Friday, August 08, 2008

Oh dear, did something I say offend the clergy?

Here is a comment I received from “Thomas Tucker” on my “A Simple parable for you in church”. I like this guy. He’s not afraid to mix it up, and I think our dialogue, when we are not mud-wrestling, is worthwhile. His comment is followed by my expanded response.

Yikes.
It is rather presumptuous to be predicting the decline and fall of the Catholic Church. People having been doing so for centuries, yet it endures. And it will endure long after you are gone Father Tony.
But if it makes you feel empowered and grand to make such predictions, I guess you should do so.
Of course, it was relatively easy for you to leave- you weren't a true believer in the first place. And judging from your past writings, you were there for the wrong reasons anyway.
I think the parable is sophomoric and rather narcissistic.



Dear Thomas Tucker,

I am so happy to hear from you! Where have you been? If this post hadn't have "plucked your nerve", I'd have been worried that it was toothless. Let me address the "delectables" in your comment.

a) The Church will in fact be around long after I'm gone, but it won't be run by you and your kind. You guys have squandered the franchise. You guys have pissed out all the grace that ever entered you.

b) Empowerment, narcissism and grandiosity are not my drugs. If they were, I'd have never left behind what I left behind. I've been humble in ways that no ground-kissing pope-on-the-tarmac could ever be humble. Give me a break here; you know that's a cheap, ad hominem shot.

c) About whether or not I am or ever was a believer, do not be so quick to say there's no gold in those hills. You only get to see the parts of me that I give you - and many of those parts are the stuff of the performer in me. Understand the premise here.

d) A sophomoric parable? Jeez T.T., all parables are like that. They're supposed to be like that. Something tells me that if you had been standing in the crowd when Jesus delivered the parable of the Prodigal Son, you'd have sniffed dismissively and said something condescending to your brother pharisees about how childish Jesus was. Oops, there I go again, comparing myself to Jesus. Damn, this narcissism thing is sooo hard to deal with.

You know what I think really scares you, T.T.? The fact that I am not afraid to talk, and that you know in your heart that I'm right. The day I realized that I had nothing to gain and nothing to lose by speaking the truth was a very liberating day for me. At that moment, I finally understood why I had been ordained and what my little prophetic voice in the Church ought to have been saying all along. Now I speak from just outside the walls, but I firmly believe that if there is any intent on the part of our God, this is the vocation he intended for me. You, more than many others, validate this. It doesn’t matter to me if no one else ever hears me. I will know that you have heard me, and that I have finally discharged my responsibility. Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Thomas Tucker.

OK. Your move. Have at.

17 comments:

tater said...

I wondered when this retort was coming. I've been waiting to read your response all afternoon. Whether you have been released by your lord, or you were dismissing TT, the Latin phrase was a nice and fitting final touch.

Dantallion said...

Yeah, I'm thinking you hit a little close to home for TT... that sort of holier-than-thou snottiness is usually the vice of someone threatened by truth...

Doug Taron said...

I liked the parable. I really disliked TT's point about your not being a True Believer™. I find the readiness of many who wear their religion on their sleeves to ascribe this specific beliefs and feelings to others to be truly offensive.

thomas tucker said...

LOL, dantallion. There is nothing threatening in Father T's comments. That's part of the point- the image of Father T standing up to bravely confront the Catholic Curch is ludicrous rather than threatening.
And, Father T, thanks for your kind words- I enjoy the skirmishing and do respect you, as much as I disagree with you, and always will. But you are no Martin Luther, I'm afraid, and styling yourself as one does much to undermine your denial of narcissim. Furthermore, your comments about humility remind me of the old joke about the guy who got a medal for being the Most Humble Person, and had to give it up because he wore it.
BTW, what makes you think that someone who disagrees with you actually secretly agrees with what you say and is "afraid " of your comments? Can you not abide someone dsiagreeing with you? Does it threaten your self-esteem? Are you the one actually afraid? I guess two can play that game. Let's just agree to disagree, shall we, without suspecting hidden motives.
As for truth, my position is well know to you- the truth is in Christ and Christ founded His Church to teach it. We come closer to the truth by conforming ourselves to the teaching of the Church rather than by trying to conform Church teaching to our own desires and wishes.
BTW, parables are simple, but not sophomoric. Your "parable" is sophomoric, and narcissistic, in that it focuses on you and the harm that you feel has been done to you, and how you have been treated,and how you feel about it, and how you will do this or how you will do that- i.e. it's all about you.
Finally, so there is no misunderstanding- I am not a member of the clergy.

thomas tucker said...

doug- perhaps you have never read thru all off Father T's old posts in the archives. He made it clear some time ago that he did not believe essential Catholic teachings, even as he was undergoing ordination and funtioning as a priest. That is why I made the comment that I did.
I am sure he believes something, but not Catholic doctrine.

Father Tony of the Farmboyz said...

Hmmm. I'm not seeing much that's new here, so I guess we've pretty much shredded this to its smallest bits. I did however read twice Thomas Tucker's statement "I am sure he believes something." On this we can agree, and yet, I fervently wish I knew what it was that I really and truly believe. It's always been a sort of brass ring just out of reach. One thing is certain. I look at my friends who have given up the effort to believe, and I know I do not want to become one of them. This, in and of itself, may be a satisfactory attainment of God.

Doug Taron said...

>One thing is certain. I look at my friends who have given up the effort to believe, and I know I do not want to become one of them.

Why not? I mean the question completely without snark. I was raised in the RCC and spent some time in high school and college as an evangelical Christian. It took me a long time to disentangle myself entirely from religion. My science background helped a lot with that. I look back now on the process and wonder why I made it so difficult for myself. What of your perception of the lives of acquaintances who do not believe do you find so distasteful?

Anonymous said...

1- Thank you for posting in large type. It is so much easier to read than little letter.
2- Always remember the first three words of the speech last sumner by miss teenage south carolina...I personally believe.
3- The first two letters of believe are BE. The second three letters are LIE.
chamblee54

Father Tony of the Farmboyz said...

Dear Doug,
"Disentangling from religion" is, I think, a matter entirely different from becoming a believer of some sort. Religion seemed to me to be a club membership. Easy to let it expire But, I think we have a natural inclination to belief, and to wrestling with the big mysteries. To walk away from that wrestling (or entanglement, to use your word) would be a fruitless end. What would it leave us with? I have atheist friends who do good deeds and are generous and helpful. With a shrug of their shoulders, they say "karma". That is their belief system, as far as they will let it evolve and it seems to be enough for them. I need something with a more complex molecular structure. Maybe.

ReyD said...

It's Sunday morning at 5:00am, could not sleep any further, and Home Depot and the Gym are closed, so I opted to read your blog instead.

I agree with you, the Catholic Church is in a transition. At this point it is trying to figure out whether it will change with the times like it has always done throughout the centuries, or stick to its dumb old dogma and shrink -- and loose wealth and influence. I think that the extreme conservativism the C.C. is going through right now is an attempt at damage control due to the child abuse scandals they had to deal with in the last several years. Something, just like homosexuality, that has always been there, but only been publicized recently.

Doug Taron said...

Fr. Tony-

Thanks for the thoughtful answer to my question. I do take issue with one part of your response:

"But, I think we have a natural inclination to belief, and to wrestling with the big mysteries."

Is belief the only, or indeed even a good, way to wrestle with such mysteries? This is exactly what I meant when I cited my science background as contributing to my successful negotiation out of religion (and I was including belief in my use of the word religion here).

Science allows folks to ask really big questions. The pursuit of answers using the tools of science is extraordinarily satisfying. And although scientific disputes are rarely resolved without acrimony, in contrast to religion they are resolved without bloodshed. And, also unlike religion, eventually they do get resolved. Within Christianity, schisms have persisted for 1,000 years without resolution. Nobody is a Lamarkian or a vitalist any more.

I can definitely agree with not wanting to give up the struggle to find answers to challenging questions. I don't think that giving up an effort to believe implies giving up pursuit of these questions. Indeed, I don't think that belief in the absence of evidence is a particularly effective way of getting good answers in the first place.

cleo laine said...

don't know who you are, thomas tucker, but you know enough about the "good father" to know the story as it truly is.

tony, don't be afraid of criticism by deleting my comment.

Father Tony of the Farmboyz said...

Dear Cleo,
What on earth would make you think I would delete your comment? Throughout the four years of this blog, I've had to block only a small handful of comments. Mostly, they were the slanderous product of late-night drinking and were not critical of me at all. Over at Bilerico, I do not control the commentary floodgates. Only the editors do that.

Thomas Tucker certainly does give the impression that he "knows" me, doesn't he? He has taken the time to read me carefully and so I take him seriously. Do you believe him when he says he is not a clergyman?

cleo laine said...

he might be a priest...

i'd be more impressed if he wasn't actually.

SteveSchalchlin said...

But you are no Martin Luther, I'm afraid, and styling yourself as one does much to undermine your denial of narcissim. Furthermore, your comments about humility remind me of the old joke about the guy who got a medal for being the Most Humble Person, and had to give it up because he wore it. BTW, what makes you think that someone who disagrees with you actually secretly agrees with what you say and is "afraid " of your comments?

What makes me realize that you are afraid of Father Tony is that you began your defensive post by spending an inordinate amount of time trying to insult him personally.

If you had something of substance to say, you would have said it. Instead, you defeat youself through childish games playing.

TedBear said...

Great post Father T. Great thoughts from everyone.

Father T: Are you Simeon or Merlin?

I say Merlin. What say you?

Bear Me Out said...

Father Tony, I read your article at Bilerico and your parable, which I take as a Parable, not an allegory. Where did you ever bring down the RCC? I thought it a quite moving and powerful story.

And, I think you do have the gift of faith / belief. Indeed, and pwerfully so. Gifts are things that come easily and readily. I think perhaps you don't see it (or don't want to).

Your gift of faith is in God, not the Church. Big difference there.

Also, belief is about the heart, not the head. (Following Marcus Borg on that). As has been said by others (Barbara Brown Taylor is my source on it) we come to God beholding the Mystery. Simply, cleanly, inexplicably. When we turn that into "beliefs" (meaning of the head), we miss it. Keep beholding, as you do.