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Tue Jun 19, 2012, 04:19 PM


'Recovering Catholics' reveal spiritual journeys

June 19th, 2012
09:36 AM ET

By Jim Spellman, CNN

Denver (CNN) - Kristen Kelly was raised Roman Catholic, attended Catholic elementary school and considered herself a good Catholic, but when she was 21-years-old that changed.

“A coworker asked me if I believe in Jesus Christ,” she says.

Despite spending her entire life in the Roman Catholic Church she couldn’t answer the question.

“I never really got exposed to Christ," she says. "It was more about Mary and the Church and a condemnation of everything I was doing wrong.”


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Reply 'Recovering Catholics' reveal spiritual journeys (Original post)
rug Jun 2012 OP
Fortinbras Armstrong Jun 2012 #1
rug Jun 2012 #2

Response to rug (Original post)

Thu Jun 21, 2012, 04:37 PM

1. I understand the attitude

I can identify with those Recovering Catholics, even though I went the other way.

I attended a Catholic high school, run by an order called the Society of Mary. The teaching was excellent, but the Marian devotion that was shoved down my throat served more as aversion therapy than as anything else -- I still cannot sit through a rosary without getting a severe case of the fidgets. I did, however, get 5 years of Latin, including copious amounts of Augustine in the original.

In 1968, after flunking out of college, I went into the Army, where, after a few long months of Basic, AIT, and OCS, I became an infantry officer. I managed to put off the inevitable for a while by going to some schools (I may not look like it now, but once I was a genuine Airborne Ranger), but I eventually got an all-expense-paid trip to Vietnam. (Go to beautiful Vietnam, meet interesting and exciting people, and kill them.)

After about eight months in the Nam, I was severely wounded and was sent to a series of military hospitals. While I was in hospital, I had the chance to really think about what I had experienced. I asked myself, "How could a truly loving and merciful God allow this?" While I was in the Nam, I forced myself not to think about it -- copious amounts of marijuana helped (BUT I NEVER SMOKED OUT IN THE FIELD!). But now I did think about it, and I was devastated by my thoughts. I got a medical discharge with a 30% service-connected disability. 30% was a magic number, as it made me eligible for vocational rehabilitation from the Veterans Administration. This meant that the VA paid for me to go back to school. I went to the University of Wisconsin, and there I met Dr Walter F Bense, the chairman of the religious studies department.

Dr Bense, a German-born Southern Baptist with a PhD from Harvard Divinity School, took me under his wing. He was delighted to find a student who could read Latin, and had a better than nodding acquaintance with Augustine. He had me study Aquinas and Luther, and introduced me to such gems as Euripides (Trojan Women spoke volumes to me), Thomas a Kempis, Thomas Merton and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He spoke to me at great length about the mercy of God, and what free will really means. I started going back to Mass, and he rejoiced that I had come home spiritually -- he never made the slightest attempt to make me into a Baptist. He guided my religious education, and helped me get into Harvard for graduate school. He died some years ago, and I still miss him very much.

My return to the Church was a long journey, and the journey is still continuing. However, while I stumble on my pilgrim way, I have the love and support of many of my brothers and sisters in Christ -- mostly Catholic, but many non-Catholic. I describe myself as a Catholic Christian, liberal on some topics, such as contraception and women in the priesthood, and conservative on others, such as dogmatic and sacramental theology. I am one who takes the teachings of the Church with considerable amounts of salt, because I know how much she has stumbled herself in the past. I wish that the people at the top were more concerned with communicating the Love of Christ, and less with serving the Church as an institution.

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Response to Fortinbras Armstrong (Reply #1)

Thu Jun 21, 2012, 04:50 PM

2. Thanks for describing your path and if no one has said it already, welcome to DU.


We are rough contemporaries but I had irish Christian Brothers in high school not Marists. I never really left but I have had my own twists and turns with the Church.

I look forward to exchanging notes.

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