October 22, 2009


Gentle Reader: I, recently, got into a discussion with a misguided soul about faith. I realized that when I use words like "faith" "church" "teachings", I'm not seeing it the way that person is. To them, each reality is separate and in it's own void. It's compartmentalized because it's, supposedly, easier to attack and change if it's isolated from the whole.

To me; it's all a limitless, seamless, whole. I can't divorce the faith from the church, or the hierarchy from Jesus, or the Bible from the Catechism or Communion from the priesthood, or prayer from the Mass etc etc.

This probably makes, absolutely, no sense to anyone. I don't even know how to clarify what I'm babbling about. Maybe I'll pull a Terry and take this post down later!

I think what I'm saying is; when you are in conversation with an open dissenter be careful what you are saying and how they are hearing it. Be aware that they don't use terms the way you, as a person who 'gets' the continuity of Catholicism, may. For example; "church" to them may be limited to mean only the physical building, or it may only mean the "faithful" (you've probably heard the term "be-ing church") Whereas, I think of church as including both-actually, more than that.

Maybe it's best to employ the rabbinic method of teaching that Jesus employed. Answer a question with a question. Just make sure you answer the question! Jesus always answered the question but first He wanted the questioner to think about it. Also, it helps to hear what they say so you can formulate the answer to where they are at.


Blogger ArchAngel's Advocate said...

As any good teacher (or preacher, for that matter) is that the language of your message must match (or be only just above) the listener's level. You never talk below their level (which I think most preachers do, which bores me to tears) or so far over their heads that there's no hope of understanding. The best preachers I've heard start at a fundamental level (so everyone is on the same page), but builds as fast as the audience can handle. This is why the Parables work so well. Take the Parable of the Good Samaritan. SA ("smart a$$") asks a hot topic question, Christ responds with a tale anyone can follow (what color is the a$$ in your listening of the Parable? Mine's white.), Christ asks SA his own question to make sure he got The Point. No branching off into Social Justice, equal distribution of wealth, and the like. Save that for a class of interested intellectuals with nuttin' better to do.

October 22, 2009 3:18 PM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

As Adoro would say, "I resemble that!"

Dissenters are crafty ones however and you have to really work on your responses - which is why blog posts are so much work sometimes. I'd rather just tell them to go to - well, you know what I mean. (And that is the weirdest part of all - you really do know what I mean.)

I get what you're saying here too. ;)

October 22, 2009 3:33 PM  
Blogger Angela M. said...

My "mantra," if you will, is "meet them where they are."

Also important - put the burden of proof on them. If they accuse the Church of something then they need to provide specific examples - not say things like "the church is anti-woman."

One other thing I learned - if you don't know the answer don't fudge it. Say you aren't sure, will check into it and get back to them - and then actually do so.

When it comes to arguing abortion and gay stuff - use BIOLOGY. An atheist does not care if a baby gets a soul from God at the moment of conception. With gay stuff I always remind the listener how high anal cancer rates are for gay men (I don't bother with AIDS stats) and how they will be wearing diapers before long because the sphincter muscle is NOT meant for entry - only exit!

October 22, 2009 3:44 PM  
Blogger A Gracious Home said...

That's an interesting post. Not being Catholic it is hard sometimes to understand what a person means. Doylene

October 22, 2009 3:51 PM  
Blogger Sanctus Belle said...

I must say, I find it easier to talk to outright atheists or agnostics than dissenting Catholics.

October 22, 2009 4:13 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Ter:I know you know I know what you mean!



Angel Baby: Yuck. But effective.

AA: You've been really passionate of late!

Gracious Home and Sanctus: Hi!

October 22, 2009 6:14 PM  
Blogger ArchAngel's Advocate said...

I get started & I can't shut up. Glad I'm no prphet, they tend to die by nasty means. (And every woman in Christendom iss glad they're not married to me, and evry parish in same is glad I'm not the visiting preacher) LOL!

October 22, 2009 8:10 PM  
Blogger Nan said...

Terry, you would actually tell people to go to Hibbing? Scandalous!

October 22, 2009 8:42 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

AA: You are well named. Archangel's Advocate. Watch where you are swinging that fiery sword! :-)

Nan: Don't dis "da range" or else Ray will get all worked up!

October 23, 2009 10:57 AM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

C of A - great message.

I first clarify the question - the old, "if I understand you correctly you're asking" thingy. Then I've gotten in the habit of asking if they really want an answer or just want to vent or argue.

The only thing worse than an ex-smoker (except for Terry), is an ex-Catholic. Strident!

October 23, 2009 12:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is not good to lump all of us who are former Catholics together, nor do some of us dissent because of other than love for what is Catholic.

Some of us, quite literally HAVE been abandoned by the Catholic Church and THAT is almost impossible for those who consider themselves "good Catholics" to even try to understand. Some "good catholics" do understand but most do not. By understand I do not necessarily mean "agree".

I don't know how this answers your post, if in any way, but I just wanted to say it.

There are some people who have no home in the Catholic Church who nevertheless love her, miss her and wait for her to move from her errors. Just as some wait having been abandoned by their spouses. They wait alone, in agony, criticized by "good catholics" in spite of their faithfulness to their vows, as the "good catholics" embrace the spouse who abandoned them along with their lover.

Most "good catholics" are devoid of understanding/empathy in such situations as they have become numbed to wrongful divorce and its real effects and they, in overwhelming numbers(from my experience and that of numerous others that I know, personally, judge that a divorce "must have been justified' BECAUSE the abandoned spouse is so obsessed and angry.

They do not see, nor do they want to see the damage that their attitude does to the valid marriage, yes a sacrament and to all valid marriages.

They claim to be obedient to the Pope but they ignore him when he tells priests and bishops to make it their business to help to heal broken marriages by involving themselves in such situations. They ignore the Holy father when he states outright that their ARE NO SPOUSES IN "second marriages", only in the first. He IS TEACHING CATHOLICS what he means and what God means but almost all "good catholics" are blind to his pleas on behalf of valid marriages and abandoned spouses AND THEIR CHILDREN.

Still those who have abandoned valid marriage are fully accepted and supported as the innocent spouse, "must be worthy of abandonment" dies in their faith as NO ONE WILL COME TO THEIR AID< THEIR CHILDRENS AID OR THE AID OF THEIR MARRIAGE IN SPITE OF THE DIRECT TEACHING OF THE HOLY FATHER OTHERWISE.

It is THE scandal of the Catholic Church.

October 23, 2009 7:22 PM  
Blogger berenike said...

Hey, anon, I've seen you around writing the same stuff. If you want to talk more explicitly, you can leave a comment on our blog so as to pass on your email address secretly, or you could just write a comment - if you put three or four links in, it goes to moderation and won't be published.

C. of A. - yes, I have a similar problem talking with my hardcore Presbyterian friend. Another girl I know said "Phenomenology!" - because the two of us have to discover what any word really means to the other, we can't just use them.

I have a lot of practice in terms of atheists etc though, since I live with my vaguely Marxist grandmother :-)

October 26, 2009 2:35 AM  

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