Saturday, September 23, 2006

Back in the Twin Cities

I definitely have a love/hate relationship with the Twin Cities.

Here's what I love; There are a million great places to go in the cities. There are awesome churches that are beautiful, there's the Guthrie theater, there's Grand Avenue. And you can actually get to those places, unlike other big cities that made it too complicated to get from here to there. One of my best friends in the world lives here, Fr. Bob Hart. And this place will symbolize a huge triumph in my mind: the kid that wasn't supposed to graduate from college managed to get a graduate degree.

Here's what I don't love: I had the most intense experience of education while here and there are some really negative things that happened during those four years. I met some great people, true, but I also met some people that should never have been priests. And, along the way, I had some pretty powerfully hurtful experiences of rejection...those things that take a million experiences of affirmation to undo.

I'm here for a vocations conference...the third conference I've been to this year. And this is my last for this year. And, when I drive in, I'm always glad that I can go see Bob instead of having to drive toward the seminary. It's nice to be done for a while with schooling and to know they don't have priesthood to hang over my head anymore.

So, I'll probably be posting this week about my experiences at this conference for vocation directors. I'll be interested to know just how it is they are going to tell us to get young men to consider priesthood. What works. What doesn't.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Who should apologize: the Pope or the firebombing muslims?

As you are, undoubtedly, aware, the entire muslim world is on fire because of the following quote...

Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the "Book" and the "infidels", he addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness, a brusqueness which leaves us astounded, on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general, saying: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached". The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "God", he says, "is not pleased by blood - and not acting reasonably (σὺν λόγω) is contrary to God's nature.

This is a quote that Pope Benedict gave in a lecture at Regensburg to a group of academicians. I've been asked about it several times and, the more I read it, the more I realize that the Pope has nothing to apologize for. What the pope is doing is using a past conversation to illustrate the need for modern conversations. This is what he means by "a brusqueness that leaves us astounded..." The modern conversation that needs to happen is christianity's intrinsic connection to faith that, while intrinically connected to Judasim, is a historical development that is unique to Christianity. Islam struggles with violence because it lacks the intrinsic understanding...though it can also be open to it.

But, the Pope continues by criticizing European society for giving up on an intrinsic connection between faith and reason, which is tantamount to the very Islam that it seems at war with; it's just that Europe puts scientific reason in the forefront and Islam puts faith.

It seems to me that the Pope is challenging us, once again, to bring both sides into dialogue.

This isn't killing muslims who have come to pray. Muslims are killing christians in prayer. they need to apologize.