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I Presume Too Much

(With Corrections)

My apologies. Apparently I needed to publish Cliff’s Notes for my previous item called Dr.Livingston. I have been kindly taken aside and asked, “Are you on something? Or is this just flashbacks from the 70’s?”
I really had a lot to say, and it might be worth looking at if you like the idea of getting lost in a jungle, when you don’t have more than half an hour to spare.
Obviously, I have a disposition against the entire Pro-Choice movement. My reasons may be different than most people’s. I really felt I needed to bring in the colorful singing primates from Southeast Asia to make my point, but I see that I should really have stuck with the prayer breakfast, mentioned why ‘Catholics Come Home’ is such a great idea, but also why some of them may not have come home.

Now, the purpose of that interesting prayer breakfast held yesterday at Saint Victor’s Parish in Calumet City, Illinois, was not to ty to understand why the Catholics have left the Church. No doubt the Church has looked at this over and over, and they don’t need me to explain it to them. The purpose, in part was to help open the door to some venues, new and old for reaching out to lost Catholics. Bishop Perry presented the thoughts really well, as he always does.

However, I found myself pondering, “Why did so many Catholics stop attending? It’s a question you must ask yourself if you plan to be part of the outreach because you will have to deal with the question with each and every person you talk to.  Before Vatican II the reason was usually, ‘death’.  Since then, the reasons vary from anger at nun-slappage, anger at the changes in the liturgy, all the way through more serious issues.  However,  except for death, I don’t think those are the real primary reasons that keep people away.

I looked at my own journey. I left the Church and entered Pentecostal, Full Gospel, and Holiness Churches because I wanted to be fed. I wanted to hear the power of the word of God, I wanted to hear it broken apart. I wanted to eat it and learn, and I wasn’t getting that in the Church. My complaint in my previous writing seems to indicate that I feel that the Church is leaning too far left. I do not feel that the doctrine of the Catholic Church, or the Catholic Church’s message at large is too far left, by any means.
I do, however, feel that individual priests and deacons frequently take opportunity to push a political agenda. It’s an agenda that assumes the shape of our current political impasse in the country: On the one hand we have the rights of the unborn and the elderly and the individual, on the other hand we have the social justice message, the need for society to intervene, to control guns, to control money, to control the distribution of goods, to be the helper of the poor! (Thank God many of us know that government dole initiatives have many many stopping points before any money or aid ever arrives at the hands and homes of those genuinely in need, and when you have endorsed the government for this task you have admitted the complete failure of your own Church to do what God has ordained it to do. Stow the inveigled political talk. Give me the scripture if you can.)

You see, if anyone thinks that Caesar is going to be the good and fair distributor of your Christian ( or Jewish or Muslim or Buddhist or Hindu) kindness, that anyone is an idiot. The closest we might have come to our government being involved in doing that was President Bush’s Faith Based Initiative, and the current group in power has more secular ideas. I will honestly say, as I did previously that I often grit my teeth at the tisk- tisking and stay for the Eucharist:
In fairness,
You cannot say as a Church, “Well we need to dance to the tune of the people on the right, because we are losing them,” or “we need to serve those on the left.” The church is not a fast food chain discussing its menu at board meetings. However, I was, when I left the Church, and still am after I have come back, hungry for the scripture, hungry for the discussion of scripture, hungry for talking through the Word of God. I was correct in saying that not all Catholics who have left the Church are sitting in a bar somewhere, or off bowling. Some have indeed gone to where they can hear an exegesis of the word, an uplifting on how God’s word can live through you, instead of an “Oh so Wise “ explanation of how I may be too simple to understand that ‘George Bush’s War’ is also not ‘Pro-Life’. (Catholics aren’t idiots.), or worse, I have to sit through ad-nauseum tongue-in-cheek endorsements of the new health care plan, because it ‘really is the way to look after the poor and disenfranchised’. We hear this from people who have never worked for the government. As a brief aside: a faith based ‘health care initiative’ might have been a good alternative idea.

Let me give you a slightly rotated view of this: Catholics have the Eucharist. It is Jesus. We have the sacraments. That’s where we’ve got many of the other Churches beat. However, the Protestants have the Word of God, and they still do a far better job at opening it up and breaking it like bread and distributing it than the Catholic Churches, and that’s forty some years after Vatican II.
Catholics in the United States are no longer uneducated masses who need to be talked down to. They live in a knowledge age, they access the Internet, their jobs are often specialty jobs that require training on technical equipment. This is why, when a Catholic enters a Protestant Church and hears the tearing apart of the scripture that was just read as the reading, the lights suddenly go on. As long as Catholics feel they are being fed pabulum, being talked down to, and as long as they are told in nuance (‘Oh we’re too stupid to really realize that this is a veiled political message’ ) that the social justice aspect of Christianity is just so here, present and good, and those of us who are bitter and stick in the mud need to accept it.
I heard a deacon say, “I thank God daily for Barack Obama’s stimulus.” I bit down on the Eucharist and chewed so hard, poor Jesus ended up in my stomach without a moment of lingering. See, I’m getting mad all over again.

I suppose I could ask my Protestant Friend to tape his pastor’s sermon on the scripture, so I could quietly click it on and listen to it in Church when Deacon Free-form starts to talk.

Next time we’ll re-visit the primates, the painted gibbons, and think about the survival of the species.

copyright 2010 by Juan Zapatero


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