Sunday, May 23, 2010

Once again I allude to Chesterton as he pointed out in Orthodoxy that criticism of the Church has been contradictory--that it is both excessively prudish and sex-obsessed, and so on.

Once upon a time I was asked a question, or a number of questions rather, about Catholic doctrine. Having given some answers to the best of my ability, I had to respond eventually with "I don't know." The retort to that was "Exactly!" What? Exactly what? Did I get zinged for not having memorized the whole of the Catechism, or for the suspicion that the Church hadn't thought of everything, which was why I couldn't provide some explanation or other?

One of these options might underlie the derisive tone people seem to take when they say "The Church tells you what to think"--unless the problem they have is that they think it is arrogant to believe you can know any truth, and so issuing instructions under such arrogance is folly.

Well, whatever. I can't really say if they have legitimate concerns because the questions and accusations they extend are so badly constructed. The conversation started out civilly with some honest questions about distasteful points of doctrine. For some reason I'm always surprised when there's a "So THERE!" moment and the whole dialog turns. Maybe I shouldn't be; there are plenty of reasons for someone to get upset at having preconceptions challenged without resorting to endemic anti-Catholicism, and it's not that hard for me to drop the diplomatic ball right after the charitable ball smashes my toes.

My favorite-of-the-moment, anyway, I think has to be when people complain that the Church has an answer for everything--as if it were bad that the Church has had time to contemplate so many (to the point of all) moral questions, or that it had the means or inclination to do so. That it would go so far as to develop overarching principles and philosophies that allow it to anticipate moral questions, even (although Rome is more circumspect with this faculty). That it has or would have done either seems no less likely an offense to the people I have talked to than the mere caricature of out of touch rich white sexless men living atop some crimson tower, standing on the obsolete shoulders of historical giants, making patronizing moralistic judgments based on their vague and uneducated impressions of what people used to take seriously in the Dark Ages.

As if someone else's school of thought is superior in that it has more opportunities to invoke Transcendent Mystery as a conversation-stopper, when it simply hasn't had the opportunity or willingness to think more things through to the end.

You know what I think? If you disagree with the Church and the only grounds you have to fall back on are that the Church has answers to your objections, then you just refuse to consider the idea that you can be wrong about something.

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