26 January, 2010

Another civil exchange of the challenge the Church faces in today's cultures

A welcome follower of this blog is a person who writes under the handle of "reddog". Recently he responded in the threads of the BlueWave link to the threat atheism poses to freedom of religious expression. I follow with my response.

Your comments are always welcome!

Fr. Tim
"Atheism poses no threat to freedom of religion. It's the freedom itself that threatens organized religion. Most people will always possess some type of spiritual beliefs. Once they can believe anything they want without the coercion of a dominant religion, they do. Cafeteria style. They borrow from friends more than model after priests.

JPII was an attractive and charismatic figure, he helped the RCs regain some ground, though the faith of those that came back was diluted and had a lot of ecumenical pollutants. Benny 16 is back to the model of a self loathing, closeted, Gay, that RCs suffered through with Paul 6. No help there.

Priests no longer have the luxury of teaching. They have to sell. They need to be heroic in the image of Jesus, not Peewee Herman. You need a good, long, dark age, full of ignorance, pestilence, poverty and fear. You can always hope."
Reddog: I appreciate your opinion, but it seems to me that somewhere in excess of 1 billion others would disagree. I point out that this claim is made at a time when the world has not experienced widespread dark ages, ignorance, poverty or fear for almost 1000 years - and thrives among the hearts and minds of some of the brightest in human history. I appreciate too the challenge these times present the Church, but the internet has provided one of the most effective media by which to speak to untold thousands of people in a variety of cultures, (all in a "one on one" based encounter) with one post or recommended article that is put before people to select in the "cafeteria" of faith.

Cafeterias can be a source of wholesome eating if the food served is healthy and nutritious. Let's use the same methodology that Satan worked in cleaving souls away from the faith. It's not the method that was evil or somehow ineffective or immoral. As C.S. Lewis would write, minds and consciences are formed (or deformed) in a slow bit by bit approach. What was evil was his intent, not the tools he used to accomplish them.

Persuasion is an effective tool, if done with charity and fidelity to church teaching. I try to personally ensure that for this blog by sending posts to priests who exemplify these same virtues, and edit my posts if they offer sound advice to so. This "spiritual buddy" system taught to us in Kindergarten is still an effective way of keeping each other safe... or to return to the food metaphor again... ensuring that our offering is nutritious and pleasing to those who pass by to graze.

Now is the time for the church to establish its presence in these buffet of information that is modern communications and culture. We should not fear setting up our offerings beside the spiritual McDonald's of our adversary either. Offering a healthy menu in places people go when they are hungry is always a good choice appreciated by many.

As President George H. Bush proposed in his winning campaign for office... "do not curse the darkness. Rather lift high your candle. Become one of a thousand points of light to guide our nation in dark times". This metaphor propelled him the highest office in the land (and stands in stark contrast to the eloquence of "W", thus proving that a gifted tongue is not a trait that is inherited by the child!) The same metaphor applies to the issue of evangelization in this age. (I think I can offer this particular piece of personal opinion without having to state whether the Bush's represent the voice of faith or not; politicians do not always offer credible witness when one is arguing for the faith, at least in this country)

An old priest once counseled me that it is always wise to know your enemy for he might have much to teach.

Wisdom then... wisdom now.


  1. Whoever said "It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness" I'm pretty certain was not George Bush... either of them. Course finding a candle...that's another whole story. Last time I was in a sacristy they were using these little liquid fuel lamps and the little ones in the church were electric push button jobs. And I swear someone was swinging a dead cold censer last Christmas... though they managed to get it going by the second go round.


  2. Freyr: We are both correct! It seems I mashed together two different quotes. The "1000 points of light" was from a GH Bush speech written by Peggy Noonan. The "curse darkness/light candle" is an old Chinese proverb.

    Thanks for pointing this out.

    Fr. Tim


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