18 Comments
Oct 15, 2023Liked by Steve Skojec

I hear your questioning.

Imagine the Church got it wrong about hell. Not only will it have been responsible for so much unnecessary fear over the centuries, and distorted so many people's image of God, but it will have been _wrong_ about the very Four Last Things that are held to be of utmost importance. How do you ever wipe that much egg off your face?

I feel the wholesomeness you mention in Christianity, and, if I'm not mistaken, I sense the nearness of a good God. It seems to me there is much I have gained by seeking to approximate myself to orthodox Catholic belief. I believe that I've grown in humanity in the light of the Incarnation, and I feel more at peace in the world than I did as a New Age seeker. I can't discount all that, wherever it has come from--sanctifying grace, a quirk of personal psychology, or the feeling of belonging and certainty that it brought, at least for a time.

Yet I am aware that I am in a position such that, if the assertions of the most strict are true, and if the mercy of God does not intervene, I will be damned, for I do not hold the Catholic faith in its entirety and integrity, but dare to believe that all will be saved, somehow.

Imagine there were a deep humbling of the Church, and a purging of certain Pharisaical tendencies. Would the liberal or the secular critique have been right all along, and the big, bad, patriarchal and oppressive Catholic Church turn out to have been really just as bad as they said it was?

I would love to be done with hell once and for all, let it be as empty as the tomb on Easter morning, but I am not interested in a Church whose miracles are demythologized, or which does nothing to establish a different "atmosphere" on earth than what prevails under the spirit of the age.

Can there be a convincing, countercultural but kind, heavenly-minded yet human, Catholicism? And would that Catholicism celebrate my beloved Latin Mass, or would it only be found accompanied by a guitar and seated around a campfire?

I wish I knew.

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author

Love this comment, Erin, thank you! So much here that I can identify with.

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Oct 15, 2023Liked by Steve Skojec

If you're damned for believing in Universalism, then I'll be right there with you. I can't believe God's infinite love would allow that, anything less than total reconciliation of the cosmos would be a failure on God's part. Why create something out of nothing only to damn it in the end? If eternal conscious torment is a possible consequence of free will, then existence is a burden.

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Oct 15, 2023Liked by Steve Skojec

I believe in you bro. I’m praying.

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founding
Oct 17, 2023Liked by Steve Skojec

Steve, thanks for yet another remarkable piece! I have had similar thoughts and ideas, and some even further from any kind of Christian orthodoxy. As you progress down the UFO rabbit hole you'll be confronted by a yet wider range of doubts and questions regarding religion, truth and consensus reality. Maybe that's happened already. In any event, I lean strongly towards Erin's position that he articulated so well. And like my fellow cleric on these pages believe in and am praying for you.

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founding

I am think you’ve been too engaged with religion and not enough with God. Don’t blame God for what His salesmen are saying. Jesus don’t do well with religious people. He still loves you no matter what you think or say. And He grieves over what you’re going through and how you were misled.

I left RC 20 years ago and found Jesus, or He found me, in another church. It was hard at first to accept everything I’d been taught was way off base. God is better than our religion.

Read John’s Gospel with fresh, non institutional, non religious eyes. Praying for you my brother.

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To be honest, without the framework of religion I can't say if I would ever have believed in God. Or at least, not the kind most people believe in.

I feel a connection to something bigger in areas my old high school art teacher called "Arbitrary Sacred Places." Sitting in front of the Ocean on a foggy morning. Watching a sunset from the top of the mountain. Hiking in a deep and ancient forest. There's a kind of energy some places have that, if you're not to numb to feel it, is different than anywhere else. Almost like you're standing near a portal to a higher plane of existence. There's a new home community here in Scottsdale that's up high, with 360 degrees of mountain views. My wife and I were trying desperately to find a way to live there, but it's too expensive and kind of far from civilization for a family with so many kids. But it just has this feeling, you know? Like there's something magical there.

I know all that sounds new agey, but I put a premium on our ability to perceive the numinous. God is exceedingly hard for me to find, or to feel. To believe in a God who is personal enough to love me, but more to the point, to make demands of me, takes more than a feeling on top of a mountain. I appreciate that feeling because it's gratuitous and asks nothing in return. A God who wants give and take, though? He has to give sometimes. He has to answer things like prayers for faith.

It's why I have such a hard time with Christianity. It describes a God who is not only self-contradictory, but not within the reach of our senses. Not even our deeper, less obvious ones. At least, that's what it feels like to me.

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founding
Oct 15, 2023Liked by Steve Skojec

I’m an Anglican priest. But I’m not religious. I continue to pray for you, that you would have an encounter with the Father who loves you and overflows with mercy,

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founding

The God described to you by certain “Christians” doesn’t exist. I wouldn’t like that God either! But that’s their view. Not what’s real.

Remember that religion is the opposite of Gospel. The movement Jesus launched is not a religion. All religions say the same thing: “Do this, do that, and maybe God will accept you.” Gospel says: “God took the initiative. God paid for you at in infinite cost to Himself. You are accepted in the beloved. Now go live this way out of joy and gratitude.”

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Unfortunately, the Gospel is a product of the Church, and not the other way 'round.

I don't trust either.

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founding

Ok that’s a lie you’re believing. The Gospel is the Gospel. Jesus came and died at infinite cost to Himself to reconcile you to the Father. You can’t earn it. It’s a gift of mind blowing mercy. It takes humility to accept a gift that you can’t earn or ever repay. There are no boxes you can tick. Don’t let pride and church stupid get in the way.

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Based on historical facts only, not faith, the gospels as we know them are the fruit of the Council of Nicaea in 325. You can believe that they're inspired, but the first few centuries of Christians didn't even have a new testament.

Which is why claims like this are commonplace among Catholic Apologists:

"The Catholic Church does not come from the Gospels. The Gospels come from the Catholic Church." - Archbishop Fulton Sheen

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founding

Ignore stupid. Just because they say it doesn’t make it true. Remember the Church is not Jesus’ goal. His goal is His Kingdom. Church, when it’s healthy, is the means to the goal. My sense is you’ve seen just one expression of what attempts to be church. There are lots of healthy expressions of church which you’ve never come upon. I had the same problem when I left the RC Church 20 years ago. There was this while giant world of Jesus followers I had no idea were out there or what they were doing. I didn’t know what I didn’t know coming out of the RC bubble. I now help oversee 1,200 churches in the Middle East. They’re beautiful and amazing.

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What do you do? You know it's not all ugly and cruel, that there is some beauty, however residual and hidden. And what if your love was well-intentioned, but misdirected, and the object of your love was therefore not worthy of it and bound to disappoint?? To get to the heart of the matter, what if the Church of Christ exists now as She always has been, but that to which you directed your love is not it?

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It's a terrible thing to see all this hand-wringing. Steve, at the risk of giving too many options, have you ever thought about looking into Buddhism? I fear in the end you are barking up the wrong tree. But I understand you might have too much invested in one (I would argue errant) tradition to take this step.

May you be well and find peace!

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I'm open to some of its ideas. I think it has a lot to offer in terms of self-mastery. I just don't know how to leave what was behind. I'm like a pumpkin grown in a mold. You can take me out, but I have an entire structure that has taken on the shape of the thing.

And every other pumpkin in my particular patch was grown in that same mold. It's exceedingly hard, as an older pumpkin, to find a new patch and new pumpkins, if I can stretch the metaphor to breaking. Even if I did, I fear I will never lose the form I inherited from those who grew me within such constraints.

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Hi Steve, how is the philosophy journey going? Is that helping? I would love to hear your thoughts.

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Honestly, I've been too busy to really explore. Philosophy is a hard thing to settle down with at 9PM when the chaos finally begins to subside. I just wind up asleep.

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