Dreaming the 1940’s Church

1 03 2010

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The Intentional Disciples blog is a site that I have grown to love to hate. For one thing, I profoundly dislike it’s a-cultural, “conservative” approach to Catholicism: some post-Vatican II homogenization of Faith to the lowest common denominator. There is an attitude there of “hey, if some bishop said it’s okay, it must be okay…” It is also permeated with the error, traceable to Newman and the modernists, that whatever is “vibrant” is true: better something fervent and alive than something “true” and declining. The general ethos of the blog is that the “Third World” is somehow going to save the Church because it has a vibrant Faith, and not necessarily one that passé First World Christianity understand.

While I am ambivalently sympathetic with that idea, I, as a Catholic who has the burden of some formation, also have to say that it is off-kilter on a very important level. You see, I grew up with that “Third World” Catholicism. We lived with my grandparents growing up, and they were Catholic charismatics who read that crummy liberation theology Bible that includes in its pages, pictures of peasants, workers, and Dr. Martin Luther King himself (not that I mean any disrespect to Dr. King, but his picture does not belong as an illustration in a Catholic Bible). So while the authors at Intentional Disciples dream of the gatherings of brown and black peoples possessed by the Spirit, I remember such gatherings as traumatic experiences. What business does an eight year old have watching some woman go into speaking in tongues while praying the rosary in Spanish? All I wanted to go was get out of there, and to this day the words, “grupo de oración” make me nervous.
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