Thursday, August 09, 2012

Responding to a Zealot

The following comment by "Ex Jebbie" was recently posted on the website of The Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, NY) in response to Ben Anderson's August 8 commentary "Progressive Catholicism No Match for Authentic Teachings." (Thanks to my friend Laura for bringing Ex Jebbie's response to my attention.)

Plenty of studies have shown that the Catholic Church has lost membership because of its policies toward women, its misogynistic hierarchy and its almost total irrelevance to the ideas, issues and intelligence of the 21st Century.

Mr. Anderson is a zealot who cares nothing for the essential teachings of Christianity (upon which Catholicism is based, not the other way around) which are love, forgiveness, tolerance, generosity and humility. Mr. Anderson’s version embraces repression, contempt, intolerance, oppression, and a rigid allegiance to a fascist authority structure. Jesus NEVER taught any of those ideas. That junk is the creation of men who exploited the power and influence of the Church for personal enrichment. Even the most cursory examination of the behavior of the institution down through history – the Holy Roman Empire, the greedy, genocidal exploitation of the Southern Hemisphere, and its absurd subjugation of women – is more than enough evidence to condemn it.

The “Church” Mr. Anderson believes in is the decomposing corpus of this corrupt enterprise. If folks have left the faith it is because of Rome’s commitment to keeping its wealth, power and influence. As Mr. Anderson’s essay makes so evident – by its failure to even mention Jesus - the “Church” is about blind obedience to its man-made rules for the advancement of men not the values of Christ.

A final point: Faith, by definition, is the belief in something that cannot be proven. To make the claim that faith is compatible with any concept of “objective truth” is illogical and absurd. If one makes one’s faith factual then it is no longer faith but fact . . . and you’d better be prepared to prove it.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Quote of the Day – July 24, 2012
What It Means to Be Catholic
Authentic Catholicism: The Antidote to Clericalism
Daniel Maguire on the Progressive Core of Catholicism
Our Progressive Catholic Youth
"I Love the Radical Catholic Church"
Mary Hunt: "Catholicism is a Very Complex Reality"
Beyond Papalism
Rome Falling


Phil said...

I must admit that I find intellectual combat quite entertaining, and will now demonstrate that by joining in.

What if all this energy being invested by so many in ideological arm wrestling was redirected in to service to those who have bigger problems than ideology?

Wouldn't that be Christianity too?

This too is an ideological argument of course. By making this statement, I'm playing the game. Like everybody else, I'm looking for an edge that will position me above somebody else.

It's fun being human, as ridiculous as it often is...

Michael J. Bayly said...

Good questions, Phil. And what about the link between different ideologies and people's degree of service to others? Do some ideologies inspire us more than others to service? Or maybe to different kinds of service?

I have no ready answers, but am glad I can ponder and discuss the questions!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and questions, Phil.



Phil said...

Hi Mike,

Well, let's see...

It seems true Christianity has called many to both service and ideology.

Speaking only for myself, the call to service seems a call to my better side, while the call to ideology is more an appeal to my, um, not so better side.

Perhaps it's not ideology that's to blame, but our own tendency to take it, and ourselves, way too seriously. If only we took service to others that seriously, eh?

Oh well, as always and forever, we're all a work in progress.

jamez said...

Since I reached the article in question. I thought it opportune to contribute my response here if only to show my appreciation for your extensive efforts toward our "progressive" journey of faith.

The Maginot lines we draw between Progressive Catholics and "Authentic" i.e. Traditional Catholics do the unity of the Church no good whatsoever. All are Authentic Catholics. We cannot know what the future will bring. St. Thomas Aquinas, Theresa of Avilla, John of the Cross, Erasmus, Thomas More, Jean-Baptiste Henri Lacordaire, Leo XIII, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Dorothy Day,Yves Congar and Thomas Merton were all considered “progressive” Catholics in their day. Many were considered heretics and some still are considered as such. Yet they have all contributed immeasurably to the deposit of the Faith. It is not helpful in our collective journey of faith toward the fullness of truth to vilify each other and tear each other apart. John the XXIII put it well when he said: “We feel we must disagree with those prophets of gloom, who are always forecasting disaster, as though the end of the world were at hand... The Church has always opposed errors. Frequently She has condemned them with the greatest severity. Nowadays however, the Spouse of Christ prefers to make use of the medicine of mercy rather than that of severity. She considers that She meets the needs of the present day by demonstrating the validity of Her teaching rather than by condemnations..." The real challenge here is to “demonstrate the validity” part of the Good Popes Exhortation. I sometimes sense that we are so busy shoring up our partisan trenches that we become neglectful in living the validity of Her teachings…

jamez said...

After a lengthy exchange stemming from the post I shared here, Mr. Anderson never really responded to the substance of my concern or the substance of anything I replied back but rather took snippets out of context from what I wrote and pointed out their various flaws. His conclusion was that I have placed myself outide of the Church and that I should have the courage to admit it - sort of like a spiritual form of internet assisted suicide. What kind of Gospel is that to profess?

In my final response, I stated that
if all there was to Catholicism was a defined set of beliefs, then perhaps you are correct although it would be profoundly presumptuous for you to declare anything about the status of my faith or anyone elses. We are talking about our relationship with THE LIVING GOD! - infinitely more than some list of dogmatic propositions. Whether I agree with EVERYTHING the Church teaches doesn't make me Love and cleave to Her any less. I will pray for you that you my find a more uplifting route toward sharing the Profound Gospel that you profess. I will end our exchange here - Gods Blessing and Peace to you...

He just continued as if he never heard a word I said... This, is Authentic Catholicism? Really!?