Archive for October 19th, 2014

Apophatia V


The Church of the Poor and Changing Discipline

I did not see anyone mention that Pope Francis’ apparent openness to a change of discipline regarding communion for the divorced and civilly remarried might just have something to do with his repeated call for the Church to be a Church of and for the poor.

Capitalism is hostile to family and community life, and poverty makes marital stability highly problematic. The poor tend to have messy personal lives. And of course they cannot afford the annulment process, which almost everywhere costs money. Their lives would not be easy to untangle at any rate.

If we really are to be a Church of the poor it seems evident that traditional discipline works against that. Seeing the good in other kinds of human unions and trying to integrate people into sacramental life seems a step in the right direction.


Doctrinal disputations are really about who misunderstands ‘God’ the most.

The Apophats

The better sort of atheist is really an apophatic mystic, one who refuses to name or explain the Great Mystery.

One of these is my friend Mary, who was a sixteen year old stoned runaway when I met her and is now a professor of economics. She would say she is an atheist, as she finds any explanation of the Absolute too puny. She is a mountain climber and is so in awe of even the beauty and majesty of what she can sense that she cannot understand trying to label mysteries beyond perception. She said that the reason for my baby’s burn was ‘gravity’, and I have been meditating on the wisdom of this observation ever since.

The Other Kind…

… of atheist, though, is more like a fourteen year old, full of their foolish wisdom, popping the easy balloons of primitive faith and superstition. At their best, even they serve a purpose in taking down the tiny idols and human constructs that too many believers present as ‘God’.

Such As…

… the sadistic monster that Jean Calvin called ‘God’.

Besides that evil, Calvin also perpetuated the notion that human nature is ‘totally depraved’, incapable of any good or any love until touched by ‘God’s’ (irresistible) grace. Apparently he never held a baby, or if he did he viewed the child with corrupt eyes. A baby is┬áhuman nature in its pure state, before it has been tainted with all the trauma and imperfection of the world into which it is born.

And babies are sweet, every one of them. Utterly needy, to be sure, but sweet.

And that is what human nature is: sweet but needy.


Painting by Andy Hahn

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