Screw being ‘spiritual’, I need religion and so does everyone.

A lot of people put this division between ‘religion’ and ‘spirituality’. I’m not sure when it started, but these days is now a pretty annoying, and trite cliché to inform anyone who has ears, “I’m like, spiritual but not religious.”

Of all the annoying 1960s-nostalgic clichés that make up the furniture of slightly-tipsy dinner party conversation, this one really sticks in my craw. I swear, my jaw visibly twitches and hapless guest unleashes a very pointed discussion about why this statement is not only stupid, but usually, completely hypocritical.

So, we have a hypothetical dinner party, a bottle of wine has been emptied, the last of the main course is being scraped off the plate and conversation takes on a deeper tone that only emerges after the usual inhibitions have been drawn down by mild intoxication and a full belly.

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A Living Paradox

This was originally published on my old blog, Rebel Catholic that recorded my adventures doing a nun run in 2013. I’m republishing it here in honour of the third anniversary since I returned home and the beginning of life in the married vocation I am called to. 

While I was away, I was contacted by a friend of mine looking for a pilgrim’s perspective on my experience of WYD for ABC’s Religion and Ethics portal. Here is my humble contribution…

Living Paradox: A Pilgrim’s Reflections on WYD 2013

Attending the opening Mass of WYD 2013 on Copacabana Beach, I was blown away by the vibrancy, the joy and the sheer mass of humanity. Never will you see so many different national flags in one place – though, paradoxically, in that same place, an event takes place that renders nationality irrelevant.
Here, people from all races and nations gather to pray and have Mass. Holy Communion has never been more literal or tangible to me than when I am standing among hundreds of people from twelve different countries lining up to receive the Eucharist. Everything in Rio is in Portuguese, so suffice to say it is a struggle to understand anything that is going on. However, we come to Mass and suddenly everything makes sense again. I know which prayers are being said, I know when to stand, to sit and to kneel as if I was at my regular parish Mass. The power of seeing thousands of flags fall still as everyone kneels at the consecration renders all our differences irrelevant. Here we are, kneeling before the sacrifice of a Jewish carpenter and we are one. We are one body, one Church, one people.
Catholicism is paradoxical.

When one grasps this, both World Youth Day and the Catholic Church begin to make much more sense. The fact of the matter is the Catholic Church is not dying. I challenge anyone who announces the death of Catholicism (and religious belief in general) to come and see a World Youth Day.


Tolkien Biopic in the Works!

Only slightly excited by news that Protagonist Pictures is seriously sounding out a Biopic about Tolkien’s life and will be directed by James Strong, of Downton Abbey Fame. (And that’s laconic understatement to you)

The only problem… its working title is ‘Middle Earth’…

What’s the problem? Well, this is a movie about a Professor of Languages who was very specific about his writing and expression aaaanndd they have gone and misspelt the name of the mythological world he created. Tolkien was particular about he plural of ‘dwarf’ and annoyed his publishers about it to no end. He would probably be choking on his pipe smoke at the spelling of ‘Middle-earth’ without a hyphen.

This Tolkien fan wonders what’s wrong with a hyphen? And, more importantly, how will this film deal with his Catholicism, one of the most important influences on his life and works? We shall see…

Millennial Catholic Problems: Ash Wednesday

Yes it is here! Quick! Is there anything else I can give up apart from chocolate that won’t kill me slowly, like coffee??

I went to Mass at 7am and got ashed and then walked to work and had all of the double takes, looks and gestures which inspired me to write this list. This is just a starting point so feel free to tell me what other problems you’ve had on Ash Wednesday.

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An Idiot’s Attempt to Make Sense of ‘Laudato Si’: Take One

One of the great things about doing a regular literature podcast is that you have to read the damn books, which I do with varying success (T.S. Elliot defeated me utterly…). This was a great opportunity to read the latest source of controversy, Laudato Si’: Pope Francis’ much anticipated and dreaded encyclical on care of the natural world.

Listen to the podcast here

You can access the entire text of the document for free from the Vatican Website. I should attach a caution to this document before you go toddle off to go and read it.

Warning: This document has the potential to radically alter the way you see the world. Do not read unless you are prepared to ‘take the medicine’ without the sugar or complaining.

Now that you are suitably warned, I am going to tackle this ‘Idiot’s Attempt’ a little counter intuitively by telling you what the document IS NOT about.

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