Thursday, June 3, 2010

Setting Aside Misrepresentations

On today's Daily Register, there is an interview with Paul McCusker, who is a recent Catholic convert.  McCusker has worked for Focus on the Family for 25 years, most notably on their Adventures in Odyssey series.  The interview focuses on his religious background and conversion.  This section caught my eye.

I attended a C.S. Lewis conference in Austin, Texas. There, I met Peter Kreeft, who was speaking about 10 things to learn about evil from The Lord of the Rings. I spoke to him during a break. There, all of my bigotry about Catholicism came to play. My thought was: Here is an incredibly articulate and intelligent man who became a Catholic while he was attending Calvin College. Why would he do that?

That conversation triggered the question, and I realized at that moment that I needed to put aside all of the cultural Catholics whom I had met, who were misrepresenting Catholicism to me. I also had to put aside all of the misinterpretations of Catholicism that I had learned from Protestants — people who thought they knew what Catholicism was, but didn’t. I had to put both groups aside and simply study what the ancient Church believed and what it didn’t, and let the Church speak for itself. That put me on a five-year gentle journey of study and prayer and talking to priests and others who could articulate the essence of what the Church is.

I thought that really summed up what Candy and so many others believe.  Erik has made a lot of his background as a Catholic, but really, he was a "cultural Catholic."  Candy and the Jack Chick contingent think they know what Catholicism is, but they are wrong, and worse, they are misrepresenting.

Welcome home to Mr. McCusker. 


Moonshadow said...

Man, I know that name, Paul McCusker. I can hear Chris (who changed her Italian-sounding surname!) saying it in her bouncy voice. That takes me back.

Hey, but good for him! How cool.

This doesn't let us off the hook, 'though, just because someone realizes that "Catholicism isn't as bad as Catholics make it seem."

Kelly said...

Maybe instead of trying to get people to realize that Catholicism isn't as bad as Catholics make it seem, we could get more Catholics to act as great as Catholicism is.

Or whatever the reverse would be.

Moonshadow said...

That's what I meant.

Sue Bee said...

Mr. McCusker's conversion was largely because of the liturgy. In it he found depth and meaning (yeah!). But I get the feeling he'd still be Anglican if the Episcopal Church wasn't so messed up.

Rereading Erik's testimony, I think the impetus for him to convert from the RCC to the Baptists was apologetics - he was asked questions he couldn't answer and that made him question the church. I don't know if that makes Erik a cultural catholic or not. There are plenty of people of any Christian stripe who are faithful yet unequipped to defend their church's doctrine.

Just my .02.

Moonshadow said...

Two good points, Sue Bee. It is a shame when anyone leaves one for another for the wrong reasons.

Elena said...

Past posts by Candy about her husband, and things he has said himself in the past indicate that his family was indeed CINO (Catholic in name only.) He felt that once they left church on Sunday there was no relevance to his outside life. All of their religious/spiritual practices were packed into one hour a week at church.

Kelly said...

My impression of Erik is the same as Elena. I remember that he talked about how religion was just something you did for an hour a week.

Regarding McCusker, well, who knows exactly. He was attracted to the Anglican church because of the liturgy, and he would never have considered the Catholic church because of his background. He said that the issues in the Anglican church caused him to start thinking about the issue of authority in the church.

It sounded to me as if he wouldn't have considered becoming Catholic if it weren't for the issues, but not that he was reluctantly going to Rome because he had no other choice. Instead, he began considering things which he had no occasion to consider previously, and he came to side with the doctrine of the Catholic Church.

I'm sure there are plenty of Anglicans who are simply refuges, and it is possible in his case. That wasn't what I got from the interview in his case, however.

Sue Bee said...

Mr. McCusker defines a Cultural Catholic as “Catholics who aren’t Catholic as a matter of faith, but as a matter of family or ethnicity.” Obviously there are Cultural Lutherans and Cultural Baptists etc etc. But is a Cultural Catholic the same as a CINO?

I tend to see them as separate but similar. I think CINOs are those who call themselves Catholic but whose personal beliefs aren’t aligned with what the church teaches. A Cultural Catholic is someone just going through the motions because of family tradition with no real faith development.

Either case is sad and frustrating, and would certainly misrepresent Catholic/Christian faith to those who encounter them.