Friday, December 2, 2011
OK, so the player doesn't fit the page. Honestly, I'm not much in the mood to figure out the code changes I need to make to fix it. And it's an audio file once you get past the commercial anyway so who cares.
I've been listening to a lot of Gingrich over the past few weeks. I gotta admit that I'm a bit leery of him. Fool me once... Anyway, after listening to this clip and reading his comments on the Eucharist I have to wonder - has he changed?
I'm Catholic. I was born Catholic and raised, more or less (probably less in the long run) Catholic. By the time I was thirteen we no longer went to church. I grew up, got married, had kids and still I didn't really go to church any more than absolutely necessary. Too busy drinking and smoking dope, working, dealing with life and all the other excuses one normally comes up with.
I did come back, though. There were a number of reasons, some powerfully spiritual and some purely based on reason. It's the latter that makes me think that Gingrich may have undergone a profound change.
Gingrich is a man of letters. He writes and lectures. He seems to be deeply attracted to debate, both as sport and as a learning tool. He generally uses logic in his arguments which is why he is so very good at winning them. I've watched him systematically dismantle the arguments of others by finding the weaknesses and exploiting them simply by pointing them out and opening them to question. Very much like so many great Catholic scholars have over the last 2000 years, Aquinas coming immediately to mind.
In this love of logic and argument Gingrich and I are very similar. Obviously, he's way smarter than I am (not false modesty but observable reality). And in the end, it's my personal predisposition towards debate that brought me back to the church and created a fundamental change in me.
I was challenged by co-workers, all of a Pentecostal persuasion, about the legitimacy of Catholic belief. Not being one to shy from an argument but also not being one to advance into battle without arms, I set about to learn as much about the faith of my birth as I could. Not because I planned on returning to it but because I wanted to win a fight.
What I found was not some superstitious, lock step belief system based on power and authority of the political or human type but a system of teachings over 2000 years old, never changing but always growing, based first on logic and reason but then, based on the irrefutable findings of that reasoning, willing to step off the cliff of faith, knowing that no other honest response was possible. I found a faith that worships God, not because a book of dubious origin (at least that's what I thought when I heard the Protestant explanation for why I should trust it) commands it, but because reason, moving in the river of revealed knowledge, demands it.
This changed me and everything about me, completely and irrevocably. I would never be able to think or act the same way again. Once presented with truth we are forced to decide whether to follow it or not. We're either all in or out. There's no middle ground. That doesn't mean we don't fall every now and then. It means we keep our eyes on the prize, get up and keeping working towards the truth.
I'm not the same guy I was 20 years ago. Not by a long shot.
Which forces me to ask this question about Gingrich; has he undergone the same sort of fundamental change because of his faith? If he has then I would have to think that he isn't the same person that lived the life he lived long ago and that knowing what he knows and understands to be the truth now he wouldn't have done many of the things he did.
That doesn't mean he won't do them again. I know I have certain predispositions built into me by constant involvement in pointless stupidity over a big chunk of my life. We all have weaknesses and we all have certain responses that we fall back on in given situations that need to be unlearned. And that's a time consuming process.
I know that in my case, learning to think like the Church after these last 10+ years of reading Church history, Papal Encyclicals and so many of the works of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church has fundamentally altered the way my brain works. I think in a different way now. Catholicism does that to you if you avail yourself of the treasure trove of knowledge it's generated over 2000 years.
I'm thinking, based on what I know about Gingrich, that his journey to the Church probably involved a good deal of reading, research and debate. And I would guess that all of this has caused a change in him that will be reflected in his life, his decisions and the way he sees everything around him.
I'll be watching him more closely. I still have a bunch of questions. But the things I'm hearing from him on issues such as immigration make me think that he's been changed, that the teachings of Holy Mother Church have taken root.
I may find myself able to vote for him after all.