Posted in Blog Posts, My Transition

On Being the Elephant

One of the attributes of America that I find intriguing is the fascination in being “different,” “hipster” if you will. I don’t think that this is different from most people; I think we all have an inherent and flawed fascination with the novel, the new, the modern. It accounts for the success of advertising and its captive consumer culture. I remember (with a smirk) the days when I played competitive soccer and Nike would come out with new colors for the same model cleats every two months or so, at which point the old colors (although no different in make) would drop $40 in price. It’s hilarious.

All this to say, I wonder if we give being different and unique too much hype. To continue with the cleats analogy, some of the guys wearing old Adidas Copas (ancient bare bones cleats) were just as good as those wearing the new Nike Mercurials with all the bells and whistles.

They’re both still cleats. Yes, there are some differences but they are both still soccer cleats. This is their essential attribute and nature. The fact that one is more flashy and novel is of no practical consequence. They’re both still soccer cleats

My point is, being new and different is not all it’s cracked up to be. Going into this semester, I have to wonder if I was riding off of that hype. A rare Catholic in a sea of evangelicals at Biola University. I fell victim to the appeal of being different. And coming to the end of the semester I find myself completely drained.

I was blessed with a supportive community this summer at Younglife that accepted my Christianity as valid, and time spent with them was refreshing and a much needed retreat from a pretty rough year before that. It’s communities like this that give us the support and environment any human needs to first be themselves and then to refine.

This was the energy I was riding into the school year, and now that wave has come to the shore and nothing but foam remains.

I’ve been isolated before, different than those around me. I played soccer with non-Christians, been to classes at a secular college, so I know what means to be a religious minority. But in cases like that I had Christian friends to rely on, or to pass people on to if they had a question I couldn’t answer, and to support me in times where I felt alone. I wasn’t the only Christian people knew. I didn’t carry the sole weight of exemplifying and explaining the Christian faith to the people I knew.

Things are a little different now. While I am in an almost exclusively Christian community at Biola, I am one of the only Catholics I know. According to the school’s statistics, there are about 90 Catholics in our 4,000 undergraduate school; however since the environment is predominately Protestant, not a lot of Catholics feel comfortable identifying as such publicly. I’m one of 2 that has, and I only know 3 other Catholics beside myself. Which is pretty sad if you think about it. It’s very similar to the early Christians hiding in the catacombs during the Roman persecution.

This would be one thing. But since I don’t come from a Catholic background, I don’t have friends back home I can call for help, a family to lean on and go to mass with, or years of knowledge about Catholicism to draw on. In someways I feel like St. Peter, a disciple of Jesus for a short time and then called before the Sanhedrin to be questioned. An illiterate (most likely) fisherman called before an intimidating religious court. I can only pray that the Spirit would grace my witness as it did Peter’s.

It truly is a shame and I think the reality of my minority experience is so out of sync with the reality outside of my life. There are approximately 1.3 billion Catholics in the world, and that makes up a majority of the world’s Christians. But even though my particular church might be made up of a billion, I could count those with whom I actually have a relationship on my ten fingers.

Being the Elephant in the room has been too exhausting for me to do on my own. It’s why I haven’t kept up my blog as vigorously; and until I find a group that can support me, I won’t be posting on the blog.

But before I disappear I have a few things to ask of you, my reader. If you are a Catholic reading this, please pray for the Catholics at Biola, that we might be set free from the fear we live in, and also for the Protestants here that they would see the value in appreciating the first 75% of their Christian history.

If you are a Protestant reading this, my appeal is to your emotions (and I know that’s not a valid appeal, and as a philosophy major this makes me cringe). I hope you can see the real, individual pain that the division of church causes in people’s lives, like myself. It is not just some congregational rivalry; it affects people on a personal level. Please work towards reconciliation both theologically and relationally. One of the really easy ways to do this is to stop using the language of “Christian and Catholic” when you really mean “Protestant and Catholic” (unless of course you really do mean to draw a line, in which case, please use the language of your conviction).

I’ll take this last moment to present a dilemma I find with Protestant culture (and this is an example from Biola, but it is definitely applicable to my experience before college).

Catholics, in the Protestant eye, can often be lumped alongside Mormons, in so far as good works being at least a factor in justification, as religious people that claim to be Christians, but in fact aren’t…and therefore are not saved. I’ve had this said to my face if you doubt that this happens. Biola, my university, has a student mission called EMI (Evangelical Mormon Interactions.) This provides an opportunity for Evangelical Christians and Mormons to hangout and (I’m assuming this happens because I’ve never been involved) witness to their faith. I know that growing up when Mormons would knock on our door, we would not turn them away, but invite them to discuss faith and try to help them see the true Christian gospel.

My dilemma is this: if we, Catholics, are as lost as Mormons, why is the reaction to the Catholic Church scorn and condemnation instead of the outreach and concern extended to Mormons. If we are both lost, reach out to both of us. Our responsibility of evangelism is to all, not just to the ones we choose. And if we are not lost, then why is there scorn and condemnation?

This is the dilemma I will end with. Perhaps I will write again sometime, but I simply can’t keep this up.

Peace be with you,

A brother in Christ.

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31 thoughts on “On Being the Elephant

  1. Regarding some of your comments in this posting

    (1) ” I was blessed with a supportive community this summer at Younglife that accepted my Christianity as valid “.
    Response to (1)
    I had a look at the ‘ young life ‘ website and as far as I know it is an ecumenical meeting of some sort ?

    You are unlikely to be contradicted at such a meeting place & have the errors of catholicism pointed out to you.
    The fact that your faith as you describe it was validated comes as no surprise to me.
    As I have pointed out to you previously, you’re clearly NOT a Christian.
    I did give you clear reasons for this. If you’re genuinely Christian, why do you insist on trying to prove it to yourself?

    Your comment_(2) ” If you are a Protestant reading this, my appeal is to your emotions (and I know that’s not a valid appeal, and as a philosophy major this makes me cringe). I hope you can see the real, individual pain that the division of church causes in people’s lives, like myself. It is not just some congregational rivalry; it affects people on a personal level. Please work towards reconciliation both theologically and relationally. One of the really easy ways to do this is to stop using the language of “Christian and Catholic” when you really mean “Protestant and Catholic” (unless of course you really do mean to draw a line, in which case, please use the language of your conviction).”

    My response to (2)
    It is clearly NOT a division of the so-called church. People left the cult of Rome because of their false teachings, and evil practices, and mistakenly thought that they could reform the unreformable
    . A lot of them~ Millions ~ were murdered and burnt at the stake for it~ a fact that you tried to water down~ in a previous posting of yours.

    I am a KJV Bible believing Christian.Why would any right thinking Christian who believes the Scriptures KJV, want to actually have so-called fellowship with the the unbeliever contrary to
    2 John 9-11 KJV ?

    You cannot reconcile false teaching with Biblical Theology.
    The reason is relatively simple.
    A Christian would have to compromise on the Biblical truth.

    Please don’t try to predetermine the terminology of others as this is not really fair ‘ Logic & Critical thinking / Dialogue ‘.
    The debate if you can call it that really is about Christian & Catholic (Not that there is any agreement between the two ).
    I am Protestant in the truest sense of the word & by the way, I do not associate myself with any of the reformers etc I follow the clear teachings of Scripture. KJV / AV_1611

    I do not & cannot count you as a ‘ Brother ‘ and neither are you ‘ in Christ ‘ i.e. Christian.

    How are you going to witness to a Mormon regarding his delusion when you yourself are deluded & deluding yourself into believing that you’re Christian? In fact, you also try to get others to convince you of that lie also.

    What do you say to theses Mormons, I would be vaguely interested to know?

    Mormonism is actually Freemasonry if you did not realise that.
    There are similarities between Catholicism and Mormonism,Islam,Hinduism,Voodoo etc

    I genuinely hope that you have a good New year etc

    RSVP

    Sentient

    Like

    1. Yes, you’re totally right. A little further about Younglife, it is an interdenominational, parachurch that’s mission is to introduce young people to the Jesus of the Bible and to get them plugged into a church in their area. While I think they does a great job of the first part of their mission, I am very vocal about their shortcoming in the second part.
      I did actually have some objectors to Catholicism, but it was done with love and done in the context where we both saw each other as trying to follow Christ the best we can. We may have had our differences but the attitude with which the topic was approached was conducive to productive dialogue. This is the refreshment and support I was referring to.

      You’re right, you did point out I’m not a Christian. But just because you, Sentient, say so, doesn’t make it automatically true. You have to give reasons…which you did. But then when I asked you to explain why these made me non-Christian, you simply copied and pasted them again. The case is far from closed.

      “Trying to prove it (that I’m a Christian) to (my)self” is not the point of this blog, or what I am doing. It is to prove to others, like yourself, who doubt that Catholicism is compatible at all with Christianity, and also to draw cultural Catholics back to the foundation of the Church, sacraments, and gospel; which is Christ.

      (2) Your whole comment is why I included that last phrase in the portion of my appeal that you copied. I merely don’t want people to unconsciously draw a line, which happens all the time in American lingo (perhaps in Britain as well.) If they do want to draw a distinction, then do so (which is what I said originally.)

      There are similarities in all religions, that does not make them the same thing (hasty generalization).

      Regarding your mention of my post on the Inquisition, I quoted my source on my numbers (I think I said thousands.) Again just because you say, “millions,” does not make it so. Please quote some reliable sources to back up your opinion, like I did mine.

      Moving on though, here was my question to you from months ago that you never responded to except repeating your last comment:

      “Ok so now that you have listed out your 15 objections, since you are saying they contradict the Scriptures, could you show me where? Indeed if the Catholic Church claims to follow Scripture and doesn’t, that would be an illogical system that no logical person could ever be a part of, and would result in me leaving.”

      Answering this question can move us forward from ad hominems and some good, solid argumentation.

      Happy New Year’s!

      Like

      1. No I’m not, reliable. That’s why I cite sources like reliable dictionaries. It’s also why I don’t rely on my own personal interpretation, because I know that little me is not going to know better than the past 2000 years of theology and scriptural interpretation.

        Like

      2. You can read the Bible KJV for yourself.
        You do have a brain of your own don’t you?
        You don’t have to believe everything that a Catholic so-called priest tells you to believe.

        Wake up FPS.

        Like

      3. You say that your Catholic.

        Duh !!
        Did you delete the emails that I sent to you, as I would appreciate it, if you were to send me copies of all of them please. If this is not inconvenient to you?

        Like

      1. Well let’s see. If the point of this blog is to foster unity between Protestants and Catholics under the banner of fellowship of Christian brethren, then yes, duh. It’s only deceptive if you don’t think they’re Christian, which is the point I’m arguing against. Have you heard of circular reasoning?

        Like

      2. Yes, and you are using that.I have told you a number of times that you are NO Christian. You espouse false doctrine. Have you heard of Hypocrisy?
        If Catholics are christian then why the need for your Blog? i.e. as you say, bringing protestants & Catholics together. You refer to yourself as being Catholic, and yet you have stated to me that you are Christian.
        That is supposed to be a Christian flag on your blog, in fact it is a ‘ Reformation Flag ‘ if I remember correctly?
        Thank you for your sarcasm.

        Less of the ‘ duh ‘ stuff. It’s a tad rude tbh.

        Implied Ad Hominem.

        Like

      3. The need of this blog is for people like you and others who don’t accept that you can be Catholic and Christian. Yes, I have stated that I am Catholic and Christian. That’s only a problem if you hold your polemical beliefs.
        It’s not a Reformation Flag, it’s the Flag of Ecumenism, look it up.

        Like

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