Rules, Beliefs and Thinking

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Mr. Twisty-Tie prays

I had one of those conversations the other day that made me scratch my head.

Here is my memory of the exchange. It’s a bit cleaned up to make it easier to read. But I promise, not changed very much. I’ll call the guy Jake.

Jake: I just found out the Catholic Church has finally agreed that gluten free bread is OK for use in the church. Is it really that important we use bread and wine at Communion?

Me: Well, bread and wine is the standard practice going back to Jesus, and I am committed to keeping to the standards as much as possible.

Jake: Isn’t showing the love of Christ and reaching people more important? I mean I knew a priest who did the Communion service for homeless people with Pepsi and pizza. Why doesn’t that work better with those people?

Me: I have no idea the limits of God’s Grace in an emergency situation. If a group is stranded on a desert island and they try to have Communion with water and fish I guess that’s better than letting the Communion service get forgotten. But, unless it’s an extraordinary circumstance I believe we should stay with the traditional bread and wine.

Jake: That doesn’t make sense to me. You should do what connects with people. You shouldn’t just try to force something on people they don’t understand. Homeless people understand Pepsi and pizza.

Me: I think you’re missing the principle that the standard accepted practices for doing things gives people confidence that what they are getting is the real thing, and that it’s not just something made up out of thin air. Most people want some credentials from a plumber or an electrician so that they can be sure that the job will be done safely and to code. For instance, if you were doing the hiring at a hospital, would you hire a nurse who didn’t believe in germ theory?

Jake: Sure I would. I would try to respect the person and his or her beliefs. If the nurse promised to follow all the rules and procedures at the hospital why should I discriminate? That wouldn’t be fair. Anyway, there are a whole lot of priests who don’t believe in the church’s doctrine and they still do the Communion service.

(I really had this conversation.)

Me: So you would hire a nurse who doesn’t believe germs are harmful if the nurse promised to follow the rules for protecting people from germs? On the other hand you would also support a priest for breaking the rules (he promised to follow) by using Pepsi and pizza for Communion. Is that right?

Jake: You’re getting defensive and I don’t have time to debate this with you. I have an appointment. And do you really think people are getting physically healed at those healing services?

Me: Well, there are many opinions about the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church and in healing. That’s a whole different topic.

Jake: You don’t actually believe they get physically healed when they go to those services?

Me: You’re getting snarky. Probably better we end this.

Jake: No, you’re getting very defensive.

Me: Didn’t you say you had to go?

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