Friday, April 28, 2006

Badong Debating Tactics Among Other Things

Us Catholics can be particularly vicious when it comes to debating - if only because we have so many more needles we can stick at our opponents. The method I particularly abhor (and call me self-interested) is the tack that radical traditionalists take against fellow Catholics who attend the Mass of the Roman Rite. This first involves establishing the fact that the opponent regularly attends the Mass of the Roman Rite, which allows them to cast aspersions on such a person's understanding of Church teaching/understand on the grounds that they attend the Mass of the Roman Rite (afterall, what person who truly understands Church teaching/tradition would content themselves with attending such a Mass?), and from there make a shaky connection. E.G. If they have a tenuous grasp on what the Church teaches, they must therefore be verging on heresy, no? Exunt sir messenger with gunwound. This is a handy dodge, but not conducive to a pursuit of truth or charity.

Among other problems, it's but a hop and a skip from implying someone might be heretical to implying that the other's state of soul is likewise questionable (because if their understanding is weak, they may have committed all sorts of sins! and who knows what they tell their children! or friends!), and under that guise abusive things may be said because afterall: 'I'm just concerned about their soul!' (Or as Erik says: I'll pray for you!) The intent may be good, or the person might think the intent is good - but somewhere between the idea of love and the practice of love, something goes radically awry.

Frankly, I find it amusing when these tactics are used against me 'cause I know they are essentially flawed. Going to the Mass of the Roman Rite does not necessarily entail a faulty understanding of Church tradition/teaching. And any analogy that might be drawn between say, an Atheist trying to explain Catholicism and a Novus Ordinarian trying to explain Catholicism, is fundamentally flawed as well - the analogy presupposes that people who attend the Mass of the Roman Rite (and explicate on what the Church teaches) are outside the Church in a very real way - which is patently untenable. And anyway, it still ignores the message. So don't do this.

I've been reading "The Heart of the Matter" by Graham Greene, and it seems to accurately describe the lethargy into which many people fall. And quote "He [the priest] began to speak the words of absolution, but the trouble is, Scobie thought, there's nothing to absolve. The words brought no sense of relief because there was nothing to relieve. They were a formula: the Latin words hustled together - a hocus pocus. He went out of the box and knelt down again, and this too was part of a routine. It seemed to him for a moment that God was too accessible. There was no difficulty in approaching Him. Like a popular demagogue He was open to the least of His followers at any hour. Looking up at the cross he thought, He even suffers in public." Without repentance, God cannot relieve us. Scobie (the main character) suffers from a strange mixture of absolute dependence upon the mercy of God while simultaneously entertaining no great love of Him, or fellow man. Instead, all he feels is pity. Curioser and curioser.

P.S. I was so way before y'all with Johari. But I only let people on my buddy list contact me - so ha ! ha ! No Nohari, though - my siblings are like a constant Nohari...thing. They'll tell you all my faults. With glee.

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