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Why are you what you are?

Bob posted a question for protestants a while back inquiring about why they were not Catholic.  More recently Fr. John Fenton, an Eastern Orthodox priest has asked people to share why they are not Orthodox.  While the comments on these threads have been interesting, the discussions have been structured in a primarily negative way.  They ask the question why some one is not such and such rather than asking why they are what they are.  I would like to throw down a more positive ecclesial survey by asking readers why they are what they are.  Why do you belong to the tradition and community that you do?  How strong is your “belonging” where you are?

11 Comments

  1. freder1ck wrote:

    I belong to Christ in Communion & Liberation and in the Catholic Church. Why? Because it’s here that I recognize my entire human needs and desires completely embraced by Christ’s mercy. How did I get here? By grappling with the tradition I received from my parents and teachers while persistently begging Christ to show Himself in the circumstances of my life. Above all, it’s been the unexpected hand of God’s mercy.

    Fred

    Have a merry Christmas, Halden. Thank you again for a great year of asking challenging questions!

    Sunday, December 23, 2007 at 5:24 pm | Permalink
  2. Richard H wrote:

    I’m a United Methodist, though I think it’s best described as not by my own choice. Sure, I was (mostly) raised in UM churches, but pretty much as soon as I moved beyond mere pew sitter I’ve been dissatisfied. When I went through the ordination process they put it in good modern American terms – as if I had investigated all the Christian traditions and found the best (truest/most beautiful/etc.) in United Methodism. For one thing, I’m enough of a postmodern to think it a myth that I start no-where. For another, I’m here because I’ve been called. So far (usually) I’ve responded to that call. But it surely didn’t originate with me.

    Sunday, December 23, 2007 at 8:07 pm | Permalink
  3. Ben wrote:

    I am Catholic for many reasons, but I think I will here only list my fleshy and pre-rational “reasons” for being Catholic, since to list the other reasons would be to trod the standard apologetic route, also, I am sure Hill or freder1ck will do a better job of explaining that stuff than I could.

    So, Bad Reasons to be Catholic:

    1. My family is Catholic. Not strongly, but more so lately, partly because of my prompting.

    2. I dig the tradition. I have always hated the 70s hoo hah that I grew up with in the American Catholic church of that time, and I love that the traditionalists seem to be winning the day. Bells and smells, yay.

    3. In Texas where I live, I am surrounded by Baptists of the most Baptisty Baptist sort, and I have always been a contrarian.

    4. Catholicism even of the most uninformed and pedestrian sort still seems to hold tight to family and community in a way that I don’t really see in Protestantism. This is almost certainly a matter of point of view, but that’s how I see it.

    5. I love thinking about the fact that as a Catholic my tradition goes all the way back to the apostles. This isn’t a point of pride, more an occasion of wonder and amusement, sort of like looking at George Washington’s wooden teeth, or some other artifact, except that this artifact is the priests and people of the living community of which I am a part.

    6. I really just don’t understand why someone would be Protestant of any modern variety (I mean, non-magesterial), and it seems nearly impossible to keep any Protestant denomination from sliding into atomized individualism, lowest common denominator. (Of course, I’m not saying that traditionalist Protestants aren’t out there, I just don’t see that they have much of a stable rock upon which to stand, if the next pastor wants to bring in the rock drums and the power point slides and his own idiosyncratic readings of Romans.)

    I think that whatever ecclesial community I was born into, I would find myself among the “progressive traditionalists”, a reason I can really appreciate a Leithart or a Jenson even while disagreeing.

    What about you Halden? Do you have pre-rational reasons for being where you are?

    I sometimes envy people with no prior churchly commitment, how they are able to make their decisions free from outside pressure. I think I would still be Catholic, though I could easily see myself being Eastern Orthodox.

    Sunday, December 23, 2007 at 8:27 pm | Permalink
  4. gmw74 wrote:

    I am a United Methodist pastor. I am basically here because I was presented for baptism in the United Methodist Church (UMC)by my parents when I was an infant. Over the years and throughout my theological training and spiritual formation, I continue to value the orthodox Wesleyan tradition. In reference to connecting with the ancient church, I appreciate the Catholic and Anglican heritage of the UMC and that John Wesley was a student of the Church Fathers, both Eastern and Western, as well as of the reformers. This practice is one I have taken up with some fellow pastors recently in a monthly gathering in which we read the patristic authors and discuss the significance of the given work for our theological education, present ministry, and pastoral vocational growth.

    Enjoy the blog. Thanks for the prompt and have a blessed Christmas. peace…

    Sunday, December 23, 2007 at 8:38 pm | Permalink
  5. gmw74 wrote:

    oh yeah, also what my friend Richard H says!

    Sunday, December 23, 2007 at 8:39 pm | Permalink
  6. Dennis wrote:

    I don’t think I can word it any better than Freder1ck.

    He took the words right out of my fingertips.

    Merry Christmas.

    Monday, December 24, 2007 at 8:04 am | Permalink
  7. storbakken wrote:

    I am a follower of Christ who attends a non-denominational church (Brooklyn Tabernacle). My parents never (er, rarely) took me to church, but my grandparents, who are Independent Baptists, occasionally took me with them.

    I left home at the age of 17 and began seeking God. At age 19, while in India of all places, I was baptized and became a Christian, but it wasn’t until nearly a decade later that I actually began following Christ.

    Today, my wife and I are leaders of an intentional community in Brooklyn in which members come from various Christian traditions and attend their own church on Sunday. We formed this community in order to be closer to the primitive church as described in the Book of Acts.

    You can learn more about our community at http://www.radicallivingnyc.com.

    Monday, December 24, 2007 at 9:42 am | Permalink
  8. Recently, in working on the Christian Reconciliation Carnival, I asked each group to put forward what they thought their group did best. I put forward a reply from the Lutheran perspective: Christ and him crucified.

    When I asked “What does your group do best?”, nobody else mentioned Christ.

    That — the attitudes behind what happened — is why I’m a Lutheran.

    Take care & God bless
    Anne / WF

    Monday, December 24, 2007 at 2:56 pm | Permalink
  9. freder1ck wrote:

    storbakken,

    I’m interested that you participate in both a church and an intentional community. Did the intentional community begin because you recognized (reading Acts) the need for Christians to live a shared life?

    Monday, December 24, 2007 at 11:39 pm | Permalink
  10. storbakken wrote:

    freder1ck,

    Definitely much of the inspiration to intentionally create community came from reading Acts. Much of it also came from a desire to be “Church” rather than just go to church on Sunday.

    Wednesday, December 26, 2007 at 9:09 am | Permalink
  11. Halden wrote:

    Ben, my reasons for being where I am are almost entirely pre-rational in many ways. The empirical reality of my congregation and our life together in Christ is really what keeps me where I am.

    I’m feeling more and more that you don’t choose tradition, tradition chooses you.

    Saturday, December 29, 2007 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

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