The Personalist Project

Comments (23)

Katie van Schaijik

#1, Mar 2, 2012 8:31am

Thanks, Richard.  I'm looking forward to reading your story.  Just yesterday I got in the mail Bushman's biography of Joseph Smith.  I promised an online Mormon friend I'd read it.  He's reading Fr. Ker's biography of Newman.

Katie van Schaijik

#2, Mar 2, 2012 8:42am

I've started reading your story.  I remember meeting you in Rome, at the von Hildebrand conference.  It's great to read that that weekend was a key moment of grace for you.  Great to hear of your coming entry into the Church. Welcome home!

Jules van Schaijik

#3, Mar 2, 2012 9:27am

Thanks for joining, Richard, and for the link to your conversion story. I found the section on the problem of evil especially interesting. I agree with your critique of John Hick's solution. The full answer to why there is evil and suffering in the world can certainly not be that those are God's tools for building character. I wonder—but this is probably matter for new post—if you see any difference between Hick's idea, and that of John Paul II, that one of the deepest meanings of suffering lies in its ability to "unleash love" in the world. (Salvifici Doloris, Nos. 28-30)

I also agree that the article in the Journal of Medicine is not really news. It is the brazenness of it that is new, I think. (See my post here.)

richard sherlock

#4, Mar 2, 2012 11:38am

Thank you for the responses. Bushman's bio is the best there is but Mormon beliefs are just bizarre and not close to being Christian let alone Catholic. I read Salvifici years ago then very carefully when my late wife died just about 4 years ago. I think it is very different. Hick thinks its like bodybuilding. A hard workout will build your muscles. True. But the suffering that unleashes profound love, as it did for me, wraps you in God's arms. It transforms you but this is not the reason God allows suffering. I think Job is right. God always loved Job and Job trusts in Him in a profound way even when he(Job) does not know what will happen next.

Jules van Schaijik

#5, Mar 2, 2012 1:36pm

I tried to find a link to this article by Peter Colosi earlier, but couldn't find it then. I think you would like it a lot.

This paragraph gets at a major flaw in Hick's idea:

This point, that the flourishing of love is a kind of side-effect, is important because if one held that the ultimate meaning (raison d'etre) of suffering were its ability to cause love to flourish, then it seems that one comes too close to reducing persons in their suffering to a mere means to the achievement of other ends, and also to the view that love ultimately depends on the existence of evil. The character of Ivan, in The Brother's Karamazov, rightly rebels against this notion when he wants to give back his ticket into heaven if it depends on the suffering of a child. For example, if little children who are sexually abused, tortured and then killed, end up in heaven, then pointing to that result as an exhaustive explanation for the child's suffering is not acceptable. Perhaps it is for this reason that the Pope says that the mystery of suffering is "an especially impenetrable one."

Gregory Borse

#6, Mar 2, 2012 11:36pm

Job is special.  I've just published a book that traffics in non-Western literature.  It includes epic.  Job is the only one in the ancient pre-literate world who asks God "Why?".  And in the Old Testament (treated as literature in my context) it's the only instance in which God answers.  That's love.  And that's unique compared to other epics/foundational myths.  Gives one pause.

Gregory Borse

#7, Mar 2, 2012 11:39pm

In addition, I just reviewed the reunion of Odysseus and Penolope today (and linked the episode to Martha, from the New Testament, just for grins).  They are the introduction of "love" as we know it in the ancient non-Torah linked world as we know it.  Perhaps Abraham and Sarah might be their analogs in the Torah.  I'm still thinking about that.  I'll get a copy of the poem I wrote about it and share if anyone cares to read it.

Jules van Schaijik

#8, Mar 3, 2012 7:28am

In this post, John Crosby interprets the extraordinary passage, where Job interrogates God, and God answers him, as "an example of the personalist pedagogy that John Paul II detects in God":

In his book, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, he asks in one chapter, "Why is there so much evil in the world?" He begins his answer saying: "One response could be that God does not need to justify Himself to man. It is enough that He is omnipotent. From this perspective everything He does or allows must be accepted. This is the position of the biblical Job."

But John Paul is not satisfied with this response, and so he proceeds to suggest a very different one: "But God, who besides being Omnipotence is Wisdom and Love, desires to justify Himself to mankind." That is an absolutely extraordinary statement, the likes of which I have never seen in a Catholic writer: "God desires to justify Himself to mankind"! That is, God wants man to cry out, "Why, O God, why," when man suffers, He wants man to understand something of the divine meaning of the suffering that afflicts him, and to live in the freedom that comes from this understanding.

Gregory Borse

#9, Mar 3, 2012 11:59pm

And yet, given Christ, is it really so surprising?  If God wants to justify his ways to man, what better way than a Son who will give the gift of everything back?

richard sherlock

#10, Mar 4, 2012 12:22am

Absolutely. At Job's time Job had to have complete trust. So do we but we know that God himself as the Son suffered far more than Job did. But the real answer to all our suffering is Easter Morning. Once we realize in what Hildebrand called the heart that God was on the cross for each of personally and that we can have His goodness despite our being so unworthy then whatever our suffering it is but a moment in eternity.

Gregory Borse

#11, Mar 7, 2012 12:30am

We are now like pagans in their own relationship—truly pious—with their true gods.  We would think it was crazy if a person tripping in the parking lot of a Walmart to leap up and "damn" the "law of gravity!"  But listen to a faithful Christian talk about her or his trust in Jesus?  Well, that's crazy talk.  Yeah.  Secularists put an iron-clad faith in the paradigm of their idea that is as firm as the belief in Christ that sent the early Christians singing to their deaths in the Roman Colussium.  What scares secularists, everytime, is not what scared the Romans about the Christians (since the Romans didn't really believe anything anymore).  It's worse than that:  the New Romans are religionists who are defensive that anyone could claim to believe anything as vehemetly as they do that itself is not what they believe.  That's the great danger.  Because then they have to make a convincing defence of their own beliefs. And they cannot really do that.

richard sherlock

#12, Mar 7, 2012 1:16am

What scares the secularists is not that there are so many of us who stand firmly and unwaveringly for what they think is nonsense. No. What scares them deep inside is the gnawing sense that we may be right, That we have a joy that will get us through the hardest times, That we know whatever we loose here is not lost just delayed a moment. Moreover we don't just say "trust me" We can and do give reasons for faith that is in us. If we are right, and we are, then they are missing a true joy that they intuitively realize is something they are missing

richard sherlock

#13, Mar 7, 2012 1:19am

Katie van Schaijik, Mar. 2 at 8:31am

Thanks, Richard.  I'm looking forward to reading your story.  Just yesterday I got in the mail Bushman's biography of Joseph Smith.  I promised an online Mormon friend I'd read it.  He's reading Fr. Ker's biography of Newman.

Have you seen the edition of Chesterton's Orthodoxy published by the fundamentalist publisher Moody Press with an intro by Charles Colson. Gave to evangelical friends because they trusted the publisher and Colson. We'll see what happens

Stephen Granderson

#14, Mar 7, 2012 3:48pm

Greetings, Mr. Sherlock!

I just wanted to let you know that I will also be an official new catholic this Easter.  I was raised mostly in the Assembly of God denomination, and I have been gradually moving toward the Catholic church for the past two years or so (I'm 22). Thank you for writing out your testimony and reasons in such detail; that helps me to understand the LDS doctrines much better, though I still don't quite get why so many people believe them.  Congratulations, and I'll see you on the other side of the Tiber!

Gregory Borse

#15, Mar 7, 2012 8:12pm

Thanks for the thoughtful dialogue, everyone.  I've got to crow a little bit here--full disclosure, I've been heading up Stephen's RCIA preparation for full entry into the Church this Easter.  Congrats to you Richard!  And to Stephen. It's heartening to me that so many young adults and not-so-young adults are finding that the thirst they have been looking to quench for so long can be satisfied (really and truly) in only one way. 

Jules van Schaijik

#16, Apr 9, 2012 6:39am

Dear Richard and Stephen, congratulations on your entrance into the Church. I prayed for both of you during the Easter Vigil on Saturday. Jules

richard sherlock

#17, Apr 10, 2012 1:16am

Jules and Katie,

Thank you for the prayers. My journey has been magnificent. . I am now a member of the Body of Christ also called the Body of Truth.  I am so overjoyed. At the Vigil when I was baptized I was in tears and my kids and their spouses were in tears ( though they aren't yet Catholic) . I am really amazed. I am now committed to a faith that respects what I do (philosophy/philosophical theology) and thinks it is essential to faith and not a threat. I feel truly blessed in so many ways. Blessed with friends in the faith, blessed with my faith and blessed to be able to get paid to do what I love in a department that is very supportive, even friendly. I have even been asked to write up my journey from mormonism for First Things.

God is good

Katie van Schaijik

#18, Apr 10, 2012 7:39am

Welcome, welcome, both Richard and Stephen!

Stephen Granderson

#19, Apr 10, 2012 10:41am

Thank you for the prayers!  It is wonderful to be in full communion at last.  I am forever grateful to God for the amazing journey he has led me through, and I know that he will continue to lead me.  I am also grateful to all of the wonderful catholics who have helped me so much along the way and made me so welcome.

Katie van Schaijik

#20, Apr 10, 2012 11:06am

Stephen and Richard, I would love to hear more about your experiences, if you feel inspired to share.  Maybe in a member post?

richard sherlock

#21, Apr 10, 2012 11:18pm

Katie and everyone

I knew 42 years ago that the story I grew up with about some great apostacy in the early church was bogus. I knew that studying the patristics at Harvard. My oldest and closest friend who I roomed with that year was studying patristics and he told me then and many times through the years that I would be a Catholic. But many things intervened. Then over the last 2 years I have had 4 experiences with Holy Spirit that I just could not deny. The first was in Rome at the Hildebrandt Conference. At the Friday night mass when Archbishop Burke out his hand on my head to give me a blessing I felt like electricity went through me. I felt closer to God than I had in years. The that september I heard a rumor that a monastery about 2 hours from my house would be closing soon. So a friend and I decided that if teat was true we should go there one last time. In the chapel I felt the Holy spirit just for 5 seconds but could not deny it. I was brought right to God. 

richard sherlock

#22, Apr 10, 2012 11:24pm

Second part

Then on the first weekend of October 2010 there was an Immaculate Mary,Divine Mercy, Pro-Life Conference in the ski-resort town outside of Salt Lake . A friend and I went and was brought up short I knew what I had to do.

The final experience was last june with the rite of acceptance. With blessing and the work of my sponsor I felt a sense of comfort and peace that I not felt in decades. Literally I felt God love just welcoming me into his arms. I am home and He has led me every step of the way.

Gregory Borse

#23, Apr 11, 2012 11:05pm

Kate--you should start a thread in which converts and cradle Catholics might share their true conversion stories!  I think it would bring some light into a reality that is too often these days veiled . . . .Perhaps a thread that suggests a way to tell the story that connects it to personalism . . . Just a thought.  Richard--thank you for sharing.  I'm a cradle Catholic, myself, but if I ever write my memoir, its sub-title will be "The Conversion of a Non-Convert."  God Bless!

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