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Seven77

"To Light a Fire on the Earth" by Bishop Barron

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Seven77

I started reading "To Light a Fire on the Earth," by Bishop Barron. 

The book is a collaboration—the Catholic journalist, John Allen Jr. writes about the Bishop’s ideas and strategies on evangelization in a highly secularized society, based on an interview he did with him. It starts off with background on his life and formation, as well as the context for his way of thinking. There are paragraph length quotes from the Bishop throughout the book. He gets a lot of inspiration from St. Thomas Aquinas, baseball, and Bob Dylan. Right now, I'm like 1/4 into the book. I'm on the chapter on beauty, which is one of the three transcendentals (beauty, goodness, and truth). The idea is to begin with beauty— beauty attracts everyone, it draws you in, convinces you in a way that argumentation can’t. Most people are not won over by what they perceive as boring, dry “rules” on morality, etc. because they don't understand that. But if you show them something beautiful about Catholicism, they will begin to understand why you are Catholic and will begin to appreciate the "rules.” You can't appreciate the rules of the game unless you understand and love the beauty of the game itself. So, just seeing a beautiful Cathedral like Notre Dame for example, draws people in to want to know why it was built and what inspired it. Then they will eventually come to appreciate Church teaching. That is the basic idea, the approach of winning people, like the “nones,” over to the Truth. In other words, as Bishop Barron puts it, it is the "show me, don't tell me” approach. 

It's pretty amesome stuff so far. 

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A Yearning Heart

I like that idea of showing beauty first.  The 'Show me, don't tell me' approach is definitely needed. 

Many are put off Catholicism by some Catholics (in terms of what they do/say, so Catholicism can't be true as Catholics don't practice what they preach). Others are also put off by rules that seem impossible for them to live out (so Catholicism can't be true as it's not really liveable).

How was the rest of the book? 

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dUSt

This is on my wishlist.

But, I must say, if you use this approach say, in a Protestant church, "beauty" is subjective. For example, my friend goes to a church where their idea of beauty is to mimic art in modern secular culture. So, play music that sounds like the top hits of today, or decorate their worship space with graffiti, etc.

The idea is the same. Draw people in using that--and then teach them "rules".

It's an interesting discussion!

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Era Might

Looking at this from an outsider perspective, I think the real problem people have today is not beauty but reality. Institutions have changed (and broken down) and the church still reflects the institutions of another age. Monarchy, aristocracy, councils, etc. And obviously, social institutions like marriage and parishes. The idea of a "universal institution" is, I don't think, essential to the church's message, but that is kind of what Catholicism has become. Not a "universal church" (a different idea) but a universal institution. Another way to put it is, if you set out to create an ideal world based around Catholic philosophy, how much would it resemble today's world? Catholicism is completely antithetical to modernity...and that's not necessarily a bad thing, not in all aspects at least, but it makes it near-impossible to speak to people in real terms. What relation does the church have to real life? That, I think, is what needs to be addressed. But, I think one of the lessons of history is that the church is doomed when it tries to be part of reality. The church took part in the great discovery of the Americas and the outburst of global activity from about the 15th to 18th centuries. In that world, there was a place for all types: friars, nuns, conquistadors, kings, noblemen, merchants, landowners. The church has no such connection to social reality anymore, largely because all those people outgrew the church. What you're talking about is somewhat similar to the "aesthetic Catholicism" of the 19th century, people like John Cardinal Henry Newman and Gerard Manley Hopkins. The reach of that is very limited, I think...and the church had something of a renaissance in the 1900s because it was the church of the working class and immigrant, it was part of the real ethnic lives of immigrants, especially in the US. But immigrants in the US have become largely assimilated, so the church has lost *that* connection to reality. Today, I think the church is appealing to some young people because it gives them a sense of meaning and history and stability in a world that has completely fragmented.  But, in escaping to Catholicism, I don't know that it does the church any good, because then it creates another closed-in community of its own. Unless the church grapples with its relationship to the real world, all its beauty is just another part of a globalized humanity...people respect it the way they respect the temples of India or the Great Wall of China, things that are completely alien to them and therefore interesting. But in terms of convincing people of Truth in a real transcendent way, I don't know that beauty is going to accomplish that.

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A Yearning Heart

Given the diversity that exists within humanity, there must be a diversity of ways that would make Catholicism appealing, with beauty only being one.  For many, there would even be a disbelief or incredulity about the link between beauty and God. 

I guess it all depends on where we're at and what our circumstances are today. I know I'm very different to what I was 10 years ago, and different things in Catholicism appeal to me today that didn't back then. 

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Seven77

 

On 12/25/2017 at 10:46 PM, A Yearning Heart said:

I like that idea of showing beauty first.  The 'Show me, don't tell me' approach is definitely needed. 

Many are put off Catholicism by some Catholics (in terms of what they do/say, so Catholicism can't be true as Catholics don't practice what they preach). Others are also put off by rules that seem impossible for them to live out (so Catholicism can't be true as it's not really liveable).

How was the rest of the book? 

 

 The book is one that everyone should read. Even though it's pretty thick it's compelling enough to want to finish… I think I took like two weeks to get through.

On 12/27/2017 at 1:58 PM, Era Might said:

[...] Unless the church grapples with its relationship to the real world, all its beauty is just another part of a globalized humanity...people respect it the way they respect the temples of India or the Great Wall of China, things that are completely alien to them and therefore interesting. But in terms of convincing people of Truth in a real transcendent way, I don't know that beauty is going to accomplish that.

 

I didn't really give justice to the book earlier because I was still making my way through it. So It builds from a chapter on beauty to discuss the other two transcendentals, goodness and truth. And it's beginning in these two chapters that the Bishop gets into the practical aspects of sharing Catholicism…

Goodness… Goodness is attractive. The lives of the Saints are very much included in that whole "show me" approach. What does a genuine Christian life look like? Radical love, a witness of a person living it out, is a wonderfully effective evangelistic transmitter… Just look at St. Therese, St.  Mother Teresa, the martyrs, etc. The teachings of the Church become concrete when they are lived out, made visible.

 As St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians, without love I am nothing.

And then, there's Truth.  People want intelligent and thoughtful presentations of faith. They are capable of much more, of well thought out approaches… this is why scientism is so attractive to so many young people today.

So, it's not just about beauty… You are absolutely correct @Era Might. I would really like To know your thoughts on this, I encourage you to read this book.

On 12/26/2017 at 1:23 PM, dUSt said:

[...]  For example, my friend goes to a church where their idea of beauty is to mimic art in modern secular culture. So, play music that sounds like the top hits of today, or decorate their worship space with graffiti, etc.

The idea is the same. Draw people in using that--and then teach them "rules".

It's an interesting discussion!

 

 Truth comes in here… People want substance, to be lifted up in ways that our modern everyday culture can't hope to do. Draw people in using a combination of truth, beauty, and goodness… That's what Bishop Barron is advocating…

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Era Might
15 hours ago, Seven77 said:

 

 The book is one that everyone should read. Even though it's pretty thick it's compelling enough to want to finish… I think I took like two weeks to get through.

I didn't really give justice to the book earlier because I was still making my way through it. So It builds from a chapter on beauty to discuss the other two transcendentals, goodness and truth. And it's beginning in these two chapters that the Bishop gets into the practical aspects of sharing Catholicism…

Goodness… Goodness is attractive. The lives of the Saints are very much included in that whole "show me" approach. What does a genuine Christian life look like? Radical love, a witness of a person living it out, is a wonderfully effective evangelistic transmitter… Just look at St. Therese, St.  Mother Teresa, the martyrs, etc. The teachings of the Church become concrete when they are lived out, made visible.

 As St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians, without love I am nothing.

And then, there's Truth.  People want intelligent and thoughtful presentations of faith. They are capable of much more, of well thought out approaches… this is why scientism is so attractive to so many young people today.

So, it's not just about beauty… You are absolutely correct @Era Might. I would really like To know your thoughts on this, I encourage you to read this book.

 Truth comes in here… People want substance, to be lifted up in ways that our modern everyday culture can't hope to do. Draw people in using a combination of truth, beauty, and goodness… That's what Bishop Barron is advocating…

I'll see if they have it at the library. I like Bishop Barron's YouTube videos. I'm reading a biography of Walker Percy and one of the things that finally spurred his entrance into the church was Kierkegaard's idea of 3 stages of life, the aesthetic, the ethical, and finally the religious...in other words, moving from experiencing the world to taking on life with definite obligations and principles, and finally moving into the transcendent, the religious or spiritual. Percy's conversion was sort of a modern Pascal's wager, but he disn't like Pascal's assumption that faith was a foolish leap...Percy saw it as an outgrowth of reason. Maybe Barron's ideas borrow from Kierkegaard. For me it's too schematic, I think the Gospel starts from stories rather than any idea, even the idea of God is secondary to our lives, because we only know God within each of our stories. That's why I think that the lives of the saints are the genius of Catholicism, because they reveal what it's all about, and unlike ideas, lives are messy and they all end at Calvary, so history is our attempt to recover and retell our stories, and Christian history is just the same, but with every story revolving around the Life of Christ, our common story.

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Tab'le De'Bah-Rye

I think television and screens have dumbed the world down as we truly began to advance with reading and writing skills in that more new how to read and write, plus more advancing to higher education. I think The world would be unbelievable if these where given the flick or at least used less often, fantasy is the global drug of choice and any addiction has effects on the mind. I take the saint Alfonso's ligori stance due to the dumbing down of people, they only remember there career knowledge perfectly, and his stance is to not overburden the simple folk with doctrine because they don't get it and it ties them in Knots which increases there sinfulness, the basics are enough for them at least at first till there assured through virtue attained and sin forgotten to attempt anything complex. The doctrine of the holy catholic church may not be a simple matter but love is. By no means am I belittling the churches doctrine its just many now can only digest spiritual milk which is enough to save them at least until there able to digest solids, if ever. And I think beauty will always be attractive, saint Francis states that god created beauty for us to admire it, and when we admire someone or something we desire to be around them or it, the question is then what is truly beautiful in a world that is entertained by the 6 o'clock news and the least suffisticated characters in movies and television shows.

TAB

But also on the side if the evangelical catholic at the end of the day don't focus on the fruit but the seeds that have been sewn.  God loves the trier and if we a proven faithful in little matters we may be granted bigger ones.

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