Off Topic: Why I’m Still Catholic

This isn’t a post about Dungeons & Dragons Online or anything about gaming in particular. It’s a response to a challenge by Elizabeth Scalia, a Catholic writer and blogger. I’m merely taking a liberty in using my blog to meet her challenge. (There have been far fewer clever internet challenges lately.) If you’re not interested in my personal insights on my faith, do ignore this post.


 

The Anchoress, also known as Elizabeth Scalia, made a public challenge to anyone with a web presence to explain why they remain a Catholic, especially during this time where many people warp their desires into political and social pressure to intimidate those who fully practice their faith, not restraining it behind the church doors.

My blog typically restricts itself to discussions about Dungeons & Dragons Online, a multiplayer online world based on the popular tabletop game. So I’m doing something that blogs shouldn’t do much, if at all: Speak off-topic.

I’m going to do so, just this once. I might even be able to show how my faith even intersects with my gaming.

I’m not known anywhere outside of this blog. I’m just a father and husband. As a kid, my family wasn’t particularly religious, although my grandmother was raised Catholic. I did grow with a respect that God existed, but could never understand that “Jesus” thing.

For some reason, God has surrounded me with German Catholics. My high school best friend, my college best friend, and my wife are German Catholics. That was the catalyst that, in 2005, made me enter into the faith. But that’s a story in itself.

In mid-2004, I divorced from a civil marriage. I felt lost, guilty and broken. Despite not looking for anyone, someone appeared at a science-fiction convention I attended. In these gatherings most people have several things in common, and this young woman and I had an interest in wearing costumes the following evening. Specifically, I was going to make an effort to look like the character of Morpheus from The Matrix films, and she as the character Trinity.

While my costume at the time was nothing to speak of, the young woman’s rendition was breathtakingly accurate, and her facial contours were nearly identical to the actress that played the role.

I was smitten. We spent much of the day looking for someone who we heard had dressed as the central character of the films, Neo, also known as “The One.” We never found that costumed man, but the young woman and I found each other.

Over the weeks, she introduced me to the Church again in a more formal way, and I decided, a few weeks later, to enter RCIA (the teaching and discernment classes available at Catholic churches if you are interested in becoming Catholic or want to learn more). Like radio host Matt Swaim of “The Sonrise Morning Show,” I became part of the Catholic Class of 2005.

Thanks to Catholic radio and TV, especially Catholic Answers, I gained a reliable grounding in my faith. I became Catholic and stay a Catholic because:

  • We are founded on history. We mention Pontius Pilate in the Nicean Creed because Christianity came from a real man, in a real place and in real-time. We have witnesses and documents and thousands of years of history as proof of this.
  • We codified the sacred writings that codified what we call the Bible. Other Christians may declare the Bible as the sole rule of faith, but they neglect the point that Christ didn’t found a book, but a Church, and empowered successors to the Apostles to determine what the “table of contents” of Sacred Scripture would become, in the 4th Century.
  • We believe that science is supportive, not exclusive, in our faith in God. We have many, many scientists who, among other things, founded genetic theory, developed the heliocentric theory of the Solar System, and developed the Big-Bang Theory (the science, not the show).
  • We have survived the march of history, as Christ stated. From horrific falls of empires, many many wars, even bouts of corruption within the Church clergy have not toppled the Church. In fact, it seems to have strengthened its resolve to feed the poor, clothe the naked, bury the dead, and bring the word of Christ to a frightened, confused world. Many other Christian faiths, if they haven’t faded away, are changing so radically from their roots–from the teachings of God Himself–that they are shades of what they once were.
  • The Catholic Church sees the teachings of God as supernatural laws of truth, and defends them just as scientists do the laws of the scientific world. Just as the physical laws of the speed of light, mass, energy, and mathematics do not change based on whims, opinion or consensus, nor do the truths that God has revealed to all. While other faiths bend to the winds of culture (which, often, discovers its idea of “truth” was a bad idea), the Church knows that such truths, such as respect for human life, the purpose of marriage, and our ultimate destiny and reason for being on earth, aren’t subject to change, and are just important now as they were 2,000 years ago, today, and 2,000 years from now.

You can find many sources of my faiths on this document from Catholics Come Home.

Some of you who’ve never read this blog before (or likely will again) might find the blog’s title familiar. That’s because my central gaming character, Syncletica, is also the name of one of the first Desert Mothers, a Catholic saint and monastic (an early nun). In the game, I play the Monk class, which has a quasi-religious nature in the concentration of their inner self to perform martial arts feats. I try to reflect the reverence found in the Catholic monastic world within the game’s parameters.

That is, I created this blog (and a guide on the Monk class) to pass on what I’ve learned and to aid others in gameplay, just as St. Syncletica had forsaken her wealth in the 3rd Century to serve others and the Lord.

I was able to re-marry (see this link if you’re a Catholic and wonder how that happened, since you normally cannot divorce and re-marry in the Church) and, soon after, bring my mother and son into the faith, too.

catholicpriesthoodGod wanted me to know that I made the right decision in a personal revelation. 

One day, not long after entering the faith, a friend of mine gave me a poster she created to promote more priestly vocations in the Church.  This one, on the left.

This is Father Jonathan Meyer, a priest in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. He normally wears a cassock, a long black coat that happens to look a lot like the coat that the enlightened Neo wore in the second and third films.

I had found the One after all. (My vocation is to marriage, not to priesthood, however.)

That man is one of many ones who become in persona Christi during the Holy Eucharist, celebrating the holy sacrifice of the One Holy Priest, Savior of Mankind, the Christ.

Yep. The Matrix made me Catholic.

 

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13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. James
    Jun 03, 2015 @ 23:33:00

    That’s just awesome, Syn. My views on religion a bit different. I don’t know if you’re ever heard of this idea. There’s day language and night language. Take death for example. In day language, someone died, they fall apart into atoms in time. In night language, they sit at the right hand of God, nirvana or what have you. Night language explain psychological truth and stories in a way that day language can’t touch. It is the language of all stories of humanity. Your kid ask you to read them a story, that’s night language. Both languages are valid and we need both. now for me, I find a 14 billion year universe awe inspiring and the billions years of evolution is also awe inspiring. I am a Christian raised in the Baptist faith. I identify myself as a man and also as a child of stardust for literally all that you see in the world all came from stardust. Well I’ll stop here. Not too many people gonna like this view smile but it is my life answer. Thank Syn for a thought provoking blog as always.

  2. Erin McCole Cupp
    Jun 04, 2015 @ 07:48:55

    I love this. That’s all. Congrats, you made me cry.

  3. geoffhanna
    Jun 04, 2015 @ 09:51:38

    I hope we are able to meet Trinity the next time we come through Indy 🙂

  4. JY
    Jun 04, 2015 @ 12:24:06

    Great article, thank you for sharing this and for your ability to proclaim your faith in such a concise manner.

  5. glancyevans
    Jun 04, 2015 @ 12:29:35

    My husband and I are faithful Catholics, loved the Pope before it was cool (Pope Benedict, gasp!) and we LOVE the Matrix movies. There are so many interesting things to glean, to discuss and this entering into discussion doesn’t diminish my faith or make it waiver. Fr. Meyer is a good friend of ours and needless to say I have a copy of this poster that I really need to frame for my young boys room. I love being Catholic and being interested in and finding God in things not typically “religious”. You have to have a good grounding in your faith and keep your wits about you, but there’s a big world out there and it’s so worth it to enter in where you can.

    • teachersyn
      Jun 04, 2015 @ 14:36:31

      Thanks for the kind words. I’ve met Fr. Meyer in passing as he left Our Lady of the Greenwood Church to become pastor elsewhere. My friend, who made that Matrix-styled poster, Melissa Scarlett, is a sweet, creative person with a great sense of style.

  6. Leanna
    Jun 05, 2015 @ 10:40:10

    Oh, I just loved this!

  7. BigTurnAround
    Jun 05, 2015 @ 23:17:12

    Just…shiny. 🙂

    Gee, I wonder why this link got passed on to me by 4 different people?

    I haven’t played D&D since…I think Baldur’s Gate 2, maybe?…but your story isn’t too far from my own. I was raised “Culturally Catholic”, but not really religious. I laughed at my parents when they suggested confirmation. I was a pseudointellectual, but avoided any hard math or sciences…I wasn’t a big fan of the idea that I could be demonstrably wrong, I think.

    It was the 90s, and everyone was striving to be “more-alternative-than-thou.”. I met some Catholics, and I think that’s what struck me. What they were doing? *Seriously* alternative. Oddly, they were not crackpots, but very well respected socially and professionally (which a point of interest, but at the time more of a strike against them.)

    I thought taking apart their arguments for the faith and especially the Church would be fun – make the high level lawyer squirm a bit. They logicked me to death! They didn’t have all the answers, but they didn’t pretend to, and they knew where to look or who to ask. I found Catholic Replies, etc. to be useful as well, though more frustrating at the time since I wanted to WIN, not to find Truth.

    But more than that it was the world. History. Science. The increasingly transparent layer of b..ls..t that the world paints over reality with. It’s so pretty, so *easy*…until you realize it’s a total lie. The Big Lie, like you read about if you studied WWII (Godwin’s law: triggered!) and much bigger than that. Did you happen to read Piers Anthony’s Incarnations of Immortality as a kid? Like the guided tour of hell in On A Pale Horse.

    Ok, fine. One of those people also became my wife. That wasn’t a small matter, but its a chicken and egg thing – I never would have gone for “that kind of girl” if I weren’t already headed down that path.

    Anyway, the punch line? Finding the Church and studying to deepen my faith brought out a passion for clarity and analysis, and a loathing of fuzzy thinking. I discovered numbers again in my late 20s, and it turned out that with no training (I dropped out of Calc I and got a D in statistics) I was kind of a low level savant at discerning patterns in raw data.

    You say The Matrix made you Catholic?

    St. Benedict made me a quantitative statistical analyst. Oh, and a father of 10 – including some adopted.

    Mysterious ways, right?

    Anyway, “welcome home,” Guy I Don’t Know. Syn, I guess.

    And hey, does the new ruleset still have “Quivering Palm” for Monks?

    – Generally Known as T’yolan When Gaming

    • teachersyn
      Jun 06, 2015 @ 00:11:57

      An equally cool story! Thanks very much for sharing that. That should be an honorable mention: Catholicity is logical in terms of of its own worldview and human history. That is, like D&D, there is strong internal consistency, else, little would make sense.
      Your father-fu is far superior to my own. I must study harder, but at nearly age 51, that’s a tough commitment.
      And Quivering Palm is present in every D&D video game that’s had Monks. I wouldn’t play DDO if it didn’t. Shameless plug: it’s free to play but Monks cost extra. Thanks again.

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