Monday, March 29, 2010

Notes from my family...

N.B. We are beginning Holy Week and I can think of nothing as penitential as a lecture on German history.

Dear Readers,

It is a very painful correspondence that I want to share with you today. It is also very personal and I am not making up a word of it. People come to me with family problems all the time. Well, your friend the Rev. Know-it-all is not immune from such difficulties. Some of my relatives are about to throw their religion overboard because of a new translation of the Missal.
Let me begin by once again saying how proud I am of my ethnic heritage. It is the vehicle through which I first heard the Gospel message. German Catholics have been heroic in the defense and practice of the faith which St. Boniface brought to us when he cut down a tree in Fritzlar, a few miles from where my family originates. The tree was sacred to Thor, and when our people saw the tree go down, they dumped Thor like a bad habit. Now of course, Boniface would be arrested for a hate crime, destruction of property and violating first amendment rights.
So I am proud not only to be ethnically German but still more proud to be a German Catholic. Germany was once a collection of tiny countries all going under the banner of the Holy Roman Empire. In the 18th century the Holy Roman Empire consisted of over 1800 separate immediate territories governed by distinct authorities. Back in 1520, when Father Martin Luther, a Saxon and a Catholic University professor (things never change much, do they?), decided he was more infallible than the pope, Europe went up for grabs. It started a century of war in which my father’s family’s town and my mother’s family’s town were burned to the ground by the Duke of Braunschweig, a northern Protestant prince. When the smoke cleared and they managed to bury the 8 million or so corpses, the north of Germany, places like Prussia, Hamburg and Braunschweig, ended up Protestant. Places in the south like Bavaria and Austria ended up Catholic. My people were a bit odd. (Are you surprised?) We are from a little grouping of towns in Oberhessen in the north that ended Catholic surrounded by, not Lutherans, but Calvinists! That means we are crabby, but still Catholic.
There really was no Germany until the 19th century when the Calvinist Dukes of Brandenburg/Prussia decided to take over the rest of the German Sates. The Prussians are what most people think of as Germans, precise, humorless, fond of a good argument or an invasion of Poland. The rest of us like beer, accordion music and wine that is sweet enough to give you diabetes. That’s why my people came here. They wanted to be Catholic. That’s why a lot of people came here, like the Irish and the Polish and the Assyrians. We have forgotten who we are and it breaks my heart that my own family has forgotten. It is a disaster to forget the faith that created our beautiful culture.
Fr. Luther started the process of forgetting by rejecting the universality of the faith that the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, represents and, by the grace of God, creates. Much of Europe is having a wonderful time forgetting the Gospel and its irritating moral demands, like permanent marriages and children. We now look forward to Islamic Republic of France, the Islamic Republic of Holland and the revived Caliphate of Cordoba (Spain). In a little while we will have the Emirate of Milwaukee and the Caliphate of New York. I imagine when that happens we, (not they, because it will be we who have given up our faith) will blow up the Statue of Liberty. It is after all the image of a goddess. One consolation; all the feminists will have to wear black birkahs. We can pretend that nuns are making a come back.

Rev. Know-it-all

(Here’s the promised correspondence and my response:)

Subject: Re: Here's the new translation of the missal…
Dear Relatives,
I can't decide if it's time to start our own church or just give up on it all together. There doesn't seem to be much reason to support the power politics that the higher clergy call church, but which is only the institutional and least important of Avery Dulles' models of the church.
Cousin Wilhelm

And this from another relative:

It seems wordy and the words seem foreign to the 21st century. One wonders who wrote it and if this is the language that they personally use... check it out. I'd be interested in what you think....
Cousin Hildegarde

And this is my response to my kin:

Dear Relatives,
I am delighted that the ethnic heritage is still so strong in the family. I had thought we were no longer very German. How wonderful to hear talk of starting our own church. Nothing could be more quintessentially Teutonic. It's just what our ancestors' neighbor down the road apiece, Fr. Luther, did when he realized his own charisma of infallibility.
Our people left Germany because Bismarck was so antipapal. A good German owed no allegiance to a foreign prince, such as the Bishop of Rome pretends to be. Bismarck loved to draft the Catholic boys and put them in the front lines to see if the French had got the cannon range right. So they put Great Grandpa on a boat in Hanover Schmuenden at the age of sixteen to send him to Amerika where he could be Catholic and free. How delightful that a little change in vocabulary, designed to bring us more into line with other English speaking Catholics outside Amerika is about to liberate us from that foolish notion of universality and the tyrannical old Bavarian in the Vatican. Perhaps now we can all migrate back to Europe, give the land back to the Native Americans from whom we stole it and become Muslims like the rest of Europe. Allah hu Akbar.
Your cousin,
Rev. Know-it-all

P.S. Perhaps you've heard the saying, "There is no one so conservative as a liberal."

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Rev reviews The Shack

Dear Rev Know it all;

I have just read the book The Shack. It was very interesting, but I’m not sure that it very Catholic. Could you please comment?

Yours, Frieda Reid

Dear Frieda

I once heard the eminent Fr. Bob Barron say that The Shack was like watermelon; very sweet but one had to spit out the occasional seed. To his perspicacious comments I would like to add something said by the sagacious Dr. Ashleigh Brilliant, “I may not be perfect, but parts of me are excellent!” I recommend the book to those who understand that it is a fantasy, and not a work of theology. It is more of a meditation to be taken with a grain of salt. It is particularly good for those who suffered some great grief or for those who have trouble with forgiveness or believing that God loves them. It struck me as I read it, that it is sort of a Protestant longing for what Catholic visionaries experience. Some of it sounds like the accounts of the Fatima visionaries. It describes the intimacy with God that believing Catholics almost take for granted when we encounter Jesus in the Eucharist and in the tabernacle, body blood soul and divinity,

The Shack is quite a book. When I first started it, I was alarmed at the mention of a chai latte with soy milk. That certainly did not bode well, but my fears of new age voodoo were largely unfounded. What I found was modern American non-denominational Protestantism lite.

To briefly summarize the plot without giving anything away a good man, an unsure Christian has his life and faith shaken when his very young daughter goes missing on a camping trip. It is clear that she has been molested and murdered by a serial killer, but her body cannot be found. “Mac” the protagonist sinks into a depression for years that he calls the great sadness. He receives a note saying that God would like to see him in the shack where his little daughter’s bloody dress was recovered. Desperate, he goes and there he meets God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

His first encounter is with God the Father who is an ample African American woman, maternal and warm, one of the most delightful characters in the book. Jesus is, of all things, a Jewish carpenter. The Holy Spirit is an Asian woman. I can hear staunchly orthodox people gritting their teeth. You needn’t. At least not right away. The author’s point seems to be that God is never quite what we expect, and in this he is quite accurate.

First what’s good about the book? The plot is very compelling. Though you know what’s going to happen, you still want to keep reading. The portrayal of the Trinity is largely orthodox, with an important exception to which I will refer later. The book seems in its discussion of Jesus and salvation. It is wonderful in the way it discusses the love of God for creation and humanity. It rhapsodizes about the way God knows. I kept remembering the Scripture verse, “We shall know as we are known for we shall see Him as He is.” God is very humanized in the book.

Second what’s not so good about the book? Evangelical leader R. Albert Mohler, Jr. called The Shack "deeply troubling," saying that it "includes undiluted heresy." To a Catholic, this is quite a comment. From a Catholic perspective, evangelical Protestantism is undiluted heresy, but it still makes some interesting points. William Young, the author, considers himself a great fan of C.S. Lewis, and The Shack is a fantasy, not unlike CS Lewis allegorical works about God. C.S. Lewis was just inches from Catholicism himself. Perhaps that is why the Shack gives certain evangelicals the shpilkus. Mind you, I am a believing Catholic, thus my critique. To be quite honest the plot drags in spots when Young psychologizes or theologizes at great length. Sometimes his language is very, well, new age groovy, but he is after all a Canadian who lives in Oregon.

Third: What’s really not so good about The Shack. Being a theological descendant of Father Martin Luther, that renegade Catholic priest, Young doesn’t realize that there should be four people in the Shack, Father, Son, Holy Ghost and the Bride (that is the Church.) Jesus mentions the Bride, but she isn’t really there. That’s why he has to make the Father a woman who eventually turns into a man. We Catholics understand that the feminine in God is wrapped up in Mother Church, personified in our Blessed Mother, Mary. This blind spot means that Young humanizes God, but doesn’t really understand the Incarnation. How could he? He is the theological descendant of Father Martin Luther and Uncle John Calvin. He makes God out to be very human, but not very incarnate. There is a difference.

In the chapter “God is a Verb”, the author’s Lutheran inheritance becomes clear. God doesn’t like religion very much and the 10 commandments exist only to point out the futility of trying to follow rules. We Catholics think religion is a virtue. Its purpose is to render God the worship due to Him as the source of all being and the principle of all government. God owns us, body and soul. This is the reason for religion and ritual. We are not spirits trapped in flesh. We are incarnate spirits. What I do with my body, I do with my soul. Jesus doesn’t destroy the law. He fulfills it. The Law is a gift of God’s love, warning us of the dangers of sin and pointing us to the beauty of virtue. Ritual is the worship that our embodied spirits offer God. In The Shack God seems to say that there are no rules or rituals or restraints, just love. There is also no hell, no fallen angels and no ultimate freedom. One cannot finally choose evil. God’s love seems irresistible. This is pure Luther. Young seems to believe in predestination without hell. Everyone is predestined to go to heaven, but predestined none the less. God will eventually have his way. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Fourth: What is excellent about The Shack? Its treatment of God’s universal love and forgiveness is very good. In classic Protestantism and Islam, God loves some and hates others. It is called predestination. In Judaism, God’s justice demands punishment for heinous crimes. On the other hand Catholicism and in the New Testament teach that God is universally just, universally merciful and universally loving.

This is the problem is that The Shack really tackles. Mac comes to believe that God loves him even though he did not prevent his daughter’s death. He finds assurance that his daughter is in God’s safe keeping, but he cannot cope with God’s love for the perpetrator of this horrific crime. The “!%*# deserves to burn in hell. I cannot forgive him!” God explains that Mac is His child, Mac’s daughter is His child and the murderer is His child. They are all brothers, children of the same Father.

By my lights, this section of the book is the most Catholic part. It is why Catholicism is so universally hated when it is fully Catholic. The world wants thing to be good or bad, black or white, up or down. That is why God describes himself as a parent. For a parent who loves his children nothing is all one thing or the other. While acknowledging the bad, a father -- a real father -- still sees the good.

These have been hard times for Mother Church, the Bride. The world the flesh and the devil say that there are some who are beyond her maternal embrace. There are some whom the Father should not forgive. The Father, the true Father, the Father who is God punishes in order to heal, not to delight in the pain of the punished. He is not the sadist Luther believed Him to be. Poor Luther seems to have hated God. Luther says “He (God) gorges on us with great eagerness and wrath . . . he is an avaricious, gluttonous fire." The children of Luther have never quite understood the universal love of God because their father, Martin Luther never did. He stands solidly with the world saying that a very human, a very incarnate, church should be destroyed. Only the perfect church as Luther defines it, should be left. And so says all the modern world. They cannot understand how universal love can be reconciled with justice.

A case in point. Despite what you may have heard Pope Pius XII is credited with saving 700,000 Jews from the Nazi ovens in the Second World War. (If you don’t believe me, read “The Myth of Hitler’s Pope” by Rabbi David Dahlen, “Special Mission” by Dan Kurzman and “Triumph, the Power and the Glory of the Catholic Church” by H. W. Crocker III) Shockingly, the Church has been implicated in the flight of some Nazi criminals from justice after the war. How can a church which saved Jews then turn around and save Nazis? That is the wrong question. The real question is how can a God who loved and chose the Jews allow them to suffer so hideously and then, if He really loved them, how can He also love the fiends who tortured and killed them? The idea that God’s love is universal sounds good on paper, but its demands enrage savage, fallen humanity.

Here’s an example of the problem. The world wants full disclosure. The Church offers the Holy Seal of Confessional. Untold numbers of priests have gone to their death rather than betray criminals. This is unacceptable to a blood thirsty world. Criminals should be betrayed -- unless of course that criminal is your son or daughter whom you love.

We don’t really want a God who is love, a God who is Father, loving both victim and perpetrator. We want a God who will take just revenge on those who have hurt us. That is why God allowed us to brutally kill His own beloved Son and then heard His son’s prayers that his “Papa,” His “Abba” forgive them. Sometimes the Catholic Church fails to punish evildoers in the way that the world believes they should be punished. The church, or rather the weak and sinful people in whose hands God has placed the Church, tries to imitate their Lord. Sometimes they get it wrong. Most parents get it wrong, but often they get it wrong for the right reason. The pastors of the Church are compelled to see the common humanity of victim and perpetrator, indeed more than that. They see the potential divinization of both!

That is part of the reason why the Catholic Church opposes the death penalty. The death penalty is not necessarily forbidden. It must simply be administered with perfect justice. And who is the perfect, just judge in this sorry world. The death penalty is abhorrent to us partly because it ends the possibility of repentance, and God does not wish the death of a sinner, even though the world longs for it.

What about all those people consigned to the flames by the Inquisition etc. etc. When the state has masqueraded as the Church it has done horrible things wearing clerical vestments, but when the Church has done the right thing and has been truly Herself, she has always struggled to love the sinner as Christ Himself loves the sinner. For this, she has been hated more than for any other thing. She holds up the high moral standard of Christ that Young’s book seems to brush away. She is hated for reminding people of their sins. At the same time holds out the hope of complete forgiveness, and she is hated all the more for doing so. May she always stand with her Lord at the cross which was intended for His shame but has become His sign of victory and the very emblem of God’s glory.

Rev. Know it all

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Why do Catholics call priests "Father"?

Dear Rev. Know it all,
My neighbor, a member of the First Fire-Baptized Church of God in Christ with Signs and Wonders Following Inc., says that Catholics are in violation of the Holy Scriptures because they call their pastors “father” but the Bible says “Call no man father!” Can you explain this or should I join their church?
Pat Ernity
Dear Pat,
When people hit me with this I always ask them, “If you should call no man father, what do you call that man who married your mother?” People who use the Bible that way are about as deep as a puddle. They take individual verses out of context, and a text without a context is a pretext. They are looking for a fight. They sound like they know the Bible, but they’ve only interiorized certain parts of it — the parts that are fun in a fight. It’s the same spirit that motivated pseudo-liberalism. It is allows you to be virtuous and cantankerous at the same time. I call it the baptized anger.
Let’s look at the passage in the 23rd chapter of Matthew. “Then Jesus said… ‘The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat..... but everything they do is done for men to see.....they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues.... They love..... to have men call them Rabbi....But you are not to be called Rabbi, for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth father, for you have one Father, and He is in heaven. Nor are you to be called teacher, for you have one Teacher, the Christ.’ ”
First of all, the word Rabbi means “my great one” or “my revered one” — “reverend” in English and the word “doctor” is Latin for teacher. I don’t know a single Christian group that doesn’t use one of those three titles. For instance, we have, the Rev. Doctor Billy Graham. And we have the Rev. Ernst Angely (Oh Lord, heal my toupee!) All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, as St. Paul says.
St. Paul tells the Corinthians (1Cor.4:15 ) “Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.” Actually, in Greek it reads “I begot you” and not “I have become your father,” but he does concede that they have fathers in Christ, though not many among whom he clearly counts himself. Apparently St. Paul doesn’t realize this title is forbidden.
What’s really going on here? Some rabbis at the time of Christ really believed they deserved perks. The question was asked, “If your father and your rabbi were drowning, and you could only save one of them, who should you save?” The correct answer was, of course, your rabbi, since a father confers only physical life and your rabbi confers spiritual life. People vied to dress their rabbis, to tie their shoes, in general, to be at their beck and call. Even in our own time, the fuss made over great rabbis is amazing. The great Rabbi Menachem Schneerson, the last of the Lubavitcher Rebbes, was followed and fawned over like a rock star and, from people who knew the Rebbe, I have gotten the impression that the Rebbe was pretty sick of it. Little orthodox Jewish kids even have “Gedolim” cards, literally “great men cards.” These are famous Rabbi trading cards, similar to baseball cards.!!!
This is what Jesus is referring to, not so much the idea of titles. I have known people in some really weird wacky sects that would never dream of calling their ministers “father,” but their preachers and pastors tell them whom to marry, what to say, how to eat and how to dress. Believe me. Few Catholic priests are in danger of this kind of status.
What Jesus is saying here is that your salvation should never be dependent on any one human being. People leave the Church over the darndest things. The priest yelled at them or missed an appointment or didn’t attend their third cousin twice removed’s funeral. Far more serious is scandal. We get so discouraged when we hear of priestly scandal. Jesus warned us that scandal was inevitable. Priests are not only weak men, but they are under unusual pressure. I don’t just mean day-to-day stress; I mean demonic attack. St. Paul says that it isn’t against flesh and blood that we war, but against powers and principalities. (Eph.6:12)Jesus said that “...they will strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered.” (Mark14:27) In other words, if the devil can ruin a priest, he has done a good day’s work, at least what he would call a good day.
If you are a Catholic because you met the perfect priest or deacon or nun, I would suggest you leave the Church now and avoid the delay. You may have been led to the Catholic faith by a good man or woman, but trust me, they aren’t perfect. God alone is good, as Jesus tells us. The rest of us are original sinners. This includes the clergy. The reason to be a Catholic is that the Catholic Church holds the truth and that it is the Church founded by Jesus. However, it is to be remembered that Jesus founded the Church through the ministry of the apostles, that bunch of cowardly reprobates. We, the clergy, have been walking in their footsteps ever since.
Rev. Know-it-all

Monday, March 15, 2010

Why did they take away the Holy Water?

Dear Rev. Know it all,
I was out in the suburbs this past Sunday and stopped at St. Vatsnu’s Church in Rolling Bluff Oak Terrace Vistas for Mass. I was a bit taken aback. First there was sand in the holy water fountain and then there was a glorious liturgical dance in which some nun in a diaphanous gown and a body stocking twirled up to the altar with what appeared to be a Mexican bean pot belching clouds of incense. Were these changes mandated by the Second Vatican Council?
Patience X. Austed

Dear Patience,
No, these changes were not mandated by the Second Vatican Council. They were probably mandated by a second string team of unemployed department store window decorators, or a pastor who considers himself avant garde. I have seen the bean pot incense thing and I worked in the Spanish speaking world for many years. When I see a bean pot/incense burner, I always wonder, “Who burned the beans?” As for the sand in the holy water fountain, it is absolutely forbidden. Allow me to quote:

Prot. N. 569/00/L
March 14, 2000
Dear Father:
This Congregation for Divine Worship has received your letter sent by fax in which you ask whether it is in accord with liturgical law to remove the Holy Water from the fonts for the duration of the season of Lent. This Dicastery is able to respond that the removing of Holy Water from the fonts during the season of Lent is not permitted, in particular, for two reasons:
1. The liturgical legislation in force does not foresee this innovation, which in addition to being beyond the law, is contrary to a balanced understanding of the season of Lent, which though truly being a season of penance, is also a season rich in the symbolism of water and baptism, constantly evoked in liturgical texts.
2. The encouragement of the Church that the faithful avail themselves frequently of her sacraments and sacramentals is to be understood to apply also to the season of Lent. The "fast" and "abstinence" which the faithful embrace in this season does not extend to abstaining from the sacraments or sacramentals of the Church.
The practice of the Church has been to empty the Holy Water fonts on the days of the Sacred Triduum in preparation of the blessing of the water at the Easter Vigil, and it corresponds to those days on which the Eucharist is not celebrated (i.e., Good Friday and Holy Saturday). Hoping that this resolves the question and with every good wish and kind regard, I am,
Sincerely yours in Christ, [signed]
Mons. Mario Marini

So, the practice of emptying the Holy Water font during lent is forbidden, no matter what your pastor and or liturgy committee say. They may counter with “Who the heck does Mons. Mario Marini think he is anyway?” He is the person delegated by the Pope to comment on these things. (the Pope, remember him? The cheerful Bavarian with the white beanie?) Once again the silliness and endless innovation of the modern era cause us to ask, “What the heck is going on anyway!?!”
It’s really quite simple. It started with Eve and the apple. (I can hear someone shouting even as I write “There that chauvinist goes again, blaming women for the whole mess!” It is clear that the devil had to get to the woman first, because, as any reasonable man knows, men are, in fact, the weaker sex.) Instead of explaining away the text as a creation myth like any other creation myth, why don’t we try to understand what the story tells us about the human condition? It seems that the first human beings were presented with the opportunity to be children of God. They opted instead for equality with God. Allow me to quote once again. “The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.' "
"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (Gen 3:2-5)
So there it is: the Original Sin, the refusal to be children of God. It is insistence on independent adulthood. “Nobody is gonna tell me nuthin! I got my rights!” That’s why Jesus says “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Mark 10:15) Let us jump ahead a few eons, to the Renaissance, famous for sculpture, music, really neat clothing and poofy hats. The motto of the Renaissance was “Man is the measure of all things.” Now let us jump ahead a few more years to Rene Descartes, who said in 1637 in his Discourse on Method, “I think therefore I am.” The Discourse on Method was the beginning of the Age of Enlightenment, which ended by enlightening people through cutting off their heads in the French Revolution of 1789. That would certainly make people a few pounds lighter.
A great advocate of enlightenment, French-style revolution and occasional head-chopping was our own Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and the owner of 267 slaves. (This, in 1822 long after he had railed against the slave trade. The man was about as consistent a thinker as a sugar-crazed 4-year old.) Thomas took the great ideas of the Enlightenment and gave us the stirring words of the Declaration, “Life, Liberty and the Purfuit, (or as we now write it “pursuit”) of Happiness!” He failed to define happiness. In his case it seemed to involve the ownership of lots of other human beings. Thus it moved from, “We will be like God” to “Man is the measure of all things,” to “My personal happiness is the measure of right and wrong.” So, the pastor of St. Vatsnu’s couldn’t give a good gosh darn for what Mons. Mario Marini in Rome has to say.
St. Paul said about our Lord Jesus. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made emptied himself taking the form of a slave, becoming in human likeness, and being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death...” (Phil.2:5-8)
It is interesting to contrast the humility of God with the arrogance of some who claim to be His servants.
Rev. Know-it-all

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Does the Q document prove that Jesus never intended a Church hierarchy? pt 2

Continued from last week….

If then the only reason to believe that the Gospels are written generations after Jesus is the prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem, what reasons are there to believe that the Gospels are actually written in the first generation of Christianity?
There are quite a few.

First, we know when St. Paul was executed: 64AD. Luke and Acts are two volumes of one work that deal with the lives of Jesus and St. Paul. They seem in the view of some scholars to be some sort of legal defense of Paul. They don’t tell you anything about Paul’s death and execution. They end before his trial. If they were a biography of Paul, don’t you think they would include his death? They end before his death. In fact they end a couple years before his death. From other early Christian documents we know that Paul was acquitted at his first trial, that he went to Spain, then back to the Holy Land, and finally back to Italy where he was once again arrested and put to death in Nero’s persecution. That would put the writing of Luke/Acts somewhere around 61 or 62AD.  If, as the theory maintains, Matthew and Luke are more or less contemporary and Mark is written still earlier, that would put Mark at perhaps 50 AD. which would put Q even earlier.
Dr. Peters gives us the single most original and convincing argument for the early dating of the Gospels I have ever heard. We are pretty sure that St. Paul did his writing around 55AD. He had a developed atonement theology, which says that Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for sin. The Gospel of John seems to allude to this also when it calls Jesus the Lamb of God. So, in 55AD, only 22 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection in 33AD, there is a developed theology of atonement by 55 AD. There is not a developed theology of atonement in Matthew, Mark or Luke. In other words you find the Gospel in Paul. You don’t find Paul in the Gospel. Therefore, the Gospels would reasonably predate the work of St. Paul. That puts the Gospel texts at from 45 to 55 AD and Q even earlier.
(Wait a minute. I thought Jesus was born in 4 BC at the latest because King Herod died in 4BC at the latest. That means Jesus would have been crucified in 29AD if he was thirty three years older at the time. You are once again the victim of sloppy pseudo-scholarship. We learn the date of Herod’s death from Josephus a Jewish historian. All the manuscripts used to date Herod’s death that put it at 7-4 BC are  copies of one faulty manuscript printed in Geneva Switzerland in 1544. Older better manuscripts put the date at 1BC. Just when it was always thought to be.)
There are still two interesting points about Q. Q is full of sayings and miracles from Jesus’ Galilean ministry. They don’t mention His death or Resurrection. Perhaps that is because they are compiled in Galilee, by people who weren’t eyewitnesses to His death and Resurrection. Or, as Professor Peters says, perhaps they were compiled during Jesus own lifetime, before His death and Resurrection.
The second point that intrigues me is that  Q, whether it is a written or an oral source, is in Greek, not Aramaic. Jesus’ first language was quite probably Aramaic, a linguistic near cousin to Hebrew. Jesus may have spoken some Greek. Galilee was a multi-lingual place, and Jesus did preach and teach on the Greek speaking side of the lake as well as the Aramaic speaking side, but His sayings, at least some or most of them would have been originally in Aramaic.  Q is not Aramaic. It is Greek. How do we know this?. The Greek vocabulary and phrasing of Q is almost exactly the same in the verses shared by Matthew and Luke. Why should this be remarkable? There seems to be an authoritative source for Jesus sayings that produced the sayings in Greek. Where there is an authorized text, there is an authority.  Herein lies the rub!
Late dates for the Gospels are crammed down our throats because it makes a hierarchical Church something that Jesus never intended. The Church and its pesky bishops are not found in Q whatever Q may or may not have been. If Q is the real Jesus, then the church is a power-grab by con artists a generation or two after Jesus. This is the non-sense of The DaVinci Code which would have us believe that Jesus was thoroughly modern and certainly ordained women and  must have married Mary Magdalene etc. etc. Furthermore, tenured university professors at Catholic schools can claim an authority which supersedes the illegitimate authority of the bishops.
On the other hand, the Church is certainly contained in the Gospels. If the Gospels are written almost immediately after the death and Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, they are in fact, the words, the deeds and intentions of Jesus, the God-Man and the moral authority and the unbroken Apostolic Tradition of the Church are His invention.
Question what your kids are being taught at Catholic schools, from preschool to university. Read their textbooks. Ask questions. Call their teachers. After all, you’re paying for it. And don’t let them con you into submitting to their authority. They don’t really have any authority since they submit to no authority, and no one seems to be able to stop them from the secularization and corruption of young people which Mother Marianna warned us four hundred years ago.  Oops! I forgot. There is no such thing as prophecy.
Rev. Know-it-all