This is gonna be mostly Catholic stuff, so if you’re not into that, go read some old Dilbert strips or something. I have had this post rolling around my head since ash wednesday and though i try not to have theological posts i needed to get this written down, as rambling as it is.
I was never a big CS Lewis fan, because I recognize the type. I don’t know if I was precocious or what, but early on I understood that someone so vocal, so vehement about proclaiming their beliefs was not trying to convince others, but themselves.
It’s the most common, I find, among the most evangelical Christians; they also tend to be great readers of the bible. The reason for this is clear, they pore through each passage looking for bits and pieces to support their assertion that they are the one true proper followers of Christ. As though John Smyth or Charles Parham were the real founders of Christianity and not- frankly- Jesus Christ. The argument can be made that there isn’t a clear lineage of church heirarchy through the ages; the early church had some troubled times, no different than it does now. The problem with this argument is that the church is not the heirarchy; it is the people. And there is a clear and unbroken line of CATHOLICS from then to now. Oh, when Jesus was here, they didn’t call them Catholics, it wasn’t until a couple hundred years after that the greek/latin words καθολικός/Catholicus were brought to common usage, and when they were, they proclaimed the meaning of the word: Universal. The Catholic Church was the Universal church, and it was all of Christianity until the various schisms.
All of which were in response to actions of the clergy. Rule one, is, the Clergy are NOT the Catholic church. Catholics are. When each schism occurred, it was as a result of something the clergy did or was doing that pissed off some other people who decided that their way would be The One Real Way. After the east-west schism most of those schisms were purely ego driven. Unfortunately the egos of the players always took precidence over the theology, and each schism modified the theology and the dogma to suit it’s own purposes. Gloassalalia, sola scriptura, the whole bloody John 3:16 thing et al are all examples; who wouldn’t want to be a protestant? All you have to do is accept Jesus as your personal savior and you can avoid all that other nonsense!! Well, the new churches had to have some kind of a draw to get people in the pews and dropping money in the collection basket.
Meanwhile, Christians just kept on being Christians. Not much will stop them, and not much will change them. See, Christianity is a behavior, it isn’t a sect. For my part, it’s easiest to stick with the oldest and most traditional branch of that particular tree. No doubt there are pentecostals somewhere that are far better Christians than I will ever be, but that is not because I am a Catholic, nor because they are pentecostal. The moment someone starts sniping at me about all the wrong the Catholic Church has supposedly done and how their particular “belief” is the only one, well, all I can do is pray for them, because I know they have substituted belief for faith, which is a pretty poor trade indeed. I pray that they develop some faith of their own. You can always tell someone who has it, they have no persistent urgent need to tell you yours is wrong.
It used to bother me because I could see these people were destined to fall into some bad shit, but I can’t be responsible for them, no matter how much I want to; NOBODY needs to belong to the Church of Og. I can pray for them to move into the light, I can help them when they fall, but I can’t fix their souls and I don’t try. Pascal reminds me The Lord asks us to persevere, and that’s true, but The Lord also says if people ignore your message, shake their dust from your sandals, and persevere in prayer. In the meantime, all Christians are my brothers, and I can tell which ones are Christian by their behavior. Some fall of the path, or start to wander into the “That Catholic shit is all wrong” category, and I will try to put their feet back on the path, but no matter how much I may love them and pray for them, they insist on their ignorance. And that’s fine. Shake, shake.
Eric Hoffer talks about a “Fact proof screen”. This is the sort of thing that is endemic of people of belief, but doesn’t exist in people of faith. A lot of people make a lot of assumptions about who I am and what I think, and they are invariably incorrect. I stopped trying to change that. if you’re determined to believe that i think something, that’s your problem, and not mine. If you’re my friend, and you’re interested, you might try asking me. And then trusting that what I tell you is the truth, because I have no agenda that requires me to lie.
I have no idea how I managed to live this long. By rights, I probably should be dead already, all the shit that I have done or had happen to me. I am tickled shitless every day I wake up. Having arrived at this age has cost some things, but it has given me some perspective and maybe even a little wisdom, as hard earned as it has been. Part of that wisdom has taught me not to argue with people I don’t know, no matter how wrong- or stupid- they are. The internet makes this hard, but I have to do it for the sake of my own blood pressure. Also, I want to enjoy the time I have left. The worst used to be the people who did (and still do!) equate Faith with a lack of understanding of science, (Morons, in other words) or morality with a lack of compassion (Also, morons) or mores with “Intolerance”. (The worst kind of morons). I used to get truly upset with these people and I finally realized I cannot change them, they exist only to shout down anyone who disagrees with them, they have zero interest in discussion, they have no intention of changing their belief, and they are only capable of shouting “Racist” or “Denier” or “Homophobe” or whatever epthet that makes their feeble point. it is not possible to do battle with anyone on those battlegrounds, for they have made the rules, hold all the cards, and have all the advantage.
Don’t play this game. Don’t enter naked into the field of battle where your opponent makes all the rules and has all the weapons, because no matter how correct you are and how wrong they are, they will consider themselves to have the moral high ground and they will count it as a win. And this goes for political as well as theological discussions. All reasoning people should stop this, I feel, because once these morons found themselves alone on the ludicrous battlefields of their own creation without an enemy to shout down, the ridiculousness of their position would begin to show itself. It would be as if we stopped burying people in the US; the Westboro baptists would have nothing else to do anymore.
So I concentrate my efforts where they can do some good. And I keep my friends close. And when some idiot starts mouthing off at me I just click the “Ignore” button (Personally AND professionally) and pray for them, and move on. There isn’t much else I can do.