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Friday, September 02, 2011


John Pacheco

As an art teacher, I love when I become a preacher and I introduce the world of the Bible to my little pagans. The history of Western art, of course, cannot be appreciated without understanding Jesus as revealed by scripture and the Church. Lamentably, the influence of His role and person to the art and artists of the past is simply an artifact to most of our young people. True inspiration is replaced by voyeurism and despair. Though I disagreed with him at the time, I think my art professor, Morton Sachs (a Jew, by the way), had it right when he said, "All else being equal, a painting of the Madonna is more beautiful than a painting of a cabbage."


Carl, thanks, I like your story. Mine is different and pretty generic.
Like a typical "unchallenged by Scripture" cradle Catholic, I did everything backwards (looking for wisdom in many unholy books and places) before picking up the Bible. Now I still read, and re-read a lot but if it doesn't have Christ in it, I consider it a waste (of time too).

Carl E. Olson

Thanks, Agnieszka. But I don't think anyone's story about becoming Catholic, staying Catholic, being Catholic is ever generic. It's always interesting; there are always unique aspects that inspire, edify, and educate. For example, when you refer to "unholy books", I wonder: what is being referred to?


Thanks, Carl. I enjoyed your "shameless stroll down memory lane." Our stories are similar in some aspects. My husband was the one who, like you, studied a lot. I came with him into the Church because what he explained from his studies made sense and because I believed that husband and wife should stand together in faith. I heard the call from God loud and clear, and I answered it. What resonated most with us (after the Eucharist, that is), was the fact that the liturgy was so closely tied to and flowed from Scripture. We were shocked to hear far more Scripture at Mass from those "Bible-illiterate, works-oriented Catholics" than we had ever heard at our church. We are pleased to see that more Catholics are getting into Scripture. Now if only we could get someone to lead parish Bible studies who doesn't dismiss miracles and prophecies as "embellishments" and insist that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were not actually written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.....!! I liked the two quotes at the end of your post, too. I may borrow them!


Carl, I agree with you that it's way unfair to call anybody's conversion or being/living/staying Catholic, "generic" . Actually, it's almost an insult to describe it as that - I apologize.

I'm unable to produce a list of "unholy books"(and I don't just mean Oprah's Book Club).
I was mostly referring to adolescent (immature) infatuation with Holden Caufield types or Sylvia Plath kind of literary figures. They've been happily replaced.

Ann Applegarth

I, too, enjoyed your "stroll," Carl. My Southern Baptist childhood was similar and, thanks be to God, I have no memory of life without the Bible. Without it, I doubt that I would have survived long enough to discover the joy of Catholicism!

John Dunn

I was raised in the Catholic Church in the 1950's and attended parochial school. We were never exposed to Scripture. We might have heard readings in church, but that would have been it. Later I converted to Judaism precisely because Scripture - albeit what Christians call the Old Testament - was the focus of Jewish life. Later, under the guidance of a rabbi I began to study the New Testament as well. To this day I read Scripture, both "old" and "new" through Jewish eyes.

John Dunn

I just posted a comment and then went out to the Ignatius Press website to see what they offer in the way of Bible study and exegesis. Apparently nothing, if the categories that appear when you click the BOOKS tab at the top are any indication. I saw Bibles, but that was all. Yet I know that I bought a book on Biblical theology within the past year from the Press, but happened to find that only because it was on you "sale table". If you want Catholics to get into Bible Study, you might want to add a new category. Just a thought from a sympathetic friend of the Press and fellow Bible enthusiast.

Carl E. Olson

Thanks, John, for the comments. Ignatius Press commentaries and some books about reading the Bible can be found under "Adult Education", in the "Study Bible" section. Other works, including some having to do with exegesis, can be found by doing a search for "Scripture". Having said that, I think your idea is a good one. By the way, has several essays and book excerpts about reading Scripture, exegesis, and related matters.

John Dunn

A further comment. The rabbi who set me to studying the New Testament also set in motion the slow realization on my part that Jesus was who and what he said he was. Sort of a case of compound metanoia, leading me back into Christianity but not back to Rome. At least not yet.

Thanks for the tips on finding the book and for the links to the articles.

Carl E. Olson

Thank you, John, for your remarks and for sharing a bit of your story and journey. Keep us posted, if you are able and willing!

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