Hello, my friend. I am Matthew. I was born during World War II, a prelude to the disaster-times we are in at the present moment. I was raised in Buffalo, NY, After I retired there, I moved to the Tampa Bay area of Florida, where I now reside with my wife.
Please allow me to offer you a little of my background with regard to the spiritual life.
I was a "cradle Catholic"--I was baptized at two weeks old, and the Catholic religion thoroughly penetrated my person. I was a "good boy" when young, but my parents fought constantly, sometimes violently. Nonetheless, I became an altar server and was very faithful during my elementary and high school years in Catholic schools (though I spent my share of time with the young ladies, when I was not absorbed in prayer!) I went to Fordham University, a Catholic school in New York City, where I rebelled against the constraints of Catholic morality and began to live a careless life. I did my graduate work in English language and literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. There I became thoroughly secularized and lived an unrestrained life for the next 25 years, both in school and later, as a professor at a major university on the West Coast. Despite my secularism, I repeatedly encountered, in college and graduate school, one religion after another, from East as well as West. For example, I heard Alan Watts lecture at Fordham--the man who popularized Eastern religions in the U.S. Indeed, I wrote my dissertation on a series of Catholic Sermons from the 10th century.
In the 1980s, without warning, I suddenly and whole-heartedly turned back to Catholic Christianity, through the Catholic Charismatic Movement, a widespread Pentecostal approach to the Catholic religion at the time. I fully immersed myself in the Catholic faith, re-studying what I had been trained to believe as a boy, but with keener insight and understanding. My wife and I remained in a Charismatic community for six years. Soon after leaving the community, I began training as an ordained Permanent Deacon in the Catholic Church. I was enthusiastic about the work I was doing as a deacon in my parish and in other charity projects, including being a fervent anti-abortion activist. I felt filled with grace.
When I retired from teaching at a local community college, I completed a course of study and worked as a full-time, paid hospital chaplain for 6 years. I learned to see human living and dying from a different, fearless perspective. These experiences, as well as my long-term friendship with a man who was on the seeker's path toward Divinity through Eastern religion, widened my scope of view about the relation between human life and Divinity. I began to examine more critically the doctrines of the Catholic Church and the commonplace Christian ways of reading the Bible. I began to ask hard questions and to find troubling answers.
Just at that time, the priest-predation scandal in the Catholic Church emerged in my consciousness. I was disgusted at the way so many priests--priests that I knew!--had shattered the lives of children and teens and even adult seminarians. But for me, worse was that the bishops who oversaw these predator-priests colluded with them and with other bishops and popes to cover up the terrible moral rupture in the character of so many priests and bishops.
In response, I dug more deeply into the Catholic doctrines that for my entire religious life, I had taken for granted as true. Now I began to become skeptical of their validity as Divine Truth. I began to see contradictions in the theology of the Catholic religion and inconsistencies and improbabilities in the Biblical scriptures. I loved the faithful people to whom I ministered as a deacon, but less and less could I silently accept the duplicity of the priests and bishops, both in their teachings and in their life-examples of the Christian life.
I began to write essays in which I tried to think through these issues of religion, and I began to understand that the One God, who is nameless and unknowable, exists in the present consciousness of human beings, no matter what religion they adhere to or which church they have turned away from.
I published these essays, full of questions, in an earlier version of this website. As I became less confident in the "orthodox" Catholic approach to Christianity, my preaching became more exploratory and less dogmatic. Because I was preaching from a new, arguably unorthdox viewpoint, and for other reasons of personal fallibility, my relations with the pastors I worked for deteriorated. It was an agonizing time in my life, which led to my 'retirement" from my ministry as deacon. I left the Catholic Church at the point of greatest friction with my pastors and of greatest sorrow over how the bishops and popes were trying to whitewash the ugliness of the preditor-priest scandal.
I do not regret having left Christianity. I have found the Christian churches to have become, from early on, essentially un-Christian in every conceivable way. I have attempted to shed some light on this waywardness in my book, The Only Christian Century, which you can read on this website if you wish. I want to say also that the writing of this book was a purgation for me. It helped me to shake off the damage to my spiritual health which the Catholic religion had done to me and, as I observe, to many others of its faithful people. This book helped me through the four years which it took me to recover my personal spiritual identity, and to live in the intimate presence of the Creator of All Things.
I am pleased and grateful to know the freedom of simply being.
I trust that this new version of the GodDesire website will become a place where spiritual experience and thought about it will be respected, and where a conversation will commence among us which we will find beneficial and of great beauty.
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