Sunday, February 12, 2012

Why Am I Still a Catholic?

There's nothing like wafers and wine on a Sunday morning!
All this talk and argument about the birth control thing got me thinking the other day.  There are four big issues on which the Catholic church and I completely disagree with.

1.  Abortion: I'm pro-choice, and apparently as a Catholic I'm supposed to be pro-life, whatever that means anymore.  I guess the Church thinks that abortion is wrong in all cases, even rape, incest, and danger to the mother's life.  Well, the church neatly sidesteps the mother's life issue, by saying that aborting the baby to save her life is simply a "life saving operation," rather than an abortion.  Please.

2.  Birth Control: Personally, I think it's the best thing ever made.  I mean c'mon.  Fucking with zero consequences?  That's pretty amazing in my book.  For couples with a lot of steamy passion in their marriage, but small pocketbooks, birth control is a blessing.  It means they can be intimate without having to worry about creating more little mouths to feed that they can't afford.

3.  Gay Marriage: Why not?  Doesn't it seem a little retarded and hypocritical to tell people that they are free to live their lives however they choose, but in the same breath say that if they're gay they can't be married?  "Well we can't change the definition of marriage, Jack!"  Why not?  The definition of "Republican" has changed over the last 150 years.  Dude on dude action is not my cup of tea, but then again neither is BDSM.  How is it my place to tell someone that he's not allowed to be in a legally recognized relationship with a man he truly loves?

4.  The Nature of God: This is not a political thing, but it's something that could technically get me excommunicated.  I'm a Freemason, and Freemasonry is heavily deistic.  I'm a deist, which most of you know means that I believe God created the universe, its proceses, and it's laws of physics, and that's it.  God does nothing to impact life as we know it.  I mainly believe that because I believe that God loves all his creation equally, and showing favor to some and wrath to others completely contradicts that.  That is a human quality that we've placed on God, a quality that doesn't stick for me.  The Church believes deism to be a heresy.

So considering I disagree with the church on some pretty serious issues (all of which could bar me from partaking in the Eucharist, the last making me eligible for excommunication) why the hell am I still Catholic?  In a way I don't really know, but it has a lot to do with tradition and the fact that I am totally down with the Catholic Intellectual Tradition.

The Church might still be stuck in the Middle Ages in a lot of ways, but anyone who has studied the history of the church would know just how much it has changed over the years, and its precisely because the religion allows for change.  Unlike some religions, that have set dogmas that will never change, Catholicism supports thinkers in developing new ideas and exploring the old ones in greater depth.

And of course we've got sexy Catholic school
girls.  I mean, who doesn't love that?
Also, there is a heavy element of sacrifice and imperfection in the Church.  Why do we sacrifice things during the Lenten season and forgo meat on Fridays?  Why do we place such a heavy emphasis on stewardship and good works?  The idea is that this life means something.  Whereas a lot of Protestant religions view this existence as a mere waiting room, Catholics focus on this life because God wanted us to.  We understand that we are flawed human beings, and through sacrifice and stewardship we can be closer to what God wants us to be.

Catholicism focuses on this life and it sanctity.  So although I can, and probably should be, excommunicated, I still stick around.  It's better than believing that alcohol is evil, and it's certainly better than believing that all you need to do is accept Jesus as your personal savior and your pass to heaven is granted regardless of what you do in this life.


Jersey McJones said...

Hey, I'm an atheist, but I have to admit that I do have a very "Catholic" way of looking at the world around me. It's a cultural affect, I suppose. Besides, like you said, I find the concept of salvation through grace alone spiritually lazy.


Silverfiddle said...

Wow, interesting observation, Jersey. (seriously, I'm not being sarcastic).

Jack; An ectopic pregnancy is one of the few conditions that really can kill the mother, and the fetus really is non-viable, so you shouldn't so glibly toss that out there. It is not a side-step. I suggest you read the applicable Canon Law before tossing stuff like that out there.

I respect your opinions even when the differ from mine, but that was a material mischaracterization of church law.

Other than that, I don't know why you are Catholic either. You should probably declare yourself a non-denominational seeker and drop the pretense. You'd probably be happier.

Jack Camwell said...

I thought I explained why I'm still Catholic. The title is meant to be a rhetorical question.

Here's what I was using as a reference. It's some things from Pope Pius XII from 1951.

Anonymous said...

run as fast and as far from the yoke of catholicism as you can mr. camwell. and please, don't be so quick to dismiss the Gospel's
simplicity. there is a sacrifice
unspoken in john 3-16. we must come to Christ with humility.

and yes; we will still be human and susceptible to temptation but the 'certainty' of God's presence
greatly diminishes our propensity to sin.

to be clear about my politics; know that i'd sleep better if there were fifty of you and fifty jerseys in the senate and the house held 535 silverfiddles; but your morality is compromised by your lack of faith.
you're still compelled by the tide of social relevatism at least re:
abortion. if your pro-choice stance
was reflective of sanger's original
argument it would be a different battlefield but you seem to accept the slaughter of the innocent unborn simply because of the
'inconvenience' they represent.
that's gratuitous sin mr. camwell,
plain and simple.

don't get me wrong here on the
'sanctity' of life. if intruders broach my property and pose a threat to myself or my family the
safety's off and the only thought i have will be "am i fast enough?"
but support for abortion and
sodomy, c'mon mr. camwell; that can't be in your heart...b

Jack Camwell said...

Thank you for your thoughtful response anon.

Catholicism is only a yoke to people who let it be one. I obviously have not let it be a yoke to me, considering I am okay with disagreeing with the church on many issues.

I've written some articles on here about my stance on abortion. Reading the small blurb above has clearly given you the wrong impression.

The only thing I accept is that sometimes we're met with difficult decisions, and sometimes we have no good options. I don't like the idea of abortion anymore than you do.

And as for sodomy, as I said it's not my cup of tea. But I figured out a while ago that just because I don't like something doesn't necessarily mean that it's sinful. If sex for pleasure were sinful, then why did God design human beings to feel the pleasure? Is God just cruel? Mind you, I don't believe that God tests us.

And let's be clear, I'm not a relativist. At all.

Not even a little bit.

The difference between Silver and me is that I don't think I have "certainty" about anything.

Jersey McJones said...

Thanks Silver. It's a fascinating subject, and I was't bashing Protestants. I meant what I said less as a slant on mainline Protestants, who mostly believe that action, proof of belief, is requisite for grace, and more as a critique of modern, American evangelical Protestant thought, which strongly suggests proof of faith is useless as there is no one to prove it to but God, de facto negating all theology.

It bothers me.

I also have a problem with the Protestant Work Ethic, or as I call it, "when the Protestants took the Good out of Good Works." But that's another subject. ;)

If I may support Jack here, lots of Catholics are essentially deists. Just as many Jews - and many Protestants. Heck, lots of Jews are essentially atheists, and yet accepted as Jews among them. Because of the heavy influence on literal belief among many modern Protestants, it is anathema to them that one could claim to be religious and yet not have a very specifically defined sectarian theology. At the same time, however, theology has no meaning, like the Trinity, for them, as all is negated for the sake of salvation through grace alone.

Also, contrary to what some non-Catholics believe, Catholics come in all types and varieties. And the Church, for the most part, accepts that. It is one of the upshots of the terribly misunderstood concept of confession; a spiritually, psychologically, socially beneficent practice, contrary to what modern Protestants think. And of course they would think that, as it fits the faith/saved argument.

It's a fun but looooooooooog conversation.


As for abortion - that stupid, annoying subject - most Catholics never gave it much thought until the mid-1800's, and most Protestants never even talked about it until the past 40 years or so.

It has only a pretend religious pretense, and it's always a shabby argument at that. Following religious thought for the past thousands of recorded years, abortion has most always been considered no one's business except the people immediately effected, starting and first and foremost with the woman - and no, that doesn't include a friggin' zygote, for those busy-body loonies out there.


Silverfiddle said...

So Jersey, did you used to be Catholic? You're pretty well-versed in Christianity...

Here is some food for thought. The Didache, a historical document from around the first century, specifically mentions abortion and prohibits it.

This and other early church documents are not just studied by Catholics. There is some excellent scholarship and commentary on them from sources across the spectrum.

Jack Camwell said...

The good thing about Catholicism is that through scholarship it does not tie itself down to all things ancient. The understanding of the scriptures and theological writings changes over time, and because of scholarship the church is able to reject what it sees as "wrong," or outdated.

Although that's clearly not the case for abortion, I felt compelled to remind you of that as there are many teachings that have, over time, been deemed to be miguided.

I also have to mention that although abortion is considered a sin, it's not unforgivable, and the catechism stresses the idea of mercy. The notion is that there are times where an abortion, although wrong and sinful, is understandable to someone who repents from it.

It's not a blank check, but it figures into the notion that in an imperfect world we are sometimes faced with imperfect choices.

Nate said...

I wanna chime in so bad, but i have to work in 2 hours and there is no way i could say what i wanted to with proper wording and such in just 2 hours time, maybe later tonight ill write what i think.

How ever good writing sir, and i agree with what you say almost 100%

Jack Camwell said...

Thanks Nate. That certainly means a lot coming from you =)

Silverfiddle said...

although abortion is considered a sin, it's not unforgivable

All sins are forgivable!