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The Hunt For a New Parish

Dear surfers,

My wife, three daughters and I have been on a search for a new Catholic Parish. In our 30 years of marriage my wife and I have been members of three different Parishes. This is an average of one new Parish every ten years. For the next decade, hopefully more, we will belong to a new Parish. Luckily, we live in the Detroit area and there is an embarrassment of riches regarding Parishes to choose from.

The struggle with finding a new Parish revolves around our family faith development. We need to find a place that is the right fit. This will not be easy.

I have been experiencing faith deconstruction for more than a decade and the older more traditional Catholic Parishes are holding back the process of my faith reconstruction.

My wife has been traveling on a similar faith journey, but she was always more progressive than me.

My children are from the “none” generation and the old traditional Catholic piety is not something they appreciate. They specifically dislike the treatment LGBT people receive from some of the Catholic institutions and traditional Catholic priest homilies.

The new Parish must be the right fit but like any good relationship it is a two way street. Our goal is to find a Parish where we can fully participate in the community. We volunteer our time in music, worship, and education ministries. We have a fair amount of experience and a lot to offer.

The new Parish we are looking for will need to be closer to our faith experience and help us grow. In order to meet our needs the Parish will need to share many of the faith values cited in the “twelve theses” recently presented by Bishop John Shelby Spong.

The Twelve Theses

Understanding God in theistic categories as “a being, supernatural in power, dwelling somewhere external to the world and capable of invading the world with miraculous power” is no longer believable. Most God talk in liturgy and conversation has thus become meaningless.

2.Jesus – the Christ.
If God can no longer be thought of in theistic terms, then conceiving of Jesus as “the incarnation of the theistic deity” has also become a bankrupt concept.

3.Original Sin – The Myth of the Fall
The biblical story of the perfect and finished creation from which we human beings have fallen into “Original Sin” is pre-Darwinian mythology and post-Darwinian nonsense.

4.The Virgin Birth
The virgin birth understood as literal biology is impossible. Far from being a bulwark in defense of the divinity of Christ, the virgin birth actually destroys that divinity.

5.Jesus as the Worker of Miracles
In a post-Newtonian world supernatural invasions of the natural order, performed by God or an “incarnate Jesus,” are simply not viable explanations of what actually happened.

6.Atonement Theology
Atonement theology, especially in its most bizarre “substitutionary” form, presents us with a God who is barbaric, a Jesus who is a victim and it turns human beings into little more than guilt-filled creatures. The phrase “Jesus died for my sins” is not just dangerous, it is absurd.

7.The Resurrection
The Easter event transformed the Christian movement, but that does not mean that it was the physical resuscitation of Jesus’ deceased body back into human history. The earliest biblical records state that “God raised him.” Into what, we need to ask. The experience of resurrection must be separated from its later mythological explanations.

8.The Ascension of Jesus
The biblical story of Jesus’ ascension assumes a three-tiered universe, which was dismissed some five hundred years ago. If Jesus’ ascension was a literal event of history, it is beyond the capacity of our 21st century minds to accept it or to believe it.

The ability to define and to separate good from evil can no longer be achieved with appeals to ancient codes like the Ten Commandments or even the Sermon on the Mount. Contemporary moral standards must be hammered out in the juxtaposition between life-affirming moral principles and external situations.

Prayer, understood as a request made to a theistic deity to act in human history, is little more than an hysterical attempt to turn the holy into the servant of the human. Most of our prayer definitions of the past are thus dependent on an understanding of God that has died.

11.Life after Death
The hope for life after death must be separated forever from behavior control. Traditional views of heaven and hell as places of reward and punishment are no longer conceivable. Christianity must, therefore, abandon its dependence on guilt as a motivator of behavior.

12.Judgment and Discrimination
Judgment is not a human responsibility. Discrimination against any human being on the basis of that which is a “given” is always evil and does not serve the Christian goal of giving “abundant life” to all. Any structure either in the secular world or in the institutional church, which diminishes the humanity of any child of God on the basis of race, gender or sexual orientation must be exposed publicly and vigorously. There can be no reason in the church of tomorrow for excusing or even forgiving discriminatory practices. “Sacred Tradition” must never again provide a cover to justify discriminatory evil.

No Catholic Parish can agree to all of these theses today, but the closer we get the more opportunity there will be for my family to grow our faith. Growing our faith is the goal.

We hope your Parish helps you grow in faith, as well.

God bless,


About neodecaussade

I am a Roman Catholic quester. You will find that I have scripture based academic interests. You will discover that I am a conservative Catholic but I am also prone to heterodox tendencies. I am versed in highly pietistic traditionalist practices but I am not a traditionalist. I am interested in entering a discussion on the future of the Roman Catholic Church. I would like to have a role in discussing how the future Church will be shaped.

10 responses »

  1. Speaking out about the disorientation of homosexuality is the duty of a priest. If some dislike that, perhaps they do not really believe the Catholic faith? My suggestion is to find a parish who speaks the Catholic Truth without reservation and to bring them to this Mass. Conscience must be developed; you cannot just avoid certain teachings of the Church. Finally, being somewhat familiar with the Detroit area, you might check out a new order called The Canons Regular of St Thomas Aquinas. They provide catechism and family education to the Detroit area

    • Dear Michigan Man,

      Thank you for commenting. I reflected on your suggestions during our morning rosary. I would like to offer a suggestion of my own.

      came to me as we prayed. Please click the link and contemplate this meditation while you pray the rosary.

      The link will take you to a morning meditation from Pope Francis from May 13, 2014. He discusses two groups of people, those who are open to the Holy Spirit and those who have a hardened heart. I come from the traditionalist background and my children have had a traditionalist Catholic education from the time they were born. We have a clear understanding of the catechism and the traditionalist mindset of natural law and the purpose of sexuality.

      Going back to the words of the Pope, my concern is that I once was like “these people [who] had distanced themselves, they did not believe in the People of God, they only believed in their own things, and thus they built a whole system of commandments that chased people away: they chased people away and would not let them enter the Church, the People. They could not believe! This is the sin of resisting the Holy Spirit”.

      I cannot go back to those hard hearted ways. I can no longer chase away LGBTQI people from the Church. They are the children of God, as am I. When the catechism tells me to chase people away and not let them enter the Church I try instead to remember the teaching of Jesus from Matthew 22: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

      I wanted a lifelong partner in marriage who I can love. The Catholic Church married us in 1985 and we have had 30 years of blessings. I cannot in good conscience deny this to somebody else who wants the same love and blessings only because they are LGBTQI. The words of Jesus trump the catechism. So, unless The Canons Regular of Thomas Aquinas have an open invitation and are not chasing people away from the Church, I will not participate. I must love my neighbor as myself.

      God bless,

      • There is no “like” button, but I like your response. Where can I find the other Catholics like you? Alas, they do not write columns in the diocesan newsletter nor the parish bulletin.

      • Dear Episcolic,
        Thank you for your kind words. I believe there are many Catholics who think this way.

        There is a member of “Call To Action“, John Freml, who wrote a letter to the editor of the Springfield State Journal-Register encouraging Catholics who refrain from taking communion to reconsider based upon their conscience.

        The Bishop of Springfield feels differently, which is to be expected. The fact is, once the barn door is open and the horses are out closing the door serves no purpose. I fully expect Pope Francis to allow divorced and remarried Catholics to receive communion in 2016. Who knows what will be next.

        God bless,

  2. From the 12 theses above, I have a feeling that you lost your faith or rather constructed your own one. I agree that you would indeed be considered a heretic in the Roman Catholic Church. Maybe a protestant parish ? There is also the Richard Dawkings Foundation. But no, you are definitively not Catholic. Good luck on your journey.

    • Dear Seeking Wisdom,

      Thank you for the comment. I am, however, Roman Catholic to the core and I gain my strength from this community of believers. There are certain aspects that support my faith, such as the Saints and the Rosary, that I cannot get any place else.

      I have come to realize, through contemplative prayer, that “heretic” is a label used by the proponents of dual thinking to create an artificial separation between people. I believe the 12 theses when approached with non-dual thought can be seen for what they are, which is neither good or bad. They are simply 12 theses.

      To your point, I understand that Catholic Church hierarchy cannot accept these 12 theses as an alternate orthodoxy today. This type of growth in the development of new orthodoxy takes a long time, but the current orthodoxy is not the only way to God. The Catholic Church has not cornered the market on salvation.

      I know all too well the CDF’s declaration Dominus Iesus that was published back in 2000, which attempted to spell out what a Catholic must believe to be considered as Catholic. This type of dual thought is what set me at odds with the will of God in my life. For a decade or more I struggled with my faith until it was completely deconstructed. I had to reach this point to finally accept God’s grace.

      Jean-Pierre de Caussade explains, in the book Abandonment to Divine Providence, that “the will of God is the salvation, health and life of body and soul, no matter to what subject it is applied,” and “it is the will of God which bestows through these things, no matter what they may be, an efficacious grace by which the image of Jesus Christ is renewed in our souls. One must not lay down the law nor impose limits on this divine will since it is all-powerful.”

      Trust me, I learned this lesson through a decade of suffering and pain. In the present moment the will of God for me is to pursue the 12 theses as my faith goals. Through them I see the image of Jesus Christ. This may seem strange to you that it is possible to see Christ in the 12 theses, but this is only because you have been indoctrinated into a dual thought mindset.

      If you go back before the Enlightenment and before the Protestant Reformation you will find a Catholic history of contemplative prayer. Within this Catholic tradition you will find the path of non-dual thought. Think about the Trinity. There is no dualism such as right or left, up or down, but a three sided cooperative understanding of God.

      The 12 theses are not right or wrong, good or bad; they just are what they are. For me, they are the will of God and my salvation.

      God bless,

      • Dear neodecaussade,

        I must admit that I am confused by what you mean by dual thinking. I understand my faith as it has been thought to me by my grandparents and the traditions of the Church, but everyone is free to follow their own path.

        Coming back to your theses, while reading your post I was wondering how you can pray sincerely the Apostle’s Creed ? How can you listen to the Gospel which describes all the miracles of Jesus and look for alternate explanations ? Are you not bringing God to a human level and redefining Him by our limited senses and understanding ? Is God not by definition Almighty ? I do not have much time to engage into online discussions, but I just wanted to bring this up to you for reflection. Also, it is my duty to defend here the honor of Our Lady, Her perpetual virginity being one of the dogma of the Catholic Church.

        I wish you a blessed new year and may you rediscover one day the joys of the true faith in all its beauty and simplicity despite the confusion and darkness that is surrounding us.

        If I can make a suggestion, I recommend you to read the Poem of the Man-God by Maria Valtorta. It has helped me tremendously on my path.

      • Dear Seeking Wisdom,
        You are very astute. Thank you for the questions. I appreciate the directness of the response. We don’t need to have an online discussion, but I felt that somebody else might read this string and might like a response. I know the things we discuss are threatening to your current faith development, but if you are following the will of God you are on the proper path. It is okay that we are both Catholic and the will of God is taking us down different paths.

        Regarding the creed, I have not been able to say the creed in it’s entirety for many years. I used to be a dual thinker and considered the creed to be bad, but I now feel the creed is what it is. I cannot say the words because I do not believe many of the words in the creed, but that does not make it bad. I am not alone in this. Many Catholics say the creed, but they don’t believe the words. Very few will admit it, but the creed is no longer a valid belief system for Catholic folks. This is completely acceptable and until the creed changes this will always be the case.

        Regarding the Gospel, I have been a student of Biblical studies and I have taught Bible study for many years as part of RCIA. I use the Papal Encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu to guide my understanding of the Gospels. With the disciplines of historical and textual criticism those miracle stories take on a non-literal meaning. The Encyclical was issued in 1943 by Pope Pius 12, so any fears you might have that this is some post-conciliar document can be assuaged.

        Regarding the dual thinking, consider two words; tall and short. These are labels and one cannot be considered without the other. We only know tall because there is a comparison to short. Now consider tall and short and judge them good or bad. Is tall good and short bad, or vice versus? Seems ridiculous to judge tall and short as intrinsically good or bad because they are just what they are; neutral labels. Let me give you another two neutral labels; Catholic and Protestant. They are what they are just labels neither good or bad.

        A Catholic dual thinker might pass judgement and say that Catholic was good and Protestant was bad, when no real judgement is necessary. A Catholic might say that those poor Protestants are going to Hell because they are not receiving the true body and blood of Christ, and this makes Protestant bad. This type of judgement is artificial and created by our human weaknesses.

        A non-dual thinker will understand that tall, short, Catholic and Protestant are just labels and have no intrinsic judgement of good or bad. They are what they are and must be accepted for what they are. I am Catholic because this is the path to my salvation. There are Protestants who feel the same way, and as long as they follow the will of God their salvation is secure.

        God bless,

  3. If those 12 theses are what you believe, then in what reasonable or even possible sense are you Catholic? Maybe you can find a home is a liberal Episcopal church, but as for Catholicism you are asking for something that it is not.

    • Dear Nat D,
      I could provide a litany of dates and Catholic Churches for my Baptism, First Communion, Confirmation, Marriage, and dates of my Reconciliations, but I feel that this is not what you are driving at with your question.

      I believe you are driving at the notion that in order to be truly Catholic we must pass the Dominus Iesus litmus test. I will tell you honestly, without sarcasm, I do not pass this test but I am still Catholic. The truth is many Catholics cannot pass this litmus test but still fill the pews on Sunday. With each successive generation fewer and fewer Catholics will be able to pass this litmus test, and we can’t toss them all out.

      There is no need for all Catholics to believe the 12 theses, only those who are directed to them by the Holy Spirit. I am following the will of God and my salvation depends on staying on this path. The 12 theses are just what they are, and neither good nor bad. I am what I am, a Catholic who does not pass the litmus test. This too is neither good nor bad. It just is.

      It is tough for dual thinkers to understand that the will of God is not universal for all humans. The folks who ask for the litmus test judge all other paths to God as being bad. This is a human weakness due to the indoctrination of dual thought. We can overcome this dual thought through the discipline of contemplative prayer.

      God bless,


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