Thursday, June 24, 2010

I Accept Catholic Teachings: Or, Understanding Why I Believe What I Believe

I'm not awed by authority. Part of that's probably from spending my youth in the sixties. Part, I suspect, is because I'm firm-minded. Or stubborn. Or obstinate. Which word fits depends partly on your point of view.

I like to make my own decisions - and really resent someone else trying to do my thinking for me.

So I became a Catholic?!

I've posted about this before. (November 24, 2009, September 19, 2009)

There's been a bit of buzz in the online Catholic community, about people and organizations who claim to be Catholic but seem to be making up their own version of Catholic beliefs. I've posted about this, too - I've put links in the "related posts" below.

Thinking My Way Through to Belief

Before I converted to Catholicism, being the sort of person I was, I had to think my way through what I believed about something before I could really believe it.

Now that I'm a practicing Catholic, being the sort of person I am, I have to think my way through what I believe about something before I can really believe it.

Every human being has free will: I can decide to believe whatever I want. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1730) So can you. A few minutes from now, I could decide to abandon Catholicism and start following Thor. That'd be a daft thing to do: but in principle I could make that choice.

Being a practicing Catholic hasn't taken away my free will: and it certainly hasn't made me a "different person." Not deep down inside.

Being Catholic has Changed Me: But Not By Much

What has changed in me are a few details about the process I go through in evaluating a belief.

These days, when I learn about some detail of the human condition that's new to me - that happens pretty often - I go to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and some other officially-sanctioned resources like the USCCB (since I live in America) and the Holy See.

Knowing What I Believe, and Why I Believe It

While doing my research, I find out what the Church teaches - or where the best minds of the Catholic Church are, in sorting out some new wrinkle in culture and technology. That shows me what I need to believe.

Then I start studying how the Church arrived (or is arriving) at that teaching - and the reasons given for why we're supposed to believe it. After a while, I have a pretty good idea of why I believe what I believe.

For me, that's important. I like to know as much as I can about what I'm committed to.

The Human Brain: Hot Stuff; But Not That Hot

Some things, like the Trinity, I accept as something I simply can't understand.

Like most adult humans, my brain weighs about three pounds - give or take. ("Brain Facts that make you go, 'Hmmmmm'.") I think it's unreasonable to assume that the circuits and programming packed into a few pounds of neurons, glial cells, and whatever else we use to think with, can fully understand everything. Even with the resources of the Internet at my disposal.

God's God and I'm not. I may not like it: but that's a fact.

Related posts:


Elizabeth Mahlou said...

Interesting post. I know others who have also thought their way to belief. I thought my way out of it, then God reached down, conked me on the head, and brought me into it. We apparently each have our own paths to God; He just makes sure we find them.

Brian, aka Aluwir, aka Norski said...

Elizabeth Mahlou,

It's been a bit of both for me, actually. But I'm the sort of person who has to think through those "conks on the head."

What amazes me is how many different kinds of people God's made. The variety is dazzling.

Angela said...

Cool post. My friends who convert or are on the way to conversion seem to be awed at the Catholic Church's emphasis on using intellect in partnership with things of "the heart".

Brian, aka Aluwir, aka Norski said...



Mind and heart, in the Western senses of the words, are important. I've noticed that words like "balance" and "moderation" show up a lot in the Catholic documents I read.

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Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.