Thursday, August 5, 2010

Becoming Catholic for Reasons, Leaving Because of Feelings

"A Deeper Look at the Many Evangelicals Turning Catholic"
Matthew Warner, blog, National Catholic Register (August 05, 2010)

"Is there a growing trend of Evangelicals converting to Catholicism? Many think so, including this recent article:

"[There is a large] community of young believers whose frustration with the lack of authority, structure, and intellectualism in many evangelical churches is leading them in great numbers to the Roman Catholic Church. This trend of 'Crossing the Tiber' (a phrase that also served as the title of Stephen K. Ray's 1997 book on the phenomenon), has been growing steadily for decades, but with the help of a solid foundation of literature, exemplar converts from previous generations, burgeoning traditional and new media outlets, and the coming of age of Millennial evangelicals, it is seeing its pace quicken dramatically...."
Okay, it should be "Including the author of this recent article:" Since articles don't write themselves. Like it says in my profile, I'm a recovering English teacher.

Those opening paragraphs caught my eye: particularly since I'm a convert to Catholicism. My parents weren't Evangelicals: the family belonged to a nice, normal mainstream Protestant church.

I didn't convert away from the church I was raised in. I converted to the Catholic Church. And I had solid, well-thought-out reasons for doing so.

Which leads me back to Matthew Warner's post:
"...I've long noticed, as have many others, a kind of trend as well. It's not so much from 'Evangelicals' converting to Catholicism necessarily. It's that of intellectuals converting to Catholicism. And that's not to say these intellectuals were strictly intellectual. But I mean it to say that they took their reasons for believing very seriously. We only have to look back a few generations to find Chesterton, Merton, Newman, etc. as part of the same trend.

"In my own experience, I've seen that more people who convert to Catholicism do so on account of their reason. Whereas those that leave the Church do so based on some emotion or negative experience associated with the Church.

"When I ask an evangelical why they left the Church. The answer is almost always an emotion. Something made them feel a certain way. Or they just didn't like the way something was done in Catholicism. Or it didn't suit their lifestyle. Or some other experience made them feel nice...."
(Matthew Warner)

Me? An Intellectual?!

Princton's WordNet says that an intellectual is "a person who uses the mind creatively." I suppose I'm an intellectual, by that definition. Which is an odd idea.

I don't think of myself as and "intellectual." I think that's largely because of my own experiences, growing up in a college town a half-century back. Things may have changed, but in my 'good old days, the self-described "intellectuals" I encountered adhered to a weird set of assumptions and cognitive blinders. I simply couldn't warp the reality I perceived to fit things that the "intellectuals" insisted were so.

'Religion is for the weak-minded,' for example, is an assumption that didn't make sense, given what I knew about Gregor Mendel.

I've written about why I became a Catholic before. The bottom line is that what I believe has to make sense. I can't 'be religious,' if that means believing something just because I feel good when I imagine it. My faith has to be something that works, whether my emotions are engaged or not.

Now that I'm Catholic I will not, God willing, change my mind. And that's another topic.

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Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

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