The late Dave Brubeck was not only a jazz icon. He was also a convert to Catholicism.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him… 

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Former Protestant minister explains why he quit – to become Catholic

Historically speaking, the idea that the written Word of God is formally sufficient for all things related to faith and practice, such that anyone of normal intelligence and reasonably good intentions could read it and deduce from it what is necessary for orthodoxy and orthopraxy, is not a position that I see reflected in the writings of the early Church fathers. While there are plenty of statements in their writings that speak in glowing terms about the qualitative uniqueness of Scripture, those statements, for them, do not do away with the need for Scripture to be interpreted by the Church in a binding and authoritative way when necessary.

This discovery in the church fathers is unsurprising if the same position can be found in the New Testament itself, which I now believe it can. To cite but one example, the Church in her earliest days was confronted with a question that Jesus had not addressed with any specificity or directness, namely, the question of Gentile inclusion in the family of God. In order to answer this question, the apostles and elders of the Church gathered together in council to hear all sides and reach a verdict. What is especially interesting about Luke’s account of the Jerusalem Council is the role that Scripture played, as well as the nature of the verdict rendered.

Concerning the former, James’s citation of Amos is curious in that the passage in the prophet seems to have little to do with the matter at hand, and yet James cites Amos’s words about the tent of David being rebuilt to demonstrate that full Gentile membership in the Church fulfills that prophecy. Moreover, Scripture functioned for the Bishop of Jerusalem not as the judge that settled the dispute, but rather as a witness that testified to what settled it, namely, the judgment of the apostles and elders.

Rather than saying, “We agree with Scripture,” he says in effect, “Scripture agrees with us” (v. 15, 19). And finally, when the decision is ultimately reached, it is understood by the apostles and elders not as an optional and fallible position with which the faithful may safely disagree if they remain biblically unconvinced, but rather as an authoritative and binding pronouncement that was bound in heaven even as it was on earth (v. 28).

Despite some superficial similarities, no existing Protestant denomination with an operating norm of Sola Scriptura can replicate the dynamic, or claim the authority of the Jerusalem Council (or of Nicaea, Constantinople, and Chalcedon for that matter).

The fact that the Bible’s own example of how Church courts operate was hamstrung by Protestantism’s view of biblical authority was something I began to find disturbingly ironic.

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5 year-old asks best-selling writer/agnostic/mom to take him to church, “To see if God’s there.”

Mary Karr was known mainly as a poet until her coming-of-age memoir, “The Liars’ Club,” became a bestseller in the 1990s. It was the vivid story of a sometimes hilarious but often brutal Texas childhood.

Karr grew up amid the hardscrabble oil fields of East Texas. Her father drank himself to death. Her mother was married seven times.

The road to faith was a long, hard climb for someone who once described herself as an “undiluted agnostic.” By her mid-thirties Karr’s life had begun to unravel. Her marriage was failing. She drank heavily, wrecked the family car, was hospitalized for an emotional breakdown. In desperation, she took a friend’s advice and reluctantly began to pray.

Karr says she still equated most organized religions with something people just did socially. Then one day she passed a Catholic church in Syracuse, New York, where she was teaching. She was struck by a banner out front. It said, “Sinners Welcome.”

I thought I had a better shot at becoming a pole dancer at 40, right, than of making it in the Catholic Church, and I think what struck me really wasn’t the grandeur of the Mass. It was the simple faith of the people. For me this whole journey was a journey into awe. I would just get these moments of quiet where there wasn’t anything. My head would just shut up, and I knew that was a good thing. And also the carnality of the church: there was a body on the cross.”

Read and/or watch the interview

Extended interview on prayer/piety/rationalism

Abby Johnson: New memoir explaining why she left abortion industry and why she’s becoming Catholic.

College Station, Texas, Jan 13, 2011 / 06:05 am (CNA).- Despite legal challenges and personal attacks from Planned Parenthood, Abby Johnson has published a new memoir explaining why she left the abortion industry to join the ranks of the pro-life movement. Going even further, she’s also rejected contraception, and decided to enter the Catholic Church.

Johnson’s new book, “UnPlanned,” hit stores on Jan. 11, 2011, one day after the Texas-based activist addressed more than 20,000 listeners in an online broadcast. The Catholic publisher Ignatius Press has released a special edition of the book, with extra material including a foreword by Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests For Life.

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U.K. Catholic convert: The Catholic Church is a “bulwark” in the defense of Christian civilization against secularism.

London, England, Sep 15, 2010 / 08:19 am (CNA).- Belfast-born author and journalist Leo McKinstry has said an anti-Catholic mood before the papal visit to the U.K. is comparable to the sectarianism of Northern Ireland. He blamed the antagonism upon the “politically correct spirit of our age” which emphasizes moral relativism and self-gratification.

McKinstry, a conservative who has written several books, announced his own impending conversion to Catholicism in The Daily Mail on Tuesday. He told how he had a sudden insight into religion in a Venetian chapel when he realized that the “poetry and symbolism” of Catholic ritual are metaphorical devices to evoke a spiritual reaction.

His conversion might seem “extraordinary” because he was raised as a Protestant in Ulster. However, his conversion also runs counter to the “aggressively secular, anti-Christian” nature of modern Britain where the Catholic Church is believed to be “outmoded, reactionary, irrelevant and superstitious.”

“This anti-Catholic mood has been at its most palpable in the run-up to Pope Benedict’s state visit this week, much of it led by militant atheists who, in the name of tolerance, have become utterly intolerant of manifestations of traditional Christian faith,” McKinstry wrote.

He added that he sees a similarity between Northern Ireland sectarianism and anti-papal feeling in Britain today. The Protestant minister Rev. Ian Paisley’s announcement of a demonstration against Pope Benedict’s visit to Glasgow is an action “no different from the noisy army of frenzied secularists,” McKinstry remarked.

Atheist polemicist Richard Dawkins has described the Pope as “a leering old villain in a frock,” while the author Claire Rayner has declared she has never felt “such animus against any individual as I do against this creature.”

“His views are so disgusting, so repellent and so hugely damaging to the rest of us that the only thing to do is to get rid of him,” Rayner has commented.

In McKinstry’s view, these opinions are “alarming but hardly surprising” in a society where Catholicism is “marginalized and despised.”

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One of the neatest things about being Catholic

One of the neatest things about being Catholic is that I can go to Mass anywhere in the world and feel comfortable. I never felt that way beforehand. Growing up as a non-denominational Christian, we visited other churches rarely and when we did, it felt weird.

As a result, when on vacation we just skipped church. We didn’t know anyone, and we really weren’t missing anything except a sermon and who knew if that was going to be any good? When visiting relatives, if it happened to be a Sunday, we would sometimes attend with them, so there was a modicum of safety from being singled out as potential new members. But if we didn’t know anyone? Nope. What was the point? We were just passing through and the fellowship of our local church would be absent and we would be like strangers and stick out like sore thumbs.

Now that I’m a Catholic, I love visiting other parishes! And I know that the fellowship of our home parish community is not the big draw anyway. The big draw is Christ and His Presence in the Eucharist. We don’t need to know anyone locally because the most important Person there knows us backwards and forwards.

Read the article by Frank Weathers