As Opposed to An Open Heretic?

People often use words in ways that they don't exactly mean. Sometimes this is due to mere carelessness, other times it is due to not understanding completely the full ramifications of what they are saying. I'm certainly guilty of both of these sorts of misstatements, and I'm also guilty of saying things that later, upon more careful consideration, I've come to regret. Or, to put that last one another way, I've said some things in haste that later on I realized were better left unsaid, or said in a more circumspect way if at all.

I wonder whether the following comes under any of these headings, or if it's something else entirely. A recent post of mine, Music and the Form of the Good, came to the attention of a writer at the blog Life As It Is, and this writer, in a post entitled Closet Catholic? expresses a certain sympathy for my position regarding the relation of truth to beauty. But note the question mark in that post title, and have a gander at this:
So, at the risk of yet again being accused of being a closet Catholic, I refer you to this post. It pretty much says everything I think about the necessity of good music as a part of good liturgy. Do read the post that is referenced there. It is overtly Catholic but there is so much good said about the importance of music that should be applied, not only to liturgy or worship, but to every sound that goes into our heads.
Referring to my post the writer says that "it is overtly Catholic BUT there is so much good said..." etc. Now there's a surprise for you: a Catholic saying something good for a change. I thought I'd never see the day. Maybe I'm a closet Catholic myself if I can find anything of value in something one of those losers has to say.

Now, don't get me wrong. After perusing the blog for a while it occurs to me that Life As It Is is written by a home-schooling mom in the reformed tradition who's got lots of really cute kids and who is pretty clearly a lot more like me in certain key respects than many of my co-religionists. And yet. There's something about a protestant, saying of a Roman Catholic, "He's a Catholic, but sometimes he says things that are true" that really galls. It's a little like a flat-earther saying of an astrophysicist, "Oh, he thinks the earth is spherical, but other than that he's a pretty smart guy". (I was going to say, it's a little like a creationist saying of a molecular biologist, "Oh, he believes in evolution, but other than that he's a pretty smart guy", but given the way things are these days in protestantdom I think I'll stay away from that one.)

This phenomenon is widespread here in Appalachia. Last summer when I took my son out into the boonies for his Boy Scout camping week I stopped to get directions to the camp (which was actually more in the hinterland of the boonies than in the main boonies themselves). The man I asked was quite friendly, but instead of telling me how to get to the camp the first thing he said to me was "You go to church?" Well, I couldn't lie to the guy, so I said "Yes" but he immediately asked "Where at?" Sensing a trap, I just said "In Athens" but in these parts that's a little like answering the question "Where did you grow up" by saying "In the loony bin", so the guy said "I mean what church you go to in Athens?" So I said "St. Paul's Church." He said "What kinda church is that?" So I said the magic words: "Roman Catholic". He looked at me with a glint in his eye. "Oh," he said. "I guess that's better 'n nuthin'" and then he told me how to get to the camp. The directions were excellent, and did not take me over any waterfalls. In North Carolina, where things are, if anything, worse, one would often here folks say things along the lines of "Well, I'm a Christian but my friend here is a Catholic" or "I knew some folks as was Catholic but I never seen 'em sacrificin' no babies so maybe they ain't so bad after all."

What is sadly missing here is the background knowledge, the awareness that the Catholic Church is the Christian Church, and that other Christian communities are parasitic upon it. Of course, when I was not a Roman Catholic I doubt that I would have had that awareness either: one must make allowances for the sad facts of history that have led to the (in most cases) invincible ignorance that is now all around those of us who live in predominantly protestant areas. There's not much we can do other than bear witness as best we can, and hope that, as the Scripture reading for today's Mass said, sic luceat lux vestra coram hominibus, ut videant vestra bona opera et glorificent Patrem vestrum, qui in caelis est.

Oh, and for all you heretics out there, the vernacular for that can be found at Matthew 5.16.


John Farrell said…
Scott, you keep this kind of humor going, and someone's going to suggest you try stand-up.

Christopher said…
In North Carolina, where things are, if anything, worse, one would often here folks say things along the lines of "Well, I'm a Christian but my friend here is a Catholic" or "I knew some folks as was Catholic but I never seen 'em sacrificin' no babies so maybe they ain't so bad after all."

LOL -- growing up in North Carolina, and attending a Southern Baptist church for many a year prior to my conversion, I can relate, especially during 'Missions week.' Gotta save 'dem Catholics. I guess that was one of the precursors to my curiousity about the Church.
Michael said…
I have a great Knoxville story from, probably, the 1960s. The pastor of Holy Ghost parish in those days had a new Protestant janitor. After about two weeks on the job the new janitor asked the pastor "Reverend [he couldn't bring himself to call him 'father,' since of course Jesus said not to], how often should I dust the idols?"

Fr. said "Always dust the idols."

Sometimes it's just easier.

--Michael Tinkler
the Cranky Professor

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