Friday, January 10, 2003

I posted a variation on this in a comment on Not for Sheep, but then realized I wanted to develop the idea a bit. [Links are not working right at the moment. I've fixed it several ways without success. I will try again later.]

Many Catholics approach the Church with an attitude that “I am Catholic, but I retain free will. Therefore, I will reject what doesn’t suit me or my worldview.” I have certainly been there myself, although I never rejected anything solely because I didn’t like it. I studied the issue, and tried to find out why I didn’t like it, and if there were objections that could be honestly rendered that would put me into an honest kind of dissent.

To some extent, I am still there. I still have problems with some teachings, and no doubt always will. My efforts to dissent in a legitimate, honest way also have grown. I find the least dissenting manner to construe my disagreements, and I am very, very much more cautious about how and where I speak about them, as well.

But it is harder and harder to avoid moving more in the direction of the Church, in many ways. An honest look at the substance of many Church teachings leaves one wondering how one came to reject them. To summarize Church teachings on, say, birth control as "don't use it," is rather like describing William Shakespeare as an author. While it may be in an obtuse sort of way, it is completely useless in the sense of telling you anything important. You might, at the end of a lot of study, still come to the conclusion that you don't like Shakespeare, but you might also realize that what you formerly didn't like about Shakespeare was the way in which your sophomore English teacher made Shakespeare boring and inaccessible. Just so with many things about Catholicism that I used to want to reject. (not everything, but many things.) The really hard part comes when, having accepted something as true, you realize you still don't like it.


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