This week's commentary from Tom McMahon is a bit of a potpourri. It's part inspired by a visit from his grandchildren, a session with his local seniors' history club, reflecting on the landing of Curiosity on Mars and an interview with Dublin's Archbishop, Diarmuid Martin, on Sixty Minutes. It's perhaps best summed up by the words of Michael Morwood, Tom quotes, and which we have adapted as the headline for this commentary: "We are living through the greatest shift ever in Christian thought!"
Something BIG is threatening Rome's magisterium.
How do I have a conversation with the young?
Check with Archbishop Martin of Dublin for the Master's way.
Life experiences bombard my 83-year-old mind. Evolution moves swiftly bringing a wealth of data, reams of past and present printouts containing vital and valuable information and how do I process such without the eventual plea, "stop the world I want to get off"?
- Is there any chance that we can present this wealth to the young with a connection to religion?
- Do we need a formal religion to connect with the Creator?
- How do I have a conversation with today's youth concerning creation, the ongoing play yard of the Creator?
- Where do I find our youth?
42,000+ regularly jam pack Pac Bell Park, the home of the San Francisco Giants baseball team. I guess the average age is between 19 and 29. They are in awe of demi-gods who hit home runs and are puzzled and annoyed when a star player is exiled for substance abuse. In my youth baseball players were the focus of the game, a clean bunch known as the boys of Summer; today through modern media the whole crowd is involved, enjoying a renaissance of life with every pitch. Team, owners, fans (the word comes from fanatics), TV announcers and even the fellow who sells peanuts are spoken of as one big family. Everybody belongs. In a society where a person can be easily referred to as alone in a crowd. A desperate need to belong is satisfied through the sport world. When young I enjoyed being a welcome member of the Catholic Church, a difficult experience for many today. Where do I get my identification as a human being in this plastic age of technology?
In the world of science a-marvel-a-day is produced and mysteries are yet to be discovered. As a ten-year-old I watched in awe movie serials of Flash Gordon's space ship put putting (literally) its way to the kingdom of Ming; the latest Mars probe has traveled 26 million miles, now checking its multi-million dollar computerized systems on site before it investigates possible life on the Red Planet. I struggle to be a member of the science group. I have difficulty belonging to a Mars team where I have little in common. Honestly I am too involved with seemingly unsolvable earth problems. I am told that 65% of workers in the Silicon Valley would leave their high pay jobs to find work if they could find meaningful employment that involves one's personal talent.
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun in the Solar System. Named after the Roman god of war, Mars, it is often described as the "Red Planet" as the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance. Mars is a terrestrial planet with a thin atmosphere, having surface features reminiscent both of the impact craters of the Moon and the volcanoes, valleys, deserts, and polar ice caps of Earth. The rotational period and seasonal cycles of Mars are likewise similar to those of Earth, as is the tilt that produces the seasons. Mars is the site of Olympus Mons, the highest known mountain within the Solar System, and of Valles Marineris, one of the largest canyons. The smooth Borealis basin in the northern hemisphere covers 40% of the planet and may be a giant impact feature. Mars has two moons, Phobos and Deimos, which are small and irregularly shaped. These may be captured asteroids, similar to 5261 Eureka, a Martian trojan asteroid.
Mars is currently host to five functioning spacecraft: three in orbit—the Mars Odyssey, Mars Express, and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter; and two on the surface—Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity and the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity. Defunct spacecraft on the surface include MER-A Spirit, and several other inert landers and rovers, both successful and unsuccessful such as the Phoenix lander, which completed its mission in 2008. Observations by NASA's now-defunct Mars Global Surveyor show evidence that parts of the southern polar ice cap have been receding. Observations by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have revealed possible flowing water during the warmest months on Mars. Text from Wikipedia. Photo above of Mars was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 1999 and is also from the Wikipedia page.
Information about Mars stirs my imagination and I attempt to bring into focus a spiritual element of awe. I know scientifically the human race is invading Mars with its Rovers and science labs. As I wrap my head around these evolutionary concepts I make my awe-filled act of faith that the Creator was there from the beginning and Mars is a small part of the Creator's playyard. I wonder if the Pac Bell crowd that erupts in united voice when a home run is hit has taken time to appreciate the massive ramifications of these Mars discoveries?
“We are living through the greatest shift ever in Christian thought!”
Read again Michael Morwood's excellent analysis.
Thank you Michael for these evolutionary guidelines. We need direction these days. I take great encouragement from these words...
"We are living through the greatest shift ever in Christian thought. New images of our universe and our planet, along with knowledge about the long, slow development of life on this planet provide us with a new context in which to understand the divine presence we call God always present and active everywhere. Reflection on the universality of this presence leads to further reflection on and renewed appreciation of Jesus as revealer of this mysterious presence in our everyday living and loving, rather than on Jesus as the mediator between us and a faraway deity. A Church always in need of renewal must engage, at all levels, this shift in images and thought if it is to have integrity and relevance in the twenty-first century."
Diarmuid Martin was raised and educated in Dublin, at the Oblate school in Inchicore, the De La Salle School situated on the Ballyfermot Road in Ballyfermot and Marian College, Ballsbridge. Following that, he went to University College Dublin, where he studied philosophy, and then went to the Dublin Diocese's seminary at Clonliffe, where he studied theology. He entered Clonliffe seven days before the opening of the Second Vatican Council on 11 October 1962. He was ordained a priest on 25 May 1969 by Archbishop John Charles McQuaid. Following this he pursued further education at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome, though, it appears, without attaining any degrees. The Archbishop's brother, Seamus Martin, is the retired International Editor of The Irish Times newspaper.
LINK to watch 60 Minutes interview on CBS Television website.
Sunday afternoon was spent with our grandchildren, ages 7 months Adam, Adrienne 2, Audrey 3, Dominic 4 and Sebastian 7. O how they played and swam and feasted on pizza, melon, and sherbet. Watchful parents and grandparents swam too, with babes in arms. Grandpa Tom was ever vigilant as this morning's newspaper reported a 3-year-old girl had drowned in a family pool, under water for mere seconds. Tom also silently wondered about the kind of world these innocent ones would encounter in a short time. Just as silently I admired the maturity of our two sons and the women they have married. 30 years ago all four were tots a time in my life when I translated Alvin Toffler's FUTURE SHOCK in habits of our daily family living. The Creator's play yard today is a different place to what it was in the 1970's.
It was in the evening when all was quiet on our Western Front that I watched on 60 Minutes an interview of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, Ireland. This articulate human being spoke of abuse of power, espeically focused on children, decrying Vatican secrecy. Martin was fully aware of the Irish Prime Minister's denunciation of Rome's inadequate handling of this criminality perpetrated on the young. Diarmuid held back tears as he spoke of the innocent 8-year-old victims, children he chose to visit on an official visitation of a parish. This is the type of priest we need in today's devastating scandals, a man with a human heart and a humble (human, hum = earthy) evaluation of self and office. I venture to say Rome will get rid of him.
At our History Club meeting today 25 seniors watched the movie INHERIT THE WIND. George Scott and Jack Lemmon play the two antagonistic lawyers in the famous "Scopes Trial" [LINK]. We observe the conduct of people as many see their notion of God and understanding of the Bible threatened by Darwinian theories and evolution. For me one of the major problems of staying involved in adult education is battling a sense of frustration. Indifference is so often the response of adults while the continuing harm to children is so apparent. Again I encourage women and men to speak out, demanding truth and openness. There is a serious need of small communities of common interest. The old parish-diocesan structure led by the celibate priest has run its day. I need get hold of Paul Lakeland's CATHOLICISM AT THE CROSSROADS.
More next week on the church in San Francisco and its new archbishop.
Tom McMahon, San Jose, Ca. ... this past week has been a tough one and I am wondering how an old man fits into the picture? 23Aug2012
Tom McMahon, ordained in 1954 and now married, lives a very fulfilled life in San Jose and continues to contribute voraciously to several Catholic discussion lists in the States. He has been an enthusiastic supporter and encourager of the Catholica initiative from the very beginning.
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