Sunday, June 8, 2008

Come again?

Today I stumbled across a blog written by an extremely anti-Catholic mommy of four.

I read some of her posts -- nothing much to report, just the same old misunderstandings and inconsistencies that virulent anti-Catholics usually cling to; you know what I'm talking about. "Catholics worship idols" and "The Pope wears a pagan fish hat." That sort of thing -- but my favorite one was titled, in cheery pink letters, The Whore of Babylon.

And the first sentence of this piece was, "This post was written with love." Heh.

Okay, missy. Now I'm going to have to scold you.

First of all, if you're writing something with "love," you don't start out by being rude and offensive. It's like those people who send you a smoldering, vicious email and then sign off by typing "God Bless!" at the end of it. Please. I got one of those a couple of months ago and there's no way I'll ever be convinced that the writer wanted God to bless me. No, it was pretty clear from what she wrote that it would have been more honest if she'd signed off by saying, "I hope this day ends with you getting eaten by a tiger." I didn't believe her and I don't believe you either.

Second of all, if you want to engage in apologetics work, you're going to have to do some reading from the source. In your article, I didn't notice that first bit of actual research from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (which is very, very easy to find) or from the Catholic Encyclopedia (easy to find) or even from sources like Catholic Answers or the Vatican website. If you're going to construct an argument based on the alleged fallacies of the Catholic Church, you're going to have to do a little bit more than lift quotes out of the Scofield Study Bible and Halley's Bible Handbook. Good grief, woman. I wouldn't have allowed my sixth and eighth graders that kind of sloppy scholarship.

And thirdly, I noticed in your article that you deplored a Pope who "killed 70,000 Christians in one day" but you cited no reference and you admitted that you didn't even know which pope it was who supposedly did this deed. "I think he was Pope Innocent III, but I'm not positive," you wrote. Why are you, as a Christian, okay with condemning a person like that? Because what you're doing is bearing false witness, which is a specific no-no straight from the Ten Commandments.

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You deplored a Pope who "killed 70,000 Christians in one day, and you admitted that you didn't even know which pope it was. "I think he was Pope Innocent III, but I'm not positive." Why are you okay with condemning a person like that? What you're doing is bearing false witness...

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Couldn't you even have done a simple Google search? I did one and found that Pope Innocent III, who lived in the twelfth century, was responsible for fighting against the Manichean and Albigensian heresies, which is something for which all Christians should be grateful. That was a time when religious leaders took heresies very seriously, as opposed to our time when they are tolerated and even embraced.

There was, by the way, no mention of his involvement in the deaths of 70,000 Christians.

And I found these things at Wikipedia. Not at a Catholic site that would be biased in my favor, as you did, but at a neutral secular source.

It's not the whole idol-worship-and-pagan-fish-hat stuff that really torques me in anti-Catholic writings. I can't be angry about those things because I used to believe some of them. (Well, I never believed the pagan-fish-hat thing because that is really, really stupid. I'm sorry. It just is.) But I did believe that Catholics worshiped idols and Mary. And I believed stuff like "Catholics think they can be saved by good works" and the always-popular "Catholics believe they can sin as much as they want to and then just go to Confession."

So those things don't irritate me because I can remember.

The thing that frosts my doughnuts about most Catholic haters is the lack of intellectual honesty. I read my way into the Catholic Church. I am not a Biblical scholar or even a scholar of any sort. I'm just a reader. And when I read things about the Catholic Church, I read stuff written by both Catholic and anti-Catholic writers. I read everything I could find on the internet, at Amazon.com and at my local public library. My mind could not be content with reading just one side of the story: I wanted to be able to hold Catholic and anti-Catholic things side by side and take their measure. I wanted to discern which side had it right.

I'm not trying to toot my own horn, but that kind of honesty takes a lot of courage.

It takes more courage than you, and many others like you, will likely ever have. Because I know why you don't want to read the Catechism and the Catholic Encyclopedia. I know why Cath dimiss books by Scott Hahn and Karl Keating. I know why you don't want to hear about the lives of the saints and the miracles God allowed them to perform.

I've been there, and it was the hardest hurdle I've ever climbed over in my life.

It's because you're afraid if you actually read those things yourself, you'll find out how much sense they make. You're afraid that something -- a lot of somethings -- will speak to your mind, your heart and your soul. You're afraid of being jolted out of your comfortable niche and catapulted into a place where you'll be forced to admit that you were wrong.

And then you'll have to do something to make things right. And, as these things go, it will mean alienating some friends and family members. It might mean leaving a church or denomination that you've been established in for a long time. It will mean getting used to a whole new way of doing things. And those things are just really, really hard because, as human beings, we are resistant to change, even when the change is positive.

But you'll also know that "peace that passes all understanding" and you'll feel alive and refreshed and renewed at the prospect of knowing Jesus on a deeper level than you ever thought possible. You'll be able to take note of the way the sacraments will change you. And, maybe for the first time, you'll get a chance to kneel in worship in love and humility and say, "Lord, I'm not worthy to receive You. But only say the word and I will be healed."

Unless you're willing to have courage and intellectual honesty and a true will to serve Him, you'll never find that pearl of great price. What a sad thing that is.

1 comment:

Kbg said...

I usually stop them with this: "What is it that you believe?" Eventually, if not immediately, they say, "I believe in the Bible." I then say, "Really?" "Yes, really...I believe in what is in the Bible." Then I say, "Every word as it is written?" The answer always seems to be "Yes." Then you can say, "This is My Body, This is My Blood," you believe that? and they say, "Well, no not that...." and you can say "So, then you DON'T believe in the Bible and its Truths?" They never can come back with an answer to that satisfactorily...it's not like they can say "Yes, I believe in all of the Bible EXCEPT for that..." at least not with any credibility. Then you can say, "That's one of the Great Things About Being Catholic...you can BELIEVE in the ENTIRE BIBLE, not just part of it." Usually the end of the argument. But, I can go on more if necessary....