Well, Mark A, I haven’t been 100% respectful with him in our discussions and arguments. He said that between birth and the age of 17 or 18 his various relatives had him join and baptized into the Lutheran, Baptist, and Mormon churches. Later he read the Koran and it convinced him that any Trinitarian concepts of God were polytheistic. He believes Jesus was a great prophet, but wasn’t God. He holds the relativistic belief that Joseph Smith (whom I described as “an over-sexed teenager”) and Mohammad were great prophets as well.
Now he describes himself as a Gnostic, reveres the Knights Templars, and belongs to several Masonic lodges.
The other day he ran to the defense of the Jehovah’s Witnesses when I described that group as a cult. He calls the Catholic Church the biggest cult ever in existence. Yet he drove me to and attended my confirmation a few years back and we often go on road trips to photograph Catholic churches. He said he’d maybe consider becoming a Catholic if the Church brought back priestesses “like the church had originally,” or if the Pope called for a new Crusade to the Holy Land.
I think he’s just obsessed with medievalism, yet the other day he was complaining because the Cathedral of Notre-Dame-de-Paris was built on the ruins of a temple to the goddess Diana. He believes it’s inevitable that Islam will take over the world and all the great churches will be torn down or their spires will be replaces with domes. He said it can’t be avoided–that Islam is just too orderly and systematic not to win.
I tell him I just don’t think he knows what he really believes. I sacrifice much of my moral authority in discussions with him because I’m not, generally speaking, a nice person. He tends to be nicer to people than I am, and that’s something I really struggle with. He has a great respect for all people which I sadly lack. So unfortunately I am for him the face of Catholicism.