Pages

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Symbols

My daughter was supposed to be my third homebirth; however, my careful attendant noted some heart decelerations during contractions and a quick vaginal exam revealed a cord prolapse. Suddenly my peaceful, gentle homebirth became a scary ride to the emergency room in an ambulance with a STAT C-section. I kept my eyes closed tightly during the ambulance ride and in the hospital, but on my way to the operating room a kind doctor bent over me to introduce himself and let me know what was happening and how my baby was. When I opened my eyes, I immediately saw the gold cross around his neck. To this day I do not remember that doctor's name or even what he looked like, but I remember seeing that cross and having a feeling of peace and serenity. It never once crossed my mind that this physician was somehow a "different" sort of Christian because he was not wearing a crucifix, nor did it ever occur to me that the cross he wore meant anything other than the crucifixion cross, with or without the corpus of Jesus upon it. Instead I saw a symbol of my faith and I drew strength and courage from that. In fact, I think it was one of many subtle signs that God has given me throughout my life to remind me of his presence.

Barbara Curtis, who is converting to Catholicism, has noted the importance of the crucifix and she said it very well here:

Catholics are faulted for showing the image of Jesus on the Cross. I understand this now. I understand that though Christ died once for my sins, I need to remember it vividly to stay grounded in humility. Yes, I am saved by grace. But that does not make me worthy now - and I need to keep that in mind or though I might say the right words, my life will reflect a different reality.


Candy is trying to make a differentiation between a plain cross and a crucifix,
as though Catholics (and Orthodox and Anglicans and Lutherans and other Christians)aren't "really" Christians if we don't wear the cross the way she says that it should be worn in the shape and style she says it should be. It always seems to me when Candy gives these little encyclicals that she wants to be the Pope of her own little church, and indeed, judging by some of her readership, she has succeeded to some degree. Still it was heartening to see that some of her readers have asked some challenging questions, notably this one by a lady named Lucy:

I wear a crucifix, because to me, a cross is just a cross. Lots of people died on crosses. And a cross doesn't even have to be a symbol of a crucifixion cross - it could be anything. The only reason "the cross" means a thing is because of Who died on it, why He died on it, and then what happened next. The resurrection only has a meaning of hope and joy because the cross came first - if the Lord Jesus had died of old age and then been resurrected, it wouldn't have necessarily had any redemptive purpose so far as I can see. To me a crucifix is beautiful because it portrays the depth of my Saviour's love for me and mankind, and is a continual reminder of His love and suffering and the sacrifice He made.


and even my nemesis Amy asked some good questions!



I'm confused as to how one kind of copying pagan symbols (the cross necklaces and Christmas trees) is OK but the copying of the statues is different? Is it because they show veneration to the statues and not the tree?


It seems to me Candy wants to have it both ways! She wants some the "pagan" symbols, but she wants to chastise folks who to her mind have other "pagan symbols."

The pagans had feasts. Does this mean then, that Christians should not eat? The pagans sang and danced unto their false gods. Does this mean then that it was pagan of King David to dance unto the Lord when he was celebrating the returning of the ark of the covenant?

"But wait, you say... The pagans had it all wrong." And so they did. :-) Now we can move on:


I actually agree with her statement her, but of course she means as long as the CATHOLICS haven't adopted them! She just forgot to add that little exception.

In the comment section Candy writes:

As for the pope picture - a graven image is a statue of anything or anyone. If a person is bowing before it, then they are showing homage to it.

Even if the person is bowing before it, but in their hearts they are bowing before God and praying to God, that's not what it looks like to curious on-lookers. This could then be constrewed (sic)as an appearance of evil, and the Bible says to avoid even the appearance of evil.



The bible also says:

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.


For more information on crucifixes see this article from Fisheaters. Also see this very well written, researched and biblical letter from Defenders of the Catholic Faith on the crucifix and statues here.

6 comments:

Tracy said...

Excellent Post Elena!!

Faithful Catholic said...

In one of our local hospitals, which happens to be Catholic and happens to be the one we frequent by choice, every single patient room has a crucifix hanging opposite the head of the bed. There are also crucifixes and statues and Bibles all over the place in this hospital. I can't tell you how comforting it's been knowing that a crucifix will be hanging on the wall in any one of the rooms either of my parents might be in. It's wonderful to see the sisters and the priests walking the halls and visiting the patients. It's comforting to know that a priest is never too far to come anoint the sick, hear a confession, bring Communion. I wonder if any of the non-Catholics who have been patients in that hospital find this objectionable or offensive or un-Christian? This is the Bible Belt. This particular hospital is always full. I know all these people aren't Catholic. Obviously in many cases they choose this hospital over the many, many other local hospitals. I wonder what Candy would do if she ever found herself being transported to a Catholic hospital in an emergency. I wonder what she'd make of the statues and the crucifixes.

sara said...

I was taught that we (non-Catholics - yes, I know that some Protestant denoms use a crucifix but I'm recounting my own experience) don't depict Christ on the cross because He is not perpetually dying but rather has risen. NOW I think that both the bare cross representing His resurrection and the crucifix representing His death are both wonderful symbols.

(BTW, has anyone seen the cross/crucifix with Jesus with His arms upraised?)

I wonder if sometimes the reason that some people are offended at a crucifix is because it IS meant to be offensive - I mean that they are reluctant to look full on at the price Jesus paid.

Perplexity said...

I was honestly perplexed (fitting) at Candy's post. It seemed a not so thinly veiled attack against Catholics, and others, with no real direction. I think, for me, you clarified a lot of it. Candy wants what she wants, wants to worship what she wants, and wants to say that all others are wrong. Her particular brand of Christianity is all about her and how she worships and what she does. And, although I've known that from the beginning, your post clarified this particular situation for me. I read her post several times and really couldn't find the thesis, or the point. It was convoluted.

She can have a Christmas tree, she can have a cross - even though it is a symbol - but that's because she knows what is right. And, the way she picks and chooses what is right and wrong is indicative of her own confusion.

I'm not saying that people who pick and choose are all confused; it's those who pick and choose while professing their own superiority and correctness.

There seems to be a "blog battle" going on among many of the fundamental Christians surrounding Candy about whether Christmas is Christian or not. Many of her posts reflect her conviction that again, she is right. And many, like the ones on Christmas and symbols, are simply part of that "blog battle".

It's the "he said, she said" thing only with self righteous Christians saying "I'm a real Christian and this is right and what he/she said is wrong".

Basically, I see the post as a combination Catholic bash and non-Christmas celebrating Christian bash. She is, apparently, and equal opportunity offender.

And, the cross argument amazes me, to be honest. What difference, as a whole, does it make? Is there that much of a "need" to separate different types of worship? Isn't the key to believe, and have faith?

One last note on this rambling, disjointed comment. I attended a Catholic, all girls college. It was not exclusive - anyone could attend. It didn't have religion as any part of required curriculum. But, it offered all aspects of Catholicism to anyone wanting it. 13% of all students were "sisters" from around the world who left their lives behind to come to that school for an education. I was an ESL tutor (for those for whom English was not their native language) and got to know a lot of these women. And I noticed things about them as the years went on. They all wore crosses. Every single one of them. Some wore the crucifix. Some, simple crosses.

For all, the meaning was the same, regardless of which cross they wore. Remember, they were all "sisters" - either already, or in the process of becoming, nuns. The school is part of "The school sisters of St. Francis". That association involves a lot of nuns by its very nature. And all these women, who were obviously very devoted Catholics, differed in their CHOICE of which cross to wear.

Does the cross difference mean that one is a "truer" Catholic than another?

By the same note, does it mean one is a "truer" Christian in general depending on their choice of cross?

Candy says yes. Most of the rest of the world thinks there are more important things in the world to focus on.

Blondie said...

Sara wrote: I wonder if sometimes the reason that some people are offended at a crucifix is because it IS meant to be offensive - I mean that they are reluctant to look full on at the price Jesus paid.

I think that's a very good point. Jesus, our Lord and Savior, God Himself, dying a humiliating death on a cross is offensive. Even more of a reason to remember. A popular slogan regarding the Holocaust is "never forget." I agree totally; it is the only way to be proactive in assuring that something like that never happens again. In the
same way (and even more importantly), we must never, ever forget the pain and suffering that Jesus Christ went through on OUR behalf, that we might have the hope of eternal life.

Swylv said...

I've wondered about the embracing xmess and some things the catholic church made acceptable with one hand and yet bashing you all with the other hand also....and now of course she bashes those of us who look at the Bible from a Hebrew point of view, say it with me Jesus was a Jew ....hello