Tuesday, November 24, 2015

When Rome gives Catholicism a bad name and apologists sound like odious windbags of optimism

One of our readers (call him Mr. Z.) must have been in a bad mood. Or something. He sent me an email referencing an article entitled "Why we'd all be Catholic if we really thought about it" (CWR, November 23, 2015). The article isn't bad, really. The writer is honest about how badly his piece is apt to be misunderstood. He says, for instance:
In the modern world, where we shouldn’t presume to tell others what’s true and false, good and bad, or right and wrong, saying we’d all be Catholic if we really thought about it is sure to provoke scorn and ire. What about happy and generous Buddhists, Muslims, Lutherans, atheists? Didn't this sort of close-minded thinking go by the board a hundred years ago?
So perhaps it was just Mr. Z's indigestion. Or something. But at the same time, I think his rant is something that bears repeating here. Call it Food for thought in times like ours for odious windbags of optimism. He writes:
I am Catholic, but this piece rubbed me the wrong way. Given our current season, when the Church's claims so often seem like paper ones at best, I have to actively remind myself why I chose to convert. "We'd all be Catholic if we really thought about it..." Um, OK, but that zinger can easily boomerang as a rephrased "We'd all be Catholic if we insisted on thinking and thinking about it..." Against many presently hard-to-miss arguments to the contrary. The fact we seem to have the better case than jaded Nihilists (!) Moslem suicide bombers (!!) is hardly a consolation prize. Other versions of Christianity may have weaker historical claims, for instance, but few seekers are historians: most live in the present, where there are strong arguments against entering The Church currently being given strength by Rome's zany sounds.

And a line like "While Catholics reverence Scripture, they don’t believe the Bible is the sole source of Divine wisdom, or believe that everything in the Bible should be taken literally" simply dumbfounds, since I have met few if any souls who actually do. In fact, this is a canard the gay church movement would typically bring out.

I would not be a Catholic if I didn't believe the Church's claims. And yet, post-conversion zeal, I have gradually realized that yes, one can be a consistent and rational Protestant or Jew. We don't have the only argument game in town. In fact, I think it takes the grace of God to actually see the truth in some of the more detailed arguments for The Church, especially in the face of the drastic facelifts it has undergone in the past century. "What else is there?" seems not so much triumphalist as rather dourly reductionist. I'd join an easier-to-hang with church if the truth didn't compel me to stay. And if I hadn't unfortunately "thought about it." Only half tongue in cheek I say, "What else is there?" should be paired with "Come on in! The water stinks!" But yes, at least it's wet.
If any of you run into Mr. Z, be sure to invite him to a good Theology on Tap session, or to the Argument of the Month Club, or SOME place where being a Catholic doesn't make you feel like a moron or hypocrite for wanting to be Catholic but having some serious concerns about the state of the Church these days.

Being a Catholic. Making it hard. I remain, yours Pertinaciously, Papist.