August 21, 2014

Top Ten Things People Hate About the Catholic Church

Top Ten Things People Hate About the Catholic Church, or, “I’ve suffered for my art, now it’s your turn”.  Oops, sorry!  Wrong quote!

shuffles through notes

“Rum, sodomy and the lash”?  That’s the British Navy.  Or a cracking album by the Pogues.  Still not quite there.

rustle of papers

Ah, here we are!  “Rum, Romanism and Rebellion”!  Speaking as a rum-sozzled (and you’ll see the application of that later on as you read down, since this was conceived and partly written whilst partaking of Captain Morgan’s and Coke), rebellious (remember: when in doubt, blame the Brits!) Romanist, I have to ask: Why do you say that like it’s a bad thing?

Okay, here is where I (as a representative of my Church, God help us all) set myself up as an Aunt Sally for you lovely, lovely people out there to throw sticks at.  Anything and everything that has ever annoyed, or currently is annoying, you about the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church – here’s your chance to get it off your chest.  Don’t worry about political correctness or holding it all in or even common courtesy (to an extent – nothing too vicious that will cause the moderators to ban your backside until the Second Coming, please!).  I won’t be offended by anything up to and including “Your cult is not a Christian church, you’re all pagan goddess-worshipping idolaters and you’re going to burn in Hell along with your father the Devil and his servant the Anti-Christ, or as you call him, the Pope”.  This is also equal-opportunity bashing; don’t feel obligated just because you had the water poured over you at Our Lady of the Perpetual Bingo Nights to keep things under your hat out of some sense not washing dirty linen in public or not fighting in front of the neighbours (family rows are the best free entertainment!)  Whether you come from the Society of St. Pius V (who broke with the Society of St. Pius X for being too liberal) or the Giant Papier-mâché Puppets of Doom wing of Holy Mother Church, this is an opportunity for you too to get stuck in to your co-religionists.  I’m not going to reply to any comments (I may make further comments of my own, because when did you ever know me to be able to keep my beak shut?), do any further explaining of abstruse theological points or popular devotional practices, or use this as a teaching opportunity – I’m not trying to draw anyone out, I’m not laying back in the snipe grass waiting to pounce, I’m not making any kind of a point.  This is your excuse to vent without fear or favor.  I’m just going to sit here with an objectionable grin plastered on the front of my big turnip head, unassailable in my sense of Romanist superiority to the lot of yez.

To kick things off, here’s my list of ten things that really get up people’s noses about the Catholic Church.  It’s not arranged in any kind of order of either gravity, relevance, or ascending/descending order of importance.  It’s not even a proper Top Ten, just ten random things that popped into my head for no particular reason except that I’ve heard them/read them in print/read them online/have a vague notion somebody said something along these lines sometime somewhere.  Please, I invite you all: fill up the comment boxes with your own lists and annotated reasons why the Catholic Church either as an institution or in the persons of its members drives you spare!

(And with that invitation, Jeff and Chaplain Mike have their very first reason why a Catholic is driving them up the wall).

1.  We have a Magisterium and you don’t.

Never mind the fact that the average John or Jane in the pew probably can’t even pronounce “Magisterium”, much less give an accurate or at least working definition of it, we have one and you (probably) don’t.  So what is it?  One previously-owned Magisterium, lightly used, in excellent condition, owner must sell as going abroad, all reasonable offers considered, choice of colours for first sixty applicants?

You would not believe how crazy this drives some people inside the Church, for equal and opposite reasons.  More on that further down in another point.

2.  We don’t know what we believe, but we’re pretty sure that it’s better than what you believe.

Following on from the above, thanks to the dreadful state of catechesis in the English-speaking world (and I’m not so sanguine about other areas either) over the past thirty-something years in the wake of the much-abused Second Vatican Council, most Catholics (unless you meet a convert, who actually had to learn and remember all this stuff before we’d let them in the door so we could hit them up with the collection envelopes) haven’t a bull’s notion of what exactly the doctrines and dogmas of the Church are, despite being dragged to Mass every Sunday and holyday of obligation plus going to some school founded, run or staffed by nuns or brothers.  This is not some fake nostalgia (all my nostalgia is real and freshly-picked from verdant green meads, dew-wet under the Spring morning sunrise!) for the Good Old Days, because back then people were just as ignorant, but at least they had rote memorisation of the old catechism to fall back on to parrot off to an enquirer (for instance, it really spooked me when out of the depths of the far distant past one of those learned-it-when-I-was-seven answers floated up out of the darkness of my subconscious in reply to a question on a point of doctrine but by God, it worked!)  I have also had the experience of being the only person in a group of about nine or ten women who could recite the Ten Commandments, though once I got started, a couple of the older women chanted along because their memories were stirred.  This was on a training course under a Government scheme for unemployment some ten years back, and not anything to do with Bible study, so you can see I’ve been making myself obnoxious about religion for quite a while now.

To prove that the Good Old Days weren’t all that good, see this excerpt from a novel written by a convert and published in 1945, “Brideshead Revisited” by Evelyn Waugh.  Basically, the scene described is when the errant father of the family comes home to die, the family want him to have the priest, he doesn’t want this, and the uncomprehending and exasperated family friend wants them to give him an answer as to why this is so important or what they think the priest can do anyway?

“There were four of you,” I said.  “Cara didn’t know the first thing it was about, and may or may not have believed it; you knew a bit and didn’t believe a word; Cordelia knew about as much and believed it madly; only poor Bridey knew and believed, and I thought he made a pretty poor show when it came to explaining.  And people go round saying, ‘At least Catholics know what they believe.’  We had a fair cross-section to-night –”

Anyhow, I am given to understand that this kind of slap-dash approach can be really irritating to our separated brethren who have their favourite Bible translation ready, copiously highlighted and bookmarked and underlined, with killer verses that they are all fired up to use (recitation in the original Greek optional) once they get into a good, blood-warming apologetics cage match with a Catholic, upon whom all this effort and knowledge is wasted when said Catholic goes “What’s that?  A Bible?  Wow, you mean all that Mass readings stuff is collected together in a book and doesn’t just come in those snippets on the missalette for Sunday?” and all the rapid-fire recitation of facts and unanswerable spiritual conundrums is met with a shrug and “Hey, it’s the Pope’s job to worry about that stuff.  Sorry, gotta go: I have a statue of St. Joseph to bury upside-down in my cousin’s back yard so she can sell her house.”

3.  Can’t sing, won’t sing

Seeing as how it was St. Augustine himself said “To sing once is to pray twice”, I don’t know what kind of parishioners he was accustomed to in his local church since most of us aren’t any too keen on praying even once.  Okay, so Hippo was in North Africa, and at least that means he had congregations who could hold a tune and were happy to belt one out, but come on: expecting the rest of us to raise our voices in church?  What are we, Protestants?

And our contemporary art is pretty bad, too – and as for the Giant Papier-mâché Puppets of Doom…oh, you thought I was joking about those?

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rh_nqtp3VrU']

Sorry, Holy Father, you may be encouraging us that beautiful art is a doorway to God, but we still have a long way to go to get back to the glories we once took for granted.

He said that visiting churches, art galleries and museums “is not only an occasion for cultural enrichment” but can also be “a moment of grace, an encouragement to strengthen our relationship and our dialogue with the Lord.”

It is “where we can to stop and contemplate, in the transition from simple external reality to a deeper reality, the ray of beauty that strikes us, that almost wounds us in our inner selves and invites us to rise towards God.”

4.  The Protestant Work Ethic versus the Catholic Idea of Success

Or, why the Anglo-Saxon race ruled the world (British Empire version or American Pioneer Spirit version) and why all Papist nations are socially backwards, cannot innovate in technology or science and are mired in poverty, superstition, and misery.  The Church indoctrinates us to expect pie in the sky when we die, and spends a massive amount of time and effort fixing our eyes on the world to come instead of inculcating the virtues of thrift, sobriety, hard work and manifesting the will of God through our lives in this life.  This means we have a feckless, shiftless attitude of contempt to the affairs of the world and are content to run around in rags and beggary, while bribing saints and idols to do magical favours for us.

The best example I can give of this is to swipe another example from “Brideshead Revisited” in the character of Lord Sebastian Flyte, the aristocratic, handsome, wealthy, socially prominent and attractive figure the narrator meets at Oxford.

In an ordinary novel (or made-for-TV movie), we’d have a happy ending where Sebastian sobers up, meets a lovely girl (or nowadays comes out of the closet and ends up with a lovely guy), settles down to marriage and family life and buckles down to the successful career that his education and status in society deserve.  Or if we were still going with the religion angle, he’d become a wildly successful society preacher saving the souls of bright young things like he was, or a cardinal, or end up as a male equivalent of Mother Teresa (or maybe St. Damien of Molokai, only without the leprosy, because leprosy isn’t glamorous when you’re the one suffering from it).  Either way, he’d have a glittering, fulfilling career and a visible and measurable by the standards of the world record of achievement, whether in the service of God or Mammon.

What does Evelyn Waugh do with him?

He succumbs to his alcoholism, goes abroad to lead a dissolute life with pathetic little attempts to make some kind of a go of things and finally ends up in Morocco trying to join a monastery because he wants to be a missionary to lepers or cannibals or savages of some description.  This is impossible, of course, because he’s not fit for it, and eventually he ends up – after bouts of drinking and falling ill – being taken in by the monks and given a pity job as a kind of under-porter, halfway between being a lay man and being a religious, and (through the character of Sebastian’s youngest sister, Cordelia, telling Sebastian’s uncomprehending friend Charles about where he ended up and in what state), Waugh forecasts his life: unexceptional save for his periodic falls off the wagon and shame-faced return to the monastery, years going by like this, getting older, becoming something of a joke to the novices and tolerated affectionately by the older monks, “a familiar figure pottering round with his broom and his bunch of keys” and “He’ll  develop little eccentricities of devotion, intense personal cults of his own; he’ll be found in the chapel at odd times and missed when he’s expected” until his eventual death which will be no more edifying nor uplifting than his life and the best his sister can anticipate for him is that “Then one morning, after one of his drinking bouts, he’ll be picked up at the gate dying, and show by a mere flicker of the eyelid that he is conscious when they give him the last sacraments.  It’s not such a bad way of getting through one’s life.”

Waugh also has Cordelia tell Charles “The Superior simply said, ‘I did not think there was anything I could do to help him except pray.’  He was a very holy old man and recognized it in others.”  “Holiness?”  “Oh yes, Charles, that’s what you’ve got to understand about Sebastian” and “I’ve  seen others  like him, and I believe they are very near and dear to God.”

And that, my dears, is the Catholic notion of success and why we will never get anywhere with an attitude like that.

5.  We have weird beliefs, or, Catlikz, Y U No Rational?

Well, if you’re been following the nine (this one makes ten) series of posts I’ve been graciously permitted to cast up on screen here since March, you already know all about this one.  Why aren’t we sensible?  Why can’t we take into account the Grand Upward Sweep of History and the Ever-Increasing Rate of Progress and the advancements of science and medicine and general knowledge of the world and its composition, not to mention the toils of scholars in literary theory, criticism, history and related arts, and just quietly shed the nutty stuff that served its purpose as metaphors for the uneducated back in the unenlightened times, as a butterfly emerges from the chrysalis of its former state?  Beats the heck out of me, but then again, if I was smart enough to have a rational religion, I’d be an Anglican and then I’d have to learn to play bridge and discriminate about what kind of sherry I drank, and I am absolutely hopeless when it comes to learning card games (the solitaire game that comes with the computer is as complicated as I can handle).

Mind you, this is what gets us lumped in with the Mormons (and I don’t know if it’s us or the Mormons who should be more offended by the comparison; after all, everyone can agree that the Mormons are hard-working family folk who send out as missionaries nice, clean-cut young men who know their faith and don’t indulge in bad dietary choices like fizzy drinks or caffeine, not to mention the Demon Drink, and Catholics – well, um, not so much?).  As the first female Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, the Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, said in a 2006 interview with “The New York Times”:

“How many members of the Episcopal Church are there in this country?

About 2.2 million.  It used to be larger percentagewise, but Episcopalians tend to be better-educated and tend to reproduce at lower rates than some other denominations.  Roman Catholics and Mormons both have theological reasons for producing lots of children.

Episcopalians aren’t interested in replenishing their ranks by having children?

No.  It’s probably the opposite.  We encourage people to pay attention to the stewardship of the earth and not use more than their portion.”

So our weird beliefs mean that we’re early school-leavers who then proceed to have a houseful of kids and use up more than our fair share of the scarce natural resources remaining to Gaia.  Oh, the humanity!

Okay, this is running long, so I’ll cut it in half here.  More fun to come in Part Deux, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!

Comments

  1. Martha,

    You’re off to a good start.

    Thanks for recognizing some things that non-Catholics (and some Catholics) have misgivings about.

  2. Easy: Trent Canon 4, Canon 7, Canon 9, Canon 11, Canon 12, ….

    • And, Catholics who wrongly claim those old anathemas don’t apply anymore, and that you can believe in justification by grace though faith alone and the Gospel’s assurance of salvation and be Catholic.

      • Do Protestant really, truly believe in “faith alone”? See my comment below…

        • Sorry…”Protestants”

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Do Protestant really, truly believe in “faith alone”?

          Faith Alone — and Young Earth Creationism and Pre-Trib Rapture and Voting Straight-Ticket Tea Party and Shepherding and Spiritual Warfare and latest Christianese Pop Culture Knockoff and…

      • The anathemas _don’t_ apply anymore. But the dogmatic theological decrees in those canons are still in place (and always will be).

        I believe in justification by grace alone through faith. And this initial justification has nothing to do with one’s works–Trent explicitly defines that one’s works can have nothing to do with meriting the grace of initial justification.

        • Yes…Protestants have an extreme misconception about this, as a general rule…

          • Me, I hate the Episcopalians for their 39 (or is it 49?) Articles. Still on the books, it turns out. Some of their priests have read ‘em.

          • cermak_rd says:

            39. And TEC (The Episcopal Church) doesn’t give them any credence, probably because it would seriously annoy the Anglo-Catholic ones. It could be some of the newer Anglican Churches (AMiA et al) might stick to them. And some of the strange reformed Episcopal parishes might still cling to them, but they hold no sway on the national denomination.

            England is a whole other story due to the established nature of the C of E. That has, paradoxically, meant that the government gets to meddle in the denoms affairs any time it wants.

    • We (the Catholics) and us protestants use the same words.

      But the definitions are not the same.

      So Catholics can say that they are saved by grace through faith alone, and it does not resemble what our ‘grace through faith alone’ is.

      • “We” should have read something else above. Getting tired. Headed for zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

      • Playing with definitions is what’s annoying. No Catholic should want to say anything about being saved through faith alone, as it has anathemized those with that belief.

        Trent is clear. It’s authoritative in the Catholic church as the teaching of an ecumenical council. Some Catholic layman with a private interpretation of what that means, or some non-authoritative statement from a bishop or even the pope, does not change the authoritativeness of Trent in the Roman church. The Roman church owns those words and the clear implications of them, until it authoritatively disclaims them. All the other talk should be beside the point for Reformation Christians until Trent is withdrawn. Trent so misstates the Gospel that it puts souls in danger.

        Of course, I’m Lutheran, and getting the Gospel right is the only reason for our existence. if Trent is fixed, and Lutherans were permitted to preach it as Paul teaches it, our confessions explicitly say we would rejoin the Catholic church and cease to exist as a separate body.

        • bz,

          You are right.

          But we both know that won’t happen. The whole clerical system would collapse and the game would be over.

          Nope, that’s not gonna happen.

          • The “clerical system” Christ instituted when He ordained the Apostles, and which they continued by ordaining their successors.

          • Devin,

            That’s what you think. Every Christian is a priest and every Christian has a right and an obligation to carry forth the gospel (in some way).

            For us, the Word is what gives us that authority. As the Bible clearly tells us, we have one Mediator and that is Christ Jesus Himself.

            Popes and Bishops and priests that HAVE TO BE ordained in historic succession are just one more add-on to Christ.

            You want ‘em…fine. But don’t believe that you (the Catholic Church) has the right to foist them upon the rest of us.

            For many of us, Christ ALONE is enough.

            Thanks.

          • Steve,

            I agree that every Christian is, in a sense, a priest. Yet that does not obviate the ministerial priesthood. I recall you are Lutheran; Lutherans have a ministerial priesthood (of a sort), don’t they? If everyone’s a priest then why do you have Lutheran pastors?

            Sure, Jesus is THE Mediator. But we “mediate” for each other when we pray for each other, when we “intercede” for each other. This is all dependent on Christ completely but is still a form of mediation.

            The early Christians recognized the divinely ordained reality of Apostolic Succession. We even see it in the Bible as Paul ordained Timothy and Titus. These were the rightful leaders of Christ’s Church. Likewise it is seen in Clement’s letter, Ignatius’ letters, Irenaeus’, etc. etc.

            We are not foisting anything upon you. You have the right to ignore the successors of the Apostles and choose your own men to lead your church.

          • Blake Helgoth says:

            Steve,

            Every baptized Christian is indeed a priest, prophet and king as the Catholic Church teaches. That is however, different than the ministerial priesthood. Matthew 16 claerly says that Christ is giving Peter an office of authority (Jesus gives him the Keys of the Kingdom – see Isaiah 22 to learn about the Jewish understanding of such an action). Also, may I ask why the Bible has authority? What authority did the Christian have before there was a Bible?

        • We’re “saved” by grace alone through faith-informed-by-agape, as Galatians 5:6 says.

          • Devin,
            Pope Benedict said something similar to your grace “informed-by-agape” in his General Audience on
            11/19/08:
            “Being just simply means being with Christ and in Christ. And this suffices. Further observances are no longer necessary. For this reason Luther’s phrase: “faith alone” is true, if it is not opposed to faith in charity, in love. Faith is looking at Christ, entrusting oneself to Christ, being united to Christ, conformed to Christ, to his life. And the form, the life of Christ, is love; hence to believe is to conform to Christ and to enter into his love. So it is that in the Letter to the Galatians in which he primarily developed his teaching on justification St Paul speaks of faith that works through love (cf. Gal 5: 14).”

        • David Cornwell says:

          ” I’m Lutheran, and getting the Gospel right is the only reason for our existence.”

          That is a stated reason for existence. But Catholics say almost the same thing. And almost every sect of Protestantism that exists. Just look at the names of some of the churches, doctrinal statements, and the testimony of adherents. I could go on and on.

          “I believe in the holy catholic Church” is enough for me. We will all stand before God, then it can be sorted out. I have a feeling we won’t all be pleased. Well, maybe we will.

          • cermak_rd says:

            “Just look at the names of some the churches,”

            You mean like the “Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith and the Sweet Holy Spirit”, an honest to goodness church name not too far from my home?

        • Trent wasn’t ecumenical since it only included one of the historical Pentarchies: Rome. Had Jerusalem, Constantinople, Antioch, and Alexandria been invited (albeit 500 years after the Great Schism…) *then* Trent would be considered “ecumenical”!

          *Ecumenical: Late Latin oecumenicus, from Late Greek oikoumenikos, from Greek oikoumen? the inhabited world, from feminine of oikoumenos, present passive participle of oikein to inhabit, from oikos house; in other words, the whole world/the whole Church.

          • If you use that (five patriarch) criterion for a council to be considered ecumenical, then the first one in Nicaea in 325 AD isn’t ecumenical, nor are many of the others (as various patriarchs from those sees were being tried and condemned for heresies in the early ecumenical councils).

            So that criterion doesn’t work. The criterion for a council to be ecumenical is the approval by the bishop of Rome.

          • cermak_rd says:

            If “The criterion for a council to be ecumenical is the approval by the bishop of Rome” is true , what does ecumenical mean? Why isn’t Vatican I ecumenical then?

          • Vatican I _is_ ecumenical.

            Ecumenical means general.

  3. Well…the things that are said and to be said. Darn why did I check this at close to 1:00 AM… 8-O

    There’s one thing that I think the separates Catholics from the Baptists and certain fundegelicals. The Catholic church due to the pedophile scandal has been forced to address it. They can’t hide it as easily today like they could in the past. So in this area I think the Catholics are better than the Baptists. Now the Catholic church leadership may have been forced into it. And they may have been dragged into it kicking and screaming. But they are doing it.

    With Baptist blogs like this one floating around: (ahem… Eagle clears his throat…)

    http://stopbaptistpredators.org/index.htm

    I think it’s clear that Baptists and other fundegelicals have lost a lot of credibility in so many ways. They can be just as bad if not worse…especially when many fudngelcials claim the moral high ground.

  4. By the way Martha…

    Jeff has had you working overtime. I’ve loved your posts. When Chaplin Mike comes back I think the reaction by many will be…. “Chaplin who? ” :-D

    Then we’ll have to change the name from Internet Monk to Martha of Ireland’s domain. Keep up the good posts and don’t work too hard!!

    • This one was done a month or so ago, and it was great fun (don’t forget, Part II still to come!) It was a random assortment of stuff about “Why do Catholics do this and why don’t Catholics do that”, and I was about equally annoyed with all those who think we had no problems back in the Good Old Days (which amounts to a period roughly between 1940-1960) and those who think we should all be headed towards something resembling the Church in Brian Moore’s 1972 novel “Catholics” (an obscure Irish author, book made into a decent film starring a young Martin Sheen paying homage to his Irish roots in 1973) which is – in the book – in talks with the Buddhists regarding some kind of rapprochement, not to say merger.

      So I got it all off my chest and you all are invited to do the same. It’s all water off a duck’s back to me!

      Note Objectionable Grin of Romanist Triumph —> :-D

      • I really do appreciate this, Martha. If we have our two cents on other faith expressions, we should be able to “take it as well as dish it out”. So far I am barely through the comments on part 1. Just one question…when this series is over, will you take a wee minute to seperate the “sheep from the goats” and make it clear what crticisms are valid and whcih are based on ignornance and nonsense? So far, the comments are at least 75% on the former side, which is great…..but Vern and some Catholic bashers may show up late to the party.

  5. Paul Davis says:

    That video is disgusting!! I’m not sure I could have even kept it together through that, I can’t even stand guitars in service anymore, and I make the damn things!!!

    You nailed it on # 2, I spent a year studying to be catholic, and had co-workers who are cradle-Catholics who admitted they needed catechesis, but where remiss to go! There is a movement now to return to the Latin mass, and retain our identity (catholic I mean), but your right that catechesis is awful in most countries. Unless we fix that, and start regaining at least some of the basics, nothing else we do will really make a difference.

    #5 bothers me, why do the eastern orthodox get to have a reasonable take on contraception or divorce? (which is still much stronger than the Anglicans), and we get Monty Python singing show tunes about us?

    I can’t wait for the second part, being a convert there where a couple of humdingers that almost kept me away. I still cringe when I hear people talk about anything to do with miracles and Mary. Mother of God, yep, got that one. showing up to three little children under dubious circumstances, ummm not so much…

    Good stuff as always…

    -Paul-

    • This is where the cracks in the Good Old Days narrative shows; Vatican II (and the poor old Council gets a lot of stick for things that sprang forth in its wake which were not its fault) amongst other things wanted the laity to take up the slack in the formation of their spiritual lives.

      That meant that most schools ditched the old rote memorisation of the Catechism (and indeed much of the teaching about the basics of the faith) on the grounds that the parents would be the ones teaching their children about the Ten Commandments, prayer, etc. etc. etc. Unfortunately, the parents were used to the schools doing all this since this was how they had been taught, so they had neither the inclination nor the ability to go into depth about the nuts and bolts of the Faith (the attitude remaining that “Sure, they’ll learn all that in First Communion/Confirmation class”) and the children then fell between two stools: not even getting the folk religion piety at home because that was watered down in disapproval by trendy liturgists and getting the fuzzy bunny feel-good ‘God wants us all to be nice to each other’ worksheets at school and/or when older the social justice idealist material (I think I’ve mentioned on here before that my secondary school catechism started off with a picture of a Martian in a UFO and successfully managed to avoid mentioning any actual doctrines or dogmas, while encouraging us all to talk about things we had no experience of: justice, reform, changing the world and so forth).

      I was very, very lucky; I had a bed-bound grandmother who (between the ages of eight and eleven, when she died) got me to say the Rosary with her and listened as I read the Mass readings of the Old Testament and the Gospel and Epistle readings out of my mother’s Mass missal to her (I’ve always said I learned to read through a combination of “The Cat in the Hat” and the Epistles of St. Paul).

      Throw in that there were dusty bookcases full of old works like Dante’s “Divine Comedy” and tons of Chesterton in school, and that we got a solid foundation because our old catechism (ages seven to twelve) wasn’t one of the new 70s jobs but grimly pounded the Ten Commandments and the Six Laws of the Church into our infant heads, and then that once I got roaming around the Internet, I encountered Protestants of all descriptions in the wild which forced me to learn what I was supposed to believe as a Catholic (e.g. we’re amillenialists, which I would never have known save for discussions about the Rapture), and here’s the result!

      It may not be pretty, but here it is! :-)

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        I think I’ve mentioned on here before that my secondary school catechism started off with a picture of a Martian in a UFO…

        Things have just gotten officially Weird.

        Gospel according to Eric Von Daniken or George Adamski?

        • Puh-lease! It’s Barry H. Downing.

        • I swear, Headless, I would have thought I imagined it except I can still see the image in my mind’s eye even now.

          First couple of pages in the book. Line drawing cartoon of boy, girl and Martian in UFO. “If you were going to explain the faith to someone who knew nothing about it – like an alien – how would you do it?”

          Then we got into the whole “Being nice to everyone” palaver with no hint of “Start off with the Ten Commandments or even more simply, the divinity of Jesus”.

          Here is where the sin of Pride rears its ugly head: my mother bought one of those massive Family Bibles (Catholic Version) from a door-to-door salesman – you know the kind, nearly a foot long and six inches across, heavy enough to use as a boat anchor, black faux-leather cover – when I was fourteen or so while we were enduring this textbook, and I decided as a novelty to read my way through the Bible now that we actualy had one in the house (or at least, the Old Testament, since I had – thanks to the Gideon’s organisation visiting the school – one of those small New Testaments plus Psalms and Proverbs books).

          This meant that when the nun (hi, Sr. Goretti!) in charge of our religion class asked questions that necessitated some kind of actual knowledge of the topic, rather than vague feel-good fluff, I invariably was the one to pipe up from the back of the class. I was probably really obnoxious and showing-off, now I come to think of it, but once she referred to where I was sitting as “the Seat of Wisdom” (which was a joke and meant to be one, and which actually was funny, because for you non-Catholics, that’s a phrase straight out of the Litany of Loretto).

          So as you can see, I have a long history of blathering on the topic of religion based on hasty and half-digested reading :-D

  6. Point No. 2, especially toward the end, sums up a lot of the reasons why my folks left the Catholic Church when I was a kid. They had a yearning to know God better, and they seemed to find precious little help in the Catholic Church, The senior pastor’s response was to just keep on coming to Mass and receiving the sacraments, and eventually it would all come together for them. (Not withstanding the fact that my folks were among the most active members of the parish and had already been receiving the sacraments on a regular basis for many years).

    When they tried to talk to their fellow parishoners, most were indifferent. “Look, I go to Mass on the weekends, send my kids to Catholic school, and serve on a few committees. What more is there to religion?” My folks were also ridiculed for being “Holy Rollers” for being involved with the Catholic Charismatic movement. The handful of parishoners who were sympathetic to their point of view were just as clueless as my folks. Most ended up leaving the Catholic Church as well. The few that stayed had the attitude: “Look, I know what you’re saying is true. But we’re already here, we’re already settled, and we don’t want to upset things. Besides, you don’t know if there are any other better alternatives out there.”

    As an adult, I have looked at Catholicism for myself. While the Catholic spiritual writers I read offer much food for thought, the reality of the local parishes does not match the pages of the books. Many times nominalism and rote habit seem to be the rule of the day. At the other end of the extreme, I have met some very knowledgeable and devout Catholics, who veer towads legalism in their faith. Their obsession with liturgical minutiae mystifies me, as well as their belief that everyone must come into the one, true church. Why can’t everyone just be Christians where they are?

    Who knows, maybe someday I will end up back in Catholicism. The calming effect of a weekly ritual looks appealing sometimes compared to the extremely informal attitude of many evangelical churches.

    • Cultural Catholicism can be a tough pill to swallow when one wants to go deeper in faith. Sometimes the Church makes it easy for those who are lazy in their faith just ot use it as a checklist (i’ve gone to Mass and did my duty – don’t have to think about it till next week). I am seeing some change in attitude here but it is more difficult in Catholic concentrated areas. I see a lot more personal growth coming from areas with Catholicism as the minority.

      I suspect theough that the EO’s experience the same thing…..

      • I experienced that when I first started, especially in the RCIA program, which to be blunt was more about the Touchy Feely Nonsens, than actual study on doctrine and dogma. They where mentioned, but never delved into. By what I think is divine providence we had a gentlemen at our table who used to teach RCIA, and he became a gold mine of information.

        But it is changing, even in my little parish we are working hard to have more in depth events with noted theologians and apologists. That’s a turn for the better…

        There’s always hope ;)

        • I hope so. Once after my parents left the Catholic Church, the parish hosted an event specifically aimed at ex-Catholics and lapsed Catholics. My folks figured they’d give it a shot. Once they arrived, they discovered that it was nothing but a young priest giving a talk and slideshow on the churches of Europe, and different ways to decorate the church buildings to make them seem more appealing to outsiders. Needless to say, my parents were not impressed. To them, it seemed like “window dressing” when substance was what was needed: better preaching, more in-depth Bible teaching, a sense of mission towards those outside the Church, etc.

          • Apparently that priest didn’t do his homework – should’ve been reading IMonk…. the young are so naive…

  7. Matthew Johnston says:

    One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church is not the RCC it is the actual bride of Christ.

    Yes I am dividing the two.

    Easy now……..guess who is back ?;)

    Matthew
    [http://tiny.cc/mprrm]

    • :grin: “One holy, catholic, apostolic Church” is from Nicaea-Cnstantinople (381AD, IIRC) which was when The Church truly WAS One, holy, &etc before the split from Chalcedon (451AD) and the later split in 1054AD and the much later split at the Reformation.

      So…might I suggest that the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church is actually a bit East of Rome??? ;D

      • But even before 381 AD, there were schisms with the Arians, Sabellians, Novatians, Donatists, etc. How do we know which was the true Church and which were heretical schisms from the true Church?

    • Matthew, this forwards to another web address. Is this another blog of yours? Your two previous ones have been deleted, like horses shot out from under you. I still have your updates blog though. Checking up now and then.

      May God continue to bless you and your family.

      One word of caution, here, though: Don’t mess with Martha.

  8. Jack Heron says:

    Mostly I rather like the Catholic Church, if it could just revise its ideas about homosexuality and contraception I’d even consider wandering along the road to Rome. But in the interests of remaining light-hearted, some minor and less controversial things I dislike:

    1. Most of the Catholic churches I’ve ever seen are made of red brick. Admittedly this is my lot’s fault for nicking all of the good buildings during the Reformation, but nevertheless.
    2. Pope Benedict has publicly spoken against my beloved heavy metal.
    3. The name is just confusing. You have to go through serious verbal gymnastics to distinguish in spoken pronunciation between ‘The Holy Catholic Church’ and ‘The holy catholic church’.
    4. Too many Irish accents. I get distracted by the charming.
    5. Church Latin. I spent too long studying classical Latin to see it as anything other than awful grammar and pronunciation.

    • Glenn A Bolas says:

      “5. Church Latin. I spent too long studying classical Latin to see it as anything other than awful grammar and pronunciation.”

      Interesting. The second part of this point is not what I was expecting to read when I read the first part.

    • Jack, don’t hold your breath on the homosexuality thing. The basics of the faith clearly put us into the “Sex is ok between married opposite gender folks and no where else” is never going to change. Ditto on abortion.

      But, as a Catholic who learned the Latin Mass just in time to have it changed to the vernacular, I can tell you that the contraception issue is one that Catholics, at least American Catholics, mostly consider with a wink and a nod. We know that there are limits to our parenting skills and budgets, and we do not, overall, have an issue with disregarding this teaching the way our parents did. (I am in my mid-fifties, and if my parents were still on this side of the Divide they would be in their nineties..) My dear mother did not receive the Eucharist until I (the youngest by far in our family of four kids) was about fifteen, when I presume she went through “the change” and was no longer feeling like a horrid sinner for actively working NOT to concieve another Down’s syndrome child with heart problems like my younger sister, who never left the hospital between her birth and death….six days later.

      • uh… nobody told me about the wink and the nod… and all this time I thought it was the water….

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      1. Most of the Catholic churches I’ve ever seen are made of red brick.

      At least they don’t look like Wal-Marts…

      • Or movie theaters!! :-P

        • Or butler buildings, just like the van conversion shop down the road…

          • Jack Heron says:

            Your suggestions horrify me. I feel that if it isn’t made of limestone quarried eight centuries ago and worn smooth by the passage of time, it isn’t a real church. And lichen adds to the holiness.

          • But there’s nothing quite like the 1970s-style architecture of our Baptist church, and its vinyl siding and tiny little fibreglass spike we like to call a steeple.

            And the pressure-treated staircase. And asphalted wheelchair ramp.

          • Wait… I thought all Baptist churches had a tower and a bell, and a full immersion pool…and were white… what kind of Baptist are you again Ted? ; )

          • The one with the tower and the bell burned down in 1978 (before my time there; I had nothing to do with it) and they had to come up with something on a limited budget. It does have a full immersion pool (large bathtub, really, but big enough to drown in). And the vinyly siding is white.

            But at least our building is prettier than the pentecostal church nearby. That’s more like a barn with white vinyl siding. And their pastor lives in the trailer out back (I mean, if it’s all gonna get raptured or burned, why waste the money?).

    • cermak_rd says:

      1. Now, now, in my neighborhood we have several Catholic churches made of yellow brick…so there.

    • “Too many Irish accents. I get distracted by the charming.”

      Oh, you smooth-tongued rogue, Mr. Heron! Are you sure there’s no Irish ancestry there yourself? :-)

      As to the Latin, that would be the language of the people as it was spoke. Besides, I think the notion of a pure Classical pronunciation (‘How Cicero would have said it’- and how the hey are we supposed to know exactly how Cicero spoke, anymore than we know what his favourite colour was?) is a British public school snobbery invention – how many people pronounce “video” as “wideo”? You’re fighting a losing battle there! The Italians surely should have the last word on Latin pronunciation ;-)

      Regarding contraception – read Humanae Vitae. No getting around that as official teaching.

      “The transmission of human life is a most serious role in which married people collaborate freely and responsibly with God the Creator. It has always been a source of great joy to them, even though it sometimes entails many difficulties and hardships.

      The fulfillment of this duty has always posed problems to the conscience of married people, but the recent course of human society and the concomitant changes have provoked new questions. The Church cannot ignore these questions, for they concern matters intimately connected with the life and happiness of human beings.

      2. The changes that have taken place are of considerable importance and varied in nature. In the first place there is the rapid increase in population which has made many fear that world population is going to grow faster than available resources, with the consequence that many families and developing countries would be faced with greater hardships. This can easily induce public authorities to be tempted to take even harsher measures to avert this danger. There is also the fact that not only working and housing conditions but the greater demands made both in the economic and educational field pose a living situation in which it is frequently difficult these days to provide properly for a large family.

      Also noteworthy is a new understanding of the dignity of woman and her place in society, of the value of conjugal love in marriage and the relationship of conjugal acts to this love.

      But the most remarkable development of all is to be seen in man’s stupendous progress in the domination and rational organization of the forces of nature to the point that he is endeavoring to extend this control over every aspect of his own life—over his body, over his mind and emotions, over his social life, and even over the laws that regulate the transmission of life.”

      Also, much work by various persons has been done on Blessed John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body” (note: being Catholics, we’ve managed to get a row up about how the most popular commentator is insufficiently rigorous in his theology) and the telos of human sexuality within marriage.

      Regarding homosexuality, you might be interested in Eve Tushnet, who is a celibate convert Catholic lesbian who accepts the Church’s teaching but has her own views on how best to communicate it, mostly on developing a theology of friendship (in the mode of St. Aelred of Rivaulx), finding a way to make chaste same-sex attracted people a resource not a burden, and to go easy on the language of brokenness, because that can come off too glib and condescending.

      Regarding heavy metal, I would just say take news stories with a caveat. When a newspaper article says “Vatican condemns!” or “Pope slams!”, usually what it boils down to is some obscure dicastery has issued a paper on a topic tangential to the one that the headline is dragged out of, or that the Rome stringer has had an agreeable mid-morning coffee with a priest who works in the office of the under-secretary of the secretary for something-or-other, and he’s written up their chat into a newstory.

      • Jack Heron says:

        Ah but Martha, you’re confusing the two varieties of ‘Classical Latin’ pronunciation. Yes there’s the easy style developed for simpler speaking of a dead language (British public school, as you put it). But the style of Latin used by the Church still differs in notable ways from the (believed) pronunciation of Caesar-era Latin, deriving as it does from a later, less literary form of the language (zing!). Key to this was a level of rejection of Greek influence, especially as regards to syntax.

        Aye, I realise we’re not going to get changes any time soon concerning contraception or non-chaste homosexuality. That said, I do appreciate the way the Church can actually manage the whole disapproving of activity while accepting the reality of orientation – much preferable to the attitude of some of the more fundamental Protestant churches.

        It genuinely was Big Papa concerning metal, from ‘The Spirit of the Liturgy’ I believe. Fortunately there’s Brother Cesare Bonizzi of the Capuchins to balance him out, who performs under the name of ‘Fratello Metallo’. Opened for Judas Priest once, which is delicious.

      • Let me catagorically second what Martha is saying about Humanae Vitae and the Chruch’s teaching on contraception. It goes far beyond the obvious and is based on solid theology. Ignoring the Church on this is not to be taken lightly.

        My earlier comments were based on what I have observed IN PRACTICE in the American Catholic churches I have attended, and my nearly-sainted mother’s personal experience…as someone taught under the strict pre-Vatican two veiw of sin.

        All I know is that for me, learning how to stay within the spirit of this teaching required a lot of prayer and visits with our Pastor.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        When a newspaper article says “Vatican condemns!”…

        “The White House says this, the White House says that… It’s the Amityville Horror — an evil house that runs the country!”
        – cabbie rant from the movie D.C.Cab

  9. Ummm….don’t know how part of a word got added to my name, but it is still “Pattie” here!!!

    • ….so can someone get my name fixed on my original comment to this post??? This is what happens when I post before six ay-yemm on a hospital day!!!

  10. Top Ten? Well, okay:

    10: Kiddy-fiddling. Okay, okay–I recognize that your religion is actually against this, that other religions have the same problem, and most of the “children” were actually teenagers (making the term “pedophilia” clinically inaccurate), but as you know, the cover-up has cost you a lot of goodwill.

    9. Bullying political behavior around the world, basically in every country where Catholics dominate. (“The Inquisition, what a show…”)

    8. Birth control. On many issues there is disagreement, even argument, but this one just leaves Protestants scratching their heads. (Cue Monty Python, “Every Sperm is Sacred”) And is it my imagination, or does the Church forbid oral sex as well? (“Open thou our lips…”)

    7. Thomas Aquinas, whose theology has been the official Catholic ideology since the 19th century, despite general agreement among philosophers that he did not really succeed in proving the existence of God or the truth of Catholic doctrine in general.

    6. Do Buddhists go around proclaiming that they saw giant images of Buddha appear in the sky? ‘Nuff said.

    5. All that flamboyant frilly stuff. It’s ironic that they’re trying to kick the gays out, because if gays were to start their own religion, it would probably look a lot like Catholicism.

    4. Exorcism. Come to think of it, Satanists and Catholicism would probably be a natural fit. (You know–all the robes and spooky music…?)

    3. The “sausage factory” for turning out saints: JP2 dies, they wait a bit, somebody claims to have been healed by ghost of JP2 (or however it goes), JP2 advances a notch.

    2. Having a pope who is sort of infallible, or at least very authoritative. Liberals hate the conservative ones (which is all of the ones in recent memory), conservatives distrust a system in which some future leader can wave his hand and presto! women priests or whatever. It’s the religious version of having a dominatrix.

    1. Refusal to accept that you’re just one more denomination like everybody else.

    Here endeth the lesson, vade in pacem.

    • Catholics I would suggest are subjective about what is sinful as well. I would also suggest that the Catholic church denies grace in the same manner that many fundagelicals do. Case in point…look at how they treat gays, divorced, those who have abortions, etc.. I saw this first hand growing up. My second cousin was divorced and was prohibited from getting communion. I know the Catholic church gets a lot of fond talk here at IM, but from what I saw gorwing up as Catholic they could be just as burtal. My second cousin’s divorce and remarriage was frowned upon by the Catholic chruch and by denying her sacrament, they have effectively denied her grace.

      Now is that what Jesus would do?

      I find it particular amusing that they did this and emphasie morality so much in light of the church pedophila scandal. I think that also showed how the Catholic chruch lost its course as well. My parents thought the pedophile scandal was not as bad was suggested and rushed to defend the Catholic church. It reminded me of a “reverse evangelical’ who acted like theri superstar pastor could do no wrong. I’ll write more but I need to leave for work. I’ve had some passionate discussions with them over this issue.

    • David Cornwell says:

      “6. Do Buddhists go around proclaiming that they saw giant images of Buddha appear in the sky? ‘Nuff said.”

      Don’t know about the Buddhists, but some Protestants have seen giant Jesus or or giant angel appear, not in the sky for all to see, but in their own room. We believe in a “personal” Savior after all. I’ll take the sky anytime.

      • David Cornwell says:

        And we Protestants also like big tacky Jesus along the interstate.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        “6. Do Buddhists go around proclaiming that they saw giant images of Buddha appear in the sky? ‘Nuff said.”

        “Your son Oral Junior
        Wants to be rich like you –
        Is he gonna see
        A 900-foot Jeesus too?”
        – “You Give God a Bad Name”, filk on Dr Demento many-many years ago.

        (I’m feeling very weird this morning…)

      • Didn’t the giant Jesus catch on fire David?

        Just Sayin!! :)

    • Richard Hershberger says:

      “5. All that flamboyant frilly stuff. It’s ironic that they’re trying to kick the gays out, because if gays were to start their own religion, it would probably look a lot like Catholicism.”

      Ever been to an Anglo-Catholic service? This is the wing of the Anglican communion that does church far more Catholic than do the Romans. I have never seen ecclesiastical theater done better. One might naively suppose that they would be very conservative, and share much in common with those leaving the Episcopal church over sexuality issues. In practice, they are quite comfortable within the friendly confines of the Episcopal church.

      • cermak_rd says:

        That’s because many of them left the Catholic church in the first place. Seriously, the Episcopal parish I attended for a couple years was at least 1/3 former Catholic. Which probably explains why Confession and Adoration were available. You see, these former Catholics weren’t protesting over the basic nuts and bolts of the Faith, they were protesting specific rules of the faith.

  11. PS Number zero: Sacred monkeys in the Vatican.

  12. My problem with Catholicism is that I love it, but it makes me anxious and sad. To explain:

    One rubbing point is the unclear place of faithful dissent in Catholic polity and life. I toy with swimming the Tiber, because I agree with about 90 percent of Catholic doctrine. Also, I think there is some merit to going to the church that was The Church for most of Christian history, even if it has a lot of flaws. However, as I said, my agreement level is only 90 percent. There are some things I likely will always feel unsure about or on which I will probably always respectfully disagree. And I am not sure if this is really considered a good thing, or even permissible.

    You see, I am afraid to go ask an actual priest this question. So I do not know how it is handled. But I have found a lot of internet discussions in which lay Catholics explain that disagreement really is not acceptable from anyone who is capable of reading and understanding the Catechism. They usually explain that the Church is infallably able to discern the truth, and a believer’s duty is to understand and accept. To be Catholic means to submit yourself to authority, intellect and will. You can have conscience, but that the contents of your conscience have to match Catholic teaching. If you hold back your assent (that is, you are not ignorant but actually disagreeing), then you might as well be a Protestant. You are probably also committing a mortal sin.

    Of course this provokes my inherent distrust of authority and manipulation, because I’ve seen species of this argument before in some conservative Protestant circles & it can have bad results. But more than that, it makes me sad because I have no idea how to follow an instruction like that. I can totally imagine having great respect for Tradition and current teaching, and having an active dialog with it and remaining under its direction as far as conscience allows. But this….!

    Of course, like all Protestants, I have some questions about sotoriology. I can understand the Catholic and the Reforming perspectives, and it causes me no end of anxiety.

    I am especially terrified of the whole concept of mortal sin. Church teaching on mortal sin freaks me out. The idea that one falls in and out of a state of grace anytime one sins deliberately is terrifying!

    I think all this means that I might be an Anglican, for better or worse! :)

    • BTW, if any practicing Catholic wants to comment on my first point, I would be very interested to read your thoughts. I should note that I have been given this impression mainly by people on the internet. I do not understand the Catholic subculture well, and I’ve been too faint-hearted to go ask a priest or someone else who actually directs people. So am I curious how the issue of doubt and dissent is in fact viewed.

      • Anonymous says:

        I am interested in those thoughts as well. Is there a differece in agreement and obedience in such cases?

      • I’ve read that too–no dissent allowed, you should agree 100%. The irony of this is that a lot of cradle Catholics feel no qualms whatsoever about dissenting about pretty major stuff. If you’re at 90% agreement, you’re doing a lot better than a significant chunk of the people lining up to receive Communion.

        In the end, sometimes the only difference between a very sympathetic Protestant and a former-Protestant-turned-Catholic, is that the latter just decided to pull the trigger.

        • How many Catholics have used condoms. Okay…end of discussion.

          • Lots of cultural Catholics out there ie “cafeteria Catholics” who pick and choose what doctrine they want to follow… because in the end the lukewarm Catholic follows two precepts… “but i am a good person” and “God would want me to be happy” – it is what I call living on the surface and being too scared or lazy to go deeper in faith.

          • cermak_rd says:

            I don’t think I would call it lazy. In many cases, the arguments they are making are quite rational. Humanae Vitae can be argued on logical footing and be refuted. So can Casti Connubii and the dogma of the Immaculate Conception and a lot of other teachings of the Church. It isn’t lazy to come to another conclusion.

            And it is Rome that makes it hard for her former members to officially withdraw, so in that respect, she brings some of the pain of having cultural Catholics on herself.

          • cermak_rd,

            If only many of them were reading that deeply…I can respect the questions then…many though just aren’t interested or catechized enough to give the rational argument. So they just pick and choose. In fact if a protestant walked up to a group of Catholics and described Sola Fida and Sola Scriptura in laymen’s terms I would bet that more than half would respond with “that’s what I believe”, precisely because they don’t know what they believe (I have seen this happen in my own extended family).

    • Danielle,

      Know that committing a mortal sin is not something that “just happens.” It has to be deliberate, and be a grave issue, with full knowledge that it is so. Certainly people can commit them and say “God I don’t want you anymore” but God is waiting to forgive when they repent (just as He is when a Protestant sins in a grave manner).

      Regarding authority and believing 90%, I would do a thought experiment where you substitute “Jesus” for “Catholic Church” and ask yourself the same questions. “What if I believe in 90% of what Jesus tells me? I distrust authority. My conscience tells me that some of the things He teaches are not true.”

      Of course, if Jesus came and you could sit down with Him and He explained truth to you, you would want to believe Him. What if, then, He protected the Church He founded from error in her teachings (in spite of the sins of the Church’s members)? Then you could give your assent of faith to that Church, just as you would give it to Jesus. Now, if He has not protected any Church or denomination from error, then you may as well stick with your own interpretations and opinions because yours are probably about as good as any particular denomination.

      • yumm, kool-aid good

        Can we add Devin Rose to the ten things we dislike about the RC church?

        :)

        • Austin,

          Though I don’t agree with Devin’s take on this issue, I think your response is both personally insulting and non-helpful (since it didn’t interact with the argument).

          • Daniel,

            Be sure you don’t fall getting down off that high horse, you must have missed the part of this whole post and following responses that are irrevernat sp? , over the top, and bombastic

            but as to your concern with not interacting with the argument…..

            XIX. Of the Church.
            THE visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in the which the pure word of God is preached and the sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ’s ordinance in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same. As the Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch have erred: so also the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their living and manner of ceremonies, but also in matters of faith.

            Hope that easies your angst spidey man:)

          • not sure that my response was arrogant, but I apologize if I over-reacted.

            In any case, people like Devin (and Martha) are what I like deeply about the RC church. I disagree with their viewpoint, but I much prefer them over the mass of Christians of whatever background that neither know much nor care about deeply about their stream of Christian tradition. In any case, I thought Devin’s argument was thoughtful.

          • Austin,

            I’ve always thought that by putting a smiley-face after a comment a person could get away with anything, but your comment to Devin proved me wrong–and your comment to Daniel put that even more into context.

            Devin’s initial comment in this thread, his reply to Danielle, was a very logical “if… then…” argument, as in, “What if” Jesus had entrusted Peter and his successors with the keys of the true Church? “Then…” one should follow that Church. Perfectly logical, if you go along with that, and Devin also left open the option of not believing it.

            Apologies are due.

          • cermak_rd says:

            Although I agree Austin was overly sarcastic here, I would have to say that Devon was a bit credo-centric in his argument that well with the 90% agreement, if you just substitute Jesus for Catholic Church then you can be guilted into agreeing, well, I don’t think that really works.

            First of all (assuming Jesus ever existed as one person who was the son of the Divine, a belief I don’t hold), who knows whether Jesus would agree with the Catholic Church (I won’t call it the Roman Catholic Church and leave the Eastern Rites out, they ‘re part of it too)? Only the beliefs of the Church itself can be brought to bear such as the belief in the Holy Spirit (another belief I don’t hold) which keeps the Church from ever erring, or the belief that the CC is the actual embodiment of the original Christian movement started by Jesus.

          • Cermak, I don’t agree with Devin entirely either, but I think he’s presenting his argument pretty well. See my comment below at 7:25 pm.

        • Wow. I think Devin’s take is spot-on. You may or may not agree that the Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Christ, but if you do, you have to consider seriously what Devin says in his post.

        • Austin kool-aide is what is drunk in the reform camp. :-P I drank the refomed kool-aide a-la John Piper through every orfice possible. Given the expereince I’d actually prefer to have a cathetor the size of a gardon hose inserted than listen to another John Piper sermon…..

          • nice imagery eagle, nice

          • Eagle, Piper’s kool-aide is actually vinegar. He tells you it’s “hedonistically delicious”!

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Given the expereince I’d actually prefer to have a cathetor the size of a gardon hose inserted…

            A standard-sized Foley is enough for me. I was under general anesthesia (probably including Michael Jackson Milk) when they put it in, but I still remember doubling over when they took it out a couple days later. (Starting with Doctor taking BIG syringe and coming toward my junk with it…)

        • Austin,

          It’s cool man. As in, I understand your sentiment. (And thanks to Daniel and the other guys for their kind support.)

          Ultimately it just begs the question: Is the Catholic Church what she claims to be? Faithful Catholics make an assent of faith to Christ through His Church, trusting He protects her from error. Protestants do not believe God protects any church or denomination from error, so their assent to their church or denomination must be a qualified one (I will follow until the church starts teaching things on important issues that are contrary to my interpretation of Scripture).

          God bless!

          • Devin, I understand your point, and yes, I do make my adherence to a church or denomination conditional on whether they teach what the scripture teaches, and yes, I can only do that with my own mind, using my own judgment. So the force of your argument is not lost on me. Surely, it seems, it is more humble and wise to have faith that the church gets it right than to oppose it with my petty opinion.

            Yet, here is the nub: If I choose to give unlimited allegiance to a particular church or denomination, then I still have to use my own judgment on which one to choose. Do I choose a church (RC, Orthodox, or Coptic) with the longest traditions? Or do I choose one that seems to agree with what I see in scripture? Or do I simply pick the one closest to my house?

            In other words, my own personal judgment is always going to be involved in the decision, either in choosing a church or in deciding to stay with a church.

            Not to get too personal, but did you not use your own judgment to give your allegiance to Rome? Would you stay there if you came to the conclusion that it was teaching serious doctrinal error? I ask this sincerely, not polemically.

            Thanks for the discussion.

          • Devin, I like how you’re asking the question without cramming it down our throats.

            I’m one of those Protestants who give qualified allegiance to a church, but am I correct in assuming that you’re alluding to Saint Ignatius Loyola, who said that we should believe that white is black if the Church says so? Here’s the quote:

            “To be right in everything, we ought always to hold that the white which I see, is black, if the Hierarchical Church so decides it, believing that between Christ our Lord, the Bridegroom, and the Church, His Bride, there is the same Spirit which governs and directs us for the salvation of our souls. Because by the same Spirit and our Lord Who gave the ten Commandments, our holy Mother the Church is directed and governed.”

            When that came up in a Reformation history class years ago I had recently read 1984 for the first time, and Loyola didn’t go over well with me. Still don’t agree with him, but I appreciate your bringing it up as a thought experiment.

          • Hi Daniel,

            Always good to hear from you. The difference between one who becomes Catholic and one who remains Protestant is not that one examines the evidence and uses his judgment while the other doesn’t. They both do. The difference lies in what is discovered by the Catholic, something to which he can give his assent. For an explanation of why this tu quoque doesn’t work, see this post: http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2010/05/the-tu-quoque/

            An analogy would be between you and an atheist, who both examined evidence about Jesus. You ended up discovering Jesus, realizing He is God and that He deserves your allegiance and submission. (Of course we believe this is by grace.) The atheist likewise analyzed the evidence but did not come to discover Jesus. So he says to you: “you only think you have found someone to give your assent to. But really you haven’t discovered anything. You are no different than I.” But really what you have done is different, not because you both used your judgment to analyze evidence, but because you discovered Someone to whom you could give the assent of your mind and the consent of your will.

          • Ted,

            That is certainly a famous (or infamous) quote from St. Ignatius. Realize that it is not dogma. In other words, the Catholic Church teaches that the propositions of the Faith are also supported by sound reasons and motives of credibility. St. Ignatius was using hyperbole here. So don’t stake too much on it.

          • Thanks, Devin.

      • [Quick disclaimer: I am in a lot of pain at the moment, awaiting a root canal in the morning. So please forgive me in advance if something I write makes no sense. I am not sure how coherent I am.]

        Devin, thanks for the response. I think I can safely say that I follow your logic. And I have respect for this perspective.

        But it is hard for me to agree. I find it plausible that God would protect a very special human institution from error on its most important points. I find acceptable that a special leadership may have the authority to define what is ‘orthodox’. But–I have a very hard time believing that this would make the entire teaching its leadership infallible or ‘definitive’ in the sense that it cannot be questioned. The implications and applications of central principles is always hairy, for one, and our societies and knowledge bases also change. In addition, it seems to me that a religious movement benefits from some dialog, perhaps even some creative tension between collective teaching and individual conscience/experience. So, I perceive it as healthy for the individual to always tell the truth about what they really ‘see’ when the examine the world (with full humility that they may be wrong, and not without great deference for their traditions) — both for the moral health of the person, and the collective life of humanity. (That does not mean, of course, that the person is free of obligation to study a teaching and try to accept it as far as possible.)

        I think at one point I was under the impression that this line of thinking might fit with the post-Vatican II RCC. And I think I may have harbored this thought because I identified assent to a series or doctrinal propositions to be a particular Protestant trait. I thought, by contrast, that Catholicism–because it emphasizes sacramental reality, action, and obedience–would be less concerned with this kind of intellectual conformity, provided that someone was willing to affirm the essential creeds and behave in a properly “Catholic” manner in regard to practice. And also, because Catholicism speaks more about journeys and gradual transformation than about instant transformation. I think I may have imagined what I did, because liturgy at one point it gave this ex-fundamentalist a way to “believe” without having to nail down every small thing. I could believe by reciting the creeds, by contemplating the gospel story, not be interrogating myself or feeling that I had to resolve everything.

        Anyway, some of these assumptions may have been a little off? Perhaps my logic is very Protestant.

        Scripture-Tradition-Reason: ….. why, that’s not just Protestant. Its Anglican….! Maybe I’m an Anglican who just really, really likes Benedict’s books on the life of Christ!

        OK, I am off to take more meds and dream of three-legged stools!

        • Danielle,

          I hope that by this time that you are feeling better. I’ve noticed that a lot of internet Catholics are very, very good at being hard-nosed and intolerant. That’s one reason I don’t visit their websites, except for very brief researches.

          My story. I’ve been a Catholic about 11-12 years now, I think. I entered the Church with majour misgivings about Mary. Over time, I’ve come to accept a number of teachings about her that I was fully expecting to find that the Catholic church would be proven wrong about at the last judgement.

          I have lived in a number of different places since I converted and have found the Church to be quite diverse. One of the saddest things that I have observed, and others have confirmed my observation is that the more liberal (read less orthodox in theology and liturgical practice) are much friendlier than those who are more orthodox. Unfortunately, I want both. But, I chose to go with the friendlier, I can always get good doctrine else where; people who are glad to see you are to be treasured.

          May you be blessed on your journey.

  13. When I first began serving in ministry, it was at a fundagelical, Baptist, megachurch. I was taught there that the Catholic faith was satanic because it was “works-based”. I asked my mentor at the time exactly what that meant, and he stated, “Well, they have to confess their sins to a man, then pray for forgiveness. The priest gives them stuff to do in addition to that…works…to make up for their sins.”

    The same church encouraged men to have accountability partners, to whom they would confess their sins, and then they could pray for forgiveness together. Then, the accountability partner would worry the business out of the confessor with phone calls and visits and ministry tasks to help them “repent”, and not return to their sinful ways. Often, they would prescribe memorizing scripture, repeating it over and over until it was “in your heart”, so when sinful urges arose, you could recall that scripture.

    Sounds like pretty much the same thing to me.

    A portion of my family is Catholic, and more devout in their faith practices than I will ever be. Now, our Protestant friends will argue that Muslims and Mormons are devout, as well, I’m sure. I wonder if we will ever get over the gnostic idea that we figured out “the secret” of faith in the 16th century, and decided everybody before us was wrong?

    Side note: I’ve been reading and re-reading Bede’s “Ecclesiastical History of the English People”. How different it must have been to live in an age that predated the reformation, and the Catholic/Orthodox split, when Christianity was pre-denominational, with a common communion table, and a respect for apostolic teaching.

    • Lee,

      That is exactly why Luther called the Catholic Church and the Anabaptists (the forerunners of today’s Evangelicals), “two wolves tied at the tail”.

      They outwadly appear different and outwardly despise each other, but basically have the same theology…’a lot of God and a little bit of me’.

      Only it usually turns out the other way around…’ a lot of ME and a little bit of God’.

      • Exactly. Most evangelicals claim a Gospel of grace and justification by faith alone, but then completely deny it in their sermons and practice.

      • brilliantvapor says:

        This is the first time I recall seeing Anabaptists referred to as “the forerunners of today’s Evangelicals.” In what sort of way do you mean that? (If that’s not too off-topic a question to ask here)

        • They were considered radical reformers who went beyond what Luther et. al. were considering in the reformation. Plus they rebaptized those who had only been baptized as infants.

          • Yup – no sacraments and no infant baptism – and they were hunted by the Calvinists just as fervently as the Jesuits….

    • The one plus to what the Catholics do is that what is said in the confessional.. stays in the confessional. The Catholic priests can’t gossip or if they do they are fired. A while back Martha pointed that out to me especially with how one of the fundys I knew used a sin confession against me. Had I stayed Catholic when younger I don’t think my sin wouldn’t have caused as much problem in life. There would have been no gossip. it would have stayed confidential, etc…

      That really hit me hard when I started to realize that point. Because gossip is the 11th commantment in fundgelicalism.

      How many have had this expereince? You’re in a guys Bible study and someone says, “I can’t say the person’s name but this is what is going on…” And then they tell the story and when you are plugged into a tight knit community you can figure out who they are speaking about. Isn’t that awful?

      Evangelicalism is just a cancer on the earth.

      • I know the drill well, Eagle.

        You know the cat is out of the bag when one of the volunteers from the campus praise band, who you do not know especially well, comes up to you and asks, “So how is your spiritual life going?”

        Dum, dum, dum!

        • I was at a high school graduation party and had pulled together a bunch of seniors to play volleyball (I’m use to doing this with my kids – and the seniors looked bored anyway) and in the middle of the game up walks the local Campus Life guy to pull a couple of them away to ask about their relationship with Jesus (he announced it loud enough). I found his timing to be terrible and selfish. I introduced myself later in the day and referenced overhearing him talk about Campus Life (or crusade or something like that). He perked up to ask me if I was affiliated, I answered no, but I was a Catholic CCD Director and wanted to meet the guy who was converting away my Catholic youth – the look he gave me was priceless as he sputtered a bit before answering that he tells the kids to stay with their own faith expression. I am almost never that overt and rude, but after his display I couldn’t resist.

          And since it was intentional I promptly went to confession that Wednesday….

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      The same church encouraged men to have accountability partners, to whom they would confess their sins, and then they could pray for forgiveness together. Then, the accountability partner would worry the business out of the confessor with phone calls and visits and ministry tasks to help them “repent”, and not return to their sinful ways.

      Don’t forget the accountability partner telling all the juicy details to everybody in his/her prayer circle “just so we can Pray for Him/Her”…

      I’ve heard of that happening a lot.

      • Its the 11th commandment HUG in fundementalism…. “thou shall gossip and do it in thy name of prayer… and the more people that know of one’s shortcoming the better thy be!!…” 8-O

        • Yeah…I think I will stick with sharing my sins with someone who cannot ever repeat them, never, ever, EVER. We Catlicks got SOME things right! It takes a whole lotta grace and faith not to repear juciy stories…it seems to be human nature. And ugly. And a sin I am working on.

  14. Let me add 1 more: Catholic football teams have had a better history of success. :^)

  15. I think I am almost a Roman Catholic. Being a member of the United Methodist which came from the Anglican church that was under papal authority until the mid 15 hundreds. Lets face this fact. If you were a Christian during the dark ages or the middle ages you just about had to be Roman Catholic. The oldest known sect of Christianity cannot in my opinion be considered a cult. I have no problems with Catholics or their belief system.

    • Richard Hershberger says:

      “If you were a Christian during the dark ages or the middle ages you just about had to be Roman Catholic.”

      Unless, of course, you were Eastern Orthodox or, going further afield, in a Monophysite church or, going yet further afield, Nestorian.

  16. Oh my God….where do I start?????? As a womb to tomb Catholic…..I’ve got an arsenal of things I can add to the list….as a participant in the most arrogant self-possessed denomination on the planet! So why do I stay? Because there are a million things to love……I’d be happy to be a guest-columnist and provide the list of a hundred things to love. :) So…here’s the list of things to hate (beware of sarcasm and tongue-in-cheek ahead)

    1) Pope Benedict XVI – aka the Evil Sith Lord, Darth Sidious. Google it……they are the same man, I swear to God!
    2) Funny hats – reminiscent of the KKK….tall, pointy, white and dangerous. The funnier your hat….the more power you have.
    3) Pedophiles, sex scandals, protecting the offenders, no compassion or help for the victims, etc. etc. etc.
    4) Hypocracy – the list is endless
    5) The so-called Pro-Life agenda and its moralistic stance without regard to the larger questions (poverty, population control, disease control, etc. etc. etc. )
    6) Material holdings – the Catholic church might be the richest corporation in the world and they DO NOT pay taxes
    7) Hierarchy, Patriarchy, Monarchy
    8) ARROGANCE – “The fullness of the truth.” REALLY?????
    9) Purgatory
    10) Indulgences (a recently revived practice for buying your way out of hell)
    11) Accountability – rather, the COMPLETE lack thereof…also falls under the Arrogance category

    WOW….that was easy… I know there are a lot more….but it is a start. ;)

    Lauri Lumby
    Authentic Freedom Ministries
    http://yourspiritualtruth.com

    • Lauri…

      I have to address the issue of hats…

      Episcopalians/Anglicans, as the third largest denomination in the world, and Orthodox Christians, the second largest, also wear the fiery tongue hats. I think if I was gonna wear a hat that was supposed to be shaped like a tongue, I would want to make it funnier looking, so I could get some laughs out of it. Hey, Catholics might wear funny hats, but have you seen the hairpieces that some Baptist and Pentecostal guys wear? Or checked out Benny Hinn’s or Tammy Bakker’s do?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      2) Funny hats – reminiscent of the KKK….tall, pointy, white and dangerous. The funnier your hat….the more power you have.

      Two words: GENE SCOTT.

    • cermak_rd says:

      6. If you think the Catholic church is materialistic, you gotta check out the Church of Scientology!

  17. OMG……and I forgot the number one biggest reason for hating the Catholic Church: ORIGINAL SIN!

    • ?? Last I looked, the Catholic Church didn’t invent original sin – it just proclaims Jesus as the way to escape it.

      (Or am I too dense to have picked up on a sarcastic/humorous reference? Probably :) )

  18. Are Roman Catholics, Christians?

    YES!

    But as St. Paul said, “There is a more excellent way.”

    • I assume you mean Orthodox Christianity? ;o)

      • Pretty sure he meant Baptist. :P

        • I’m pretty sure he meant, “I’m gonna take some scripture out of context now, and apply it in a way that appeals to me to back up my own belief system.”

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Pretty sure he meant Baptist…

          Or Born-Again Bible-Believing New Testament CHRISTIAN (TM) “Just Like ME”.

        • I meant trusting in Christ ALONE.

          Not Christ PLUS the Pope.

          Not Christ PLUS your decision for Jesus.

          Not Christ Bishops ordained in historic epsicopy.

          Not Christ plus an innerant Bible.

          Not Christ you seriousness.

          But Christ and His forgiveness of sins for the ungodly…ALONE.

          That’s the more excellent way.

          All are welcome to join us in that confession of faith. But many have a hard time leaving out one or all of the above add-ons.

  19. Martha ~ I come out of Catholicism so you will ALL be so glad to hear that I am not going to make any comments. Reformation Sunday is upon us. Enough said. All I wanted to say was your opening was a hoot and I had to check to see if it was truly you or if Jeff Dunn was using a pen name. Thanks for the laugh.

  20. http://www.youtube.com/user/TheLutheranSatire#p/u/8/feHTWSl4GJI

    Thought you might like this link to Lutherin Satire.

  21. Well I got to this conversation late… Martha, you are a hoot as usual! Being that I am also on the inside I will just read these comments with a big smile on my face. And being I am not a cafeteria Catholic and actually follow what the faith believes it makes it all the more fun to read the comments of those who practice the faith and have issues.

    I also acknowledge that there are some wacky groups inside the church whose focus, in my view is a bit wrong, ( and therefore gives non-catholics something to laugh about).

    And as for the Pedofile/pedastry fiasco… there are so many safeguards in place these days in my diocese (I am intimately involved here since I do work for them as my “other job” ahem I meant vocation) that I believe we are far ahead of the curve than other faith traditions. That being said it still does not erase the past.

    And lastly – I hardly ever imbibe anymore (more to do with the number of kid I have + age + have no tolerance for feeling crappy the next day) but when I do it is Captain Morgans and Coke (NEVER Pepsi).

    • what is with the foo-foo liquor & soft drink combos? if a real Christian can’t enjoy a real top-shelf Kentucky bourbon or cocktail (Perfect Manhattan with Maker’s Mark), then they cannot be of the ‘true’ Church… ;)

      as a ‘lapsed’ Catholic who has indeed ‘been-there-done-that’ & moved on to other faith expressions, it is the actual experience with those of differing doctrinal positions that had me recognizing this one fact: no matter which side of the aisle they defended, they were no better, or worse, than those they pointed their holier-than-thou fingers at…

      the proof for me was in the walk, not the talk. for all the jot-and-tittle wrangling of ‘true’ Church claims vs. having the most accurate understanding of biblical concepts, there was no perceptible difference in those that received all the sacramental grace available to them in the RCC or those that claimed pure grace enlightenment from a Protestant perspective. all of those within the Church Universal are sinners saved by the one Lord Jesus regardless of how He is championed by differing doctrinal assertions…

      without ever being exposed to Protestant thought (or propaganda), i came to some theological conclusions contrary to official RCC doctrine while still a pre-teen attending parochial school. i had my own questions about RCC tradition+practice that simply had no spiritual impact on me no matter how dutifully i practiced them. for me, God simply did not choose to interact with me at a deeper personal level in this form of worship. disclaimer: other results may vary…

      the arguments for me are simply tiresome posturing consisting of bluster without spiritual substance sufficient to convince me that any one side has a corner on the absolute truth.

      “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” this still rings true & stated before there was any established Church or doctrinal declarations developed…

      for those that ‘claim’ to be Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Reformed Protestant (high & low church), Evangelical, etc. in their faith expression, there is only One litmus test we should be concerned with. and i believe His priority does not include touting the most accurate doctrinal purity. but if you choose to staunchly defend your particular doctrinal pet peeve, you better be just as zealous to be like the very Lord you claim to be the Head of the Church you associate with…

      • …admittedly I am not what I once was when it comes to the drink, resorting now to foo foo drinks and even then… but if you’d known me 30 years ago ; )

        For me, cursed with an engineering mind, I first delved into what I grew up in, then into other theologies. I am not an apologetic by a long shot, but I do know and practice because I see many things of value in Catholicism. And I have experienced ways of growing deeper that I just don’t see in non-denom faiths (although I have experienced some of this with Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists and Church of Christ). I just like the depth Joseph (and I will throw the EO in there as well). But part of it for me is that I take the bull by the horns and take advantage of the richness. For those who are looking for someone to show them or be entertained then maybe this isn’t for them. I am not so hung up on who’s doctrinally right. I smile though when folks reading scripture for the first time seem to have all the answers and mock those churches that have been around for 2000 years and have rich literature to boot.

        And for me – who actually likes to mingle with the mainline protestants, my only real pet peeve the other way is that when I am found out (that I am one of those Catholics, by a non-denom or a pentacostal) I get to listen to all the faults of my heretical church (especially those ex-catholics) instead of a nice discussion on scripture.

        • what you see as ‘depth’ of liturgical orthopraxy i find very distracting+restrictive in my spiritual growth. all motion & no substance. and when the many ‘motions’ need rather detailed doctrinal props to justify them, that is where i need to question their importance…

          but it wasn’t my decision to simply abandon my RCC roots. it was that unmistakeable Holy Spirit nudge one Sunday at Mass…

          my exit was not simply my rational approach at weighing the good+bad+ugly of RCC faith+practice. it was not a Luther-like list of grievances i wanted RCC officials to address. it was a quiet realization that God simply would not meet with me thru the worship form i was raised in…

          at least that is how He communicated the nudge to me…

          He removed me from the religious trappings+distractions to continue the quiet meditative connection i had originally enjoyed when i was in Kindergarten-1st grade. after that, the parochial school experience caused more spiritual dissonance than confirmation that this was how God wanted to interact with me…

          my real connection with the Almighty during my walks out on the 40 acre parcel of land we rented for about 10 years. i would talk to God out loud as was my usual habit. i still do that today. no sacramental practice needed. no profound preaching either. no formal prayers recited. no bible verse memorizations. no religious motions to perform. just a quiet amble next to the creek while conversing with my Lord…

          or simply sitting quietly in my chair in contemplation…

          why there is the need for some to have the sense of doctrinal safety or religious formality to define their faith is a foreign concept to me. and that is what i must emphasize: my experience with the divine not the golden standard or “more excellent way” as others claim. but since i have had a clear experience of a divine source, that is what i must be answerable to. all the apologetic arguments fall upon deaf ears in my case as i have heard the voice of the Savior clear enough to know He is not contained in any one set of doctrinal decrees…

          • Understood Joseph – and that works for you. It is attractive but in my view I can get that, and the communal aspect, and the ancient historical aspect, and the contemplative aspect right where I am. That works for me. And since you have walked my road and found it wanting I respect that as well…..

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          I smile though when folks reading scripture for the first time seem to have all the answers and mock those churches that have been around for 2000 years and have rich literature to boot.

          This is called “Reinventing the Wheel.”

  22. This made me laugh…specially the video you posted. BTW..I am Catholic and proud! (Not too much though, you know Pride and being the root of it all : )

  23. Richard Hershberger says:

    In order of decreasing importance, three reasons I am not tempted by the Roman church:

    The doctrine of sacred tradition. This tends not to get emphasized in public teachings, and it isn’t hard to see why: Jesus gave extra revelations which have been passed down by the church (meaning the bishops) over the centuries, and only more widely disseminated in dollops. Hence we get stuff like most of the Marian doctrines, only made official dogma comparatively recently, traceable as threads of discourse for some centuries earlier, and nearly entirely absent before that. Yet we are told that it is TRVTH, and not optional.

    Institutional authoritarianism. The church often seems to really miss the days when it could bring royalty to their knees (literally) by placing a kingdom under the interdict. Nowadays there are few places where the church still wields anything like this power, and frankly I am glad I don’t live in one of those places. The modern manifestation of this in the rest of the world is just pathetic. As a trivial example, about every seven years Saint Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday in Lent. This poses a problem, since Catholics are supposed to abstain from meat in Lent, but American Catholics of Irish descent (or Irish for the day) have a set of cultural observances of St. Patrick’s Day which include eating corned beef. So American Catholic bishops of dioceses with large Irish populations routinely grant general dispensations, so as to maintain the fiction that they can tell the laity what to do. About ten or so years back the Archbishop of Baltimore tried to hold out and not grant this dispensation. He cracked after it became obvious that the laity would do whatever they pleased, which would threaten the fiction. And, of course, there is no doctrinal basis for Lenten abstinence. It is all about submission to authority.

    Terrible liturgy on the parish level. I find myself attending Catholic masses surprisingly frequently. On the parish level I am lucky if they are merely mediocre. I have seen good one in a monastic setting or at a cathedral, but at the rank and file level the church long since tossed out what it did well, leaving a vacuum to be filled by absolutely dreadful attempts to contemporary music.

    • TeaPot562 says:

      A well-researched tome on Eleanor of Aquitaine described the risk of Excommunication to feudal nobility as “an occupational hazard”. Each king or duke had at least one bishop in his territory, whom he could order to excommunicate the leading figure on the other side of a war. The king on the other side would have his bishop excommunicate your leading figure. It made no practical difference to your supplies of food, clothing and war material – most of your subjects couldn’t read or write anyway.
      In retrospect, the threat of excommunication was treated much more seriously in the parochial schools than it ever was in practice in medieval Europe.
      The practice of abstinence & fasting in Lent & other times can be traced to Paul’s letters, on subjecting his body to his spirit. If one lives in an age where martyrdom is possible, would you renounce your belief in Jesus to avoid torture? If you never have tried to subject your bodily hungers to your will (a la G. Gordon Liddy), what chance would you have?
      TeaPot562

  24. Hi All,

    There’s a wonderful scene from Ayn Rand’s, “The Fountainhead,” which is a conversation between Ellsworth Toohey and Howard Roark. The dialogue follows as: Ellsworth Toohey: “Why don’t you tell me what you think of me…?” Howard Roark: “But I don’t think of you.”

    I would respond in the like manner. If someone were to ask me what I think of Catholicism or the Pope, then I’d reply, “But I don’t think of them.” It is a waste of time trying to prove or disprove the theological system of another. What matters is what each one thinks of Christ. Of course some people don’t think of Christ, but I do. So for me, to walk into a discussion of the endless minutia of a system like Catholicism is meaningless and vanity.

    I decided some time ago that all denominations have a tendency toward cultist behavior, and what truly matters is how each one responds to and comes to a knowledge of Christ.

    Yuri

    • Yuri,

      Ok great so “you don’t care.”

      And yet you said: “It is a waste of time trying to prove or disprove the theological system of another.” This was immediately followed by your own “theological system,” which you think is preferable and simpler than Catholicism. That’s fine, but why should someone accept your theological ideas over, say, the Catholic Church’s? Also, where do you get your knowledge about who Christ is?

      “I decided some time ago that all denominations have a tendency toward cultist behavior, and what truly matters is how each one responds to and comes to a knowledge of Christ.”

      Almost all people “come to knowledge” of Christ and respond to Him through a “denomination.” It sounds like your working theory is “Jesus, yes! The Church, no!” That fine but it’s another theological system that you have devised.

      • Hi

        Devin, it’s not so much that I don’t care as that I’ve personally witnessed at Wesley Theological seminary which serves 70 denominations how it was almost impossible to agree on the most basic of beliefs.

        Understanding of Jesus is provided to you through the Holy Spirit, which is the only way to understand Jesus properly. Sure enough God uses people, but it is the Holy Spirit who reveals.

        That “church” = denomination is faulty and of an axiom that is held by many. It was Emil Brunner’s book “The Misunderstanding of the Church” that made “church” = denomination untenable.

        I do not propose a system but trusting in Christ as a person who will guide and take care of you. I’m quite familiar with systematic theology and had to understand Thomistic, Calvinist, Lutheran and Arminian theologies and realized that all have inherent weaknesses. Catholicism and every other branch of Protestantism offer convenient ways to take comfort in the answers they provide. If I were to be ordained in a presybyterian or whatever other denomination, then I would have to delineate very clearly where I disagree in their catechism. To be sure, one’s disagreements better be close to zero or none at all.

        Following Jesus and being shaped by hime cannot be deduced into a system, there is none. Yet day by day we rely on God’s mercy through his Spirit that also operates through people and certainly is not restricted to the limitations of man.

        I came to know Christ the hard way. A long story made short, I had to know Christ via revelation of who he is rather than rely on finely tuned theological reasoning.

        Yuri

  25. cermak_rd says:

    OK, some of my reasons:

    1. Politics and the Americanization of the American Latin-Rite Catholic church: this includes folks like Bishop Chaput practically coming out and saying you can’t be a Democrat and take Communion. My grievance here includes the use of Communion as a blackmail item toward politicians to get them to vote as the Church wants. I wonder, would this include threats of withholding Communion from an alderperson who voted to give a permit for Planned Parenthood office, even if the organization ticked all the right boxes? How about one that votes against expanding the local Catholic church’s parking lot? This was the first mover in my movement away from the Church.
    I say Americanization because I’ve actually heard Bishops claiming that, for example, public health care was wrong if it included abortion (even in an indirect way) although the Bishops of the UK and France don’t seem to be complaining about their national health care systems and what it does and doesn’t cover.

    2. the unchanging nature of the deposit of the faith. The argument here is that it can never change to counter itself. The faith once delivered is the faith once delivered. This makes it an inherently fragile thing that cannot easily adapt to changing circumstances without doing leaps of illogic whilst waving hands saying… “As we have always taught…” Or, if a Pope goes completely off the deep end, using the “true Scotsman” argument and just declaring him an Anti-Pope.
    Here I would also add in Chesterton’s democracy of the dead. Because the deposit is unchangeable, it is more of a tyranny of the dead.

    3. Original Sin–the concept that humans are born defective and the only cure is Jesus and His Church. Sorry, not buying it. Not any more than believing that humans are born defective and have to learn to detach themselves from all possessions and longings in order to reach perfection. Humans are born as are, they are not perfect, that I can accept, but not any magic cures for it. I will stipulate, however, that I would have this grievance against most Christian Churches.

    4. The massacre of the Waldenses. I know it’s been a long time, but you know, it still kind of ticks me off. This was in the 1200s. These folks were pacifists and believed in exegetical teaching. They’d probably be in the mainstream of the Catholic church today. So why did they have to be slaughtered? I understand the slaughters that were part of the Reformation era better, because those had to do with power and class, but this? He’s from a different era but you could include Innocent III as being one of my least favorite Pontiffs, too. Really, those who claim that Benedict is the worst Pope in history, have clearly not read any.

    5. The insistence that Transubstantiation is different from Consubstantiation. Consubstantiation says that the bread and wine become body and blood (both in each) but the bread and wine remain. Transubstantiation says that the bread and wine become body and blood (both in each) but the accidents of the bread and wine remain. I fail to see the difference.

    Of course, given time, I could dredge up others I’m sure. I’m not, however, anti-Catholic. You could say, I suppose, that I’m anti-Diocese of Chicago because pretty much any time they’re for a piece of legislation, I’m against it and vice versa (except on the death penalty there we both agreed. The state of IL came awful close to executing a bunch of folks not guilty of the crimes of which they’d been convicted).

    • When I was a Catholic there was such an emphesis on social justice and a theology that bordered liberation theology that I felt that I was responsible for Archbishop Romero’s death. And that took place in the 1990′s!!

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        You should have seen the Social Justice fanboys in the Eighties, just before JP2 shut them down hard. We had a couple of them around the local Newman Center, with a Trinity de facto redefined as Marx, Lenin, and Fidel Castro.

        And funny thing how the most rabid Social Justice types (with the above Trinity) were yuppie-puppy rich kids from the “exclusive gated communities.”

  26. I don’t want to speak for Martha, but I for one appreciate the fact that Martha is brave enough to post something like this, I’m positive we could insert ANY faith along the protestant lines into a list like this and have a very similar discussion (just do one on being a Calvinist!!!, I have a ton of things to say about them :) I for one will NEVER tell anyone the Catholic church is perfect, and I would argue that anyone who does is either delusional or an Apologist!! :)

    (NOTE: the smiley faced indicates humor, in case you took that seriously, just trying to teach a little web etiquette before I get yelled at)

    In fact I could not have joined the church if it was perfect in all it’s theology and teachings, that’s like claiming that scripture is inerrant. It’s a tenuous position at best, and the fact that there *are* mistakes in the bible, shows just how authentic it really is. For me its the same with the church, it’s full of sinful, fallen people. If it wasn’t, then I’d mess it up by being there.

    I also understand Eagles position, I’ve been scarred by fundamentalism, just in a different faith. I think atheists and those who are apostate (which I was for a time) sometimes are the best measures of what we need to work on. But I’ve also talked to Catholics who have scars from their past as well.

    My point is that there is no ‘Perfect’ church, Michael talked about that a number of times. I spent two years looking for one before I finally realized it was a hopeless task (I’m slow that way sometimes). But I also think it’s healthy to have these open discussions. I’m not sure why everyone gets so excited about Internet Monk becoming a ‘Catholic’ sounding board (which I would argue it’s not, there are lots of those around if you really want to see something like that), Michael Spencer wrote about the Catholic Church a number of times (it was one of the reasons I even checked out the Catholic church), Denise Spencer has been Catholic for some time, so Michael had to deal with that and finally made peace with Rome. I see these discussion as a logical extension of what Michael was about, and I love the fact that we can just let it fly around here.

    This is good stuff, warts and all… ;)

    -Paul-

  27. ditto…

  28. This is a response to cermak_rd , in Charity:

    1. Politics: the Church is much bigger than any political party and does not instruct Catholics to vote for a specific party. It does however, instruct Catholics to vote with a Catholic conscience in regard to important issues such as abortion . Put another way, it is not a problem if you vote for a Democrat. It is a problem if you vote for a Democrat if your intention is to support or promote abortion “rights”. Intentions are important.

    2. Unchanging deposit of faith: A Truth is a Truth. Truth cannot contradict a truth. First, let us be clear that we are talking about core Truths, not “non-core items” such as altar boys vs altar girls or receiving communion on the hands vs. tongue. Why would core Truths ever change with cultural norms? For this reason, the Church is very careful and slow in proclaiming such “absolutes”. Consider the opposite case that Truths do change. That is relativism and a contradiction (i.e. the notion that the only truth is that there is no truth).

    3. Original Sin: Part of the problem with those who do not believe in original sin is due to a misunderstanding of what original sin really is. There are volumes on this topic (I recommend reading the Catholic Encylopedia (newadvent.org) definition of original sin), but simply put, original sin is more of a “privation” than it is a “thing”. In other words, due to the sin of Adam, we do not inherit sanctifying grace. Baptism restores this. Keep in mind that the Church teaches there is indeed other ways to be baptized: baptism of desire and baptism of blood. The former is for those who do not know about the gospels or Christ, but are motivated by it nonetheless. The latter is similar but for martyrs.

    4. The massacre of the Waldenses. I have no idea what this is, but I will take your word for it. Even so, this is not an issue of Catholic doctrine or dogma. The Church does not claim that the popes are not gods, nor are they perfect. The Church is made up of sinners. Clergy make mistakes, but there are no flaws in dogma. As far as I know, there is no dogma about slaughtering people. Quite the contrary.

    5. Consubstantiation vs Transubstantiation: This is from Catholic Answers: “Superficially, consubstantiation might seem more “incarnational” than transubstantiation, but there’s a catch. For the Eucharist to be both Jesus Christ and bread and wine, as Jesus is both God and man, Jesus would have to unite the nature of bread to himself as he united human nature to himself. It would amount to a new incarnation, a new hypostatic union. We would confess a Lord who is truly God, truly man, and truly pastry. This would demean and trivialize the significance of our Lord’s assuming our human nature.” And,

    “The authentic Catholic understanding of the Eucharist, by contrast, is not a repetition of the Incarnation but an extension of it. Christ is not hypostatically united to bread, but the one hypostatic union of divinity and humanity is presented to us under the appearances of bread and wine. It is not a new, independent redemptive act, but the making present of the one redemption accomplished by Christ in his Incarnation, Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension.”

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      The Church does not claim that the popes are not gods, nor are they perfect.

      In The Divine Comedy, didn’t Dante (a cradle Catholic, I believe) put one Pope (Peter) in Heaven, one in Purgatory, and all the rest in Hell?

      • Yes, and he also anticipated with great relish the imminent arrival in Hell of his bete noire, Boniface VIII.

        But he also distinguished between the office and the man; while condemning Boniface for his politics and his meddling in the internecine wars of the Italian city-states and for his spiritual maladministration, he still defends the Papacy (in the person of Boniface) against the interference of outside state power (in the person of Philip IV of France) when the King’s representatives in the persons of the Colonni captured and humilated Boniface so that he died shortly thereafter.

        Purgatorio, Canto XX:

        “‘That past and future evil may seem less,
        I see the fleur-de-lis proceed into Anagni
        and, in His vicar, make a prisoner of Christ.

        ‘I see Him mocked a second time.
        I see renewed the vinegar and gall–
        between two living thieves I see Him slain.

        ‘I see that this new Pilate is so brutal
        this does not sate him, and, unsanctioned,
        I see him spread his greedy sails against the Temple.”

    • cermak_rd says:

      1. Tell that to Bishop (no, I won’t distinguish him with the silly label Archbishop–talk about an honorific title with little real meaning) Chaput, to say nothing of the folks on the Catholic forum I used to frequent.

      2. I do understand the difference between doctrine, traditions and disciplines, but, for example in the case of women priests, this was understood by JPII to be doctrinal. But this means that even if the modern world completely dispenses with the concept of gender differences, the Catholic church will either maintain it’s odd custom and become completely different from its surrounding world, or it will wave its hands and say well, what we meant was… and go ahead and allow it. Like Leo XII stating that outside the church there is no salvation, and then the Church saying, well, what me mean by outside the Church doesn’t mean what you think it means.

      3. From your post: “In other words, due to the sin of Adam, we do not inherit sanctifying grace. Baptism restores this.” I don’t know how that is that different from Man is born defective and needs to be fixed. Man does not need anything to stand before the Almighty. If he sins, in his own deed or omission, then he needs to make atonement and sacrifice. He does not need to inherit any kind of sin tendency. It is inherent in human nature.

      4. Waldenses. I think the thing that bothers me here is that the Catholic Church (et al) at one time rather than argue and debate theology like decent human beings, tended to use political pressure or threats of violence against ideological opponents.

      5.Consubstantiation vs. Transubstantiation. From your post: “For the Eucharist to be both Jesus Christ and bread and wine, as Jesus is both God and man, Jesus would have to unite the nature of bread to himself as he united human nature to himself. It would amount to a new incarnation, a new hypostatic union.” And yet, no one denies that the accidents of bread and wine remain. If you measure the mass of the species before you consecrate, and then measure them afterward you will only have explainable changes (evaporation, spillage etc.) If you chemically analyze it, it will only have these same kind of explainable changes. The change is in meaning–that it it then means that it is the body and blood but the same is true of Consubstantiation they say it becomes body and blood too. It’s an amazingly complicated argument over something that is so trivial a difference.

      • Ni cermak_rd,

        I wrote above that I wouldn’t defend since Martha put this out as a venting session. But I will give some input to point number 1 – in reality the church really leans more democrat or liberal – mostly because from my point of view the democrats are looking to take care of the poor and infirmed, support universal health care etc. Where the Church will draw the line is on anything having to do with our ending or preventing a life – whether that be abortion, contreception, euthenasia, death penalty etc.

        From a historical perspective I believe the English Monarchy also had a heavy hand in the Waldesian affair. Because back then heresy meant instability for governments. Doesn’t make it any more right but we must look at events through the eyes of those times and not 21st century spectacles.

        • cermak_rd says:

          You forgot gay equality even something so trivial as civil unions was fought tooth and nail by the local Archdiocese. Good guys won. Civil Unions are available to all now.

          I do understand the heresy meaning instability for governments, but even allowing for that, there were cases where the Catholic church used political pressure against governments. Take the Netherlands. They were not persecuting the Jansenists (nasty set of beliefs, but still, had the rights to them) enough to suit Rome so the whole land was interdicted. Not allowed to receive Sacraments. Which, by the way led to one of the branches of the Old Roman Catholic Church. Due to not being persecute-y enough. Which probably meant that at times, governments cracked down on heresies when they really didn’t care one way or another.

          The Waldenses were in France and Spain, primarily. Here’s some history from the Catholic Encyclopedia:

          “In 1192 Bishop Otto of Toul ordered all Waldenses to be put in chains and delivered up to the episcopal tribunal. Two years later King Alphonso II of Aragon banished them from his dominions and forbade anyone to furnish them with shelter or food. These provisions were renewed by Pedro II at the Council of Gerona (1197), and death by burning was decreed against the heretics.”

          Given the situation of the Jansenists, I wonder if King Alphonso was put under any kind of pressure here?

          What this shows is that the Church was willing to use political pressure and threats of violence against ideological opponents, and, my fear is, that it is only the spirit of the times that made them change.

          • “The Waldenses were in France and Spain…” – I was probably thinking of the Albegians or some sort like that – they all seem to run together after a while ; )

            I understand though that France pretty much controlled its own assignment of Bishops and especially arounf the time of Richeleau the Bishop’s were more nationalistic then Rome centric… but then that would be a few centuries later…

          • “Gay equality”. THe Church teaches that all persons are to be respected because of their humanity. All persons are supposed to practice chastity according to their station.
            Marriage is defined as a sacrament or covenant between one man and one woman and is permanent, a sacrament that cannot be repeated because it makes an indelible change in the persons effecting the sacrament. (Annulment says that a sacrament was not confected)
            Women cannot be ordained to the priesthood because the Church does not have the authority to ordain women.
            The Catholic Church does not make doctrine or dogma by popularity or polls.
            Sacraments, particularly communion is withheld to protect the person not receiving from eating and drinking their own condemnation. Archbishop Chaput is down the line, orthodox bishop and he makes lots of liberals mad.

        • I wouldn’t like the Church leaning more left either if any of the Bishops tried using the Eucharist to keep say Rep Ryan from sticking to his political ideology. A Church using its Sacraments as blackmail against politicians is just too anti-Enlightenment for my tastes.

          • When it comes to government representatives supporting abortion that is a possibility as they in affect excommunicate themselves…. but I do know that Cardinal Wuerl – formerly the Bishop of my city and now Bishop of Washington DC has refused to withhold communion from these candidates. If it is any other issue I would suspect that Bishop might be getting a call from Rome about overstepping power (as this kind of thing would most certainly make the papers)…

  29. Tim van Haitsma says:

    For me it is the covering up and protecting for child rapist. That is pretty bad.

    • I agree…though as I said earlier at least the Roman Catholic church can’t do it as easily as they once did. Now the SBC and othr fundgelicals have this problem on their hands and still have their head in the sand.

  30. Can’t wait to read part two. I’ve been to a few Catholic picnics and I’d see a beer garden and patrons drinking beer and poker tables setup with a “charity” poker tournament going on. It’s weird how Catholics are the only denomination who thinks that is acceptable.

    • cermak_rd says:

      Lutherans, Episcopalians, and Eastern Orthodox all drink too, yes, even at parish picnics.

      My local Episcopalian church is having a showing of Frankenstein on Friday for Halloween. They split the proceeds with the actors’ troupe.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Somewhere in the IMonk archives is a posting about Church Potlucks of various denominations.

        In a Lutheran church potluck, the most important thing is “Who’s bringing the beer?”

    • Comon DevotionalDave its all symantecs – you guys tythe, we have Bingo! (Should’ve never relaxed the laws on Usery) ; )

  31. Martha, I am confused about your “Top Ten” list. I know you are in Ireland and all but do you know about the comedian David Letterman on U.S. television? Every Monday through Friday night for years and years he has done a “Top Ten” list. It always starts with #10 and works its way down (or up) to #1, before which he announces, “And the number 1 reason [such and such}”. As in #1 is the most important.

    You see my dilemma. Are your numbers 1 through 5 really numbers 10 through 6 and in part 2 when you give us numbers 6 through 10 will they really be numbers 5 through 1? In other words, is there a some priority in the items in your list? U.S. readers would tend to be expecting that there is. Is each one more important than the last? Or is each one less important than the last? Did you start with your most important? Are you ending with your most important? Or is there no priority intended at all?

    You see why I am confused. Or perhaps you don’t see WHY. But you surely see THAT I am confused, and I very much blame it on David Letterman and his Late Show — and my viewing habits.

    Any reading guide you could give us would be greatly appreciated.

    • I am familiar with the Letterman lists, but this is nothing of the kind, Bob. As I said above, it’s not sorted in any order and it isn’t most important/least important.

      It’s just ten random things that popped into my head and I put them down as they struck me. You could re-order them any way you like and it wouldn’t make a difference.

      It’s meant to make you laugh, maybe provoke you a little, and encourage everyone to let their hair down and really let go, without turning into a brawl or a banning session, since it’s the equivalent of a pub conversation :-)

  32. This response is to Richard Hershberger’s issues. In charity.

    1. Sacred Tradition and Scripture come from the same source and do not/cannot contradict each other. Sacred Tradition is supported by Sacred Scripture. Sacred or apostolic tradition consists of the teachings that the apostles passed on orally through their preaching. Consider that the Gospels themselves were only oral for nearly 100 years and not put together into a “Bible” for many more. These teachings largely (perhaps entirely) overlap with those contained in Scripture, but the mode of their transmission is different. They have been handed down and entrusted to the Church. It is necessary that Christians believe in and follow this tradition as well as the Bible (Luke 10:16). The truth of the faith has been given primarily to the leaders of the Church (Eph. 3:5), who, with Christ, form the foundation of the Church (Eph. 2:20). The Church has been guided by the Holy Spirit, who protects this teaching from corruption (John 14:25-26, 16:13). Consider some of the benefits of Sacred Tradition enjoyed by Protestant denominations such as the concept of the Trinity, books accepted as part of the Bible, the notion that the books of the Bible are inspired by God, worship on Sundays, construction of a physical church, wedding vows and celebrations, Christmas celebration, etc. These are not in the Bible, at least not clear, requiring the need for an authority.
    The “recent Marian Doctrines” that you mention were accepted by the apostles and Church Fathers. I recommend reading the writings of the Church Fathers from the 1rst Century. This was always accepted as Truth, although it was not stated officially until more recently simply due to the fact that it was never opposed. Notice that Marian Doctrines (only 3 i.e. perpetual virginity, Immaculate Conception, and assumption) are found in the early centuries yet there was never any opposition to them. Interesting. All I can say is read the early Fathers.

    2. Institutional authoritarianism: You are right. They cannot tell the laity what to do. The Church does not have authority in your life. You can choose to follow or not follow Her recommendations for achieving salvation. Do not think of them as rules. You can surely eat corned beef if you want to, or practice any religion that you want to for that matter. We all make choices, but do not forget the consequences (its not the Church that judges you, it is God). Please do not use petty example of corned beef, let’s stick with core dogma. Consider the hierarchy of Truths, which describe the Truths that are the most important (not the most true). Being an observant Catholic is not easy. That is your choice. Consider the opposite case if there was no authority? Then what? How are we to interpret the Bible? Then it is every man for himself. If that were true, what a cruel joke it would have been for our Lord to do that to us.

    3. It’s not a concert. True that there are some liturgical abuses (sadly), but poor taste in music (in your opinion) does not invalidate the Church’s dogma. Consider that if the Church did NOT have authority (where you previously suggested that the Church’s authority was a problem) then She could not correct such problems. You can’t have your cake and eat it to.

  33. ***additional thoughts***

    After my 8-year indoctrination thru parochial school attendance & then looking deeper into RCC history & traditional development during & after my high school days, I ended up with more questions than answers with no help at all offered from a closed doctrinal system…

    The main problem with claiming absolute doctrinal authority is the lack of wiggle-room for those with real doubts & questions. Although this article/thread about RCC faith+practice, this attitude of having the most pristine doctrinal purity is just as prevalent in the Protestant/Evangelical camps as well…

    With all this posturing I do find the RCC attitude much more accommodating though than the other way around. It is a funny thing that the RCC admits there are ‘real’ Christians outside its authority, which I find curious if indeed they alone claim to have all the fullness of truth in faith+practice…

    So, the argument now seems toothless I guess. God can & does reveal Himself to non-Catholics as He does to Catholics. His saving grace apparent in both non-Catholics as well as Catholics. Many non-Catholics as clueless to their particular denominational tenets as many Catholics are. What I am getting at is the ‘emptiness’ of the claims that do not in ‘truth’ cancel out the other or render their arguments null & void…

    God doesn’t seem to be the Grand Respecter of church doctrine+history+tradition as some wish to make Him out to be. He hasn’t put the Holy Kibosh on non-Catholic perspectives in keeping with the claimed absolute authority residing in the Vatican. I think it was this fact that encouraged smaller historical movements apart from the Catholic way of doing things even before the Reformation.

    If I have doubts about the requirement for a male-only priestly class that must remain celibate while they alone have the special power to dispense grace thru the sacraments, is that sufficient to revoke my Catholic standing? Or the Marian doctrines. What if I find them of no importance & actually think them over emphasized? Would it have been better to keep them as a ‘traditional’ acceptance without the official doctrinal declaration that now makes it obligatory belief+practice???

    No respect for the individual to think for themselves? You are told what to believe without question? And there is no room for alternate viewpoints as the ‘official’ position has already been declared as absolute truth with its associated Imprimatur???

    And what about differing viewpoints about divorce, abortion, birth control, homosexuality, the death penalty? Political leanings? Observance of feast days, days of obligation, sacramental forms+practices, litany of saints & their merited favor???

    {sigh}

    Too much to winnow thru IMHO. Too much detailed doctrinal scaffolding upholding theological conclusions to get tangled up in. Too much ‘stuff’ getting in the way of what was simply credited to Father Abraham. Was faith+practice & the proclamation of the good news ever meant to be so complicated???

    • Joseph, a few of your mentions:
      Male only priests: Church does not have the authority to alter that. Celibacy is a discipline and alterable.
      Jesus dispenses grace of the sacraments through the appropriate minister.
      Marian dogmas are essentials for Catholics but doctrines develop and private devotions, even the Rosary, are personal, private devotions and you can ignore them.
      “No respect for the individual to think for themselves?” Don’t tell the Jesuits or Dominicans that. They fight like cats and dogs sometimes. There’s lots of places for disagreement, discussion and difference of opinion.
      Other issues you mention, some yes, some no, some maybe.
      That’s the problem with people who went to Catholic school.
      Simple Faith of Father Abraham? There were 613 Laws. Some things in life are simple but not easy.

      • Abraham’s faith preceded the Mosaic Law by how many years/decades/centuries? his belief credited to him as righteousness. no one found righteous by observing the Mosaic Law…

        the 613 rules (the Mishnah?) were what Jesus spoke out against since they distorted the intent of the Law, if not nullifying it altogether in specific cases…

        yes, those that have been raised in the RCC tradition can ‘see’ the inconsistencies much clearer than an outside observer…

        thanx for the exchange…

  34. OK, Martha, my newest top thing I hate about the Catholic Church is those giant puppets. Creepy. Was this for Halloween?

    Aside from that, I think there’s an over-emphasis on Mary, which concerns me but doesn’t quite offend me personally–although I’ve heard enough to think that it may offend God if taken too far.

    What offends me is closed communion (mass, eucharist, Lord’s Supper). This was really offensive (and in bad taste) when I was at a funeral and the priest made it clear–crystal clear–that non-Catholics were not welcome to receive it.

    It was at the church up the street from our Baptist church, and my offense was made even more righteously indignant by my already-established dislike (and I dislike very few people, really) for that particular priest. I mean, he just wasn’t a nice guy. I like to think that their current priest, a Boston-Irishman, would be more tactful. I like him. Maybe because he’s Irish.

    By the way, I’m still waiting for that blogpost on transubstantiation. I’ve slowly been reading Tom Howard’s Evangelical is not Enough (HUG turned me on to that) and he (Howard, not HUG) makes a bit of sense with that interpretation of the Lord’s Supper (communion, mass, eucharist, whatever). I rather like it without quite having bought it (the argument for transubstantiation, not the book. I bought the book).

    I do think that our Baptist form (remembrance only) is not enough (as Howard’s book title suggests). We make a solemn formality about something that we don’t quite “get”. Or at least I don’t get, and I’ve studied it, even back to the Jewish seder. With our communion I think we make much ado about nothing if we don’t take it more seriously than remembrance.

    “I am the bread of life,” Jesus said in John 6, the same chapter where he feeds the 5000 and talks about manna in the wilderness. So is the eucharist (we Baptists don’t like to say eucharist; it’s a Catholic thing) only a reminder? Nothing more than that, or we might as well swim over to Rome?

    Dunno.

    • I have heard that Baptists also have closed communion albeit for a different reason. Is this only a southern Baptist thing?

      Yes, some priests are terrible at funerals. Just not people -persons (then why be a man of the cloth? ) My own pastor has come a long way from when he joined us six years ago – man, the complaints I heard about. That did an about face when his father died last year, for the better (much better).

      • We’re an American Baptist church. Our pastor invites all believers, regardless of church affiliation, to take communion (and he intentionally says “believers” even though many small children will be seen taking communion; it’s up to the parents to decide).

        I don’t know if open communion is an ABC thing or not. It other churches I’ve been to (various denominations) the pastor might say something like, “Come not because you must but because you may,” and with no prohibition for any reason.

        I think Chaplain Mike once said that the Luthern Church, Missouri Synod, wouldn’t work for him because closed communion would be a deal-breaker. Somebody correct me if I’m wrong.

        • I attended a Missouri Synod Lutheran Church for a short time, and they are careful to point out that communion is closed. My distinct impression was that I would need to join the LCMS, and that joining the LCMS meant understanding and affirming all LCMS doctrine. At that time, I did not feel I could say that about their views of gender or creationism.

          I did try to feel out a second LCMS individual when I happened to be visiting Concordia Seminary for research & I got the same vibe, although I didn’t ask about communion specifically.

    • Those big puppet heads were at a Called To Action Heretical Assembly. They are famous for that kind of stuff, along with the Los Angeles Archdiocese Religious Education conference. Both really bad IMNSHO.
      Communion in the Catholic Church is open to Catholics and Orthodox. This is not to exclude anybody but to protect the Body and Blood of Christ and to protect people from receiving unworthily and bringing judgment on themselves (1 Cor 11:29)

  35. What the heck are you talking about? If you cant summarize it in a preparatory paragraph of about 25 words — no one will be able to follow you — like me.

  36. I tell my Catholic friends that if I accepted thier pre-suppositons regarding the authority of tradition, I would wave to the Bishop of Rome as I sail on past Rome on my way to our Orthodox friends in Antioch and Jerusalem…..

  37. The mass with the really bad dancing and the huge puppets! I would have run screaming out of the building. In fact someone would have had to call an exorcist.

    Do Catholics really believe this is a legitamate mass????

    • Well, the Consecration is all that really makes or breaks the validity. Wymynprysts are incapable of confecting the Eucharist, and one has to wonder about the priest who loathes his duty to perform “cracker worship”, but, as truly awful and horrible as it is, there may be valid Consecrations of the Eucharist amidst the dancing twits and giant puppets.

      • I’ve seen that particular vid and I question if it was valid, certainly not licit consecration. Everybody was around the altar consecrating with the priest as I recall.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      That’s gotta be one of the “Spirit of Vatican II” Clown Masses from the late Sixties or the Seventies, before things had shaken down.

      Besides the Giant Puppets (cue “Happy Days are Here Again” from Soupy Sales’ opening credits), there’s the Standard Female Liturgical Dancer making the Standard Liturgical Dance Moves.

  38. I would sing, but ugh! “Gather Us In”? “Here I am Lord”? How about another melody rejected by Broadway, which was then re-purposed for the church choir? Extra points if it is also heretical, double extra if it uses gender neutral language or first person for God. How about we patronize the one Hispanic family in the entire white-bread, suburban parish (who are 4th generation and don’t even know Spanish) with a Spanish song to faux Mexican melody? Perhaps we can steal say, Land of Rest from the Southern Protestants, and change the words around so it’s used during the climax of Eucharistic worship. Surely that will energize the congregation!

    Actually, I do sing, excepting outright heretical material, and with confidence. I take it as a penance that I must endure such awful claptrap, empathizing with our Lord, who also must hear this banal cacophony.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      For edification of the massmind, “Gather Us In” is a notorious lightweight entrance hymn that was popular a few years ago. Lost the URL long ago, but there was some sort of blog or website for novelty-song parodies of it.

      And don’t you dare do “Spanish song to a faux Mexican melody” — that’s what all the local “thump-truck” sound systems blast out at 200 decibels! Cheezy Mexican pop music, and you can hear it from blocks away!

  39. Gail Finke says:

    Ha ha, this is hilarious and so true! Someone posted this on his facebook page and I will recommend it to others, you are a very funny writer.