Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Dawn Eden

You've come a long way...
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I totally didn't get Dawn Eden in the beginning - I'm not sure why.  I thought her early 'celebrity' as a Catholic writer and new Catholic wasn't tried enough to be trusted.  I'm like that about other people celebrating their conversions and first fervors and all of that in our day where trend dictates behavior and belief.  Counter-culture chic.  Skepticism bordering on cynicism is a huge fault of mine - unfortunately I've applied the same attitudes towards other bloggers, some of whom ironically have since become internet friends of mine.

I actually began to take Dawn seriously when I realized Fr. Angelo Mary of Mary Victrix did as well.  I read the lady more closely and appreciated what she had to say and trusted she was on the right track.  As she pursues her studies, I'm full of admiration for her, and grateful for her current work on Christopher West's interpretation of theology of the body, warning that West "risks sexualizing Christianity rather than Christianizing sexuality".  Eden, author of "The Thrill of the Chaste" ought to know, since her conversion to Catholicism led her to leave behind a pretty hip Sex in the City type lifestyle. 
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Critically examining Christopher West’s presentation of John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, chastity speaker Dawn Eden has said that West conveys “elements of truth.”  However...
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Eden, the author of the book “The Thrill of the Chaste,” gave her critique in a master’s thesis at the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C. She delivered a speech on her thesis there on May 19, posting the speech’s text on her blog “The Dawn Patrol.”
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Her thesis tried to view the Theology of the Body through the “hermeneutic of continuity,” a view that sees the Catholic Church after the Second Vatican Council as continuous with the pre-Vatican II Church.

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While West tries to undermine the idea that the Church has a negative view of sex, in Eden’s view he fuels another myth that the Church is fundamentally different after Vatican II. She cited West’s comments that the Theology of the Body is “revolutionary” because previous generations of Christians grew up under a “repressive approach” to sexual matters. - CNA

Art:  Lindner

37 comments:

  1. When I read that article earlier today, one of my first thoughts was "I wonder what Terry will think of this?"

    I don't remember my other first thoughts.

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  2. T- if memory recall is correct, one of the major issues was of a growing pattern of some seasoned & professional Catholic business institutions quickly grabbing and promoting (marketing) recent converts before they are ready to be spokespersons, and worse yet, what appeared to be a pattern of the lack of spiritual guidance in the process.

    In the case of Dawn and her book, I recall her posting a humble thank you on her website to some unnamed older Catholic women who contacted her privately with instructions after book was published. She seemed very grateful for their kindness and insights, as well as their sincere concern and warmly accepted it. But it raised in my own mind and yours at the time the question of why the prof. Catholic editors, publishers etc weren't more sensitive to this need and providing this level of guidance during the publishing process (not limited to publishers but other org. as well)?

    I think the West's situation illustrates this too. Anyway, Dawn has come a long way, not only has she furthered her education seriously, but has been willing to hear what is being said and discerning it.

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  3. Cool - my first thought was, "I wonder if Larry read this?"

    I just made that up. Hi Lar.

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  4. Anonymous11:48 AM

    I sort of agree with her but for two points:

    1) It's odd that she never actually interviewed him for her thesis on his work. He speaks English, he lives in the US, not inaccessible. Don't get it.

    2) She has a ways to go on the hermeneutic of continuity stuff. Talk to the Trads, who would virulently dispute that TOB or any kind of post-Vatican II theology of sexuality that approves of NFP or the okayness of pleasure in marital sex is in continuity of what came before. She's in danger of doing some romanticizing herself.

    Pre-Vatican II sexual morality was shaped by a value system that elevated the ascetic and was supicious of sexuality and would never dream of elevating even married sex to some kind of echo of divinity, even in JPII's muted sense. She needs to be honest about that.

    Grace

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  5. This looks very interesting...thanks, Terry!

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  6. +JMJ+

    I think I "got" Dawn Eden early enough because my own theological thoughts about sex (which, incidentally, were not grounded in any tradition or continuity) seemed to have many intellectual points in common with hers. (Well, okay, maybe I didn't actually "get" her . . . but I certainly liked her!)

    Then she went head-to-head (or so it seemed) with another blogger who accused her of not getting cradle Catholic culture and thinking that the Church everywhere in the world should look like the Church in America. (Which has nothing to do with orthodoxy or private conviction or Dawn's brave work on behalf of the unborn.) And I wondered whether the other blogger had Dawn pegged better than I ever did.

    Finally, I found out that one of my own dearest internet friends knows Dawn in "real life" and is very close to her. And I thought, "Well, if _____ likes her, then she must be wonderful!"

    Which is my long-winded way of saying that I think Dawn makes a problematic celebrity (Then again, don't all Catholics these days?), but that she's someone I'd love to be friends with and to worship alongside in my own "real life." She's a cool person.

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  8. C. West needs to be "formed" properly...his "take" on JPII's "Theology of the Body" is very misguided...I'm sorry for him; he needs our prayers; but Catholic theology in this matter needs "mystics" like JPII and others, who can articulate the authentic teaching of the Church and not "sexualize Catholic teaching" but "Catholicize sexuality".

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  9. pml: If I may vent my spleen about "Catholic converts from Protestantism"...I was born and raised a Protestant; it did not "take"; I believed the Catholic Faith from the time I heard about it as a child (God's grace completely; take no credit here)...
    I had no intellectual problems with the Catholic faith as some very high profile Protestants did (Hahn, Akins, Shea, Jeff Cavins from EWTN)...they had to "think" themselves into the Church or back into the Church.
    From the moment EWTN started highlighting these folks, I became very nervous...and my paranoia was somewhat justified; they did not "receive" the Catholic Faith...they "thought themselves" into it; not that maybe they are all very sincere and loyal; far be it for me to judge anyone.
    But the "track record" of some of these "apologists" of the Catholic Faith; the fact that as laymen, they have made a living from their "conversion"; as opposed to being authentic laity who live "in the midst of the world" and support their families through the work of their hands; not by being supported by the Church, really bothered me.
    And it still does.
    Maybe that's MY problem; but if you become a Catholic, you have a family, then you support that family with whatever means you can...and don't depend upon the Church.
    And you are "converted" from Protestantism to Catholicism; which means you disavow any kind of "means" that you formally had to make your message known; this business of "charismatic" and "Praise Worship" in the Catholic Youth Movement is just sickening, to me, anyway. It's "sugar-coated" Protestantism.
    We have GOT to find a way to make the Catholic Tradition known to our youth; they'll be so drawn and captivated, once they actually experience it.

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  10. Anonymous3:21 PM

    NP criticizes converts for making a living from the Church.

    (no one is above criticism, that's very true.)

    But what is someone like Hahn, who was a minister with a Ph.D. in something religious to do when he converts? Become a lawyer? Electrician? I mean, he's already got a career in religion, so to speak...what's his alternative?

    Same with Cavins, who was a minister, I think.

    Shea was a writer before he became a Catholic. He's a writer now. What's he supposed to do - keep writing, but just not about Catholic things?

    Akins I don't know anything about.

    The other hard fact is that people like conversion stories. They always have, and they always will. Perhaps these guys should give away their stories for free, but if so...then should Father Corapi, who probably makes more money from his ID as a Convert (in the broadest sense) than any of those laymen put together, but, here, as with all the convert-criticizers, the priest is given a pass for his financial gain from his own story.

    J

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  11. +JMJ+

    I once got into a cyber-scuffle with someone on this very blog when he said he had a problem with former Protestant ministers with wives and children being ordained as priests after they enter the Church. His point was that no similar exception is ever made for an equally devout and capable cradle Catholic man with a wife and children, so why are we bending over backwards for "these others"? I think it was the "these others" bit that got me so riled at the time.

    HOWEVER . . . I have since been convinced that this other commenter's instincts were correct and that I was mistaken. (I only wish I remembered his name so that I could tell him so. Terry, would you recall this conversation?) There is something wrong with making all sorts of exceptions for converts instead of requiring them to be more like the rest of us.

    (And really, given this specific scenario: where all other things are equal, we all know that the cradle Catholic would make a better priest than the convert.)

    Yes, there is a lot of pastoral compassion involved in such decisions. Someone with eight children to support whose only significant work experience has been as a pastor in a Protestant church would have a lot of trouble getting a regular job like the rest of us lay grunts. In fact, the only option open to them in the regular world is likely that of professional apologist. Which is how we got in this mess in the first place.

    Which has nothing to do with the lovely Dawn Eden! I know, Terry! I know! ;-)

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  12. Terry, I am very touched by your confessions in this post regarding your initial impressions of me, and what brought you to change your opinion.

    There were some criticism of me on your blog back then that hurt my feelings. At the same time, seeing that my intentions were misunderstood was ultimately helpful. It showed me how I needed to refine my approach so that the message received would be the message intended. So I thank you for that.

    Your comments about the lack of education for converts who become Catholic spokesmen is right on. I received no such education; moreover, my book was published by a Protestant publisher (I wrote it while in RCIA).

    (Incidentally, I can't claim to have had much of a Protestant formation. I was a Protestant for only five years, and now look at that time as a transitional phase between secular agnosticism and entering the Church. During that time, I wrote a bit on my blog about "sola scriptura," but didn't really know what it meant. What kept me from entering the Church immediately upon my reception of Christian faith were the mistaken ideas I received from a close relative I trusted, who was a fallen-away Catholic convert, that Catholics worshiped Mary, clung to meaningless rituals, etc. Efforts of Catholics to disabuse me of these notions did not help. What ultimately convinced me of the truth of the Church was realizing how much she had suffered for her stance on life--and discovering, through St. Maximilian Kolbe, the Communion of Saints.)

    I'd like to respond to Grace's points. She writes:

    "1) It's odd that she never actually interviewed [West] for her thesis on his work."

    I had personal correspondence with West, attempting to engage him on points of his teachings that I found problematic. He accommodated me initially, but ultimately begged out, claiming lack of time. Because the correspondence was private, I did not use it in my thesis; that is all I can say.

    "2) She has a ways to go on the hermeneutic of continuity stuff. Talk to the Trads, who would virulently dispute that TOB or any kind of post-Vatican II theology of sexuality that approves of NFP or the okayness of pleasure in marital sex is in continuity of what came before. She's in danger of doing some romanticizing herself.

    "Pre-Vatican II sexual morality was shaped by a value system that elevated the ascetic and was supicious of sexuality and would never dream of elevating even married sex to some kind of echo of divinity, even in JPII's muted sense. She needs to be honest about that."

    I think that depends in some sense on what you call "Pre-Vatican II sexual morality" (a misleading term, as it implies discontinuity, though I realize your intent is probably more along the lines of a temporal distinction). There are plenty of passages in the writings of Pius XI and Pius XII (particularly in the latter's talks compiled in "Dear Newlyweds") that talk about how married love carries an echo of divinity. Insomuch as the sex flows from that love, it could be said to do so. But I agree that the overall emphasis of "Pre-Vatican II sexual morality" was on not on how marital love finds its apotheosis in sex. Rather, it was how such love is expressed in endurance--suffering life's challenges and trials together for love of one another and God.

    My thesis argues that John Paul acknowledged this, but did not bring it out explicitly in the TOB because he was not seeking to create a complete theology. Rather, he was trying to add theological depth to the essential points of Humanae Vitae. He himself said in his final audience that a complete theology of the body would have to include the problems of suffering and death.

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  13. I have to agree with Anonymous. I think we are being a little hard on the converts who have careers in the Church. If some of them have gotten off on questionable tangents, so have many of the home-grown, born to the faith "gurus". Let's form our opinions of these people on an individual basis. I have found that sometimes I agree with some things they have written, while I have problems with others. I take what is useful to me and leave the rest.
    I don't have problems with married former Protestant clergymen getting ordained as priests. For that matter I wouldn't have problems with married Catholic men getting ordained as priests. But then that's just me.

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  14. Let me clarify my point here; sorry for any misunderstanding. Prof. Hahn has a very reputable record and C.V.; the others, as well.
    Although Jeff Cavins was a Catholic, left the Church and became a Protestant minister and then returned (which I have to say, I have more problems with, but anyway);why are Protestant ministers being given some kind of "special status" rather than embrace the lay vocation? They are not priests; they have no real claim to be any different than any other of the lay faithful. I'm not a clerical dim-wit (believe me!..well maybe a dimwit)...
    If they have the proper academic credentials, fine; Prof. Hahn is a prime example. If they want to do apologetics and they are properly trained, fine. But Christopher West, to get back to the original focus here, needs a good formation and a proper training in the Catholic tradition. That's all I meant to say and ended up saying a lot more. Sorry!

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  15. "Your comments about the lack of education for converts who become Catholic spokesmen is right on. I received no such education..." -Dawn

    Dawn, thank you for affirming speculations from back then. Just coming back to the faith w/the level of 7th-grade instruction has been an interesting and instructive process.

    When you were posting on your former website about job challenges and your correspondences/mtg w/Fr. Sibley, we were both at the door of the Catholic Church about ready to enter. I was noticing who was reaching out to you and thought of my own struggles with the instructional void.

    With this said, last year I came upon an essay that contained a wonderful little instructional gem about the care of the neophyte. You might appreciated: [to be continued]

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  16. "In the later Numbers Rabbah there is the following story:

    The Holy One loves the proselytes exceedingly. To what is the matter like? To a king who had a number of sheep and goats which went forth every morning to the pasture, and returned in the evening to the stable.

    One day a stag joined the flock and grazed with the sheep, and returned with them. Then the shepherd said to the king, "There is a stag which goes out with the sheep and grazes with them, and comes home with them." And the king loved the stag exceedingly. And he commanded the shepherd, saying:

    "Give heed unto this stag, that no man beat it"; and when the sheep returned in the evening, he would order that the stag should have food and drink.

    Then the shepherds said to him, "My Lord, thou hast many goats and sheep and kids, and thou givest us no directions about these, but about this stag thou givest us orders day by day."

    Then the king replied: "It is the custom of the sheep to graze in the pasture, but the stags dwell in the wilderness, and it is not their custom to come among men in the cultivated land. But to this stag who has come to us and lives with us, should we not be grateful that he has left the great wilderness, where many stags and gazelles feed, and has come to live among us? It behoves us to be grateful."

    So too spoke the Holy One: "I owe great thanks to the stranger, in that he has left his family and his father's house, and come to dwell among us; therefore I order in the Law: "Love the stranger" [Numbers Rabbah 8.3; cited in Barrett: 165].

    "The underlying message, taken as a whole, is clear:

    Protection of the rights of the proselyte is Israel's responsibility, and the convert and the descendants
    of converts are to be integrated fully into the family of Israel."

    "In Christian literature, there are indications of the deer and gazelle being used as metaphors for the neophyte." .

    Source: Rick Strelan, Assoc. Prof. in Studies in Religion at The University of Queensland

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  17. Thanks, pml, for the lovely sentiments and story. Thank God we both made it through the Church door!

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  18. And one more thing, Anonymous.
    I make no financial gain from being a convert; in fact, we are dirt poor and are struggling to pay the bills each and every month; sound familiar?
    I am incensed, sorry, that you would fling this kind of thing in my face...Fr. Corapi? Yeah, a big Catholic media star...so what?
    He belongs to a society of apostolic life and has his own money and financial security...as far as I know he doesn't have to hand over much to the Society to which he belong...me? I'm just a grunt monastic priest, trying to make ends meet like the rest of you. ANd let me tell you; times are tough and people aren't interested in 'No names" like our community...sure, they like to give to the "big dogs" that have the publicity and the notoriety...that's okay with me...poverty is being like Jesus.
    So, give me a break, yeah?
    And as for the Protestant ministers with their families; they have to make the sacrifice just like the rest of us...I'm sorry, but living off the Church just because you happen to have an M.Div. doesn't cut if for me.

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  19. Dawn - My sincere apologies for my earlier posts - I suppose I ought to have apologized formally before this. You're very gracious about the whole matter. I wasn't as well informed back then either - I've made a lot of mistakes with this blog, believe me.

    I am grateful and edified in your response to God's call and your gift to the Church concerning these issues.

    I promise to keep you in my prayers and wish you many blessings as you go forward.

    God bless,

    Terry

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  20. In my "process" ( I don't call it a conversion" from moving from the Presbyterian church to the Catholic there was alot I had to get my mind around..you just don't wake up one day willy-nilly and leave 25 years of knowledge and upbringing behind..

    So yeah--I 'm one of those who had to "think" her way to the Catholic Church..alot of it ws the "completeness" that many Protestant denominations are missing..;spent alot of time thinking about Mary and Her role, the True meaning of the Eucharist, the roles of saints and angels etc in our lives..I did alot of reading. And to me the Catholic Church just makes sense.

    And there are still days when I struggle, whent the Devil sticks me with his pitchfork and puts doubt in my mind...but that's when I pray "Lord I believe, help my unbelief."

    Converts are just as much Catholic as ten generation cradle Catholics...

    Although I think most of us Protestant converts belive alot more in Hell and the Devil than cradle Catholics do...:) all good Catholic need to sit through a good ol fashioned Baptist tent revival and get three hours plus of sin and Hell and the Devil rammed down your throat :) It's good for you, builds character:)

    Sara

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  21. +JMJ+

    Nazareth Priest: Father, if it mollifies you in any way, know that this Anonymous has been leaving Terry and his readers similar comments for several months, always signing her posts with a different name (or in this case, a different initial). She also once called Terry off for hiding under a "veil of anonymity"--which I thought was spectacular of her!

    Anyway, expect her to pop out whenever converts who make money off the Church (who, of course, are not representative of all converts) are criticised in any way. I speak from experience: she flung Father Corapi in my face, too.

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  22. I should add that I meant my comment in a general way, and was not directing it at Nazareth Priest; sorry Father if it seemed that I was.

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  23. Anonymous8:18 AM

    There was a lot of Corapi-flinging around here on this blog a few weeks ago, as I recall. I think N.P. was a part of it, too. Something about a beard.

    Anyways, I sure hope Terry never sells any religiously-themed art! For money! That would be bad! At least he's not a convert!

    And wait - isn't Dawn the convert and Chris West the cradle Catholic? So what does that say about the "Cradle Catholics are better because of their intuitive grasp of Things Catholic?" Isn't the argument here that West is off the rails in terms of tradition and doesn't get the whole picture, while Dawn does?

    So?

    G

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  24. Anonymous8:20 AM

    Oh, and here's another response to Dawn's response:

    http://marysaggies.blogspot.com/2010/06/response-to-dawn-edens-criticism-of.html

    G

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  25. +JMJ+

    See what I mean, Father? ;-)

    In J's defense (or is it G now?), she is understandably upset when online Catholics criticise other online Catholics--especially when the former are "anonymous" and the latter use their real names. She's just showing us the error of our ways. I can respect that.

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  26. Just to add my $.02 about types of conversion, I am one of those who responded to grace by "thinking" my way to the faith. It took me from 16 years of age to 39 years of age to make it across the Tiber. The final push was a dream that I had about Walker Percy. He was on one end of a bridge, and I was on ther other end of it. I told him that I wanted what he had, and he beckoned me to come to his end of the bridge if I wanted it. It was not easy; some friendships cooled off because of it. My mother and I had a difficult year. I never told my grandmother before she died that I became Catholic because she would have feared for my eternal salvation. I am a single lay person (no children), and like many others, my work environment is not cozy to Catholicism. I am the only one in my family who is Catholic. If some should doubt my sincerity or the value of my conversion, I would say that I have paid a price and in many ways continue to pay one. I constantly work to keep my focus on my Lord. It happened for me 16 years ago, and I cannot imagine being anything but Catholic.

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  27. Enbrethiliel: Thanks, dear. I mean it.
    G: A beard? Huh??
    I'd have to go back to those posts, but really, I don't recall condemning anyone for a beard.
    I'm sorry, truly, for being "intemperate"...Cathy of Alex says (and it is true) that I can be "irritable but spiritual"...hopefully.
    My point, and I want to make this ever so clear; lay evangelists, from whatever background, from whatever history, have to be careful; we live in a very "commodities" market situation, even in the Church (the more DV Ds,videos and books you sell, the better you are).
    I probably muddied the waters here in speaking of Protestant
    ministers converting to Catholicism as opposed to laity who have a Master's degree in theology who attempt to "make a living off of the Church" or expect to do so.
    I don't want to stereotype anyone; but in the case of Protestants converting to Catholicism, a certain formation and time of "adaptation" must happen...it's just not automatic; people have to be "reculturated"; there is a definite difference between most Protestant cultural norms and Catholic cultural norms.
    As for C. West; I have to say this, and I'm sorry, but some of the things he has said and written are, if not an occasion of sin, then downright pornographic. We don't need this kind of thing; discernment is crucial here. JPII's "Theology of the Body" is rooted in such sublime, profound, mystical and biblical reality...if I may be so bold, encouraging forms of sexual activity that are blatantly condemned by the Sacred Tradition of the Church is NOT a way to help this at all.

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  28. Terry: So sorry for having "derailed" this.
    Penance and prayers from here!

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  29. Nazareth Priest I understand well what you are concerned about ... I have had many months wrestling with similar streams of thoughts the first four years returning to the faith which were provoked by variety experiences I was having in trying to find guidance ...

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  30. +JMJ+

    I, too, want to apologise for hurting the feelings of any convert who has read my words.

    When I first started blogging, converts were huge superstars in the Catholic media (which, given the status of Catholic media, isn't saying much, LOL!), and the majority of online Catholics (including myself) seemed to wholeheartedly embrace them in the way that we'd naturally wholeheartedly embrace any convert. Which is to say that all converts are indeed welcome--and certainly to me, very precious. But the media cycle, which is something more impersonal, seems to be turning, so that we now have a push back against this type of fare.

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  31. When I saw Fr. Angelo's link to Dawn's brilliant defense I immediately thought of YOU, Terry, and I am most touched by your beautiful post. (So unlike the bizarre one above with the dolls...:-s)

    As for the converts issue, my own mother is one and several friends. St. Therese always described the Christmas of her fourteenth year as her "conversion." I see myself living out an on-going conversion which may only end with my death.

    However, what I have seen repeatedly over the last twenty is that people who are new to the ways of the Church, or "converts" as we say, are often burdened with the responsibility of teaching others before they have the adequate formation and preparation to do so. A person may intellectually have a grasp of the faith but the work of living a life of Christian virtue in the Catholic way, day in and day out, year in and year out, has yet to be experienced. They still may have bad habits that they are struggling to overcome and good habits (virtues) which they have yet to obtain.

    I have seen this on both the parish level and in the Secular Order of Carmel, new Catholics being given responsibility for which they were not yet ready. And when they make a mistake, it can have repercussions on the well-being of souls as well as upon the convert in question. I do not blame the new Catholics but those who put too much on them too soon.

    I have also seen this with "reverts" who have a dramatic return to the Faith but are still healing from the wounds of a life of sin. Often their past is thrown up to their face if they have a brief relapse or even a continued stumbling. We have to learn to give our brothers and sisters time to grow and not expect them to be saints before their time.

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  32. Grace,

    The whole point of the hermeneutic of continuity is to apply a principle of interpretation to Church documents based on the idea that Christ still teaches through the Church, even when one is tempted to see a rupture from the old in the new. The rad trads are not the best guides in respect to an interpretation of continuity. On the other hand, Dawn has done an excellent job.

    N.P., Enbrethiliel, et al.,

    Perhaps another significant circumstance to consider in respect to the convert phenomenon is the ascendency of apologetics that accompanied the wave of new converts. They had a compelling story to tell, a kind of parable to accompany their arguments for becoming Catholic. This was seen as a boon to the Church . . . and it was.

    The problem, it seems to me is that apologetics is not catechesis, theology or spiritual formation. In reality there is a much greater market for apologetics than there is for the rest, but without the rest there is a woeful lack of depth and progress. I think many people confuse apologetics and the methods of apologists with spirituality and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

    The temptation has been to market talented converts the way Protestants market their preachers, and it causes more problems than it solves.

    I think Dawn understands these differences and is taking both theology and spirituality very seriously. There are other converts, of course, that do as well.

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  33. frangelo: Beautifully stated.
    Thank you.
    You make proper distinctions and are most charitable. God love you and your community (who staff our diocesan Shrine of our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse)! Prayers! FrJM

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  34. +JMJ+

    Frangelo:

    To what you have said, I would add that the marketing of that brand of apologetics was a huge factor. I remember it used to ride on lots of testimonials or informal blurbs from cradle Catholics who said they knew next to little about the Faith until they read a convert's presentation of it in his book. These days, when professional converts get criticised and regular-joe converts take it personally, I can't help but compare them to regular-joe "cradles" who took the criticism humbly enough when we supposedly were not good enough to transmit the faith to each other, so that even we needed to buy these new books.

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  35. Fr. Angelo, thanks for your very kind and clear comments.

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  36. Fr. JM, Enbrethiliel and Terry,

    Thank you for the kind remarks.

    Enbrethiliel,

    I agree with your remarks and will raise you one. This is a delicate matter.

    The quality of teaching and preaching the faith over the last forty years or so has not manifested the progress of sacred eloquence. (I speak generally.) Hence, talent has been more or less a rare commodity until this surge. One might argue with me over this, but I do believe this is at least the common perception among devout Catholics.

    The result has been that really talented people end up being treated like rock stars.

    In my teenage years I went to many rock concerts. Not so many years ago I had a strange experience of de ja vue at a Catholic conference with a well-known speaker. There were groupies, applause lines and a good dose of self-adjulation.

    It is not necessarily only true of converts from Protestantism. It is almost always concerns someone with a sensational personal testimony.

    One might argue that Bishop Sheen used his celebrity for a good purpose. I am not suggesting that it can't be done. I just think we should distinguish between natural talent and the gifts of the Holy Spirit--and act accordingly.

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  37. +JMJ+

    Father, you are right that it is a delicate matter. I once reaped the whirlwind (in a matter of speaking) when I handled it very clumsily, and I like to think I learned some lesson. ;-)

    I do agree that some forms of celebrity are a vocation given to some people with true charisms. But I don't think it's safe to go beyond this point here.

    Thank you for adding your voice to this discussion. =)

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