My Uncle Jack commented that I have not made much, if any, mention of the influence my father's Lutheran faith has had on my life. I'm sure that it was a conscious slight against the Missouri Synod Lutherans (as my father sez, the "Defenders of the Faith").
Because my mom went to church, we children went to church. My father preferred to worship at the altar of the Blessed Pillow on Sunday mornings after, of course, he had made eggs and bacon for breakfast. Dad did acquiesce and joined his family for mass on Christmas and Easter. It was kind of a treat, sort of like ecclesial show-and-tell, to bring my Dad to church - he was the token Protestant in attendance! Indeed, I can still recall vividly sitting in the back pews at Easter Sunday Mass with my father who pulled out his Watchman (mini-tv) and watched, I believe, some type of sporting event.
I consider myself to be a Mudblood (like in Harry Potter), the product of the union of a Catholic and a Lutheran. If there's been anything that has kept my view on my tradition in perspective, it is my father's observations about the Catholic church. I wouldn't necessarily call him a major critic, but there are good reasons he's not a Catholic and he's quite able to articulate these reasons. Perhaps it is the years of clashing theologically that I have developed my own stance on a number of issues and find myself, more often than not, trying to take a more ecumenical view on issues.
I am annoyed to no end by those who seem to think that it's a slight against my "evangelical zeal" that I have not converted my father to the Catholic church! I don't suspect that any of us chooses his or her faith tradition idly; in fact, I think that an adult assent of faith involves an enormous amount of struggle in order to appropriate it fully. It is for this reason, this struggling and chafing, that people take their faiths so seriously - as an investment of spiritual, emotional, and physical capital, our faiths are deeply cultivated relationships. If my father is a better man for being a Missouri Synod Lutheran, if he in conscience feels that this is who he is called to be and how he is called to live, then all I can do is witness my own faith in such a way that I am open to him and his tradition while allowing myself to be informed by his.
This raises the stentorian cries of relativism from a number of persons. I'd sooner a person who lives out fully his or her faith commitments than a milquetoast Catholic. I also take seriously the church's teaching on conscience and trust that my father has, in the encounter between and God and himself in his conscience, responded in faith in the way that he is best able.
(He doesn't know that I baptized him in his sleep. He's really an unaware-Catholic.)
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