Cromey Online

The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Monday, April 20, 2015

Catholic Teaching Moment

The incumbent archbishop’s laying down the law has radicalized Catholic high school students, teachers and many lay people. The official teachings of the church on homosexuality, birth control, abortion and hierarchical power were proclaimed clearly by the archbishop. Now many Catholics newly see the narrow, restrictive and hostile laws of that church. The archbishop has done the members a favor by dramatizing the cruel effects of the teachings of the church. Many of the members are rightly questioning the church’s laws.

Monday, April 13, 2015


Doubting Thomas Sunday 4/12/15, 2015

During the 40 days of the Easter season we celebrate that Jesus rose from the dead, defeated death and appeared to the two Marys and his disciples. We have heard the lessons, sung the hymns, cracked the eggs signifying new life from the tomb.

Many people take the story literally, as an historical moment, as absolute truth. That is wonderful. If that gives you joy and peace. WONDERFUL.

Perhaps it gives hope that we too will survive our own death, go to heaven and be in the eternal presence of God.

I have many Episcopal friends and Mormon relatives who take the story literally.

We hear in the Gospel story of Thomas, one of Jesus disciples says,  “Unless I see the marks of the nails in his hands and put my finger in the marks of the nails and my hands in his side, I will not believe.”

We should be good very good doubters: Doubt
About the police version of how black men are shot in the back.
Anything that comes out of Washington, from the Republicans or Democrats. Doubt anything reported in our media about Russia, China or North Korea.

We Christians love our enemies. Media hates them. We seldom read or hear reports about the good things that happen in Iran or Palestine.


I have been to Dachau, outside of Munich, the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem. Next Wednesday is Holocaust Memorial Day. Pray for the dead. Pray also for the Native Americans, Armenians and Bosnians who have died in holocausts.

Thomas was the first doubter but not the last. There are some if not many who do not believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus. We have doubts. There is no empirical evidence that Jesus rose again, only the word of the writers of the New Testament.

Some believe in the mythology. The resurrection is a powerful story making us look at life after death. Some take the word of the theologians. They have prayed and thought deeply and written their opinions. Some believe by faith. In the words of Jesus,
“Blessed are those who have not seen but have come to believe.”

In our Episcopal Church no one is going to give you a quiz, check the accuracy of your belief or even check your spelling of the word resurrection. You will believe what you hear or you won’t, and no one cares.

We do say the Creeds, which begin with the words, I or We believe in a whole list of theological ideas. I personally wish we did not say them in public worship, as they are unnecessary barriers to newcomers who might be interested in joining us. But many insist we honor the ancient creeds as part of our religious heritage.  The worship committee and the Vicar allow them to be included in our worship. But there is no quiz. No one knows exactly what any of us believe or even cares. Say the creed or not, but enjoy the worship.

One of my seminary professors said, "A measure of the maturity of one's faith is the amount of agnosticism it can hold without breaking." I would add. Doubt is a good thing. It wards off certitude, which is a danger to the search for truth and reasonableness. 

All you have to do is come and hang out with our rag tag seekers and come to the table for the blessed bread and wine. All you have to do is show up. Your belief or lack of belief is not our business.

One of our long time members came to church with his partner, did not ever take communion, he argued with the clergy about the absurdity of the virgin birth and resurrection.  He came to the church and one day simply came to take the bread and the wine. He now comes regularly. The doubts are still there, the belief comes and goes. But he shows up regularly at the table and feed us as he is fed.

Don’t worry about belief, just show up.

Show up for feeding people
Show to learn and read with the book club.
Show up and forgive you enemies
Show up to be in community at the Holy table
Show up to teach kids to read
Show up against war
Show up to walk the streets of the Mission

Show up and enjoy our holy family at St. John’s.