...are the ones that make the biggest difference

5.10.2005

Catholics are scary

Two anti-Catholic sentiments were issued in the staff meeting today. The first: a man had approached the senior pastor and handed him the information card we stick in every program. It has a space for name & address if you want to be added to the mailing list, a list of small group/activity options and a list for prayer requests. The man was apparently a very nice, outgoing guy that really made an impression on the senior pastor. On the prayer request section of the card, the man had written "pray for us sinners." The church secretary, who was raised Catholic and attended parochial schools until she became a Protestant during college, said under her breath "sounds Catholic to me" with more than a hint of disdain. She repeated it again a minute or so later, again with disdain. Apparently even the use of Catholic-esque language is verboten.

The second was occasioned by the death of a woman in our church over the weekend. She had cancer and was undergoing chemotheraphy, but her death was still a surprise. Her chemo was progressing well and even if it did not take care of her cancer, she was still expected to live for several months. She checked herself into the hospital because the latest round had left her extremely tired. She awoke in the middle of the night and requested a drink of water from the nurse. The nurse returned a few minutes later and found her dead. This woman was a strong woman of faith who left a significant legacy both within this church and in the lives of those around her. There is no doubt that she was welcomed into heaven as a good and faithful servant. Monday night, the church had an informal time of prayer & celebration for this woman's life. The church secretary, with deep suspiction, asked "what exactly were you praying for?" They said it was prayers of thanks for her life, for a quick and quiet death, for her legacy, prayers for the salvation of her family and for the upcoming funeral. The secretary said "I was just wondering because the Catholics would be trying to pray her into heaven", with sarcasm and vitriol echoing in her words.

Today, both of these anti-Catholic statements came from the same person, but this is unfortunately par for the course here and frequently come from a variety of sources. And frankly, I'm damn sick of it. I'm sick of the judgmental arrogance that assumes Catholics are just a bunch of delusional idiots who are going straight to hell. I'm sick of the lack of historical understanding that a whole lot of what Protestants, particularly evangelicals, believe is not even close to what the early church accepted or practiced. I'm thankful to be leaving.

3 comments:

Mike said...

Nathan:

I understand your unhappiness but, frankly, you don't seem to be much different from the anti-Catholic woman. She is scornful and derisive towards Catholics; you are little different toward Evangelicals.

We all are screwed up. You're not going to find it much different anywhere else; more importantly, you may have a beam in your own eye. You're going to take your issues and attitudes with you. As we all do.

The woman needed to be confronted and rebuked in a loving and (hopefully) restorative manner. Apparently no one - including you - did that. So where's the problem? Who's responsible? Answer: it's here and it's us.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to go deal with some of my own issues.

"Faithful are the wounds of a friend . . ."

Nathan said...

Mike -

Thank you for your loving rebuke - you are correct; I do have my own issues and part of my anger in the post probably stems from the recent difficulties I have had here. Yes, there probably should have been some response to her. But I truly believe it would have just led to an argument and likely served no useful purpose. Perhaps before I leave, I will speak to her privately.

That being said, I believe my attitude towards evangelicals is far different than her attitude towards Catholics in that I don't question the salvation of evangelicals just because they've gotten some things wrong. The dominant attitude among the staff at my church (and among evangelicals that I know) is that a Catholic might be saved, but only in spite of being a Catholic. The difference between my scorn over evangelical ignorance versus their condemnation of Catholics is pretty big.

Karl Thienes said...

I understand Mike's concerns.

But I think the difference here is that Nathan critisizes real and tangible problems in Protestantism: the woman in Nathan's story clearly doesn't even know what Catholics actually believe! IOW, she is reacting to a straw man--Nathan isn't.