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20 July 2008 @ 08:47 pm
"Food" for thought  
Maggie and I were talking about vegetarianism today, and a thought came to me. As a Catholic, I believe in the transsubstantianism of the host. Could I be a vegetarian and take communion? Not to worry, there is no chance of me converting to vegetarianism, despite Maggie's best efforts...just a topic of discussion. 
 
 
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Fuzzy Coatimundifuzzycoatimundi on July 21st, 2008 04:03 am (UTC)
Yes, I think you can, for two separate reasons:

1) Vegetarianism isn't a religion, it's a self-imposed dietary restriction. You choose not to eat meat for some reason (animal cruelty, distaste, health reasons, etc.). As a vegetarian Catholic, one would simply choose to ingest the Blessed Sacrament. It doesn't conflict with your vegetarianism, because your vegetarianism is what you make of it--not what God dictates.

2) This reminds me of a time when someone asked me how I reconciled the fact that some people were unable to consumed the Sacred Body due to celiac disease. He remarked that, "If the Host is truly the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, why would someone with celiac disease be unable to consume it? It is, after all, not really bread, but flesh and blood."

The Church tells us that the host is utterly transformed from bread into flesh and blood; but it maintains all the appearances of bread. I would take this to extend to all our senses, and therefore, when our body reacts to the substance, it reacts to the manifested substance, and not the True Substance.

So with regards to vegetarianism, by your vegetarian standards, what you are consuming is not meat, but bread; at least, by all appearances, you are consuming bread. You know it to be the True Body, but in this earthly manifestation, it does not seem to be.

By the way, I cannot guarantee an imprimatur on this, so don't quote me. But I think, at least, it should get you thinking along the right lines.
Catnip: interestingiterininfinitum on July 21st, 2008 09:05 am (UTC)
Get him thinking along the right lines?
Very interesting.

Speaking of which, I've always found transubstantiation interesting.

Never mind the theology for now. Just want to say that personally, I like the kind of definition that the Catholic church uses for specifically the word "substance" (Fuzz and Leto, you know about it, I assume...), those kinds of thoughts develop top-down thinking, which is really mind-opening. That's a good thing, since minds are like parachutes (they work better when "open"...heh, I know, old quote...I still like it).

Anyways, time for casual musings on theology! The transubstantiation argument basically states that it is an utter transformation of bread into flesh and blood, except for in every finite way (since the bread is physically utterly the same). So it creates a convenient meta-level which explains why the transformation doesn't actually transform anything, except in a way that's utterly beyond our capacity to discern in any way, while still somehow having a discernible impact on us (apparently). Also makes it impossible to prove one way or another (really handy, too). Also, when you consider that bread, flesh, and blood are all purely finite things to begin with...that's when it REALLY gets interesting, returning to the definition of "substance", especially if you know a little something about ontology.

Here goes: Any finite thing is allegedly something utterly devoid of any ultimate connection to all the intrinsic elements that define it as finite, happening only to "possess" those characteristics...however, Catholic Priests can somehow utterly transform the "substance" of a finite object while all the finite qualities that the original object possessed remain the same (for some reason), so finite objects are really just different metaphysical "substances" that can all possess different meaningless (yet, amusingly enough, IMMUTABLE) intrinsic elements, and yet still be utterly transformed, and also for some reason entirely constricted by the bounds of the original finite possessions, as well...despite being allegedly irrelevant to the "ultimate substance" itself.

Isn't that amazing? It's really cool actually. With a few hand motions and by saying a few words (and it doesn't matter if they fumble when they speak), mere mortal priests (but only Catholic ones, apparently) allegedly have the power to utterly transform certain things in a metaphysical and utterly indiscernible way, wielding an incredible God-like power over the supposedly true/ultimate metaphysical reality of strictly finite objects, while remaining utterly incapable of any transformation in even any merely finite/discernible way.

Isn't that interesting? It puts learning to run before you can walk to shame! It's epic, and makes for vigorous, interesting, and spirited debate. I get intellectually giddy! Also, as far as complicated explanations go, that puts even epicycles to shame! Epic! Circles within circles within circles...so giddy.

Anyways, Christ was a great Rabbi, and almost always spoke symbolically with finite objects when he had something really important to say, usually only resorting to straightforwardness when he really just HAD to, since the people who listened to him weren't always the sharpest.

I mean, at the last supper, Christ was actually still using his flesh and blood, for quite a few hours after the supper, too. Full transformation at that time throws on another half-dozen metaphorical "epicycles" into the equation. I mean, the event was moving, powerful, symbolic, filled with significance and meaning, and for good reason (he was about to give up his life to "make things new"...he's awesome that way, amongst many other ways, too). Transubstantiation at the last supper complicates it all tremendously.

Well, I guess if you just don't really think about it, then I imagine it's pretty easy for that to not be a problem.

Also...hey, wait a minute.

...

Wasn't this supposed to be about vegetarianism?
letobelgarionletobelgarion on July 21st, 2008 05:36 pm (UTC)
Your clinical, scientific analysis of transubstantiation makes perfect sense. In fact we can further extend your arguments to the original Christian "myth" and state that the virgin birth, transfiguration, miracles, resurrection and ascension as being. A human able to do these things? Oh,...isn't it supposed to be about...faith? As to the priest, you seem to suggest that he possesses god-like powers. In fact, the transsubstantiation of the host comes about from his prayer to God to bless the gifts. It is God who transforms the host.
Catnip: birditerininfinitum on July 21st, 2008 07:23 pm (UTC)
Faith used to mean so much more than just believing in the impossible. Nowadays, it seems to only be the argumentative scapegoat to get out of having to actually answer questions that really ought to be asked. That's a little sad, actually. I mean, faith was reckoned righteousness in Abraham's time, but since then, God really expected his people to know better. They needed more than just faith alone. You had to grow in so many more ways to truly be counted amongst His people.
I mean, if you don't seriously question your knowledge or your understanding, you're never going to grow!

So God only listens to and obeys Catholic Priests, then does a really shoddy job of transforming bread? That's even more...interesting! Or is it that since non-Catholics don't believe in the transubstantiation, God doesn't actually transform their bread? That's getting into even more treacherous ground! God influences our beliefs, not the other way around!!!
Fuzzy Coatimundifuzzycoatimundi on July 27th, 2008 06:31 am (UTC)
So God only listens to and obeys Catholic Priests, then does a really shoddy job of transforming bread? That's even more...interesting!

Are you really trying to bash Catholics, or are you actually clueless as to how your writing comes across?

And speaking of faith, read up on the sermons of some of the Popes of old (e.g. St. Leo, Pius X, et al.); you'll find that Catholic doctrine on transubstantiation is not simply "blind faith". Feel free to request specific citations, if you like, and I'll look some up for you.


My apologies, Leto, for conflagrating this post, but I felt these needed responses.
Fuzzy Coatimundifuzzycoatimundi on July 27th, 2008 06:26 am (UTC)
"Never mind the theology... Anyways, time for casual musings on theology!"

Wow. That "nevermind" was pretty shortlived.


Also makes it impossible to prove one way or another (really handy, too).

Actually, transubstantiation has been proven. Look at the Eucharistic miracle of Lanciano in the 8th-century. The flesh was verified as heart tissue, and the blood matched the the blood stains found on the Shroud of Turin. Through the internal questioning of a priest, God made visible to man the transformation of the Host.


...that's when it REALLY gets interesting, returning to the definition of "substance"

What are you getting at? Say things, don't vaguely gesture in their direction. Just because you make yourself sound like you're an authority, handwaving still won't get you anywhere. How do you think the Catholic Church defines the word "substance", and why is this interesting, particularly given what knowledge of ontology? We can't read your mind. And in case you're wondering, no, just because I am not versed with ontology does not mean I cannot intelligently carry on this discussion with you.


(yet, amusingly enough, IMMUTABLE)

Who says they're immutable? What is your argument for claiming them as such? Incidentally, I feel like you are using long sentences and vague words in this paragraph to make it seem like you know what you're talking about. In fact, I would argue that if you knew what you were talking about in this instance, you could simplify the sentence so as to get your point across, rather than waving around words and phrases like "ultimate connection", "original finite possessions", and the like. Complicated phrases don't tend to mean anything when they're not defined.


Isn't that amazing...

Leto is correct here. The priest is only a conduit for God's power. It is not the priest who causes the host to transform. It is indeed God-like power; no, in fact, it is God's power. And yes, the priest is incapable of "finite transformation", as you put it; but God is not.

With regards to your "but only Catholic ones, apparently" comment: it is meaningless. Why should other priests cause the host to transform? They don't believe it to. They don't follow the same formula as the Catholic Church sets out. They don't expect it to, and they don't want it to. They also do not follow the direct line from the first pope, St. Peter, and thus are not privy to the effects of his Church.

But okay, fine, let's say all priests, regardless of how they were ordained, can cause a transformation in the host. The verse, "If you had faith as big as this mustard seed..." comes to mind. Nothing divine can be accomplished without faith, and the faith in transubstantiation is obviously not present in non-Catholic priests.


Isn't that interesting? It puts learning to run before you can walk to shame! It's epic, and makes for vigorous,
interesting, and spirited debate.


First of all, Leto did not ask for a debate on the validity of transubstantiation; here merely asked about its compatibility with vegetarianism. Secondly, if you mean that priests feel raw godly power in lieu of admitting shame, I can assure you that it is quite the opposite. Rather, as ordained priests, they must give of themselves every single day to offer the sacrifice of the mass, whether there is anyone else to receive the Blessed Sacrament or not. They humble themselves as God's servants to do His will. And if they drew a power trip from consecrating and being a catalyst to the transformation of the hosts, what then? It's not like that ability makes them "powerful" in any practical mundane fashion.

(continued...)
Catnip: sunsetiterininfinitum on July 28th, 2008 09:10 am (UTC)
Gadzooks, I'm in Japan, no fair...well, I've a few minutes...

Anyways, the article isn't superb, but even Wikipedia ought to have a good description of Substance and Accident in their description of Transubstantiation.
Also, the proof you mentioned is hogwash.
Also, didn't all all think that preists feel godly power.
Also, the reason I said casual musings is because a good deal of my writing was more ad hominem than strictly rigid, this LJ post wasn't the definitive article on the subject...hence the use of some words and sentences that might seem a little off-base. But Leto was right, my evaluation does make sense.
The danger of Catholic vs. non-Catholic possibilities in transformation is the power of human belief over truth, which is horribly wrong. Truth doesn't change whether we belive it one way or the other.
And please don't get at me for not defining things properly...I'd like to see any normal religious person (regardless of denomination) properly define the words God, Soul, Truth, Love, and Consciousness. I have a different and far less forgiving idea of what proper is, though...given all I've seen and heard!

Also, please understand, I'm not bashing Catholics. Ever heard the expression: I'd insult you, but that face speaks for itself. It's similar, the Catholic belief in that regard really speaks for itself, don't point fingers my way! I was just throwing some musings to point out just how...interesting it is, not purely my opinion of it. I hate the word opinion, it means right away something not founded in truth. I admitted that the technical presentation of mine wasn't going to be rigid, yes. But that deosn't mean I was just going to use a subjective opinion. Likewise, I'm not just bashing knees here!

Got to go...hopr things are well in Vancouver, I'll try to get another big post done soon.
Fuzzy Coatimundifuzzycoatimundi on August 3rd, 2008 01:01 am (UTC)
Gadzooks, I'm in Japan, no fair...well, I've a few minutes...
I wasn't actually expecting you to reply until you got back.

Also, the proof you mentioned is hogwash.
Care to explain why? Or does it just not jive with your sensibilities?

Also, didn't all all think that preists feel godly power.
I don't know what you're saying here.

Also, the reason I said casual musings is because a good deal of my writing was more ad hominem than strictly rigid, this LJ post wasn't the definitive article on the subject...hence the use of some words and sentences that might seem a little off-base.
If you were really writing ad hominem, I question your reasons for posting such "casual musings" here. Do you honestly feel that Leto and I believe what the Catholic Church has to say for the wrong reasons?

But Leto was right, my evaluation does make sense.
Leto was being sarcastic.

The danger of Catholic vs. non-Catholic possibilities in transformation is the power of human belief over truth, which is horribly wrong. Truth doesn't change whether we belive it one way or the other.
True. Truth does not change. Are you implying that you know Truth, to the exclusion of us?

Also, please understand, I'm not bashing Catholics. Ever heard the expression: I'd insult you, but that face speaks for itself. It's similar, the Catholic belief in that regard really speaks for itself, don't point fingers my way! I was just throwing some musings to point out just how...interesting it is, not purely my opinion of it.
Perhaps you are not "bashing Catholics". You are, however, taking the stand that you are right, and we are wrong, and that we are foolish for believing what we believe. That Catholicism is inherently untruthful. That yet again, you know better.
Catnip: sunsetiterininfinitum on August 4th, 2008 10:09 am (UTC)
Leto was being sarcastic?!

Argh. Well, anyways...as per the proof: given the time and nature of the proof (when lies, "authentic" relics, phony proofs, and so much more were the norm to manipulate commoners...sad but true, got worse in the late middle ages, too), it's about as authoritative and credible as the science and logic in that Monty Python scene where they debate burning the witch.

Sorry, meant to say, I didn't AT all think that priests feel godly power. It isn't about wielding divine power like how all those screaming guys wield energy in DragonBall Z.

It's not about belief, I'm just pointing out holes in the arguments that the Catholic Church has. That's all! Leto countered with the "it's about faith, not facts" argument, and you're countering in a very different way!

Also, it's not about me or you being wrong or right about beliefs or thoughts on matters, although I imagine it must be easy for it to be taken this way (especially with the nature of this LJ writing). Ultimately, it's just about the arguments themselves, and how well they connect to truth. I'm just pointing out areas where statements and stances by their very nature are stronger or weaker in this connection. It's not about opinion or any of that stuff. Just looking at things the way they're presented, and presenting it in the same way, but with different words. Some of the things I've written will no have deviated from this, I imagine...but the core of it all is the same.
letobelgarionletobelgarion on August 4th, 2008 04:00 pm (UTC)
My arguement is not faith vs facts. I'm stating that if one viewed the Christian, or any faith, from a strictly rational point of view, then it would be difficult to accept it. If I claimed I saw today, a man walk on water and raise from the dead, you would think I was crazy. Thus we are left with accepting on faith. The only facts that personally support my faith is the story of the early martyrs, those who would have known Jesus personally or close to those who did. If this was all a lie, why would these men accept horrible deaths in support of these lies.
Catnip: interestingiterininfinitum on August 5th, 2008 11:03 pm (UTC)
Interesting.
A grounded, rational, rigidly defined, multi-disciplinary understanding of Christianity isn't at all difficult to accept. It's the ungrounded and poorly defined nature of religion today that's making it so hard to accept for countless intelligent and rational people out in the world, seeking answers to the big questions!

What about the modern Muslim martyrs? The fact that they are willing to die for their faith, does that really make it seem any more true or authentic to you?
letobelgarionletobelgarion on August 6th, 2008 01:11 am (UTC)
A multi-disciplinary understanding of Christianity is not what most people are willing to undertake. Most non-Christian friends of mine reject Christianity because they can't justify it rationally.

Modern Muslim martyrs dying for their faith does not make it any more authentic to be because I do not follow their creed. To me, the early Christian martyrs do, because they had close proximity to Jesus or his disciples. There was no universal church in those days, only a willingness to die for their beliefs. That to me is more true.
Fuzzy Coatimundifuzzycoatimundi on August 4th, 2008 09:24 pm (UTC)
it's about as authoritative and credible as the science and logic in that Monty Python scene where they debate burning the witch.
Any comments on the studies done in the 1970s by Italian scientists?

It's not about belief, I'm just pointing out holes in the arguments that the Catholic Church has.
And I'm filling them, and you, in.
Catnip: willowlakeiterininfinitum on August 5th, 2008 11:21 pm (UTC)
DAVE...it doesn't count if you fill holes in with even more air!!!
Argh...saying things like, "non-Catholics are dead to Christ" doesn't fill in the hole, it digs it deeper! WAY deeper.

Nevertheless, I quite like your talk about faith vs. works. Now, couldn't one argue that "true" works would have to be done with faith, so as to be true? You mentioned, "true faith implies works (and not the other way around)". Couldn't it be both ways?
Just poking about different theological passageways...

Oh, and did I mention I also really liked your "God IS Truth" statement.

Speaking of which...as for the corollary: being insulting is very subjective, and changes depending on who's facing or giving it. It's hardly as immutable an absolute as truth (being more dependent on personality, culture, societal norms, and the like)!
Fuzzy Coatimundifuzzycoatimundi on August 6th, 2008 04:11 pm (UTC)
I don't see how the hole is dug deeper. Again, if you're trying to say something, say it. My bets are that whatever you say in that regard is rather refutable.

Re: Faith implies Works. It can't go the other way around. Basically, with Faith, you are compelled to do Work. But with Works, anything can happen. You could say that Works done with Faith imply Faith, but that's not really saying anything, is it? I suppose that the end result is that semantically, the definition of Faith is naturally stricter than the definition of Works, so that's the direction from which we work.

I notice you're unwilling to accept my accusation that you were being insulting. Just because something is not immutable and rather subjective does not negate its impact on other people. Subjectivity does not excuse you in this case.
Catnipiterininfinitum on August 6th, 2008 09:51 pm (UTC)
You're claiming that all those who go to Catholic communion are alive in Christ, and all those who don't are dead to Christ. By those absolutes, you're basically throwing out the entire New Testament. Forget all of Christ's teachings, forget works and faith, all that matters is munching on the right bread. If non-Catholics are dead to Christ, then everything else in the New Testament about HOW to live in Christ just doesn't matter...which means you're throwing out most of the New Testament. I wonder, do you have to do Catholic communion every day for it to count, or is once in your lifetime enough? How much food is enough to be alive in Christ? Is that honestly all that you believe to give one life? Eating the right bread? Do you honestly believe that all of the evil Catholics are alive in Christ while all the genuinely good non-Catholic servants of Christ are still dead to Christ, just because they don't go to Catholic communion?

What church you go to (even just going to church) is only a small part of what Christianity is all about, and you seem to be making it the be-all and end-all! Let me elaborate...it blew me away when I went to St. John's Shaughnessy and the sermon basically began with him saying that all of God's mission is done solely through the church, being the instrument through which God touches mankind.
That's very much like the Catholic insistence that only their communion will bring one to Christ (this Anglican conviction that only the church can bring one to God).
Both you and Sarah have called me arrogant, but doesn't it even begin to strike you that those Catholic and Anglican notions seem all but borderline blasphemously self-inflated, placing all of God's grace and influence solely in their own hands? GOD DOES NOT NEED MANKIND! God doesn't need Catholic priests to bring people to Him, nor does he need the church to speak to humanity. Those are not the ONLY ways for God to reach mankind. CHRIST is the way, the truth, and the life, NOT the Catholic church!!!! Or the Anglican church, or Jehovah's witnesses for that matter. The church (as you're describing it to me) seems to want to monopolize God's influence on humanity, and seems to be trying to act on humanity the way Christ should (as the sole means for salvation). That's so arrogant and wrong! CHRIST brings salvation. The Catholic church is NOT mankind's sole hope for salvation, GOD is!
Is it so arrogant and bad for me to say that God speaks to humanity through the Bible (if read even outside of church)? Is that really so wrong? Honestly? Or through good churches and other ways? Is it so wrong for me to think that it matters not just what you eat on Sunday, but how you live your life, how you follow Christ's teachings, and the choices/sacrifices you make? Is it so bad that I actually consider the New Testament relevant, I mean...the WHOLE New Testament, when it comes to life in Christ...not just the bit about eating bread (which throws out the rest of it, if taken as the literal be-all and end-all of salvation).

Church can be a great medium to teach people, to reaffirm faith, a place to give thanksgiving, and so much more...don't get me wrong. But to say that God's influence and power is restricted to your church or denomination alone is SO WRONG!!!! Before people could read, yes...the church was pretty much the only way for the clueless to learn about Christ, his life, death, teachings, and all that. But not any more! The church can be a great influence on humanity, and a vehicle through which God can better reach mankind, don't misinterpret. But it's only a part of it, not the whole thing. Once again, Christ is the way, NOT the church. Christ isn't the church (He's so much more), but finding Him can certainly be helped along through it.

Sorry, this post might seem a little more accusatory and critical than others. Sentence fragments like "Do you honestly believe..." really just expresses my surprise. I'm not condescending, just struggling to accept what I think you're trying to say!
letobelgarionletobelgarion on August 7th, 2008 12:11 am (UTC)
Now, now kids, let's kiss and make up, shall we.
Fuzzy Coatimundifuzzycoatimundi on August 9th, 2008 12:20 am (UTC)
I was right. All that writing, and yet most of it ends up being irrelevant when you realise that I never claimed, "that all those who go to Catholic communion are alive in Christ, and all those who don't are dead to Christ." Read my comments again, and you'll not find that claim by me, anywhere.

And regarding God's work being done through His Church, I think you may have misinterpreted. It is irrefutable that God set up His Church as his instrument. In Matthew 16:18, we see that Jesus is setting up the Church (His Bride), with Peter at its head. I suspect that you mean that "St. John's" is not where all God's mission is done. And I suspect that Rev. Short was not talking about "St. John's", but rather, "God's Church".

As a side note, the Catholic Church believes that she is the True Church. But she does not believe herself to be the only way to salvation. I find this tenet rather interestingly misinterpreted by many, including Catholics. Ask me, and I'll extrapolate. Dinner calls.
Catnip: willowlakeiterininfinitum on August 10th, 2008 09:44 pm (UTC)
You said non-Catholics are dead to Christ! How much more explicit can you get?!

And of course he was talking about God's church as a whole. How do YOU define the church as a whole?

And do extrapolate!

(My computer's actually fried right now, I'm at st. Helen's, pardon the delay)
Fuzzy Coatimundifuzzycoatimundi on August 11th, 2008 01:29 am (UTC)
I said that everyone is dead to Christ. I did not say that those who go to Catholic communion are alive in Christ. You chose to misread.

Given that you understand what Rev. Short meant by "church", how can you possibly back up your claims in the previous comment that he was restricting salvation to an individual denomination or building? Or are you changing your mind?

People generally assume that being the True Church and being the Only Church are one and the same, but they're not. The Catholic Church believes herself to be the True Church: she was, via historical accounts, the first Church. But she is not the only way to salvation; as you said, Christ is. But clearly the Church is one of God's representatives on earth and has the ability to guide people to salvation. And clearly other denominations, even other faiths, have the ability to guide people to salvation. The Bible nor the Catholic Church believe that the Church is the way to salvation. But both maintain that the Church is integral to God's works on earth.

Also, if a particular church/denomination/faith does not believe itself to be the True Church/Faith, what really does it believe? The Catholic Church does not mince words: we believe we are the True Church, otherwise what's the point? Why would you set up or continue an organization you believed to be untrue? It's not a matter of damning everyone else to hell; rather, it's maintaining one's belief(s). I find that too many people get caught up thinking, "Oh, they think they're right, and everyone else is wrong, and no one else can be saved." Not at all. We think we're right, because that's the definition of faith, and our faith tells us that salvation is not limited to the Catholic Church.
letobelgarionletobelgarion on August 11th, 2008 01:49 pm (UTC)
Hear, hear!!! Couldn't have said it better myself.
Catnip: eaglecatiterininfinitum on August 12th, 2008 03:21 am (UTC)
Sorry, you said that everyone was dead to Christ, that still doesn't change the fact that you were saying that the only way to life is through eating Catholic communion, since it is the true host, and you favor a literal interpretation. THAT'S what I've been getting at since the beginning. Are you going to side-step that again, or admit further that there really are more ways to life in Christ and salvation, rendering the whole classification of "true host" and the literal translation to be false (since it would no longer be the only way).

Either you accept that the literal translation and "true host" status is not literal or true, or you claim that the Catholic church is the Only Church, and the only way to salvation. You've claimed that the Catholic Church is NOT the only way to salvation, nor is it the Only Church. Likewise, you've claimed that the "Those who eat have life" bit is literal, and that the transubstantiation is real, and the only true transformation (so you HAVE said that those who go to Catholic communion are alive in Christ...albeit in a slightly indirect way). Those statements conflict! Are YOU changing your mind??? You have to back down on something you've claimed thus far, or continue saying semantic counter-arguments that merely force me have to reiterate the exact same point/question (only with different words).
Does Catholic communion NOT give people life in Christ? Then how can you believe in transubstantiation according to the literal interpretation of that passage from John?????

How many more times and in how many more ways can I say it? The literal interpretation defines an explicit and concrete absolute between life and death, depending entirely on the eating of the Host. Transubstantiation means that only one transformed host is true, the Catholic host.
That together claims that only one Host can give people life in Christ.
Refuting any of these claims means that either the literal interpretation is wrong, or the whole point behind the uniqueness of transubstantiation is actually empty (as the "true" status won't bear any unique or noteworthy significance for salvation), and that the Catholic Church really isn't the Only Church.

The reason why I wouldn't go around calling one church or one denomination the only TRUE church is because churches can only be truer or falser. Please know that claiming that a church isn't the one true church doesn't mean it is automatically UNTRUE. Neither should the Catholic church claim to be so. I know you dislike my frequent use of relatives, but absolute truth belongs to God alone, not to any human, or group of humans (save Christ, but he was special that way...amongst other ways). I know claiming to be the True Church doesn't mean that Catholics claim to wield absolute truth, but the idea is the same...still, if you feel that the Catholic Church is the truest, since it was the first, and drew its roots from the most authoritative followers from antiquity etc.) then power to you, the Catholic church has an amazing depth of tradition, knowledge, and power (amongst other great characteristics)!

"We think we're right". So, do you believe that others are just less right, or that others are wrong? I hope you accept that rightness (and even righteousness) is very relative! More or less, not an absolute one way or the other. There's no such thing as a Catholic or Anglican person (or someone from any other denomination) being absolutely right! We're not perfect beings, by nature. Through God, some become more righteous, more wise, more all sorts of things than others.

Oops, exceeded the character limit (4300), I'll post the rest shortly!
Fuzzy Coatimundifuzzycoatimundi on August 27th, 2008 12:01 am (UTC)
My apologies for the belated reply; I sort of put this on the back burner for awhile.

I was wrong; I have to change my argument: I believe in a literal and metaphoric interpretation. While the species of bread and wine do not transubstantiate into flesh and blood outside of the Catholic Church (or at least, not with any regularity), I would argue that in many places, God does indeed come to be present in the bread and wine (sometimes in a consubstantial manner).

The celebration of the Eucharist is something that God has called us to do through Jesus' teachings, but just like his other teachings, it is not a deciding factor on one's destination in the afterlife. So yes, there are many "ways" to life in Christ, though Christ is the only way to salvation (and even then, from a worldly perspective, even Christ is not the only way to God and heaven, as there are some who never have the opportunity to know Christ before they die, and thus are not condemned to hell).

So, in fact, I accept that the literal translation and Catholic doctrine on the Eucharist are true, and I claim that the Catholic Church is (depending on what semantics you apply) the only Church, and I believe that the Catholic Church is not the only way to salvation.

Regarding the question you "have to reiterate": Does Catholic communion NOT give people life in Christ? Then how can you believe in transubstantiation according to the literal interpretation of that passage from John????? I have said that eating Jesus' flesh does indeed grant life, but those who eat do not necessarily have life in them. As I've said before, just because God gives you something, doesn't mean he can't take it away. Being saved, as opposed to what some Christians would like to believe, is not an irreversible binary operation; it's possible to be in a state of grace and then later lose it. Just as one can gain God's graces and receive His salvation, one can turn away from God and be lost to the Devil.

Christ's words were literal and metaphoric. As a result, the "literal interpretation" does not define an explicit and concrete absolute between life and death, as much as you would have it do so. It's actually rather interesting that you vehemently view it as such when you yourself tend to have such a relativistic view of the world and religion.

Now, on to the discussion on churches. I never said that other churches were "untrue"; I said that they were not part of the "True Church". Certainly there are many good things to be learned from many denominations of Christianity (and other religions as well)--even things not currently found in the Catholic Church, I'm sure. But that has nothing to do with the authenticity of the Church. Just as the pope is (by Catholic doctrine) infallible, does not mean he doesn't make mistakes.

Okay, what happens if your Church does not believe in its own authenticity? It's no longer a Church, is it? At least, not as set up in the New Testament. Rather, you're a religious group, or a Bible study, or at worst, a gathering of like-minded people who think that the world should generally be a lot nicer.

When I say that the Catholic Church believes herself to be "right", I mean what I say. I believe that doctrines that conflict with the Church's teaching are wrong, and that Catholic doctrines are right. I am not talking about people and whether they are generally right or wrong about everything.
Catnip: kitteniterininfinitum on August 27th, 2008 03:08 am (UTC)
No need to apologize, I understand...like your reply, too.

Quick note, though...I don't set salvation as an irreversible binary option, nor do I favor the literal interpretation that claims an absolute between spiritual life and death (based purely on bread consumption). Those were things I was commenting on in a Philosophically critical way, hence where the vehemence came from!

I like most the "Just as the Pope is (by Catholic doctrine) infallible, does not mean he doesn't make mistakes." That explains all the "literal", "only church", and still "not the only way" thing that was so...interesting. That Pope statement sums it up better than all these hundreds of words we've been flinging back and forwards could do!
Catnip: sunsetiterininfinitum on August 12th, 2008 03:21 am (UTC)
And yes, the Church is a great instrument for God. Rev. Short mentioned the church as a whole, but that basically only just extended to a few churches and denominations. Very quickly and carefully after mentioning it, he avoided the problem of properly defining it, or saying which denominations he might think are (or are not) included. The way he said it (and how he continued talking about it) emphasized that it's the clergy (of a carefully undefined amount of churches/denominations) that have a monopoly on God's mission on Earth. That's what was so shocking.
Someone who's never walked into a church, but reads through a Bible and finds Christ, God, and faith is not still untouched by God's presence, or free from finding God's calling. Churches can really help, but they're not the be-all and end-all! I've already said so, I'm not changing my mind!
Fuzzy Coatimundifuzzycoatimundi on August 27th, 2008 12:28 am (UTC)
Church(es) is/are not the only way to salvation. Churches do have a monopoly on God's mission on Earth. Someone who has never walked into a church and discovers God without is not untouched by God's presence.

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I get the feeling that you support the not-unpopular belief that one can only come to know God through one's own introspection. That churches and other religious organisations are too imperfect to guide, and that ultimately one can only trust what God has spoken directly to oneself (which includes the Holy Scriptures, the Bible). Indeed, this is close to the philosophy of many home churches and "non-denominational" Christians. It is possibly very similar to the most evangelical of churches as well.

But where does this knowledge and understanding of God come from? I know that people can lead people astray, and that Satan plants deceptive talk in not only the weakest of humans, but cannot collaborative efforts be used for good as well? We have 2000 years of writings and theological debates by minds far greater than mine (and yours, I would contest)--surely they should account for something?

And this is one place where the Catholic Church really speaks to me. It has all this history, all these debates, and has stood amidst the changes of the world and survived. It has a hierarchy of teachers; and certainly many make mistakes, but I think that overall, this structure produces good. Many Christians refuse Catholic doctrine because they claim it is not founded in scripture, yet they glean great knowledge from contemporary apologetics writers.

When you look at non-Catholic churches, you can see the division and disagreements on doctrine. They have no support, no basis, no structure. They are built solely upon the (alleged) inspired word of God, what a few people claim to be knowledge given to them by God. Now, I don't claim that they are false prophets, but how much more likely is it that they are when there is no accountability for their teachings? If we assume that everyone is equally corruptible by the Evil One, would it not make sense to have a larger organisation, an older organisation to keep people accountable to the true faith?

Who said that we "stand on the shoulders of giants?" And yet every time someone denies a church as a path to Christ, he kicks the giant's shins so that he is taller than the depth of the giant... but he's not really taller, is he?
Catnip: interestingiterininfinitum on August 27th, 2008 04:20 am (UTC)
Happy to correct:
Yes, churches are imperfect (as are humans), and some are actually more corruptible than others. Nevertheless, churches, sermons, Bible studies...they can all be fantastic guides, especially for normal people.

I am absolutely not denying church as a path to Christ.

The Catholic church has done (and is continuing to do) many great things for God and humanity. As you say yourself, some less good things are happening, too ("mistakes"), but the structure overall produces good. Yes.

Thousands of years of debates and writings do account for a lot...makes things really solid, too (deep history). Pushing a deep history forwards was actually one of the biggest problems for Christianity at it's birth, fighting through the tradition of Judaism (such kinds of depth can get in the way!).
Do keep in mind, also...someone can read in but a few days the entire life's work of another individual, in a few days the major developments of hundreds of years in any academic discipline, or even see in a few paragraphs all that came from several hundred years of debates. Likewise, hundreds of years of study can become moot with the advent of a newer discovery, theory, or law! Years of uniquely directed study can open up entire worlds unseen by hundreds of minds in the past (even much brighter ones)!
Fuzzy Coatimundifuzzycoatimundi on July 27th, 2008 06:27 am (UTC)
Anyways, Christ was a great Rabbi, and almost always spoke symbolically with finite objects when he had something really important to say, usually only resorting to straightforwardness when he really just HAD to, since the people who listened to him weren't always the sharpest.

You say "almost always". That invalidates your argument. Just because he usually spoke symbolically does not prove that he was speaking symbolically with regard to offering his flesh and blood to eat. From the Gospel of John:

"50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh."
"52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" 53 So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever."


Transubstantiation at the last supper complicates it all tremendously.

Unsubstantiated claim. How does this complicate the last supper? Tell us, if you want to argue.


Well, I guess if you just don't really think about it, then I imagine it's pretty easy for that to not be a problem.

This is the part that possibly bothers me the most. Are you actually trying to insult us both here?
Catnip: sunsetiterininfinitum on July 28th, 2008 04:32 pm (UTC)
I'm not trying to insult us! I was just saying that if you really don't think about some things, and not try to delve into the truth behind religious mysteries, the questions like "How?" "Is this really all there is to it?" and "Are we perhaps a little bit wrong?" won't be a problem. All the big questions never get asked, because the excuse of faith makes people just accept things without thinking, and just be happy with that. That's all (simplified)!

And if you want to use the, "It's actually literal, not symbolic" approach you seem to be favoring (as with the excerpt from John), do you then really believe that all non-Catholics are dead to Christ? Do you believe that the Tippets, J.I. Packer, me, many of your non-Catholic friends, and countless others will all be counted amongst those for whom Christ will say, "I do not know you", whereas some Catholics who are bad people, but have gone a few times to a "true communion", have life. Are you saying that all it takes is to munch on a little bread and drink some alcohol that's been transformed to be one with Christ? If you treat that section of scripture literally, you can't really say otherwise. How can you get much more clear-cut than, "those who don't eat and drink me have no life". It's mind-bogglingly narrow and contradictory to so much else in scripture, from the faith vs. works argument, to almost all of his teachings in his sermons, through most of the guidance and writings of Paul, and beyond!

Well, anyways, I'm going to try to get a good post done about the next little chunk of my trip! Hope you are well.
Fuzzy Coatimundifuzzycoatimundi on August 3rd, 2008 01:14 am (UTC)
I'm not trying to insult us!
By "us", I meant Leto and me. Sorry for being vague. The way you phrased things, nonetheless, seemed very directed, whether they were or not. I suppose you could pull a corollary from your book: just because you don't think you were insulting, doesn't change the fact that you were.

I do favour the literal approach there, because the symbolic approach doesn't fit there. Elsewhere (I hesitate to say "everywhere") in the gospels, when Jesus speaks in riddles, either the people understand, or he or the writer explains the riddles. Here we have people who don't understand, and neither Jesus nor the writer explains that he speaks symbolically.

Perhaps you are pulling from another passage, but the passage I quoted said nothing about Jesus saying, "I do not know you" to non-Catholics. And as for, "those who don't eat and drink me have no life," it's true. Absolutely true. Paul backs this up in his letters when he says that we are all "dead to Christ." Our sin makes us dead. We cannot possibly have life without some intervention of his grace.

Similarly, those who eat and drink His flesh will have eternal life. You must understand that this is not a contractual, law-binding statement. Eternal life is a gift from God that can be given or taken as he deigns. Just because you receive eternal life, does not mean that it cannot be taken away.

Incidentally, I am curious what your thoughts are regarding "the faith vs. works" argument. It is my belief that one doesn't exist...
Catnip: sunsetiterininfinitum on August 4th, 2008 10:33 am (UTC)
What's that about a corollary from my book...? Is that what the next statement was, or are you saying I should pull a corollary?

Anyways...I'm just really surprised that you think that a literal interpretation makes more sense than all sorts of different symbolic possibilities in that case.
Even just using the passage you offered...if we are all dead, then how can we even be alive in the first place? Or are you taking part of the package literally, but part of it symbolically...what do you think life means literally? Or do you simply consider it a kind of eternal life which has no bearing on our normal life whatsoever? I ask again, do you think all non-Catholics are utterly dead to Christ, then? If you take it literally?

As per the f vs. w argument, it all depends on what one means by "faith" and "works". I'll say this much, though...faith can be expressed with and without works, but neither is enough alone. Polarizing the two in a battle for superiority is a little, well...interesting. It's a little like asking which is more important, the internal intent and state when someone does an action, or the external action and physical result. They're both important! Of course, all sorts of things can muck up the external result, so it's a nice thing hat BOTH are valuable!
letobelgarionletobelgarion on August 4th, 2008 04:06 pm (UTC)
Who would have thought that a little ditty on vegetarianism and the host would lead to one of the "great" theological debates of history. I'm really enjoying this.
Catnip: willowlakeiterininfinitum on August 5th, 2008 11:24 pm (UTC)
Oh, you KNEW this was going to happen, admit it!!

Heh, glad you're enjoying it.
letobelgarionletobelgarion on August 6th, 2008 01:13 am (UTC)
Guilty as charged. My initial question on vegetarianism (remember that?) was valid though.
bang_hiss_meowbang_hiss_meow on August 17th, 2008 02:15 am (UTC)
Can I just check on something at this point?

Are you guys really arguing about whether one should eat a little bit of wafer that a priest has waved his hands over to transform it into the body of a man who lived two thousand years ago? Does anyone else other than me even realize how crazy that sounds? Or have I got it wrong? In any case, I think this sort of discussion is sometimes referred to as 'navel-gazing.'

I played for a agonizingly long Catholic wedding ceremony today, and came out of it with the usual feelings of confusion and irritation at all the goings-on. What does all this mean? Why do they do it? How does it make them better people? How does it make the world better?

Oh, dear. Now I've probably gotten myself into a whole world of trouble, asking these silly questions. But I do so hate not understanding something.
Catnip: willowlakeiterininfinitum on August 17th, 2008 09:22 pm (UTC)
Oh, sorry...this chat is a little rough to suddenly walk into. Actually, that's a big problem with this complex, deep-rooted, and very old religion...it's very hard to suddenly walk into. When I got my job at St. Helen's, I was dumbfounded (for several weeks) at the weirdness of the Anglican services...and that's even with a background of knowledge and study in Christianity! It was very confusing and irritating. First time I went to a Catholic mass, it felt like I was suddenly in some creepy cult. Still sometimes gives off that vibe.

It's not strange to feel the way you do, at all!

The argument we've got tangled into is whether this transformation (of bread to flesh and wine to blood) actually occurs or not (whether it's real or symbolic). Fuzz and Leto are favoring the "yes it does" answer (I gather, sorry if I'm mistaken!). I'm mostly saying, "If you say yes and think it's real, then how do you respond to x, y, and z?". It's a very controversial issue. Catholics tend to believe in this transformation being real, most other Christians don't.

As for how far-fetched it is for a guy to go through priest school, wave his arms, mutter a few words, and transform bread into antique flesh of the highest quality, I certainly realize how "crazy that sounds"...or more specifically, how improbable, illogical, and problem-filled so many aspects of that claim are. I've been illustrating complications throughout this entire debate, curious to see how those who say "yes" might respond.

I've never been to a Catholic marriage. But as to the BIG questions ("What does all this mean? Why? How are people and the world better because of it?")...yipes that's a tall order.
To crunch a planet into a nutshell, I'd say: Humans have a unique awareness of good and evil, themselves, others, emotions, logic, and so much more. With this awareness comes a need to confront problems of ethics, purpose, choices, integrity, and much more. All that Christianity stuff is meant to build up the good and lessen the bad, amongst other things. The services are weird because the integral literature, beliefs, and history stems back thousands of years, and many aspects have developed in countless ways since then. It's all supposed to help people and make the world a better place. The reality is often marred by the weakness and imperfection of humans.

Yes, this argument is picking at finicky details, but it's actually pretty tame. Theology is like normal academic disciplines in that way, by the time you get to PhD level, you could write 500 pages on one sentence!
Fuzzy Coatimundifuzzycoatimundi on August 27th, 2008 12:09 am (UTC)
I think the error many non-Christians make is that religion in general, and certainly Christianity, is not about "making the world a better place". Rather, it concerns people with the afterlife, an objective moral code, and one's purpose in life. The end result is that if people truly believed the tenets of their faith, the world would be better. But religion doesn't solve the world's problems; only its people can.
Fuzzy Coatimundifuzzycoatimundi on August 4th, 2008 09:35 pm (UTC)
What's that about a corollary from my book...? Is that what the next statement was, or are you saying I should pull a corollary?
I was alluding to your statement, "Just because you believe, doesn't make it true," or something along those lines, and extrapolating.

As for your questions: being dead and alive are not mutually exclusive. I mean, whether my body is physically dead or alive is obviously only one or the other. But many things have life--not just bodies. Faith can be living or dead, among other things. And no, that's not strictly a metaphorical interpretation: "life" and "death" have meanings in all sorts of places.

I never said non-Catholics are utterly dead to Christ. I did say that they are dead to Christ. By default, if you will.

Regarding Faith vs. Works, that's precisely what I was wondering about. There is this myth that divides Catholicism and Protestantism, where the former finds both requisite, and the latter, only faith. But really, they same the same thing, and use different words. What it comes down to, really, is that true faith implies works (and not the other way around). One needs only have faith, because true faith will cause one to do works. Or, on the other hand, one must have both faith and works, because true faith cannot exist without works. What I'm trying to say here is that there really is no "Faith vs. Works" argument. It's a myth. All it is is a petty semantic battle.
letobelgarionletobelgarion on July 21st, 2008 05:26 pm (UTC)
Definitely NOT my vegetarian standards as I love meat way too much, especially prime rib at the Keg!!!