Personal post-Matters of Faith

Sometimes finding the right church family takes a leap of faith. I recently began working towards the goal of getting closer to God. My intent is to strengthen my faith and become a better person. I am largely motivated by shedding my old self and starting anew. Part of it stems from the new year, as it is often the case. For me, however, this year it runs deeper.

I have begun facing a cataclysmic shift in my fundamental views on Christianity. I am beginning to ask questions I previously took for granted.

There has always been one underlying rift in all of Christianity, the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and those churches that exist outside of Roman Catholicism.

At the core of this rift is the authority of the church. The question is where does Church authority lie, in the laymen, the piety or the hierarchy? Depending on how one answers that question is the core of whether or not that person can even begin to consider the process of entering the Catholic faith, if they started their journey outside it’s doors.

Beginning in the 1500’s there was a Protestant Reformation. Originally the intent of the priest who began the reformation was to address issues that was perceived as errors within the church. Specifically Martin Luther had concerns he wished to resolve. Originally his intention, as I understand it, was not to leave the church but to reform it, or cleanse it from the errors he perceived. At the crux of his argument lied within the central authority of Rome. The papacy, or the Supremacy of the Bishop of Rome was called into question. Those who rejected the Papacy split into their own denominations. The common narrative is there had been one, central Christian church united world wide before the Reformation. Except this is also not entirely accurate.

Five hundred years before the Reformation was another Schism, this one known as the Great Schism by those who study church history. The rift then was also over Papal authority. The Catholics claim papal authority is traced back to Saint Peter, an Apostle the Church claims was given profound powers directly by Jesus himself, the Son of God according to Christian beliefs.

This was further complicated as there is a 400 year period between the life of the apostles and the official canonization of the Holy Scriptures collected into the modern interpretation of what Christians of many faiths refer to simply as The Bible. As such there is a question of authority all churches today do have to wrestle with. The catholic claim of apostolic succession is well documented but it has some areas that is often used against the church. The early Church Fathers did believe in Apostolic Succession, this is the laying on of hands and ordination. Churches today express ordaining of ministers in different ways but the concept of passing the faith on from the Apostles to their followers is not in dispute. The dispute comes from the extent of the authority of the Church that was established in Rome and the central figure who sits as the Bishop of Rome.

At the heart of it the split comes over does a believer accept the Church on earth as established by Jesus as the central authority whose role is to keep the Word preserved and to protect the flock, or is the Bible alone the sole authority one must live by and church authority is merely relegated to communal worship matters?

This question has beleaguered the Christian faithful since the last Apostle passed on to the next world.

All other matters of Doctrine, be it Predestination, Calvinism, Dispensationalism, Pre-Tribulational Rapturism, Fundamentalism, Catholicism, Marianism, Iconography, and the list goes on and on, they can be debated until the Second Coming of Christ.

What all churches within the Christian faith do have in common is a few key points. They are mostly contained in what the Church historians call the Nicene Creed. This creed is an explanation of the faith. It lists the key points all the churches that existed at the time agreed upon and is the doctrinal basis for the faith. It is not the source of the faith as some might try to say, it is merely a confirmation of what Christians ought to agree as universally true.

There are no single points in the Nicene Creed I, raised a Baptist and Baptized as such, disagree with. There are matters of worldly doctrine, things that in my view have no bearing on ones salvation, that are contested by the thousands of denominations.

While the Catholic Church can claim their roots to in fact go all the way back to the Apostles as Paul frequently visited the Church in Rome, they are not the only Christian denomination which can claim apostolic succession. While I have come to accept that as essential to the faith, the apostles did anoint their successors, I do not yet feel convinced there is sufficient evidence to claim only those anointed by the and into the Roman Catholic Church can make that claim.

This is not a treatise on anti-Catholicism nor is it a declaration of intent to convert, rather what I am wrestling with is discovering the truth. Can a Christian come to salvation without the aid of the Roman church, and likewise can a Christian lose their salvation by participating in the practices of said church?

At the end of the day my calling to the Catholic Church remains overwhelming, I have always been plagued by the schism and the Reformation as signs of disunity in the Church, I am merely an individual person who doesn’t have the authority to speak definitively on such matters. Yet I am hesitant as there are a number of issues I have to reconcile. Either I accept the churches authority and let them settle the matters or I let that be a sticking point keeping me from entering the Catholic Church.

What I can say is, I have attended a Catholic service and it wasn’t what I expected. Being raised Baptist I was expecting to walk into a pagan ritual that looked nothing like Christianity. Instead I saw something entirely different.

I have since read books on the history. I have researched the topic from the perspective of the Catholic church, those outside it and from a purely neutral humanist or educational perspective, meaning I have explored it from all three possible angles.

I have come to the following conclusion.

1, if the church is not necessary for salvation and 2, if it cannot hinder one’s salvation then 3, there must be no objection to the services of the church other than orthodoxy and doctrinal issues. Doctrine and Orthodoxy are not issues that would, or should, keep any Christian from fellowship with any body of believers. I in fact now believe we shouldn’t lump together with only like-minded individuals but rather should congregate with others with different views so we can all share ideas. Personally, my intention has been to explore a separate entity entirely, namely the branch of the Anglican church in the United States known as the Episcopal Church. My reason for the struggle has been settling the issue of the liturgy and the doctrine. Once I came to the conclusion that man’s salvation is based solely on their faith and intent alone, I removed my doubts about attending a church I felt comfortable in.

At this moment in time I am leaving the door open to Catholicism. I have reached out to the local church to welcome me in. They have yet to respond to my request. I have since met with a pastor of the Episcopal Church and have, at the time being, found a peace knowing I am comfortable leaving behind the Baptist tradition as I seek something new. I am not denouncing my faith, I never identified as Baptist I merely attended their churches, almost exclusively for one reason or another.

I am at a point where I do wish to be in one of the three branches closer in nature to the original church, as I understand it to be. Since the Apostles were all Jews it stands to reason the churches that express their faiths similar to the Jewish faith, modified as it were to show the fullness of the Christ, it means to me reasonable to consider those, at least on matters of liturgy and Orthodoxy, closer to the original church.

Thus my new study is to reconcile my questions regarding the Orthodox Church, the Catholic Church or the Anglican (Episcopal) church. If at such a time as I can settle this issue maybe I will find the peace I sat out to find. I was initially turned off by the liturgy as quite different to the church services I was used to. Recently I have found myself not attending any church at all and that is a lonely place for any Christian to be.

My entire life has been spent worshiping the Lord in one of the mostly uniquely American denominations there is. As I have realized much of my objection to the “un-American” churches stems from that core belief in American Exceptionalism, American Freedom and American Values, I have to set that aside and declare I am a Christian first, an American second. That is a point of view contrary to some “Patriots” who conflate patriotism with unquestionable devotion. I do not. I believe one can love their country and question it’s actions at the same time. Likewise I believe the Church, the Universal Church of Believers that makes up the Body of Christ on this Earth, is made up of imperfect beings in a world tainted with Sins of the first man and woman, Adam and Eve.

That being the case my current view is I have to accept the good with the bad. There are points of contention with any church. I have found none, including the Baptist and even the Catholics, are not perfect. Yet if you really pay attention, none of them claim to be. Neither do I.

Happy New Year!

This is it, the end of 2018.

Some people are going to say it was a good year for them. Others will argue it wasn’t. It was certainly a roller coaster for me.

I am still planning on recording a proper, New Year’s Special Anniversary episode of The Dark Web Podcast. Think of this as my not preview of that but the stuff that isn’t likely to get deep discussion on the podcast.

I can’t confirm this because I haven’t dug deep yet but this could be the first year in video game history a new console or platform hasn’t launched. I did a closer look a year ago and I discovered, even if you restrict yourself to the United States, there was a new video game product or platform (new machine or way to play games) every single year since the first game consoles launched, those being the Pong and Odyssey system’s respectively.

I didn’t find any information on anything significant launching this year. Granted, in my previous analysis I did not count retro consoles that played only old games, so the Playstation Classic or other Plug and Play systems were not on my list. Surprisingly enough I still discovered a new, even often failed, console launched in some form every single year.

Even still, for me, the year was more about reconnecting with my retro roots than it was about discovering new games. Most of the year was spent trying to get back on my feet after a shake up in my personal life left me unemployed for nearly three months of the year.

I purchased a Sega Genesis earlier in the year and then by the end of the year I picked up a Nintendo Entertainment System. The best part of those two consoles was they were the two systems I owned as a kid. Technically we had a machine that played Atari 2600 games but since it wasn’t officially mine and it wasn’t an actual Atari branded product, I don’t count it as something I wish to explore. Maybe someday, as I expand my collecting but for now I want to focus on the systems I have an emotional connection with.

I started with the Sega Genesis because it had a profound impact on my upbringing. It was the first system my parents gave to me that was mine alone. I didn’t have to share it with my sisters at all. They were relegated to the NES. This didn’t stop me from inviting them to enjoy it nor did it stop me from going backwards to the Nintendo, it just meant this was a starting point for me. I can also say the Genesis, along with Sonic 2, played a role in my first exploratory encounter of a female partner. I won’t dig into the details but I will say it helped introduce me to new experiences in that regard.

Then there is Mortal Kombat. I talk a lot about the impact this game had on me as a teenager. Specifically as an angry teenager who was tired of being picked on at school I finally had an outlet for my aggression that wasn’t going to land me in detention, or worse. This game became my therapy for a good many years. I was fortunate my parents purchased me Mortal Kombat 1 and Mortal Kombat 2 on the same Christmas morning. Oh it was a great day for me.

Over the years my love for the Sega Genesis continued to grow. Unlike, say a Turbo Grafix 16 where a person would have to defend it entirely on the basis of nostalgia, the Genesis was a true contender to the crown. It didn’t have every exact game it’s competition did, but more often than not it had a comparable counterpart, and in many cases a superior alternative to boot. The system is quite easily a true equal to the Nintendo machine it fought against.

I went through the middle part of the year in a slump, so to speak. I left my job to pursue a new career. I migrated from Texas to California in the hopes of getting back into Television. I studied Broadcasting in college and got my start in the media business working for a TV station.

I ended up taking a detour to hell, known by locals as Jackpot, Nevada. I can’t quite wrap my head around how exactly it happened but in the end it was the motivation I needed to get my life back. I turned right around back to Texas and landed a better job than I left to pursue. It worked out in the end but it was a rough couple of months in the middle.

Once I got financially back on my feet I made a conscious decision to begin collecting NES games again. I made a payment plan with a local used video game store to get an NES and I picked it up the week of Christmas. It was perfect timing too. I got my first NES for Christmas in 1988. This was exactly 30 years later and it was such a sigh of relief being able to wash my depressing year away with a fondly remembered item from my childhood.

I didn’t get all the games I wanted but I got only good games with a meaningful attachment for me. Look for a separate YouTube video soon on the pickups and then an in depth article closely behind on what each game means to me.

The year was also a time for trying new ideas. I stated the year strong with a brand new podcast and a YouTube video series to go along with it. I started The Dark Web Podcast as a replacement for The Spiders Lair Podcast I killed only months prior. I also began doing a broadcast TV style news show called The Dark Web TV. It proved to be too cumbersome to produce a 30 minute broadcast and a 2 hour podcast each week so I had to kill the videos to keep the podcast alive.

Facing burn out I stopped doing YouTube videos entirely outside of a couple vlog’s here and there. I did a few pick ups throughout the year but nothing meaningful.

Things improved when I got motivated to start The Dark Web Daily Show, a daily radio style news broadcast once a day to supplement the weekly podcast and replace the lacking web videos. I finally killed that off once I went back to work full time at a daily newspaper. By late October I found a new format for videos to breath new life into the channel.

I am now doing those consistently with a format I can manage. I took a little break to spend some time with family over the holidays. I am now going into the new year refreshed and revived.

In a personal development I dated a girl for a couple of weeks before realizing it wasn’t working out for me. I had to restructure my church life too. As a result I began exploring denominations I had previously considered off limits. I won’t get into the details here but I had a calling awaken me to a new spiritual light. I am trying to go into 2019 with a renewed focus on my faith. That shouldn’t have any impact, negatively I hope, on the work I am doing here, on the podcast or over at the YouTube channel.

That is all for today. Check out the podcast by visiting http://www.thespiderslair.podbean.com and watch my Christmas movies video here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WqbYuBra8k

Subscribe to the channel for more Christmas and New Year’s videos coming soon!

Year End Episode- Bumblebee movie thoughts, my New Year resolution, and Boondock Saints.

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-d822x-a32e1c

This is the end of the year. Finally got done. Thanks for making the first year of this show a success everyone. Enjoy this final, normal format episode before I bring the Anniversary special your way on January 1.

Topics include Bumblebee movie, Transformers G1 thoughts/memories, Big Lebowski, Boondock Saints, I got my NES, had thoughts, and my new year resolution! Enjoy. Stay Cool.