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25 January 2017 Changing the Conversation (170509) Celebrating More Than 50 Years (170509) Conscience-Based Moral Judgments (170509) Dignitaries Humanae (170509) False Views on Jesus' Views on Divorce (170509) Mission and Human Rights (170509) Jesus and the Ordination of Women (170516) 29 May 2017 How much of Church Doctrine do we really believe? (170602) Trump Pulls Out of Paris Agreement (170602) 05 June 2017 Thoughts on Religious Vocations: An Open Letter to Pope Francis (170605) I can't get the institutional church out of my system (170618) 25 June 2017 Just War? Enough Already (170703) What would Teilhard say? Evolve or be annihilated (170710) Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (170719) Religion's Wax Nose (170726) American Civil Religion (170731) A Heresy of the Times (170807) Cardinal Calls for Global Church (170818) The Price of Being a Prophet (170821) The Implosion of the Roman Catholic Church (170902) Reflection on Racism in America (170913) Who am I? Where am I going? (170918) One Priest's Hopes for the Mass Translation (170925) The Edge of the Inside (171002) Selective Christianity (171016) Theology at the Cutting Edge: Healing the Political and Social Divide in America (171016) Resisting Islamophobia Is The Catholic Thing To Do. (171023) It Started With a Letter to the Archbishop (171030) Why Do We Still Tolerate Mass Stipends? (171106) Their Cross to Bear: Catholic Women Told to Forgive (171113) Papal loyalists become dissidents (171120) Echoes of Theocracy (171127) Will Pope Francis Remove the 'Warning'? (171204) Gumbleton on Nuclear Deterrence (171211) The Scandal of the 2011 Missal (171218)
ARCC News 2018
Prophets of a Future Not Our Own (20180101) 2018: Time to Become Ultra-Human? (20180118) Time for a Bonfire of Their Vanities? (20180122) Until All Are Welcome My House, My Rules: 3 Women "Rejected" (20180208) Policing the Communion Line (20180205) A Time to Judge (20180212) Mary McAleese Being Banned is Embarrassing (20180219) Correct, Don't Complicate Excommunication (20180226) Catholic Tradition, Labour, and Organizing Workers (20180305) Misogyny in the Vatican (20180312) The Unofficial Saint of the Internet (20180318) Francis Invites Change, But We Are the Change (20180325) Rediscovering the Role of Mary Magdalene as Apostle of the Apostles (20180401) Synodality and its Perils (20180409) Get rid of the clergy - But keep Holy Orders (20180415) Renewing the Program of Priestly Formation (20180429) Male and Female, in the image and likeness of God (20180506) Wedding Bans: Why Do Parishes Turn Young Couples Away? (20180513) Christian Humanism, the Path to the Divine (20180520) Mary - Prophet and Priest (20180527) A Wake-Up Call to Liberal Theologians (20160603) Canonization is right for Oscar Romero (20180610) Could the Church take a risk? (20180618) AJC expresses "Profound Concern" over beatification (20180624) The Bible's #MeToo Problem (20180701) 'Humanae Vitae' and the census fidelium (20180715) The Catholic Church wasn't always so against contraception (20180722) 50 years later, scientist's findings on birth control... (20180729) #MeToo, Your Excellency The Catholic Church needs a way to deal with bad bishops (20180812) The Catholic Church is tempted by power and obsessed with sex (20180819) Real change against abuse... (20180826) Pope Francis is facing a crisis of justice (20180829) Catholics Are Facing a Very Real Emergency (20180902) Truth and its violent consequences (20180909) The Third Millennial Catholic Reformation (20180917) Reality in an Historical-Critical Perspective (20180923) Both Prudential & Indisputable (20180930) Catholic Crossroads and Catholic Conflict (20181007) Schism or Evolution? (20181015) Theology: Stones or Bread? (20181028) White Christian America (20181102) Stone Throwing. Or Not. (20181104) Young People, Hope for the Church(es) (20181112) Who Represents the Laity? (20181118) Open Letter to the US Catholic Bishops: It's Over (20181125) From Collegiality to Synodality (20181203) The Birth of the Messiah (20181217) A Non-traditional Blessing for 2019 (20181231)
ARCC News 2019
Epiphany 2019 (20190107) Celibacy isn't the cause of the church sex-abuse crisis; the priesthood is (20190114) How to save Western civilization - again (20190121) Catholic curricula and the invisibility of Native Americans (20190128) Ministry and Power (20190204) A Document on Human Fraternity Our History The Reflection on the Wrath of God (20190224) Read Just One Speech (20190304) Why the Priesthood Needs Women (20190311) "Honest Rituals" argues for sacrament update (20190325) Stop Calling Me "Father" (20190401) The Sexual Abuse Crisis is not a Crisis (20190408) Palm Sunday 2019 (20190414) What Women Want (20190428) Targeting Pope Francis (20190513) Power Sharing Seen As Essential... (20190520) Pde Francis Dithering... (20190527) When the Sky Didn't Fall... (20190603) The Ancient Diaconate of Women (20190609) Bishop Bransfield and the Misuse of Funds (20190616) When it comes to Church reform... (20190624) We asked Catholic Church women if they... (20190630) Women in Christianity - Free to share their wounds (20190707) Can laypeople lead a parish? (20190714) Civility (2190721) Mary the Magdalen (20190729) Faithful America (20190804) Sacralizing Politics (20190811) Tackle Clericalism First (20190818) Failure Guaranteed (20190826) Divorce, Annulment & Communion (20190901) Human Nature & Human Sexuality (20190909) Climate Change Most Important Life Issue (20190915) Being An Open-Minded Believer (20190923) The Laity Hold the Key (20190929) Be Prophetic (20191013) Are You Satisfied With Priestly Ministry? (20191020) Racism - A Challenge to the Church (20191101) Irish Priests Call for... (20191104) McAleese Calls on Pope... (20191111) Top 5 Takeaways from the Amazon Synod (20191111) Thomas Doyle traces the disintegration... (20191202) We've been bishops in 3 Death Penalty states... (20191209) Spirituality (20191223)
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The Price of Being a Prophet (170821)

The Price of Being a Prophet


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Price of being a prophet

John A. Dick, Ph.D., S.T.D
In every age, religious people and religious institutions need prophets. A prophet is not primarily someone who predicts what will happen tomorrow, but a courageous observer who says what's going wrong today. 
In our contemporary world, we certainly need our prophets: in traditional religion and in the American civil religion I touched on last week....
The prophet observes (phase one) what is really going on in society, with a kind of clear and objective vision: avoiding the fantasies and falsifications of narrow-vision special interest people and groups: even if they have high positions in the cathedral across town or the presidential house on Pennsylvania Avenue.
In phase two, the prophet moves into critical thinking: asking whether or not religious believers and spokespersons are truly living according to the faith experience that should be the source and sustainer of the particular religious tradition. A big caveat here of course is that it is much easier to critique someone else's religious behavior than one's own. I can, for instance, easily critique the immoral behavior of Islamic terrorists and clearly point out how they are behaving contrary to what is taught in the Quran. 
Phase two requires clear thinking based on correct information. It doesn't happen over night and certainly not in a fit of emotional frenzy or frustration (like the actions of the peeved gun-owner, who takes the law into his or her own hands and shoots to kill).
The problem with phase two is that one can become highly skilled at passing judgment without ever accomplishing anything. It is so easy to be a critic and to get abundant "likes" on Facebook, or to chuckle and applaud the latest Borowitz Report. But then?
Phase three takes conviction and stamina, what we call real guts. Without phase three however our talk (to paraphrase William Shakespeare) can easily become a lot of sound and furry but signify nothing.
In phase three, people take action. In many ways people today need to take action.
When Christian religious leaders, for instance, create qualitative classes of people, they are acting on their own narrow prejudices not the Gospel of Christ. The Roman Catholic bishop of Springfield, Illinois has instructed priests in his diocese to deny communion, the last rites, and funerals to people in same-sex marriages; nor can they be buried in a Catholic cemetery. If one is going the make qualitative classes of Catholics and sanction them, even after death, I would ask the bishop what about all those "good Catholics" who are wife-beaters, child-molesters, cruel employers, political monsters, and financial crooks? What about ecclesiastical bureaucrats who bamboozle people with pious nonsense?
I don't care to get into a political debate right now, but one can ask how genuinely American a political leader is who rejects the U.S. foundational teachings of the Declaration of Independence that all people are created equal. I question as well the Christianity of a political leader who promotes and wallows in narcissism, greed, pride, wrath, and lust as though they were the primary Christian virtues.
Healthy Christianity promotes and strengthens a basic sense of inter-personal relatedness, trust, and responsibility. Healthy Christianity promotes and honors human dignity. It empowers people without overpowering them. It promotes charity - not fear - as the key Christian virtue. All actions that denigrate people because of their religious, ethnic or racial origins, gender, and sexual orientation are not just humanly demeaning. They are contrary to the Gospel of Christ.
Observe, judge, and ACT: these are the keys to effective prophetic behavior. Can we not become more prophetic religious people? How can we encourage people to move from critical speaking to effective and constructive action? Can we not turn our churches into prophetic training centers? Who are today's prophets? How can we promote and sustain them? As we read in Corinthians (1 Cor. 14:29) "Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said."
....And a very final thought. This from Carl Sagan's book The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark:
"One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we've been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We're no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It's simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we've been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back."
Jack Dick is Vice-President of ARCC.

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