What would you do?

Has anyone ever overheard a conversation between other people nearby (say, on the bus or in a bookstore, or in a restaurant), in which someone spouts nonsense about the Catholic church, or about religion? I had that experience riding home on the ferry last night, when one very loud guy (in a quiet, near empty ferry) spouted off about all sorts of weird theories about the Catholic church, Science, - even aliens. His basic point, which I found chilling, was that religion is holding back society and that if we would only get rid of (or “go beyond” religion or Christianity, would we be able to advance as a society. Have you ever intervened and argued with people who talk like that? I was sort of agonizing over saying something to the guy, but I wasn’t too sure of what his reaction would be. Moreover, he was sort all over the map with what he was saying, and so would have been hard to pin down. Plus, I was very tired and didn’t feel up to the task of arguing or persuading the guy that he was wrong about the church. I haven’t heard someone speak about the Catholic church or Christianity with such disgust in a while. It was hard to sit there and not say anything. Sometimes I wonder why I seem to often end up in these kind of situations. It has happened quite a few times in the past, and not in the usual places like at secular universities and such, where you would expect to hear people badmouth religion. It is always sad to hear people say such ignorant things. In the end I just figured that the best thing to do would be to just pray for him. Has anyone had a similar experience? What did you do? Ishii

Hi Doctor! (Ishii-san, neh?)

When you hear really off the wall stuff like that the best policy is to just keep still and not get into it with them because you are not dealing with a rational person. Anyone who believes that sort of stuff is not too tightly wrapped.

It is best to only engage in dialog (or try to) when the person you are talking to is someone you know is rational and honest.

Otherwise it is even better to simply pray fr them in your heart and say nothing at all.
Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum.

I too am getting to the place where I think prayer is the only answer. Sometimes people just won’t or can’t listen and no matter what you say they will say that you are wrong (based on their false assumptions, teaching or whatever.) It is very sad indeed. I pray a lot for us all. I don’t understand how people get so lost, it almost seems like they work at it. I don’t even have much to say in person with people that I know when they ask because it seems like all they want to do is argue. I just keep telling them the truth though, over and over…as for strangers like that, I think I’d just pray.

I live in the Bible belt (many Protestant denominations all around). Generally, I will hold my tongue if I am not already involved in the conversation. My 19-year-old son, however, did confront a protestant pastor in a restaurant once when he overheard anti-Catholic rhetoric. In the end, it was my son vs. half the patrons at the restaurant.
In your case, it sounds as though the guy you encountered was already proving himself an idiot and those around him probably thought him pathetic at best (Aliens indeed). Anyway, by letting him continue to speak, you may have done more good than if you had spoken up. This way everyone in earshot knew that he was a fool.

It’s been years since I’ve ridden a bus in a big city to work.
Rule number one: unless a law is being broken or you are under attack,* ignore everything and everyone around you.*

It really does depend on the situation. In this case with him being “all over the place” I would not say anything. Was he talking to someone or just to the air. If two or three people are talking in an open public area I might interrupt and attempt to correct them politely.

well let’s come up with some good approaches to such social situations, where actual confrontation could be dangerous:

bring out your rosary, kneel down and start praying loudly

turn up the volume on your EWTN feed or Gregorian chant on your mp3

start sprinkling holy water all over the place and chanting minor exorcisms, if you can wave a crucifix and have an elephant garlic on a string, so much the better.

any other suggestions?

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