Sunday, March 25, 2012

Open Eyes and Assumptions

About a week ago, this showed up in a conversation thread:
"If only you'd open your eyes and see again. Blind faith is the curse that leads to human tragedy."
It seemed like a non sequitur, with no obvious connection to the rest of the thread. This was a puzzle of sorts. The thread wasn't about faith, blind or otherwise; or awareness.

I was intrigued enough to follow the comment's 'this is me' link. It led to a fairly ordinary-appearing profile, with no obvious clue as to what that "open your eyes" thing was about.

Then I remembered that the fellow who had started the thread was unequivocally Catholic. And so was I.

Being Catholic in a non-Catholic culture means putting up with folks who 'know' things that just aren't so. The person who wrote "open your eyes" could be an American who is from one of this country's more frightfully earnest subcultures. If that's so, the "curse that leads to human tragedy" lament could have grown out of some all-too-common assumptions.

Ignorance, Superstitions, and Assumptions

Back in 2008, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota, Morris, got his 'fifteen minutes of fame.' He trashed a consecrated Host, a page from the Quran, and a page from some atheist's book. Then he posted a photo of the mess online, with a discussion of the "self-satisfied ignorance" of people who have religious beliefs.

I'll grant that some folks make religion look like a psychiatric condition. Take the colorful lot whose leader says that the American president is the antichrist. for example.

I've said this before. These folks are not, in my considered opinion, typical Christians:

(Reuters photo, via, used w/o permission)

A little closer the cultural mainstream, a former presidential candidate belongs to a church that says the Pope is the Antichrist. (July 17, 2011) And that's another topic.

What the professor and several Protestant outfits have in common is a set of assumptions about 'those Catholics.' Among other things, we're supposed to be ignorant and wallowing in superstition.

'There Goes the Neighborhood?'

If those assumptions were true, Catholics wouldn't be the sort of folks you'd want living in your neighborhood. Particularly since the more enthusiastic 'regular Americans' seem to think we're involved in some kind of foreign plot:
In fairness, though, not everybody who sincerely believes that Catholics are ignorant dupes led by the antichrist are quite that - colorful.

For someone concerned about property values and un-American activities, the question is just how dangerous and depraved 'those Catholics' really are.

A Billion Catholics, and Sparks

I'm pretty sure that some of the world's 1,100,000,000 or so Catholics are ignorant. Some of us probably have superstitious notions. And, sadly, some probably aren't nice people. In a group that big: it'd be surprising if some of us weren't ignorant, superstitious, and not particularly good citizens.

But that's because each of the world's 1,100,000,000 or so living Catholics is a human being:
"For mischief comes not out of the earth, nor does trouble spring out of the ground;2 But man himself begets mischief, as sparks fly upward."
(Job 5:6,7)

'New and Improved,' But Not Very Much

I suspect that today's secular notion that religious folks are ignoramuses is partly a refurbished and secularized version of old-school American anti-Catholicism. That cultural legacy is one reason I don't want the 'good old days' to come back. More topics.

Related posts:


Brigid said...

We do belong to the Word, but I think you meant world: "each of the word's 1,100,000,000 or so"

They Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian Gill said...


Right you are. Oops, fixed, and thanks!

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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.