Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Poetic Knowledge Week 9

Outline of Chapter 6, and links to more discussion at A Healer's Geste

I collected some links to articles and posts that referenced the Pearson Integrated Humanities Program.

“Western tradition has divided the long itinerary of liberal education into three stages, each contributing something of its own to the three purposes of liberal education — to humanize, to acculturate, to make happy. These are the stages of poetry, liberal arts, and sciences. According to Plato, the first step in the long itinerary of liberal education is the elementary or poetic stage…. These descriptions of the poetic stage of development mention the powers within the young student — senses, memory and imagination. Poetic education begins to humanize by developing these powers.” Robert Carlson.
 OK, so children are born human, but still, somehow, as they grow we have a part in humanizing them.   I suppose it is somewhat the same with all higher mammals.  Even the squirrels we took care of last summer, who were more Lower Mammals -- even though they were pre-scripted with many natural instincts, according to the research we did they still are partly cared for by their mother until they are several months old.  She teaches them how to find food, and she and their siblings and relatives socialize them.   So they don't come out fully squirrels; still less do we come out fully ourselves.   We are persons, yes, but we are born persons into a particular time and place, and so education plays a crucial role in every society. 

For a human, nature is important, but not sufficient.  Our senses, memory and imagination don't just encompass our next meal or how to survive and reproduce.  We can abstract the universal from the particular.  Even the simplest cultures have a culture, a legacy and skills to hand on. 

When the IHP was founded, it was recognized by the founders that in a way their program was remedial.  They were dealing with the students who had been educated in a pragmatic yet incoherent way.    Many hadn't had the poetic immersion, the direct participation in real things, that would be ideal for the goals of the program.  

“Given the fact that their physical childhood had passed and the students were in various stages of middle and late adolescence, direct early experience of reality in games, sports, and crafts was not possible. …. all the professors of the IHP believed or soon came to believe that what they were doing on the college level, in spite of the obvious success, was needed much sooner, beginning at the elementary level

Summing up the effect and one of the primary goals of the program, Taylor wrote of the students:

The rediscovery of their childhood, which for many of them had been unfulfilled, was of great importance in the two year program. The professors knew that a materialist society, with all its utilitarian goals that suffocate the poetic nature of the human being, had rushed many of the students through childhood, that time of leisure in which the wonders of reality are encountered simply as wonders. As this entire study has demonstrated, there can be no real advancement in knowledge unless it first begin in leisure and wonder, where the controlling motive throughout remains to be delight and love.

I suppose this is a kind of challenge.   If we have been convinced by what James Taylor has said so far, that this poetic mode comes first and is crucial in a proper education, then how does that look in our homes?  Do we already have some poetic things going on?  Could we reprioritize so that the more lasting things come first and the other things are done differently, more poetically, perhaps?

I know these are questions on my mind as I decide what to do next year.    To me, it seems that Charlotte Mason is the closest thing to a formal curriculum that is in this mode.   Some classical curricula are in the zone too, in my opinion, but classical education as it exists in homeschooling in the USA seems to have been heavily influenced by Cartesian methods and goals.   It seems to be moving away from that nowadays, for which I am glad.   Still, a lot of people using classical still seem to envision "elite" children and this is not a Poetic Knowledge type goal.  Also, classical homeschooling has lagged behind on the skilled crafts and nature study, though there has been definite progress.   Charlotte Mason's declaration that every child, "dullard" or advanced, needed a solid broad and liberal education suited to his abilities is very much in the mode of the point Taylor and Senior and Quinn were trying to make.   Their vision is of a lively, vibrant, rich Christian culture that influences everyone in its range and is not selective of one type of vocation or person in preference to another.

A few things that strike me in the first part of the chapter that I would like to ponder in relation to my homeschool.

Conversation rather than lecture and analysis.  Not that we are big on lecture and analysis around here.  But I am glad to know that conversation -- making connections across books, relating stories to everyday life, taking ideas seriously and not trying to "pull" a theme or symbol out of the story if it doesn't want to come readily -- is what the IHP proposed as a better grounding for future intellectual distinction than a bunch of worksheets on plot, characterization and setting.


Laughter of this kind is also poetic in that it comes to us as a surprise of suddenly seeing the connection between two dissimilar things.  One of the recurring themes of the IHP was that while life was not “fun,” it certainly was often funny.
There is quite a bit in the chapter about conversation and how to listen and ponder as well as how the teachers conversed.    It was really interesting.

On the Idea of Receptiveness
“To receive is not to do nothing; a baseball catcher does a great deal, but he is still the receiver of the activity of the pitcher. Furthermore, they explained to the students that every conversation requires an attentive listener, alert and symapthetic; otherwise, the occasion deteriorates into mere discussion, a kind of noise, really, losing the meditative silence within which what is being said can be pondered. Listening then, it was explained, in this way is a poetic thing.

On Conversation and Listening as Gymnastic

Conversation, a word whose etymology was revealed by the professors to show how it meant to turn together around some subject, was s sign of friendship and an activity that invovles the alertness of the whole person, not just the mind but the eyes and ears, noticing gestures and tone of voice that indicate meaning and nuance within the give and take of such dialogue.
On the modes of conversation — making connections across books or drawing from stories and real life.
The example of these professors, teaching by way of their personal conversation, speaking as naturally as if around a table where a leisurely lunch was taking place, making quick connections with the similar and contrary ideas contained in the other books of the program, from daily life, or meandering, wandering around and around the topic, digressing to personal experiences relevant to the subject — all taught the students, indirectly at least, the joy of the memory and a healthy independence from books and notes and all the gimmicks so often used to keep this generation’s attention.
On conversation's ability to continue on past the college halls and into student life

“Continuing conversations that took place after class between the students and the teachers that often continued throughout the week in the teachers’ offices with smaller groups.”

Careers considered as vocations.

The IHP faculty encouraged the students to think of being a sailor, a soldier, a mother or father, or a worker on the land.    Many of them actually went on to become scholars of law or philosophy.  But the point is that they were far from being "elitist" in their thinking.  They wanted the students to be excellent human beings who could have dignified, worthwhile lives and stay close to the real things.

No matter what my children end up being, I should probably be way more active in encouraging them to be able to use their hands and backs to work for others and for the common good.  Even if someone ends up as a philosophy professor, it's good if he can garden or construct a building, too.

Things contemplated as objects of delight and wonder.

This was primary.   Whenever the IHP had to make a choice, they made a choice away from "knowledge as power" or for a utilitarian purpose, and towards delight and wonder, which were the beginnings of wisdom.   They moved towards the thing as a whole, rather than towards dissecting it into parts or abstracting concepts from it.  

The Great Books were read in this spirit.

The atmosphere was intended to be meditative, not disputatious. ...The conversations replaced the modern sense of lecture and were closer to the medieval idea of lectio where the teachers spontaneously delivered a commentary on some text.  ..The students were physically passive, not taking notes or speaking, so they could be emotionally and intellectually receptive as listeners. 

Other things were taught in the poetic, participatory mode too.

Oral transmission of poetry.

During the week…. smaller groups of student met to memorize poetry, truly by memory, since no text was used, but conducted by another student who had himself the poems of the program in his memory. In this way, the professors spoke of doing poetry, rather than studying or analyzing it. It was in the order of music and gymnastic at the same time, since in the first place most of the poems memorized were lyrical and, in the second place, by withdrawing all books or handouts of poetry, nothing came between the student and the poem, not een his eyes.


The students followed a simple literary approach — from Aesop’s fables and Grimm’s tales — to introduce them to reasoning by noticing the perfect arrangement of beginning, middle, and end, a logic of thought, and cause and effect. …. The IHP faculty knew that the students were also remotely reliing parts of their childhood in these delightful, timeless stories.

the students, by listening carefully and repeating what they heard, learned to speak very simple Latin from their memories much like children begin to learn their native language without any study of grammar, without any books. This was gymnastic in that it allowed for direct wrestling with the Latin; it was musical in that it brought forth much delight and laughter in the challenge and mistakes of trying to conduct an entire lesson without using any English, pointing, gesturing, acting out the words and meaning instead.

Other things that were included:

  • Star-gazing -- learning about the constellations and their stories.
  • Dances -- not the high school kind where you are either jumping around or swaying together, but elegant waltzes.
  • Calligraphy  -- the traditional art of beautiful writin
  • Traditional folk songs -- often some older students would sing them before class and over the course of the term all the students made them part of their interior furniture.  

This quickly produced a sense of delight in the students, not only in the simple refrains but in the fact that now these poems and songs were placed within them and were part of who they were. This is what the professors meant by doing poetry, or song, as opposed to studying them

So a few things come out of this:

One is a kind of optimism.  It is never really too late.   Though the founders of the program realized that the students came to them with lacks in formation, they also believed that even a late start could bear much fruit.  And it did, from what I understand.

Another is that it doesn't really take sophisticated professors with a campus at their disposal to make some of these things happen.    Many of the activities were the kinds of things that homes and villages used to do as part of daily life.    You can start from where you are.

I really liked the emphasis on delight and wonder and love.  I am sure every second can't be filled with poetry and music in the typical family homeschool, but there is a kind of basic goodness in the ordinary things of life that I probably don't recognize enough.   If Thomas Howard said anything to me in Splendor of the Ordinary, it is that the great things happen in the hurry and nitty-gritty of the very ordinary.   A baby is born, but you are running for hot water and towels and reaching to catch the little fellow and bundle him up.   All very quotidian actions, undertaken in the service of a magnificently significant event.  This was the world of quotidian mystery that our God chose to be part of.   I think I can see in what Taylor is saying that this participation is deeply important.  If we skip the engagement, we skip the deep mystery.  It's too easy for us to reduce and simplify by abstraction and analysis, in order to avoid dealing with the wonder and incomprehensibility.  But then we lose something.

I'm thinking:  I probably shy away from informal nature walks and conversation and open time and teaching my children everyday skills because it quite honestly wears me out fast.  And part of that is that I like things to be somewhat predictable.  But I lose something by going for a "system" as Charlotte Mason says, all tidy with the richness gone.    In the Dawn Treader movie, Eustace Scrubb mutters something about how he wishes he could pin his cousins on a board or trap them in jars as he did with his insect collections.  I think that's the modern rationalist complaint about the poetic mode of living, and since I was educated that way it's easy for me to want to hand the kids a worksheet rather than go out exploring with them, where their perceptions are no doubt at least as acute as mine.  The latter is humbling.  But you probably learn more and teach better that way.


  1. Excellent post. I just read the part of the chapter, and right after your post, and I like the fact you are also seeing how all this we are reading can be incorporated in our homeschooling.

    I'm glad you pointed to the optimism. I'm feeling quite devastated, that knot in the stomach when you read what you'd like for your family and the thought of being far from it. But it's not like that. We do many things as we read in this chapter, it's more than I have the mindset of traditional Cartesian education when I look at our life and homeschool.
    But I believe this is at anybody's reach, and that our life and homeschool are very poetic, it's me that I don't look right, or that I give more importance to the wrong things.
    As you say, the poetic things wear me down too. To me, what stops me from doing things more poetically, it's an unfounded fear. But I can't blame it on anybody, I need to cover my ears and follow my educated instinct.
    The traditional (which has plagued the classic approach, and even much of the CM approach many display), it's "easier", it has lists, perfect plans, syllabus, tests, and something to show, it advances knowledge, right?
    But there is something I've noticed. Can it be that we are 'measuring' this poetic knowledge with the wrong modern tools? I mean that I expect lots, much progress, an advanced pace in their learning... I need to be the first one modeling love, and love is based on trust, and you can't rush it, as I do.
    This book club is really stretching me in many aspects, but it's good. I needed this.

  2. Yes, it's stretching me too. I find I am understanding some of Charlotte Mason's writings better as a result. Of course, none of us want to be what she called "desultory" and so perhaps that's where I at least start scheduling and looking for production. I don't think Taylor or Senior or Quinn would like desultoriness, either -- so there must be a way to have poetic education without letting things slide. I don't think I have a handle on it but I'm trying to see how it might work!

  3. Nice post, I really liked your last paragraph as I can really relate to it.

    I really like the Charlotte Mason method but have had real difficulties in using it effectively with my oldest because of his limited communication skills. It has continually frustrated me since language is such an important component in learning with Mason's methods. I am gradually starting to see how important all of this "open time" is in establishing good language skills and a thirst for learning. And your post has really reminded me that I must stop neglecting time outside, time spent in artistic/creative pursuits, and time spent in "idle conversations"

    But it is so draining isn't it? My oldest is a very withdrawn person. How can you incite the love of learning in a child who refuses to interact with his environment? Who refuses to listen to a story and will start talking/humming to drown out your voice?

    For us, I am thinking more and more of the importance of art in our days and of how wrong I've been to neglect it in favor of time spent in maths and language arts...

  4. I like how Charlotte Mason highlights that a liberal education is not elite and am glad you made that point. I also loved that you mentioned the laughter!!

  5. I am reading through and I just had to stop and say that this:

    To me, it seems that Charlotte Mason is the closest thing to a formal curriculum that is in this mode. Some classical curricula are in the zone too, in my opinion, but classical education as it exists in homeschooling in the USA seems to have been heavily influenced by Cartesian methods and goals.

    This?? Thank you so much for saying this! I completely agree. CM is more classical than most neoclassicists, in my opinion! I have a hard time explaining to people how I am classical because they are more familiar with the new classicism, which is similar, but different in that it tends to lack even *respect* for the poetic mode.

    You are very well spoken in the post, by the way. I'm enjoying it very much.

    Back to my reading...

  6. Susan, in some ways I can empathize with your son. Some aspects of poetic knowledge can seem overwhelming, too open-ended and unpredictable and over-stimulating. If a person has any kind of sensory defensiveness or emotional unawareness, I think the person will gravitate towards what is predictable, streamlined, mechanical or in some other way rationally patterned.

    I wonder if this could be one reason why the medievals emphasized a liturgically related order and rhythm? Just occurred to me now, but surely this personality type didn't originate in this century and I can imagine that they would have sought a way that extremely introverted people could enter into the cultural environment as well.

  7. Shari, I loved the laughter point too! Laughter is such an essential part of the homeschool, I have found.

  8. Brandy, I love the ideals and content of classical education at its best. And CIRCE and the Berquists and sources like that are doing a lot to restore or maintain poeticism in the classical homeschooling movement. However, I do think classical educators are a self-selected bunch and often have an engineering approach to education.

  9. "I probably shy away from informal nature walks and conversation and open time and teaching my children everyday skills because it quite honestly wears me out fast." -- Me, too! I have found that if I'm going to interact with the kids at that level for hours of the day, then I really must have time first thing in the morning before they are up, and at least some quiet time in the afternoon, and a breather after bedtime. If I know those times will happen and I will have a bit of recovery time, then I can handle "being present" much better.

    Of course, these last few weeks hardly any of those three times have happened, and so I find my nerves and reserves rather thin.

    This was a great post. Thank you!

  10. Hi Mystie, those little breaks are what keep me going too. Especially the afternoon one. If I don't get it I feel almost like I'm running out of breath.

  11. I've never thought about the liturgical year being used as a way to allow the extremely introverted to join in but I can see your point. something to think about anyway.

  12. Well, I know my introverted kids never got into the liturgical year customs too much. There is a revival of old customs going on now which is appealing to extroverts and creative types, but my cautious family didn't really get into them too much.

    However, I'm thinking about how in middle ages the bell rang for Angelus, there were certain prayers and customs for certain seasons, the stain glass windows, even the way the church buildings were in the center of the village. This was just a part of life and I suspect it might be easier for an introvert to tolerate than the kind of in your face stimulation of things nowadays.

  13. I remember once over on Cindy's blog she asked the question whether liturgy was more introvert-friendly. I would say definitely yes. I go to a non-liturgical church, and I am happy there for a variety of reasons, but I find liturgy soothing. The routine and the quiet fit my soul better, I think. The noise of a church that loves to switch things up often overwhelms me. One of my sweet introverted friends once told me that she cannot attend her chuch's contemporary service because she has a headache by the second song!

  14. Brandy, my older kids had the same experience when they went to a more charismatic-type retreat during confirmation prep. Many kids just loved it, but they did not. In fact, they all seek out more traditional liturgical forms of worship whenever they can.

    Partly they didn't like the sheer over-stimulation and emotional hijacking, and partly they didn't feel so much part of a long-continuing and dignified tradition when it was all oriented around supposed teenagers' sensibilities and preferences.

    I grew up in an Evangelical Covenant church, which was very non-liturgical. It was also fairly slow-paced and dignified, though, which nourished my temperament. The wonderful old hymns gave me the sense of continuity and richness that it might have lacked. Of course a sense of heritage and majesty came from its Scriptural emphasis too. My mom says that nowadays they have switched over to the more folky or contemporary hymns, which seems like a pity.

  15. This is a great post, Willa. I didn't realize you all were reading Poetic Knowledge. I tried to read it awhile back, but got bogged down around the fourth chapter and never finished the book. Now I've loaned it to a friend. But what you are saying in this post strikes a chord. I especially appreciate you detailing some of their studies.

  16. I'm fairly sure that my introverted family are much more comfortable with the liturgical style of our church versus the more spontaneous types of worship found in other churches. There is a comfort in knowing what's expected of you. I know that, personally, I much prefer to pray standard prayers in public versus the more spontaneous type so I think that there's some definite truth to the notion of liturgy allowing the introvert to join in more.

    Lots of food for thought here...

  17. I don't know that distinction, and I'm not familiar with other 'churches'.
    We attend a church of Christ, where we worship according to the pattern of worship we believe Christ laid out for us in the Scriptures. We believe to worship the same way first century christians worshiped. We don't consider ourselves a denomination but His Church.
    I know, I don't want to offend any of you, but I feel compelled to tell you about this in respect.
    Accordingly, we worship in Spirit and Truth, and this means we sing a Capella as expressed in the Bible, and the things we do, our focus is how to worship Him the way He wants, not to find ways to appeal or fulfill specific needs such as this or that for the elderly, for the teens, for the children.
    Our churches are as a result personal, small and shy and extroverts alike find we do things in order and with respect.
    Actually, in the last men meeting, they stressed again the fact many of us were allowing our children to go to the bathroom during services, and it is true, I was one of them. It is sort of a 'nice break' for children, but they shouldn't need to go if you take them before.
    We have ONE AND ONLY worship service, we don't see an indication of different services to be held. And one Sunday morning, one in the evening.
    As we see 'going to church' and faithful attendance part of our christian duties, and we seek the company and fellowship of each other out of the 'building', we get to know each other well.
    But in our 'building', which is by no means the church, we do not have any 'social' functions or anything else but worshiping and meeting on the Lord's day, and apart from this our elders decided on Wednesday as a mid week Bible study that once decided we don't forsake either.
    We don't eat, or use the building for anything else.
    Our men cut the loan, all of us clean the building, and the money saved goes to individuals we know to further the gospel. Nobody but our preacher, as Paul was supported, earns a salary, we do it all.
    Our challenge is to do things not as empty rituals but to give them the respect they deserve.
    Family Bible studies are held in our homes, as well as men and women Bible studies, so we can know each other better, and be aware of the needs in the congregation and help others to hear the Gospel.
    I'm sorry if this came across a bit legalistic, but true legalism is to find loop holes, and we don't, on the contrary, we try to honestly and with a contrite heart, be obedient to God.
    Our men, shy and not, preach, lead singing and teach. We women teach our children, and moms bring babies to the auditorium. If they cry or fuss, they have a room where they respectfully continue listening to the sermon while they nurse or put them to sleep.
    Those 'novelties' and some 'rituals' I see over the Internet, really look to me very 'postmodern' not poetic, and consumerist or materialistic. I once heard a friend in the homeschooling group that went to a church where she did not know well what she was supposed to do.
    Nobody that comes to where I congregate will feel uncomfortable in that regard, least he should feel offended by the content of the lesson. We always encourage visitors, and approach them because we want them to feel welcome. However, there are those who leave right away, those who stay and chat. Our men do a wonderful job of keeping the assembly focused on worshiping Him.
    We are a group of imperfect people, but with a Perfect Head, and His Perfect Plan of Salvation and pattern of assembly.
    No rock music, or even instruments, or special effects, meals or tickets, money or courses, nothing but things that these days we do with the aid of a screen for a lesson in power point (and not all lessons), and unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine, song books, and pews. We could assemble in a mountain, valley, anywhere!

  18. Thank you for telling about your church, Silvia!

    You are right to focus on the essential -- worship of Him, service to Him, obedience to Him who died to redeem us. I think that is one thing that unites those of us who have been chatting here though we might disagree about how that works out in practice.

    I think we also all probably agree in deploring the post-modern novelties and innovations that crop up around us. People have lost understanding of the poetic nowadays.

  19. Not only of the poetic, Willa, unfortunately they have lost understanding of the Scriptural ways because they do not study as the Bereans, or they do not hear the Truth being spoken and preached, to discern false teachers from those who preach Him undefiled.
    That's why where I go (sorry to sound like I'm pushing it) we understand any of these modern practices to be unscriptural, so we don't allow them, or ultimately the church breaks off and changes name. However, to start with we are autonomous churches, no church overseas another, we are local and completely autonomous, as the church of Christ in Corinth, or the church in Laodicea, etc.

    I know we disagree in how that works out in practice, and I do have all the respect for you as persons and that's where I don't judge because I don't believe myself superior to any of you. But I won't be loyal to my Lord if I did not tell you that how you worship or what group you chose matters, and that the different practices cannot all be pleasing to God, because I do not believe that to be what He expresses to us in His Word.
    I'm sorry I can't have this believe that we are all 'united' or a more open believe of what chrsitianity is. And I know all of you are women with strong convictions, I know you are not where you are just because. However, I thought for that reason you'd be an understanding audience, and if you are grounded on your believes I know you don't mind to hear different ones to contrast them as I do too.

    Ah, and WE EAT, HA HA HA. I realized I wrote We don't eat, but I was obviously meaning we don't at the building!

    Thanks for opening your blog to my comments.

  20. But, Silvia, if we each trust Christ alone for our salvation, then we are part of the Bride, all seeking to be faithful to Scripture.

    Our church (the elders) knows of the practices such as your church and has deliberately and, they believe, scripturally, made different practice choices. Yours is a strict "regulative principle" church, who sees only Acts as the model for the church, whereas ours sees the People of God as a historical stream from the Israelites in continuity through history to today and onward to Judgment Day, when all who have true faith will be united in one Bride. She gains in maturity and glory as time marches on, until she comes as the Bride prepared for her Bridegroom. We (and I'm not pretending to speak for everyone here by any means) believe Acts was not given to us as a "how to" set up a church, but as a testimony to the Church's first beginnings.

    Some want to draw lines in denominational or knowledge/theology places for salvation, but I believe the Bible draws the line at faith and trust in Jesus and His finished work, and leaves much grace, room for both maturity and immaturity or knowledge or lack of knowledge, for outworkings from that point. What we are each responsible for is "to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling" and to "be convinced in your own mind." Paul didn't give the "right" answer; he said to "be convinced in your own mind."

    So I am glad you are convinced and convicted and pursuing a godly course. It is not legalism until one demands others' consciences be bound by yours. Jesus is the One Way, and I am always struck when I read through the New Testament how broad the commands are, speaking to the heart rather than to externals and specifics. It is very poetic in itself. :)

    It is a good discussion to have, especially since church and such does come up so often in these discussions.

  21. Mystie... I truly wish we could converse in real life! Sigh. This means is difficult, we don't have the gestures, and body language, as the professors at the IHP.

    You say: if we each trust Christ alone for our salvation, then we are part of the Bride, all seeking to be faithful to Scripture.

    But I do not see that in the Scriptures. Well. I see that, but I also see the way to be faithful clearly laid for me and anyone who decides to put on Christ in his/her life.

    The problem is that of scripturally. Two different practices can't be both scriptural. For example, if the Bible says as we can read, to assemble the Lord's Day to have communion in His remembrance, and that is partaking of the bread and fruit of the vine, any different day or thing done or eaten cannot be scriptural.

    I had never heard of regulative principle church. And we don't see only Acts, but the whole Bible as our regulative, if you wish, principle. The Bible is regulative, isn't it? It is our pattern of behavior and obedience. I always knew there is a God, although not always I lived accordingly. If you accept the Bible to be His Word, in It you should find how to live. Of course I'm not going to find a verse that tells me how to exactly dress, but I can glean what it is to be modest from it. The few elements that constitute worship are easily seen in all the Bible, and following those, we can't be wrong. It is when we start to see other ways, manly ways of adding or doing this to accommodate, or compromise here and there, when we start getting very tangled in our christianity.
    I again agree in that all who have true faith will be united, but it is clear our way of discerning what true faith is, is what varies.
    Acts is a testimony, but the whole Bible is the pattern for worship, in that regard is how we read it to 'set up' a church. But we don't set it up, the church is the body of believers, and those act according to His commandments and His Will. For example, in Ecclesiastes 2:24 we read - ... keep His commandments, for this is man's all

    I agree:
    What we are each responsible for is "to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling"
    But salvation is not a subjective conscience matter, I mean, of course we have to be convince in our conscience, but convinced of the objective TRUTH with capital letters that you can discern.

    Paul didn't give the "right" answer; he said to "be convinced in your own mind." The Lord has a RIGHT answer. Absolutely. I believe Paul is talking about our relationship with the Truth.

  22. I guess the last paragraph sums up your position and distances it from ours. I don't see me as the one who demands, I see God demands these laws you see as legalism. I don't see the commands as broad, but the road to destruction. The fact that there are externals and specifics as you call them, does not make our faith and relationship less poetic. If you only leave the conscience, subjectivity, the poetic aspect of faith, then you are embracing (I believe... forgive me for I don't have immediate feedback, and don't ever think I'm trying to put words in your mouth or anything) a postmodern view of christianity? Not because you don't understand the poetic aspect of our faith, that you DO, but because you are stripping the Scriptures from their objectivity and specific laws God gives us and that are eternal. They existed since the church was established with His death, and they will continue till the end of times. But faith has surely a personal aspect. I mean that one can go through the motions and not have true faith, because you may not have a sincere heart, or you may not be embracing the poetic aspects of a true christian life. I mean one can have one of these two aspects, and you will be incomplete. One needs to do His Will, and do it with sincerity.
    "Specifics" don't undermine grace at all. Once you obey Christ, and put Him on in baptism, you commit to a faithful life for which you have much maturity and knowledge to gain.

    I'm not trying to have the last word here, either, :))

    I also think is a good discussion to have. However, I respect you all, and Willa, and if I need to "shut up", HONESTLY, I won't be offended.

    Same again with this I'm writing. I was thinking about not typing more, but at the same time I thought you deserve my complete honesty, and you have all my respect too.

  23. It is a very tight balance to walk, because we must live specifics and Truth is absolute and does guide. But it was in context of life and worship practices (eating meat, drinking, observing days etc.) that Paul did NOT say "everyone should x" but said "let each be convinced in his own mind." (Romans 14 primarily; what one did and did not eat was a matter of worship at the time, culturally)

    I am not at all postmodern, but I recognize that it definitely sometimes sounds like it, which makes it a big struggle. But I see in Scripture that God saves people and uses people who are imperfect and who would not fit into the "right category" or "right practices" as we define them.

    Reformed types have definitions for all the positions, and "regulative principle" is the name we give the belief that whatever is not found as part of corporate worship in the Bible is not allowed. Within that principle, there is a wide spectrum of application. The opposite position is that if it is not forbidden in Scripture it is permissible. Our church believes in regulative principle, also. Still, what they see as allowable is different than yours. After all, the Psalms *command* instruments in worship, do they not? :) I'm not saying there isn't Truth. I'm saying God requires of us the level of Truth we have attained, and God picks us up where we are, not where we should be. Sanctification is a process. God does not demand we be perfect or have perfect understanding before He accepts our worship, if we are clothed in Christ's perfection. God does demand perfection, but we never have any. "To his own master he will stand or fall, and God will cause him to stand."

    I just wanted to respond because it was sounding like you were saying those who worship in other ways are not truly Christians. It could have been merely a language misunderstanding. It is not because other churches do not believe the Bible or have never heard of churches such as yours that we do not worship in the same way. It is a biblical conviction that has led our church to establish its pattern, and I want to discuss without quarreling or condemning practices of any person who trusts Jesus, who believes the Bible, and who is sincerely attempting to obey God. That includes you, that includes Brandy, that includes Willa, even though all all four of our churches are very different.

    Interestingly, my pastor believes the "one body" metaphor applies to all Bible-believing, Jesus-trusting churches as well as to individual local churches. Because we are finite, we cannot each be a complete picture of the Heavenly Church. So the charismatics have issues but are zealous, the Reformed have issues but love sound doctrine, the generic non-denominational churches (of which there are all types) often have strong community. I hope as the Church continues these graces can be united -- again. Someday, whether in this world or the next, we will be One Holy Catholic Church again.

    And, sorry, Willa -- when I typed my response last night I thought this was Brandy's blog! And I hope nothing I said was offensive. I don't mind hijacking hers with theology-talk, but I didn't intend to do so on yours. I should leave it to you. :) I hope it did, at least, convey my respect for sincere Catholicism (there really SHOULD be one Church), though I am a staunch and fervent Protestant. I do *not* hold with those who think there is no salvation in RC, as I trust you do not hold that say there is none outside it. :)

  24. Well, it's not necessary to apologize, for both of you are being courteous and I find the discussion fascinating.

    Mystie, you did not say anything offensive at all!

    Silvia, I think I see that you are concerned for those who are in your beliefs away from the truth, because you care about us and our eternity. If truth matters, we want to make sure everyone has a chance to hear the truth at least. It makes total sense to me that you would want to proclaim the truth, Silvia, because that is a Christian desire.

    I, too, think truth matters and I gather that Mystie does too. None of us are relativists.

    It sometimes can sound like that though because while Jesus said that He was the Way, the Truth and the Life and no one could come to the Father except through Him, He also offered living water to the Samaritan woman who was a heretic according to Jewish standards and a sinner into the bargain, and He offered eternity to the robber on the cross. We don't know at present who are the wheat and who are the tares.

    Plus we have that peculiar modern situation where a lot of churches and doctrinal systems are claiming to have truth. There's no real way to distinguish just by referring to accordance with scripture.

    Given this situation, some believers go for a kind of "mere Christianity", where most things outside the Apostles Creed are considered non-essential and according to the convictions of the individual believer. This is the kind of church I grew up in. From what I understand about "regulative principle" they would be in that camp because they didn't go for things that were not in some way authorized by Scripture but they allow variation in things like immersion for baptism, infant vs believer's baptism, things like that.

    Others hold to more doctrinal and traditional positions but are willing to allow that grace may be found outside the normal parameters. I would probably be in this situation -- I certainly don't believe that everyone who claims to be a member of the Catholic Church will automatically saved, nor do I believe that everyone outside the visible fold will necessarily be lost.

    Others respond to the plurality by thinking that their tradition is the only pure one and that anyone outside the flock is in trouble.

    I was hoping to steer this comment towards Poetic Knowledge somehow but it's not going to happen since this is already too long. If I get a chance I may try since there were some things I noticed coming out that seemed somewhat relevant to the topic.

    I liked Mystie's comment that Jesus's approach was very poetic -- so true and that tells us a lot, doesn't it! And I think that Silvia brings out a good point that poeticism is very distinct from subjectivism.... in fact it is essentially focused on the object.

  25. Ah. I always miss the good conversations! Intriguing, that. You all know I hang my hat with Mystie on most things theological (I am just the more confused of the two of us).

    If I might bring some of this back to the concepts in the book...

    I was thinking about this, that even though Silvia's church wouldn't be *called* liturgical, still it sounds like it contains some of the aspects that I think appeal to introverts--the predictability. I have noticed that many non-liturgical churches still have an underlying liturgy, if we broaden the definition to include its spirit, that of rhythm and in keeping with the seasons, etc. If that makes any sense.

    I have attended a number of churches over the years that stand in direct opposition to this. They want to mix things up--*change* is the name of the game. In fact, if you do something too many times, it smacks of ritual, and *that* smacks of legalism or hypocrisy or something.

    In reading through this, I was thinking that this latter mindset has forgotten that it is *change* which is passing away, and it is the *permanent things* that will remain. This makes me think that churches that have rhythm--whether that rhythm be elaborate or simple--have something more poetic about them than the churches that constantly seek to change they way they do things in order to be more "authentic."

    I don't know if any of that made sense.

    Sorry for so many astericks. I am officially too lazy to code in the italics, it seems.


  26. When I read Brandy's comment I reread mine and noticed that I said Mystie was not offensive -- I was responding to what she said about hoping she had not offended me but I didn't realize it might seem like I didn't mention Silvia on purpose.

    Sylvia, you did not offend me either! I hope you got past that and could figure out from the context that that is what I meant!

    Brandy, I liked what you said about how people don't realize that changes -- um, *change* by definition! It is like writing on water! Only permanent things, again by definition, remain!

    Also, you bring out a good point about "liturgy". We were talking about "liturgical" as meaning traditional ceremonies but in fact it simply means public prescribed rites. In this way, all churches have liturgies unless they simply improvise randomly.

    I went and researched "regulative principle" after Mystie mentioned it in one of her comments. One of the articles I read --here mentioned the distinction between 'circumstances" and "elements" of worship. Elements are things like "preaching" that are required; but other things, like how long the sermon should be, aren't really gone into in detail in the Bible. So different churches have different practices in this regard. Also, things like whether we use candles or gas or electricity to light our buildings during services. Another article I read said that our services are about God, not about us, and how He tells us we should worship Him. That is how I understood what Silvia was saying.... that it really isn't about us.

    So I'm trying to tie this up with Poetic Knowledge -- we know that Poetic Knowledge is focused on objective reality, and mystery beyond our ordinary comprehension. And in a way it's receptive, so we aren't supposed to shape it or control it, but rather, to allow it to affect us.

    Josef Pieper says that "cult" is the basis of "culture" -- not "cult" in our modern meaning, like people looking for a spaceship to take them away, but "cult" meaning religious worship. And religious worship by definition isn't subjective, or easy to control and shape, or focused around ourselves. Like grace, it is prescribed to us by God; it may and does bless us, but our motive in worshiping aren't to please ourselves, but because God told us to do it this way (though I guess we end up disagreeing on how that works out, which is a different conversation).

    Anyway, I'm glad we had this discussion because it cleared up some things that have been bothering me about innovations in the churches.

  27. I understood you at first, I never was offended in any aspect, on the contrary, as you say, Willa, I have loved this conversation.
    I was also concerned when I reread my comment to, to have offended Mystie when I wrote about being *postmodern*. I obviously know she isn't, but I meant what I read sounded to me as such. But then I also remember Mystie saying that I could talk respectfully but in all openness, that she doesn't get offended easy (she is the kind of girl I want to be, I can't say when I grow up, because she is such a young woman, yet a woman, not a kid, ha!) It must be her German nice part of her character. I am much more sanguine, however I've never read anything from any of you that made me feel mistreated or that rubbed me off the wrong way at all.

    It's obvious none of us wants to offend or confront, even if our views are confronted.
    You understood that I spoke from my conviction and desire to 'preach the truth' as I understand it.
    And though I also desire to come back to the poetic aspect of this exchange, I just need to clarify to Mystie that no, it wasn't a misunderstanding, our convictions exclude other convictions, or bind, as you'd say. Because we believe the Scriptures can and are the ground that God uses to communicate to us how to be obedient, and thus we can and should come to the same understanding and proceeding.
    So yes, it sounds horrible, specially to be told in writing to wonderful convicted women that I have not met in person, but if you understand that Truth is in some literal believes taken from the WHOLE BIBLE, not only from Acts, but from the OT and NT, understanding the OT as the old dispensation, and the NT as the part of the Scriptures where most of the how to worship and what to do to be a christian, or how to appoint elders, etc, then those abiding in Him by following the commandments, the 'essentials' as Willa calls them (which I never heard as such, since it's others who classify us, as obviously we classify others ;), those who have taken the steps, and remain faithful and obedient, are christians, the rest won't be. Ouch, I hope you take my honesty with the respect I am unveiling it.

  28. And back to the poetic aspect.
    Both of you, Brandy, and Willa, have an excellent point when you explain change and what remains. Legalism or hypocrisy to us who have, as you say, our "liturgy" or "rituals" that we always follow and make us at ease, it's when you go through the motions without your heart (the poetic component), in the worship or the way you live your christianity. The pharisees were hypocrites because they were more focused on the law than on doing things with the right motives and not focused on God but on them and others. They did it what they did for human praise, not for His Glory, as when they prayed or gave of their means.
    Legalism is more looking for loop holes, or being preoccupied with keeping appearances, which is something that permeates all denominations and the one true church (as I believe there is one).

    So, ladies, if you are looking for a church who claims that hasn't changed in the essentials from Christ time, that's what I claim to be His True Church, because only the circumstances have changed, not the worship, the plan of salvation, or the commandments to follow to live faithful (not perfect, none of us is, not because we *follow* some principles that makes us christians, if we don't have a sincere heart, and without His Grace, we won't be saved. Having regulative principles it's not 'earning our salvation' in the sense of coming 'even' with God, or 'repaying'. Yes, God offers His Grace, but we have to accept it, and we are indicated how to do this clearly in the Scriptures.

    Willa, it's official. We've hick-jacked your blog. And now that Brandy came over to converse, I've officially camped here myself! he he he.

    Just to say once more that it is painful and very uncomfortable to write what I did, but not saying it will violate my conscience and will go against my believes.

    Good night,
    (My eyes are closing... I want to get to your recent posts but I'm having a big overload of things this summer I did not expect at all. So to accomplish much, I need to 'set up to do nothing', really. Only when I achieve again that calm and peace I'll be able to finish and do all it's now uncomfortably floating over my head.

  29. One of my difficulties while I was a Protestant was the difficulty of competing claims to be the true Biblical church. Who decides and how is it decided? Just "Bible alone" does not seem satisfactory because there is not a Protestant church today who does not claim to be "sola scriptura." The Catholic church was the only church who addressed this difficulty head-on. If I couldn't be Catholic or Orthodox, I would probably be some sort of evangelical because they seem to have hit upon a sort of "personal relationship with Lord Jesus" which simply skirts the difficulty of authority and stays relatively neutral on many doctrinal divisions. However, it is deeply subjective, and has to de-emphasize some important issues in order to focus on the "heart" part of the message.... which is obviously crucial in the Gospel message as we have discussed, but does not seem quite as able to tackle philosophical and political questions.

    Another problem I faced as a Protestant was the lack of historical continuity in the traditions. The more recent 19th century attempts to return to New Testament purity seem naive and deeply shaped by the culture from which they came. The older formulations of the Reformers, while more satisfying and thorough, are quite shaped by intense reaction to Catholic theology and practices. As time has gone on most of the Reformer traditions have lost some of their reactiveness but in doing so they either have become more Catholic or lost some of their distinctive doctrinal emphasis.

    Finally, there is the question of the Real Presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. The Eucharist in the Bible had always been a deep problem for me as a Protestant, and this was way before I had a clue what Catholics taught about it. Again the Catholic church was the only one (not counting the Orthodox tradition) that seemed able to address it.

    I have painted with an extremely broad brush but that is a sketch of some of the major areas where I have been unable to go along with other Christian traditions. I realize there are any amount of legitimate qualifiers that could be made. This is a very cursory summary indeed.

    Bottom line, I deeply respect the intellectual level of the Reformed (Calvinist) tradition, the staunch focus on faith alone of the Lutheran tradition, the sincerity and zeal and devotion of the more recent traditions. But I have not found a place where they are all brought together integrally, and other difficulties like the sacramental elements of Scripture, the question of authority, and the problem of historical continuity, dealt with as I have found in the Catholic Church.

    So there you go -- the religious question that Mystie brought up a few chapters ago is out in the open and we have been able to discuss it without being offensive (at least, I hope nothing in what I have written seems personally offensive -- if so, please let me know).

    From what I have seen from reading, and experienced in my own conversion, the major obstacles to Catholicism for a Protestant are:

    --the evil deeds done by supposed Catholics particularly in the past.

    --the seemingly "extra-Biblical" elements of liturgy, practice, doctrine, etc.

    -- the question of authority and hierarchy, and the related question of sacramentalism.

    These are difficult stumbling blocks -- the first isn't doctrinally much of a problem but emotionally it is a stumbling block to many people; the second and third really strike to the heart of what Protestantism is about, and many find them hard to deal with even if they see the difficulties with Protestantism that I have mentioned above.

  30. This is interesting, because I was a catholic that became a christian, not even a Protestant, and we do claim to be "sola scriptura". It was that precisely that drew me to be where I am now.
    As a catholic we always repeated prayers and rituals without reading the Bible and abiding by its principles, and I agree, our 'problem' with other denominations, such as catholicism, is that we understand they follow traditions of men, and add or disregard Bible teachings. We believe there is a reading of the Bible that is not an interpretation but that it is the Bible speaking itself plainly. I do not see faith or christianity as a particular tradition, but I do know there has always been true christians, and will always be, since everybody has the ability to read His inspired word, and apply its principles correctly, while also having that personal relationship you say some denominations have. Because if you leave it here, you will always be in the subjective realm, and if you only mind the laws, you will be in the empty formalism as well.
    I think we see this as a motion from our conviction that we can know with certainty what God tells us, and that "naivete" is what keeps us defending our place as the true church, while others look at what is out there, and try to find what best fits their opinions or thoughts, or what historically they believe more accurate. We don't see religion as a tradition or a history, but christianity in its pure form as a continuum we can't pinpoint because true christians have never and never be mainstream, popular, powerful, or relevant to society. Since our congregations are autonomous also, and we draw our authority pattern from Titus and the way the elders and deacons and local churches have ever since they started operate, they are say "lost" in time. That is why we don't see the need to delve in any particular "religious writer", or philosophy, or history, as to get deeper in our faith, but we truly persist on the Scriptures alone.

  31. Not that we don't read any other thing such as commentaries, or even other books if we need to get informed in some matter, but we always contrast that with the scriptures.
    As for the three points. I agree much with you. The first one, I won't personally see it as a problem to me. In our congregations there are always problems with the conduct of particular men and women. If you are waiting to see a perfect group of people to base your believes in that, you can wait all your life, :)
    The additions and traditions, yes, that to me is a "problem", but again, not in the sense I have a problem with catholics in particular, or with any group, but in the sense of a firm believe that there is but One Truth and we can all discern it, and thus I see other "denominations" as those who are tangled and caught up in other believes but what anyone can agree to do if you read the Bible with an open heart.
    But in particular, our most dissonant points will be to me the inability to see in the Bible the way saints are seen, or the idolatry of virgins, the inability to see that cardinals, or a Pope as figures of a hierarchy I don't see in the Bible, the fact that there is but one Father, Jesus, and that I do not see how the Bible can be the basis for women and men not marrying, or sprinkling babies, or ideas such as consecration, or communion, or the celebrations that were initiated by man.

    Maybe we are naive, but true christianity seems to us that simple. And it has all that you say you look for ;) It doesn't lack of the inner personal faith, the poetic component, but it does it in the order and law given by God to us as He gave it to the Israelis in the past. And it is not that we read Acts or the New Testament and that's it. The whole Bible is for our profit, and our admonition, it's only that there is clearly some parts where to go to read about essentials when it comes to 'decide' what to do and how to do things such as 'organizing', 'worshiping', 'praying' (without vain repetition, as Jesus prayed in the Lord's prayer, but instead of repeating that prayer mechanically as we did in the catholic church, now we see the pattern and address God accordingly -- praising Him, giving Thanks, asking for forgiveness, etc, in a genuine always 'new' mode that conveys that poetic component and relationship with God, but with unalterable principles He left for us).

  32. I'm afraid I disagree Silvia. Not everyone has the ability to read God's word and apply its principles correctly. There are many reasons why I say this. First, you have those who are linguistically challenged, like my son who is autistic and language delayed. There are many who struggle mightily with language comprehension and who are more in touch with God than many who've read their Bibles more. Jean Vanier shares about much of this in his writing about his life shared with the developmentally and otherwise disabled.

    There is also the challenge of translation and cultures. As I'm sure many appreciate, it is very difficult to translate one language into another verbatim without losing some meaning. Thus, it is left to the interpreter to include what they know about culture to provide an accurate translation that reflects what the speaker is trying to say in a form that can be understood by the listener. I've run into this many times when translating for my mother who is from Mexico. Culture matters when it comes to language. This is one of the main reasons that I could never believe soley in the Bible alone. Life was very different for most of the writers of the books of the Bible - from each other and most definitely from me. We are left depending on the voice of the translator who we presume to understand the world that these authors lived in and can thus translate their words effectively. (Furthur to this is the fact that the books of the Bible were chosen by the hierarchy of the church, then altered to suit the reasoning of others who felt that they knew better and understood better what God's intended words were; hence we have several versions of the Bible -the Catholic bible which includes the Apochryphal books not contained in most Protestant bibles as well as others.. We are left to the judgement of others as to what is true and what is not.)

    Thus, poetic knowledge is incredibly important when it comes to matters of faith. Nature study is important not just to gain a knowledge about the world we live in but also to learn about and understand our Creator. As we sit outside and watch the movements of the birds, the deer grazing in the trees, or the ants crawling through the soil, we learn of the complexity of our Creator, our place in the world, and the value of life. The same can be said with music study and picture study. There are things that are expressed musically and through art that can't really be appreciated any other way.

    Catholics are christians. We read from various parts of the Bible at every Mass. And, considering how much grief catholics receive from others in the secular world in our views on abortion, birth control, homosexuality, divorce, etc. I am puzzled as to how we can be accused to succumbing and following the traditions of men. Yes, catholicism uses more than the Bible in its theology and liturgy. This is done in order to share Christ's sacrifice, God's love, and our hope for the future with those who are unable to read and learn from the Word alone.

    I hope that I haven't offended by posting these thoughts, Willa. I've just reinforced to myself the importance of all these things that I've thought of as less important in the past (nature study, etc.) and am newly motivated to change how I approach our homeschool days.

    Hope that you have a great weekend!

  33. Susan, I understand your concerns. I don't mean that everybody has to 'read' the Bible, as you can hear the gospel and obey it too. I simply say that if you believe that God communicates to us through the Scriptures, then he won't reveal His will in a way that would be lost into translation or unable to discern.
    The fact that the Bible has a history, in what you rightly point to of having had alterations in the books, arbitrary chapters and verses, etc, if you believe it to be the whole inspired Word of God, it's just what we need to read or hear to be saved.
    As for poetic knowledge... what I wrote I never intended for it to diminish the importance of it, on the very contrary, if we do not love His Word, if we don't praise Him and see Him as the Creator, our Lord Almighty, then something in our faith is missing, that won't be true faith.

    There may be variations in catholicism, and I can't or even claim I know them all. I don't say you don't read from the Bible, all I say is that as I grew up as a catholic, I was never encouraged to read the Bible or was in the presence of anyone who was teaching from it. As when I "accused" catholicism, though I don't like the word accuse, I never meant you follow the secular ways, not at all, I do understand your goal is spiritual too, of course, I meant spiritually talking, as you said you add theology and liturgy, because I want you to know that the christians I worship with, we all get our share of grief from the world as you on abortion, homosexuality, divorce, drinking...
    And one sweet thing we agree on, nature study has taken priority too now for us, and like you, I'm also very motivated to make some changes.
    Susan, I won't make you read all my previous comments, but the latest was a built up from other parts where I also said in respect that I was going to be totally honest, and that I had much difficulty when I was saying this, because it can certainly sound too harsh or confrontational.

    I have many good friends from Mexico, I lived in Guadalajara for nine months, though I was born in Madrid.

  34. Silvia,

    I am very sorry if I came across as defensive - that was certainly not my intention. I have read all of your previous somments. However, reading your words that you were a catholic who became a christian certainly signifies a belief that catholocism is not chritianity.

    I don't think that you fully appreciate what I was trying to say about relying only on the word of God. I was referring to those who cannot understand words or have a limited use of them. It does not matter if they hear the gospel - the words will mean little. It is through the actions of others and poetic knowledge that they know God. Think of the child who hasn't learned to communicate yet. They cannot understand what the words mean. But they understand their mother's love. They understand the beauty of nature, of soothing music. They understand pain and feeling good. And they can understand and appreciate the eucharist.

    I understand your concerns from when you were growing up. I am going to assume that you were raised as a roman catholic. Thus, you were most certainly taught from scripture as the whole first part of the liturgy involves reading from scripture. It is very unfortunate that you weren't encouraged to pursue this as a personal or familial habit. That is why I write, to let you know that ignorance of scripture is not catholocism. It is also a shame that you were not taught the purpose of the memorized prayers. It is by repeating prayers from memory that we meditate on God's messages to us and reflect on how we are to fulfill His will. Often, when I am unsure what to pray, I find comfort in reciting the Our Father and find that it leads to further prayers from my own words.

    I hope these words are heard neutrally as that is how I am writing them. I simply want to inform you and others who may have experienced catholocism differently and missed these important aspects. And it also underscores the importance of learning through scripture and shared prayer when we are able. As a revert to catholocism, I do understand how one can be disillusioned from early experiences with the Church.

    As to any one's salvation, I believe that only God knows what is in our hearts and He is the only One who will make the final judgment. Our duty is to seek to do His will to the best of our ability and to rely on His grace to help us. And I believe that the comments I've read here reflect the views of people who are seeking God with sincerity. Peace to you all and thanks again, Willa, for this very enlightening post!

  35. Hi Susan,
    Of course I am not offended by you speaking up. You're welcome and thanks for the thoughts especially on poetic knowledge and also on what your faith means in your life. Actually when you described the children of God who are profoundly disabled and yet can come to know Him the way an infant knows his mother's love, it really rang with me as I remember Aidan as a critically ill baby surrounded by tubing reaching up to grasp my finger in his little hand. Now he has just received his first communion and the other day was lying in bed and told me he was praying. It makes me think of how we are all like infants compared to God except even more so -- He sustains us every second and comforts us even when we don't understand what is going on.

    I would like to say that I am sad we are not united in agreement in all things, since I have seen that we have a lot in common. Let's pray for unity in truth through Him, and I don't think we can go wrong there!

    I can only echo what Susan said that even though you did not have a good experience with Catholicism that this is not what the whole Church is about. Catholicism is integrally tied with Scripture and the Church has always taught that the Bible is the inspired unerring word of God and that it is to be deeply studied and followed.

    If you take a look at my daughter's blog you can see that Catholics do read the Bible and store it in their hearts. Since your blog is so artistic and beautiful I thought you might like hers and it might show what I'm trying to say better than I can express it.

    Wishing you all a good summer weekend!

  36. "Aidan as a critically ill baby surrounded by tubing reaching up to grasp my finger in his little hand. Now he has just received his first communion and the other day was lying in bed and told me he was praying. It makes me think of how we are all like infants compared to God except even more so -- He sustains us every second and comforts us even when we don't understand what is going on."

    What a beautiful sentiment! And I wish you a good weekend as well!

  37. You are very kind and loving ladies, and I understand and I'm moved by all the time and care you've put on explaining and writing all this to me.
    You did not come defensive, Susan, but defending your faith as I did try defending mine.
    I am also very glad your son, Willa, recovered from his illness.

    And I understand my experience of catholicism is not what catholicism is. I am heading to your daughter's blog, Willa, and I hope to stay in touch with both of you ladies.
    Thanks for everything!


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