Tag Archive for knowledge

Breaking Catholic: Part 4–First Hand

 

 

I received a Bible, probably at about age 9 or so, in Catholic Sunday School, or CCD as we called it.  (This has now been changed to PSR, most likely because “Parish School of Religion” is much easier for a grade-schooler to say than “Confraternity of Christian Doctrine.”)  By then, it was already too late for me.  But it wouldn’t have mattered anyway.  The Bible was something we carried to CCD, not something we actually used.

 

Without studying the Bible first hand, you don’t really know anything about the real Jesus, his inner circle of disciples, and how they gave birth to what is now known as Christianity.  It wasn’t until I actually started to read the Bible that I realized that most of what I thought I knew about had been shaped not by the Church, but by popular culture.  What faith I had was based not on the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, but on that of Cecil B. Demille and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

 

As our pastors at Cherry Hills say, “You can’t be deeply influenced by something you don’t know.”  The significance is that you can’t live out Jesus’ teachings without having read them yourself.  And even reading about the teachings isn’t enough, because that’s just head knowledge.

 

But the Catholic Church doesn’t even allow for the head knowledge!  If you can’t even go that far, then you are NEVER going to get to the place where head knowledge becomes heart-changing, life altering Truth.

 

And here is where Catholicism begins to break down completely.  Catholics, historically, have not been encouraged to read the Bible.  According to Monsignor Daniel Kutys:

Until the twentieth Century, it was only Protestants who actively embraced Scripture study.  That changed after 1943 when Pope Pius XII issued the encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu.  This not only allowed Catholics to study Scripture, it encouraged them to do so.[i] 

 

Although the pope issued this encyclical 70 years ago, there has not been much trickle-down to the laity (i.e. the folks in the pews).  According to a 2012 survey commissioned by the Bible Society, in partnership with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, 57% of churchgoing Catholics don’t read the Bible week-by-week outside of a Church setting.[ii]

 

Since the Second Vatican Council in the 1960’s (known as Vatican II), the Catholic church has been on a mechanical three-year cycle of readings, called the Lectionary, in which they tell their followers that at the end of the three-year cycle, they will have covered all of scripture.  Therefore, a faithful Catholic who attends mass every Sunday is under the impression that after three years, they have had the entire Bible read to them.

 

This is dangerously false.  According to the Catholic Lectionary Website, only 27.5 % of the verses in the Bible are covered by the Lectionary.  And that’s if you go to mass EVERY DAY!  If you’re only meeting your minimum obligation of every Sunday and Feast day, that figure drops to 12.7%.

 

Understand, this is only since Vatican II, when the Magisterium began openly encouraging Bible study.  Before that, when the mass was in Latin and only had two readings instead of three, the figures are even more shocking.  Only 4.7% of the Bible was covered.  Forty-five of the 73 books in the Catholic Bible were ignored completely, including all of the Historical and Wisdom books of the Old Testament and the book of Revelation.  [iii]

 

But even if the Bible were being covered completely in the 3-year span, it wouldn’t matter to the congregation, because how is the Bible going to sink in if you’re having it read TO you?

 

Actually, that is possible in certain situations.  For example, back in the Middle Ages, when most people were illiterate, the only way they could obtain knowledge from the Bible or any other book was to have someone read it to them.  Indeed the worldwide literacy rate today is not much above 40%, with the exceptions of course being in developed nations such as our own.

 

If you were one of those people who could not read, then you would be ready to receive whatever was read to you, because you would know it was the only way you were going to learn.  Your receptiveness would be even more acute if you were prepared specifically to hear what was in the Bible.

 

But this is overwhelmingly not the case in 21st-century America.  I don’t know ANY Catholic who goes to church to hear what is in the Bible (there may be some, but I haven’t met them).  They go because it’s what you do on Sunday (or Saturday night).  It is all part of the tradition (more on this in Part 6).

 

Bible study simply isn’t part of the Catholic culture.  It never has been.

 

The Word of God is proclaimed during the mass, but the people in the pews don’t have their own Bibles to follow along.  At best, there might be a worship aid in the pew.

 

Without the opportunity or active encouragement to be in the Word first hand, Catholics disconnect from the readings.  They are just waiting to hear “This is the word of the Lord,” so they can wake up and robotically respond “Thanks be to God.”

 

How rare is the priest who actually TEACHES practical application of the Bible readings in their homily (a commentary that is the ancient predecessor of the modern-day “sermon”).

 

(I did meet one priest that got it though.  For a more uplifting story, come back for Part 5—Confession)



[i] http://www.usccb.org/bible/understanding-the-bible/study-materials/articles/changes-in-catholic-attitudes-toward-bible-readings.cfm

[ii] http://www.catholic-ew.org.uk/Home/News-Releases/2012/Catholic-Bible-Engagement

[iii] http://catholic-resources.org/Lectionary/Statistics.htm


Empty Glass: Part 4–Stupid

 

There is a state that is worse still than arrogance. 

 

At least the arrogant man has had a taste of knowledge at some point.  There are those who have never taken the lid off their empty glasses at all.  These people are utterly devoid of knowledge and not in the least interested in obtaining any.  As such, they are not worthy of such an elegant-sounding title as “ignorant” or “arrogant.”  Let us therefore simply call them “stupid.”

 

The stupid person will walk into the tree EVERY time.  You can use logic to tell him not to.  You can show him the line of people with unbusted faces.  You can give him a self-help book called “Build a Better Life by Not Walking into Trees.”  You can slap him purple and scream into his face, “DON’T WALK INTO THE TREE, YOU IDIOT!  YOU’RE GOING TO BUST YOUR FACE!!!” 

 

And he will walk into the tree.  Every….stinking…time.

 

No matter how good the logic in your pitcher is, ain’t nuthin’ getting’ in that glass.  The lid’s on, and it’s not coming off.  If you try to pour knowledge or wisdom into that glass, not only will you not achieve your goal, you’re going to make a mess in the process.  You might have better luck trying to teach a cow to juggle eggs. 

 

It really is true that you can’t fix stupid.  Even God can’t fix stupid, as Paul wrote:

 

So this I say and solemnly testify in [the name of] the Lord [as in His presence], that you must no longer live as the heathen(the Gentiles)do in their perverseness—in the folly, vanity and emptiness of their souls and the futility—of their minds.  Their moral understanding is darkened and their reasoning is beclouded. [They are] alienated (estranged, self-banished)from the life of God—with no share in it.  [This is] because of the ignorance—the want of knowledge and perception, the willful blindness—that is deep-seated in them, due to their hardness of heart (to the insensitiveness of their moral nature).  Ephesians 4:17-18 Amplified

           

I also like how these verses are paraphrased in The Message:

 

And so I insist—and God backs me up on this—that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd.  They’ve refused for so long to deal with God that they’ve lost touch not only with God but with reality itself.  They can’t think straight anymore.

 

See, here’s the thing about lids.  You can’t remove someone else’s; you can only remove your own. 

 

Too often, educated people try to use logic with stupid people and then they wonder why the stupid person doesn’t say, “Gee, I never thought of it that way.  I guess I will walk around the tree!” 

 

Walking around the tree is a choice you have to make for yourself.  You can’t make someone else walk around the tree. 

 

The reason you can’t remove a lid with logic and reason is that logic and reason didn’t put the lid there in the first place.  Pride is the clamp that holds the lid on a glass that isn’t full.  Pride is what makes you think your knowledge is better, and pride is what keeps you from getting any smarter than you are right now.

 

Only humility can remove the lid.  The only way you can position yourself to fill your own glass is to take off your own lid. 

 

(Taking the lid off is only the start. Come back for Part 5–Pouring Out.)

 

Empty Glass: Part 3–Arrogance

 

 

Remember that common sense is just collective wisdom.  Collective wisdom, in turn, is a bunch of people that have had the same wisdom poured from the same pitcher INDIVIDUALLY into their empty glasses. 

 

Only some people don’t receive the wisdom.  This is because their glass has a lid on it.  The lid is called arrogance.

 

Arrogance usually comes about in this way.  A person with an empty glass gets their first sample pour from a good pitcher.  They taste and see that it is good.  Then the person with the pitcher offers to fill their glass.  Instead of accepting, however, the arrogant person says, “No, I’m good,” and slaps a lid on their half-full glass. 

 

They could have acquired more knowledge, but they shut themselves off.  Instead, they zealously protect the incomplete knowledge they do have as if to say, “My water is better than YOUR water.” 

 

If you did this with an actual glass of water, two things would eventually happen.  First, over time, the water in your glass would get stale.  Second, with the lid on your glass, you can’t even drink the stale water that you have.  So you get thirsty again.  Even worse, you can’t get any fresh water with the lid on your glass either.

 

In the same way, clinging desperately to incomplete knowledge makes your mind go stagnant. 

 

Face it—the world is going to progress whether you do or not.  For this reason, if your knowledge is at a standstill, it is actually going backward.  If there ever was a time when the arrogant person DID have superior knowledge, it doesn’t stay that way for long.

 

Worse still, the arrogant person is incapable of obtaining any new knowledge to supplant the old as long as he has the lid clamped down on the glass of his mind.  So the arrogant person becomes as thirsty as he was when he was ignorant. 

 

The key difference, however, is that the ignorant person knows that he is thirsty, will seek out a new pitcher, and is prepared to RECEIVE.  The arrogant person, on the other hand, refuses to admit his thirst, refuses to remove the lid, which is keeping his old knowledge contained, and is therefore unable to receive.

 

As such, the state of the arrogant man becomes worse than the state of the ignorant man.

 

(It gets worse.  Come back for Part 4–Stupid.)

 

Empty Glass: Part 2–Experience

 

Ever drink a tall glass of cold milk on a really hot day?  It feels good going down, but do you notice that you get thirstier faster afterwards?  Some drinks meet your needs better than others in some situations.  

 

Sometimes, we meet people with pitchers that are more than happy to share the knowledge they have.  But sometimes we find out that what they have poured us doesn’t taste so good.  Maybe it’s a couple days past the expiration date.  Maybe it’s even poison that will make us sick. 

 

We all encounter people that will tell us things that are not beneficial.  If we do not know any better, we will act on this false knowledge and suffer the consequences.  This process of learning from our own mistakes is called…

 

Experience!

 

Experience is one of those things that is good to have but sucks to get, on account of there is frequently pain involved, be it physical or emotional. 

 

Wouldn’t it be nice if someone else could get the experience, fill up a pitcher with that and then pour us a glass of what they learned so we don’t have to make the mistakes they already made?  Well, that does happen, though  perhaps not nearly as often as it should.

 

If learning from your own mistakes is “experience,” then learning from someone else’s is. . .

 

Wisdom!

 

Wisdom is far superior to experience, because there is no progress without wisdom.  Without wisdom, mankind would be caught in an endless loop of making the same mistakes and not learning anything from them.             

 

Imagine a line of people walking toward a tree.  The first person walks into the tree and busts his face.  If experience were superior to wisdom, then each person in the line would have not only an opportunity but a duty to take his own turn walking into the tree and busting his face.

 

Wisdom, on the other hand, lets the second person in line say, “I don’t really want to bust my face.  I think I’ll walk around the tree.” 

 

Accordingly, the third person in line, who has observed one person busting his face and one not busting his face, is able to conclude logically that not having a busted face is the preferable option.  Furthermore, he can also conclude that the logical route to the desired result of the unbusted face is completed through the conscious action of walking around the tree. 

 

Therefore, the third person also walks around the tree, and the rest of the line follows.  Thus, wisdom is passed on to posterity and becomes…

 

Common Sense!

 

Likewise, in life, if an ignorant person seeks out “knowledge” that leads to a bad result in his life, common sense dictates that those who follow after would do well to seek another source of knowledge.  After all, bad knowledge can not come from a good source (or vice versa).  If the knowledge proves false, then so is the source of the knowledge.

 

Common sense  calls out the bad source for what it is and advises not going back to that source for knowledge.  Common sense has been brought to fruition when NOBODY goes back to that source for knowledge.

 

But that isn’t the way it works in real life, is it?  Nope, no matter how many have followed the common sense example of the second person and walked around the tree, there’s always some ignoramus who insists on getting out of line and walking into the tree.

 

(Why does this happen?  Find out in Part 3–Arrogance)

 

Empty Glass: Part 1–Ignorance

 

As a writer, naturally I deal with words on a regular basis.  As such, I tend to analyze words more closely than the average person does.  A pet peeve that I share with many writers is when words are commonly misunderstood and subsequently misused.

 

The misused word that’s bugging me more than any other these days is “ignorant.”

 

The rampant misuse of this word generally occurs within the realm of opinions, as in, “You do not agree with my opinion; ergo, you are ignorant.” (See “Entitled to Our Own Opinion?” for more on this topic.)

 

The word “ignorant” is derived from the Latin ignorare, meaning, “not to know.”  Ignorance is a lack of knowledge; therefore, an ignorant person is someone in the state of being where knowledge, instruction, training, etc. is not present or has not occurred.

 

Since ignorance is a lack of knowledge, we may liken it to an empty glass.  There’s nothing flawed in the glass itself; it just doesn’t have any water in it.

 

So an ignorant person is the one carrying the empty glass.  There is nothing wrong with this person’s mind; they simply do not know what they do not know.  The one thing they do know, however, is that their glass is empty, and they are thirsty.  As a wanderer in the desert is thirsty for water, an ignorant person thirsts for knowledge and Truth.

 

Now when you’re thirsty, what do you do?  You get a glass and either go to the sink or the refrigerator and get a drink.  You know where to go to get what you are lacking.

 

It’s different when you’re dealing with a thirst for knowledge though.  The more ignorant you are, the more you don’t know what you don’t know.  You know that you need knowledge, but you may not know where to find it.  Life’s not as simple as getting the pitcher out of the fridge and pouring yourself a glass of water.

 

No, in life, someone else is holding the pitcher.  If the empty glass represents ignorance, then the pitcher represents knowledge.

 

Ignorance is solved by the person with the empty glass finding the person with the pitcher and asking them to pour into their glass.  This is the process known as. . .

Education!

 

When pouring water out of a literal pitcher, the pitcher gets emptier as the glass gets fuller.  With the pitcher of knowledge, however, the pitcher loses nothing by pouring out.  Not only is ignorance overcome by education, but the educated person (no longer ignorant) has now become equal to the educator with the pitcher, at least in regards to the specific knowledge that was shared.

 

There is a catch to this education process, however.  If you were getting yourself a drink out of the fridge, you know what you are pouring yourself—water, juice, milk, soda, etc.  You can see what is in the containers, or at least you can read the labels.

 

The pitcher of knowledge is trickier though.  Because you don’t know what you don’t know when you are truly ignorant, you also don’t know what’s in the pitcher.  You know you are thirsty, your glass is empty, someone is offering you a drink, so you accept.

However, due to your ignorance, you don’t have any sure way of knowing if what’s in the pitcher is good for you or not.  You may end up getting an education you hadn’t bargained for.

 

(To be expounded upon in Part 2–Experience)