Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Theology of the Body and Cherie Blair

It seems that Cherie Blair has decided that the only "good" that she has "done" is despite her kids and is the result of contraception. Because I am currently studying at the Theology of the Body Institute, this lie stands out in stark contrast to the truth that I am getting deeper and deeper into - the true meaning of what it means to be human, to be a sexual being, and to reflect God in our bodies.

Why don't we examine this a bit:
THE Catholic Church is losing congregations by alienating women and failing to give them a public role, Cherie Blair said last night.
Church leaders must modernise the role of women in order to halt the decline in church attendance, she said.
We have to understand what she means by "modernise". She means have women take on male roles and thus find power. But, is this a good thing? Why are male roles such a model that humanity should follow? Shouldn't we rather look at the prototype of all of humanity - Mary - and see that we should be receptive to God's gifts rather than trying to aggressively grasp at them?
"Until the traditional churches fully resolve their relationship with the female half of the population, how can they expect Christianity to have a future in the modern world?

"Traditionally, it was women who passed religion on to their children and who kept the Church going through good times and bad, but when it comes to the public face of Christianity, women are virtually invisible."
She does have one thing right - women traditionally pass on the faith to their kids, but is this still the case when women are not a daily part of their kids lives? Does this happen when they are preoccupied with work and success? She thinks so and I disagree. Here is the kicker:
Mrs Blair also revealed that every time she did not use contraception, "I seemed to have a baby" in a discussion about the Church's attitude to birth control and abortion.

She said: "How could I have done all the things I have done if I hadn't used contraception?"
She didn't have a baby when not using contraception because that is how the body is supposed to work. When you take a pill, it messes up the natural function of the body. It robs a woman of the feminine genius that is stamped into her being - the genius of being receptive to the gifts God has given. The genius of being open to life.

The genius of a "yes" to God, to children, to life. Yes.

Pray for Cherie Blair and other Catholics who don't understand the Church's teachings.

8 comments:

Jeanne said...

The reason the church is losing Catholics (women or men) has nothing to do with Cherie Blair's lame assessment. It has everything to do with the pervasive creep of rationalism and modern selfishness that like a virus has spread even among the religious, including our Catholic brothers and sisters. When people embrace "modern" thinking, they turn away from "old" concepts - like religion. I know. I was one of those people for the longest time. I'm grateful that I woke up from the fog that is relativism and returned to my Catholic roots.

zillionaire said...

You are missing the point. Not everyone who is alientated by the church is a post-modern, secular humanist and not every woman that wants a role in the church is a bra-burning feminist.

Jesus lived a simple "love God, love your neighbor" Gospel that was very absolute, but very forgiving. The early Christians welcomed women, and the early popes were "first among equals," not absolute dictators. Some married.

Somehow, the church has morphed into a homophobic, misogynistic, pharisaical bureaucracy that is run by and for the clergy, rather than by and for the people in the pews.

The church has diminished Jesus' Gospel by preaching a complicated set of rules that is absolute (divorce is sinful), but not forgiving (divorced Catholics cannot receive Communion.)

Let's pray instead for the well-meaning Catholics who don't understand how the church has been controlled by the clergy and how the Gospel has been diminished by the bureaucracy, both at the expense of the people in the pews.

Marcel said...

"homophobic, misogynistic, pharisaical bureaucracy that is run by and for the clergy, rather than by and for the people in the pews."

The Church is run for God, not us - clergy or laity. The Church is run by those appointed by God and has never been a democracy. God is in charge. Period.

Have their been bad clergy? Certainly. But this does not make a trump card for what we are discussing here, but is a distraction. It is not unforgiving to deny Communion to someone who is still married to their spouse, has a civil divorce, and thinks they can re-marry because they re-write the rules themselves.

Jesus was kind, but he also didn't sacrifice truth in order to be forgiving. We either conform to the truth or we are playing Adam and Eve by the attempt to "make ourselves like God".

zillionaire said...

Interesting -- if God is in charge, why didn't he appoint any women to run the church?

(They wouldn't have to be priests, except that only priests were appointed to run this church.)

The church has never been a democracy, but there was collegiality among bishops, until recently.

In the last few years, this pope and his appointees (who will select his successors) have angered Jews, Muslims, homosexuals, and women.

(I'm a straight, white man, and they anger me!)

People who claim to be appointed by God need to be certain that they understand God's program, or they can do much more harm than good.

I'm concerned that the church is increasingly alienating spiritual people who hope to live Christ-like lives, but who do not see aything Christ-like about some of the church's rules.

Marcel said...

If you don't mind me actually answering your questions, this will take a while:

"Interesting -- if God is in charge, why didn't he appoint any women to run the church?"
--Because women are not able to stand "in persona Christi". It isn't a matter of function, but who we are made. A woman cannot image the bridegroom of his bride the Church any more than I can bear children. God knows what He is doing. Christ wasn't a sexist, He understood sexual differences and complimentarity. To deny the differences is to deny that we are made in "the image and likeness" of God.

"(They wouldn't have to be priests, except that only priests were appointed to run this church.)"
--Did Christ do anything for the sake of conforming to social norms? Then he must have had a better reason for not putting women in charge. It is not to denigrate them, but rather to show forth their true feminine genius, which is not found in "running" the Church. Which, by the way, teaches that the Marian dimension of the church (feminine) precedes the Petrine (masculine). In other words, femininity is more important than masculinity to the Church.

"The church has never been a democracy, but there was collegiality among bishops, until recently."
--And how exactly did this stop? Accusations without evidence are gossip.

"In the last few years, this pope and his appointees (who will select his successors) have angered Jews, Muslims, homosexuals, and women."
--The Gospel will always upset others. Do you think that adulterers, hypocrites, pharisees, murderers, liars, thiefs, and such have ever like Christ or the Church? What is your point? Bad communications and media - guilty as charged! But, if it is the Church is wrong - you might want to ask why you have the authority to make such decisions to toss out 2,000 years of Christian teaching.

"(I'm a straight, white man, and they anger me!)"
--So am I and they don't anger me. Your point?

"People who claim to be appointed by God need to be certain that they understand God's program, or they can do much more harm than good."
--Claim to be or are? How do you know? On what are you basing your premise? Are you sure this isn't God's plan?

"I'm concerned that the church is increasingly alienating spiritual people who hope to live Christ-like lives, but who do not see aything Christ-like about some of the church's rules."
--You have to be specific here. Being spiritual and not following rules is called relativism and ends up making a god into our own image after our own likeness - not in conforming our own lives after the Truth - Christ.

Your accusations and argument are all over the place and seem to based in a subjective - Church bad/wrong - me good/right argument without any grounding in reason.

zillionaire said...

Marcel, take a deep breath and try to put aside any preconceptions that I am a closet athiest or a moral relativist or a nay-sayer. I am neither.

I am an Aggie Catholic parent, who is struggling to address the doubts that my grown children have about some of the church's teachings.

I likely know as much about theology as you do, so I am not satisfied with by-the-book answers that presume God and the church are synonymous.

My whole point in contributing to the blog was to sound the alarm that there is a rising tide of Catholics who find truth in Catholicism, profess every word of the creed, and resist the pressures of secular society on a daily basis.

However, as we ponder the tough questions and we read the Bible and we ask ourselves "what would Jesus do?" the answers often seem very different than what the church is doing.

You may be too young to remember Vatican II, but Vatican II was about collegiality. However, since that time, papal decree has become the norm and collegiality has become the exception.

That is not allegation without fact or gossip, as you suggested. It happened when Pope Paul overruled his advisors on birth control, and it happened when the Vatican overruled the Catholic bishops on the English translation of the Mass.

This discussion started with a concern about the role (or lack of role) of women in the church.

If Jesus had female disciples, and the early church had female deacons, when did God decide that only men could stand in persona Christi?
Of course, there are differences between sexes, but we are all made in the image of God.

Even if we agreed that women cannot be priests, you seem to think that women should be content to enjoy their feminine or Marian personalities, rather than exercise leadership in the church.

Of course, femininity is distinct and essential, and church teachings should lead, rather than follow social norms. Certainly God can find a way to utilize the unique feminine traits that women offer in leadership roles in the church.

The Gospel can upset people, and so be it. Still, when the church departs from the Gospel by creating a complicated set of rules that is absolute, but not forgiving, then it is not the truth of the Gospel that is upsetting people, but the departure from the truth of the Gospel.

Do you think that Jews who are outraged by Catholic denials of the holocaust or Muslims who are outraged by Catholic criticisms of their religion are the same as murderers, liars, and thieves who reject Christ and the church?

These Catholic criticisms and denials are not the products of bad communication or media, they are human errors of judgment and sensitivity.

I never presumed to make any decisions or toss out any teachings, as you suggested. It is my church, but not only my church, as it is the Pope's church, but not only his church.

As long as the church honors the body of the faithful and respects the informed conscience of the individual, we as believers are encouraged to deepen our knowledge of revealed truth.

Throughout history, the church has advanced from right-minded questions, and it has regressed when right-minded questions were dismissed as accusations or arguments or presumptions.

I do not know God's plan as`you seem to know it, but I believe that people who claim to be appointed by God need to be certain that they understand God's program, and I believe that those who truly are appointed by God need to be even more certain.

I said at the outset that I am not a relativist, and I believe that there is only one truth. Also, I always have and always will follow God's rules and Christ's example, as best as I can.

As a Catholic, I hope that my church will always follow God's rules and Christ's example, too.

Unfortunately, it sometimes takes a while for the church to canonize those who were once deemed heretics or to realize that the earth revolves around the sun and not vice versa.

Marcel said...

I appreciate your taking the time to spell out your position better. I think that written dialogue loses some of the personalism that face-to-face discussions have. This is one of the blessings (being able to talk to many) and curses (not getting the full story) of technology.

We may not be as far apart as you think. But, there is one thing I would like to address, when you said:

"You may be too young to remember Vatican II, but Vatican II was about collegiality. However, since that time, papal decree has become the norm and collegiality has become the exception.

That is not allegation without fact or gossip, as you suggested. It happened when Pope Paul overruled his advisors on birth control, and it happened when the Vatican overruled the Catholic bishops on the English translation of the Mass."

I am a student of Vatican II and the documents do talk about collegiality, but they also reaffirm the primacy of the pope. There is no contradiction here and both John Paul II and Benedict XVI have talked about a re-imagining of what the primacy means.

As for the commission that was set up to examine the issue on contraception, there were two reports issued - a majority and a minority report. This was not a democratic vote, with the majority "winning" the truth. John XXIII commissioned the group to examine family life, population growth and the like. It was an advisory committee and through the life of the commission the views of the group radically changed. By the time Paul VI got both reports, it was politically inflamed. Thus, the majority even leaked their report in order to try to pressure the Pope into taking their side in the issue. I have to say that truth doesn't travel this way.

Paul VI, as any good leader would, took the information and made the decision that he thought was best. Can we blame him now? He has been perfectly vindicated in having every prediction of what would happen due to contraception come to fruition. He was right.

John Paul II built upon this truth through his theology of the body, the most beautiful development of theological teaching to happen in the second millenia, in my opinion.

Is the truth sometimes hard to wrap our minds around and to live out? Certainly. Do I claim to know it all? Not at all. But, I do think the Church teaches it. Not in authoritative manner that ignores the movement of the Holy Spirit amongst the sensum fidei, but rather in a way that brings it all together for us.

zillionaire said...

Well said. Thanks for responding.