Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Being Catholic - and Christian - and American

I'm a practicing Catholic. I converted to Catholicism as an adult, but I've been a Christian as far back as I can remember: at least in the sense that I believe "Jesus is the Christ." (Princeton's WordNet) And, more to the point, since James 2:19 hints - at least - that just 'believing' isn't enough: I've followed my Lord as best I can.

I didn't stop being a Christian when I became a Catholic: although I'm pretty sure that some of the "death cookie" folks would think so.

I'm also an American citizen. That hasn't changed, either.

America: Love It and Change It

I like living in America. I'd rather live here, than anywhere else in the world.

I hope that most folks feel that way about the country they live in.

I also hope that most folks aren't entirely satisfied with the status quo - and want to improve their homes. Which, although I like living here, is my attitude toward being an American.

I like this country: but I know that it isn't perfect.

I've even thought, seriously, about pulling up stakes and moving out. Very seriously, a few times, starting in the late '60s and early '70s. After taking a hard look at the alternatives: I decided to stay. Here, I understand the language, the culture, and have opportunities that most places don't offer.

It made sense to stay, and try to improve the situation. Not that one person in a nation of around 300,000,000 can do a whole lot. I like the analogy to water. One drop of water can't do much. Put a lot of drops, moving in the same direction: and you've got a river, or a waterfall. Or a flood.

And that's another topic. Topics.


In the context of this post, an American is "a native or inhabitant of the United States." (Princeton's WordNet) I don't, for a variety of reasons, like the word "native." More topics.

Depending on who you listen to, "American" can mean quite a few things, including:
  • Someone whose ancestors came over on the Mayflower
    • Or met those refugees when they landed
  • A member of the
    • Republican party
    • Democratic party
    • 'Right' country club
I'll settle for the 'dictionary' definition.


Say "Christian," and folks can assume that you mean - quite a few different things. Over the decades, I've run into many assumptions, informed and otherwise. Including the idea that a "Christian" is:
Since I'm a practicing Catholic, living in America, using that "what-is-a-Christian" list makes me a person who follows Jesus and an 'American whatever.' Sound confusing? I'm not surprised.


I've explained why I became a Catholic before. What being Catholic means is discussed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. You'll learn more at the Holy See's website: www.vatican.va.

Like "American," and "Christian," "Catholic" can mean quite a few things. Some assumptions about Catholicism are accurate, some are - not so much. In this country, I don't think it helps that some folks get us mixed up with the crazier Protestant outfits. And that's yet again another topic.

Me? I'm a Catholic because this is the closest I can get to my Lord, and the Last Supper. And Golgotha. In a way. (Matthew 16:18; Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1326, 1330, 1545) (and, in this blog, June 15, 2011, August 18, 2010)

Somewhat-related posts:


Marriage Course said...

Hello Friends,

Catholics are those Christians who believe that the Pope is the leader of the Church and follow the dictums and dogma of that sect. A Catholic is a Christian, but a Christian isn't necessarily a Roman Catholic. Thanks a lot.

Brian Gill said...

Marriage Course,

I'm familiar with the beliefs and assumptions you expressed.

I agree that "a Christian isn't necessarily a Roman Catholic." I've been a Christian - in the sense of following Jesus the Christ - as long as I can remember. That didn't change when I converted to Catholicism.

I did, however, learn quite a bit about the last two millennia of Christianity.

Brigid said...

I might consider moving to Ireland if the cost of living weren't so high. As it is, I'll stay in my little corner of the Mid-West.

Brian Gill said...


From your description, it sounds like a very nice place. Cost of living would be an issue - and that's tied in, I think, with U.K. politics and economic policies that make the Upper Midwest look quite attractive.

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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.