Monday, April 28, 2008

Dog-paddling across the Tiber Pt 1

This is probably a lousy time to start blogging on my journey toward the Catholic church, with a wedding looming on the horizon and all. But, as with many things in my life, I'll do it even though it doesn't make sense. Please forgive me if I disappear around mid-May.

Part of the reason I want to write about it now is to help me think again about the whole process. I admit to some cold-feet, some hesitation. And yet...I can't see myself not taking this step. It is not only the next natural step to take, but it's the one that I want. But this isn't an easy decision. If it was easy, I might actually be more wary of making it, wondering what I was missing in the big picture. At this point in my journey, however, I do see the "warts and all" of the decision, and choose to make it anyway.

I don't have the best memory, so I won't get all the pieces of this puzzle right. I'm sure I'll leave something out (lots of somethings, actually), and get some chronology wring. But I'm sure of the beginning, so I'll simply start there. The whole thing started with homeschooling my children, and my oldest daughter in particular. For her 10th grade year she and I studied Church History using Sonlight's curriculum, and rest, as they say, is not only history, but it is my present and future.

We were pretty dyed in the wool Calvinists at this time, attending a church that practiced the Regulative Principle (anything not explicitly commanded in worship is forbidden). I might add, that the year of study, which included a study of the Westminster Confession, did nothing to shake my daughter's faith or her beliefs. For me it was the beginnings of an earthquake, one slowing forming cracks along fault lines I didn't even know existed in my faith and beliefs.

That year had me reading books on Eastern Christianity, Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism and more. The books, and the questions in the study guide, led to some honest wrestling with beliefs I'd always accepted at face value. What did the early church really look like, where did we get the Bible, and could there be some solid basis for the "different" doctrines of the EO or RC churches? I saw for the first time the sweep of history, the early origins of beliefs and practices I had been taught were late additions of a corrupted church. I was so angry I wrote a long, complaining email to John Holtzman, the author and publisher of Sonlight curriculum. (It says something about the small size of the company that in those days Holtzman freely corresponded with many users.) John and I carried on an intermittent conversation about what was "safe" and proper for good Protestant kids to be reading and learning. (Even with my own hesitations, I never stopped my daughter from reading any of the books or delving into the questions. Like I said, she wasn't struggling with the new information, I was.) One thing I appreciated about the Sonlight curriculum is it never let you get off easy. There were few pat answers on any level, and difficult books and information were never withheld simply because they were difficult. Holtzman stood by his choice of books and questions. We need to believe because we believe, not because we only know one side of the story.

That study of church history sent me scurrying to find reassurance in my Protestant, and particularly reformed, belief system. Over the next few years I read all kinds of books on understanding Catholicism, but only those written by Protestants.


John Holzmann said...

Wow, Carrie!

(I have a "Google Alert" set for "sonlight curriculum," so I was alerted to your post.) This is quite a story. And almost scary to see my name associated with it. But I'm "dying" to see where it goes from here!

Thanks for sharing it.

my15minutes said...

HA! Dog-paddling! ...and to think I was there at the beginning! :-)

So when does the dog reach the other side?

By the way, my son (M) is looking at Elon which isn't too far from you. If he ends up there I might have to visit. We'll do mass. :^D

carrie said...

Wow, back! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. In case you don't remember, I'm Carrie in NC from long years ago on the SL forums, back when K Brinkman was the forum moderator. I'm still in touch with her, btw, along with several of the "old" Edu-Anon gang. Karen and I both live in NC now.

I'm working on Pt 2, but I'm not happy with it. I need a few days and some quiet (yeah, right) to go back through the process. So stop back by!

carrie said...

Hey there, "15." ;-) Yes, you not only were there, you're partly to "blame." Please feel free to comment on any step of the process, you probably have a better memory than I do. Oh, and you will show up in this narrative, even if only by initials or pseudonym.

Right now I'm scheduled to join on July 13th. I'll start the Sunday morning catechumen/ candidate meetings after the wedding.

Do keep me posted about Elon. What a treat it would be to have you visiting just up the road every so often. We could definitely "do mass."

Susanne Barrett said...

I love hearing all of the "gory details," Carrie. It's great that John chimed in as well. :)

I'm firmly established in conservative Anglicanism, small "c" catholic to the core. So much of it overlaps the RCC that I feel catholic in many ways, and at least Keith lets me go there while he'd FREAK at my attending RCC mass.

It's amazing how many of us from EA have become liturgical if noth Catholic. And the LLL forum (old EA) is still strongly going that direction as well. There's also a great Yahoo group I'm part of for people contemplating or already dogpaddling across the Tiber: Catholic Spitfire Grill. If you do a Yahoo group search, you should find it easily. And it's run by an old SL pal. :)

You go, girl! :)

my15minutes said...

Oh, you can use me and my story however you'd like... I'm flattered!