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Saturday, December 04, 2004

By Their Fruits You Will Know Them
Jimmy Akin has posted a wealth of information about an Australian Roman Catholic parish that has gotten into a bit of controversy for using the words "Creator, Liberator, Sustainer" (rather than "Father, Son, Holy Spirit") in its baptisms.

Here's a recent article on the parish's response:

A Brisbane congregation being threatened with expulsion from the Catholic Church has denied it is doing anything wrong.

Brisbane Archbishop John Bathersby has questioned whether St Mary's parish in South Brisbane can remain part of the the Roman Catholic Church if the words of scripture are not used in its sacraments.

The row was prompted by concerns at the use of the words "creator, liberator and sustainer" instead "Father, Son and Holy Spirit" in baptisms.

Father Peter Kennedy from St Mary's says the answer is simple.

"In a passage in John's gospel, Jesus tells his closest confidants that it is by his fruits that you will know them, not by rules regulations and laws," he said.

Well, I'll grant that Father Kennedy probably doesn't use the NIV, but I can't find the word "fruits" in the book of John. Here's what I found in Matthew 7:19-21:

Matthew 7
19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
21"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

I don't see anything about rules, regulations, and laws, but I do see a statement about doing the will of the CreatorFather.

So, what are the fruits of St. Mary's Parish in South Brisbane? Let's see:

The C.G. Jung Society of Queensland is committed to furthering awareness of and reflection upon the writings of the Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961). The Society promotes an understanding of Jungs work through the exploration of its psychological and spiritual applications to the individual journey and to interpersonal relationships, and by considering the ways in which Jungs writings and ideas can contribute to the healing of modern society....

Regular events are presented at 7:30 pm on the first Thursday of each month (except January) at St. Marys Parish Hall, 20 Merivale Street (Cnr of Peel Street), South Brisbane. The venue is within easy walking distance of South Brisbane Railway Station and the South Bank bus stops. There is free off-street parking in the church yard.

Let's go on and see what this society sponsors at this particular location:

Indigenous and Western Spirituality
A presentation by Mary Graham
Thursday December 2, 2004, 7:30 – 9:30
St. Mary’s House, Cn Merivale and Peel Sts, South Brisbane
Cost: Members and concession: $5; non-members $10

Mary Graham is an aboriginal elder of the Kombumerri people on the Gold Coast. Mary has lectured on comparative spirituality in the School of Social Work at the University of Queensland. She is highly knowledgeable of both aboriginal and western religious and spiritual traditions. Her talk crosses the divide between both cultures finding common ground where it exists and highlighting unique features in each tradition that could be of value in the other one.

And it gets better (emphasis mine):

Although there have been many passing references to alchemy in our talks over the years, Jonathan Marshalls presentations in July may be the first, at least in recent years, to focus solely on alchemy. Another modern proponent of alchemy as a therapeutic process, Robert Bosnak, will present a workshop on dreams in April, 2005.

Alchemy was originally a process in the middle ages whereby chemists, in their laboratories, sought to find a way to transmute base metals into gold. Jung realised that their work was as much or more about entering a process in which they themselves became transformed. The mixing of substances in the laboratory provided a language and an outer world ritual that reflected the inner process. (The Catholic mass, with its transubstantiation of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ is an example of the alchemical process.) The metaphorical concepts of the alchemists are a core element of modern analytical psychology.

The study of alchemy occupied much of Jungs thought in the latter part of his life. Alchemy for him filled the missing link in his theory of the evolution of the Western psyche. Jungs personal and professional relationship with Toni Wolf was profoundly changed when he insisted on making alchemy the primary focus of his work and she felt that the study of alchemy would be a mistake for him. Jung himself knew he was going out on a limb with alchemy even for him, already on the outer of conservative Swiss society. I think his foray into alchemy showed tremendous courage and commitment to his own inner journey.

That type of commitment seems to me to be the essence of Jungian psychology. After all, what was his life except a commitment to his inner journey? His psychology provides a map of the psyche that any of us may use but the journey is still an individual one for each of us. I believe Jung said he never wanted to be a Jungian just as Karl Marx never wanted to be a Marxist. (His namesake, Groucho Marx, never wanted to belong to a club that would have him as a member!) What they seem to have wanted was to live their own lives as fully as possible, to go beyond the restrictions imposed by society or circumstances. Jung certainly did that. I feel this is what we admire in him. And in turn this is what he inspires in us.

Best wishes,
Frank Coughlan

Now I am not a Roman Catholic and do not believe in transubstantiation, but referring to transubstantiation as "alchemy" is not quite accurate. Take this quote from the Catholic Encyclopedia:

In a closer logical analysis of Transubstantiation, we find the first and fundamental notion to be that of conversion, which may be defined as "the transition of one thing into another in some aspect of being". As is immediately evident, conversion (conversio) is something more than mere change (mutatio)....Transubstantiation...is not a conversion simply so called, but a substantial conversion (conversio substantialis), inasmuch as one thing is substantially or essentially converted into another....Finally, Transubstantiation differs from every other substantial conversion in this, that only the substance is converted into another — the accidents remaining the same — just as would be the case if wood were miraculously converted into iron, the substance of the iron remaining hidden under the external appearance of the wood.

One can claim that the parish is not responsible for the views expressed by other groups. However, I believe that a church is responsible for what is taught within its walls, and if it lets Deist groups or other non-Christian organizations into its precincts, it is threatening its own preaching of the Gospel.

So, you have a church that misquotes verses (the rules and regulations bit), doesn't know where the verses they're misquoting come from (John and Matthew are distinctly different), and sponsors a group that classifies one of the Christian sacraments as a type of alchemy. Oh, you know this church by its fruits, all right...

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