Scott Johnston

Joined: Nov. 17, 2011


I’m blessed to be a forty-something single man living each day by God’s grace. Grew up in Northern, NY state in a rural area close to the Canadian border (due North of Watertown, which is due north of Syracuse). Lived down the road from my hardworking grandparents’ small diary farm. Spent much time on their farm. Also grew up with and learned to ride horses and generally care for animals and live as rural folks do. Music was my predominant passion (drums/percussion) in my teen years. Served in the Navy for 5 years (hospital corpsman—entailed providing patient care at a Naval Hospital oncology ward, then serving as part of a two-man medical department on a Destroyer). By the wonderful grace and mercy of God, converted to Catholicism from agnosticism, entering the Church in 1995. Am a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville (Biology with pre-theology certificate; also took philosophy courses with Dr’s. John Crosby, Michael Healy, and John White), worked for two years for Priests for Life in New York, and then entered the Dominicans (Order of Preachers), St. Joseph Province (aka Eastern Province). Was privileged to be a Dominican student brother studying for the priesthood for a little less than 5 years, studying graduate theology at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, DC. Discerned that God had wanted me to be there for a temporary period rather than for life and departed the Dominican community on good terms in 2008 at the end of my temporary vows. Am very grateful to still be in touch with the excellent men—now Dominican priests—who were my classmates. Moved from Washington, DC, to the greater Philadelphia area in the summer of 08. Taught 7-8th grade for a year at the then-brand new Regina Luminis Academy (a private Catholic school). Worked for a year doing home care for the elderly, and then took a position as Director of Religious Education at St. Norbert parish in Paoli, PA. Am now in my second year as DRE. Was part of the founding leadership team (now Assistant Director) for the Catholic Young Adults of Chester County (CYACC), now approaching two years since we began. Also am recently a member of a band, Paging Samuel, playing percussion/drums. As a convert, my outlook on life now is powerfully influenced by the grace of conversion, having come from the darkness of not knowing if God even exists (and being in a haze about the meaning and purpose of life), to joyously accepting faith in Christ and embracing wholeheartedly His beautiful bride, the Catholic Church. All praise be to God for the great gifts of life, of being a human person, and for faith!

Most recent posts by Scott Johnston:     (See all of them)

Motherhood and Femininity: Daughter of a Feminist Speaks Up

Mar. 12 at 6:38pm | Comments: 1 | Most recent comment: Mar. 12 at 9:13pm

It was nice to meet some more PP members recently! Below is a link to an eye-opening article that nicely complements some of the poignant remarks that Alice von Hildebrand made last Friday evening about feminism. The article reveals what a daughter of a famous feminist writer thinks about her mother's point of view after living with the consequences as a child, and shows how she has come to revere and love motherhood and its special connection to being a...

Music performance: Resonances with the revelation of the other in the vision of love

Jan. 31 at 11:22pm | Comments: 0

Thank you, Katie, for a wonderful class this evening! It was a pleasure to meet other students who are blessed to be able to attend this course in person and experience Katie and Jules' gracious hospitality. I mentioned the incredibly gifted violinist Hilary Hahn during class in regard to some very interesting comments I had heard her make in an interview. Below is a link to this video clip. I think you will find her remarks resonate in an intriguing...

Love and the will; over-simplifying births confusion

Jan. 28 at 2:43am | Comments: 7 | Most recent comment: Feb. 1 at 10:25pm

I would like to attempt to make a teeny contribution toward clearing up at least a small aspect of a way of speaking that results in a misunderstanding about what is meant when some speak about the role of the will in human love. This is inspired, in part, by a post Katie made on the courtship portal, but it's also a topic that has for quite some time been an area ripe for misunderstanding, confusion, and over-simplification. First off,...

Drummer manifests reverence for music

Jan. 7 at 1:06am | Comments: 3 | Most recent comment:

Tonight's reading for the reading circle included some of von Hildebrand's thoughts about reverence. As we discussed this, I was reminded of a certain video clip of one of my favorite drummers which is present in that fascinating corner of the internet inhabited by drummers. It's a particular section (part 6) of a mulitple-part interview with the super-talented British drummer, Gavin Harrison. I would estimate Harrison is probably in his mid-40's now. He is a very thoughtful musician. In this...

Latest comments by Scott Johnston:     (See all of them)

Re: Our decisions belong to us; we are responsible for them

Feb. 15 at 7:32pm | see this comment in context

The Christian aspects of our American culture, such as it is, are definitely Protestant. This has a big impact on this whole subject and lies behind, I think, why Katie above says that over-spiritualization (in the standing-before-God-not-as-my-fully-whole-and-unique-self, way) is a wider problem than we may realize.

I think (and I may be oversensitive to this as a convert) that Protestant spirituality (to the degree it can be lumped together at least according to what it lacks in common) is very prone to this problem--more so than Catholicism. Now, this is speaking very broadly; and there are certainly many Protestants who are very grounded and very themselves before God (and many Catholics in more Catholic cultures who are not). But I think it's generally true. Catholic spiritual writers (Saints and especially Doctors of the Church) have a depth to them that, generally speaking, I don't think is present as much in Protestant spirituality. I hope I don't sound anti-Protestant by saying such a thing. I don't intend such.

Re: Our decisions belong to us; we are responsible for them

Feb. 15 at 7:17pm | see this comment in context

A few additional points I would like to offer:

Any time the subject of the spiritual life and the human person's individual relationship to God with it's full and mysterious dynamism is broached, it is difficult to generalize. We should try (as the Saints who wrote about the spiritual life did), but there is a paradox in effect. The human uniqueness and unrepeatable individuality of each person standing before God makes the particular character of each person's relationship to God unlike in some ways to that of any other person. Caution is needed lest we over-generalize based on somthing more in the category of a dynamic particular to ourselves. But, of course, as human persons, there are also many things that are relevant to all. Seems a bit like trying to write about marriage. Each couple is unique. And yet, there is much that is applicable to all.

I am very mindful of being a total novice when it comes to the spritual life, and I want to acknowledge that the personal experience of a priest who has directed many people one-on-one (e.g. Fr. Landry) gives that person access to insights and wisdom I do not have.

Re: Our decisions belong to us; we are responsible for them

Feb. 15 at 6:46pm | see this comment in context

My concern is with those who fail to be properly selves in their relation to God—with those who think that to be holy means to live as if we have no will of our own—as if all that we are is God's "yes men", as it were.

Thank you, Katie. This is well said and helpfully clarifying. I totally agree with you. (And interestingly, the way you are probing this type of issue reminds me of Dominicans. It was my experience of Dominicans--generally speaking--that they tend to have a healthy caution about situations that seem hyper-pious, not because they are against piety per se, but, they are sensitive to a lack of an appropriate human balance in the spiritual life for the very reasons that you are speaking of here--especially this particular clarification of yours that I quoted).

At the same time, I want to mention that it is also a temptation for more intellectual persons to use a reason like this (of not living the faith with one's entire human self) as an excuse for not engaging their heart and will fully, but remaining too exclusively in their head. (witness too many theology professors of the last century)

Re: Our decisions belong to us; we are responsible for them

Feb. 15 at 4:32am | see this comment in context

It's hard to try to put this into words. . .

So, in an authentic and robust process of personal, spiritual discernment, more than natural faculties of the person are involved. Divine in-breaking can happen in a way that surprises--that is unexpected; in a way that is recognizable to the person as coming from above. But, also, the graced insinuation of a divine message to a particular person that is particular for that person, I want to say, ordinarily does not have a spectacular character. It's not usually an externally impressive happening. This is what is involved in discernment. The eventual recognition is of gentle whispers of divine origin, at first unnoticed, but coming to be seen more evidently over time and with consistant prayer and openness to grace. Supernatural, but cloaked from all but the most spiritually attuned. Supernatural, but working delicately through the natural.

God, I want to say, can take an initiative in leading a person who is truly open to seeing a path the Lord is offering to Him. This interaction, though from above--supernatural--happens in such a way that the person is not overwhelmed, not forced, never stripped of his full personal integrity, individuality and freedom.

Re: Our decisions belong to us; we are responsible for them

Feb. 15 at 4:18am | see this comment in context

Katie, I think your main concern seems to be the depersonalizing tendency toward "overspiritualization" of certain pious but misdirected souls. They perhaps have an unfortunate notion of the typical operation of God's grace as something that sends pious persons direct, specific, clear and obvious messages. And on top of this erroneous notion, they can mistake their own merely human emotions (especially when intense) for such clear divine communication.

Given your aim to keep in mind this (appropriate) concern, I think you may be in the process overlooking or downplaying the initiative and freedom of God in the way His grace might be infused into a particular person.

I would like to offer the following thought (not seeing it as a contrary statement to your thoughts, Katie, but more as a suggested balancing): That a guiding grace can be communicated to a human person in such a way that both a) a supernatural element is present in the interaction beyond what nature alone could originate, and b) the freedom of the individual person is fully intact, with all of his natural faculties of mind, heart, and will unfettered and able to act fully.

Stay informed

Latest comments

  • Re: Attending to the interior
  • By: Katie van Schaijik
  • Re: Attending to the interior
  • By: Jules van Schaijik
  • Re: The Weary World Rejoices
  • By: Gary Gibson
  • Re: Assessment Run Amok
  • By: Devra Torres
  • Re: Assessment Run Amok
  • By: deb
  • Re: Some power struggles are good and necessary
  • By: Katie van Schaijik
  • Re: Some power struggles are good and necessary
  • By: Gary Gibson
  • Re: Some power struggles are good and necessary
  • By: Katie van Schaijik
  • Re: Some power struggles are good and necessary
  • By: Rhett Segall
  • Re: Cutting ties
  • By: Leonie

Latest active posts

Reading circles