Friday, October 24, 2014

TFTD: The Silly Season

I had an article passed on to me: "Catholic university launches pagan student club.” It’s got some Catholics upset—or more precisely, some Catholics who have stumbled across this obscure article. Basically, some students applied to have a recognized student club for paganism at a Catholic college. Called the Indigenous Faith Religions Alliance (it was called the Loyola Pagan Student Alliance until the college objected), it describes itself as seeking:

to unify Pagan, the spiritual but not religious, those seeking faith or religion, minority faith students (including but not limited to: Buddhists, Taoists, Shinto practitioners, Santeras, etc…) pluralists and those students interested in New Age religions on Loyola’s campus. If you don’t have a faith group on campus, we’re here to fill that gap!

. . . and Wiccans, apparently . . .

Now I don’t feel so much offended by the fact that non-Christian religions can get a support group on campus—Catholics in non-Catholic universities have the Newman Center for example. What strikes me as annoying about it is this isn’t so much a club where members of a non-Christian religion can find like minded people to hang out with. It’s the fact that these people don’t seem to have anything in common except being dabblers in esoteric groups. It sounds more like your typical middle class kids wanting to be different and dabbling in what they think sounds exotic.

Personally, I wonder what actual practitioners of Buddhism, Taoism, Shinto, etc. actually think about people who want to play at being mystics without actually embracing the whole of the belief. Are serious members of these religions willing to embrace the idea of ABC (Anything But Christianity)? The article doesn’t go into details as to what sort of people join this kind of group, and aside from the one article, there’s not a whole lot to go by.

Of course Loyola doesn’t help matters by how they respond. Yes, dialogue with non-Christian religions is better than inter religious strife. But when a college representative says things like:

“At Loyola we welcome and foster an open exchange of ideas and encourage debate and sharing differing views and opinions to advance education,” he told The College Fix. “We believe that discussion around complex topics results in deeper critical thinking skills and well-rounded citizens.”

Student organizations are not required to identify with the religious views of the university, he added.

It’s going to cause confusion. I suspect it isn’t intended this way, but the statement comes across like “one religion is as good as another.” I mean, in a Catholic university, we recognize that education is a means to a goal—finding and living according to the truth. If Catholicism is true, those things which contradict it are logically false. Failing to recognize this is to miss the point.

It’s not a scandal that non-Christians want a club that recognizes their own beliefs. But the college shouldn’t pat itself on the back and present it as if it were a great thing in itself. As the old saying goes, “don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining.” Just present it as an element of the Church teaching on tolerating non-Christian religions and be done with it. 

Personally, I tend to agree with one of the comments on the article which speculated that it was disgruntled 20-somethings disgruntled by their parents’ practice of Christianity and using the time in college to rebel.

I figure it’s not a “The Sky is Falling!” moment. It’s just an opportunity to pray that such people, whether dabblers or sincere, be brought to know the truth of Christ.

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