Showing posts with label Catholicism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Catholicism. Show all posts

Monday, October 3, 2022

It’s Iimi! I Wanna ROCOR Roll All Night…!

When Krysta sees the transfer student, Tasha Marov, acting like she’s pursuing Daryl, she desperately wants to wreak vengeance, only stopping because she knows she’ll be seen as a bully for doing so. When Iimi suspects that Tasha might be a member of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) and might be trying to convert Daryl away from Catholicism, Krysta asks her to save Daryl, despite Paula’s concerns over Iimi’s Aspergers. Will Iimi flee? Or will she say… 


I Wanna ROCOR Roll All Night…!


And, no, I’m not apologizing for such a stupid pun…


Preliminary Notes: 


As always, the behavior of the antagonists is never intended to be a stereotype of “All of X act this way.” But I have personally encountered people who do act the way Tasha does.


ROCOR stands for “Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.” They’re a semi-autocephalous group, and members I encountered online were intolerant, spreading anti-Catholic literature and falsehoods and are generally opposed to the ecumenical outreach between Catholicism and the Orthodox churches. I’ve personally experienced members calling on God to curse me when I opposed misrepresentation of Catholic teaching and history. For a brief history, you can see this Wikipedia article.


ROCOR members I have personally encountered online do act with the level of aggressiveness portrayed here. though I toned it down from the abusiveness I’ve experienced. Much like my encounters with online athiests and fundamentalists, they do tend to run from argument to argument without acknowledging refutations.


But remember the fallacy of hasty generalization. The ROCOR trolls online do not necessarily represent all members of the group—let alone the all of the Eastern Orthodox churches in general.


Post Comic Notes


Those unfamiliar with anime and who want to learn more about the ojousama anime trope Tasha represents can see HEREand HERE.


For those surprised about Saul, this is an attitude I’ve encountered: Certain fundamentalists want to learn about Christian history after the accounts in the Bible but, rejecting the Catholic Church as a source, look to Eastern Orthodoxy. Will Saul reject it as “too Papist?” Will he become attracted to Orthodoxy? Too early to say yet. But both have happened in real life.


Monday, January 11, 2021

Convenient or Not

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingly power: proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching. For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths. But you, be self-possessed in all circumstances; put up with hardship; perform the work of an evangelist; fulfill your ministry. [2 Timothy 4:1–5 (NABRE)]


As we try to come to terms with the attack on the Capitol building, American Christianity is in a difficult place. The fact is, some of our long taught moral beliefs are associated with the politics of President Trump. As he is now disgraced, some people try to take advantage of his disgrace to discredit our beliefs. It is made worse by the fact that some groups of Christians elevated Trump to a near idolatrous status and made excuses for his behavior. Yes, I pointed out that tying our beliefs to the extremists is the fallacy of composition, but that doesn’t change the fact that many people are unable to separate what we believe from how some Christians created a bad witness. It is stereotyping, but we have to deal with it by considering our individual behavior and seeing if we have contributed to the contempt our Faith is currently held in.


This is not an article about the mob attack, or Trump per se. This is an article about how these events bring home the need to be consistent in teaching the Faith regardless of the conditions we find ourselves in, neither compromising with the hostility of the world, nor justifying evil because of the temporary benefits we might gain*


Unfortunately, both sides in our dualistic political system are very skilled at spotting hypocrisy on the other side and terrible at spotting their own. The result is people tend to think that the problems only exist because of the “other side” and, if that side was permanently defeated, the problems would be gone too.


I think we need to behave in a manner that witnesses to what we believe and, to do so, we must put what we believe first over any other motivations, sacrificing the latter when it conflicts. The world attributes partisan motivations to our beliefs. As a result, they reject our beliefs as partisan. Tragically, some Christians do act in a partisan manner and it provides critics with excuses to reject what is vitally important. Now some is not all, but if we want to put an end to this, we need to speak out for what is authentically Christian and reject whatever tries to hijack it for political gain. While we cannot control how others see us, we can control whether that perception is just or unjust. 


We must also be open to correction. It is a disgrace that Catholics on both side of the American political divide see the rebuke from the Pope or our bishops—when it goes against our politics—as partisan behavior instead of something to heed. But, when the bishops say something that we agree with, we treat it as proof that the other side is the side of Darkness. Whether on abortion or immigration, Church teaching has long preceded the founding of America… or the arrival of the first Europeans in the Americas for that matter. When a country—especially when Catholics within that country adopt that behavior—behaves in a way contrary to the Gospel, the bishops must speak out against that behavior.


Another tragedy of this is the error of Whataboutism. This is the logical fallacy called tu quoque. It is an attempt to deny a valid rebuke one sees as directed against them. Regardless of whether the bishop of a diocese should have spoken out against a different example of wrongdoing earlier, this does not change the fact that we need to listen to what they speak against now. So, we see, in the case of the Pope speaking against the storming and sacking of the Capitol building, some Catholics saying that he should have mentioned other incidents by name. Personally, I think this is a fallacy of false analogy (the differences outweigh the similarities). But these critics forget the key point: What the Pope said about violence is true and we should make it our own:


Dear brothers and sisters, I offer an affectionate greeting to the people of the United States of America, shaken by the recent siege at the Congress. I pray for those who lost their life—five— they lost it in those dramatic moments. I reiterate that violence is always self-destructive. Nothing is earned with violence and so much is lost. I exhort the government authorities and the entire population to maintain a deep sense of responsibility, in order to calm souls, to promote national reconciliation and to protect the democratic values rooted in American society. May the Immaculate Virgin, Patroness of the United States of America, help keep alive the culture of encounter, the culture of care, as the royal road to build together the common good; and I do so with all those who live in that land.


The person who thinks that prayer is partisan, or error needs a remedial course in Catholicism 101.


Here I want to bring up another point. If you, the reader, are thinking angrily or triumphantly about the evils of the other side, you are part of the problem. Conservative vs. Liberal; Democrat vs. Republican… these movements and parties all run afoul of the teachings of the Church in one way or another. If we are to be Catholic first, then we must be the vanguard of opposing the evils of the party we belong to, not explaining it away because “the stakes are too high.” If you are a Catholic who votes Democrat, YOU have a responsibility to lead the way in opposing the party support of abortion and other evils that the Church condemns. If you are a Catholic who votes Republican, YOU have the responsibility to lead the way in opposing unjust immigration policies and other evils that the Church condemns§. And all of us need to remember: If out party gets elected; we must bear witness to what we believe by speaking against those wrongs.


Yes, some things are eviler than others. But the deadliest sin for us is not the one that we are never tempted to commit. The deadliest sins are the grave sins we blind ourselves to. As Gaudium et Spes #16 warns us:


Conscience frequently errs from invincible ignorance without losing its dignity. The same cannot be said for a man who cares but little for truth and goodness, or for a conscience which by degrees grows practically sightless as a result of habitual sin.


If we will keep these things in mind, and act on them, we might be able to change how we are perceived. But even if the world will not change their views, we will be able to make sure that our witness shows their accusations are false.


But if we refuse to hear our Church—which teaches with God’s authority and protection—then we should consider the words of Lumen Gentium #14 (referencing Luke 12:48):


All the Church’s children should remember that their exalted status is to be attributed not to their own merits but to the special grace of Christ. If they fail moreover to respond to that grace in thought, word and deed, not only shall they not be saved but they will be the more severely judged.


We profess belief that the Catholic Church was established by Christ to teach with His authority and protection. So, we are without excuse if we place our Catholic faith below our partisan concerns and cause scandal in others by leading them to believe our moral beliefs are no more than partisan concerns.




(*) I think we should keep in mind Roman Emperor Commodus: A morally bad man whose policies brought a temporary (if coincidental) respite from the official persecution of Christianity. That temporary benefit was good, but it does not mean Christians approved of the evils in his reign.


(†) We need to realize that the storming and sacking of the Capitol shocked the world. Regardless of how people viewed our varied political administrations, America was, up to this point, seen as a stable democratic Republic. For this to happen shows that we are just as susceptible to extremist movements as they were. Given the serious consequences of such movements in history, such alarm is understandable.


(‡) As always, I alphabetize these dichotomies to avoid any accusations of putting more emphasis on one side than the other.


(§) Yes, this applies to Catholics in minor parties too.



Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Factional Nonsense: A Problem Plaguing American Catholicism

I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose. For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers, by Chloe’s people, that there are rivalries among you. I mean that each of you is saying, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? (1 Corinthians 1:10-13)

There’s been a story going around (soon to be a released documentary) about the late Norma McCorvey—the “Roe” of Roe v. Wade—that she was first the face of pro-abortion and then pro-life because of money. I don’t know if this is true or a matter of convenient editing in response to the fear that abortion might lose its protected status. Indeed, we have contradictory accounts from people who were alleged to have been paying her. If it’s false, she’s not around to defend herself. If it’s true, that might be the origin of the movie Citizen Ruth. But I noticed that the usual suspects in Catholic America swooped in to use this as one more opportunity to demonize their opponents. 

And that’s a problem. Too many American Catholics are seeing this as just one more battleground to advance their political views while pretending they are defending the real meaning of Catholic teaching. I don’t doubt that both of these factions have members who are sincere about the people who they try to help by their cause. But I’m seeing a disturbing number of American Catholics who seem to show more schadenfreude over whatever makes their opponents look bad than concern about people.

American Factional Catholicism tends to be split into two groups: conservatives who think that things they don’t like in the Church are liberal, and liberals who think the things they don’t like in the Church are conservative… often to the point of trying to insist that the Church embrace their politics if they want to be truly in step with God. And they sneer when they do so. We’ll hear that the bishops belong to the other side of the political divide and are partisan in doing so when they speak against the preferred faction. We’ll see accusations that the Catholics from faction A are not truly Catholic because they maliciously support the evil in their faction.

Both of these factions ought to be rejected. The Catholic teaching is not factional, and both of our American factions are at odds with the Church in serious ways. But all too often we see Catholics from these factions think that only the “other side” is political.

It’s time for us to stop putting up with factional nonsense. If we’re inclined to lean towards one faction in determining who is a “good guy” and who is a “bad guy,” we need to rethink our understanding of the Church. We’re called to evangelize the whole world and reform our own lives in the process. That means being aware of the log in our own eye before we look down on others for the splinter in the eyes of other people. If we’re willing to make excuses for our own faction while condemning Catholics from another faction for doing the same, we are no better than they are. If we demand that everyone obey the Church where we agree and refuse to do so where we disagree, we are no better than they are. And, since we ought to know our obligations, what do we call it if we refuse to do it?

But if we look to overcome the evils in the factions we think are more beneficial and respond in charity to those who belong to factions we oppose, we might find ourselves doing God’s work instead of behaving like factions that pretend to be serving God when they’re really serving themselves.

And if we’re tempted to think that this is a problem only with the “other side,” then we need to start with ourselves.


(†) The premise of the movie is a satire about pro- and anti-abortion activists battling to use the title character as a symbol for their causes, and using money to bribe Ruth (a grossly irresponsible drug addict of a character), forgetting her humanity. When it came out it was roundly condemned by both sides for playing up the stereotypes of their own side.

(‡) And (as an aside for the non-American reader), unfortunately, in America it is a both. We’re very dualistic, politically.

(∑) To avoid appearances of political bias, I try to sort Conservative-Liberal and Democrat-Republican dichotomies in alphabetical order. I also try to capitalize or leave the compared terms as lowercase consistently as well. 

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Signal to Noise Ratio and the Catholic Social Media

In science and engineering, the Signal:Noise ratio is described as “the level of a desired signal to the level of background noise. SNR is defined as the ratio of signal power to the noise power. A ratio higher than 1:1 (greater than 0 dB) indicates more signal than noise.”

It strikes me as a good analogy for the situation of Catholics on social media. As part of our Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), the Catholic witness should be a strong signal, clear to all. But if you scroll through the self-righteous posts and partisan comments, we see the noise of the worldly views held by Catholics drown it out.

This is understandable. All of us are afflicted by original sin and are tempted to embrace views that suit us. But while it is understandable, it is not justifiable. We are called to be the light of the world, the city on a hill, where our witness should be clear to all. But instead it’s drowned out by political and social opinions. Pro- or anti-Trump; Pro- or anti-Democrat; pro- or anti-Republican... these views are the noise that drown out the legitimate message.

I see bloggers [§] of pro- and anti- positions who angrily point out the hypocrisy of their opponents positions, rightly pointing out that their opponents support things incompatible with the Catholic Faith. But, tragically, they are blind to where they too compromise and ignore the moral faults in their own politics. The beams of Matthew 7:3-4 are equally distributed across the Catholic Social Media... probably I have one as well, mea culpa.

The problem is not only the danger to our own souls. When we play the hypocrite, the people we are pointing to recognize that hypocrisy and reject any part of the signal that gets through as part of the noise. Thus we see some Catholics downplay or even reject the Catholic teaching on sex and abortion, calling it “right wing.” Other Catholics downplay or even reject the Catholic teaching on social justice, calling it “left wing.”

Yes, some of that rejection is the fault of the listener who refuses to listen to truth. But some of it is because of our own bad behavior and self-righteousness. We’re more interested in condemning than converting, using insults and rash judgments. (And before invoking St. Paul against St. Peter, consider the words of St. Francis de Sales that I’ve reprinted HERE). If God will punish the listener for ignoring the truth, what will He do to the speaker who buries the signal of Christian truth with the noise of personal partisanship?

We should consider our behavior and the words we write... how will God view them? Perhaps we should be more concerned than we are.


[§] If you’re thinking, “I know who he’s talking about,” you should be aware that I have in mind many people across the political spectrum who do this.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Catholicism vs. Illogic: The Either-Or Fallacy

There was a recent NBC News article which sought to highlight some Catholics who portray their opinions as showing the authentic Catholic teaching [§] taking a stand against movements promoting active homosexuality. Both the article itself and some responses by individual Catholics tried to turn it into a decision to be made over which group to side with. There was a depressing lack of comments saying “I reject both movements as incompatible with the Church.”

The logical syllogism of determining two choices runs:
  • Either X or Y.
  • Not Y.
  • Therefore X.
It’s a valid syllogism (called modus tollens). But using it validly in this case depends on there only being two choices where only one can be right and one must be chosen. If there are more than two choices, or if it is possible to reject both, then trying to argue “either-or” is a fallacy. And that’s what was wrong with the NBC article and the response to it.

When it comes to dealing with the evils facing the Church, people tend to fall into the trap of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” They do this by determining who supports an evil incompatible with being a Christian. Then assume that whoever opposes this evil must be morally good. But that’s not always true. Factions exist that promote platforms which only superficially resemble Catholic belief while differing from them in substantial ways.

Pointing out that these groups have serious problems often leads to accusations that one is siding with the opposite faction. The violated Church teaching is treated as a lesser matter which should take second place to the preferred teaching.

But authentic Catholic teaching is not one of the extremes. Nor is it a compromise between two extremes (that’s the fallacy of compromise). Authentic Catholic teaching is one that follows the way of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. That means opposing sin while showing love for the sinner. We don’t choose one of the two options. We choose the option that does both. If that view doesn’t fit into the modern political climate, then we work to change that climate... it’s called The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20).

When we run into two extremes arguing over what is authenticly Catholic, we must not rush to take a side based on what seems right. We must look to see if either side follows the magisterium. If one side not, that side is a perversion of the Catholic Faith. But that doesn’t mean that the other side is automatically correct.

People set aside listening to the magisterium and embrace whatever faction they sympathize with, downplaying inconvenient Church teaching along the way. Ultimately, that’s why I think the Catholic climate is so confused. It’s not the Pope “spreading confusion.” It’s the Catholics who choose sides between extremes where the Catholic Faith is not represented.


[§] We should never simply accept the say so of an individual Catholic (and I include myself and my blog here). The authenticity of what an individual Catholic claims must be determined by comparing their claims to the teaching of the Pope and bishops.