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Friday, April 11, 2008

TGIF

I've had some interesting e-mail exchanges and comments on my other blog today that have occupied my free time.

Amy is taking me to task here because I deleted one of her comments (however the other one with information about Protestant missions complete with links is still up! I also deleted a post by Kelly and one of my own! Review the commenting guidelines folks!).

I do want to answer this part as it's an interesting question.

While we're thinking about it, why is any Protestant who converted to Catholicism a credible source, but any Catholic who left the church obviously a poorly catechized, 'one foot out the door and the other on a banana peel', lying wreck? Why are conversions TO Rome valid and conversions AWAY FROM Rome not?


Excellent question.

I personally in my experience or in my research have never met a fully catechized Catholic who knew their faith and understood it, but still chose to leave the Catholic church anyway for doctrinal reasons. Which is not to say that they probably don't exist, but I think they are extremely rare. I've never met one or read one. It doesn't take very long to find the depth of someone's Catholic education or lack thereof. Which is also not to say that I am not aware of some very knowlegable Catholics who have left, but at least in MY EXPERIENCE they still wanted to in some way hang on to their Catholicity while objecting to the church's teaching on women priests, the teaching on homosexuality, birth control, etc. A notable convert from Catholicism to Orthodoxy, Rod Dreher, did not convert because of he disagreed with Catholic church teaching but because he was sickened by the Priest/pedophilia scandal. Yet even he wrote:

All this takes a toll. And yet, I kept going back to my catechism, and to the truth that none of this undermines the truth claims of the Catholic Church. The Eucharist is still the Eucharist, no matter how corrupt the clerics may be. That was a lifeline for me -- that, and the comfort and friendship of dear Catholic friends, especially good and decent priests, who, aside from actual victims and their families, were probably suffering more from this scandal than anybody else.


Some of my correspondence today has been with Candy's commenters who left remarks on her Whore of Babylon essay. What I learned from these ladies is that they grew up in minimally Catholic homes and indeed were not well catechized.

The soul longs for knowledge of God. When the Catholic parish or the Catholic school, or the Catholic parents don't do the job well that vacancy doesn't go away, it's merely filled with something else. Evangelical Christian churches are great at learning to fill that empty void.

This is the part where I compliment our Christian Brethren.

I might have mentioned that there is a Christian Church behind my house. My kids go over there for the free lunch twice a month as part of the church's community outreach. They also let us have our block club meetings there and they have a neighborhood carnival every summer. And of course they invite us to come to their service and visit their church.

When my sister left the Catholic Church it was because her local Bible Christian Church welcomed her with open arms, got her involved with their activities and made her feel at home.

Years later my sister reconverted back to her Catholicism, but she bemoaned the loss of lively bible studies, kid activities and fellowship at her local parish.

For some reason as we were going through elusive "Spirit" of Vatican II, gracious good manners and being good social neighbors got blown out the door! I think we all know someone who left because Father so and so said something that caused hurt feelings, or some never got over Sister Mary Allen's admonishments to wipe off muddy boots in the third grade. If there is no family feel in the parish, it doesn't take much to make a young developing Catholic feel alienated and want to leave.

That's something we need to continue to work on in our parishes, but also as individual Catholics, at home, work and even in the blogosphere.

10 comments:

Sal said...

Elena,
here's a super site:
http://enloecatholic.blogspot.com
with not just conversion, but some 'reversion' stories that speak to this interesting question.

There is a post there about the "Trail of Blood", which explains clearly the reasoning of those who claim there have been underground 'Christian' churches since the first centuries.

I can't recommend this site enough!

Sal said...

OOOPS! it's in your links already!
I went there from here!
I'm really not a doofus- I blame the glue fumes from the new carpet.
Yeah, that's it!
Glue fumes...

MamatoOne said...

I have been visiting your site, Elena, since its inception. And I still visit Candy's as well. Going to My Blessed Home is like watching a train wreck, you know? You don't want to see it, you know it's gonna be bad but you just can't help but look.

I am not Catholic. As a matter of fact, I am a Southern Baptist church member, choir member, Sunday School teacher and ladies' ministry leader. I really want to apologize for the likes of Candy, Coffeybean, Amy and all of the other kooks who have blogs such as they have. I know you all know this, but all Protestants are not like them! And yes, Candy, we CAN still be born-again, Bible-believing, Heaven-bound Christians and not agree with you! I say that to her here because I think she protests a little too much on a comment of another blog that she *never* comes here! You know what Shakespeare says about that (me thinks thou dost protest too much!).

I couldn't help but liken Candy's blog to the polygamist sect that was raided this week. The similarities are striking: a leader who presents themselves as all-knowing, almighty and authoritative who leads the sheep to slaughter. Sadly, I feel that so many are being deceived by Candy's blog. It is prophesied that in the last days, there will be deceivers who come as in sheep's clothing but who carry the message of confusion and darkness.

Anyway, I'm not here to be converted or to convert anyone. But I do enjoy coming here to be educated about the Catholic faith, which I know little about given my Deep South upbringing. Keep up the good work. I admire your knowledge, your patience and your wisdom.

Mama to One

motherofmany said...

I really appreciate your willingness to point out the good in the Evangelical churches. In the same manner, the Catholic church is much better at making members aware of the history of the church. What I know of the history of Christianity in general I learned at college and through my own research, as it was not taught in any church I attended. I think the consensus was that the history wasn't as important as the basics necessary to salvation, and I can understand the decision. An historian at heart, I wanted more.

Kelly said...

mamatoone, thank you so much for your encouraging post.

I do want to point out that we discourage comments that are personal criticism, so I would prefer you refer to "kooky" ideas rather than kooky people. Also, while Candy might be authoritative, I'm not sure she's marrying off minors!

Amy, I really appreciate your positive post as well.

If I'm remembering correctly, mamatoone, Amy, and Candy, you all attend Baptist churches (though aren't necessarily members).

I know Baptists churches are very independent of one another, but it's my impression that the Southern Baptists tend to be less conservative than the Independent Bible Fundamentalist churches such as the one Candy attends. Would you all agree with that, or not?

motherofmany said...

In my experience, Independant Fundamental Baptist churches are certainly more conservative. One of the (odd) differences with these churches is the argument about church leadership. I have read many a discourse by IFB pastors as to why they will not join the SBC (Southern Baptist Convention), mostly because they feel it is a type of magesterium. SBC is a group of pastors from Southern Baptist churches who meet to decide matters of application for all SB churches (though the decisions are more directed at missions efforts and cultural challenges rather than doctrinal issues). Many fundamentalists see them as too progressive since they vote to include certain definitions of spiritualism, the emergent church, and prosperity/relevant gospels such as the Purpose Driven series.

IFB churches generally do not think there is any authority over the local church except Christ and therefor do not have leadership groups (hence the term Independant in their name) but they are more likely to see the local pastor as authoritative and the local church as 'his' church, or under his direct supervision and decision making. So in a way, IFB churches are more accountable to the personal authority of the pastor, but he is not under the supervision of any other entity. I don't know if I stated that well or not.

But there are also Baptist churches (the ones without I.F. in their name, and sometimes without Baptist in the name!) who are more puritan and see the local church as authoritative to itself but that the pastor has no special authority over the people beyond what all christians have to one another in regard to rebuking and encouraging. So the term baptist is really another large generalization referring to the practice of believers' baptism as opposed to infant baptism (which is the distinction from the Lutherans and Methodists under another general heading of Protestant).

Nancy Parode said...

Amy,

Your comments are very interesting. I don't know much about I.F.B. churches, and you've helped me understand more about them. I worked with an American Baptist pastor many years ago at a military chapel; do you know how American Baptists fit into this "baptist" picture? He wasn't very forthcoming about his particular beliefs, except for stating that he couldn't do ecumenical activities with Roman Catholics. (That turned out to be a sad thing, as it killed off a thriving nondenominational VBS tradition at our base - we went from 150 kids one year - a real blessing, given our tiny worship community - to zero.)

I hope you don't mind me asking you these questions. I, too, love history, and even took a "history of religion in the U.S." course in college, but there's still a lot for me to learn.

Kelly said...

I have read many a discourse by IFB pastors as to why they will not join the SBC (Southern Baptist Convention), mostly because they feel it is a type of magesterium.

Yes, given the history of the Baptists, I think the whole idea of a group such as the SBC is pretty against their roots, which always stressed independence.

I think I remember mentioning in a discussion with Sallie, several months ago, that in the early colonies, the Baptist states were a refuge for Catholics, because the other states had established religions, but the Baptists supported a true "freedom of religion" though they didn't agree with Catholicism.

motherofmany said...

Nancy,

I do not have a great deal of experience with the American Baptists, but in structure I would say they are closer to the SBC. They have a cooperative establishment, where pastor have summits and conferences just like the SBC. They also hire ministers according to convention rules and the pastor is accountable to the synod if he breaks the covenant he makes at his hiring.

As to the specific doctrines, I am not really sure. Most Protestant churches have very similar sounding faith/mission statements, so the differences can take time to realize.

Nancy Parode said...

Thanks, Amy, it helps to get your perspective. I think that some non-Protestants (is that a word?) like myself tend to forget the differences between denominations unless we personally know people who belong to a particular church or denomination and who feel comfortable sharing info with us. I'm glad you do feel comfortable sharing.