Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Why the Press Doesn't Get the Pope

Once upon a time, in the halcyon days of my undergraduate education, I majored in journalism. Well, technically speaking, I majored in Communication Studies with an emphasis in journalism, but the point is that which my courses were directed toward was a formation and education in the journalistic art. I entered college wanting to be a sports writer, so I took classes called Writing & Reporting, Public Affairs Reporting, Communication History (which was basically a history of newspapers), and so forth. This is pertinent only to establish my credibility for the topic at hand: when I talk about journalistic mindsets and practices, I know a little of what I speak.

The media hubbub in the last few days over Pope Francis' comments to reporters while flying back from World Youth Day has demonstrated once again that, by and large, the news media knows about as much about religion as I do about internal combustion engines: that is, not much. Why is this? I can think of a few reasons.

First, journalists are primarily educated in the field of public events reporting. Anything that involves a basic who-what-when-where-why-how breakdown, they can do pretty well: "two people were injured on Mulberry Street Thursday morning in a freak gardening accident that has some questioning the practice of marketing chainsaws as lawn trimmers," and so forth. Easy enough. Anything that requires a little specialized knowledge usually requires a specialty reporter: our science correspondent, our sports reporter, etc. But news bureaus are getting smaller these days, meaning that specialty topics are being covered by non-specialists. This seems to be most true with religion reporting (or perhaps just appears to be so to me because it's something I know a little about), and the result is often pretty shoddy. The website GetReligion is dedicated to bringing to light these sorts of poorly told tales and is filled with examples of reporters misrepresenting the most basic of Christian beliefs (the best are always at Christmas and Easter, when reporters try to explain what mysteries are being celebrated--it would be hilarious if it weren't so sad)--never mind the subtleties and nuances of, say, moral theology or sexual ethics, or the all-important distinction between the sinner and the sin. They often just plain don't know what they're talking about.

This leads to our second point. Before they might gain a specialty (assuming they aren't a specialist-turned-journalist), usually most reporters are encouraged to be well-versed enough in politics to enable them to report on the important events of the day, so that political reporting becomes less a specialty than a standard modus operandi for the reporter. And because most reporters are trained in politics, they tend to see every story as a political story, a story about groups struggling for power or influence. Look at the reporting on global warming, for example: it's much less about any of the science involved and much more about various political pressure groups or international scientific bodies vying for the nation's attention. Too often, it's the same with religious reporting.

Reporters tend to view religious groups, such as the Catholic Church, solely as political organizations that have "policies" and "agendas" and do "messaging"; they definitely do not view the Church as the organized body of believers in Jesus Christ, convened under the headship of Peter among us, preaching the Gospel and teaching the truth for the salvation of souls. (Though to play devil's advocate for a moment, the Church does have a bureaucratic structure and does, in fine Italian fashion, have in-fighting between various offices at times, so the press can't be entirely blamed for treating it like any other organization on occasion.)

To the point: when Pope Francis makes comments on the Church's pastoral responsibility toward homosexual persons, on the importance of distinguishing the sin from the sinner, on the reality of the forgiveness of sins and the duty to recognize that fact in people's lives, he is simply expressing, as a true shepherd of his sheep, what the Church's Magisterium says in a dozen other places. But because most of these reporters 1) do not know the Church's teaching on this topic and think the Church "hates gays or something," and 2) see everything through a political lens, they start reporting that the pope "may have signaled a shift in tone" or "may be setting up a change in policy," etc., as though he were a senator "pivoting" on an issue to gain a few points in the polls. But of course, it was nothing of the kind.

So, guys, a few helpful hints here. First, learn your facts: when given an assignment on a religious story, do your homework, read up on the issues and doctrines involved, and don't always go to the same three dissident priests for quotes. Second, stop thinking everyone is a political schemer grasping for power; you'll sleep much better at night when you realize not everyone is out to get what they can for themselves.

You have a responsibility to the public: you provide the data from which people in this free republic shape their conclusions. The least you can do is give them accurate info.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

What We Forget at Funerals

"Uncle Harry has gone home to the Lord. He's gone on to his eternal destiny."

When we've lost a loved one, we use such phrases to comfort ourselves. While they are right in expressing the Christian hope that death does not have the final word, each of them is missing a key piece of our belief about what happens after we die.

"Uncle Harry has gone home to the Lord."

This says that Uncle Harry is now in heaven. I don't want to be a Negative or Nitpicky Nicky here, but we don't know the fate of any person when they die. None of us can know whether Uncle Harry died in a state of grace, in the friendship of God, with no unconfessed mortal sin; and even if he did, he may well have to spend some time in purgatory, excising those last bits of attachment to sin and making his soul all-holy before approaching the throne of God. There are two potential dangers, then, inherent in this phrase:

  1. We fall into an implicit universalism where we assume that everyone will be saved, or at least a near-universalism where we assume everyone will be saved as long as they're basically good and didn't kill anybody or anything. 
  2. By assuming they go to heaven right away, we neglect our absolutely essential duty to pray for the souls of the faithful departed, that we might aid their sanctification and help them get from the waiting room of purgatory into their heavenly home. (My girlfriend's family include's a prayer for the dead whenever they pray before meals, which I think is beautiful and practical--then you're sure to pray for the dead three times a day!)
"He's gone on to his eternal destiny."

From hearing this and other similar phrases, you get the sense that our "eternal destiny," our final end, is to spend eternity as a disembodied soul; your ol' body lies a-moldering in the grave, but your soul goes marching on, as though your body were a spacesuit being used temporarily to let your soul function in this alien environment, ultimately separate from you and disposable. But your body is not an accidental attachment to you; it is you. The human person is a composite of soul and body; each is incomplete without the other. You are an embodied soul, an ensouled body. As such, your eternal destiny must also include your body, and that is precisely what we believe as Christians. It's right there in the Creed: "I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come." At the end of time, there will be a new heavens and a new earth, and we will have glorified bodies, like Jesus' resurrected body (this is why St. Paul calls Jesus "the firstfruits of the resurrection"), to live with God in this renewed state for all eternity; this is what the Anglican theologian N.T. Wright calls "life after life after death." Spirit and flesh no longer striving against each other, but joined in harmony and integrity, forever enjoying the beatific vision of God Himself, sharing in His very life. That is our eternal destiny.

Don't forget it!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Pope Paul the Prophet

This last week saw the 45th anniversary of the promulgation of Pope Paul VI's encyclical on the regulation of births, Humanae Vitae, known for addressing an issue (contraception) that is most talked about in the Church for how little it is talked about in churches. In an article on National Review's website, George Weigel commented that it was "an encyclical that was not so much rejected (pace the utterly predictable 45th-anniversary commentary) as it was unread, untaught, ill-considered — and thus unappreciated." This is reminiscent of Chesterton's line that "It is not that Christianity has been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult, and left untried": just so, it is not that Humanae Vitae was read and found deficient, but rather that its known message was found undesirable, and so the document was left unread.

I won't work through the encyclical's argument here, but I will point to one rather prophetic piece of it as an argument in its favor. Pope Paul made four predictions about the effects that widespread use of artificial birth control would have on society:
  1. a general lowering of moral standards; 
  2. increased marital infidelity; 
  3. the reduction of women to instruments for the fulfillment of male desire; and 
  4. public authorities engaging in coercive population planning programs. 
Let's see, how'd he do? 

Since 1968, have we seen a general lowering of moral standards? Do we see an increase in sexually explicit material in films and TV? An increasingly "oh well" attitude toward profanity? An increase in kids cheating in school and feeling bad, that not they've done wrong, but that they've been caught? Check. (You might ask, "What does contraception have to do with profanity and cheating in school?" There are lots of dots to connect between the two, but let's just note for the moment that the pope was right about the result.)

Since 1968, have we seen increased rates in adultery, including an increase in women cheating on men? Check.

Since 1968, have we seen women increasingly made into sex objects? An enormous rise in consumption of pornography? An increased sexualization of women in the media, at increasingly younger ages? (Two years ago MTV cancelled a show detailing the sex lives of teenagers because many complained it amounted to child pornography.) Check.

Since 1968, have we seen Western governments pushing birth control in other countries and even making monetary aid dependent on implementing these "family planning" programs? Have we seen the US government forcing employers to pay for contraceptives, even when it violates their consciences? Check.

In any scientific experiment, you consider your hypothesis proved if the results of your experiment are as you predicted them. So, if Pope Paul was right about the negative consequences that an increased use of artificial birth control would have on society, is it at least within the realm of possibility that he (and the Church's steadfast two millenia tradition) might have been right on the nature of artificial birth control itself? Just maybe?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Who Could Hate a Baby?

The birth of George Alexander Louis Windsor, son of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, heir to the throne of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, has been the cause of much joy and celebration on that ancient isle, and much comment and fascination here in its former colonies. With all the news coverage it has received here in the States, you'd think it was our own future king who'd been born.

There has also been a counter-reaction, though, by some who have no interest in a royal baby and can't see why others would have any. Some seem to be Robespierre reincarnated, using the opportunity to denounce monarchy, even in its current largely de-fanged form. Some seem to be conjuring the spirit of Thomas Jefferson, excoriating their fellow Americans for taking any interest in the happenings of their former colonial masters.

I have no problem with someone being disinterested in this event. I do have a problem when it turns to hatred. It's one thing to say, "Man, who cares about a royal wedding or royal birth? It's got nothing to do with us!" It's another thing to say, "Who cares about the stupid royal baby? The little brat's going to live a spoiled life of privilege off of the backs of normal folks."

Whoa! Hold on! You just made it personal. What did this baby ever do to you? This is a baby we're talking about here. Far from oppressing or denying anyone their rights, this little guy has barely done more than eat, sleep, and spit up in his short life.

How can you look at a baby and be filled with hate? "Oh, it's not the baby I hate; it's all the attention he's getting," you might respond. Then why did you call the baby stupid and a brat? Why spew forth this venom in the baby's direction? Make sure that the guns of your criticism aren't aimed at innocent parties.

Every single human being born into the world is a gift from God. Yes, some babies garner more public attention than others, which is bound to happen, just as you care more about the death of your favorite athlete or actor than the death of the uncle of the guy you lives three houses away from you whose name you can't quite remember but you still wave to him when you're both getting the mail at the same time. This baby boy is a blessing to his family, and to the nation for whom he will be a symbol. If you don't care for the fanfare he gets, then criticize the fanfare; don't hate on the baby.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Scotsman Says It Right

Yesterday Pope Francis named Monsignor Leo Cushley as the archbishop-elect of St. Andrews and Edinburgh in Scotland. I found this interesting because I'm an Anglophile (though I suppose technically that would refer just to England... perhaps I'm also a Scotophile? Is that even a thing? I do have the flag of St. Andrew on my wall, as well as the Scottish royal standard....) but there was a little tidbit from the news article I read which I thought was worth sharing even with those who aren't as interested in the comings and goings in the northernmost reaches of the island of Great Britain.

The archbishop-elect concluded his press release with the following: 
"My first task is to preach the good news, Christ crucified and risen from the dead, to confirm my brother priests in their Catholic faith and ministry, and to be a loving, simple, wise shepherd to the flock that has been entrusted to me."
Wow! I don't think I've ever seen such a pithy and punchy summation of the role of a bishop in the Church. His primary function, his most important role, at the top of his to-do list, is to preach the good news of Christ, who was slain and now lives forever, who has won victory over sin and death, and who offers us eternal life if we believe in him and live in him. Serving as the high priest of the local church over which he is head, he has the responsibility of strengthening those who serve with and under him in the preaching of the good news and the service of the new dispensation, exercising the priesthood of Jesus Christ and bringing the grace of God into people's lives via the proclamation of the Gospel and the celebration of the sacraments. He sees himself first and foremost as shepherd, the servant of the Good Shepherd, informed with charity and wisdom and simplicity of heart, leading his flock to the pastures of paradise. No minor task.

Notice that he did not mention board meetings or capital campaigns among his priorities. These are crucial things, often necessary to the smooth functioning of a large institution such as a diocese, but they are not first things. They are dependent upon the things he did mention. You raise funds to repair a church because that's where the sacraments take place. You have meetings to discuss a new school because that's where the faith is passed on.

First things come first, and they deserve pride of place. I'm glad that the archbishop-elect put them where they ought to be. I hope other bishops do the same.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Sorting Out the Three Cs

There are over half a million words in the English language. Our tongue has a marvelous elasticity, a broad perspicacity, a nearly inexhaustible wellspring of mellifluous, trenchant, and piquant words, providing our speech with crystal clarity and minute precision.

Yet, too often, we make the mistake of using certain words as synonyms which, rather than naming the same thing, actually introduce fine distinctions in a concept. This ain't no help to nobody. To wit...  

Chastity, continence, celibacy. 

These three words are often confused and misused, in secular media, in everyday conversation, and even by priests and theologians. Let's define each so we can use them correctly in the future.

Chastity "means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being." (CCC 2337) In other words, chastity means living out your sexuality in accordance with your state of life (e.g. not having sex if you're not married), and not abusing your sexuality in a way that's incongruous with the nature of the sexual act (e.g. self-gratification, homosexual acts, etc.). People often use "chastity" and "celibacy" interchangeably; all too often you hear someone say that "Priests take a vow of chastity." Because they equate chastity with celibacy, people tend to think that chastity is something only priests and religious are called to, which is not the case: everyone is called to live chastely. Everyone is called to live out their sexuality in accordance with their state in life. Well, what's celibacy, then?

Celibacy is the permanent professed state of refraining from marriage. Priests make a promise, and religious take a vow, to remain celibate for their whole lives, in keeping with their vocation. Celibate does not simply mean "not having sex;" so when the ladies' man character in a movie says, "Man, I've been celibate for weeks, I haven't had any action," or when your friend says, "I haven't had a girlfriend for months, I've been celibate all this time," they're using the term incorrectly, unless they mean that in the brief period in question they had made a permanent commitment to never marry. Which is unlikely, given the context. So, if not celibacy, what's the word we want here?

Continence is refraining from sexual relations. This is what the ladies' man character should use instead of "celibate." Now naturally, since in the Church's understanding of human nature it's inappropriate for those who aren't married to have sex, the state of celibacy requires sexual continence. But sexual continence is required of everybody who isn't married, celibate or dating or single or whatever. So we shouldn't use "celibate" as some shorthand for "continence."

So, let's get some practice here: Monks and nuns take a vow of celibacy, meaning they promise never to be married. In order to live chastely, that is, live according to their state in life, the celibate person practices continence, that is, doesn't have sexual relations. Jack and Jill are planning to get married, so they aren't celibates, but still, until they do get married, chastity requires continence.

I hope this helps!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Praying for the Rich

A few days ago was the feast of St. Henry, a German noble who lived at the turn of the first millenium and who was elected Holy Roman Emperor. He lived a life of personal piety and encouraged holiness and moral virtue within his realm during his life, which is why the Church has recognized him as a saint.

Some of my favorite saints are those who were royalty or nobility: St. Margaret of Scotland, St. Louis of France, St. Wenceslaus, etc. I appreciate their lives because they had an extra degree of difficulty in taking the straight and narrow way. We usually envy the rich and powerful because we think they've got it easy, but we're only thinking in terms of material comforts or leisure. But when it comes to the most important matters, the state of one's soul and one's eternal destiny, all that money and power can be a hindrance.

For any of us, what keeps us from attaining eternal glory is our doing what we want instead of what God wants, or rather, refusing to make what God wants into what we want. And it's a lot easier to do whatever we want when we have the means to do whatever we want. How easy it is to take revenge on my enemies when I'm the sovereign and nobody can arrest me for it. How simple it is to take my neighbor's wife for my own pleasures when my soldiers can kill my neighbor if he objects. As I exercise my power, I begin to think that there is no power above me. "In their insolence the wicked boast, 'God does not care. There is no God.'" (Psalm 10:4) That's why Jesus said that camels get through eyes of needles before rich men enter heaven. (Matthew 19:24)

We should each thank God every day that we are not subject to the same temptations as those who are in such places of privilege. And perhaps worst of all, they must not only battle the desire to exercise their passions when it would be oh-so-easy to do, but they then face the terrible despair of realizing that all the power and pleasure in the world can't fill the God-shaped hole in their hearts. Do you ever wonder why rich countries have higher suicide rates than poor ones?

How many of those who wield power today would we consider candidates for canonization? Power of any sort: political, economic, media.... how many of the well-to-do and influential would we peg as the sort to have a halo 'round their head in pictures? These people need our prayers, not only for their own sake, but because they sit at the fountainhead of the world's affairs and affect all of our lives. We cannot have a just world without just leaders.

I've known many people in the Church who have taken their passion for and love of the poor and turned that against the rich (or even at times the middle class), casting them as irredeemable demons and losing sight of their humanity. But rich people have souls, too. Souls in need of saving.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Origins of the Creed

In the first few centuries after the birth, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, the hot topics of conversation within the Church often centered on these questions: who is Jesus? What is Jesus? How do we make sense of all of the things he said and did? He healed the sick, fed multitudes from a few loaves and fish, even raised the dead, even rose from the dead himself. He was clearly a prophet, perhaps the greatest of prophets, the Messiah who was to come and restore Israel. But he also said certain things, like “I and my Father are one,” and “He who has seen me has seen the Father.” Was… was he claiming to be equal to God somehow, or to be God Himself? How could Jesus be God if there is only one God? Could God become a human being and still be God? And even if Jesus were God, how would we reconcile that with him saying things like, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone,” or with the Gospels saying that Jesus grew in wisdom (does God need to learn anything)? Is Jesus a man? Is he God? Both? Neither? Something else? How do we express his identity?

Many people tried many solutions to the problem, but most of them tended to fall on one side or the other of the “God or man” equation. Docetists said that Jesus was really God, but only appeared to be human (“Docetist” from the Greek dokein meaning “to appear, to seem”); he didn’t really suffer or die, but sort of went through the motions, his human form being a mere suit of clothes or mirage. Adoptionists said that Jesus was really a human being, but was granted special favor by God and elevated or “adopted” at the moment of his baptism in the River Jordan (“This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased”). Different Gnostic groups took some things they read in Neo-Platonic writers and constructed a whole mythos in which human souls were trapped in bodies by an evil creator god (the Demiurge), and Jesus was a spirit who had come to free them by giving them the knowledge that they were imprisoned (“Gnostic” from Greek gnosis meaning “knowledge”).

None of these seemed right. The general sense, gathered from Sacred Scripture, the apostolic tradition of the Church, and the teaching of the bishops around the world, was that Jesus had to be somehow both God and man. But how could that be? Many more made attempts. Some said that God was really one, but appeared in different forms at different times: sometimes as Father, sometimes as Son, sometimes as Spirit. Various ideas had this basic concept, and became known as monarchianism ( Greek mono + arche = “one beginning/origin/power”), or modalism (as in, “God appears in different modes: Father mode, Son mode, Spirit mode”), or patripassianism (Latin “pater” + “passio” = “The Father suffering,” meaning that though it appeared a different person, the Son, was suffering, the Son is just a mode of the Father, so it was really the Father who suffered on the cross). There were others, all falling to the same problem of not respecting both the unity of God and the distinction between the Father and the Son.

Many of these teachers began trying to make use of philosophical terms to help explain themselves, terms like substance, nature, and person. Several challenges stood in the way of this, though. One, the eastern part of the empire was largely Greek-speaking, while the west was Latin-speaking; add to this that the Greek theologians were using more terms than their Latin counterparts, and problems abound. The Latins heard ousia and physis and hypostasis and prosopon and tried to cram them into persona, natura, and substantia. It also didn’t help that the Greeks couldn’t decide what their terms meant—they had a bad habit of using these words without defining them. One person uses physis to mean “nature/essence/what-it-is,” while another uses it to mean “center of subjectivity/who-it-is.” Confusion abounded.

Then, a priest from Rome named Arius began teaching in the Egyptian city of Alexandria that the Son was distinct from the Father, but that he was a creature, the greatest of all creatures and nearly a god himself, but that “there was a time when the Son was not”: he was not eternal; he was not God. But, being that he died for our sins and was glorified by God, he was still worthy of our veneration.

This idea became very popular, especially among certain influential Roman nobles, and the Germanic barbarians living on the borders of the empire. Much of the Church in the Eastern part of the empire took to this new teaching; as St. Jerome wrote, “The world awoke and groaned to find itself Arian.” The western part of the empire still largely held to the traditional view laid out by Tertullian a century before: that Jesus was one person, but a person with two natures, one human and one divine.

Things got bad. Factions sprang up. People were persecuted. Bishops were forced into exile away from their cities.

In 325 AD, the emperor Constantine summoned all the bishops of the world to the resort town of Nicaea and asked them to settle the issue. More than 300 bishops from all over the empire attended, including two legates representing the Pope. This was the first ecumenical (“world-wide”) council in the Church’s history. The bishops discussed, and debated, even fought: St. Nicholas (yes, THAT St. Nicholas) was so furious with Arius that he punched him in the face! The bishops overwhelmingly agreed that Arius was dead wrong. They came up with a summary definition of the Church’s faith in Christ, adding to it at another council held 50 years later in Constantinople. Today we know this definition as the Nicene(-Constantinopolitan) Creed. You say it in Mass every Sunday.

(Tangential epilogue: People sometimes wonder, if the Creed is supposed to be the most basic and fundamental expression of the Christian faith, why is there no mention of the Eucharist, expressing the Church’s belief that it is truly the Body and Blood of Christ? The answer is simple: nobody disputed this point at the time. Creeds and council declarations address the points being controverted at the present time. The Eucharist as the Real Presence of Christ? That was obvious. The nature of Christ himself? That’s the hard stuff.)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Religious but Not Spiritual

Many of us know someone who claims to be "spiritual but not religious." This sort of person can come in a variety of forms. There are the people who acknowledge some sort of vague "higher power"; the people who think there's a little truth in all the world's religious traditions (though, as Chesterton pointed out, they tend to have a little bias and essentially say things like, "Christianity and Buddhism have a lot in common, especially Buddhism"); the people who think it more valuable to commune with the Divine by appreciating the wonder of nature on a Sunday morning bike ride than by sitting in a church with bad 1970s decor and design, listening to bad 1980s church-pop music, hearing a sermon that's nothing more than an inspired reading of Dr. Seuss' "Oh, the Places You Will Go!" (I actually have some slight bit of sympathy for these people); the people who think that churches need to stop blabbing on about all this "sin" business and just focus on, like, the love, man; the people who think that religions are simply man-made institutions constructed and designed to let a privileged few control the lives of the masses.

Broadly, then, we can say that these are people who are willing to admit there's more to reality than what physics can tell us, but going too far beyond that just leads to oppression and one person imposing their opinions on others. Yeah, we know these people. But they're not the focus of my thought today. Rather, I want to talk about their opposite counterparts: the people who are religious but not spiritual.

Now, this may seem an odd category, because I doubt you've ever encountered someone who described themselves as "religious but not spiritual," but they exist. And it's just as much of a problem.

What do I mean by this term? The "religious but not spiritual" person is one who adheres to religious observances but whose inner spiritual life is lacking. It's the person who goes to Mass on Sunday but doesn't talk to God any other day of the week (or perhaps even on Sunday). It's the person who gets all worked up about the liturgy being conducted according to the rubrics, but cares nothing for what the liturgical actions signify or effect. It's the person who says the Rosary but doesn't pray the Rosary. It's the person who likes to receive ashes on their forehead at the beginning of Lent but makes no attempt at penance during those 40 days. They give the external appearance of religiosity but lack the internal spiritual fervor that should animate it.

This applies not only to what we feel, but also to what we think, for our faith includes a worldview, a set of propositions about the nature of reality--a Catholic spirituality is one with substance and content. The "religious but not spiritual" person, then, is also the person who says they are Catholic and marks the seasons of their life by participating in the Church's rites (e.g. has their wedding in the church, has their children baptized, have Catholic funerals for themselves and their loved ones) but disbelieves in or dissents from Church teaching, so that they are Catholic in name only. They marry while accepting divorce or same-sex marriage; they baptize while disbelieving in sin; they hold a funeral without any thought to praying for the dead or hoping in the Resurrection. They give the external appearance of religiosity but lack the internal conviction that should animate it.

My purpose here is not to attack or demonize or denigrate these people, merely to point out their existence--most of all because they may not even realize they themselves fall into this category.

In both of the cases described above, where there is a disparity between spirituality and religiosity, we can see the problem: one seems to lack shape, the other lacking substance. It's like two people trying to drink a cup of water, but one person saying, "I'll just take the cup, thanks," and the other saying, "Just give me the water, I don't need the cup." Neither is going to quench their thirst.

It's not good for us to do one thing and think another. It creates a disconnect. When our thoughts and actions are not integrated, we lack integrity. A house divided against itself cannot stand: sooner or later, it falls apart. It does us little good to go through the motions. I'd invite all of my readers to examine themselves, their actions, their thoughts, their dispositions, their motivations, to see if they sync up. Don't panic if you find a disparity, either momentary or habitual. Pray to God for a more ardent faith, for a faithful heart, for a receptive intellect. Pray to God for wholeness.