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Loin Girders

A passionate orthodox Christian man's occasional blog to support those who stand firm. Gird your loins, noble warriors for Christ.

Monday, August 25, 2014

I'm Catholic.

In a recent Facebook message, I realized that it was past time that I come clean to whoever reads this that I reverted to Catholicism in January of this year. It was a long time coming. Married to a United Methodist pastor for 45 years, having attended weekly services and Adult Sunday school the whole time, having taught Disciple Bible Study I, II and III, having Walked to Emmaus, and putting in eight years as a Kairos volunteer has not been an obstacle to my gradual slide back to the religion of my roots. There, I've said it.

What brought me back? Well, it was a lot of things. First, I was repulsed by the United Methodist church's continual compromise with the culture. I've been a supporter of Mark Tooley's Institute of Religion and Democracy for many years. Go here for more. I tried to color inside the lines and stay in the Methodist church, even though my wife frequently remarked that I was "still" Roman Catholic, after all these years. So, I decided to read the official Catechism of the Catholic Church about two years ago. At that time I also began attending the Denver Chesterton Society, where I rubbed intellectual elbows with a bunch of Catholics. Chesterton was a hoot. I dragged my wife to the dedication of the Chesterton Reading Room at St. John Vianney Seminary at JP II center where we listened to Dale Ahlquist, the founder of the American Chesterton Society hold forth and were treated to a theatrical appearance of "himself" in the person of an actor in Ahlquist's entourage.

My wife is not amused by Catholicism. She is a life-long Methodist, a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution with deep, did I say deep, roots in Methodist churches founded by her ancestors across the country. She grew up in the house next to the Methodist church in Windsor, Colorado. Her Methodism is solid, yet troubled. A political conservative, raised by rural, agricultural, Republican parents in Weld County, Colorado. Her growing up church was often influenced by clergy from Iliff, the Colorado Methodist seminary that no longer uses the name of Christ on its billboards in Denver. Glenda Gay and I lived in Chevy Chase, Maryland (just outside the District of Columbia) when she felt called to seminary.  A great student, she loved seminary, graduating Summa Cum Laude with her M.Div. class from Wesley Seminary in DC.

Today, I attend mass daily, work in a rosary each day, use the sign of the cross when praying and wear a 2 inch pectoral cross on my chest that my brother bought for me in the Four Corners area. It is decidedly Navajo in form and style. I'm not. I'm the Irish Catholic Urban Democrat I was raised to be, no longer Democrat, but Conservative. God, help me with the transition. Before my reversion I felt like a Catholic in a Protestant life. Now I feel like a Protestant in a peripheral Catholic life.



Friday, April 04, 2014

What does retirement mean to me in 2014?

Our conversation this week in Fellowship of the King, a group of six men that meet weekly from 6::30 AM for an hour, was "retirement" and ministry. We've been reading Larry Crabbe's Men of Courage. Good food for thought in chapters which contrast "recipe" discipleship to "transformational" change. We have noticed that our lives seem to shorten the older we get, just because they do. I will be 70 this summer and expect to be nearing, if not in, the last decade of my life. Should be a lively time, with all the changes going on in the world. Like many, I expect to be persecuted for my orthodox faith. Don't you? But what shall we do this side of the veil?

The question becomes, how will I (you?) spend the next ten years? It's the bell lap. Will we run the race set out for us or will we "crowd please" or, worse, keep our head down as the tsunami of change hits our lives. I believe this to be a Gethsemane moment for all of us who love the Lord and are called to His purpose. We may truly get an opportunity to take up our cross and follow Him, unless we decide to run or hide. We will be given the choice, and we should know by now that  He only expects us to be perfect, and that means putting on Christ and dying to self. Nothing else will work.

I've been doing prison ministry for the last decade and love it. I've been doing men for the last fifteen years and love that work, too. On March 31 I terminated our company's registration as an investment adviser and for the first time since the office was closed in September, 2012, I feel I can plan the next decade afresh. Clean slate.

Retirement, for me, will be to enter fully into Kairos, "God's time". I will recruit other volunteers to serve in Colorado prisons and work with men to coax them away from the sloth that deprives them of their spiritual heritage in Christ. My mission field is multi-denominational, because the church is splintered. May God give me the discernment to find and do His will every day wherever I find myself. May it please God to keep me in His grip, for without Him I can do nothing.

 

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

God is Love, but what kind?


The church is battling the social issue of sex outside of marriage by emphasizing homosexuality, out of wedlock and same-sex relationships. Fierce references in scriptural interpretation are splitting the Methodists, the Presbyterians, the Lutherans, the Anglicans and the Roman Catholics into those for and against homosexual and heterosexual sex outside of marriage.

In my view, this issue, on its face, is not only salacious but unnecessarily divisive. It is a distraction. The real focus of Christian living should be on love, not sex. Biblical language clearly supports monogamous sex within marriage which emphasizes family and reproduction.  The problem is how we define “love”. The tangling issue to the churches and our denominations is the notion that sex IS “love”.  Is it? If God is love, is sex the love that God is?

I say “no”. That is mixing two kinds of love, eros and agape, in Greek terms.  On the level of agape, there is no divisive issue. We are commanded 1.) to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and 2.) to love our neighbor as ourselves. That’s it. According to Jesus, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” The focus on sex is misplaced. It is a diversion. Let’s just drop it. Those of us who struggle with sin, and that’s all of us, will continue our struggles. That includes our sexual struggles. But Christ’s love can progress unabated.

So, how to proceed? I believe we turn away from eros to agape, starting agape love labs to extend Christ’s love and care fully. If we do so, we may just become a nation of sheep, but in the good way that Jesus foresaw in Matthew 25: 31 – 46. Here, Jesus tells the story of the sheep and goats to illustrate the concept of final judgement. The sheep will inherit eternal life, the goats are destined for eternal punishment.  What separates these two groups is their expression of agape love to those who are in need of it.  Each agape expression is to a different group.  Did they welcome strangers, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit those sick and in prison? If they did, they did this to Our Lord, and they get their eternal reward.

The directions are clear. The shepherd is leading us. Following Him is about loving God and loving each other. The benefit is eternal life.


Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Should even seminarians be prison visitors?

Pope Francis gave a wonderful homily today in Rome which got me interested again in why we don't have more seminarians as volunteers in Kairos of Colorado programs. An ecumenical crew of volunteers (Baptist, Episcopalian/Anglican, Lutheran, Non-denominational, Presbyterian) are manning and womanning (sic) Kairos programs in Colorado presently, but I'd like to especially invite Roman Catholic seminarians (and Protestant ones, too) who are moved by Pope Francis' homily to volunteer in Colorado prisons.

Read a good summary of the complete homily here. Then view a four minute video on what being a volunteer is like. Want to visit with us first? Get a copy of the Department of Corrections guidelines to be a visitor by sending an email to kevinpaulcondon@yahoo.com . If you like that minimal commitment way to begin, just provide a copy of your driver's license and contact information to any Kairos volunteer and we'll get you approved. It takes about a month.

Pope Francis speaks of the importance of hands-on ministry, which he puts in the context of the "wounds of Christ" from the story of St. Thomas in Acts. Anything that keeps you from direct ministry to the lost and the least is keeping you from coming closer to Him. Don't draw back.

Kevin Condon
Kairos Volunteer
303-906-4532 cell

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

South Asian Christianity

Although I have read Bede Griffiths on the work of the apostle Thomas in India in establishing ashrams for Christ in the first century church, I had no idea of the current cultural expression of Christianity among Indian citizens. Recently I visited with two Christian clergymen from India. Rev. V. S. Paul Pragasam visiting from Chennai, India and Fr. David Kennedy, also an Indian Christian of the same non-caste, working among the Denver Asian community. Their anglicized given names are indicative of their status in Indian culture, according to Rev. Paul. As "untouchables", they were prohibited from studying the Vedas, sanskrit, dance, music or anything else in India. They, and the people of their flocks, are considered non-people by Hindus. So, when Christianity came to Indian untouchables, non-caste Indians adopted the culture of the missionaries and became de facto "Westerners", taking the names of western Christian saints, studying Western music and culture which was not prohibited to them.

According to my visitors, their ministry is oriented to peace making and evangelism. The peace making is a logical extension of the cultural clash with Hindus and Muslims and Buddhists in south India. The success of their Christian evangelism has put them at cultural odds with the four recognized caste members of South India. The clash has required them to adjust the presentation of the gospel to emphasize dialogue and openness to all castes, from their side. Whereas the European missionary approach to them was a westernized cultural conversion centered on Christ, their approach is now to harmonize with the essential elements of the dominant traditions around them in order to present the gospel as an extension of the "good" in the other faiths, but also the culmination of God's work in Jesus Christ.

In  later interview of Rev. Pragsam, he identified the need for the worldwide church to realize the extent that it is committed to materialism. Jesus did not start a movement and ask people to join it. He asked them to deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him. Nothing less. We organize ourselves around works. He didn't ask us to do that. His message was that we should follow Him. He asked the apostles in the great commission in Matthew, to make disciples, baptize them and teach them to follow His commandments. This is a message that we should readily receive in Denver. We can't imagine the poverty among our Christian brothers and sisters there. The average untouchable person in South India
lives on 38 rupees per day. That's 64 cents. They are persecuted and killed for their faith, as in the Middle East.

The Indian government does not allow donations to enter India earmarked for religious groups, in an attempt to subdue evangelism there. Rev. Pragsam aims his ministry at the rural youth of South India. Although adults in the cities are often technically savvy, rural youth in India have probably never even touched a computer. So, Rev. Pragsam is seeking ministry support of a like kind variety. I was very moved by his presentation and intend to discover ways to help him. Please contact me if you would like to help, too.

May God continue to richly bless the ministry of both Rev. Pragsam and Kennedy. Reverend Kennedy has applied to become a Kairos volunteer with the Colorado Department of Corrections and I look forward to working with him. Rev. Pragsam has returned to India, but I look forward to helping him with his ministry, also. Pray for the church in India.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Courageous Christian Nursing Values

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Flight - Movie Review of The Way, the Truth and the Life

Last night we rented Robert Zemeckis' film Flight, a peerless character study of an alcoholic airline pilot which featured a dazzling performance by  Denzel Washington. The reviews and reviewers are split. Those who wanted an action movie and special effects got more than they bargained for. :

Here's a good, brief review: 

A knockout that soars. An absolutely riveting and unforgettable masterpiece. Director, Robert Zemeckis crafts one of his most nuanced and extremely capable films ever, its certainly one his finest films as a director. A bold, strong and very powerful movie that has a deep and emotional story along with incredible character development. Especially on Washington's character, it shows his struggle to contain his addiction and what is left of his damaged soul. Denzel Washington gives of of his best performances ever, it surely one for the books and that will be talked about for years. A commanding and brilliant performance. Kelly Reilly is excellent. John Goodman is terrific. Bruce Greenwood and Don Cheadle are fantastic. A nail-biting and powerful thriller that will keep you in the edge of your seat. It delivers big with suspense, a great soundtrack and deeply compelling human drama. An amazing movie. A spectacular and tremendously entertaining film.

God has favored me with a ministry to men, discussed elsewhere on this blog. This film brings a lot of things together for me: alcoholism, evil, pride, a culture of lies, and the moment of truth that brings the Way, the Truth and the Life together to save a soul. I've heard this story so often, yet it is always inspiring. As Denzel Washington's character approaches the "moment of truth", I almost whispered to my wife "Here comes the truth".