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Michael Healy

Genuine Religion and Conventional Religion in the Current Season

Dec. 30, 2011, at 11:56am

Besides the distinction Mircea Eliade makes between the religious and the secular man (see earlier post, Dec. 26), one can further distinguish between the genuinely religious man and the conventionally religious man.  The latter follows religion more out of social habit or expectation rather than authentic faith and devotion. 

            John Henry Cardinal Newman calls this a distinction between vital religion and nominal religion.  Soren Kierkegaard conveys the same idea with his distinction between a Christianity which is socially acceptable compared to Christianity as a “scandal,” as described in the Acts of the Apostles.  We could perhaps capture the difference here in five points.

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Michael Healy

Christmas, Defiance, and Despair

Dec. 28, 2011, at 5:01pm


In his great work Homo Viator, Gabriel Marcel reflects on the problem of despair, the threat of meaninglessness and absurdity, and the stance of defiance against reality as we find it (and whomever is responsible for it).  He discusses the philosophy of the atheistic absurdist Albert Camus in a chapter entitled “The Refusal of Salvation and the Exaltation of the Man of Absurdity.”

            Marcel regards this kind of absurdist approach not so much as a real philosophy, or a solid position that can actually be defended, but rather as a “contagion” and an “infiltration by which evil can reach our very foundations.”  But, if there are no rational foundations to such an attitude, how does

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Michael Healy

Celebration for the Religious and the Secular Man

Dec. 26, 2011, at 12:04pm

The experience of life, of death, of time, of celebration—e.g., Christmas—is decidedly different for the religious man compared to the secular man.  Mircea Eliade, in his book The Sacred and the Profane, offers four points of difference here (pp. 202-206).

            The religious man believes that there is an absolute reality, the sacred, transcending but manifesting itself in this world and making it real.  Second, he not only believes that life has a sacred origin but also that persons can only be fulfilled to the extent that they are genuinely religious, i.e., in contact with the sacred.  Third, he believes that the history of this world and of his own life involves the history of

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Michael Healy

Silence, Recollection, and the Season of Hectic Activity

Dec. 21, 2011, at 1:12pm


Be still, and know that I am God.--Ps. 46:10

But Yahweh is in His holy temple, let the whole earth be silent before Him. –Hab. 2:2

The Lamb then broke the seventh seal, and there was silence in heaven. –Apoc. 8:1

Silence before the Lord Yahweh! –Zeph. 1:7

When peaceful silence lay over all, and night had run the half of her swift course, down from the heavens from the royal throne, leaped your all-powerful Word. –Wis. 18:14-15

            We are often reminded during the holiday season to keep Christ in Christmas.  This, of course, is a noble aim.  However, it can never be achieved via billboards, advertisements, and public announcements, which themselves just contribute to the clutter

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Katie van Schaijik

The Incarnation: the glorification of humanity

Dec. 26, 2009, at 11:29am

Having patiently and tenderly prepared a people for an age—drawing them out of misery, teaching them Himself and about their true worth and high calling—the God of glory descends to dwell enfleshed among us; humanity is taken up to the heights of divinity.

Gloria in excelsis Deo! And on earth, peace to men of goodwill.

From the Pope’s Christmas homily

The Lord is here. From this moment, God is truly “God with us”. No longer is he the distant God who can in some way be perceived from afar, in creation and in our own consciousness. He has entered the world. He is close to us. The words of the risen Christ to his followers are addressed also to us: “Lo, I am with you always,

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