Thank you Leigh for an extremely interesting post. Yes, you are right, Catholicism has a legalistic aspect, as the institution of the Church stepped into the vacuum left by the Roman Empire and adopted its structures and language and, of course, its formidable legal system. A fine example of how the institution sometimes deformed certain aspects of Christ’s message is the fact that Christian justice is restorative (see Matt 18:15) while Roman justice is retributive. But this is by no means the whole story as the tradition of mysticism and contemplative prayer has also permeated Catholic life and thinking. By mysticism, I do not mean some arcane, esoteric practice involving secret knowledge known only to the initiated few, fed by visions and trances as is frequently thought, but put simply, it is the realisation of the mystery of God. ‘No one has ever seen God’ as John’s gospel tells us, we only know the Father through the Son who taught love and forgiveness. James is initiating us into Christianity as a process of finding ourselves on the inside of an act of communication that is developing in us a new set of practices. The new creation in Christ, where the God of unconditional and endless love is coming towards us. The traditional doctrine of Atonement has no real place here, as the great 13th century Dominican mystical theologian taught us, all our conceptions of God are reflections of ourselves. There is no angry, vengeful God, just angry vengeful people!