|This is a mosaic made out of bean seeds. It is in the parish|
church at Pangia, Southern Highlands Province.
I have had plenty of time to blog over the past few weeks, but haven’t. There have been several things I’ve meant to write about, but I haven’t forced myself to sit down and write them out. Now I’m about to leave Madang for a couple weeks and am forcing myself to sit down and get them out before I leave.
Where am I going? I’m about to fly out to Kimbe on the island of New Britain (still part of the country of Papua New Guinea). I’ll spend Christmas there and will try to get around to see some other parts of the “islands region” of PNG, a part of the country that I have never been to before. I’m excited to see some new places. I have also been told that there is a great choir at the cathedral in Kimbe, which is where I plan to be for Christmas services.
On the Title of this Blog
We get a few television channels via satellite here, and one of them is EWTN (“the Catholic channel”). I saw an interview on it a while ago in which a woman named Sherry Weddell said some things that really resonated with me. She, too, is a convert to the Catholic Church who used to fit into that broad umbrella term of evangelical Protestant. For her the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist was a key factor. She said she very much felt that she was “literally” just following Jesus into the Catholic Church. That is how I feel, and that is pretty much what the title of this blog is based on. I blogged about this desire to receive Jesus in the Eucharist just a couple of months before I was received into the Catholic Church, when I had been meditating a great deal on Luke chapter 24.
This lady now works with a place called the Siena Institute and wrote a book on forming intentional disciples. I found it heartening to hear her speak so frankly about the needs for evangelization even within the bounds of the Catholic Church.
On Convert Stories
Thinking about her story made me realize that I’ve never posted a link to probably one of the coolest “convert stories” I’ve encountered: Leona Choy. Her book (My Journey to the Land of More) is one of the few ebooks I’ve paid money for, and it was worth it. She was as “vanilla evangelical” as you can get. (by which I mean that she graduated from Wheaton and she’s the sort of person who I imagine probably has copies of Decision magazine and Our Daily Bread on her coffee table right near the piano where song sheets for "Amazing Grace" and "In Christ Alone" lie open… I fully grant that my idea of “vanilla evangelical” is entirely subjective and probably silly.)
But she only started to consider the possibility of becoming Catholic when in her late 70’s. ("God rocked her rocking chair" says one of her websites.) She says of herself in her book: “I was the wife of a minister for forty-six years. We cofounded a para-church mission organization and a Chinese church in our nation’s capital. I have written and published many books, established a publishing company, and I am the president of a Christian radio station.” I think pretty much anyone would admire the courage it would take to fairly consider something as alien as the Catholic Church at that point. Her story is worth a read.
A Convert of a Different Kind
I may be the last one to get on this boat, but Bartholome de Las Casas is awesome! I finished reading a book that has excerpts from his writings in translation, and I was blown away by his story. (The foreward by Gustavo Gutierrez is itself worth the book) Has anyone made a movie about this yet? It deserves a good movie—a great movie. This guy’s father went with Columbus to the New World on what I think was his third journey. He himself made the crossing while a young man and was one of the first priests in the Caribbean. All sorts of unjust social structures were being formed, and de Las Casas was complicit in all of it. He “owned” natives and land. He was well established and had the potential to acquire immense wealth. But then some Dominican friars preached a sermon…and told everyone that they were all in mortal sin and could not be saved while they persisted. He himself didn’t listen to them at first, but eventually experienced a complete conversion, got rid of his land and rights to native labor, and became the most committed advocate of the native peoples of his era.
Christmas in PNG
|In St. Francis of Assisi parish in Tari. Tari is in Hela province and home to the|
Huli people. Their men are famous for their wigs, and you can see that St. Joseph
even has one in this portrayal!