I was raised Catholic, which included attending Catholic school from kindergarten through freshman year of high school, and mass every week (plus the high holy days). Which meant I spent a lot of time studying the art and architecture of the churches we attended – my grandparents' church in South Philadelphia, the incredibly ornate from floor to ceiling St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi (the first Italian parish in the US) to our home base St. Charles Borromeo in South Jersey which was very mid-century modern, clean yet with very colorful, large stained glass windows.
Growing up in an environment where Catholicism was the majority, I wasn't exactly prepared at age when we moved to South Carolina (3% Catholic at the time), and discovered that Protestants considered Catholics idol-worshipers and not “true Christians.”
Welcome back to Faithful Friday, our weekly survey of religions from around the world. After taking a look at the diverse religions of India and China we've turned out attention this week to the country of Indonesia, the fourth largest country in the world by population and the largest Muslim majority country. In addition to Islam, Indonesia also officially recognizes four more religions: Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. Join us as we take a tour through all five faiths in the country.
Yesterday, on Oct 15th, mega-church Mars Hill's pastor Mark Driscoll resigned after a number of allegations and scandals. I have stayed out of the discussions and conversations, but there is one memory that keeps haunting me and I finally chose to share it. May our religions, whichever they may be, always bring out the best in us and encourage us to be our true selves.
In my post “What I used to miss about Christianity” I mentioned the article How Playing a Good Christian Wife Almost Killed Me by Vyckie Garrison. The reason I mentioned Vyckie Garrison’s article was the parallel she drew between literalist biblical theology and the power & control wheel, a tool used for understanding abuse. For her, Christianity and abuse go hand in hand. Garrison opens her story by saying
Who is Mary Magdalene? We may never know, historically.
But I might have met her one day last spring in Nashville, Tennessee, at the Thistle Stop Café.
The energy in and around this breakfast-and-lunch spot was overpowering, literally. I felt as if an archangel hovered, as if some sky-high bird sheltered this place within its indestructible wings — guarding, protecting, sustaining.
What’s so special about this storefront café? It’s one of several enterprises run by an outfit called Thistle Farms. It fronts the slogan “Love Heals.”
The fog is thick and cold and I can smell the fire before I see it. Flames are lapping up tendrils of wet air. Robed figures stand solemnly around the fire. Then the ritual begins. A procession of the cross, red ribbons, and drums starts down the hill.
“Often, to be free means the ability to deal with the realities of one’s own situation so as not to be overcome by them.” -- Howard Thurman
My personal faith journey has been colorful and has included many joyful and sorrowful memories. At one time in my life, in the early 1990s I was System Operator, or SysOp, for a computer BBS (Bulletin Board System) called Theosis. The BBS was sponsored by the Romanian Byzantine Catholic Eparchy nestled in cozy Canton, Ohio, an I had the sublime honor of maintaining and administering the BBS – albeit for only a short time. The story of my brief sojourn into BBS management seems a fitting story to tell for the first entry of this Blog that holds the same name. You must be reading this blog entry and asking yourself, “What does Byzantine Catholicism have to do with ‘Pagan Studies,’ and why call a blog Theosis?” Both of these are very good questions and worthy of an answer.