Sunday, October 7, 2018

how to be a Christian in our nit-picky, negative world: a guest post by Judie Jolma

"I recently began studies for a Masters of Theology and was surprised by my impressions after the first class. Introduction to Theology was almost entirely apologetic in nature. Instead of embarking on a study to delve deeper into an understanding of what our hearts love, it was a defense - an argument - to prove our position‘s validity for those who don’t believe. Are we insecure in our belief? Do we think that love can be inspired by arguments? (Don’t mistake these comments as relativistic slop that does not demand holiness. That is not my point.) 
There is a place for apologetics, to be sure. But when so many encyclicals are specifically drafted for this cause it colors the nature of our faith. We have somehow abandoned our first love, abandoned the way of the lover in Song of Solomon who searches for the fairest of ten thousands, whose hands drip with myrrh. And this departure has come from the shepherds (hirelings) who lead us. Do our hearts faint being love-sick for our Lord, our bridegroom? Or do we live in a passionless faith where we choose sides like a political party? 

Do our faces shine because they reflect the light of the Father - like the moon reflecting the sun? Or do we live a cold, calculating faith inspecting the correctness of our brother’s beliefs? We worry about definitions and proper form. We check the boxes, and like the Pharisees thank God that we are not like that tax collector. 

The whole church needs a course correction. We are all guilty of the sin of the older brother in the story of the prodigal son. We need to abandon the notion that intimacy can be charted and measured. We need to stop running away from the negative and run toward the true, good and beautiful.

Put away these petty arguments. Pray like a lover. Reach out in the liturgy to touch the priest’s vestments and be healed of all that hurt that inspires you to fight and strive. Can’t we all see how much woundedness there is coming from each person around us? Hurting people hurt people. But only the lover sings.

Go to liturgy and sing."
---Judie Jolma 


  1. Good to hear from you! Hope the fast is going well!

    In a qualified sort of way, she is right. In response to various heresies and schisms the study of theology has been divorced from prayer and love. However, due to the appalling state of catechetics, many such courses have an apologetic focus in order to make up for the Lacunae in the student's knowledge of the faith. She acknowledges a problem without addressing the cause. Teachers can no longer assume that incoming students even have a basic and correct knowledge of the faith. Hopefully, she can help develop solutions to this problem.

  2. I think it was St Augustine who said, "Love, and do what you will." Now- for some- this would seem like permission to do whatever they want, whatever 'feels' good- but St Augustine means that one must love God and man with an educated and clear conscience- then yes, you will do only good things out of love for God! I think this is the gist here as well

  3. A very irrational post, also involving rash judgment: "we are all guilty ..." Really??? How do YOU know, Julie? Not to mention, you seem to be forgetting St Peter's admonition that we be ready to give a reason for that hope that is within us ... If such hope is not the product of love, I don't know what is.

    1. I disagree with this post being "irrational." She states at the beginning that it is an incomplete reflection on LOVE being a vital element in the Christian life. If it covered every contingency, it would be book length or longer.

      As for "we are all guilty"- ALL have fallen short of the glory of God... (except the Theotokos, of course)

  4. I think this is a beautiful & thought-provoking post. Thank you for sharing! Blessings & peace!


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