Friday, January 20, 2006

Last Friday

Jim has beat me to it, but I do have to say a little something about last Friday. I had the pleasure of meeting Jim Cork, who runs a nice blog but does not post as frequently as his brother Bill (Jim's forgiven, as he has a little one running around at home). Jim was in Cambridge for the meeting of Communion and Liberation, one of the many movements that are contributing so much life to the Church these days. He is only the second blogger I've met in person (the first, purely by coincidence, was his brother Bill). Jim's flight was delayed, so our dinner plans got somewhat waylayed. When it became clear that Jim, who was starving, wasn't going to even arrive at the hotel until about 10:00, I decided to grab a selection of food at a nearby Whole Foods. So, we had a couple of hours of conversation over pseudo-gourmet food in the hotel lobby. I wish we could have spoken longer, but we did manage to learn a good bit about each other in a short time, and also managed to trade opinions about Battlestar Galactica, both the new and the old. Jim and his wife both spent some time living in Japan, and both have jobs in which they are called upon to speak Japanese. They have a beautiful son, Liam, who I think is about a year and a half (check out the pictures on Jim's blog). One of the most interesting things, having met both Jim and his brother Bill, is the remarkably different ways that each ended up becoming Catholics, after being brought up in another tradition. It's reflected in the different ways each approaches the Church. Bill's was an intellectual conversion--by means of study he became convinced that he should become Catholic. Jim's, on the other hand, was a relational conversion. He began going to Church with Jess, then his wife-to-be, when both were in college and, as a result, ended up becoming a Catholic. This also accounts in some ways for his interest in Communion and Liberation and, after having met some of the others at the conference, I can definitely see why. They are an enthusiastic bunch of committed but down-to-earth Catholics. They were very warm and even invited me to join them. I was tempted, but unfortunately I had some projects to take care of and, truth be told, some football to watch. Here's hoping that I can get down to Atlanta soon, or that Jim makes it up this way again. I know there's so much more we could talk about!


Blogger Bill said...

Interesting thoughts, though not entirely accurate. Though the intellectual was one part, for me, the relational and ecclesial was as important. My friendships with priests and lay Franciscans, and frequent participation in liturgy without being able to commune, and hours spent in the Blessed Sacrament chapel at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, were some of things that were equally responsible for pulling me into the Church. And there was an intellectual side for Jim, who studied lots of eastern religions, found they asked lots of good questions but didn't give good answers. Then he found Thomas Merton -- and then he met Jess.

8:37 AM  
Blogger Bill said...

Another thought that came to me -- it's interesting to see the different kinds of community Jim and I have been drawn to. You describe Jim as someone more relational--yet he is drawn to a community that sits around and talks about the highly philosophical writings of Msgr. Luigi Giusanni (writings I barely get); while I have been drawn to communities (like the Brothers and Sisters of Charity and the priests conference at Steubenville) that are charismatic or to others noted for their relationality.

We didn't observe much of each other's journeys first hand. Mine occurred while Jim was a high school student and in the Air Force; Jim's started in Okinawa and continued at UMass, and we saw each other infrequently.

8:53 AM  
Anonymous Jim said...

Thanks for the kind words, Mark. I hope you get a chance soon to come down to ATL and see the other two-thirds of our family!

About my conversion... well, this is the difficulty I have with Conversion Narratives. They tend to be very subjective and filtered through our experiences. I can't really remember all the pieces well enough to say what led to what. My frustrations with Adventism and Buddhism alike kept me searching for something more. Still, my wife and her family were the first concrete faces of the Church for me. Other faces drew me in closer to the Church: Fr. Lavelle, Sister Kathleen... yes, God works through not only our closest friends and family, but even through the weak and people who haven't received the Official St. Blog's Seal of Orthodoxy (TM). :-)

As for CL, this weekend helped me experience it and understand it a lot better. Yes, we read Fr. Gius, but the reason we do so is to discuss it, to compare it to our own experiences and verify it: this is what creates our community, a "companionship guided toward Destiny," as Fr. Gius put it.

10:09 AM  
Blogger Mark Mossa, SJ said...


It was only a short conversation, so I couldn't possibly get the whole history right. Jim and Bill have had a lifetime to get things straight, I only had two hours. Besides, I'm an intuitive, not a detail guy!!

I was just struck and interested in the idea of two brothers with markedly different stories of conversion and how that might make a difference in the way they look at and understand the Church. I have some other sibling friends who also converted, but in both their cases it was prompted by the conversion experience of their father. So, how they came to the Church was very similar in that way. As a cradle Catholic, I find how people come to the Church, and the way in which that journey affects how they see and understand the Church, very interesting.

Besides, Bill had to have something to argue with me about! :)

11:07 AM  
Anonymous Jim said...

I thought you hit it pretty close to the "mark!" (Sorry!)

Anyway, you should meet one of my other brothers. Like us, he started out as an SDA, then became an evangelical. He then went on a YWAM mission trip to Israel, and was dismayed by the living conditions of the Palestinians. He was angered by the fact that Evangelicals seemed to give Israel a free pass, but they didn't seem to care about Palestinians, and Arab Christians in particular. So one of the things that attracted him to the Church was its teachings on social justice.

12:07 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

Mark, you sound like my brothers, who think I only like to argue. I wonder who you've been talking to.

Jim already made the point I was going to--our other Catholic brother came in a very different route.

So you have three of us that independently of one another raised very different questions based on very different life experiences that brought us in the end to the same place. I've said before it was as if we all went through separate doors and were surprised to find ourselves in the same room.

I said to our father once, "It goes to show, all roads do lead to Rome." He replied, emphatically, "Not the one I'm on!"

Time will tell.

12:23 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

PS -- Jim, I'm recalling how you explained it to me in a letter I got from you that began, "You might want to sit down before you read this," and went on to tell me you had entered the RCIA.

1:40 PM  
Anonymous Jim said...

Yeah, I remember that, Bill.

You said you read that line and thought I was gay. (Ha ha!)

So much for brothers knowing each other.

2:04 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

Not quite. We had received a letter from someone else that started out the same way that then went on to say that. I started reading that sentence and thought -- "No! He can't be writing me one of those letters!!"

3:20 PM  

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