Are Catholics Tiring of Apologizing to the Culture?

I think so. Joanne McPortland continues to say the stuff I want to say but so much better than I can say it:

Conservative critics, especially of academia, have made much over the years of the Tyranny of Tolerance, the ways in which thoughtful exchange among those who differ is purposely derailed by accusations of privilege and claims of victim status, examined for evidence of political incorrectness with a scrupulosity usually reserved for clerks of the Spanish Inquisition. I am not a conservative critic—I don’t even want to play one on TV, in spite of my new crankiness—but I’m starting to think they’ve got something. Being Catholic again has suddenly moved me (an old 60s hippie, an erstwhile political liberal, a woman, a person of complicated sexual identities) from US to THEM, from ally to enemy, in so many situations. And after a few weeks spent banging around the threads of the Patheos bloggers’ Facebook page, being tarred with the general brush of Privilege-Majority-Intolerant-Disrespectful by Pagans and Progressive Christians and the Spiritual-But-Not-Religious and even an Atheist or two, I’ve finally figured out why.

I have come home to a Church that is all about bright lines, honoring clearly defined rules and standards that leave little room for personal interpretation—not in all areas, by any means, but in the ones that count. I have come home to a Church that does not tolerate everything and does not apologize for that—but one that, get this, does not mistake tolerance for love and intolerance for hate. I have come home to a Church that is hierarchical in structure and teaching, one that privileges Scripture and Tradition over personal revelation, natural law over experiment, life in its messiness over temporal expediency, the common good over the individual entitlement, God’s will over what I want. In a world of Anything Goes, I have come home to a Church that says No, It Doesn’t.

I understand that this is, increasingly (and even for Catholics), few people’s experience of religion. I am nowhere near, myself, the point of giving joyful, and not merely formal, assent of will and intellect to all of this. I will be in dialog with my Church for the rest of my life, and I look forward to that. It doesn’t leave me much time, though, to engage in the kind of dialog with other traditions that many are asking for—a “dialog” in which, seemingly, I must defend my Church’s teachings and my commitment to them, or apologize for them, or humbly submit to the judgment of others regarding the error of my ways. No disrespect intended, but I send my regrets. I can’t pretend, even for the sake of interfaith conviviality, that I don’t see the bright lines.

So, yes, politically incorrect as it is, I believe Catholicism is true and that its teachings are right. I’m not shopping around, waiting to hear a better deal. That belief of mine is in no way intended to oppress you, coerce you, belittle your beliefs, or even convince you of the rightness of mine. Apologist is not on my resume. If I blog on a topic on which my beliefs differ from yours, or even one in which I have lots more to learn about why my own Church teaches what it does—abortion, say, or marriage, or the male priesthood—or if I share my beliefs in a comment on one of your posts on these topics, I am not doing it to hurt you, or to hate you, or to exercise unjust privilege, or to be intolerant. I am not, on the other hand, inviting you to tell me what a crock my religion is and how much nicer, smarter, and freer I’d be if I just ditched this medieval nonsense.

Read it all!

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About Elizabeth Scalia