Sunday, February 27, 2011

Steve Ray, Sauk Centre, Occam's Razor, and Me

Steve Ray is coming to Sauk Centre in a few weeks, for our Lenten kickoff.

Or, rather, Our Lady of the Angels' Lenten Parish Mission. The mission has a title: "Contemplating the Passion and What Christ Has Done For Us."

I've written about the mission, and Steve Ray, before.(February 16, 2011) He's a convert, and came to the Church for essentially the same reasons I did. Mr. Ray gives a very brief overview of his conversion on the
Our paths to the Catholic Church aren't the same: I was raised in a nice mainstream Protestant church, Steve Ray's background is Evangelical:
"...As an Evangelical Protestant, echoing the words of Baptist Preacher Charles H. Spurgeon, I cared about what the Holy Spirit revealed to me, but had little regard for what he had revealed to others, especially those in the first centuries–some who knew the apostles personally.

"I was convinced that the earliest Christians were basically 'Protestant' in their theology and practice and only became corrupted with 'Catholic stuff' in later centuries. I thought Protestants had the claim to authentic continuity back to the apostles.

"But I was very mistaken and the more I studied the early Fathers of the Church ... I became convinced the early Church was Catholic. Intellectual honestly and spiritual integrity forced me to become a Catholic...."
("Why I'm Catholic," Steve Ray)
I've heard that some folks aren't too anxious to find out about their family tree, because they might find something unpleasant in their roots. There's something to that concern, or fear: there's no telling what will turn up while digging through histories.

Occam's Razor and Me

During my youth, the weird combination of numerology, Bible trivia, and anti-communism I heard from radio preachers didn't encourage me to take their brand of Christianity seriously. (November 19, 2010)

The mainstream Protestant church I grew up in was, as I said, nice. It also was very much a part of the culture I lived in: more enduring, I could tell, than any given rock band was likely to be; but with a history and tradition that went back centuries, not millennia.

Before I started learning about the Catholic Church, I didn't think anybody had it right. Almost two thousand years, 20 centuries, had gone by since my Lord walked on Earth. Since then:
  • The Roman Empire fell
  • The Holy Roman Empire rose and fell
  • Barbarians from the backside of the old Roman provinces built a civilization
  • Miscellaneous nations and empires came and went
I assumed that some customs had survived in the Catholic Church, along with documents that helped nail down what was and wasn't so. But a continuous, unbroken, fidelity to core principles? I didn't think that was very likely at all.

Then I discovered that the Pope's authority came to him, without a break in continuity, from Peter. The Peter. Matthew 16:18 and all that. That got my attention.

Then there were the Popes themselves.

Some folks might have been been moved to convert, after learning about some of the saintly Popes. I was more impressed by the anything-but-saintly ones. I'd better explain that.

The Catholic Church has had times of really, profoundly, bad leadership. Folks will put up with inept, corrupt, and just plain nasty leaders for a while: but the current north African/Middle East mess is an example of what happens when their patience runs out. (Another War on Terror Blog (February 21, 2011))

With the sort of leadership it's had, the Catholic Church shouldn't, in my opinion, be here.

But it is.

I mean the Church itself - the organization. Not St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. That's a comparatively new building - most of what we see is only about five centuries old.

The organization headquartered there has endured almost 2,000 years of changing times: and a few periods of profoundly lousy leadership.

I could put together a conspiracy theory to explain the Church's enduring through the ages. Or I could apply Occam's razor, and accept the Church's explanation: They've had help. (August 31, 2010) When I realized Who was backing the Catholic Church, I decided it would be prudent to join.

Occam's razor? It's the idea that when you've got several possible explanations, the simplest one is probably true. I've discussed that in another blog.

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.