At eighteen, he headed East for college and entered the Roman Catholic Church. In college, he met a beautiful and compassionate Catholic girl who was to become the great love and support of my life; she was not particularly religious, but she appreciated how important these matters were to me, and so she supported me in my beliefs. he do a great injustice to her seemingly limitless resources of strength, support, and love by compressing the beginning of our relationship into a few sentences here.
AN ENCOUNTER WITH A PRIEST
I asked the campus priest — a sweet and pious man — about some of the Gospel material that had given me trouble, but he became uncomfortable and changed the subject. On another occasion, he remember telling him that he was focusing closely on the Gospel of John because that Gospel was (as he thought then) a first-person account of the events in question.
Again, he stammered and changed the subject and did not want to discuss the merits of one Gospel over another; he simply insisted that all four were important and that he should study all of them… escondido house movers. This was a telling conversation, and a fateful one, as it turned out.
CHRISTIANITY? OR PAULISM?
Now, this is not my life story, but rather my reversion account, so I’m going to fast-forward over a lot of important events. That sweet campus priest eventually married my girlfriend and me, and we settled in suburban Massachusetts. We each moved ahead professionally and became grownups. We had three beautiful children. And I kept reading and rereading the Bible. I was drawn, as ever, to the sayings about the lamp and the eye, the Prodigal Son, the Beatitudes, the importance of prayer, and so many others — but I had steadily more serious intellectual problems with the surrounding “architecture” of the New Testament, particularly with the Apostle Paul. The fact that Paul never seemed to build a theological argument around anything that Jesus (pbuh) actually said was a big, big problem for me.
In the mid-1990s, my wife and he both became deeply disenchanted with the Catholic Church, in part because of a truly terrible priest who gave very little attention to the spiritual needs of his community. We later learned that he had been covering up for a child abuser!
I found it necessary to immerse myself in a faith community. he joined, and became active in, the local Protestant denomination, a Congregational Church.
So he led Sunday School classes for children, and briefly taught a Gospel class on the Parables for the adults. In the Sunday School classes for the kids he stayed right with the curriculum he had been given; but in the adult class, he tried to challenge the participants to confront certain parables directly, without filtering everything through the Apostle Paul. We had interesting discussions, but he sensed some resistance, and he didn’t try to teach an adult class again. My wife eventually joined my church. (She is a member there today.)
By this point, he had become deeply affected by the apparent intersection of the Christian mystic tradition and that of the Sufis and the Zen Buddhists. And he had even written on such matters. But there seemed to be no one at my church who shared my zeal for these issues.
FOCUSING ON THE GOSPEL SAYINGS
In particular, I was interested in the research being done that indicated that the oldest strata of the Gospels reflected an extremely early oral source known as Q, and that each of the individual sayings of Jesus needed to be evaluated on its own merits, and not as part of the narrative material that surrounded it.
This is because that narrative material was added many years later.