A few people mentioned they didn’t notice my revised glossary of helpful terms for Voice of the Faithful and other “vibrant” Catholics in the extended part of this post. Herewith, I’m providing them again for your enjoyment on the front page.
Revelation: God’s self-disclosure to Q and the community of John and to the Gnostics who wrote the Gospel of Thomas and then-— after saying nothing for nearly 1,500 years-— His renewed self-disclosure to anyonoe who really, really feels like God is, like, trying to say something profound through him. Totally.
Tradition: The interpretation of Revelation that was interrupted by the “Dark Ages” (150 AD-1962 AD) until academic priests without Roman collars and nuns in polyester pantsuits could reveal the truth to us in the 1960s and 70s.
tradition (lower-case): Changeable customs, institutions, teachings, and practices, such as ordination of men only; the ban on abortion; bishops as a teaching authority; the Eucharist as Christ’s body, blood, soul, and divinity; marriage only between a man and a woman; etc.
Theology: The ordered effort to understand, interpret, and systematically lose your faith and create a narcissistic conception of God that has nothing to do with reality. St. Anselm called it “faith seeking understanding,” but a more modern definition is “faith seeking higher self-esteem and liberation.”
Doctrine: An official teaching of the Church. More specifically, official teaching that can be ignored if it conflicts with your “conscience” or your self-esteem.
Dogma: A doctrine that is taught definitely, that is, infallibly, meaning that when you dissent from it, you have to have better reasoning than when you dissent from regular, old doctrine. Fortunately, we have been liberated from dogmas and you are allowed to dissent from any teaching.
Heresy: An outdated medieval concept. See “academic freedom”.
Dissent: A judgment of disagreement with an official Church teaching. Since personal belief trumps doctrine, dissent is perfectly legitimate, especially under three conditions: The teaching makes you unhappy; the teaching makes you sad; the teaching makes you grumpy. Fortunately, most dissenters are already pretty cranky so it all works out quite well.
Hierarchy of truths: A principle that recognizes the relative importance assigned to various Christian doctrines based on who said it and when. Those things written by a Pope are at the bottom of the hierarchy, while the writings of enlightened people such as Fr. Richard McBrien and Sr. Joan Chittister go at the top.
Sensus fidelium (the sense of the faithful): The idea that the body of the faithful as a whole gets a right to veto any Church teaching they disagree with. And by “the body of the faithful as a whole” we mean the membership of Call to Action and Voice of the Faithful.
Reception: The process by which official teachings and disciplinary decrees are accepted, assimilated and interpreted by the whole Church. Reception is the confirming witness of the sense of the faith by the People of God regarding a decision’s truth and service.
When a teaching or decree is not received by the whole Church, those responsible for the decision need to examine the reasons for the lack of acceptance. (“Wait, that’s the actual definition: If a lot of Catholics don’t like the teaching then it’s the teaching, not the people who are wrong. I guess the Arians were right then.)
Discipline: The instructions and laws that govern the Church and the faithful. An example of church discipline might be the order of the Mass. Before Vatican II, the Mass was said in Latin (to prevent them from rising up and taking control of the Church) and the priest did not face the people (because they were below him in dignity). After Vatican II, the Mass is said in gibberish and the priest wear clown makeup.