Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Why I Am Protestant

Why am I still a Protestant?, a recent commenter implicitly asked.

I imagine that when a man is in the process of deep conversion, he is unable to grasp exactly what is happening, or where he is along the way (until it is over). Therefore, I can only speculate about what has been happening to your faithful Thos.

I risk being boring if I give too extensive a recap of my own exposure to Catholic doctrines, so to be as brief as possible, I diagram (and necessarily exclude my efforts spent looking for a third way):

Proudly Reformed → puzzled at my inability to defend sola Scriptura against a Catholic critique → puzzled that Reformed writings don’t refute the critique → puzzled that my Reformed pastors can’t refute the critique → becoming increasingly skeptical of the Protestant authority scheme → my present state. (I discussed my thoughts through this process in more detail in a series of posts ending with this one.)

The days of being proudly Reformed, and confident that its teachers could address any supposed deficiencies, are about four years behind me. But it has been some time indeed since I’ve felt that I’ve been able to progress one way or another (back to my roots, or further from them).

So why have I stalled in this “no-man’s-land”? Why am I still Protestant?

I don’t know. I told Kim recently while discussing the idea of being reasoned into Catholicism (or any other conversion, I suppose), “I'm not sure you can be *purely* reasoned into [conversion]. I mean, reason may be persuaded, and one still can't get over some anxieties." Let me try to clarify.

The best I can figure at this point is that conversion, as a process, involves at least two major changes. My working theory holds that it involves both intellectual conversion and emotional (i.e., sentimental) conversion. Further, I believe the intellect and emotions need to be persuaded much further beyond 50% of certainty before they are actually converted (a sort of 'principle of inertia'). My intellect was persuaded beyond 50% that the authority claims of Catholicism are stronger than those of Protestantism relatively long ago. And I think that within the last six months I approximately reached my inertial tipping point. When I perceived that this was happening, I got excited that I might have enough conviction to end this long and tiring journey…

But then the neon lights just weren’t flashing quite like I had hoped. I have continued to harbor a kind of skepticism that is particularly provoked by certain Catholic images, prayers and practices. My present theory is that while my intellect has converted, my emotions (or Protestant sentiments) have not. If this is true, it’s an unpleasant spot to be in. When I read, write, discuss, or debate, I hold a higher respect for Catholic theology. When I pray, meditate, and talk to myself in the quiet of the night, I remain a skeptic, deeply worried that I could be standing in the path of making a fatal error. Lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil.

In sum, I am still a Protestant because I would not like to be a skeptical Catholic, and I would not like to convert only to re-convert later in life (I was quite fickle as a younger man, and do not wish to return to that reputation). I am still a Protestant because, at present, I would not be able to take the Eucharist into my mouth without a small voice in my head whispering “heresy!” That voice has to expend so little energy to counter a loud voice of reason and intellect.


Kim said...

I truly understand where you're coming from, Thos. I am there, too. Sort of an "I believe! Help my unbelief!" situation. I fear making a grave error, too. But more and more I am feeling less anxious about it. Like you, I don't want to be a skeptical Catholic. I'm looking at Catholicism being the end of my church journey (please, God!). If not, where else would or could I go in peace? Back to the denominational soup? I certainly hope not.

Lord, guide us into Your perfect will!

Rene'e said...

Maybe this scripture will help answer some of your questions.

If anything they may just briefly explain some of the Catholic positions on these issues. Mary is a much more complex subject, than can be explained with just the scripture below. You may want to have the topic as a disscussion in of itself.

1. Deut. 5:8 - God's commandment "thou shall not make a graven image" is entirely connected to the worship of false gods. God does not prohibit images to be used in worship, but He prohibits the images themselves to be worshiped.
Exodus 25:18-22; 26:1,31 - for example, God commands the making of the image of a golden cherubim. This heavenly image, of course, is not worshiped by the Israelites. Instead, the image disposes their minds to the supernatural and draws them to God.
Num. 21:8-9 - God also commands the making of the bronze serpent. The image of the bronze serpent is not an idol to be worshiped, but an article that lifts the mind to the supernatural.
I Kings 6:23-36; 7:27-39; 8:6-67 - Solomon's temple contains statues of cherubim and images of cherubim, oxen and lions. God did not condemn these images that were used in worship.
2 Kings 18:4 - it was only when the people began to worship the statue did they incur God's wrath, and the king destroyed it. The command prohibiting the use of graven images deals exclusively with the false worship of those images.

2. John 19:26 - Jesus makes Mary the Mother of us all as He dies on the Cross by saying "behold your mother." Jesus did not say "John, behold your mother" because he gave Mary to all of us, his beloved disciples. All the words that Jesus spoke on Cross had a divine purpose. Jesus was not just telling John to take care of his mother.
Rev. 12:17 - this verse proves the meaning of John 19:26. The "woman's" (Mary's) offspring are those who follow Jesus. She is our Mother and we are her offspring in Jesus Christ. The master plan of God's covenant love for us is family. But we cannot be a complete family with the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Christ without the Motherhood of Mary.
John 2:3 - this is a very signifcant verse in Scripture. As our mother, Mary tells all of us to do whatever Jesus tells us. Further, Mary's intercession at the marriage feast in Cana triggers Jesus' ministry and a foreshadowing of the Eucharistic celebration of the Lamb. This celebration unites all believers into one famiy through the marriage of divinity and humanity.
John 2:7 - Jesus allows His mother to intercede for the people on His behalf, and responds to His mother's request by ordering the servants to fill the jars with water.
Psalm 45:9 - the psalmist teaches that the Queen stands at the right hand of God. The role of the Queen is important in God's kingdom. Mary the Queen of heaven is at the right hand of the Son of God.
1 Kings 2:17, 20 - in the Old Testament Davidic kingdom, the King does not refuse his mother. Jesus is the new Davidic King, and He does not refuse the requests of his mother Mary, the Queen.
1 Kings 2:18 - in the Old Testament Davidic kingdom, the Queen intercedes on behalf of the King's followers. She is the Queen Mother (or "Gebirah"). Mary is our eternal Gebirah.
1 Kings 2:19 - in the Old Testament Davidic kingdom the King bows down to his mother and she sits at his right hand. We, as children of the New Covenant, should imitate our King and pay the same homage to Mary our Mother. By honoring Mary, we honor our King, Jesus Christ.
1 Kings 15:13 - the Queen Mother is a powerful position in Israel's royal monarchy. Here the Queen is removed from office. But now, the Davidic kingdom is perfected by Jesus, and our Mother Mary is forever at His right hand.
2 Chron. 22:10 - here Queen Mother Athalia destroys the royal family of Judah after she sees her son, King Ahaziah, dead. The Queen mother plays a significant role in the kingdom.
Neh. 2:6 - the Queen Mother sits beside the King. She is the primary intercessor before the King.

3. 2 Tim 4:8 - Paul says that there is laid up for him the crown of righteousness. The saints are crowned in heaven, and Mary is the greatest saint of all.
James 1:12 - those who endure will receive the crown of life which God has promised. Mary has received the crown of life by bringing eternal life to the world.
1 Peter 5:4 - when the chief Shepherd is manifested we will receive the unfading crown of glory.
Rev. 2:10 - Jesus will give the faithful unto death the crown of life. Jesus gave Mary His Mother the crown of life.
Rev. 12:1 - Mary, the "woman," is crowned with twelve stars. She is Queen of heaven and earth and the Mother of the Church.
Wis. 5:16 - we will receive a glorious crown and a beautiful diadem from the hand of the Lord. Mary is with Jesus forever crowned in His glory.

Rene'e said...


I should also add, that God revealed Himself to us in Jesus, thereby, allowing us to have an image of Him. People truly were able to see God, in the flesh. People were then free to describe Him (physically) to others as the need arised. Jesus did not say this was not premitted.

The image of God as an old man, simply implies Authority, nothing more. Images were used in history to teach those who could not read to understand how truly important what it was, what they were learning.

Peace to you.

Principium unitatis said...


If the small voice whispered "heresy", and you replied, "How so?", what would the small voice say?

There is a joy I get whenever I read your blog, Tom, because anyone who reads it can see that you are a genuine truth-seeker. And we (both) know that to those who ask, it will be given to them, and those who seek, shall find, and those who knock, the door shall be opened to them. So, part of my joy in following your blog is just knowing that you shall find the truth, because Christ cannot break His promises, and you are genuine truth-seeker. At least be encouraged that Christ will not let you down, He will not give you a stone if you ask for bread. If you want the Bread of Life, He will lead you to it.

In the peace of Christ,

- Bryan

Thos said...


Excellent verse reference: "Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"" (Mark 9:24). Thanks for letting me think on that. I can ask that God will help me in my unbelief, but still feel obliged at the same time to ask Him to deliver me if I am in error. I long ago asked God to sternly rebuke me -- call my attention in any way, if considering Catholicism was considering a type of grave sin.

I pray that God will bring you to a conclusion to your journey that is pleasing to Him. It is hard; once you have internalized Catholic critiques of other authority structures, where can you turn?

Peace in Christ,

Thos said...


Thank you for sharing those excellent apologetic points on image use in worship, Mary, and the like. This nicely highlights what I was hoping to say in my post. My intellect accepts your reasoning about Scripture as more than satisfactory. It is purely an emotional reaction I meant to highlight by my reference to certain images, prayers, and practices. I listen to your arguments, and still hold to a type of skepticism. I have develoepd this theory, whereby it is my emotions and not my intellect that remain unconverted, *because* I can not intellectually reply to/rebutt your points.

Peace in Christ,

Thos said...


"If the small voice whispered "heresy", and you replied, "How so?", what would the small voice say?"

This is an excellent question. If I replied "how so?", I doubt the small voice would have much to say in response. Maybe it would say something like "superstitious poppycock!" I don't know. *If* the Catholic Eucharistic doctrine is true, then I'm pretty greatly intimidated by that thought of partaking that first time, lest my heart harbor doubts. What if I walk away feeling, well, like I had just had nothing more than a protestant communion? Panic! Again, these are all emotional considerations, not intellectual. Maybe I'm just plain afraid. Because of the gravity of this Catholic teaching (in particular), it seems it would be hard to convert on less then *complete* conviction, heart, mind and soul.

Thank you for saying nice things about my genuine truth-seeking. It brought to my attention the fact that my skepticism is not just about the Catholic Church. I doubt my own motives; maybe I'm inclined to Catholicism because I want to have "all the answers" my Protestant loved ones lack or argue over. Maybe it's my own ego, that I think I'm so smart I can figure this one out. Maybe its some vestige of rebellion against my upbringing... I just feel a lot of small voices casting doubt every which way.

I believe Christ will open the door when I knock. But then I doubt that I knock with pure motives. I doubt that I seek with a pure heart. So I'm not at all concerned that He will let me down, but that those promises are somehow inapplicable to my quest because of my own deficiencies.

These are all feelings. My intellect does not enerally agree.

Peace in Christ,

Rene'e said...


I understand completely the emotional aspect you are describing.

For me it is just the opposite. As much as I would like to go with a Protestant friend to their Church for worship, just to observe. I can not and never have. I to would hear the “little voice in my head whispering heresy “.

The heart has to be accepting of certain truths for those truths to be authentic. This is important in the Catholic Church. So much, that non-catholics can not go to Mass only, and profess to then be “a Catholic”. One should not participate in the Eucharist without examining their own conscience.

I receive peace in my heart when I partake in the Eucharist. I know I am home, and do not need to look elsewhere.

I agree with you. If you are not at peace and one with your heart and mind, you would feel like a protestant after taking the Eucharist. So would a Catholic who is not fully in communion with the Truths in the Catholic Church.

For me reciting the Creed each time at Mass is easy, I do not need to be convinced . There is nothing that I do not agree with. I can recite it, with a clear conscience and truth from my heart, which brings me into full communion with the Church .

I hope you find “your home” one day. You will know you are there when both your heart and mind are one and at peace. You may already be home.

Peace to you always.

Tim A. Troutman said...

Renee, I think you may be at a disadvantage to understand where Thos is coming from because you are a cradle Catholic. I think every convert or potential convert knows what he is thinking / feeling.

But this isn't exclusive to Protestant-Catholic conversion. Think of a Muslim converting to Christianity. Wouldn't he have a persistent fear that he was missing something and offending Allah? These aren't small issues to deal with - the intellectual stuff is the easy part of it. Christianity has the logical defense hands down, Catholicism has the logical defense hands down. No other systematic theology can stand up to such scrutiny. But this doesn't make it easy to convert. Atheists find Christianity just as repulsive as belief in Santa Claus and many Protestants (not Thos necessarily) find converting to Catholicism as repulsive as converting to Mormonism.

Tom, you and I have had talks along these lines several times so I think you already know what I have to say on the topic.

But I think one (reason or emotion) has to trump the other and eventually will. The question is, which one will it be? Your internal struggle cannot continue on as is without risk.

I tend to be sort of dogmatic logically. It can be helpful at times and hurtful at others. For example, I'm a terrible trouble shooter because I'm quick to arrive at dogmatic conclusions. Case in point - my lawn mower wouldnt start. First step of trouble shooting "It cant be the battery since the battery is brand new, now what else could it be?" (It was the battery).

The philosophical world is easier for me than the mechanical one though. I find this reliance on black and white logic helpful in this case. I therefore like to find the quickest solid, either or argument and take action from there. Pascal's wager - ok I know I'm gonna be a theist now what?

Only the three great mono-theistic religions do not refute themselves ok now what?

Only Christianity makes logical sense and emotional sense ok now what?

Insufficiency of sola scriptura - ok I know I must be either Catholic or Orthodox now what?

Matthew 16:18 + historicity of papal claims, ok now what?

So in that way, my logic had concluded that Catholicism was true , but like you said - my emotion hadn't quite followed. My emotion was comfortably nestled in my own upbringing. Its the nature of the beast, if our emotion wasn't comfortable where we were, we'd have already rationalized our way out.

In reality, most people don't have intellectual problems with Catholicism - they have emotional ones. Most people can rarely think with the type of clarity that you're displaying though Tom, they can't separate the two. Their emotion is trumping their reason and they aren't aware of it - hence fundamentalist arguments ensue "You worship Mary" etc...

As contradictory as it sounds, letting your reason trump your emotion is in itself an act of faith. This is a leap one must take at some point or risk the opposite, emotion trumping reason.

Faith is not the absence of reason - it's having the guts to act on that reason. God doesn't expect us to do illogical things by blindly following faith, He expects us to do the things which are utterly rational but are scary. Think of Abraham. God wasn't asking him to do something irrational by sacrificing his son. If I had asked him to do it, it would be irrational. But since it was an all powerful God who was asking, it is quite rational. Anything that an all powerful, all good, all knowing God does or requires is purely rational by its very nature. Furthermore, Abraham - by logic deduced that God would have the power to raise his son from the dead. None of this logic makes Abraham's action easy. Logic was the easy part for Abraham. We look at Moses and God telling him to go to Pharoah and we think, Moses you idiot! How can you question God? See if I was in the position, (I'm making a point here) I would be smart enough to know that logically, if God asked me to do something, He'd give me the grace to follow it through. So Peter stepping out of the boat isn't that big of a deal after all. No.. Actually it is a big deal - it's where faith comes in. Faith is acting on what you already know to be logical. Moses couldn't deny that the logical choice would be to follow God's Words, but that didn't win the battle for him. He had to have the faith and the courage to step out and act on his God given reasoning abilities.

It is the same here with you I think. You already know that the Catholic Church is reasonable and logically true. That's the easy part I'm afraid. Now comes the hard part, getting out of the boat. Yes, if you've miscalculated something, you might sink but staying in the boat could be an even greater mistake. You're in an easier position than Peter though, you've seen lots of others get out of the boat and walk. By this I dont mean all their problems disappear. I mean that they have found rest from a tiresome journey of wading through doctrinal conflicts.

If you remain Protestant, you'll have to remind yourself every day for the rest of your life why you're not Catholic. If you become Catholic, you'll just wonder every day for the rest of your life why everyone else isn't. Do you know of anyone who converted to the Catholic Church on doctrinal or authoritative issues and regretted it or became unsure of it? I'm not - but perhaps they exist.

I know of many who are quite comfortable in Protestantism, but these people can't have a fully honest conversation on theology (though they themselves dont even know it). I've found even theological babes in the Catholic Church can have very reasonable discussions on theology.

Well, I'll cut it off here even though I could keep going. Didn't mean to ramble so much.

Anonymous said...

I was reflecting on your comments to Bryan, Thos.

Several Fathers and Catholic Doctors talk about where intellect and memory exist. Modern psychology and science, without any evidence, attribute these things to the human brain; electrical and chemical impulses that, based on their frequency and other factors, determine intellect and the power or reliability of one's memory.

The Fathers and Doctors (for example, St. Augustine) attribute memory to the soul. When the body dies and the soul is separated from the body, the soul stands before the Judge and is accountable for the things that were done in her worldly life. If memory resided and originated in the brain, how could the soul be accountable at death for the sins she committed without "yet" being unified with the body? Are the holy souls in Heaven mindless spirits?

A persons intellectual capacity can be affected by the body. For example, a person who suffers severe brain trauma at any point in thier life may not be able to manifest any outward signs of intelligent life. Take for example Terry Schaivo. Did her brain trauma cause her to be any less of a rational human being? What makes us a rational human being is the rational soul. Her brain may have been damaged, but certainly her "mind" wasn't damaged as her mind isn't her brain. As I said earlier, as Christians we should know this because when our souls separate from our bodies at death, we will be no less aware. Our minds will still be functioning while our brain begins to decompose (so the term "brain death" is sort of misleading by proponents of euthanasia).

I used Terry Schaivo as an extreme example. Obviously there are other conditions that effect the level in which the mind can manifest intelligence through the body. The mind can also be dulled by choice along with the conscience by sloth or choosing to do evil. And one who at one time could manifest his intelligence greater than another can destroy his own ability to do so by destroying his brain through the use of drugs or by other means. The brain is the switchboard of the body; the body cannot function without it (at least partially), it is the window to the soul. What we put into it is translated to our soul, which is one reason why we need to avoid even to occassions of sin (even the thought). However, the brain is not the source of our intelligence and not the human mind.

What's the point?

When Adam fell, all of his offspring was condemned with death. No longer was his body and soul immortal together; his body (and the rest of creation with it) was now corruptable and would age and die. From then on, we are to toil on earth. Our flesh is weak, corruptible, and will die. Our flesh as a consequence of Adam's sin carries with it the animalistic urges. Without the rational soul (mind) keeping the corruptable body in check, we would make irrational decisions based on sensations... such as hunger. Example: an animal when hungry will stop at nothing to eat. A hungry human will weigh certain decisions before eating (do I pick up the wife from the hospital first, do I finish up my work before I break for lunch, etc.). Add the spritual sense and there is even more restraint to the bodily sensations that indicate one is hungry (fasting, for example). Our bodies will not be made perfect and incorruptible until the Final Judgement, and only if we are counted as one of the sheep. Until then we are constantly grappling with the temptations that derive from our corrupted flesh. Watch ye, and pray that ye enter not into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak.

My point is, it may not always be wise to rely on "feelings" and "bodily sensations". The body is satisfied when we eat a deliciously cooked steak. Pleasing the palate is not necessarily pleasing God. There is a feeling of excitement and expectation when preparing to meet up with old friends, but it is almost inevitable that conversations with them will end in vanity and be fruitless in terms of religiosity. Nevertheless, the "feeling" is good.

"Feelings" and "sensations" are from the body. An Orthodox friend of mine once told me that it isn't wise to trust "feelings" when they compete with your conscience and rational mind because the body is corruptible and will wither and die while the soul is rational and is immortal. To trust "feelings" over your conscience and rational thinking is to trust in death over life.

Of course, I hope you don't think I'm suggesting that that is what you are doing. I just thought you'd like to hear that perspective and I'd like to know what you think about it.

Rene'e said...

Tim and Anon,

I agree with both of you.

Tim, you are right, I am at a disadvantage, being a cradle catholic, I have never walked in a convert's shoes.

Therefore, I agree, I am not the proper person to give advice to those who find themselves in these situations, regarding particuliar personal issues.

Thanks for pointing it out to me.
I understand what you are saying.

Thanks Tim.

Peace to all of you...


Principium unitatis said...


C.S. Lewis says the following in The Abolition of Man:

"I had sooner play cards against a man who was quite sceptical about ethics, but bred to believe that 'a gentleman does not cheat', than against an irreproachable moral philosopher who had been brought up among sharpers."

This is in the chapter titled "Men Without Chests", and Lewis is there drawing from Plato's understanding of the relation between the head (i.e. Reason) and the chest (emotions/feelings/dispositions/appetites).

Ideally, our emotions/dispositions/appetites are in accord with reason. But generally the 'chest' is much slower to change than is the head. And what we actually *do* typically depends more on our chest than on our head. Hence Lewis' comment.

In the peace of Christ,

- Bryan

Tim A. Troutman said...

Renee - I didn't mean to say "butt out of the conversation", I hope you didn't take it that way.

I'm just saying you have to try and understand the strong sentiments we Protestants (particularly ones like Presbyterians) have. Cradle Catholics do not often appreciate how offensive Catholicism is to us.

Anonymous said...


Whew, that was honest my friend. I can almost see you bent in half so to speak. I am thankful brother, that you love the Lord, and that any choice you make is taken with caution and with much thought and prayer.

I see a group of people who surround you. All I believe have the best of intentions. I see many who have already turned to Rome, and some facing in the general direction. I don't know that I am in a position to offer any wisdom, but I will give you my prayers.

I see your steps to where you are today, and the logical progression makes sense. I wish I had the opportunity to speak with you directly to hear a little more about the process.

I feel bad for you, because of the position you are in. "Which way do I turn?" probably is the ever agonizing question. Luckily, we serve a God that knows us intimately. He sees your desire for the truth, and that you ultimately rely on Christ. I believe no matter where you turn, he will be with you. I am right there with you emotionally. I have not had my intellect turn so far as yours has, but it has turned a little... to what, I'm not sure. But I rest in His sufficient grace. May He alone sustain you in your quest.

May the God of all comfort fill your heart with peace. His peace is free. His yolk is light. Cast all your cares upon Him for He cares for you. He is with you, even until the end of the age.


P.S. Love that verse Kim. Long have I recalled that verse to help increase my own faith. What a beautifully honest moment that man had!

Rene'e said...


I do understand what you are saying.

I just think we need to step back sometimes when the need to prove our point becomes the important focus more than the person himself, we are talking with.

Thos, you are in my prayers.


Thos said...


I value your prayers, and am very grateful that you think enough of my position to take the trouble to pray for me. Thank you.

Tim, Bryan and Anonymous,

You touch on a difficulty I am having with language, with what it is within me that remains unconvinced.

Tim, you say that letting my reason trump my emotion can be an act of faith. You discuss reason vs. emotions as if they are comparable to the rational vs. the irrational. I’m not sure this is what I was discussing with my use of the probably-poorly-chosen words “intellect” vs. “emotions”. I was not, and am not certain that “emotions” is the right way to describe that within me which is still not sufficiently persuaded. I also said “i.e., sentiments”. That was not full of insight, but more my effort to earmark where I was having difficulty finding the right term.

I agree with you that where a part of me that I recognize as rational says X, and something I know is irrational hopes to hold on to Y, in faith I must follow X. Let me try a hypothetical: let’s say I am fully persuaded that Christ meant to constitute the Church as the Catholics today see it, but I have a condescending parent or spouse who will berate me for converting (this is purely hypothetical, by the way); because I get dizzy at the thought of having this conflict with close people in my life, I refuse to convert. To me, that would be an irrational (though understandable) act, certainly one led by “emotions”, and is not to be condoned.

Our anonymous contributor adds that the intellect exists with a person who has had a critically injured brain, showing that it is in our deepest being. In reading his thoughts here, I wondered too if my “intellect” and “emotions” are really as distinct as I might have imagined.

Anonymous even compares intellect to “spirit” and emotions to “flesh” of the “spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” verse in Matthew 26. If I meant spirit and flesh, when I said one was convinced and the other wasn’t, this would be an easy matter. I would need to defeat, to “cut off”, the fleshly leadings. What I am trying to identify when I use the word “emotions” is not “feelings” or “sensations”. No, that can’t be it, because I have an awful lot of feelings, desires, predilections or appetites (from Bryan) for things Catholic, e.g., the beauty (even a carnal beauty in part) of the mass, cathedrals, vestments, music. I could just as easily say that I have some fleshly desire for these things that the austerity of Presbyterian worship does not provide, and as a fleshly desire, it should be resisted. Maybe my “emotions” as I was using the word really is my “spirit” (in the sense of Matthew 26 sense), or maybe my “emotions” and “intellect” make up my “spirit”. I do not believe all emotions are of the flesh. Agape is not of the flesh, and I would call it an emotion. Certain righteous anger, righteous fear, and love would all have to be of the spirit, not to be cut off.

I want to hone in on the right language here, but am obviously struggling. Anonymous described his Orthodox friend’s view, that “feelings” cannot be trusted when “conscience” and “rationale mind” conflict with them. Maybe “conscience” is closer to what I meant by “emotions” (though not exact, to be sure) than “feelings” or “appetites”. If this word is helpful, I guess I would say that I presently have a grated “conscience” both when I refuse to participate with Catholic sacramental life, and when I continue to participate with Protestant sacramental life. My conscience would be too grated to participate in Catholic sacramental life at the same time though (not because I’m convinced it’s wrong, but because I am not convinced sufficiently to give the acts their due reverence). My “rational mind” finds Catholic arguments and explanations compelling, but it does not prevent the uncertainty and regular guilt I experience. Guilt can have a righteous origin too, I believe, making it, at least at times, distinct from “flesh”.

I gather you all are proponents of reason always being superior to feelings. I would benefit from hearing your thoughts on whether “reason” can have the emotional elements I described (love, anger, guilt) or if those purely belong in the “feelings” or “flesh” camp. I have a hard time seeing how my faculty for reason is more reliably free from concupiscence than are my emotions. It is foreign to me to trust one more than the other, as they both seem prone to sin. There have been some brilliantly reasoned philosophies, e.g., Marxism, that are horribly wrong, no? And people with deeply malformed intellects can still be moved to good by their emotions (e.g., guilt), no?

-g-, aka Ashley, who I take it is really George (),

As I said to Renee, your prayers are very precious to me - - the highest of gifts. Thank you. Your words are very encouraging.

Peace in Christ our Lord,

Anonymous said...


Thanks for being honest and for the insight you are providing regarding your internal struggles.

"I gather you all are proponents of reason always being superior to feelings."

I'm not sure if that sums up my position completely accurately. In summary, I said "An Orthodox friend of mine once told me that it isn't wise to trust 'feelings' when they compete with your conscience and rational mind because the body is corruptible and will wither and die while the soul is rational and is immortal. To trust 'feelings' over your conscience and rational thinking is to trust in death over life."

That agrees with Bryan's statement, "Ideally, our emotions/dispositions/appetites are in accord with reason. But generally the 'chest' is much slower to change than is the head...".

The "Ideal" is Jesus Christ. When He displayed righteous anger in the Temple, there is no doubt that He was acting merely on emotion; His reason was not separated from His emotion and sense, they were acting perfectly in unison. Same when He was fasting for forty days in the desert. The devil tempted Him to quench His hunger by changing the rocks into bread to eat, but He did not. The body of one who has been fasting for forty days would undoubtedly crave the bread, which is what the devil was counting on in his "offering" to Jesus. But Jesus being the "ideal" and being sinless would not give in to that temptation, though it was a real temptation.

Reason is not superior in the sense that emotions do not matter and should always be ignored (I think that would turn you into a "man without a chest"?). However, my overall point was that reason cannot be made inferior to emotions, dispositions, etc.

If your reason tells you one thing, but your feelings (emotions/dispositions/appetites) are telling you another, then one can assume that the two are not in accord. If reason cannot be inferior to feelings, and one's reasoning is based on good conscience, then which of the two need to be changed? The ideal is to have them "both" in accord.

Your feelings for things Catholic, are they in accord with your reason? Does your reason object to those feelings? Same question for your feelings that reject things Catholic.

But as you stated, I may be barking up the wrong tree. From your post I think I understand that I misunderstood what you originally meant and I really don't want your wonderful honesty to be marred by my vain discussion.

Thanks again for your honesty. I'm always praying for you. I hope that we will share the Eucharist at the same Altar one day.

Anonymous said...



Correction: When He displayed righteous anger in the Temple, there is no doubt that He wasn't acting merely on emotion

Thos said...

From a possibly inspired source to me; seemed fitting, and I wonder if heart/mind answers the mail of my previous comment:

"Bottom line: put yourself in opportunities where God can actually give you light regarding the *heart* of your search. Don't try to overcome it with your mind. I think that smart people sometime have the tendency to think that they can discover the answer to any of their questions just by reading and thinking--doing their homework, so to speak. But I think that what you really want first and foremost is the gifts of the Holy Spirit--specifically wisdom, understanding and counsel--and those will just come to you if you do your primary piece of homework--pray!"

Principium unitatis said...


To quote C.S. Lewis at the end of The Last Battle, this is all in Plato. Plato's Republic shows why reason is the rightful ruler over the emotions and the appetites.

For Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas and the Catholic philosophical tradition, what makes an action wrong is that it is contrary to reason. If you have never done so, you have to read Chesterton's little Fr. Brown story titled "The Blue Cross".

There have been some brilliantly reasoned philosophies, e.g., Marxism, that are horribly wrong, no? And people with deeply malformed intellects can still be moved to good by their emotions (e.g., guilt), no?

Yes and yes. Brilliant reasoning (or rationalization) is not the same as "in accord with reason". If "brilliant reasoning" were the same as "in accord with reason, then we would have no way to show that such brilliant reasoning is wrong, i.e. is not in accord with reason. But we can refute such false philosophies, by showing that they are contrary to reason.

Similarly, your example of the person with the malformed intellect who is convicted by his emotions, is exactly right. But this example is based on his emotions being *rightly ordered*, i.e. feeling the right sort of way toward the right sort of things to the right degree in the right sort of context. If his emotions are disordered (i.e. is attracted to what is wrong, or repulsed by what is right), then his emotions will be a hindrance, not a help, to his reason.

What is to be the judge of emotions? It has to be reason, that highest power in man. When we hear the word 'reason', we contemporaries now think of something like a cold calculator that takes no consideration of values or goodness or beauty, but for the ancients and medievals, reason is much more than that -- it is that which distinguishes us from the other animals. It allows us to distinguish good from evil, beauty from ugliness, to understand truth and wisdom. It allows us to pursue and understand the universal, the overall good, the first cause and the final end.

Conscience, according to Aquinas, is not something other than reason, but an act of reason. (See here.)

If you reject reason as the rightful ruler (of the other powers and dispositions within yourself), then you will be left with utter skepticism. If you distrust your reason, thinking it flawed, then since you can't access and interpret the Bible without using your reason, the Bible will be of no help to you in bypassing your flawed reason. Many people think that being "led by the Spirit" means turning off our reason and following a certain kind of feeling. I grew up around that (as a Pentecostal). I have also dealt with many Mormons who are ultimately guided by this same practice, i.e. the "burning in the bosom". Grace builds on nature, it does not destroy nature. Likewise, the Holy Spirit does not turn us into little zombies, with our reason off, and our Holy Spirit remote-control on, like 'demon-possession' except that the spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity. Grace restores, fulfills and elevates nature. Grace allows us to see with our reason what is true and what should be done. There is no competition between "heart and head". We don't have to choose between them. And if we did have to choose between them, with what faculty would we evaluate which to follow? In other words, how would we (without using our reason) determine that it is better to follow heart than reason?

If you reject reason, you won't have any way of evaluating the truth or goodness of anything, or adjudicating between competing desires or feelings or appetites. You'll be at the mercy of whatever is the most powerful desire within yourself. And Plato points out that we know (through reason) that what is the most powerful (conscious) desire in us, is not necessarily what is best for us. For the students I teach (ages 18-22), the most powerful desire in most of them is the sex-drive. So when I'm teaching ethics, I'm trying to help them see that they need to follow reason, not whatever is the most powerful appetite/desire/feeling in them. They need to be evaluating (by way of reason) the *overall* good, not the mere short term good or immediate good. And only reason (not emotions per se) can evaluate the overall good.

In the peace of Christ,

- Bryan

Anonymous said...

Hey Thos,

A couple of little books that helped me:

The Catholic Church and Conversion
by GK Chesterton

Russia and the Universal Church
by Vladimir Soloviev

Both are easy to obtain, the latter in an abridged version with a slightly different title.

Chesterton helped me to move from inchoate desires for the Catholic Church to taking the decisive step (the amazing thing is that the Church received me- pure grace). His idiosyncratic way of employing reason helped to make a bridge from head to heart; that is, it helped me to think about, rather than just experience, some of those persistent undercurrents of skepticism that you spoke of. All in all, a major source of relief.

Soloviev helped me to understand (post conversion) what my reasons for Catholicism are. I nominally considered a few of the many autocephalos churches of the East, but I guessed all along that if I moved beyond protestantism I would go to Peter. Soloviev helped me to see some of the reasons why only the papal communion has any serious claim to be the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

As Newman (or was it Chesterton?) remarked, there are many gates into that City that is the Catholic Church (cf., the 12 gates of the heavenly Jerusalem). If you keep walking around the wall, you will come to one that you can enter by. Only, don't stop walking and expect the wall to become a gate. That's not how it works.

Tim A. Troutman said...

I can't add anything further to this convo. Great stuff Anon, Bryan and Andrew.

Rene'e said...

Some thoughts from a Jewish Philosopher. Martin Buber.

Why do we say "Our God and the God of our fathers?"

There are 2 kinds of people who believe in God. One believes because he has taken over the faith of his fathers, and his faith is strong. The other has arrived at faith through thinking and studying. The difference between them is this:

The advantage of the first is, that no matter what arguments may be brought against it, his faith cannot be shaken; his faith is firm because it was taken over from his fathers. But there is a flaw. He has faith only in response to the command of a man, and he has acquired it without studying and thinking for himself.

The advantage of the second is that, because he found God through much thinking, he has arrived at a faith of his own. But here too there is a flaw: it is easy to shake his faith by refuting it through evidence.

But the person who invites both kinds of faith is invincible. And so we say "Our God" with reference to our studies, and "God of our fathers" with an eye toward tradition.
(From Buber's "Ten Rungs).

TheDen said...


As a Cradle Catholic, I am not familiar with what you are going through. I can only imagine that it is terrifying to start doubting all that you were sure of. Have faith and know that God is with you through all of this.

Please remember that nothing can happen without the grace of God. So, even if you intellectually assent to the teachings of the Church, conversion won't happen until you are led there by God. i.e. it's when He decides and not when you decide. You just have to respond.

In your prayers, ask that Jesus Christ give you the grace to follow Him where ever He may lead you and then just trust.

I'll pray for the same thing.

Anonymous said...


I was admiring your choice in the photo of the trenches for this post. It fits so well. That is exactly how I remember it when I was on the precipice.

Though I had an entirely different analogy (more like at bridge that crossed a deep uncrossable chasm that I believed was haunted and led to a land of darkness filled with ravenous creatures waiting to tear me to shreds, largely because of the many tales I was told of that mysterious land as a child), I really think the one provided by that photo is much more brilliant (not to make light of your struggle, but to emphasize the difficulty of it).

When I look at that photo, I remember exactly what it was like "standing in line" in the trenches, not knowing what was on the other side of the hill. I could hear perceived gunfire, I could see the plumes of smoke from perceived explosions, but I still couldn't actually see what was on the other side of the hill. For a Protestant considering Catholicism, the usual perception is that crossing the fabled bridge or leaving the safety of the trenches is the equivalent of choosing spiritual death; one is actually choosing to step in front of the machine gun nest.

As a Protestant, all is safe as long as you don't cross over that hill. You can climb into different trenches (denominations) and you are forgiven by your peers... and you feel safe. You may even be praised for seeking "diversity".

While your long journey you have begun to question whether that popping noise you hear is really gunfire, and if it is, who's making it? You've begun to question whether those plumes of smoke are really from the explosion of bombshells or the burning of incense. Everyone in the trenches, family, friends, pastors, fellow bloggers explain to you that they seldom see anyone return. If you cross that hill, you may never come back. It's [spiritual] suicide. They re-affirm that those plumes of smoke are really explosions and those that have left the trenches are probably dead. One's friends and family plead with them not to charge the hill, some even forcefully. But do they really know? Their explanations of what lies on the other side do not seem to fit the reasonable conclusions you've come to. Intellectually you doubt their stories, but sensibly, you hear what you perceive as gunfire and see what you perceive as smoke from explosives. Still, reason tells you, "according to all of the data you've collected, according to your logical conclusions, you should get out of the trench... run over that hill, it's not what your senses perceive, there is nothing to be afraid of." One thing is absolutely clear to you from everything that has been going on since you have begun to test your will as you creep closer to the front of the line... there is some sort of definite commitment. No one will stop you from withdrawing to a safety zone, no one will redress the dangers of changing from one trench or safety zone to another (switching denominations), but everyone in every trench leading up to that hill will tell you that to leave the trench, you will be making the choice between life and death. Your reason tells you that the choice is life, your senses tell you the choice might be death. But, either way, you would be leaving the trenches behind you. It is absolutely clear from all sides that what lies on the other side of that hill is not a set of trenches like the ones you (and others) may be leaving. It is terrible, it is frightening.

It is not easy to listen to that voice of reason. Perception and years of propaganda of what lies on the other side of that hill have a firm hold on the senses of many Protestants who are trying to psych themselves up out of the trenches and over that hill.

At this point, the conversion stories of others may not matter to you. You are embroiled in your own story. Your focus is on the hill in front of you. Taking notice of who is before you or who is behind you is not your major concern. It is doubt and not knowing what will become of you if you leave your trench. By posting that photo, I'm assuming that you visualize yourself in that trench (obviously, by my lengthy post). Where do you see yourself? At the back of the line? At the front of the line? In the middle?

The "heresy" voice wispered in my ear the night before I fell down on my knees and begged God in tears for the answers to all of my searching. I was next in line. My heart was beating rapidly that night, I was sweating, reason had placed me in the front of the line and I either had to muster up the "chest" to follow it, or I would have to fall back again into "safety"... even against reason. How could I believe that there was life on the other side, yet my heart was so full of fear that I wouldn't budge? In the end, reason alone couldn't push me out of the trench and over the hill. It only got me to the head of the line. I broke down that night. I cried in prayer for help and guidance. It was a struggle. The very next morning, Our Lord gave me the faith to get out of the trench and find that my senses were deceiving me about what was on the other side of the hill. It was Easter 2006. I wept with joy privately for most of the morning... it was the first time in my life I truly celebrated Easter Sunday.

Take courage, my friend. I don't know where in the trench you perceive yourself, but I understand your angst very well. Your time to charge the hill may not come for a while, but don't be afraid to listen to reason... and know that it is God that will help you over that hill. Without Him, you will freeze at the front of the line and fall back. It is a very uncomfortable prospect, I know. But, reading the lives of the Saints and Martyrs, I don't see how it should be easier for me or for anyone else to follow Christ. You are an honest truth-seeker. You will be rewarded.

Kim said...

Anonymous, that was an incredible analogy! I totally related! I think I'm near the front. Very near. But that fear is so palpable. Plus, my decision would affect my husband and children, and that terrifies me. What if I'm wrong? I have been before. Urg!

I wish you weren't anonymous. You have such good things to say. You should be taking this kind of stuff to a public blog so others can be blessed.

Anonymous said...


I want to avoid speaking for Thos, but if I'm correct, what I wrote is what he intended by posting that photo. I could be wrong though as I have misunderstood him in the past. If I'm correct, it would be his analogy and not mine though.

Also, the angst gets worse the closer to the head of the line you get, depending on the tradition(s) you were raised in, of course. Just be prepared. There is a spirit that will stop at nothing to keep you from receiving the Eucharist.

Kim said...

Well, you fleshed it out well for me, at least.

Thanks for the warning, btw.

Anonymous said...

Thos, Kim, and anyone else discerning,

I wanted to share one more thing that I think is important. A very traditional Catholic friend of mine, whom I used to discuss and debate all things Church with before I became Catholic, told me something very early on when I began to be led to the Church that I made sure I kept in my mental treasury as I continued (much like the maxim my Orthodox friend gave me above... and many others).

The maxim stayed with me, but the topic of the discussion has since faded away. I believe that it was a moment inspired by the Holy Spirit because of this. Also, because the maxim would recur in moments of weakness on my journey. It's very simple, but I found it potent.

"You cannot be a Catholic without humble obedience. You must be willing to submit to an authority greater than your own. That is essential to Catholicism. A Catholic ceases to be Catholic when they decide to spurn authority in general, but especially Church authority. You cannot be a Catholic and a rebel at the same time (paraphrased)."

That principle not only goes against the American culture (where Revolution is a celebratory word), but against the Protestant culture as well, which makes it especially hard to follow. It stuck with me because I realized I would never be able to understand Catholicism without looking at it through that lens. Every time I attempted to come to my own conclusions during my discernment process, that maxim would mysteriously surface. Submission and humble obedience is key. There is no other way.

Anonymous said...


God has graced you with much wisdom. Great analogy, and the comment on humble obedience is so true.


I have very little to add to this discussion. My heart goes out to you. I am a convert to Catholicism, but from paganism. So I can understand very little of what you must be going through You will be in my prayers, and I will leave you with a quote from a great man Pope John Paul II
“Be not afraid, open the doors to Christ. God works in the concrete, and personal affairs of each one of us. Don’t let the time that the Lord gives you, run on as if everything were due to chance”

May our Lord bless and guide you

Thos said...

Thank you for the reading recommendations. I have read Soloviev, and it did cause a big turn from my former efforts at trying to equally consider Orthodoxy and Catholicism.

Anon. et al.,
The photo is of troops in a special feeder trench that leads directly to the “no man’s land” of WWI trench warfare. I’ve made reference to that battlefield cliché several times, so wanted the photo to add oomph (plus blogs are better when they have photos!). In terms of having allegiance to one church/denomination/community or another, I believe I already left the trench. In terms of choosing to enter Catholicism vs. not so choosing, your analogy holds for me. Thanks.

Thanks Rob.
Philosophy is not my language, and I am sheepish to admit how little of Plato I know. Perhaps you offer the fix to my problem of finding the right words to describe my situation.
I think I grasp your argument that without reason as the final decider, nothing can be upheld as true or superior or right. I think I follow to about the rightly ordered conscience as an act of reason. This fits with my understanding that people can, to an extent, kill (sear) their conscience.
I agree that the “burning in the bosom” cannot reliably point us to Truth. Let’s say for a minute that I’m not sure my intellectual persuasion to Catholicism is indeed the conviction of my “reason” (or use of reason?). It seems more like this: I see two syllogisms on a page, I read them both, and one seems far more sound (logical) than the other. I don’t know if that simply persuasion equals the conviction of reason.
Let me ask you, how does the “heart” of Scripture fit in with reason? What of the verse, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding”? How do I know that my being persuaded by syllogism A far more than B isn’t simply a product of my “own understanding”? How do I distinguish whether my remaining skepticism is the product of the unreliable “burning in the bosom” or instead my “heart” in reliance on the Lord?

Peace in Christ,

Principium unitatis said...


I'm getting ready to go to this ordination this morning, so I have to be quick.

Syllogisms (of the deductive sort) are evaluated in two ways: (1) Are all the premises true?, and (2) Does the conclusion necessarily follow from the premises? The second question is almost always much easier, because it requires looking only at the *form* of the argument. That is "formal logic". But the first question is harder, because it is not easy sometimes to determine whether a premise is true or not. I'm guessing that you're looking at premises, and you are not sure that they are true. Or maybe you are more than 50% sure, but you would like to be 95%+ sure.

If I'm understanding you correctly, your concern seems to be that you don't know whether you are following reason, or following a sinful/flawed desire within yourself. In other words, "How do I know whether I am following my reason, or merely following a kind of rationalization of what I want to be true? (Is that your concern?) This requires soul-searching, a kind of knowing of yourself. And that doesn't guarantee that you truly know your ultimate motivations. Only God *fully* knows our hearts, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't examine our hearts, and seek to determine whether our motives are sincere and upright. I should point out that just because you want something to be true, it does not follow that you are reasoning to its truth only because you want it to be true. The deepest desire in man is for God, but that does not mean that our reasoning to the conclusion that there is a good God who made us and loves us must be an exercise in mere wish-fulfillment. So don't let joy over the truth call into question your arrival at that truth. Christ is the Logos, and all *true* reasoning leads (with the help of grace, of course) to that joy than which there is none greater, the joy of beholding the face of God in the beatific vision.

Concerning trusting in the Lord with all your heart, and leaning not on your own understanding, consider the following paragraphs from the Catechism having to do with the heart:


"The heart is the dwelling-place where I am, where I live; according to the Semitic or Biblical expression, the heart is the place "to which I withdraw." The heart is our hidden center, beyond the grasp of our reason and of others; only the Spirit of God can fathom the human heart and know it fully. The heart is the place of decision, deeper than our psychic drives. It is the place of truth, where we choose life or death. It is the place of encounter, because as image of God we live in relation: it is the place of covenant."


"The human heart is heavy and hardened. God must give man a new heart. Conversion is first of all a work of the grace of God who makes our hearts return to him: "Restore us to thyself, O LORD, that we may be restored!" God gives us the strength to begin anew. It is in discovering the greatness of God's love that our heart is shaken by the horror and weight of sin and begins to fear offending God by sin and being separated from him. The human heart is converted by looking upon him whom our sins have pierced:
Let us fix our eyes on Christ's blood and understand how precious it is to his Father, for, poured out for our salvation it has brought to the whole world the grace of repentance."


"The heart is the seat of moral personality:"


"Moral conscience, present at the heart of the person, enjoins him at the appropriate moment to do good and to avoid evil. It also judges particular choices, approving those that are good and denouncing those that are evil. It bears witness to the authority of truth in reference to the supreme Good to which the human person is drawn, and it welcomes the commandments. When he listens to his conscience, the prudent man can hear God speaking."

(Me again)
The Scripture's injunction not to lean on our own understanding is not an endorsement of a fideistic way of determining what the Lord wants us to do, or where the Lord is. Once we know what the Lord is saying, *then* we should trust the Lord *over* our own reasoning. He is God, and we are mere creatures. But in the process of determining how to find out what the Lord is saying, we cannot set aside our own understanding; that would leave us in epistemological limbo. The process of seeking out what the Lord is saying involves a heart and will that is humble before God, and open to God. Reason (aided by grace), with all humility, leads us to revelation, and then reason submits to revelation, just as Virgil led Dante so far, but then Beatrice took over, when reason had reached its limits.

So when that verse ("lean not ...") is understood properly, there is nothing wrong with being persuaded by your own understanding. Otherwise, you wouldn't even be able to understand the verse itself. What "your own understanding" means here is not reason per se, but "reason ignoring what God has said and following its own devices in a willfully God-ignoring manner".

I hope that may be helpful. May the Lord continue to guide us into His truth.

In the peace of Christ,

- Bryan

R. E. Aguirre. said...


If you have not read this work I highly suggest it since it deals with ecclesiological matters.


It is a debate on which "church governmental model" is correct. Rev. Peter Toon (that great Anglican scholar) gives such a disabling critique of the innovative forms of Protestantism (such as Presbyterianism et al) with the clear backing of history (behind the episcopalian form).

Very good read and interesting in that even sharp Protestants (such as Rev. Toon) feel the power of the argument from history.

R.E. Aguirre

Thos said...


Your comments were, as usual, quite challenging. Thank you. I appreciated your explaining the rudiments of syllogisms. I recent conversation elsewhere about the law (something I have learned a little about formally) with people not versed in the law, but with strong feelings about their legal position, taught me something. We would all be very prudent to show moderation when coming to strong positions in areas outside our own expertise. I hope this doesn’t offend anyone, but most especially in my mind was theology, and second to that was philosophy. You must often grate your teeth at how laymen use the philosophical tools like I grate my teeth at how people discuss the law (more so! because philosophy is much more sophisticated). My simple point: I’m glad you take the time to do a little ‘teaching’ where needed, and hope that when I discuss the tools of philosophy (reasoning & rhetoric) you know I don’t see myself as equally qualified in the discussion.

“Your concern seems to be that you don't know whether you are following reason, or following a sinful/flawed desire within yourself.” Yes. “I should point out that just because you want something to be true, it does not follow that you are reasoning to its truth only because you want it to be true.” Agreed. In fact, at least initially, when I debated Catholicism with a friend, I did not want it to be true at all. I was certain it was false, and hoped he and I could come closer to the Truth. So my reasoning was pulled along quite far contrary to my desire. However, I think a part of me would still prefer to read a hypothetically brilliant Protestant essay explaining how sola Scriptura is logical and the church was fit to formulate its doctrines and canon while still remaining fallible. It would make my life much easier.

Thank you also for your comments on heart and understanding. I will continue to ponder the meaning of these things, as they are not necessarily intuitive to me.

Peace in Christ,

contrarian 78 said...

I have a strong affinity for how you are looking at things, also being from the PCA and contemplating Rome's claims. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the blogosphere.


Thos said...


I am pleased to hear from you, and thanks for stopping by. I noticed that you live in Rockville. I used to live in Montg. County; I am curious, do you go to Shady Grove PCA? If I'm getting too personal for the blogosphere, feel free to disregard.

Peace in Christ,