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3 Things the Magi Teach Us About Ecumenical Dialogue

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

528 The Epiphany is the manifestation of Jesus as Messiah of Israel, Son of God and Savior of the world...In the magi, representatives of the neighboring pagan religions, the Gospel sees the first-fruits of the nations, who welcome the good news of salvation through the Incarnation.

Christianity was simply born in a melting pot of (1) Jewish Cult practices and (2) Neo-Platonic thought. This use of logic made the two wed together, and thus was a "synthesis." Many wrongheaded attempts to rid Christianity of (1) and (2) have marked Western Christianity since The Reformation. This is like claiming to still be a flourishing flower, while ripping out its roots. Hellenism is the historical context of the birth of Christianity, and this cultural movement produced many other "religious" fusions. The Magi appearing is a sign of the nations recognizing one piety as the answer to the Hellenistic questions about "Being."

Ecumenical Question #1: Is there Being-Itself?

Or in modern terms, "Does God exist?" Jews, Buddhists, Moslems, Confucians, Hindus, Christians, Taoists, and many forms of even polytheism acknowledge Being-Itself. What all ancient "pieties" agreed upon, was that there must be a "Being-Itself" in order for anything to be. In today's terms that would mean if I said quantum fields have being, canines have being, oceans have being, bacteria have being, comets have being, etc. that there is some "Being-Itself" which allows this analogous predication. The real question about such phenomenon then is, "What is Being-Itself?" It must be The Source and Fountain of all beings.

Because of this logical necessity, to posit Being-itself, an ancient person might experience the world as full and supersaturated with the Divine, whereas we in the Secular West have rejected Being-Itself, will experience the world as fragmented, broken, full of beings, yet absent of Being-Itself. The ancient asks, "How can I know Being-Itself more?" The Modernist asks, "Where am I?" or "Does God exist?" What is logically obvious to the ancients, becomes obscured and seemingly 'incapable of being answered' to the Modern Man who thinks beliefs are dictated solely by feelings and preferences.

The opposed camp to this is known as "Dualists." They believe at the top of the chain of being are two "Beings-Itself," which is another way of saying "at the top there is no top." Many philosophers of The East, including Zoroastrians were dualists. If indeed The Magi were Zoroastrians then their adoration is a renunciation of that dualism! The Ecumenical conversation then cannot be to say, 'we're both right,' as if "There is only one Being-Itself" and "It's not the case there is only one Being-Itself, but rather two" for this is a contradiction. Wisemen conclude it must be one or the other, but not both.

Ecumenical Question #2: Does Being-Itself have an image or emanation of itself? Does Being-Itself have an image of itself? Does it emanate other "Beings" or "beings" like the sun emanates light? How does it make or create? Does it have a kind of "knowledge" of itself, whereby it circumscribes itself, or like a mirror reflecting one's own image? This entails God being one yet many, here the Christians and Hindus say yes, the Jews and Moslems say no. Heraclitus' Logos, St. John's Logos, and Lao-Tzu's Tao can have a dialogue here.

If we answer "yes," then we can have art depicting Being-Itself, or the Logos. For the Christian that means we can depict Christ and the saints and even a metaphor for God the Father. For Muslims this would mean no depiction of Allah, I AM, is possible, and by extension neither should there be depictions of his prophets. This will produce radically different cultures of art, music, books, etc.

Ecumenical Question #3: Is Being-Itself "personal?"

Whatever "it" is, it must be beyond our thoughts, our feelings. In one sense, sense it is beyond, it cannot have "thoughts" nor "emotions," otherwise it would be but a creature. But does it have something analogous to thoughts and passions? This is the question. If it is the source of all being, that would include our thoughts and passions. Then these in some shape, form, or fashion, must be said to be "caused" and "sustained" by Being-Itself. The Hebrew God, YHWH, is known as "I AM," or "eigo eimi," or "I AM [Being]." This is what it says its name is to Moses in the burning Bush and it is a claim that Being-Itself is personal.

Ecumenicism vs. Indifferentism

If we are to have Ecumenical Dialogue amongst fellow Christians, or other religions, it is this sense of "G-O-D" that needs recovering. Large conferences with "exchanges of ideas" or "dialogue partners" or "listening" are frequently smoke and mirrors for the reality -- a market exchange of ideas, where none of the participants believe in Truth, there is but "your truth" and "my truth." I might as well declare I have my own biological truths, my own mathematical truths. Sheer nonsense.

It's very important to note here, that such "religious dialogues" then are not truly Ecumenical, for they seek not Truth, they are simply "Indifferentism," the spectre of John Locke's "Tolerance," propagated by the British Empire, Anglicanism's "Toleration Party," then spread across The World. Such "tolerance" is simply Colonialism of the mind, to accept contradictions. This is not unlike George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty Four where citizens are forced to accept "doublespeak." Sometimes reality is stranger than fiction. On the contra, our Lord said, "The Truth will make you free."

This missal is the fruit of receptive and realized ecumenism. Ecumenism isn’t just talk anymore — it is a real movement. People who come into the Ordinariate are completely and fully Catholic, yet bring with them the gifts of their Anglican heritage and lay them at the feet of Peter. Peter has now given the gifts back to us and said, ‘Use this to make more Catholics.’

-Dr. Brand on "Divine Worship: The Missal," in reference to how The OCSP is fruit of true Ecumenicism between Catholics and Anglicans

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