Militant Religiosity


#1

I had an interesting conversation with someone of a more mature generation than myself about current practice/observance of religion–particularly in public places/society. She noted that in previous generations, people participated actively (and more routinely) in their faith, but almost never discussed it outside of their own family or faith community–considering it to be rude and/or an inappropriate topic in social, much less professional settings. She went on to conclude that the current phenomenon of people “aggressively” and publicly declaring their beliefs and moral imperatives is just another indication of the decline of polite, civil society and the pervasive self-absorbed, self-centered culture in which we live.

It was a new perspective for me–particularly since it came from a very devout, life-long Catholic lady, but I think she may be on to something.

I have conflicting views. I have encountered on these boards a very absolute, almost militant strain among some posters. They justify their approach by declaring they are armed with “the truth” and routinely dismiss any disagreement as defensiveness or with some other assault on the character or faith life of dissenting posters. Perhaps it’s merely an over-reaction to the in-your-face exposure of sexuality, materialism, self-gratification, etc. that has also permeated our society. Anyone have thoughts to offer on this issue?


#2

I think there is some truth to this. Society as a whole has become more rude. One needs only to flip on the TV to see this. And if we (in general) have become more rude and crass about politics, sexuality, money, etc., why would religion be exempt?

It’s certainly an interesting thought.


#3

Well, perhaps it’s partly to clarify their own stand.

If a person said they were Catholic, back in the day, that’s all you needed to know- you knew exactly their beliefs on pretty much everything. Now- there is so much dissent (in both liberal and conservative directions) people might feel like they need to say more to indicate which end of the “spectum” they are coming from.

I think it’s a good thing, in a way. Now I can find out much easier if a person I trust my kids education to, am friends with, want to vote for, etc. REALLY DOES believe the same things I do. I think the “assumptions” of all coming from the same place backfired decades ago, when parents woke up one day and discovered their kids were leaving the faith b/c they had never been taught anything, or were mislead on church teaching.

Get rid of wolves in sheeps clothing!!!


#4

It seems like a “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” kind of issue. I think there are a lot of reasons why people are more vocal about their religious beliefs. And it is not necessarily bad to be more vocal.

Back when it was polite not to talk about your religion and we all supposedly had a “live and let live” philosophy, there was also deeply felt discrimination against Catholics and Jews as well as against Irish and Italians and Polish and blacks and just about everyone who wasn’t WASP. (Do we even say “WASP” anymore?) Once the fundamentalists banded together in the 1970s with the Moral Majority and the tele-evangelists brokering political power, other religions such as Catholics and Jews couldn’t very well just sit back and let the fundamentalists take over unopposed. Furthermore, Roe vs. Wade also was a turning point for Catholics who realized that they would need to stand up for what they believed in our pluralistic society. So I think that we can be nostalgic for the “polite” old days but the veneer of politenss and civility masked a lot of prejudice and bigotry.


#5

Did it ever occur to your friend that today’s generation is the offspring of her generation?

Perhaps, society is in the state it is in right now precisely because everyone kept quiet?


#6

[quote=Island Oak]I had an interesting conversation with someone of a more mature generation than myself about current practice/observance of religion–particularly in public places/society. She noted that in previous generations, people participated actively (and more routinely) in their faith, but almost never discussed it outside of their own family or faith community–considering it to be rude and/or an inappropriate topic in social, much less professional settings. She went on to conclude that the current phenomenon of people “aggressively” and publicly declaring their beliefs and moral imperatives is just another indication of the decline of polite, civil society and the pervasive self-absorbed, self-centered culture in which we live.

It was a new perspective for me–particularly since it came from a very devout, life-long Catholic lady, but I think she may be on to something.

I have conflicting views. I have encountered on these boards a very absolute, almost militant strain among some posters. They justify their approach by declaring they are armed with “the truth” and routinely dismiss any disagreement as defensiveness or with some other assault on the character or faith life of dissenting posters.
[/quote]

[size=1]## This could be[/size] a manifestation of Fundamentalism. It
could equally well be an expression of unawareness that the intellectual life of the CC has allowed far more room for disagreement - among theological schools, for instance - than skimming through CAF fora might suggest. And after all, some people find diversity unwelcome, even threatening; especially if they have no reason to imagine it could ever be legitimate ##

Perhaps it’s merely an over-reaction to the in-your-face exposure of sexuality, materialism, self-gratification, etc. that has also permeated our society. Anyone have thoughts to offer on this issue?

Another possibility, complementing these, is that we’re talking about an expression of adolescent protest. I think it is a safe bet that once a lot of militants get a bit older, they will be much less militant - IMHO, adolescent immaturity is one cause of all this. It’s easy to be absolutely certain of everything, if one knows of no reasons not to be. This unqualified certainty about all things in heaven and earth is less easy to sustain when one is older, and, it is to be hoped, wiser. Youthful intolerance is less easy when one finds that life is rather too complicated to allow of sweeping away all the people, things, and ideas one finds offensive. Which is possibly why the idea of a Catholic state is so attractive - but that too would have no end of problems

I suspect some of this militancy can be put down to being from the US - people do seem pretty aggressive, on the whole. :slight_smile:

The militancy may also be a reaction to the specific problems of being Christian in the US today. ##


#7

Respectfully, with many things that are polar opposites of the Catholic faith being such an excepted norm, perhaps this is the only way we will be heard?

Granted, people screaming at you and telling you what to believe really isn’t going to do anything but further push people away, but we can’t stay silent and hope that things improve for the better. What we need is a happy medium, something that we as the religious right are going to need alot of time to figure out how to present.


#8

Let us not forget, that more wars have been fought and more people have died throughout history in the name of god then any other reason. If you are a Catholic, revel in it and enjoy your life. Let others have their beliefs. We will all find out in the “end” who was right and who was wrong.

One little trick I like to use on Baptists and others who come a’ callin’ on saturday morning is I politely say hello and tell them I am quite happy being Catholic and as one I kindly relay my personal 11th commandment.

“Thou shall keep thy religion to thy self” :thumbsup:


#9

Thou shall keep thy religion to thy self" :thumbsup:

You mean thou shall keep thy faith under a bushel basket? I wonder where we would be if St. Peter and the other 11 believed in this commandment.

Let us not forget, that more wars have been fought and more people have died throughout history in the name of god then any other reason.

I do not believe this. Please cite a source.


#10

I coudl not find numbers specifically, but I don’t have any trouble believing that to be true – think of the crusades, and all of the strife over the years in the middle east, and africa, etc. Yes, much is political, but so much more is religious based (since so many other countries don’t subscribe to the “separation of church and state” stuff the way we do here and in much of the “1st” world countries.

religioustolerance.org/curr_war.htm

an intesting site – never even realized half the conflicts going on in the world today – living in my own little world; sure makes me appreciate my country and it’s “woes” a little more…


#11

I coudl not find numbers specifically, but I don’t have any trouble believing that to be true – think of the crusades, and all of the strife over the years in the middle east, and africa, etc.

OK, but you are neglecting to COMPARE IT to the number of people killed by lack of religion.

Start with

abortions

under Hitler - 12 million

under Stalin - 20 million.

How many under Communist China?

under Sadam Hussein?


#12

I parused the linked website. Yes it illustrates how conflicts can arise on religious boundaries. However, it utterly fails to point out how religious beliefs are at the center of the conflict - quite possibly because they aren’t.

See it’s possible that you can have two groups that identify themselves under different faiths. However, at the core of the conflict may really be an issue of power and control of resources.

On the other hand, if moral issues aren’t worth fighting and dieing for what is? And if you die for anything, what are you living for? It seems a little hypocritical to pretend that faith is not worth going to war for.


#13

[quote=Black Jaque]You mean thou shall keep thy faith under a bushel basket? I wonder where we would be if St. Peter and the other 11 believed in this commandment.

I do not believe this. Please cite a source.
[/quote]

  1. Keep your faith anywhere you like, I simply state that I am quite happy being Catholic and respectfully ask that you don’t come knocking on my door and try to sell me another one.

  2. Just in recent history, the turmoil in northern ireland, pick any country in the middle east, and back a bit farther, there were these little things called the Crusades.


#14

[quote=Black Jaque]On the other hand, if moral issues aren’t worth fighting and dieing for what is? And if you die for anything, what are you living for? It seems a little hypocritical to pretend that faith is not worth going to war for.
[/quote]

The point of my original question was not going to war–but smoothing our daily social interactions by practicing a little self-control and humility in the public square.


#15

Personally I think that religious instruction among adults should only be offered when there is a willing and inquisitive listener and in the appropriate context. (Such as, a scripture study is a place where one can expect and appreciate instruction regarding Church teaching because everyone is there on equal ground with the similar focus of exploring and studying faith matters.) However, there are plenty of situations where the subject arises outside of a safe context for being direct and straightforward about Church teaching. When a question is asked of me regarding doctrinal matters, and I happen to have an understanding of that particular nuance of our faith, I oblige with an answer and the caveat of, “This is what I understand the Church to teach,” because I don’t think for a minute that my explanation will ever be entirely adequate. However, when people don’t ask for an opinion and give no indication of desiring my opinion regarding their thoughts or actions in terms of our shared faith, I don’t offer my opinion. I try to be conscious of doing this with other subjects as well–realizing that when people want an opinion or advice, they ultimately will usually ask for it. If we are having a mutual conversation objectively, without personal undertones that could smack of confrontation, I will make my position known in a tactful manner if the opportunity presents.

An example that comes to mind is a Catholic friend whom I used to work with at my old employment. She was a mother of three and had suffered multiple miscarriages. Each of her surviving children had varying birth defects and after the last little boy was born, she found herself emotionally and spiritually (and financially) exhausted. On anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication, she confided to me and another Catholic woman co-worker that she had chosen to also start taking the BCP. She felt unable to deal with another pregnancy at that particular point in her life and did not want to trust NFP anymore. The other woman in our triangular conversation decided to respond with, “You’re taking the BCP? That’s a mortal sin!” and then proceeded to ask questions that were none of her business, like “Are you receiving Jesus unworthily?” Despite the obvious discomfort and awkwardness that followed, this woman did not give up and later told me she “didn’t want to go to hell for her!” (Meaning she believed that if she did not instruct our co-worker about the spiritual danger of BCP, she would go to hell for not informing her. She felt completely justified in her reaction to our co-worker’s life choice.) Do I agree with BCP? No, but do I have the human capacity to understand and comprehend that this poor battered woman who previously used NFP might be acting out of desperation and a sincere desire to save her sanity? YES. Do I think God has compassion for our human limitations and might He consider her to be acting with an impeded will, due to the pressures upon her which influenced her choice-making? Yes. Did she ask for any advice or opinion from me or the other woman about whether WE thought she should be taking BCP? NO. She was simply confiding that due to being so distraught, this was how she and her husband were choosing to deal with family planning.

It seems that a lot can be said for tact, compassion and understanding. If we feel compelled to enlighten someone about Church teaching, it needs to be done sensitively and with the utmost care and caution for the good of their spiritual life. Charity is supernatural love and the greatest of virtues. If we cannot speak with charity when guiding those we care about, then we do more harm than good.


#16

I think St. Francis was on to something when he said something to the effect of, “Preach the gospel constantly. Use words if necessary.” Actions do speak louder than words, and what you do, how you treat people, and how you live your life represent Christ and your faith more than words.

Too often, the people who most strenuously proclaim their faith don’t set a good example of it – they often come across as full of pride and smugness and don’t practice the golden rule and thereby provide easy examples for those who claim religion is full of hypocrites and therefore dismiss Christ. It’s ironic because they think they’re doing God’s work in proclaiming his word, but actually undermine it.

The devout Catholic co-worker in Princess Abbey’s scenario is a perfect example of this – she emotionally battered the other woman out of concern for her own, personal, salvation. She doesn’t even see that she trampled all over the love your neighbor commandment – there is nothing loving about what she did, especially when it was out of concern for herself, not the other person.


#17

[quote=dwc]I think St. Francis was on to something when he said something to the effect of, “Preach the gospel constantly. Use words if necessary.” Actions do speak louder than words, and what you do, how you treat people, and how you live your life represent Christ and your faith more than words. .
[/quote]

I was thinking of this same quote when I read the OP. I have found that those who verbally berate others with their beliefs or find cause to openly criticize others who don’t “follow the rules”, so to speak, open themselves up to being called hypocrits, etc. I have an acquaintance who is militant in her fundamentalism. She’s quick to criticize others regarding their life choices and talks freely about how those who are not “saved” are going to go to Hell. Her actions are under a microscope by her neighbors and the other parents at school. She’s not taken seriously at all. Yet, she wonders why she can’t “get” anyone to go to her church’s bible studies or attend services with her and her family. :rolleyes:

That isn’t to say, however, that we should not DEFEND our beliefs and our Church should they be attacked. I have done this many times at work, school, or in other public areas.


#18

. Keep your faith anywhere you like, I simply state that I am quite happy being Catholic and respectfully ask that you don’t come knocking on my door and try to sell me another one.

Funny I am quite happy being Catholic too, however I don’t mind at all if someone comes knocking at my door to sell me another one. So long as they follow all customs of courtesy and leave when I ask.

  1. Just in recent history, the turmoil in northern ireland, pick any country in the middle east, and back a bit farther, there were these little things called the Crusades.

Right, I’m not ignoring the religious conflicts, I’m just insisting that you should COMARE them with non religious conflicts. So how many were killed in Ireland and the Crusades? Vs. the death toll due to Hitler and Stalin?


#19

[quote=Princess_Abby]…It seems that a lot can be said for tact, compassion and understanding. If we feel compelled to enlighten someone about Church teaching, it needs to be done sensitively and with the utmost care and caution for the good of their spiritual life. Charity is supernatural love and the greatest of virtues. If we cannot speak with charity when guiding those we care about, then we do more harm than good.
[/quote]

Excellent points, Abby. Thanks for sharing your insights.


#20

The other woman in our triangular conversation decided to respond with, “You’re taking the BCP? That’s a mortal sin!” and then proceeded to ask questions that were none of her business, like “Are you receiving Jesus unworthily?”

Bravo! G.K. Chesterton wrote that anything worth doing is worth doing poorly. There may certainly be better ways to deal with your friends choice to use the BCP, but at least this woman did deal with it.

I’m sorry but if you make it my business that you are Catholic, then you make it my business that you are using the BCP, I just might make you feel uncomfortable!

It seems that a lot can be said for tact, compassion and understanding. If we feel compelled to enlighten someone about Church teaching, it needs to be done sensitively and with the utmost care and caution for the good of their spiritual life.

The problem is, if people can’t find a tactful, compassionate way of getting the job done, they are too often leaving the job undone! And that is terrible!

I may to the most imcompetent job as a Christian, but by gosh at least I’ll have done the job.

You gals seem to value compassion and warm fuzzies more than you value truth.


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