Sunday, April 21, 2013

Catholic by Tradition Alone

Thomas Moore's recent HuffPo piece, "Catholic Without a Church", seem to be quite representative of the attitudes/mindsets of many of the Catholics I have known over the years. Needless to say I have never really understood it, or them*. It is truly mind boggling to me that so many remain within the Catholic church since they do not seem to accept the doctrines or the leadership's views. Moore's very first sentence sets the tone that offers a minor and rather dissatisfying answer, "At a time when the world wasn't divided into liberals and conservatives, I was born into a devout Catholic family, went to a Catholic church and elementary school and then to a seminary, run by a community of friars -- monks in the world -- to study for the priesthood."
Nostalgia and tradition are powerful but can that really be the only rationale for sticking with an institution that neither represents or cares about you?

Setting aside the rather blatant fallacy that the world was ever united in anything, let alone religion, I can partially sympathize with becoming attached to something for reasons of nostalgia and tradition. There are a lot of aspects of my childhood that I value despite being able to see the flaws as an adult. However, I have no illusions about them and certainly don't seek to venerate them. Why do Catholics, and other religious individuals, continue to do so? Moore's further statement, "I still love the Catholic way, though I have no use for the pomp and authority", only adds to my confusion since it doesn't seem to connect with his criticism of the church. What is this "Catholic way" once you strip out the "pomp and authority"? What differentiates it from other faiths? For that matter, how are the appealing elements innate to Catholicism?

I just don't get it.

* I sometimes feel really bad about this. I can't help but view their beliefs as nonsensical and ridiculous yet they are very intelligent people. I tend to hesitate speaking my mind for fear of alienating or hurting those I care about. I also often worry that they will misinterpret my views and feelings. I don't think any less of them for believing things I think are complete crap and don't want them to ever think that I do. At the same time I cannot, and don't want to, suppress my own thinking. I have always tended towards curiosity and skepticism. Perhaps I do sometimes over think matters but that is a part of who I am. Overall I think my constant questioning has served me well.

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