Monday, May 7, 2012

Catholics aren't Calvinists

I still hope to get a post about Caritas in Veritate out today. Or maybe tomorrow. Sections 31 and 32, anyway.

Before I get to that, I think a little clarification might be in order:

Too 'Sensible' to Believe in God

An online discussion thread I was in recently included contributions from fellows who apparently are too sensible to believe in God.

In a way, I see their point.

In a way.

I know about Matthew 7:1-5, don't know where anybody else stands with respect to God, and I've been over judgment and common sense before. Recently. (May 4, 2012)

That said, the way some Christians act: "with friends like these, who needs enemies?"

Catholics are Christians. But that doesn't mean that we're Calvinists or Fundamentalists. Which, for some folks I've run into, means we're not Christians. I stopped trying to reason with zealots a long time ago, and that's another topic.

Be Like Me, or Be Damned?

By the time Calvinism got to 20th century America, its louder supporters had developed a fairly consistent attitude about Jesus, themselves, and everybody else.

This is a gross oversimplification, but 'I'm going to Heaven, everybody who isn't like me is damned' isn't all that far from the message that came across. And still comes across, in the second decade of the 21st century.

I realize that the Westboro Baptist Church of Kansas, for example, isn't necessarily a typical Calvinist church. Still, it's folks like these who affect the perceptions of just about everybody else:

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

What Everybody Knows, That Just Ain't So

Back to that online discussion thread, and the 'sensible' folks. Their questions, accusations, and assumptions, were familiar:
  • Why do
    • Catholics believe everybody who isn't Catholic goes to Hell?
    • Christians hate non-Christians?
  • How can Catholics
    • Believe the Bible?
      • Which
        • Doesn't describe how the universe works
          • As understood by scientists in 2012
        • Was written in a hurry
          • Actually, that's a new one for me
  • The world is just fine the way it is
    • Problems are the fault of Christians
  • God doesn't exist because
    • I don't understand God
    • Christians don't understand God
    • Free will is icky
  • Christians believe in "magic from the sky"
Except for 'the Bible was written in a hurry,' these are assumptions I've run into fairly often. There's some truth to the notion that my Lord is the only way to salvation. But that does not mean that folks who don't agree with me are going to Hell. God is just, God is merciful: and I'm counting on God's mercy, myself.

Then there's the assumption that religious people are superstitious and believe in magic.

Hate, Magic, and Getting a Grip

Here's a very quick, and extremely incomplete, set of links to what the Catholic Church has to say about salvation and magic. And why hating people is a really bad idea. Also my take. But remember: I've got the teaching authority of "some guy with a blog." I don't speak for the Church.

"Success" and Long-Range Planning

I might attract attention, and have 'success' in one sense of the word, if I decided to start a blog called "Religious People are Hateful, Ignorant, and Smell Bad;" or maybe "The Sinful Shame of Satanic Science."

Either way, I think I'd be appealing to some very enthusiastic folks.

A few things have kept me from trying that sort of thing. The biggest obstacle to that sort of success, for me, is my habit of taking long term goals into account.

Here's a sort of 'best case' sequence of events, as I see it, for my career with either of those hypothetical blogs:
  • Skyrocketing viewership
  • Promoting my latest book on
    • Dr. Phil
    • Jerry Springer
    • Jay Leno
      • He's back
  • Building a house with all the latest gadgets
  • Dying
  • Geting some serious face time with my Lord
That looks quite attractive, until I get to the last two points. Particularly the face time with my Lord.

That kind of trouble I don't need, and I've discussed particular judgment, the Last Judgment, and why long-term planning is important, before:

Back to Work

Oh, great. Another 'unscheduled' post.

I've started reviewing my schedule. I simply don't have enough hours in the day to do what I think I should. And that's, good grief, yet another topic. Time to stop.

Right after two of my favorite quotes:
"It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us into trouble. It's the things we know that just ain't so."
(attr. humorists Mark Twain,11 Artemus Ward, Kin Hubbard, and Will Rogers; inventor Charles Kettering; pianist Eubie Blake; baseball player Yogi Berra, Al Gore (once))

"There are not a hundred people in America who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions of people who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church - which is, of course, quite a different thing."
(Bishop Fulton Sheen,12 Foreword to Radio Replies Vol. 1, (1938) page ix, via Wikiquote)
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Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

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.