No, the title's not a typo. It's Latin. "Scandal" comes from "scandalum". It's means "stumbling block", "temptation", or "trap". With all the talk of priestly impropriety and pro-choice Catholics, it's easy to miss more ordinary forms of scandal. Each one of us can be a stumbling block to someone else's faith. Non-Catholics, and non-Christians in general, see us as representatives of the Church. Our pompous self-righteousness doesn't jive well with Christ's message, and we look like hypocrites as a result.

I've often thought about this as I've read posts and comments on Mark Shea's rather caustic blog. There, and other places in St. Blog's, I've encountered what Disputations referred to as the Star Chamber.

Given the choice, I personally would rather be in a Church with confused, ignorant, and overly protective troublemakers than with well-catechized and theologically educated people who don't give a rat's ass about the confused and the ignorant.

Another scandal is created by those who constantly blame and harangue the Church. They undermine other people's faith in the Church. If we do not respect Church authority and leadership, how can we expect others to? Mark Windsor, of Vociferous Yawpings, summed this up well as he closed up shop, unable to bear the vitriole any longer.

It seems to me that St. Blogs is in something of an adolescent rage. There are people out there who like nothing better than to complain about the Church. I've even taken to calling them the 'blame the Church first crowd.'… They've begun spreading their disaffection at every opportunity in every comments box they can find. Some readers are drawn to their cataclysmic view; their faith challenged, broken, or at the very least altered and nearly unrecognizable. To speak out against them is to be considered uncultured; blind, ignorant, otherworldly. Even the blogs that attempt to do some good, and come close to doing so at times, attract those that seek to poison the Church and all she stands for…. The harshness I've seen, that Sherry Weddell notes above and that Mark Shea has argued against for ages, has become so dominant that I no longer see a valid reason to continue this blog.

It's a shame Mark decided to leave the blogosphere. I've never read his blog, but he seems like a kind, compassionate, and level-headed person, and the internet and St. Blog's need more of those. Laudem Gloriae has a different take on the departure.

The comments at Not So Quiet Catholic corner got so bad that comments are now disabled there. I don't agree with that decision at all. A blog without comments is only half a blog. Without comments, it's too easy to be prideful. We need constructive criticism to keep us humble. Still, I can certainly understand being frustrated with mean and spiteful comments.

This morning, this blog became an occasion for scandal. Someone who I consider to be a kind, considerate, and faithful person, insulted a fellow reader. The person who was insulted happens to be an atheist. While I'm neither holding my breath in anticipation of a conversion, nor actively proselytizing him, I don't think personal attacks are likely to bring him back.

Here I am, trying to be one of those honorable bloggers who manages to speak out with unpopular perspectives without attacking people for their personality, marriageability, etc., when along comes yet another Christian testifying to the transformative power of her faith. Lovely.

There are enough stumbling blocks to faith. I'd rather not add more. Before commenting, please think about whether your words will draw others to Christ or cause scandal. I'll step off my soapbox now and let Ghandi close for me.

"I would be a Christian if it wasn't for the Christians!"


"Oh, I don't reject your Christ. I love your Christ. It's just that so many of you Christians are so unlike your Christ."

Related: "Busted"

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About Funky Dung

Who is Funky Dung? 29-year-old grad student in Intelligent Systems (A.I.) at the University of Pittsburgh. I consider myself to be politically moderate and independent and somewhere between a traditional and neo-traditional Catholic. I was raised Lutheran, spent a number of years as an agnostic, and joined the Catholic Church at the 2000 Easter Vigil. Why Funky Dung? I haven't been asked this question nearly as many times as you or I might expect. Funky Dung is a reference to an obscure Pink Floyd song. On the album Atom Heart Mother, there is a track called Atom Heart Mother Suite. It's broken up into movements, like a symphony, and one of the movements is called Funky Dung. I picked that nickname a long time ago (while I was still in high school I think), shortly after getting an internet connection for the first time. To me it means "cool/neat/groovy/spiffy stuff/crap/shiznit", as in "That's some cool stuff, dude!" Whence Ales Rarus? I used to enjoy making people guess what this means, but I've decided to relent and make it known to all. Ales Rarus is a Latin play on words. "Avis rarus" means "a rare bird" and carries similar meaning to "an odd fellow". "Ales" is another Latin word for bird that carries connotations of omens, signs of the times, and/or augery. If you want to get technical, both "avis" and "ales" are feminine (requiring "rara", but they can be made masculine in poetry (which tends to breaks lots of rules). I decided I'd rather have a masculine name in Latin. ;) Yeah, I'm a nerd. So what? :-P Wherefore blog? It is my intention to "teach in order to lead others to faith" by being always "on the lookout for occasions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers . . . or to the faithful" through the "use of the communications media". I also act knowing that I "have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors [my] opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and [I] have a right to make [my] opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward [my and their] pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons." (adapted from CCC 904-907) Statement of Faith I have been baptized and confirmed in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I, therefore, renounce Satan; I renounce all his works; I renounce all his allurements. I hold and profess all that is contained in the Apostles' Creed, the Niceno- Constantinopolitan Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. Having been buried with Christ unto death and raised up with him unto a new life, I promise to live no longer for myself or for that world which is the enemy of God but for him who died for me and rose again, serving God, my heavenly Father, faithfully and unto death in the holy Catholic Church. I am obedient to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. That is, I promote and defend authentic Catholic Teaching and Faith in union with Christ and His Church and in union with the Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of St. Peter. Thanks be unto Thee, O my God, for all Thy infinite goodness, and, especially, for the love Thou hast shown unto me at my Confirmation. I Give Thee thanks that Thou didst then send down Thy Holy Spirit unto my soul with all His gifts and graces. May He take full possession of me for ever. May His divine unction cause my face to shine. May His heavenly wisdom reign in my heart. May His understanding enlighten my darkness. May His counsel guide me. May His knowledge instruct me. May His piety make me fervent. May His divine fear keep me from all evil. Drive from my soul, O Lord, all that may defile it. Give me grace to be Thy faithful soldier, that having fought the good fight of faith, I may be brought to the crown of everlasting life, through the merits of Thy dearly beloved Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. Behind the Curtain: an Interview With Funky Dung (Thursday, March 03, 2005) I try to avoid most memes that make their way 'round the blogosphere (We really do need a better name, don't we?), but some are worth participating in. Take for instance the "interview game" that's the talk o' the 'sphere. I think it's a great way to get to know the people in neighborhood. Who are the people in your neighborhood? In your neighborhod? In your neigh-bor-hoo-ood...*smack* Sorry, Sesame Street flashback. Anyhow, I saw Jeff "Curt Jester" Miller's answers and figured since he's a regular reader of mine he'd be a good interviewer. Without further ado, here are my answers to his questions. 1. Being that your pseudonym Funky Dung was chosen from a Pink Floyd track on Atom Heart Mother, what is you favorite Pink Floyd song and why? Wow. That's a tuffy. It's hard to pick out a single favorite. Pink Floyd isn't really a band known for singles. They mostly did album rock and my appreciation of them is mostly of a gestalt nature. If I had to pick one, though, it'd be "Comfortably Numb". I get chills up my spine every time I hear it and if it's been long enough since the last time, I get midty-eyed. I really don't know why. That's a rather unsatisfying answer for an interview, so here are the lyrics to a Rush song. It's not their best piece of music, but the lyrics describe me pretty well.

New World Man He's a rebel and a runner He's a signal turning green He's a restless young romantic Wants to run the big machine He's got a problem with his poisons But you know he'll find a cure He's cleaning up his systems To keep his nature pure Learning to match the beat of the old world man Learning to catch the heat of the third world man He's got to make his own mistakes And learn to mend the mess he makes He's old enough to know what's right But young enough not to choose it He's noble enough to win the world But weak enough to lose it --- He's a new world man... He's a radio receiver Tuned to factories and farms He's a writer and arranger And a young boy bearing arms He's got a problem with his power With weapons on patrol He's got to walk a fine line And keep his self-control Trying to save the day for the old world man Trying to pave the way for the third world man He's not concerned with yesterday He knows constant change is here today He's noble enough to know what's right But weak enough not to choose it He's wise enough to win the world But fool enough to lose it --- He's a new world man...
2. What do you consider your most important turning point from agnosticism to the Catholic Church. At some point in '99, I started attending RCIA at the Pittsburgh Oratory. I mostly went to ask a lot of obnoxious Protestant questions. Or at least that's what I told myself. I think deep down I wanted desperately to have faith again. At that point I think I'd decided that if any variety of Christianity had the Truth, the Catholic Church did. Protestantism's wholesale rejection of 1500 years of tradition didn't sit well with me, even as a former Lutheran. During class one week, Sister Bernadette Young (who runs the program) passed out thin booklet called "Handbook for Today's Catholic". One paragraph in that book spoke to me and I nearly cried as I read it.
"A person who is seeking deeper insight into reality may sometimes have doubts, even about God himself. Such doubts do not necessarily indicate lack of faith. They may be just the opposite - a sign of growing faith. Faith is alive and dynamic. It seeks, through grace, to penetrate into the very mystery of God. If a particular doctrine of faith no longer 'makes sense' to a person, the person should go right on seeking. To know what a doctrine says is one thing. To gain insight into its meaning through the gift of understanding is something else. When in doubt, 'Seek and you will find.' The person who seeks y reading, discussing, thinking, or praying eventually sees the light. The person who talks to God even when God is 'not there' is alive with faith."
At the end of class I told Sr. Bernadette that I wanted to enter the Church at the next Easter vigil. 3. If you were a tree what kind of, oh sorry about that .. what is the PODest thing you have ever done? I set up WikiIndex, a clearinghouse for reviews of theological books, good, bad, and ugly. It has a long way to go, but it'll be cool when it's finished. :) 4. What is your favorite quote from Venerable John Henry Newman? "Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt." 5. If you could ban one hymn from existence, what would it be? That's a tough one. As a member of the Society for a Moratorium on the Music of Marty Haugen and David Haas, there are obviously a lot of songs that grate on my nerves. If I had to pick one, though, I'd probably pick "Sing of the Lord's Goodness" by Ernie Sands.

9 thoughts on “Scandala

  1. William Meisheid

    >”I would be a Christian if it wasn’t for the Christians!”

    All those who would not come need their excuses. Ghandi, an intelligent man, blamed the messenger when his own statement admitted to the varacity of the message. I have always seen that statement as the height of disingenuousness, since the same argument existed against his Hinduism.

  2. Jeremy Pierce

    I’m not sure it’s the same concept at all in causing others to sin. If the issue had been offending nonbelievers by making them upset at Christians, it would be the same concept. The concept in this case seems to be leading people to do something that they think is a sin, which doesn’t have much to do with anyone being offended.

  3. Jeremy Pierce

    Its origin is actualy in the Greek ‘scandolon’, which the Latin just transliterated.

    Interestingly, it’s used by Paul to refer to an aspect of the gospel itself not to be avoided but to be preached. I agree with you, though, that we often add scandals of our own that distract from the true scandal of Jesus Christ, the one people need to see for what it is without these other distracting things.

  4. Funky Dung

    Paul also used the concept, if not the word, when advising Christians to abstain from activities that cause others to sin (such as eating meat sacrificed to idols). “All is permissible, but not all is edifying.”

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