of love are not to show you how sinful you are. They are deeds to show you the purity of Our love for you. There’s no need at all for forgiveness when all is love….

“Love does not originate FROM or BY forgiveness. Love is no hostage, contingent on redemption by contrition and absolution. There is NO requirement that forgiveness PRECEDE My love. Neither offense nor guilt affect pure love. Nothing binds love. Forgiveness is a coincidence of true love, NOT a prelude…

“Look at me, my son Neil. LOOK at me. Don’t be afraid. Look at my Son’s crucified, bloody face. Does He look angry?

“The sadness on his face is for you. His face is My face. I am not angry and demanding justice because you have hurt Me. I am the Lord your God, Who fears nothing. I do not fear being hurt. But I can and do feel hurt. I can and do feel sadness. They are part of love, and I AM love. So I am also Hurt. I am also Sadness. But hurt and sadness out of love, not out of fear. Fear is not part of love. Do not fear that you have hurt me, and need my forgiveness. For I love you already. Fearlessly, and fiercely.

“You only fear Me because you cannot feel and trust the fullness of pure love — yet. My Son’s passion is a show of love’s purity, not a message that you need to fear Us, nor that you needed His sacrifice…

“My Son’s passion is Our love story for you, Neil. Don’t corrupt it into a tragedy about sin and penalty and any sense of justice and consequences and conditions and laws and rules…

“His love is pure. My love is pure. Conditions and rules for gaining it are impurities.

“I am sad, because you hurt your self, child. I, the Lord Almighty, BEG and PLEAD with you, Neil… I do not COMMAND you by any other power or authority except love… Fearsomeness is false power, and I am not false. Love holds no space for fear. And I am love…

“Your very Creator is begging and pleading for you to feel Our love in the story of my Son’s life. We do not wish for you to see some sacrifice to atone for your shame and restore your worthiness. Our love is NOT affected by your sin. It doesn’t stop just because you sin. Don’t be so conceited to think you can diminish Our love! Let this love story fly past your ego and annihilate barriers of shame, to touch your tender soul, sweet boy…

“The story of Yeshua is about Our goodness and YOUR goodness… Our and your OUTRAGEOUS capacity for love. Be outraged about that! Stop – STOP – making it about your badness and failure to love. You are hurting and saddening Us and your eternal Self by your ego-centeredness. Center the story on your WHOLE Self, as I made you. Be Self-centered about THAT story.

“Look at me, my son Neil. LOOK at me. Don’t be afraid.

“Let this story through your ego-self to your soul-Self. Begging… Pleading… In love… THAT is who We are.

“Know your shame, son. We do. Let it waft into your ego’s consciousness, and your whole Self can be compassionate with it, as We are. Your repression is keeping Our love from your soul. Even your ego, Neil, can love Us, and can love all of you, if your soul can embrace your whole Self tenderly, as We created it to do. You are made to love. Your soul can do its work, son.

“Imagine my Son’s face at the wedding in Cana, with a joyous smile crinkling his eyes. Imagine the fiery warmth of those eyes locked on the eyes of the woman to be stoned, ‘Nor do I condemn you…’ That is not a warmth that flows FROM forgiving; it is the fire of passionate love, from which forgiveness – like all things truly and purely good – cannot be separated.

“We hurt when those whom We love feel hurt. Just as you do. ‘I have become one of you.’ I have joined humanity because humanity is worthy. You are worthy of Our unconditional love because that love is Ours to give, NOT yours to earn. NO conditions. I am all-powerful. And I am in you. Our power is not rooted in meting out justice. Do not be afraid. Our power is love. I dwell in you: YOUR power is love.

“The moment I and your mother brought you to life, she held you in her arms, and adored you with unconditional love. You had done nothing to earn or deserve it. It was hers to give, not yours to earn. Your soul is no different from your mother’s. Your soul is no different from Me.

“You too have unbounded power to give love without conditions. Please, Neil, pour it out, unshackled by shame, with NO conditions. And, please, begin with pouring it onto my own infinitely lovable son, whom your mother named Neil…

Neil D. 2020-03-06

Related: My love letter to you, My love letter to you PS

Featured

Advent Prequel to Footprints


(Read the preface to this poem here.)


“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened…” (Mt 11:28)


Adeste fideles. (Come, faithful).


Advent Prequel To Footprints

(Neil Durso)

Energy, misbalanced.
Self-centered lifetime.
Other-centered lifetime.
Tiresome battles lost.

Shameful failure.
Wasted toils?
No. Delivery to the now.

A curled, sobbing heap,
Writhing on sands of self-desertion.
A finger trembling, raised to an eye…
Tap its pool of tears, running them thin,
Glimpse through the blur:

A shadow over tears on dead sand
Shades the relentless brightness of scorching shame,
Revealing a garment’s hem resting on sandaled toes.

Stretch out of despair a hand.
Touch a finger to the coarse fabric.

From that cloak, a hand extends,
Re-flavoring tears that flow still.
From a spring deep within, never fully felt.
Feel it now. Don’t wrestle floodgates inside.

Epic struggle.
Ordained end.
Rivulets of tears baptize anew.
Every ounce of unrequited effort poured out has prepared the way

Enormous fruitlessness was the way.
En route to the quenching fruit of energy exhausted.

The garment takes you up, in its arms
So gentle, their power feels misplaced.
You tremble at tenderness so unfamiliar.

From this bottom, from this birthplace,
In His wake are one set of footprints.

At cool evening’s arrival,
You’re lowered lovingly
To your own feet.
Refreshed.
At His side.
He at yours.
Two sets of feet imprint the sands.

Onward in silence.
For a time.
Then,
The silence drips into distant song
On fleeting breezes.

Whispering beneath the rising chorus,
“Whither, Yeshua?”
“The City of David.”

A bright star draws your gaze.
And He is gone.

Shepherds appear.
On pilgrimage.
To Light.

Above the sonorous din of lambs’ bleating,
Lyrics grow clearer…

Carried by the parade, your heart then
Your tongue join the hosts’ song.
Reborn of unshackled brokenness,
The beckoned joins the calling:

“O… O… come, all ye faithful…”
(song)


(Read the preface to this poem here.)


-Neil D. 2019-12-16
(revised from 2018-12-24)

Featured

Green Shirt

The gently soft-spoken 20-something didn’t seem to ever stop talking except when he asked of me simple questions and waited for replies with earnestness that made me feel like my answer would be divine and resonate with profoundly undeniable truth and universal wisdom. He sat on a park bench with his beautiful, unthreatening, expectant, wide eyes open naturally enough to look up at me as I stood beside the bench on which he sat lower. His eyes weren’t bloodshot or distant, squinted or spookily wide. His pupils locked on my gaze, without blinking, without discomfort or shame. Without abiding by any conventions of time or rhythm familiar. Just natural, as anyone’s might be awaiting an answer, unconsciously exhaling the puff of smoke from a satisfying drag off the cigarette he just bummed off me…

He did that several times, awaiting several answers to several questions. Of me. Me. Me? Me!

Not hard answers to give. But not easy questions to ask. So, wait–maybe hard questions to answer, but not hard words to summon in answer: “Yeah.” “That’s true.” I know.” “I feel you.” “Right.” “Damn.” “I know.”

Know? Do I really *know* anything?

Now I know I do.

Green Shirt talked and asked about his joy and loss of waking next to her, whose name he didn’t remember. Of being anxious about how he would get eggs and bacon like yesterday. Would the nurses let him have the medicine he needed again?

He’s glad it’s warm today.

Hopes it will be tonight, wherever he winds up.

Wants to work on my car. She knows how to service bearings. He knows he has to clean up dog poop in the park before her company lets him collect cans. She’s not afraid to work hard. Why do they think their reality’s rules make more sense?

Yeah, I suppose Yeshua from Nazareth wore some shade of white fabric in the middle eastern form of that time. But I think, yesterday morning, He wore a green t-shirt.

If you see Green Shirt today, tell her I miss him. Tell him I said hello. Tell her I remember him. Say Hello to her for me. Thank him for talking to me about her own world. Tell her I love hymn… because he trusted me just to affirm her truth. And … loved ME too.

Neil D. 2019-07-25

Want justice?


We tend not to consciously question our cultural institutions – built upon power, in the form of respect or money.

When/if we sometimes wake up and are conscious, we often speak out “against,” as “anti-” and consequently view ourselves as members in protest groups of one stripe or another. The charters of these institutional tribes are, ostensibly, “for” something, but even then, cannot escape their roots “against” something.

This seems to be the way of our species and our institutions. Power. Which involves competition and survival of the fittest, winning and losing. And we are so largely asleep to the way those patterns of thought and action influence us as individual, unique, single human beings.

Power, respect, competition, and bargaining to win… These subconscious programs of our institutions are assimilated by individual human beings, leading to divisiveness within families, friendships, and romantic partnerships.

Whether injustices we suffer are institutional or personal, individual persons eventually see themselves as suffering victims, and the natural response is to formulate explanations. “I was brought up in a dysfunctional family. I suffered childhood trauma. She is a manipulative people-pleaser. He is a narcissist. They are lazy and think they are entitled. They are toxic people…”

Even our indignantly righteous religious institutions do the same. “They are ungodly. He is an infidel. She is a sinner. Only our one true faith has the sacraments that can keep you out of hell…”

Seems we are more “against” going to hell than we are “for” going to heaven.

Dole out blame, pass around blame, even take some blame up on your own self… That game stinks (“Shitty blame boardgame“)

We are all, of course, broken in our own way. When our identity feels lost, therapists have us investigate our “core values.” Why? Because, in a culture where identities are mostly shaped “against” things, we unconsciously lose what we are “for.” Seem dubious? Try it. Try composing a personal charter about what you stand for, without implying – by hopeless necessity – what you stand against.

If you think that your “faith” gets you through hard times, or has gotten you through stretches of deep suffering, I encourage you to challenge yourself more deeply. If you have nominally Christian faith based on your religious institution and/or institutionalized scripture, have you considered the possibility that those sources are not faithful to their namesake in any recognizable form?

“The way to do justice is to live simply, to not cooperate with consumerism, with militarism, with all the games that have us trapped. Jesus just does it differently, ignoring unjust systems and building up a better system… The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better. He’s showing us ‘We’re just going to do it better. Let’s not be anti-anything. Let’s be *for* something: for life, and for universal love.'” – Richard Rohr

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Neil D. 2021-10-22


Embrace your pain?


I’d like to humbly encourage you, in the form of discouragement: Don’t let anyone try to talk you out of your pain.

Own it. Get to know it. Intimately. It is exclusively and personally yours. It is one thing you can have all to yourself.

Many people don’t want to hear about it. Many people want to fix it so that they don’t have to watch you bear it. That might cause them to pay attention to their own pain.

Other kinds of people want always to pay attention to the pain of others at the expense of their own. Perhaps you are like that also. Either way, your pain wants to be known and owned. It does not like loneliness.

We all know with certainty, when we are honest with ourselves, but we cannot run away from our pain. No matter how long we keep running, it is still there.

We should also know that “stronger” doesn’t mean more impervious to pain. When we want stronger muscles, we might lift weights so that we can carry heavier burdens. What muscles carry pain? Your heart is a pretty impressive muscle. Exercise it.

If your heart has been bruised or broken or wounded, you may think it is too weak to carry your pain. That’s “thinking.” That’s a different “muscle” than your heart.

We can borrow thoughts, and pretend they are our own. When it comes to the heart, though, we cannot borrow or pretend. We can harden it, in the hopes that it will suffer no more pain. But that barrier also keeps the pain inside. And we know hardened arteries are not healthy. Neither is a hardened heart. It is not stronger; it is more brittle.

The only one who can know your pain intimately is you. And, oh my, do we not know with certainty that our pain aches to be known? Give your pain your love. Give your pain your compassion. Have a self-pity party.

We permit self-pity to shame us because we are acculturated to avoid pain. Pity is a very strong and clear signal that you have avoided your pain for too long. Maybe the people closest to you did not want to be intimate with your pain. And when you are close to them, you yourself are discouraged from being intimate with your pain.

Blaming others for your pain is a tricky game which no one has ever won (https://feelwithneil.com/2020/11/24/shitty-blame-boardgame/). But it is an irresistible temptation when we perceive ourselves as too weak to carry our own pain. Blame all you wish, but no one else will carry your pain for you.

So perhaps now you are alone with your pain. Consider that that is what your pain wants. Your full attention. Be intimate with it. Come to love it. That is what it wants. Lift it up in your tender arms and console it. Then, notice yourself, lifting it and holding it.

You are NOT too weak to carry your pain. You ARE carrying it, always have been, and always will be. I would discourage you from trying to forget that. It is yours. All yours. And it wants to be yours and yours alone. Self-love and self compassion begin here.

The following exercise struck me as ridiculous and corny also. But, I didn’t have to do it many times to feel its deep and lasting impact. And it helps me to revisit it periodically also.

And quiet solitude, sit across from a couch pillow as your pain. Study its physical details. Then have a chat, and speak to it, speak for it, and inten to both of you.

What are you? “I am your pain.”

How big are you?

Where do you live, physically and literally, inside my body? Give me a moment to locate you and feel you.

Where do you want to go? “Nowhere. Nowhere different than, or apart from, you.”

What do you want?
“To be noticed. To be loved. Not to be ignored. To be picked up, right now, and held in your arms against your heart.”

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Neil D. 2021-10-02


Rohr on mammon. Comparison


I think the best single-word, familiar synonym for “mammon” in this article is “comparison,” in the sense of “keeping up with the Joneses.”

“Do I need more/better status symbol stuff?”

“I want the best for my children, family, self, etc.”

But as the author explains, it is comparison beyond material. It includes power.

“Am I doing everything I can to get this promotion?”

“Have I not been ambitious enough?”

“Have I set boundaries and spoken my truth?”

And if, in comparison to wealth-lust, power-lust is subtle for you, then this kind of comparison is likely to be also:

“Is s/he more giving than I am? I need to up my game of giving…”

“I’m the one in this household who has worked the hardest to bring home the most.”

“I’m the one in this partnership who does all the house work.”

“I am the one in this extended family who hosts all the holidays.”

“I have sacrificed as much as my partner has, and deserve his/her reciprocity…”

“Don’t I get some points for that?”

And lastly, most perilous of all,…

“I’m a good person morally.”

“I follow God’s Commandments and my religion’s guidelines and practices…”

“Haven’t I done enough to earn God’s mercy, etc.?”

“I haven’t lied to others, my self, or God about all of my secrets that I have stuffed into my Shadow of shame…”

This obsession with comparison, achievement, superiority, etc. is deeply embedded in our culture, so contaminates every corner of our mind. Even what we think are praiseworthy notions, like self-improvement, are about this kind of comparison.

“Be better today than I was yesterday,” seems praiseworthy. But I do not agree. Eventually, even if we start out with all good intentions, self improvement leads to the expectation that others should be improving themselves also. “No, Neil, that’s not true. I am just focused on myself.” Perhaps for now. But I beg you to be honest with yourself.

For nearly all of us poisoned by this cultural mindset, we are honestly at a complete loss if we take away this goal of constant improvement. It’s as if we have no meaning or purpose in life if that is not it.

In closing, here are some quotes from the article; test your self-honesty with them, and perhaps plan a self-improvement goal to shed denial:

“’You cannot serve God and mammon’ (Luke 16:13). Mammon was the god of wealth, money, superficiality, and success.”

“Mammon becomes then a source of disorder because people allow it to make a claim on them that only God can make.”

“To participate in the reign of God, we have to stop counting. We have to stop weighing, measuring, and deserving in order to let love flow through us. The love of God can’t be doled out by any process whatsoever. We can’t earn it. We can’t lose it. As long as we stay in this world of earning and losing, we’ll live in perpetual resentment, envy, or climbing.”

“You cannot move around inside the world of Infinite Grace and Mercy, and at the same time be counting and measuring with your overly defensive and finite little mind.”

“The reign of God is a worldview of abundance. God lifts us up from a worldview of scarcity to infinity. God’s love is nothing less than infinite.”

Never, ever will our expectations of reciprocity satisfy us. There is absolutely universal evidence for this among every human being. If we hold anyone to the standard of performance achievement, even if it is our own self, we will be perpetually disappointed. Denial of that is death. You, I, and our enemies are loved infinitely, passionately, and with no conditions whatsoever; and we did not earn that.

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Neil D. 2021-09-20


I *am* being loved (Richard Rohr & Ilia Delio)


Sometimes when things feel a little grim to me, I forget.

“…we tend to break down and start controlling things: ‘If I go this way, I’m going to get lost. Well, what if it’s wrong? What will happen to me?’ Well, what will happen to you? Something will happen. But guess what? Something’s going to happen whether or not you go… It’s not like we’ve got this, ‘Here’s God; here’s us. God’s just waiting till we get our act together and then we’ll all be well.’ That’s a boring God; that’s not even God. God is alive.” [https://cac.org/love-is-all-there-is-2021-09-16/]

That’s not the Host of the party I’m at.

“We need to unwire ourselves to recognize that the God of Jesus Christ is, you might say, the power beneath our feet, the depth of the beauty of everything that exists, and the future into which we are moving.” [https://cac.org/love-is-all-there-is-2021-09-16/]

I’ve once put it this way:

“’God loves me,’ feels like God — as a third-person subject — is an idealization, or objectification, external to me, out there, elsewhere; and I’m just a passive object. Doesn’t feel right.
I am being loved,’ feels more intimate, warm, breathing with aliveness. ‘Am being.’ More present. Has more action. Evokes a sense of arms actively enfolding me, or my head being drawn to rest in a bosom. Passionate, at this moment, in the present…” [More at source]

What a wonderful party, “even when it hurts.”

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Neil D. 2021-09-16

President Biden on abortion and Pope Francis on pastors. Magisterium vs. Magistrate


Are you a facilitator of grace, or an arbiter of grace who charges tolls to enter the party?

Magistrates make judgments. The magisterium is involved in teachings.

Joe Biden disagrees with the Catholic magisterium which teaches that life begins at conception. Some Catholic bishops have cast the judgment that he should therefore be denied the sacrament of Eucharist.

The church he attends released a statement saying it “will not deny the Eucharist to persons presenting themselves to receive it… As Pope Francis recently reaffirmed, communion should be viewed ‘not as a prize for the perfect, but as a powerful medicine and nourishment…’ None of us, whether we stand in the pews or behind the altar, is worthy to receive it. The great gift of the Holy Eucharist is too sacred to be made a political issue.” [see endnote for more of the papal quote]

The relationship between the pope and bishops is sometimes misunderstood as more straightforward than it is. A bishop has a certain autonomy as an equal to the pope. It is very non-trivial for the pope to interfere in an individual bishop’s diocese. It is an interesting parallel to the relationship between federal and state autonomy in the US.

The papal quotation above appears in what is formally called an “exhortation” of the pope to bishops. It is not a “federal” ruling superceding a diocese. Any bishop may still refuse Biden communion. The words of the exhortation are careful not to trod on that autonomy. In a loose sense, regional church governance is of, by, and for more local people (bishops, anyway).

The exhortations of the pope as the “first among equals” have a certain air of greater universal perspective than the views of a local diocese, even if that authority is not necessarily binding.

Below, I share more words which surround the quotation, because, although a bishop may reject them as magistrate of his own diocese, they shed a seriously bright light on the gravity of such a rejection. I am making a point of this because pope Francis is urging the pastors of their flocks not to be misled by an egotistical God-complex by which they may forget their mission as ministers of Christ who – more clear than anything else in the Jesus accounts – railed against religious leaders who put their righteousness about God above the unconditional love God has for each of God’s children.

Nothing could be more damnably hypocritical than a minister of inclusion and nonjudgmental loving mercy to be… exclusive and judgmental.

Above all – ALL – they minister to God’s children, who are God’s children first and foremost. In any judgment of a pastor, that supreme reality must remain… supreme. God is NEVER served by disserving God’s children.

For a Christian magistrate or the magisterium to put the “law” above a single one of God’s children… Whoa, and woe… Such is PRECISELY what the bulk of the canonical gospel accounts have Jesus CONDEMNING! And as he did so, he routinely befriended and engaged and valued individual persons known to be unclean and unworthy under that law.

A *single* child of his Father is infinitely more worthy than any law/religion in its entirety. Christ is a “people person,” not a magistrate. And his teaching (rabbi, master) was consistently about the supremacy of his brothers and sisters – as children beloved unconditionally by their Father – above all else.

This principle of supremacy, however, is not problem-free for us human beings—however well-intentioned we be.

Occasionally, judgment is a necessary evil in the affairs of our state as human beings.

Judgment is a human enterprise which humans have pinned on “god” because we cannot conceive a universe without it.

Some bishops and Catholics may have wished Biden had kept his private beliefs private. That would have created no public conflict. A minister of communion would not have also to be a magistrate about the sanctity of human life beginning at conception. The supremacy of treating Biden as a child of God would thus not be messy.

Sorry to them. God forbid… God’s supremely unconditional love for each of God’s individual children can be a messy affair for those children!

In the Roe v. Wade decision, the justices acknowledged that this was a messy matter of conflict between a fundamental right of personal privacy (freedom and choice) and the interests of the state on behalf of the unborn child. Messy indeed.

They judged in favor of the first interest, but absolutely did NOT deny that unborn children have legal interests also.

Those who pretend that the supremacy of one of these two interests is a settled matter are unfaithful to the excruciation of the justices and everyone involved, and touched by this case – according to the very words of the justices themselves.

Being “pro choice” means being “for choice.” It does not mean that choice is supreme over life. There is no reason someone who is pro choice is not also pro life. Nor is one who is “for life” necessarily against the autonomy of a woman over her body. In fact, those are pretty incompatible dichotomies. Freedom is very much part of life’s beauty.

In the middle of this mess, the justices had to make a decision. They are the pastors in that ministry to their people. I have not examined the context of Biden’s disclosure, but he is a pastor in ministry to his people as well, and he cannot be a suitable minister if he is not honest. Dishonesty is the flaw most condemned about politics.

I cannot imagine anything less humble than believing we are adequate to stand as judges at the doorway into the house of an unconditionally loving God.

What a shock it will be if we are admitted to that house and find there, at the party, not only the children who served as teachers and magistrates, but also atheists, unborn children, the daughters who sent them there in excruciation, divorced and unfaithful spouses, bishops who denied them communion, vile clerics who violated youthful innocence and shattered the lives of God’s children, and convicted murderers who sent adults there. Will they be chatting and dancing with saints and Jesus himself? My, what a mess that will be, indeed. But I don’t see how you can envision anything else based on the story of Jesus’s warmly personal interactions recorded in the gospels! A mess!

Methinks this is the party house about which papa Francis speaks here:

[Chapter 2 of Evangelii Gaudium concludes (emphases added)]:
47.
The Church is called to be the house of the Father, with doors always wide open [NOT sometimes, under certain conditions]… This is especially true of the.. Eucharist… not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.[51] These convictions have pastoral consequences that we are called to consider with prudence and boldness. Frequently, we act as arbiters of grace rather than its facilitators. But the Church is not a tollhouse; it is the house of the Father, where there is a place for everyone
49. …I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty…, rather than…unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own securitycaught up in a web of obsessions and procedures. If something should…trouble our consciences, it is the fact that so many…are living without…friendship with Jesus Christ… More than by fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges …while at our door people are starving… Jesus does not tire of saying to us: “Give them something to eat” (Mk 6:37).

{
Excerpts from note [51] …Saint Ambrose…: “I must receive it always,…” …Saint Cyril of Alexandria…: “I examined myself and I found myself unworthy…”
}

Neil D. 9/11 2021