Re: MD Transubstantiation

Date: Tue May 03 2005 - 07:03:36 BST

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    Hi Sam, Ian, Mark, Platt, all:

    Until now I've avoided getting into religious discussion because it always
    ends up offending someone and, considering the general MD impression that my
    philosophy is theistic and faith-based, it would most likely offend
    everyone. But considering the remarkably long run of this thread and the
    acceptance of Transubstantiation as an appropriate topic for philosophy,
    perhaps this is the time and place for a personal anecdote which I relate
    without philosophical comment.

    Beginning at about age ten I became interested in religion. That in itself
    would not be remarkable, except that my parents never discussed it and,
    apart from attending an impromptu Sunday School service held at the local
    "Y" in the factory-owned village where I was raised, I'd never set foot in a
    church or heard a sermon. We did have a family Bible, however; and I recall
    taking it down from the shelf during Easter season, leafing through the
    Gospels, and stopping at the verses (probably in Matthew) recounting the
    disciples' preparation for passover. Although "the feast of unleavened
    bread" was meaningless to me, I knew that this Jesus fellow was somebody
    special, and that he knew he was about to be crucified. Curiosity got the
    best of me. What could be going through this man's head in his final days
    as he attempts to console a dozen bewildered disciples?

    There was that line about one of them betraying him, followed by the quick
    exit of Judas -- great drama, this! But then, as they're eating, Jesus
    breaks bread, blesses it, and gives it to his disciples. "Take, eat; this
    is my body", Jesus says. And then, pouring wine into a cup, he says "Drink;
    this is my blood". This touching gesture of a man's love for his comrades
    made a lasting impression on me as a 10-year-old.

    One day, not long after this, I met up with my buddy Neal who lived a couple
    of houses down the street from us. Neal wasn't at all interested in
    religion; baseball and boxing matches were more his fancy. But on this day
    he was dressed in a suit and bow tie, and he had a small book in his hand.
    "What's that?" I asked. "It's my catechism book", he explained; "the priest
    is going to ask me a bunch of questions. I've got to know the answers so's
    I can get confirmed." Neal had a couple of years on me, and I remembered my
    parents "advising" me that he was a Catholic.

    Well, naturally, we got to talking, and I found out that one or two of the
    questions in Neal's catechism had to do with the Last Supper. "The bread
    that Jesus broke for the disciples is called the 'host', Neil informed me,
    "and in the Holy Communion, it turns into the body of Jesus, and the wine
    turns into his blood." I remember staring at him incredulously. "Of
    course, I don't really believe in magic," he added; "but it's what we're
    supposed to believe." Neal had studied his catechism well.

    Several years later, while attending my first Easter Communion service in a
    Methodist Church with my family -- without benefit of a catechism -- I
    imagined myself as one of those disciples at that Last Supper. I also
    wondered whether Neal would still be calling it magic.

    Essentially yours,

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